Zangvil Perfume Debuts 20.11.2011

Zangvil Perfume Launch

Zangvil perfume will debut exactly a week from today!
This perfume evolved out of a sensory journey that began in 2008. I was feeling under the weather, and a cup of steaming ginger tea simply didn't cut it; so I put together a simple ginger & amber perfume to warm me up from the inside. So it made perfect sense that 3 years later, Zangvil also has a perfume twin to match - a delicate silver needle white tea perfumed with jasmine sambac and further fragranced with aromatic ambrette seed and vanilla bean and crystallized ginger.

The above image is the postcard for the Zangvil perfume, and it's the first time I'm using a human image for illustrating a perfume concept. I usually try to stay away from human figures because I feel it takes away from the personal experience of the perfume itself, and if anything, will make it look like a cheap perfume ad. With Zangvil perfume, however, it seemed there was no other way around (unless I was going with the sexy ginger below!).

Naked Ginger

However, using ingredients or botanical landscape for illustrating just did not seem to be right for Zangvil. This perfume is all about the tactile world - the cozy and warming touch of cashmere wool and its soft caress on the skin. I wanted the image to radiate softness and a subtle sensuality, just as the perfume does. I really wanted to show the contrast of skin against wool or fur. Yet I didn't really want it to be too sexual in the cheesy way that mainstream perfume commercials tend to be (though, admittedly, if you put a bottle image in front of any semi-nude image it will look like a perfume ad).

Also, because Zangvil is a unisex fragrance, I wanted both men and women to relate to it (not necessarily feel attraction to the figure, but rather identify with the sensation of the wool against the soft skin); and I wanted the gender of the model to be somewhat ambiguous, focusing on the rippling of the back muscles and the soft diffusion of light on the surface of the skin and the tiny hairs and goosebumps... The original concept for the photograph was just an area of skin and fur or wool next to each other. But through the photography process, we had to include larger areas of skin, because without a suggestion of a breathing body, skin actually looks rather gruesome and lifeless.

And speaking of skin - the back of the postcard, which tells the story behind Zangvil and details about the notes is printed in multi-coloured fonts in the various shades of the skin photographed for the front; which when isolated from the context (aka light and shadows on skin) looks like a palette of various skin colours.

So, exactly a week from today, I will be hosting an event that celebrates the tactile softness of ginger and amber in teh Zangvil perfume - with a tea party menu that is derived from the perfume, and focuses on white and muted coloured food with exquisite texture (see more details about the tea party in the previous post).

Ginger-Tangerine Icebox Cookies

Candied Ginger, originally uploaded by Live♥Laugh♥Love.

As promised - finally, my candied ginger cookie recipe, which I've invented this holiday season (blame it on the 2 weeks of snow and very low temperatures - the perfect time to perfect one's skills in the kitchen). These turned out so well that I didn’t have a chance to photograph them before they were gone! I will do my best to take a picture next time I bake them before my in-house cookie monster claims them.

In this recipe, I tried to recreate the pleasure I've encountered in Squamish last spring with this decadent take on ginger that almost tasted like mastic and ginger. Of course, a cookie cannot taste like an ice cream but I wanted it to be special and very not gingerbread-like. Something more light and bright.

For the dough you will need:

7oz unbleached all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/4 tsp. salt

3/4 cup light brown sugar

1 egg

1/4lb. butter, softened at room temperature

1 Tbs. tangerine zest (preferably Murcott) - or orange zest if you can't find tangerines

1 Tbs freshly grated ginger

4 Tbs. chopped candied ginger

1/2 tsp. dry ginger powder

1 Tbs. fresh tangerine (or orange) juice

1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

For the glazing you will need:

1/2 cup icing sugar

Lime juice from 1/2 lime

1 drop organic ginger CO2 extract


1. Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt

2. Using an electric mixer, cream the butter with the sugar. Add the egg and keep beating until evenly smooth. Add the rest of the ingredients - spices, citrus zest, juice and vanilla extract

3. Add the candied ginger and stir well.

4. Add the flour gradually until fully blended and start kneading the dough with your hands. Add more flour if required. Dough should be soft but not too sticky.

5. Split the dough into two portions and roll them into two logs. Cover with a plastic wrap and refrigerate or freeze for at least 2 hours.

6. Preheat the oven to 350 F.

7. Remove from freezer, and slice the logs into 1/4" thick cookies. Place on a baking sheet and bake for 12-15 minutes.

8. While the cookies are baking, prepare the glazing (if desired) by mixing all the ingredients together with a small whisk or a fork.

9. Cool on the cooling rack for 2 minutes.

10. Using a pastry brush, apply the glazing to the cookies (optional).


Magnolia Lily & The Chinese Apothecary

Some Chinese herbs, originally uploaded by egle_k..
Just before the year ended, some packages with supplies that got stuck in the holiday mail arrived. One of them had a sample of CO2 extraction of Magnolia Lily (Magnolia fargesii) - a type of magnolia that smells nothing like white magnolia or champaca. It has none of the fruitiness or sweetn floralcy of either. Rather, it is camphoreous and medicinal and leaves the palette bewildered as for whether it is hot or cold. It reminds me a bit of ginger lily (only woodier and less reminiscent of ginger and roots) and I immediately knew I would have to try it out in my 5th mod of the Amber & Ginger perfume (by the way, this is only the working name for this perfume) - a perfume I started working on last winter when I caught a bad flu and needed something to warm me up. All the more appropriate to add to it an essence that smells like a Chinese Apothecary!

Incidentally, my spring cleaning also revealed some treasures. Literally. I found my lost formula for the 5-spice accord I was hoping to use in some upcoming revolutionary floral (I don't know what would be revolutionary about it but I can feel it). I also found 7 pendants, probably in the same drawer. Which a good thing because otherwise I would have needed to order more!

So, the 5th mod of Ginger & Amber features the abovementioned Magnolia Lily, as well as a hint of Egyptian jasmine grandiflorum absolute (a stellar jasmine if you ask me). I also created a 6th mod, in which there is even more magnolia lily and jasmine, as well as some ginger lily (the root, not the flower). It is still just as juicy and cozy as the 4th mod that I loved, but thanks to the floral heart notes it has less of the hollowness that typifies perfumes based on a top-note & base-note marriage.
Previous posts about Amber & Ginger's development:

Ginger & Amber: The Third Party

zest, originally uploaded by ChrisB in SEA.

It seems to be moving in one month intervals with the development of this fragrance. And here comes the third entry for my amber and ginger fascination. Last time I was wishing for more of a dramatic dichotomy between the fuzzy amber and the zesty ginger. The 2nd mod was very close to what I wanted - turning up a little musky, surprisingly. I liked the dry out but wanted to amplify the zing of ginger.

The third mod tries to do just that, and with the addition of a third party, a new element: orange.
Wild orange, to be precise. It’s lively and zingy and mouthwatering. In addition, the candy-like sweetness of Tangerine Murcott and orange peel.

I have also decided to play up the musky qualities with the addition of ambrette seed CO2. And to increase the sweet drama of the amber with some naughtily animalic honey absolute. I have to say that so far I’m pretty happy with the direction, although it’s not finalized yet.

For the next mod, I would like to add some orange juice essence (which I run out of and need to order) and perhaps something floral as well to make it more perfumey and complex. I was thinking about gingerlily but quickly realized it’s the idea of using gingerlily (because of the name) and not the scent itself that is attracting me here. Gingerlily will be too complex and add a musty-earthy spiciness which is what I’m trying to get away from. I want the juiciness of ginger, not the rootiness of it.

Amber & Ginger, Part Two

rizaulait+gingembre, originally uploaded by auntie_jo.

A month ago, I shared with you my craving for ginger and amber, together. Now experiencing the sequel of the same flu (been traveling around the city I hear, with two phases, thankfully the second is less aggressive than the first) - my ginger & amber craving has come a full circle.
In the last three or four days, I have been wearing my second mod for this amber and ginger perfume concept. This ons is so simple it’s almost ridiculous to even consider it a perfume yet. But it works as a skeletal stage for something bigger and better. I hope.
All it has is my amber base no.3, with organic ginger CO2 and an extra boost of styrax added. Since there is already styrax in the amber formula, don’t even consider it an additional element or note... The amber base includes plenty of styrax, plus benzoin, vanilla, tonka bean and two different labdanums. It’s a sheer sweet amber, simple and easy going.

It wears nicely on the skin, even if a little too soft. I would like to see more of a dichotomy between a zingy bite in the opening, and a deep, rich, caramel-like at the base.

When I was searching for images to illustrate this little entry I came across this rice pudding garnished with candied ginger. It instantly reminded me of the ginger gelato I had in Squamish two weekends ago. It was dotted with caramelized ginger galore. And if you found a teaspoonful that did not have ginger in it, it tasted mostly like mastic, the magical resin used to thicken and flavour ice cream in the Mediterranean region. It is the contrast between the cool ice cream and the hot, spicy ginger that I find most intriguing, and perhaps this is what I’m searching for in my amber & ginger perfume. The sharpness of ginger on the backdrop of buttery-smooth amber is what I envision for it.

Something to think about: adding notes of mastic resin tincture. And amplify the ginger so much so, that it would have an unmistakable initial bite, no matter on how much amber it’s lying.

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