Now this is a product that I can talk a lot about. A passion of mine for years, I have always been drawn to scents from a very young age and was one of those regular reviewers on makeupalley.com, reminiscing about scent notes, sillage and drydowns. Ha! It’s been years since I’ve even logged into my account on that website but just the thought brings back so many memories of the sheer number of scents I’ve been through.
You see, I was a huge fan of the history of fragrance houses such as Guerlain, Christian Dior, Chanel etc. Stories of secret base accords that go into each Guerlain fragrance used to fascinate me and the ability to do what a true ‘nose’ (yes, that is what perfume creators are called last time I checked) was something I aspired to do.
Being in a situation where I became very aware of the fact that I reacted to certain skincare products meant that I was shuttled into the natural skincare world very quickly. But I still couldn’t let go of my fragrances, and still to this day I have my coveted Shalimar, No19, J’adore and Boudouir pure parfum oils in delectable little bottles as well as more Eau de Parfums and Eau de Toilettes than I can count. I love No5 by Chanel but shall I tell you something that is honestly better? Arpege by Lanvin. Just try it – you’ll see what I mean. Those aldehydic notes that some find too much in No5 are balanced by a skill and effect that is just simply stunning in Arpege. Talking about aldehydes, I’m one of those people that actually liked Apres L’Ondee, although everyone I ask to smell it thinks its too powdery or like aniseed balls 😦 . Not right people!
So what was or is my favourite scent? Soooo difficult to answer. And I can’t choose just one. I just can’t. So I’m going to choose three. Because that is a nice odd number. The first is probably L’Heure Bleu by Guerlain. This scent was the first to evoke a feeling for me as well as just be a perfume. The feeling was of a ‘shift’ in reality when the Twilight Hour of dusk appears. The shift is ethereal and ambivalent. Something to wonder at but be cautious of too. The colour dark blue has always been my favourite colour since childhood and certain shades of it also produce this feeling of mellow calmness but wonder. Maybe the word dreamy describes it in a very scant sort of way. How apt this perfume then be called ‘The Blue Hour’ 🙂
The second is a more modern creation by the Fashion House Hermes and is called Eau des Merveilles. And indeed it is a Bottle of Wonders. The composition of this hits the dry accord perfectly. This fragrance does the ‘salty’ note to perfection. Much better than Dune by Dior in my opinion. There is a note which I can’t quite pin point but think it may be the grey amber that evokes this salty feeling for me. I have tried to get my hands on grey amber (aka ambergris) but to no avail. It is a very pricey and tricky piece to get a hold of but I have already created a few fragrances in writing that I want to try once I get this piece.
Last one is an olfactory gem that isn’t readily available anymore. It breaks my heart that it is no longer in mainstream production (you’ve got to hunt one down at exorbitant prices) and if you ever needed a reason to make your own fragrances then this would be it I think. My love is the fragrance called Kingdom by Alexander McQueen. One of the first scents he released I believe and one created under his tutelage rather than after his passing. It had an odd note off the bat that some described as BO! Yes, like body sweat odour and it was more than one person but this was just the top note of a pungent ginger that very quickly died down to a magical sweet comfort accord. You just had to be patient and wait for the magic to happen and not be put off by the initial impact you got from sniffing it. The note was much more noticeable on a strip rather than on ones person – the body heat would quickly absorb the headiness. The bottle was amazing. In the shape of an abstract heart. I got this for my brother to give to his wife back when they were newly engaged more than 10 years ago now (it was already becoming difficult to acquire back then) and she has never forgotten the scent – for more than just sentimental reasons – and still states that nothing has come close to the sheer luxury and effect of that unique composition. I have one more bottle hidden away in the back of my wardrobe – far enough away that I can’t reach it easily so as not to use it! Every once in a while when I’m doing a spring clean I may spray it on my wrist, then sit and let the wafts of amber, myrrh and oakmoss notes overtake you. I ardently hope that the new owners of the Fashion House will bring it back mainstream and unaltered as in its former glory. And I do mean completely unaltered – even that discordant top note that some folks just couldn’t get. It’s important that be there too. Here’s hoping.
I can honestly talk about perfume for a long while. I hope you’ve realised that I probably went into creating scents more for reasons of being passionate about it rather than a health issue. I do use all natural though – essential oils, absolutes and CO2s – in my own creations. Because this is the nature of the products I was already working with due to my skin allergies. I started composing with naturals and this is what I’m comfortable with. I haven’t ever used synthetics although I have dabbled with isolates which I find fascinating albeit a little alien to work with. I can quite adequately predict how a sweet orange note will round off a composition but am completely in the dark as to what the isolate will bring to the table.
I also have a firm belief in the power of aromatherapy and that this is much more potent in naturally derived aromatic substances than from synthetically created ones. I have no argument against the fact that all fragrances, both natural and synthetic, have the potential to evoke feelings as powerful as desire and passion but do they all have physical benefits as well as the psychological effects? I don’t have a blind study to prove this (let me know if there is one out there) but I believe that natural aromas do bring physical benefits if used respectfully – the medicine is always in the dose. That these physical benefits come from the natural feeling of wellbeing and stress reduction that fragrances produce may well be their main quality.
In future posts I hope to introduce you to the fragrance creations already listed on Etsy and talk a little about some of the compositions that have been aging for months but I haven’t listed yet. I will try to talk about my creative process of making accords but this may possibly come across as jibberish and only coherent to me. I find it difficult to put into words how I choose notes to make fragrances. It’s like describing in words feelings you can only feel.