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SmellyBlog

Farewell Anniversary

Coal Harbour in the Autumn

Exactly a year ago that our ship had sailed so to speak, and we bid farewell to Vancouver, with the release of Coal Harbour perfume... In some sense it feels like yesterday, and in others I feel like I'm a completely different person than I was then. So much has happened, I've accomplished so much in just twelve months, that sometimes it feels like twelve years. But whenever I smell one of the many perfumes I've created over these crazy 18 years of my life there, it feels as if not only did I just leave yesterday - but as if I could be there right now. A whiff of perfume is all I need... The other perfumes in the Perfume4aPlace collection, all deliberately dedicated to my favouirte places in Vancouver, include:

Komorebi, which smells like the rainforest in fall - a unique smell that always brings me back to my favourite spots in Stanley Park. Scent of Redcedar and Douglas Fir with decaying moss and sunshine. 

Sunset Beach, which is inspired by my favourite beach in Vancouver, practically my 2nd home throughout the summer. But as a scent it is very much a cold weather scent, warming your skin with precious, creamy sandalwood and a hint of exotic flowers. 

Lost Lagoon, which is very much a "spring" perfume. The lake where formerly were wetlands and forest, has an adjacent rhododendron garden that is so lovely and magical especially in the springtime when they are in bloom as well as the magnolia trees. This perfume is sweet from the flowers but also has some balancing notes of oakmoss, lemon and bergamot. It could be a retro Chypre but also has a very fresh, modern feel to it. 

Coal Harbour, where I would go every morning on a faux commute to work - meditate and clear my head before I settle into my lab or writing work. It smelled especially lovely in the summertime, with the fresh cut grass mingling with jet fuel, and the honeyed scent of linden blossoms hanging from the trees. This is not a perfume for everybody, a marriage of a few very unrelated fragrance families - green, leathery, oceanic. But it works better than it sounds! 

To commemorate this moment of finishing a full year circle, I've created today a special page for the Perfume4aPlace Collection. Hope you'll enjoy them at least as much as I do! 

  

The Life Aquatic - Beyond Beach Scents Cliché

Life Saver

Even though most people don't think of water as having a scent - the most favourite nature smells among my clients are that of rain and ocean. This is based on a 15 year long ongoing voluntary data that customers provide me about their fragrance preferences.

I can't imagine what it would be like in summer without the wonderful beaches, lakes and streams. Even summer rains are welcome in my world, as they make the season feel more precious and allows us to continue enjoying greenery and worrying less about forest fires and dreadful droughts. Therefore I'd like to dedicate August's newsletter to water-inspired scents.

There's saline water and freshwater. In a similar manner, water-inspired fragrances can be divided into two: Aquatic and marine. Aquatic perfumes are usually ethereal, light and inspired by water gardens and flowers such as waterlily, lotus and iris and the wet-woods watery quality of cassie as well as the cucumber-like personality of mimosa and violet leaf absolutes. Marine fragrances tend to be more masculine (usually they're a sub-genre of Fougère) and include mineral notes that allude to salt such as ambergris, seaweed, oakmoss and vetiver - and even notes that suggests savouriness, such as parsley, dill, celery and angelica.

Bon Zai is perhaps the first aquatic perfume I've created, and the only one that has absolutely no saltiness to it. I often suggest it to clients who like the smell of rain, because it has the same freshness and crisp qualities the air has when it rains. It's a quite, non-dramatic, peaceful scent. Think about gentle West Coast rain in a Zen garden - no thunder or lightning, only soft rain on pine needles.

Since 2009, with the launch of Hanami, water has been a recurring thread in my perfume creations.  And as you will soon see, I often combine the qualities of freshwater and saline water in the same composition - which gives it a rather sheer quality and a compelling lightness. Although on and of themselves, cherry blossoms are particularly watery - Hanami plays on the theme of wet wood, after spring rain, and that scent mingling with that of cherry blossom and the urban surrounding: metal, wet pavement, and the commotion in and out of the underground train station. The scent is abstract, yet compelling. And for those who are familiar with sakuramochi and brine-preserved sakura and sakura tea - there is also a savoury connotation that balances the otherwise cloying sweetness of the flowers involved, and which makes Hanami perfume even more intriguing.

l'Écume des Jours (2004) was my first watery creation. Inspired by the perfect symmetry and profound beauty portrayed in Boris Vian's most praised novel by the same name. Cheerful Pianola top notes of cassis and freesia lead to Chloe’s deadly Lung Water Lilly. The melancholy base of green moss and watery marine seaweed reflects the tragic conclusion of the tale. l'Écume des Jours is a strange perfume of unusual harmony that inspires appreciation for the simple beauty that is found in all things – especially the Jazz of New Orleans...

And speaking of New Orleans: I also created a perfume that invokes the haunting scents of the Louisiana wetlands with salty seaweed and oakmoss underscoring heady flowers of magnolia, osmanthus, orange blossom and tea rose. There is also Meyer lemon and rosemary that truly cut through the sweetness and add a savoury touch that echoes the salt notes. For a scent so rich with florals, it is surprisingly refreshing, light and easy to wear.

Orcas, the first natural Fougère-Marine fragrance that was nominated for the 2012 Indie FiFi Awards,  now celebrates its 5th year anniversary. Inspired by the breathtaking scenery of the Wild Pacific Trail, a place where ocean meets forest and whales blow and sing above the stormy weather. Orcas perfume is an innovative all-natural marine woody, a unique combination of scents from sea and seashore. Brisk and pungent citrus and herbaceous notes suggest ocean breeze and tea-like clarity, and an array of oceanic treasures such as seaweed and ambergris meet seashore and rainforest notes.

My newest perfume, Lost Lagoon is a Chypre with s a powdery-sweet softness from the juxtaposition of amber, orris and magnolia that balances the bite of galbanum, rhododendron leaf and lemon. It is not aquatic per se, but it was inspired by the dreamy Rhododendron Garden that trails along Lost Lagoon. Again, we find a place where the freshwater is very close to the ocean, and this reflects in the perfume as well. The oakmoss contributes the saltiness, but the flowers are luscious and has a watery air to them - the crispness of violet leaf and iris being the main contributors to that effect.

The last bit of cliché I'd like to tackle is that of beach scents. This popular sub-category of Florientals (or Floral Ambery) tends to be fruity, sometimes even cloyingly sweet, and smells very artificial. It is a strange category because it takes after the scents of ancillary products - namely suntan lotion, suntan oil and sunscreen products. These are usually rather chemical concoctions of white flowers and fruit esters over synthetic musks and amber bases, and sometimes even a bit of aquatic smelling compounds. If you love beach, this would smell fantastic to you; but even if you do - too much of a good thing can get a little overwhelming, or boring at best.

What I tried to do with Sunset Beach, is create a perfume that is neither watery nor marine in character, but rather works with the tropical materials in a more authentic way. To start with, the inspiration is driftwood and the fragrant flowers that might bloom near the beach. So it's entered around sandalwood from both Hawaii and India. I've used massoia CO2 as well as handcrafted tinctures of milky oolong tea and pandanus leaf to intensify the milky quality that is sadly lacking in most modern sandalwood oils. And I've used champaca CO2 for its fruity, spicy and incense-like qualities that I find irresistible, and ylang ylang for its fruity esters and creamy-coconutty qualities. Whenever I wear it I feel like I'm on vacation, and I hope you do too.

In the same way that Hanami contrasts urban and natural elements, my upcoming perfume Coal Harbour juxtaposes the smells that co-exists in my oceanside city's harbour: the salty-animatic notes of seaweed and marine animals at low tide with the rank of jet fuel from the aquaplanes. This disturbing contrast (both smells are quite intense, and together they can be very unpleasant, especially when locked up in a bottle!). To soften this blow, I've added notes of fresh cut grass that wafts off Harbour Green Park, as well as pleasant-smelling local tree blossoms, namely linden, elderflowers and balsam poplar buds.


ScentHive Reviews Sunset Beach & Lost Lagoon

Coconut (Cocos nucifera)
Many thanks to Trish Vawter of ScentHive for reviewing Sunset Beach:

"Sunset Beach (...) is milky, smooth and fresh. The overall impression of this fragrance is of creamy woods, gentle spices and a laid back floral flourish. Champaca and ylang ylang reveal themselves in a light, tropical manner that lends a beachy vacation vibe to this perfume, perfect for those of you who love woody florals, but don’t want anything too heavy."

And Lost Lagoon:

"Chypres can be hyper green, icy crisp, or down in the dirt earthy. Lost Lagoon strikes a nice balance, probably because it does not make use of synthetic aldehydes so the initial citrusy-green opening melds gently into its lovely floral heart. "

Sunset Beach Reviewed by EauMG

Sunset Beach

Thank you to Victoria Jent's glowing review of Sunset Beach on her excellent fragrance and beauty blog, EauMG:
"Sunset Beach wears like a powder of finely milled precious woods with a subtle coconut milk-like sweetness and vanilla custard-like ylang-ylang. The dry-down really does remind me of sun-bleached driftwood and warm, sun-kissed skin. It’s creamy with a sweaty bitterness from woods like sandalwood and massoia (…) Warm, milky woods. It’s a summery, beachy fragrance that isn’t “tanning oil”. Yay!"

Rad Dads: Honouring Fathers Fragrantly on June 19th

Wood & Ocean

The school year is coming to a close, and today I'll be witnessing (and experiencing) a huge milestone: My daughter is graduating high school. Her school years have been an immense journey, and reaching its end is bittersweet. When I think about it, my chest is going to burst from pride when I recall how she was in kindergarten, and how far she’s come. And my heart overflows with gratitude and happiness when I remember all the wonderful people who provided their guidance and helping hands along the way - teachers, therapists, childcare providers and friends - who all became our second "adopted" family here in Canada. It really does take a village...

And then there is always the pinch of regret and sadness, not only about saying goodbye to all these wonderful people; but also remembering all the ones that could not come to celebrate with us, some simply because they live too far away; but others, who one would think should have been there, and don’t even know it’s happening, simply because they chose to disappear from my daughter’s life altogether. Among those somebodies are, unfortunately, her own father, who has been missing out on a lot of important milestones prior to this one, and also with his choice to abandon his daughter made me by default the dad in the family (funnily enough, when asked about my gender, my daughter tends to label me as "man")…

Yet, although my personal experience with fathers is less than stellar, I haven't lost hope. Three of my brothers are wonderful dads and watching them raise their children is a delight (I only wish I could do so more often, and not from so far away!). My daughter was fortunate to have a reliable stepdad who was a supportive and positive influence for the best part of her childhood - and also have been an important contributor to the success of my business: he has designed, maintained and faithfully hosted my websites and sent all my newsletters out till recently. Which brings me to the point that we've launched a new website, wand it is already active on a temporary domain (the switchover is scheduled to take place any moment - and when that happens, the old domain will look the same as this). Please do not be scared of the prices - the default is in CAD, which means the numbers are a bit higher than what you're used to; but you can switch the currency to fit your currency of choice at the top right corner of the new website. 


Lastly, this year I I've met some rad dads, ones that would go to the other end of the earth to keep their children safe and happy; ones that would always put their children's best interest first, and would sacrifice and give them endlessly, just as much as most mothers would in a similar situation. My heart goes out to men like this, especially the rare breed that raises their kids alone like I do, and are also the mom in their family... For these dads I dedicate the following perfumes: 

SUNSET BEACH is a little piece of heaven tucked away in the midst of bustling boat-False Creek and busy traffic on the bridges that cross it. It is that happy place where time stops and the only thing that matter is the tides, currents and basking in the gentle evening sun. Sunset Beach can be anywhere... Mine just happened to be in Vancouver... I invite you to uncork a bottle of this daydream and experience a truly creamy sandalwood perfume complemented by handmade tinctures of pandan leaf and milky oolong tea, coconutty massoia bark and dreamy champaca. 

ORCAS was originally launched for Father's Day 2011, and was a FiFi Award Nominee in 2012. Inspired by the breathtaking scenery of the Wild Pacific Trail, a place where ocean meets forest and whales blow and sing above the stormy weather. Orcas perfume is an innovative all-natural marine woody, a unique combination of scents from sea and seashore. Brisk and pungent citrus and herbaceous notes suggest ocean breeze and tea-like clarity, and an array of oceanic treasures such as seaweed and ambergris meet seashore and rainforest notes.

KOMOREBI is the Japanese word for that beautiful interplay of tree foliage and light. This unique perfume captures the wonderful scent that can be experienced in late summer and early autumn in the Pacific northwest rainforests: It emanates from the sun-dappled fragrant forest floor on those warm days when the sun brings out the sweet smells of redcedar, moss & Douglas fir… 

TAMYA is one of the dreamiest scents in my collection: combining delicate and delicious notes of jasmine sambac, ylang ylang, cassis, bluebells and crocus, white musk, vanilla and cedar. All proceeds from this perfume go towards my autistic daughter's trust fund to save up for her future education and speech therapy. Each bottle you'll enjoy buys her one session. So far we've fundraised $2,908 from all sales of Tamya-related products - just a little less than third of our ultimate annual goal of $10K. You'll be surprised how wonderful it actually wears on a man's skin. Try it!

Additionally, you can support the ongoing Tamya cause by purchasing her very own original acrylic paintings (there is also a growing selection on her Etsy shop). 

Treat dad to some ESPIONAGE TEA next weekend! Lapsang Suchong (pine-smoked black tea), whose smoky aroma and tannin flavour is smoothed by orris root and vanilla bean. Juniper berries add a tad of evergreen, gin-like sparkle. This tea blend is a bold brew that sparkles the imagination and will be fondly remembered and shared, like stories around the campfire.

MASCULINE MINI TRIO is one of our most popular items online, and you can still get it (from the still active "old" website). It's a great way to treat dad (or another important man in your life) to three fragrances he can explore and play with (they can be layered too...). 






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