Sunday, November 8, 2009

Francis Kurkdjian's mobile perfumer case

Here is something I just found out about: Francis Kurkdjian's mobile perfumer's case. I find this especially interesting because of one of my earlier articles in which I sketched out my vision for the mobile perfumer of the future, to serve the ultra-rich as a hairstylist or wardrobe stylist does today. In my vision the perfumer would carry such a box and be able to constantly whip up new fragrances or variations on a favourite theme for a client to wear at anytime. In this case, I believe the box is more for show than actual use - but it is still a very interesting concept.

The trunk maker behind this glorious creation is Pinet et Pinet and their website can be found by clicking the link :)

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Just a quick note...

Just a quick note about something which happened tonight that was interesting to me... I was attending a political/cultural event at the Canadian Parliament and definitely caught a whiff of Apres l'Ondee - which was a bit of a shock to me as this is the first time I have smelled it on anyone in public. I wanted to follow the trail and hunt down the wearer but I was far too hungry and headed for the hors d'œuvres instead. After this I could not find the trail again, oh well :)

Friday, October 30, 2009

New Perfume Review : CK Free Calvin Klein

Thanks to the folks at Wiredset marketing for sending me a bottle of the new CK Free by Calvin Klein for review! I've just recieved it today and have been smelling it off the strip and off my skin for the past few hours. The official notes list according to the press release I recieved looks a little something like this:

top: thailand star anise, jackfruit, absinthe, juniper berry

mid: suede, tobacco leaves, coffee absolute, south african buchu

dry: patchouli absolute, oakwood, texan cedarwood, costa rican ironwood

This is a perfume that stays fairly true to its listed notes - as long as you aren't expecting a niche interpretation of them! There is absolutely no surprise with the first spray out of the bottle; This is not a groundbreaking fragrance, nor is it particularily attention-catching. However, despite its adventure-promising advertising campaign, uniqueness is of course not the intent of the perfume. Lets not forget afterall, CkFree is a massmarket release. It is a very easy-wearing fragrance - airy, ozonic, and very dry, a modern fragrance for men. Although there are sweet notes indicated, they are very toned down, along with the modern amber accord which barely manages to bring a sweetness to this composition. All the notes are fairly clear to me, with the exception of the anise and wormwood in the top and the tobacco in the mid. I do smell a certain fresh standard green note, which I am assuming is what they refer to as the absinthe. The base is a fantasy cedar accord which borrows its structure from He wood and Dior Homme. The suede note here is especially soft, and I think it is the best designed part of the fragrance. Although I do smell the jackfruit, I wish it would be more pronounced.

The overall spirit of the fragrance is something we have seen many times, upon application you will be reminded of the feel of many of the men's shower gel products currently on the shelves, albeit slightly less aggressive. The coffee note is CkFree is also executed exactly as it was in Adidas' Adrenaline deodorant sticks for men and EDTs. The base is following the latest trend of clear, dry, fantasy cedar/woody bases with fresh laundry musks. If I had to give a percentage breakdown of the way this fragrance "feels" to me, I would have to say 75% shower product 25% fine fragrance.

If you are looking for something along the lines of One, Obsession, or the original Calvin - you wont find it here. Instead, this cologne is ideal for someone looking to complement their line of mass market shaving, shower and deodorant products, or someone who needs to have a fragrance which will not stand out or cause too much attention. This could be worn for example, in an office setting where loud fragrance is frowned upon.
Here is the pricing info I was forwarded:
eau de toilette spray 1oz/30ml $32.00

eau de toilette spray 1.7oz/50ml $47.00

eau de toilette spray 3.4oz/100ml $62.00

aftershave balm 5.0oz/150ml $42.00

deodorant stick 2.5oz/75g $16.00

Sunday, October 18, 2009

A list of perfumes containing immortelle, helichrysum, everlasting flower

I am going to be working heavily with a certain raw material named immortelle absolute over the next few months, so I have been doing my research on it. In perfume it is a raw material that has been described as having the following characteristics: straw-like, dusty, syrupy, burnt. I find the odour to be somewhat similar to sweet fenugreek. It is used primarily in Chypres and Orientals. In medicine the flowers are used to make an infusion for the treatment of gall bladder disorders, as a diuretic. It is commonly used as an herbal tea used for medicinal purposes in the Middle East and Mediterranean regions.
It has been used in quite a few perfumes to date, so I will try and publish as complete a list as I can as I will be sniffing all of them shorty :)
Annick Goutal - Sables
Balmain - Ambre Gris
Boucheron - Initial
Christian Dior - Eau Noire
Diesel - Fuel for life
Escada - Magnetism
Lolita Lempicka - L
L’Atelier Bohème - Immortelle
Guerlain - Coriolan
Guerlain - Cuir Beluga
Guerlain - No. 68
Gobin Daude - Biche dans l'Absinthe
Iunx - Léau Interdite
Mona di Oiro - Oiro
Seems as though this is quite a popular material with the team at Guerlain :)

Growing the flowers of perfumery : Jasmine (Jasminum Sambac)

Finally! after years of waiting (seriously) - I was able to pick up a jasmine plant on a business trip. Jasmine (true jasmine) plants are very difficult to find where I live because it seems that no nurseries carry them; They are not able to be grown outdoors in this climate, and I suppose they are not so popular as houseplants. They are easy to find on the internet, but importing them is quite difficult as they must be sent bare root and wait quite a while in customs. Thankfully however, after years of searching, and even trying to source the seeds myself, I have finally been able to get a plant. Mine is of the Jasmine Sambac Grand Duke variety, which is very fragrant but from my research quite slow growing. This is the second in my collection of the flowers of perfumery, my first was the Bulgarian Rose which is featured in a past blog article. I also picked up an osmanthus plant on this trip which is not yet in bloom - I will post some pictures when it flowers.

For those interested in growing jasmine themselves, you'll need a spot with at least 3 hours of sun - but 6 hours is most recommended. Also watch that it does not get too cold near the window as this is a tropical plant which is not very cold hardy at all. The fragrance however is beautiful! Prune often to create a bushy growth and remember that jasmine flowers on new wood growth :)

have fun!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Fragrant Facebook : Tiring and annoying

I guess I'll never really understand internet social networking. I barely use it for my social life, and I suppose a little more for business - but I honestly don't really see the point of it. It is so over-saturated and full of bizarre nonsense - like actual grown adults sending each-other e-Guerlain perfumes as wall gifts?

I'm sorry if its not my cup of tea, I just cant get into it. I'd personally rather do my social networking with a handshake and a conversation. On the other hand, I am all for email correspondence, and I love when anyone who reads my blog sends me an email... But I don't want to join anyone's facebook groups, play online games, or whatever else there is to do on facebook. - I simply don't have the time or patience!

The last thing that bothers me is the sheer amount of "friend requests" I get for my blog's facebook profile. This was initially created just to be able to link with other blogs and readers, but now I find myself with three new people asking to be added as friends per day. I don't blindly add anyone though, if someone's profile doesn't specifically state that they are involved in fragrance in some way (which is like 75%) I won't add them. I do send messages from time to time asking people what they do that is fragrance related so I may add them, but I have never gotten a response. I'm starting to think this facebook adding is just a game most people play where they click as much as possible so they can have 10,000 friends.

I know theres absolutley no chance that most of my "facebook friends" read my blog or have even bothered to notice that I have one, as my friends list is in the triple digits and my blog's traffic is still pathetically low.

Just something to think about I guess... And I'll try and get something more "quality" up as an article soon - been doing a lot of traveling lately.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Aramis Rebranding Arrives

Here is the Aramis rebranding that I talked about earlier. We are lucky that in fact no classics are lost and Havana is once again available. I have not yet had the chance to sniff any of these but I will let you now as soon as they are available to me. I'm not so sure that I like the bottles so much (they look cheap) but it will be interesting to see how the scents have changed (if there have been any reformulations). With the exception of the rather low pricing, it looks as if the brand is trying to position itself in a more niche zone, creating the look of a "collection". To further this point Aramis says that the fragrances should be treating as fragrances for different moods, as opposed to signature scents.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Dosing Ingredients: Some Advice for DIY perfumers

(photo of Mathilde Laurent evaluating scent strips)

I have learned that one of the most negative things you can do to the state of your psychology is to begin to create and behave with rituals. That is to mean that you create patterns in what you do that make you feel safe and secure. Although it may seem a bit abstract to apply this to perfumery, the way that I feel it applies most is in the dosing of ingredients. As students of perfumery when we begin to learn and more about the raw materials of the perfumers palette we find ourselves assigning relative strength associations to these materials. As a less experienced DIY'er we might become prone to be very careful with materials like vetiver and mace which we feel have a tendency to take over our blends completely. We may also even get so discouraged by "chemicals" like Maltol, IsoBQ and CIS Hex that don't seem to co-operate with us no matter how low of a dosage we use...

For the DIY'er out there who is trying to learn perfume the autodidact way I have some advice... Do not stick to your rules about dosage! For instance, tonight I have been trying to copy a man's scent from the 80's and my current dosage of coumarin is very far under 1%, however while copying Lagerfeld's Floriental I found myself dosing it somewhere around 3-5% (Caveat - I am not sure anymore the exact as I cannot find my formula, I am horrible with losing them! Another piece of advice - Don't lose your formulas!). Another example of an ingredient which I commonly use to underdose is patchouli - while it seems to have a tendency to dominate blends and therefore cause dosage paranoia, I have actually found myself dosing it somewhere around 10% tonight! Don't be afraid to experiment and always trust your nose not your heuristics!

Now, the second part of my advice on dosing comes in the arena of the dilution of your chemicals. Perfumery is an expensive hobby, so spend your money wisely. Do not buy as many raw materials as you can until your money runs out because believe me, you will lose more money this way than building your organ slowly and smartly. The smartest thing to do is to keep enouhg money aside to purchase DPG and dropper vials to create enough dilutions of your materials that you can always work with the fewest amount of drops possible. This is to mean that it is often wise to have not only the 100% dropper, but also a 10% and a 1%, or for chemicals that we know are really strong we can do 5% and 1% 0.1% and even 0.01%. I have some chemicals in dilutions such as 0.25% 0.1% 0.01% etc.. do whatever feels best for you. Also, if you are unsure of how fat to dilute your chemical, my experience says to dilute until you can evaluate the true facet of the material as many strong materials smell uncharacteristic of themselves at high concentrations.

Above all, do not scour the internet for formulas thinking they will "teach you a basic skeleton" - it doesn't really work that way. Be brave and challenge yourself, take your favourite perfume and try to remake it. You will probably not succeed the first time but if you get 50% of the way there pat yourself on the back - try to get to 80% within 5 trials :)

Tom Ford Grey Vetiver : Review

I was reading an article lately in Plastique magazine while waiting for my haircut. One particular interview stuck in my mind and I am not sure who I am quoting/paraphrasing anymore but they said something along that lines that we cannot expect many original artistic ideas in the coming years, and that we can expect to see more and more recycling - but unfortunately not the eco-friendly kind! I thought this was really cute...

A few days later I pick up a bottle of Tom Ford's Grey Vetiver, low and behold - I run into some of this exact recycling! Evaporating into my nose were the carefully aligned molecules of Eau Sauvage with plastic surgery to make it fit better in a 2009 outfit. They did not even really try to diguise it so much as Bois 1920 and their blatant ripoffs! I love Eau Sauvage, I know it inside and out. I have spent countless hours perfecting a copy of it... so if this is not a twist on the Eau Sauvage formula then I do not deserve to write this blog! I am sure this makes great business sense and in the end we know it is all about the bottom line, but I am not impressed!! Sorry that this is not much of a review but what else can I say?

PS. I love Tom Ford so this is nothing personal, I will continue to support his brand! This review is similar to my reaction to Dsquared's fragrance - they are one of my absolute favourite designers but I reviewed He Wood negatively, as I believe it deserved!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

How world politics killed a perfume: Arsenal

Back in the late 1990's when I was still a teenager and not so interested in perfumes, I ran across a spray sample of Gilles Cantuel's Arsenal (Red and Blue) for men. I was so taken aback by this incredibly sweet and mesmerizing fragrance duo; they were very unique, both sweet and sour at the same time - delicious! However, at this innocent age I did not yet wear any fragrance as I considered wearing cologne to be a "macho" thing to do - I didn't dream to wear any out of fear someone might think I was "trying too hard".

A few years later when I began to wear fragrance more regularly I would spend a lot of my free time shopping around my local stores trying to find a fragrance that was distinctly "me". Some of my early favourites included Eau Sauvage and Arrogance - but I knew they weren't truly reflective of my personality at that age. I was a fresh, young, innovative, trendy kinda guy, with an appreciation for sweet and tart flavours. I also lived off the most vile synthetic candy and 7-11 slushies during those summers. This is when I happened to run into those samplers again; digging through some old belongings and found the red vial with just enough left for a few sprays... Upon application I screamed holy *(*#$! - I must have this!

I drove to the nearest Scentiments only to find out that they were unable to stock this particular perfume after the (then recent) events of 9/11. This was due to the fact that absolutley no air shipper would touch this perfume; Its bottle shape and packaging (see above) were just too dangerous and controversial. Rather than change the iconic grenade bottle of this heavily brand/image reliant product Cantuel simply pulled it from distribution entirely in North America. I am not sure of the full story, in terms of how it met its end in Europe - but somehow it has now become a discontinued perfume and I kick myself to this day for not picking some up when I had the chance. Then again I don't think I could have afforded it with my allowance in those days anyways...

another parfum "disparu" I suppose :)

Friday, August 28, 2009

Quick Drop-In

I know I haven't written on the blog much in the past few weeks and I should have put up a notice, however I have been extremely busy with perfume related things in this time which has passed. I will throw up a couple quick notes! forgive me if this looks like a twitter script!

- Bois 1920 Real Patchouly has taken way too much Ambre Sultan DNA for my liking, but good business move on their part, also Creed should have a bone to pick with them over Vetiver Ambrato. I really do not like this line!!!

- K.I.S.S is a great principal for formulation, some of my best stuff comes out when I think that way. Then again sometimes some of my best stuff comes out when I think the exact opposite way. Perfume is confusing!

- Collaborators are not always a perfect fit, in this industry (as in any other) you must know when to pull the plug on something thats not working!

- Its hard sometimes to separate the talkers from the do-ers

- The perfume business is work work work!

- The perfume business is only 25% perfume!

- There are many nice people that will help you along the way :)

I've been meaning to write an article about how politics have played a role in killing off a favourite perfume of mine, I'll try to get it up soon!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Brand New! Basenotes Print Magazine

Award-winning online fragrance resource is celebrating its 10th birthday by launching a print version of its fragrance consumer website. The magazine will contain the news, reviews and interviews that have helped become the long-standing website of choice amongst consumers and industry professionals alike and will also feature completely new and original content. It is the first ever print magazine of its kind and its release is being celebrated by the global fragrance community.

The magazine will published on a quarterly basis at a cover price of $6 an issue and will be available via online subscriptions from

Visit for further information about the publication and to subscribe or contact Danielle Cooper at, BCM Box 1111, London, WC1N 3XX, +44 (0)203 239 9411.

I've got my subscription don't wait to get yours ;) I'll pop a couple photos of my first volume as soon as it arrives !

(text partially sourced from official basenotes press release)

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Souvenirs from the Osmotheque: Parfums Disparu

Here is a photo of great pile of samples of "parfums disparu" brought back from the Ostmotheque in Versailles. Each perfume is sprayed on the evaluation strip, its name written on the cardstock - They are then they are individually enclosed in miniature envelopes as not to evaporate from the strips too quickly. In addition to perfumes, there are a number of strips which are just scented with individual raw materials, such as the banned "isoeugenol" or naturals like vetiver, patchouli etc. These strips were brought back to me by my business partner who was able to meet with Mr. Kerleo at the Osmotheque earlier this summer. The strips still smelled very fresh thanks to the little envelopes and there are a number of absolute gems that I had been dieing to try! My business partner also got the chance to sit in a great lecture led by Mr. Kerleo as he frantically wrote down everything he could, filling almost an entire small notebook! He received around 50 samples, but I will mention a few that I found most exciting (some of which I already have in perfume form in my slow-growing reference library)

Houbigant - Quelques Fleurs

Eau de la Reine d'Hongrie

Parfum Royale

Eau Sans Pareille

Iris Gris

Arpege (as it once was)

Rose de Grasse (raw material)

Monday, July 27, 2009

News from the rumour mill...

It has been made known to me that Aramis may be doing some rebranding soon, the SA I talked to said the representative reportedly would not discuss the fate of all the fragrances, hinting that something may possibly be lost?

We will wait and see... be watchful over the next couple months if you have any Aramis favourites

Sunday, July 26, 2009

A note for 2010 : Sweat

I have been experimenting with various ideas in "the lab" over the past few days and an interesting blend I have come up with is a very transparent, liquid and synthetic feeling amber perfume. The perfume was a bizarre intellectual exercise to begin with, so I asked myself how can I give this more of a natural "feeling", in a completely unconventional manner?

Then the answer came to me, I chose to build in the most natural thing of all, a sweat note! I did a quick search on Basenotes and found no perfumes currently listed as containing such a note - so I started to think about how I would go about constructing it. By using materials which are commonly used to create the salty atmosphere of the sea side, I instead used them to create the salty/mineral air of sweat. These materials paired with just a touch of cumin seed essential oil have resulted in the most interesting sweat note I could have imagined! Since I will be in no position whatsoever to put this into a commercial formula anytime soon, I am wondering if any perfumers every stumble across my blog? (ya right! I wish...) - but if anyone out there reads this, its certainly something I'd love to see further developed by someone more knowledgeable - maybe this idea would suit someones niche project nicely for 2010 ? I mean after all we already have secretions magnifiques ;)

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Fragrant Innovation from Peugot !

Here is a fragrant innovation from French automaker Peugot - an air freshening perfume diffuser fitted onto the dashboards of numerous versions of the 207 and 308 model cars. It is integrated into the dash and perfumes the passenger compartment to a desired intensity via the use of the air circulation. The perfumes offered from Peugot are reported to have been developed in partnership with a major French perfumer and offer "anti-tobacco" qualities - two birds with one stone. There are a number of perfumes offered from Peugot and it is very easy to change perfumes while keeping the cartridge already begun for later use, one must simply slide in and out as shown in the illustration above!

Knowing me, the first thing I would do is rip a cartridge apart and figure out how to refill it with Ambre Sultan or Royal English Leather :)

(car incense burner offered by "MingChina" on E-bay)

I wonder if this particular innovation from Peugot was at least partly inspired by the growing popularity of these portable incense burners that gain their power through the cigarette lighter of your vehicle. I have one and have used it to burn some nice quality agarwoods and sandalwoods on the way to classes, meetings etc - I would prefer not to have my entire vehicles cabin filled with smoke though ;)

Dior - What were they thinking ?

Do you ever have one of those moments where you just stop and say to yourself "what were they thinking??" - well I definitely had the feeling with this Dior ad for Eau Sauvage from 2001. I totally do not see this advertisement connecting in any way with the target audience! Thank goodness they followed it up quickly with another more traditional ad, and not too long after with a superb flanker "Fraicheur Cuir".

Heres another ad which may have had people wondering - why a man in a womens perfume ad? the reason being that it is in fact not an official Gucci ad, but an unofficial ad placed by a prankster in a Swiss magazine and billed directly to the Gucci company!! Wild!! The prankster was eventually caught but the two page spread did run for one issue in 2007 :)

Thursday, July 23, 2009

A tip for novice perfumers for evaluating a mystery formula

Here's just a quick tip that I would like to share with the other student perfumers out there. I did not learn this from my school or lessons but I have thought of it myself. In this case if there is some flaw with my logic I would appreciate if someone more knowledgeable could send me a note so that I don't keep this posting up... However this is a technique that has worked for me and helped me alot in my studies :)

If you are trying to evaluate a mystery formula, meaning that you do not know the ingredients -like a commercial formula etc, I always find it helpful to splash a little water on where I have sprayed the fragrance on my skin. This works on the same premise as aftershaves, since they contain alot of water... The scent is "amplified" but much less lasting, due to the water making the molecules want to escape faster. Used in conjunction with other methods such as selective nose fatigueing this can be a great tool for figuring out minor details and microaccords. Selective fatiguing should not be done often however, so use this information at your own risk :)

Asking Questions: Lancome Magnifique

The newest release by Lancome - Magnifique, is my favourite fragrance (niche/mainstream or otherwise) released in the past year. It is perfectly balanced with the most curious, sweet, exotic and deep aroma! I am not yet the proud owner of one of the beautiful red flacons although I cannot help myself in testing it everytime I am near a perfume counter!

Today while taking a quick look through the mall I decided to ask some questions to the Lancome representative. Despite receiving less then great press on the internet the fragrance is selling well at both counters that I inquired at, with the largest 100ml bottle being the most popular. This is supported by the fact that I have not yet seen it discounted anywhere, nor is the Ebay price deeply discounted. According to the friendly Lancome SA, the demographic amongst which Magnifique is most popular is middle aged women, however surprisingly (but not surprisingly to me!) the second demographic group is actually middle aged men! Apparently sales are minimal to nonexistant in the younger demographic (18-25), which is a shame because I believe it would sell at least moderately well in this category if there was a sales push from the representatives at the counter. Lancome can be considered by many to be "their mother's" fragrance (Tresor) but Magnifique is equal in quality and innovation to many niche brands (and definitely surpasses some!). I believe it is an excellent fragrance for a young man or woman who is a trend setter or someone who has a taste for Middle Eastern style perfumery.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Some quick perfume reviews ( Memento Venice, Moschino Glamour, VC&A Feerie )

I havent been posting much lately as my involvement in the industry is taking up extraordinary amounts of my time (sleep has become a luxury) - but I started this blog with the intention to continue writing it over the long term, so I will pop in a few impressions I had of some perfumes today. I was supplied with a generous amount of samples from my favourite SA at my local Holt Renfrew counter, a few of which I was moved by. Two of the stars from today were new releases from Memento and Moschino, Venice and Glamour respectively. I will start with my favourite:
Moschino Glamour (official pyramid as per the literature on the sample card):

Top Notes: Mandarin flower, sea salt flower accord, absinthe

Heart Notes: catteleya orchid, hibiscus, waterlily

Drydown Notes: White Musk, Amber, Cedar Wood

( Glamour also has a really cool tester vial, check out the applicator stick! )
As per my nose, I detect mainly a fruity note in the opening, reminiscent of ripe apple/damascones and sharpened by citrus. I believe the sea salt note is achieved with a material named Maritima which I have used in a few of my formulas. The wormwood mentioned in the notes does give it a classy natural feel upon application. I detect a touch of mandarin aldehyde which contributes not only a sweet candy mandarine note but also an overtone of cilantro. To comment on the style of the perfume, it is quintessential Moschino, excellently put together with ferocious diffusion/sillage. Fans of previous releases by the house will feel right at home wearing Glamour, as there is something familiar about it, yet it manages to unique new and fresh at the same time. This is an extremely sexy perfume! The heart note are strongly in the direction of the orchid and exotic flowers via the use of salicylates, which follow into a strong sweet base of cedar amber and coumarine. The base is both strong in presence, and also solid in construction meaning that it does not fall apart on the skin as many modern formulas do. The real miracle of this perfume is the aquatic feeling which is brilliantly weaved into the formula and very lasting - four stars

Memento - Venice

I had not heard of this new line until today when I picked up the sparsely marked plain rectangular bottle on the counter. As soon as I saw its basic white label and arial font markings juxtaposed against the gimmicky bottles of the designer releases, I knew I would be in for a surprise! I tried Sicily first actually, but I will write about the second scent available from this line; Venice. The bottle is curiously marked September 22nd 2007 8am Vaporetto to Lido di Venecia and it can be bit hard at first to locate the name of the producer! The official notes list is as follows:

sea breeze
star anise
black rush
sand accord

We're looking at alot of the familiar aquatic/ripe melon helional-calone accord against a sweet vanillin/ambery and woody base which is very apparent upon initial application (bottom heavy). As the perfume dries down all the components become very soft, velvety woods, powdery amber, soft vanilla absolute - its really very good. The top also has a very well-done salty marine accord. This is a brilliant fragrance that calls to my mind a seabreeze on a bright but slightly overcast day. It is not the sea in the sun but rather during more comfortable weather :) The heart of this perfume is a bouquet of orchid, muguet, rose and jasmine - to which the official scent pyramid designates the word "peony". When the perfume settles on the skin the quality of the raw materials becomes apparent. I do not know much about this line or the perfumer, but both fragrances (Sicily and Venice) have piqued my interest in this brand and I will find out more! The line is very interesting to me as the sister fragrance uses agarwood in its composition, but breaks away from the "oud" style completely! This brand seems to me a very fresh concept in both formulation and marketing/presentation, I like it - also four stars

The third perfume which I will talk about, but more briefly, is Feerie by VC&A. I have been a long time fan of First and Tsar and the house does not disappoint with its latest release either! This perfume is certainly a statement against the cookie cutter fragrances of late. I won't talk much about it but I do recommend it to anyone :)

I also tried the line of Cereus perfumes for women today, but there is nothing to talk about - mostly washing detergent in a pretty bottle - don't bother!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Im crying over bar soap and spray deo

Although bar soaps, after shave lotions and natural spray deodorants (for me; Obsession and Eau Sauvage) have become severely more limited in distribution over the past few years, I have only really started to notice and feel sad about it this morning. Up until today finding these ancillary products for my favourite perfumes was like a fun treasure hunt - it was like playing a game to uncover them in smaller perfume shoppes around my city and region. Now that stocks have pretty much dried up and SA's can only shake their head from side to side when I ask for special orders, its starting to become outright annoying and depressing. The brick wall of reality has hit me. Whats up with balms and shower gels anyways ? how did the big companies manage to convince us that cheap shower gel products are superior to quality milled soaps - to the point that 99% of consumers would rather pay the same price and receive the shower gel instead?

The world we live in is bizarre sometimes, I have had SA's explain to me that people find shower gels more convenient - why ? because they leak all over your expensive luggage? and because you have to rub your hands together slightly less? maybe its because soap takes a minute or two to dry, if you don't have the carrying case that is...

I'm sorry if this post sounds a bit bitter, but I've been dealing with alot of stress and "b.s." in and out of the perfume world lately :) I guess it just got "bottled up" ha!

Friday, July 3, 2009

Follow up to the perfume sketch

Just here to write a quick follow up about my last post, the perfume skeleton sketch. I've learned the same lesson for the 1000th time in my life now - I wonder if I'll remember it this time.

KISS - Keep it simple stupid

I've managed to get much better results by cutting my list down approximately 1/3rd in size and trying again. The result is that my test tube is now unmistakeably filled with the scent of this classic perfume.

On the skin it is evident there is still some ways to go, but its getting there. too much helional...

Take away lesson: always start by trying to balance the most important ingredients first :D

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

a sketch of a popular perfume (formula)

I'm trying to re-assemble a popular perfume. Here is a sketch of it thus far (percentages omitted)...

After about an hour of tweaking, I have taken it far enough to the point that I am satisfied for a night's work. I will come back to it again in a few days as it settles, and there are a few other items on a shortlist that I think maybe be used in the actual formula which I have not added yet...

iso super e
vertofix coeur
ethyl heptanoate

I guess it shouldn't be too hard to figure out what it is, if anyone would like to take a stab at a guess via the comment box please don't hesitate to post your answers :)

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

In Defense of Kiton

In Defense of Kiton: Kiton is a brand that is respected the world over for their suits; they are very pricey - with no expense spared and no detail left unattended. A Kiton suit is truly the Rolls Royce of the men's wardrobe. Public opinion on their fragrance line however, seems to be mixed and generally biased towards dissaproval. People often claim that Kiton fragrances have no soul, and do not live up to the greatness of the menswear.

I think this is a case of misunderstanding, of wrong perspective. Kiton fragrances are meant to complement the line of suits. These suits are for businessmen, and businessmen need a corporate fragrance. As much as a VP may love a loud fragrance like Dior's Eau Noire or Arrogance - he knows he cannot wear it to the boardroom. I am sure anyone can appreciate that when someone's time is spent deciding the fate of millions of dollars, the butterly effect becomes very real. One misjudgement can break a deal and presentation is very important in the business environment; Something so trivial as your choice of fragrance can greatly offend, for the top brass generally have ego sizes to match! For this reason, Kiton has created a line of "corporate fragrances". These are fragrances which are boardroom safe yet unique enough to convey the style and refinement of the wearer. Even Kiton black, which is geared towards evening wear is primarily a corporate scent as it is safe for any evening event in which an executive may have to maintain his corporate persona.

I know we were all expected a groundbreaking incredible niche scent from a house that spends 50 labour hours per suit, however if you look at it from this angle - it all makes sense doesn't it ?

Monday, June 22, 2009

Creed Bois Du Portugal - Fragrance Re-Incarnation

(a very fitting photo of Olivier and Erwin Creed :)

Although I would have loved to talked about [carnations] in this blog post, I am actually going to comment on a few things I have noticed lately regarding the generational re-use of fragrance skeletons. As we all know, Coty's l'Origan DNA can be found in classics such as l'Heure Bleu and Royal English Leather, and that Chypre launched an entire fragrance family. However, it is not always so obvious that these things are happening in modern fragrances as well. I am not talking about the fact that everything "smells the same nowadays", but more the interesting ones that are harder to spot which intrigue me. I was chatting with an SA at a Dior counter just a few months ago and he commented on how DNA will jump from season to season, never has it rung truer to me than in the past week.

Over the past few days I have been toying with reproducing Creed's Bois du Portugal. I have found just how easy it is to tweak it into Guerlain's Heritage (obvious), but more interestingly, a couple small adjustments will bring it quite close to Eau Noire territory! If one looks at the notes it becomes pretty obvious that they are at least, members of the same family. After having experienced the deconstructing of BdP I must say that I would feel comfortable betting that Francis Kurkdjian was explicitly influenced by the Creed in the process of making Dior's Eau Noire and that is it not just a matter of coincidence! I wonder if Bois du Portugal happens to be a fragance that Kurkdjian admires? if I ever get the chance to talk to him, I will remember to ask! Don't misunderstand me , I do not think there is anything wrong with this type of inspiration - afterall - the reason I was playing around with this deconstruction was in fact to eventually tweak it myself!

On a related note, I am interested to find out the connection between Guerlain and Palmolive: The famous Colgate brand soap from 1898 clearly mimcs the fragrance of 1906's Apres l'Ondee. My guess is that since the Guerlain parfum was release after the soap, the soap's fragrance must have been changed to some iteration of the current "Original Scent Palmolive" somewhere after 1906 (instead of when it was actually launched). Is it just a case of copycatting, or cooperation? If anyone knows more about this I would love to hear from you :)

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Patchouli and Ice Cream

Heres a sketch for a little something I have been playing around with since yesterday. I named it "patchouli and ice cream". It can still use some tinkering - possibly it could be developped into something that could be released commercially, as a "concept" perfume. I like it.

Patchouli Oil
Iso E Super
Ethyl Vanillin
Raspberry Ketone
Aldehyde c-18

"marketing speak" notes would look something like:

top: berry syrup, coconut shavings

middle: vanilla ice cream, chocolate syrup, crushed cashews, almond slivers, caramel sauce

base: patchouli, sparking woods

Monday, June 8, 2009

Parfum : Yours free with purchase!

I have run into two very interesting perfume presentations this week; both of which were promotional items included free in the purchase of another product or service. The first is a mid 70's Givenchy III parfum mini-flacon from Air Canada.

It is very small, marked as 1/15 oz or 1.9ml - and it came in the outer box as well as a very cute museum display style plastic case. I assume this may have been a promotional gift for first class passengers flying to Paris because it is marked "compliments Air Canada" - as you can see in the photo above.

Only trace amounts of the parfum remain, much of which must have evaporated due to the poor quality seal (this was meant to be used very quickly). The scent however, is still distinctly that of Givenchy III, although it is predominantly the mid/bottom notes which are apparent. This interesting piece was found at a local thrift store and cost me a cool $0.49

The second and very interesting presentation which I have seen this week is a vintage Lanvin Arpege presentation. It may look like the usual suspect upon first glance, as it did to me - However, this is a very rare and consequently valuable special edition which came with the purchase of an American classic car. the individual who has this particular piece in their possession is not sure whether it was a Packard model or a Lincoln, however I will try and dig up more information on this as I can. It is currently on Ebay for $1026 with 5 bids. Updates to follow!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Amazing find: 105 year old rose oil

Here is something interesting I have found, an antique item which is located not more than 200 km from where I live. It is an unopened canteen shaped container of rose oil, distilled in 1904 in Bulgaria by a distillery by the name of Guintcho Batchvaroff. The measure by weight is roughly 1.5 kilos. It is truly amazing to find such a specimen ! Probably it was a gift, which was never opened as it was considered too precious - Now it is being offered by the seller on ebay for 245,000 US dollars. I am not sure how one would accuratley price such an antique, so I am interested to follow this see if there are any takers on the auction :)

Unfortunately, during the various political changes in the history of the country of Bulgaria, much of the information regarding these old distilleries was lost. I have not been able to find out anything about the company itself yet.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Perfumed Ink: Past and Present

I have always liked the idea of perfumed letters, however you have to be very careful with the perfume you use and the method of application to ensure that you don't leave a stained area, which will just make your beautifully written letter look like you spilled your coffee on it ;)

One way to solve this problem is to have the ink itself be perfumed - and after doing some research on the topic I found this interesting image which is a scan of an article from the 40's. It talks about a machine that could print a design of one colour over a freshly pressed newspaper sheet (when attached to a commercial printing press). This coloured ink would be perfumed, which would allow the reader to experience a perfume that was being advertised - of course assuming the newspaper was fairly fresh.

For 2009, if you choose to go the hand-written route, Mont Blanc created a special perfumed ink during the season of Valentine's day 2009 that you can use to write a note for that special someone.

At some point I think I would like to try my hand at making a *signature* perfume, not one that I would always wear, but in fact a perfumed ink that I could use whenever I had to sign a letter! At this point I have no clue how this would work and I can imagine there might be some very difficult solubility issues to overcome, but it is an experiment I will try at some point.

Giant Chanel no.5

Here we have something I have never seen yet, an actual 450ml perfume flacon full of Chanel No.5, this is not a refiller or a drammer, as we can see the bottle is labeled and packaged just as a normal retail size. It is also not a display factice, as those are filled only with coloured liquid, this one is full of perfume. This must be one of a very few bottles of this type produced as more of a marketing device than an actual inventory item intended to be sold. I would assume that it would have been placed in a very conspicuous location with a small price tag, to draw attention and have customers purchase much cuter, smaller and more affordable 1/4 ounce bottles by the hundreds - maybe around christmas time ? ;)

(Photo is taken from an Ebay auction, the seller has placed an opening bid of 800$ for this item. I am in no way linked to this seller so I will not post a direct link to his item, however it shouldn't be too hard to find if you happen to be in the market for a half-litre of number 5 !!! )

Parfum Disparu - Vintage Guerlain: White Rose

Here we have an example of a vintage Guerlain bottle, which once contained the perfume "White Rose". This is a perfume I would assume to be soliflore in its type but I haven't got any information on it at all, so I can't comment with certainty the exact nature of its composition. I will write it down as something to look out for on my visit to the Osmotheque later this summer. The bottle was claimed to be a 1904 piece from the ebay auction in which it was taken, but this perfume itself was known to be created in the preceding century - around the 1890's.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Blog Spin Off: H&R Geneologies and the future

(very low res-photo of H&R Geneologies Table)

Here is just a short spin off of a blog posting on Octavian's 1000 fragrances which can be read here:

The reason that I have decided to spin-off this article is that I am currently studying the Haarman & Reimer genealogies for my perfume schooling. In my assignment I have been asked to update the H&R tables with fragrances that I would choose for a number of different categories. The categories in my assignment differ from the H&R tables slightly but the idea is the same. Instead of posting my assignment here I will just list a few of the perfumes that I might place in "uppercase" letters as Octavian mentions, basically perfumes which I would bet will be around for a while due to their total uniqueness on the market at the time of their launches.

Giorgio Armani - Aqua di Gio (men's)
Issey Miyake - L'eau Dissey
Serge Lutens - Ambre Sultan
Thierry Mugler - Angel Men
Creed - Erolfa
Calvin Klein - ck One
Lancome - Magnifique (I'm sure I will get alot of flack for this one ;)
Davidoff - Cool Water

Fragrance Review : Guerlain Heritage EDT

If the idea behind Heritage is suppose to be a blending of all of the Guerlain men's fragrances released prior to 1992 (its release date) then I must say that succeeds, because the perfume is very "Guerlain" - but if I had to describe it in my terms of geneologies, I would say this is influenced by three great fragrances that have come before it, Shalimar (1925), Bois Du Portugal from Creed (1987) and Tsar of Van Cleef and Arpels (1989).

It is most immediately sensed upon application the strong similarity between Bois Du Portugal and Guerlain, and if I had to nominate and fragrance to say could be its stand-in, this would be BDP. Heritage however, certainly does make itself distinct in a number of ways along its development on the skin. The first noticeable difference would be the fruity note, which some people complain creates a bit of a sour feeling. Although it is not mentioned in the official pyramid, this fruity note is largely created by allyl amyl glycolate, which is used in other perfumes (notably its contemporary: Tsar) to create a suggestion of pineapple. This fruity note lingers for a while into the drydown at which point one notices another difference between BdP and Heritage: Heritage, true to Guerlain form (think Shalimar), concentrates its basenotes more solely into vanilla and woods (with a touch of patchouli), whereas BdP's drydown is made more complex and powdery via the use of vetiver and moss.

If I had to give my personal opinion on Heritage, I would say that it is slightly less "together" than its predecessor Bois du Portugal, and neither the fruity changes at the top, nor the softer more comforting vanilla drydown are neccesary nor are they an improvement upon BdP. However, it is readily available at a much lower pricepoint, and if one has such economic limitations (I personally couldn't afford either at retail right now!) then I believe Heritage is an excellent stand-in. Even hours into its drydown (EDT applied 6 hours ago) it still radiates class and quality. Long lasting with quality ingredients and reasonable construction - Four stars!

Coco Chanel: Just when you though pink was getting old!

Just when we all thought that maybe pink juice might finally be starting to fall out of fashion, the last fragrance in the world I thought would ever become pink actually has: My beloved Coco Chanel. Soon we will start seeing this pink version replacing testers and displays everywhere, and ending up in our homes. Since the testers are very new I had to struggle to find a shop which would allow me to take a photo of the new bottle. Finally I got one who was nice enough, although I won't mention where it was as it is of course against every stores policy to allow photographs to be taken within the store. The photo above is of the EDT although the EDP is now also pink, and is sold in the same bottle as the 100ml No.5 bottle.

It seems that the colour is not the only change, as we would expect since the colour of a fragrance can also yield many clues as to what is inside. We can pretty much deduce that our new juice is made with clear raw materials and then dyed pink, which means that either naturals have been replaced with synthetics, or that more expensive colourless absolutes are now being used instead (I wonder which one is the case!)

Alas, the fragrance itself has suffered, the first word that comes to my mind is "diluted", and when I say diluted its really quite a pale lifeless version of what it once was. Baroque? Opulent? Dark ? no more! It is now sweeter, a lightly spiced floral, with just enough of the essence of what it us to be that we can still recognize it. It appears also that a large portion of the changes have appeared on the bottom end; I have had the EDP on my right hand for a few hours now, and it has fallen apart. What a shame!

Another one of my favourites, has also recently suffered the same fate. Boudoir by Vivienne Westwood was once a rich dark brown juice, and a very powerfull fragrance - it is now pink and a just a shell of what it use to be.

This marks a very sad day for me, as I can now for all intents and purpose consider Coco a parfum disparu, looks like I will have to stock up! Also, my mother who has been wearing this perfume for over 20 years will be very disappointed - At least I can take comfort in the fact that I presented her with a vintage 60ml pure parfum of Coco just about a year ago and it should last her for a while. My only question is; does Parfums Chanel really bet this new version will bring in more new customers than the loyal ones it will alienate ?

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Follow up to perfumers smoking

(Skull With Cigarette - MC Escher)

just found this quote by chance on the website of the Societe Francaise des Parfumeurs which ties back to my earlier post on whether perfumers smoke or not...

Mais tu fumes ? « Il faut arrêter de penser que les parfumeurs vivent en ascètes dans des jardins odorants, loin de la pollution et du vice ! ».
- Karine Chevallier

translated to english it basicly means

"I cant believe you smoke? We must stop thinking that perfumers live in isolation, in fragrant gardens far from all pollution and vice! "

thought it was interesting to get another perspective on it :)

Parfums Disparu

I have always had a soft side for the brilliant things in our history that for some reason or another, should not and could not continue to exist, in the words of Hunter S. Thompson, "one of God's own prototypes -- a high powered mutant of some kind never even considered for mass production. Too weird to live and too rare to die. " For instance, a scene from my dreams is me driving a Delorean DMC wearing a Nintendo Power Glove and misting the interior of said vehicle with Chanel's Bois Noir ;)

For this reason I have always been very interested in what are called "parfums disparu", discontinued and obscure perfumes from our past, some which have become mythical and others which have just been totally forgotten. Whether it was simply the timing, or the fashion that caused these perfumes to fail upon their launches is always the question - but something can always be learned from their genius. I have actively started to collect what I can, this week will be the beginning of my campaign and hopefully I will have some reviews up in the coming month. If you are the type to search in the shadows, stay tuned ;)

Monday, May 18, 2009

Lemon Verbena: Plant Profile

As some of you may know, I grow a lot of the plants which are used in perfumery. I do this to get a better appreciation of the living smell of the plant and because this helps me understand all facets of it; from the essential oil to the molecules used to create its note. I also do it because most of the time its a lot of fun and makes my house smell pretty :)

I'm sure a lot of novices to perfumery (as I once was) are a bit confused about the many different types of citrus notes - for instance, when I first started out I had no clue what a bergamot was! This confusion can be compounded by the fact that sometimes citrus notes do not come from the fruit itself but from the bark/wood of the tree and even from the flowers!

For this article I will be taking a look at a recent acquisition which is the Lemon Verbena, sometimes referred to as just "Verbena" or "Verveine" in French.

The plant is a shrub which is native to parts of South America, and the leaves are used up to this day as an herbal remedy. It is also used to add flavour to foods, jams, salads and beverages.
In perfumery we can see why it is used as a citrus note as the main constituents include Citral, Nerol and Geraniol. The essential oil is extracted via distillation of the plant matter; leaves and twigs.

As a garden plant it grows with a delightful citrus aura that can be detected anywhere within a few feet of a larger specimen :) It is inexpensive, easy to grow and neat to have around, take a look at a garden center near you - they are not hard to find!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Is 100 year sandalwood oil lost forever?

The global sandalwood shortage has caused such paranoia that I no longer feel safe buying sandalwood oil from ebay vendors, online stores (or pretty much anyone else without a meticulous record and reputation online - safe sellers include Eden Botanicals, LibertyNaturals, etc). Also, with my 100 year old Mysore as a reference point, I have spent hundreds of dollars trying to buy something similar to it, and been "beyond" dissapointed each time. I have now given up! But... does this mean that the heavenly aroma of 1960's sandalwood is gone forever? I had an thought...

I emailed a few people who were much more knowledgable than I about an idea that I had (thanks Octavian as always for helping me with my questions ;) that centered around the point that essential oils can be taken apart and put back together again. You see, in perfumery there are used natural absolutes and essential oils as well as (of course!) synthetic molecules, but there is also a grey area in between these two which is the area of Isolates. Isolates are molecules removed from an essential oil (remember essential oils have many constituents) for the purpose of using as a standalone molecule - an obvious example would be linalool and rosewood oil. Well, if one were to look at sandalwood oil, one would find that ts is (on the most basic level) comprised of "90% sesquiterpenic alcohols of which 50-60% is the tricyclic α-Santalol. β-Santalol comprises 20-25%" (wikipedia: sandalwood oil). Since we know that the odour profile of sandalwood is mainly achieved by the ratio of Alpha to Beta Santanols, could we not isolate these and remix them to achieve the correct ratio? Of course this would give us less oil than we started with! but is it worth it ?

The answer is that this would be the start of a slightly more complicated and expensive process, although it is fully possible to recreate something very similar to a mature sandalwood oil this way. So, while it may be impossible to find, if you've got the $$ in the future you might be able to once again smell sandalwood of the 1960's.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Lancome Tresor : Fragrant Washroom WC Mystery

As I write this, it is 7:35 AM and I have not slept in preparation for my final university exam this year - Roman Art History. This seems like an odd way to start a blog post about perfume, however I have been noticing something strange tonight. The men's washroom on this floor has a very nice woody floral smell to it, a spicy rose. It struck me as something very familiar since hours ago, but as the context is so strange it was hard for me to pinpoint exactly what it was. Now, it is unmistakably Lancome's Tresor. I am not sure how that smell would have got there and I suppose some mysteries like this will forever remain undeciferable... but there is no question in my mind about what perfume it is!

Back to studying I guess ;)

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Perfume Review: Diesel Plus Plus Masculine - Masterful Mint

Its been a while since I reviewed a perfume, one reason is because lately no perfumes have been jumping out at me so much to motivate me to write about them. Lately, I have been sniffing and analyzing well-selling mainstream perfumes. However, a few days ago a friend (non-perfumista) and I were talking about perfumes. He asked me whether it was true that spicy fragrances were generally more for winter wear. I told him that this can be the case, because hot weather can cause very powerful scents to become overly diffusive, but that in modern perfumery, these rules are often broken. Then out of nowhere he blurted:

"Hey! you know what the BEST spicy cologne is?? Diesel, the white one!"

I blinked for a minute after being caught off guard... and then it hit me! I decided right then and there that I would do a blog post about it. Diesel Plus Plus masculine has been one of my favourites since I first purchased it many many years ago at a super discounted price. I still have about 50% left of my (75ml?) bottle. I've always used it sparingly as I really find it precious - it is to me a perfect balance of all the elements of a teenagers/young man's romantic daytime perfume; freshness, fruityness, woodyness, masculinity, spice and above all a large dose of je ne sais quoi. The perfect synergy of these notes is something that a fragrance such as Lacoste Pour Homme (grey bottle) can only wish it could achieve. Plus Plus' "X"factor largely comes from this fragrance's most unique "milk note" which is achieved by the use of diacetyl - combined with detergent-like citrus notes the lemon gelatto is the most apparent note right off the first spritz. Also prominent in the top are green notes which Diesel refers to as "Frozen Green Notes" in their official scent pyramid. I smell menthol and I think a bit of eucalyptus to create the "frozen" illusion in this fragrance. The top of this pyramid is certainly very complicated and well balanced, while the rest of the blogosphere goes on about Roadster's use of mint, this forgotten masterpiece goes unmentioned as possibly on of the best integrations of mint in perfume history. Plus Plus is also a fruity perfume, the selection of fruits used is one that would go well with ice (such as in a pina colada), I definitley smell allyl amyl glycomate, which is used to produce a pineapple scent, as well as the tiniest touch of aldehyde c-18 to give the coconuty aspect. Also, there is a red berry mix, mostly raspberry with just a hint of cassis rounding out the fruity top. Ethyl heptaonate helps out the "juicyness" factor if im not mistaken.

The notes of of the middle fragrance are where this fragrance really shines and proves its level of sophistication. It is intensely spicy, with prominent notes of coriander, cardamom, white sage, and my favourite: pimento berries. Any fragrance which uses pimento (such as one of my all time favs Versailles Homme) immediatley grabs my nose's attention and Diesel Plus Plus did exactly that from the first spritz many years ago. The heart of this fragrance in my opinion, is the use of Birch Bark, and it is what puts the middle layer of the fragrance into prime gourmande territory. Birch bark is also the main flavour ingredient in a soft drink that many of many American and Canadian readers will will imediatley be able to conjure up memories of - Dr. Pepper.

The middle notes are very long lasting, so one does not usually reach the base in a wearing, unless its the by next morning. Diesel's official pyramid lists the base as a blend of musk, tonka bean, sandalwood, moss, vetiver and nutmeg. The musks used here are are a combination of very clean white musks, the most prominent to my nose are galaxolide and habanolide. The sandalwood note is abstract using synthetic molecules, and a heavy dose of coumarin, isobutivan and vanillin plant this fragrance comfortable among its contemporaries of the late 90's / early 00's. The fragrance is a juxtaposition of cold against hot, like a frozen cocktail on a hot summer day. It is reminscent of hot days on the beach without using the cliched suntain lotion accord. A great fragrance to bring along on vacation, or just wear anytime your stuck in bad weather and feel like lifting your mood. At current prices hovering around 9.99-19.99 its a great buy.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

re: death of perfumery and re: an interesting time for perfumers

I'd like to write not so much a response , but my own opinion on a topic which has come up recently on two of my favourite blogs. Both writers have taken a different approach - Octavian at 1000fragrances and Alex @ Musicien des Odeurs (both blogs linked to the right) have recently discussed the new environment in which perfumers must work, namely the fact that many classical raw materials are now being restricted or banned. Last night while reading through Octavians post about our 2010 oakmoss doomsday, I became very disillusioned about my future in the perfume industry. My style of perfumery definitely leans towards the classical - while I love fragrances such as the never ending series of fun concept perfumes by CDG and CB IHP, the perfumes that have really spoken to me in my lifetime have been classical compositions, and perfumes which hold at their heart natural ingredients as opposed to a synthetic one. Perfumes such as Creed's Royal English Leather, Chanel's Coco / No.19, Desprez's Versailles Homme and Serge Luten's Ambre Sultan have shaped my perfume soul since I started down this journey in scent. I have always been fond of herbs, spices, woods and other natural materials since I read many stories in my childhood in which these had special properties. As I said earlier, while I find perfumes such as "bottled dry cleaning" a great and fun exercise, an unshakable part of me still feels that working with the traditional timeless raw materials is serious perfumery - for me, its where the magic lies.

So what do we do now in the wake of this inevitable paradigm shift in perfumery? Octavian first suggests stocking up on bottles (first thing I did was navigate to ebay after reading his article) while Alex suggests we must not fear the future but celebrate the restrictions, and see what new can come from the tools at our disposal. Personally, I am not as optimistic as Alex, but I think there are always ways we can overcome any situation and make the best of it. First of all, I will not stop working with any of the restricted ingredients, even if I do so only for myself, I will continue to work with them as if nothing ever happened. Fragrance is art, and if the regime demands that I stop writing my poetry I will continue to do it in secret. Second of all, once my career gets started I will make it my personal mission to seek out new naturals and put them to use. If the IFRA writes them off, then I go back in search for more - the world is a big place!

In conclusion, I must admit that I am very saddened, as this type of corporate destruction of the human experience is all around me, not only in the IFRA 43 restrictions. Our water, our air, and our food - especially here in North America - there is no longer any taste in it. It is very hard to feel alive during these times. However, many people in history have gone through worse and so the show must go on.
- Matt

Friday, April 3, 2009

Do any perfumers smoke ?

I think for the most part, smoking is one of the stupidest things a perfumer can do - but since we're all still human I am wondering if some of them do ? I have been an on-off smoker most of my life since my teenage years (mostly off) and I had been off cigs for two years now but somehow I picked it back up again during my last visit to Toronto (its a great stress combatant!). Since then, I have found that it is horribly to the detriment of my ability to do anything perfume related! My sense of smell is much worse in general and not only that but I am no longer able to evaluate my work on my own hand (everything seems to have a mysterious "burnt tobacco accord" to it that I swear I never put in there :P). Today I am re-sniffing a chypre that I had put away for a few weeks to try and gain some inspiration for, but I find that I am not able to smell it the way I would like. I don't plan on quitting smoking until April 15th which is the deadline for another design competition that is taking its toll on my stress levels right now - so I guess I am going to have to live with it for the time being. I am guessing most modern perfumers don't smoke but did a larger percentage of them smoke in the 50's 60's or even 20's 30's ? I wonder if the nose just acclimates eventually as I know long term smokers don't smell the smell of stale smoke on themselves anymore. It'll be interesting to see if I can find out in another two weeks!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Bond no.9 Brooklyn Bottle Competition

I got a very nice email from the people @ Bond last month so I figured I'd try my hand at designing a bottle for last months Bond No.9 Brooklyn bottle competition. I'm not from BK so I had to really try and get inside the mindset of a new-yorker for inspiration for themes/images that would really represent the New York borough. I though of a design in which the bottle's background was an architectural schematic of the Brooklyn Bridge, and the BK theme was continued by the famous subway numbers which travel the area. I created a black top to mimic the iconic subway signs and placed on it some numbers of routes which travel throughout the area. These subway route markers also make up the centerpieces of the bottle as well as a Bond No.9 logo in the middle (each design submitted had the requirement of either the round logo or text logo to be prominent on the bottle). I'm certainly no graphics whiz and my background is definitley not the visual arts but heres my best shot! *fingers crossed*

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Toronto Fashion Week part 2

just a quick blog post here to bring anyone interested up to speed on my time here at Toronto LG Fashion week, Ive had an interesting few days and had the chance to meet many new people related to fashion and perfume. This has thus far been my best real world education as I was able to talk to the corporate (fragrance) buyers for a few major retailers. I also took the time to talk to store managers, and SA's to gain insight on all levels of how to execute a successful fragrance. Aside from perfume I was also able to meet with some very interesting and talented people, notably the master tailor from the Tom Ford brand, as he was in town for a promotion at the same time we were here. It's really awesome to talk to someone so passionate and learned about their craft!

Right now I'm preparing some notes because I have a television interview tonight about perfume, I've never done one but I have been practicing talking about perfume to new audiences during the week, I had a lot of fun speaking with the SA's at the Chanel boutique yesterday!

Wish me luck for tonight! ;)

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Strictly Perfume Reviews Search Engine

Hey everyone, I have been toying with some google code to make a search engine stricly for perfume reviews, meaning that it will only return content that are specifically perfume reviews and blog posts from our favourite resources on the internet. Try it out so far it should work, for example you only need to type in the perfume house and the name such as

Example "Serge Lutens Arabie" or "Musc Ravageur Frederic Malle"

I thought this would be a usefull tool incase you are reading a review of mine and I reference a perfume that you might not be familiar with, now its easy to find it within one click. I will move this to the sidebar in about a week so its always easy to find when you are reading a review :)

Saturday, March 14, 2009

LG Toronto Fashion Week 2009

'Tis the season for fashion weeks across many of the fashion centers of the world, and this week I will be visiting LG Fashion Week in Toronto, Canada. I will be going on industry passes with a friend of mine for whom I am doing some consulting work. I am eager to see what it will be like as oddly enough I have never attended a fashion event in here in Canada! I think I may be part of some interviews and I will likely have to say something interesting on the topic of perfume and the industry in Canada. I have been doing my homework all last week and also putting together some outfits to fit in with the fashion crowd ;)

I think its going to be alot of fun and I hope to meet some people also interested in perfume during such an event - Wish me luck :)

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Shiseido Inoui

This took a few wearings to figure it out (not that I will ever FULLY figure it out ;) and then even a few more before I could even attempt to write a blog article about it. The first thing I notice about it is that it is very much of its period. The initial blast of the topnotes oddly has a very animalic touch that recalls Halston, however the miracle is that this facet fades dramatically in the first few minutes and receeds very far into the background. Once one gets past the opening the impression is that the style of Inoui was heavily influenced by the 1971 launch of Chanel's no.19 as they are very similar in the skeleton. Where the differences in these two perfumes lie are truly apparent are in the decoration, and while I love both perfumes I think I may somewhat favour the herbal and piney heart of Inoui over the more feminine floral heart of No.19. The most interesting part of Inoui is despite its assured green and herbal notes, it never steps over the line of crisp; this perfume is never piercingly sharp or sour as many of its family members can be. I believe this restraint was achieved by the counterbalance of fruity notes (Freesia, Aldehyde C14 Peach). One minor fault in my humble opinion, I do truly enjoy the beautiful iris/ionone note in No.19 which to me is the defining feminine smell (I associate with cosmetic products), that is sadly not in full force in Inoui. Inoui is very harmoniously blended, in the old ethic of the "abstract perfume", a very subtle perfumed into its drydown but by no means a skinscent. What I love is how it does not lose its complexity or impact over the course of its development. In fact, its drydown in my opinion is more beautiful than any other part of it, it is so soft and perfect it seems almost angelic.

Unfortunately, this fragrance was reportedly discontinued because a key ingredient was no longer able to be sourced - to me this is baffling! The question is; was this a decision made out of artistic integrity? It is a mystery since if it was a particular natural ingredient that became too expensive, could there not be a synthetic analogue, or if it was a discontinued base could not a similar base be found/made? Maybe this story is just a rumour covering up the real reason for its demise... Perhaps one day I will find the answer but for now it is as much a mystery as the magic of this perfume!

If anyone knows the name of the particular in-house perfumer of Shiseido that made this fragrance could you please leave it as a comment, thx :)