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SmellyBlog

The Perfumer's Purple

Lavender Soliflores

LAVENDER'S PERFUMERY USES & APPLICATIONS
Lavender on the perfumer's palette provides for a range of purplish-blue hues, metaphorically speaking, of course. The oil itself is clear; and the absolute literally is a turquoise colour.

Lavender Toilette Waters
The earliest application of lavender in perfume is in the classic Lavender Waters - which the English perfected. Many historic recipes can be found for these type of eaux. Another sub-category of which is the lavender-amber waters, which include, in addition to lavender, either amber or ambergris.

Eaux de Cologne
Another important historic use of lavender oils is in the Eaux de Cologne type of fragrances. Here both lavender and lavandin are used extensively. Lavender imparts a softer, more floral nuance, where as lavandin gives a more herbaceous edge, often in synergy with rosemary or mint. Lavender can be found in countless classic eau de clone formulations, such as 4711, Guerlain's Eau de Cologne Impériale (1853) and Eau du Coq (1894) etc. Florida Waters are a New World interpretation of the Eau de Cologne in which lavender takes a more prominent role, and also includes lime, cloves and cassia bark. 


Lavender Soliflores & Gems
Lavender soliflores are a richer, more developed and rounded version of the lavender waters; or simply a more concentrated form. Classic examples are: Yardley's English Lavender (1873), Lavande Velours (Guerlain), Floris' Lavender, etc. Then there are some more sophisticated, layered and exciting renditions such as Jicky (Guerlain), the liquorice-velvety Brin de Réglisse (Hermes), my own Lovender (part of The Language of Flowers soliflore collection) and let's not forget the underrated, wonderfully vanillic Caron's Pour Une Homme.

Fougère
The first use of synthetic aroma chemicals was marked by the creation of Fougère Royal, a concoction that used for the first time a laboratory-made coumarin. But coumarin is only one of four key components that are crucial for creating fragrances of this genre, the other three being oakmoss, linalool and lavender. One could argue that the bare bones of Fougère place lavender in an even more important place, if you strip it down to an even more simple accord of oakmoss-and-lavender, since the other two components (coumarin and linalool) naturally occur in lavender.
Other famous members of this family are Azzaro, Grey Flannel, Brut, Canoe, Amber & Lavender Cologne (Jo Malone's), Jazz (YSL), Xeryus Rouge (Givenchy), etc.

Narkiss, Sixth Round



Here I waned to come back to the 6th mod (in round 4), in which the narcissus and coffee flower absolutes create a mysterious, dusky character. I wanted it to also be a very close replica of my first round (mods 1 & 2), in which I used essences I can't source again, or ones that have some issues (i.e.: the oakwood absolute contains a plasticizer). I looked for other woody substitutes and wanted to still create that unique, very retro warmth that is reminiscent of the great aldehydic florals of the turn of the century, yet with my own personal twist.

I ended up making full circle, as this round (AKA mod. 08) is truly a reflection of mod. 01, which I've created back in 2007). 

Base notes: Vegetal Musk Compound No. 3, Liatrix Absolute, Ambreine, Costus, Africa Stone, Pinewood

Heart notes: Narcissus Absolute, Coffee Flower Absolute, Orange Blossom Absolute, Orris CO2, Styrax

Top notes: Bergamot, Szechuan Pepper

Eau de Tinkerbelle

100 Jasmine Concrete
100 Muguet de Bois (Blanc)
50 Ivy
10 Citron
200 Snow Orchid (Silver)
30 Cloud Essence (Citrine-Vert)
1000 Liquid Air (Pink)
1000 Midnight Dew from Snow Orchid
Distill in a crystal ball for 24 hours, while shaking your bells vigorously.
No additional filtration is necessary

Eau de Tinkerbelle, a boronia soliflore I created in 2004, is back by customer request. I'll be blending one small batch for Princess Ellie, and than there will be 2 extra bottles for the boronia lovers among you to snatch and savour. The ingredients are really, really rare, which is why I will only be making a tiny amount of this.

Eau de Tinkerbelle is a green and playful attribute to the little envious fairy from Peter Pan. A single floral of the exotic and rare Tasmanian Boronia - a beautiful absolute reminiscent of freesias and violet, with a hay-like, sea-breeze undertone.

Top notes: Mimosa, Cassis
Heart notes: Boronia, Jasmine, Hyacinth
Base notes: Green Tea, Ambrette, Sandalwood

Urban Lily


Day 374: Lily of the Valley, originally uploaded by amanky.

Many great perfumers have attempted to re-create the scent of Lily of the Valley, a modest looking white flower that in fact does not belong to the lily family at all. Unlike the showy flowers of the true lily, Lily of the Valley bows to her own green leaves with its little bells of white, as if to conceal itself from sight even further.

For those looking for a Lily of the Valley perfume, I will share that my search came to end an before it even began – one of the first perfumes I’ve ever worn is Diorissimo by Edmond Roudnitska. I did not know what lily of the valley is or how it smells, but this perfume captured my heart on first sniff. In my mind, there is yet a lily of the valley perfume that comes even close to it’s precise and haunting beauty. Like the gowns from the couturier it was created for, its strict structure creates an illusion of freedom and eternity.

But just because I have already found a Lily of the Valley to my heart’s desire does not stop me from curiously trying other attempts, the latest one being Urban Lily by Strange Invisible perfumes. The perfumer here had the added challenge of not being able to use any of the essential molecules for replicating this unique scent for replicating this unique scent. Instead, perfumer Alexandra Balahoutis uses the sharp greenness of galbanum and the raw-earthy carrot-seed & iris notes to create that crystal-clear charm of the lily bells, and underlines it with sultry notes of narcissus, jasmine and vegetal musk. I think I'm also noticing a touch of lotus... It is neither as accurate nor as clean as most lily of the valley fragrances tend to be, but I find it intriguing, nevertheless. And I like it's abstract and less than straightforward botanical feel.

Incarnations of Carnation: Exploring the Layers of a Flower


Flamenco Dancer, originally uploaded by CameraOne.

Carnation: A flower of fiery passion and at the same time there is something very common and unspecial about it. The scent of full-bodied carnatnion flowers always reminds me of summer, where all the plants are dead but there are a few graceful wild carnations weaving their way through the dead straw… And also of finely milled Maja soap, packaged in beautiful dark box decorated with red and shimmering-gold ornamental designs and one passionate flamenco dancer with detailed dress standing in the middle proudly waving her fan…

My grandfather brought this soap for my mother several times, and although it was mostly saved aside, tucked in among our clothes, I could swear my mom opened at least one bar of this fine soap in our outdoors shower, when we just arrived at that little village in the galilee… The shower was built outside of the little hut we resided on, until it will turn into a house… It was made of the cheapest lumber wood you could imagine (the one used to built crates – well, it was basically made of crates I guess). And with the water and soap this wood has become rather smooth and also fragrant… A sensory experience that concluded with drying up in the warm sun and wind… What can I tell you, I’ll give anything to have the opportunity to bathe outdoors again…

The flower-shop hybrid, with its many layered petals is resembles those of the majestic, graceful rose. However, they are rather scentless and take pride in their long shelf-life and their economic appeal more than anything else. Where I came from, carnations are almost always the flower of choice in flower arrangements decorating large wedding halls for a massive gathering of guests. Therefore it’s hard for me not to associate the fresh, slightly spicy and more green than sweet scent of flower-shop carnations with weddings…

The carnations that are used for perfumery, however, much like the wild carnations, are far more modest looking with only one tier of 5 petals. They are either pink or white in colour, and their edges are, as in all carnations, pinked – which is the true reason for their name “pinks” (in this case, the name has no connection to the colour). These small flowers are very fragrant, with the main constituent responsible for their sweet and spicy aroma being eugenol. The same spice present in high doses in clove buds, as well as in allspice berry.

The idea for a carnation soliflore was cooking in my head for a long time. In 2001, I have created a perfume called Altamira, the name chosen because of utter fondness of Steely Dan’s song and the concept was built on what I associated with these prehistoric caves in Spain where the first fresco were discovered. In a connotation that now seems to be everything but original, I have paired notes of carnation (chosen for the association of Spain, Flamenco and carnations) with sweet animalic base notes dominated by costus, which turned out fantastic even though a bit quirky and peculiar (costus will add peculiarity to any perfume with its animalic sensuality). Once I have discovered that costus should not be used on the skin, I had to neglect the idea of letting anyone but myself use my Altamira perfume. I have used carnation in several perfumes – a feminine version for l’Herbe Rouge (which was never really added to the collection; it was very similar to the l’Herbe Rouge you know, but with more carnation at the heart); and of course my first perfume, Ayala, which has a dominant clove and carnation note at the heart in addition to the other floral notes.

Once the Altamira perfume had to be neglected, I came up with the idea of the name InCarnatnion, for a soliflore perfume. It wasn’t until 2006 though that I have seriously started to flesh out the concept and think about it in the context of my soliflore collection – The Language of Flowers. This collection is a study of individual floral notes, some of which classic themes for soliflores (i.e.: rose, violet, lavender, and of course, carnation), and others are a bit more unusual (i.e.: osmanthus, magnolia, linden blossom…).

While the concept for The Language of Flowers is that of simplicity and minimalism, it is not to say that all of the perfumes are all that simple… Some notes require a complex backdrop for them to truly shine. And InCarnation is one of those scents, where the formula is complex and hides in it more than would be apparent to the unsuspecting nose… And when I have found a carnation absolute that I liked, it was time to start working… This carnation absolute from Egypt performed like a carnation blossom upon dilution – as if the alcohol opened its mysteriously spicy and green buds and allowed them to bloom fully.

For the first time, I’ve used the animal material called “Africa Stone Tincture”. The name is deceiving and confusing – while it does come from Africa, this is not really a stone. Rather, it is a nice perfumey name for the dropping of the rock hyrax, a relative of the elephant that releases large doses of pheromones into its droppings in order to communicate with other hyraxes. The scent is leathery and animalic (think both indolic and uric at once, and with that dry leathery undertone – hence it is most commonly described as a cross between civet and castoreum, which is a pretty good description if you ask me). Unlike the latter, hyraceum (AKA Africa stone tincture) was obtained by neither killing the animal nor torturing it – but rather by a meticulous and careful, albeit innocently odd and obsessive – collection of the animal droppings from nature without disturbing it from its peaceful life. While I can’t say I like hyraceum nearly as much as costus, it does add to InCarnation that animalic undertone I was hoping for – while fixing the floral notes quite nicely.

Other notes were chosen for their resemblance of aspects of the fresh carnation flower. Clove buds, allspice and tolu balsam for their eugenol content, of course; Carrot seed for its woody, green yet somewhat starchy and nutty presence; black pepper and nutmeg for an initial dry sharpness; tuberose, rose and ylang ylang to enhance the floralcy of carnation and its richness… And voila! I have created yet another InCarnation of this flower in my private olfactory memory…
I can’t say that I have replicated the fresh flower’s aroma; nor can I pretend that it reached any near previous carnation masterpieces (Bellodgia and Poivre by Caron being the most significant of all in my opinion)… But I’m happy with it and I have enjoyed tremendously the paths that lead me to create it.

InCarnation
can be made in both parfum extrait $110 and crème parfum. The crème parfum is contained in Ayala Moriel’s signature pendant $150, collectible poison rings (price ranges) $55-$100), or the vintage pillbox with carnation print $130 (pictured below).



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