Thirteen Thoughts: Perfumer Interview Series – JoAnne Bassett of JoAnne Bassett Perfumes

thirteen-thoughts-v2_800_shadow1Thirteen thoughts from perfumers around the globe. Each perfumer profiled at Perfume Polytechnic has been presented with the same set of thirteen questions that probe into scent memories, imagination, education, history, the creative process and philosophy. How each perfumer answers these questions, and what form the answers take, is up to them. Tune in each week for a new instalment to learn more about the olfactory arts and how perfumers think about smell.

Today is the second of five, weekly instalments in Series Two of Thirteen Thoughts. Today’s interview features JoAnne Bassett of JoAnne Bassett Perfumes, who is based in Southern California. JoAnne is a certified aromatherapist, Royal Alchemist, natural perfumer, and teaches scent appreciation classes and “Create Your Own Perfume” workshops. JoAnne’s perfume company is a green company, using sustainable materials, some of which she grows and extracts herself. She is the author of Sacred Scents.

Last week Mandy Aftel of Aftelier Perfumes answered the thirteen questions. You can read her interview here. Coming guests in Series Two of Thirteen Thoughts include Andy Tauer, Ellen Covey and Shelley Waddington.

You can catch up with Series One of Thirteen Thoughts here.

The intention of Thirteen Thoughts is to let each perfumer speak for themselves about who they are, what drives them, and what they do with fragrance, so without any further ado, let me introduce you to…

JoAnne Bassett of JoAnne Bassett Perfumes

JoAnne Bassett

JoAnne Bassett

  1. Tell us about a significant olfactory memory from your childhood.

I grew up on a farm in Minnesota. We had huge lilac bushes that were more like trees. Every Spring we would have large vases in our house. I remember every room filled with this sweet yet tangy smell. I will never forget that.

  1. What is your “origin story”? When, why and how did you decide to become a perfumer?

In 1993 I became a Certified Aromatherapist. From the beginning I would make aromatherapy synergies for stores, resorts and salons. These were often commercial fragrancing projects using a diffuser I imported and private label lines. The owner or manager would always want me to make them a natural fragrance. So I started making perfume potions and then I created eau de parfums. It really just happened all by itself.

  1. Do you have any formal training in perfumery, or are you self-taught? Have there been any mentors or other personal or cultural influences on your work as a perfumer?

I took a blending class for my aromatherapy business but I am self-taught as a natural perfumer. I did not have a perfume mentor.

  1. Who are your favourite perfumers or perfume houses, and what do you like about their work?

I love the style of the French perfume houses like Guerlain. Beautiful and elegant bottles and packaging. A modern-day perfumer I admire is Roja Dove. He has class and some of his perfumes I tried in his store in Harrods in London I enjoyed as well as the bottles and packages. My style of perfumery is classic and I admire perfumers and perfume houses that still honor that style.

SMLall-new

JoAnne Bassett Perfumes in hand-blown glass bottles

  1. Describe your brand to us: tell us about the kind(s) of perfume that you make, as well as your brand’s philosophy or ethos.

When I was five I started wearing fragrance so by the time I was in my late 30’s I became chemically sensitized and could no longer wear my Joy or Chanel 5. So for me to wear perfume I had to create it from essential oils and absolutes. My indie, artisan and niche brand is based on 100% natural perfumes using only essential oils, absolutes, tinctures and macerations that I make from my own plants, and flowers. I use organic and wild crafted oils when I can find them and really like supporting the small distillers and farms.

My favorite material I like to work with is rose otto and have a good collection of them including Bulgarian vintage white rose. It is the “flower of light”. I love working with the vintage oils I have and use them mainly in my Custom Bespoke Perfumes.

My perfumes awaken the beauty within™.

  1. How do you come up with the idea for a new perfume? For example, do ideas come to you spontaneously, do you work conceptually, or do you try to fill gaps in your range?

My perfume collections have come to me as a result of my travels. The places, and the memories they evoke make it easy for me to be transported back and to create my experience and put it in a bottle. If I discover a new essential oil I may create a collection around that like my Royal Alchemy Collection has sacred frankincense from Oman and I named them Sacred Frankincense 1-6. Often a name or an idea comes to me and I just create the perfume from there. It is very easy for me to do.

levoyage

Le Voyage by JoAnne Bassett

  1. What element of your perfume making process do you think readers of this blog would be interested or surprised to learn about?

Being a Royal Alchemist I perform alchemy on the fragrances I create. They are filled with energy and intention. They are much more than perfume.

I am a Couture Custom Perfumer and I create custom perfumes that transform people’s lives using my gifts of clairvoyance and more. In my 22 years of creating one-of-a kind bespoke perfumes, I have seen miraculous transformations in my clients’ lives. My gift of working with Divine energies enables me to combine precious oils to support clients and miraculous changes come quickly and effortlessly. Both my male and female clients have experienced miraculous changes in their relationships, finances, jobs and where and how they live.

  1. What are the current challenges you face as a perfumer, both creatively and in regard to manufacturing, distributing and marketing your perfume?

In the US we have not had the compliance issues that the IFRA (International Fragrance Association) regulations of Europe have caused. I feel it is a matter of time before we will have to comply also and can no longer use oakmoss and some of the ingredients they suggest. It affects our distribution as we have to follow their guidelines to sell to the countries being regulated.

There are also many new artisan and indie brands coming to market; both natural and synthetic brands. The market is full of new perfumes and the niche brands are saturated. Finding a way to be different and to be found is key. My quality of ingredients sets me apart and you can smell the difference.

Some of the JoAnne Bassett range of eau de parfums

  1. How has your work as a perfumer affected your perception of everyday smells?

My nose has always been very sensitive. So nothing is different there. I continue to be curious about any smell I do not recognize.

  1. Many ingredients that are edible are also used in fragrance (chocolate, vanilla, coffee and rose, to name a few). If you could reverse this process and turn any perfume ingredient into an edible ingredient, what would that be? Which fragrance ingredient do you think would taste nice as a flavour?

Tuberose would be my choice. It is so sensual.

  1. If you had a time machine, which historical period in perfumery would you like to go back to and work in as a perfumer?

The Belle Epoque (“Beautiful Age”) in France.

  1. If you could invent a new olfactory gadget, tool or technology, what would it be and how would it benefit perfumers and/or society?

The ability to extract raw materials like lilac or violets easily and effortlessly would be a dream. Now we have to tincture or enfleurage raw materials and it is a lengthy process.

  1. What is the purpose of perfume?

In general to make you feel good. My purpose is to Uplift Humanity’s Consciousness Through Botanical Fragrances™.


I hope you have enjoyed today’s interview with JoAnne Bassett. I would like to extend sincere thanks to JoAnne for taking the time to answer these questions and to share some of her thoughts and philosophies with us. I really enjoyed finding out about JoAnne’s interesting work with alchemy and clairvoyance: such an interesting way to create perfume, infused with healing energies. If you want to find out more about how JoAnne became a perfumer and her journey into scent, her book, Sacred Scents, delves into these topics more deeply.

Sacred Scents Book cover

Sacred Scents by JoAnne Bassett

To find out more about JoAnne Bassett’s perfumes (and to purchase them) and her classes, visit her website here. Joanne’s perfumes are also listed on Fragrantica and Basenotes.

Next Week:

Visit Perfume Polytechnic next week to find out how the marvellous Andy Tauer answers the thirteen questions in Thirteen Thoughts, a Perfumer Interview Series. Sign up to follow this blog so you don’t miss an episode of this series with fabulous perfumers from around the globe.

Intellectual Property:

All interview answers and photographs were provided courtesy of the perfumer, and remain their intellectual property. All interview questions remain the intellectual property of Perfume Polytechnic. Please do not reproduce interviews or images without permission.

Thirteen Thoughts: Perfumer Interview Series – Mandy Aftel of Aftelier Perfumes

thirteen-thoughts-v2_800_shadow1Thirteen thoughts from perfumers around the globe. Each perfumer profiled at Perfume Polytechnic has been presented with the same set of thirteen questions that probe into scent memories, imagination, education, history, the creative process and philosophy. How each perfumer answers these questions, and what form the answers take, is up to them. Tune in each week for a new instalment to learn more about the olfactory arts and how perfumers think about smell.

Today marks the launch of Series Two of Thirteen Thoughts, a Perfumer Interview Series. There will be five, weekly instalments in the new series, featuring perfumers Mandy Aftel, JoAnne Bassett, Andy Tauer, Ellen Covey and Shelley Waddington.

You can catch up with Series One of Thirteen Thoughts here.

Today, Mandy Aftel of Aftelier Perfumes answers the thirteen questions. As Mandy is such an iconic figure in the perfume world, I hardly need to say very much about her. As many of you will already know, Mandy makes the most wonderful natural perfumes and scented wares, as well as the Chef’s Essences range of food flavourings, and organic teas. Mandy is also a perfume educator, and is the author of several key, influential texts about perfumery and the sense of smell, including Essence and Alchemy, Aroma: The Magic of Essential Oils in Food & Fragrance (co-written with chef Daniel Patterson), and Fragrant: The Secret Life of Scent.

The intention of Thirteen Thoughts is to let each perfumer speak for themselves about who they are, what drives them, and what they do with fragrance, so without any further ado, let me introduce you to…

Mandy Aftel of Aftelier Perfumes

MandyHeadShot

Mandy Aftel

  1. Tell us about a significant olfactory memory from your childhood.

I remember being struck by, and very interested in, the impolite smells of my own body… I liked them, and found it fascinating that they were made by me.

  1. What is your “origin story”? When, why and how did you decide to become a perfumer?

More than 20 years ago I wanted to write a novel, and for no particular reason decided the protagonist should be a perfumer. I imagined a character with some mysterious, sexy allure, but knew next to nothing about the profession, so I began to research it in my usual obsessive way. Besides collecting over 200 antique books about perfumery, I took a solid perfume class at the local aromatherapy studio. I was completely smitten by the absolutely gorgeous natural essences, they spoke to me in a way, and I made such a wonderful perfume in class that a friend who took the class with me said we should start a perfume company. We founded Grandiflorum Perfumes and started selling in Neiman Marcus and Bergdorf Goodman’s. So I actually fell into it quite by accident, and never did write the novel.

AntiquePerfumeBooks

Some of Mandy’s antique perfume books

  1. Do you have any formal training in perfumery, or are you self-taught? Have there been any mentors or other personal or cultural influences on your work as a perfumer?

I am entirely self-taught, inspired by the magic of the natural essences — and old books about perfumery. I am heavily influenced by Bob Dylan; the whole way he’s done his art and life are a complete inspiration. I love that he’s so gifted with words, but goes after a particular kind of sound that’s in his head. I can feel that from his music, all the different ways that’s been manifested. It informs my own efforts to express — through scent — things that are locked inside my head.

  1. Who are your favourite perfumers or perfume houses, and what do you like about their work?

The only perfumes I really follow are the ones that are made by my students, and I especially enjoy watching both them and their perfumes develop over the years.

EauDeParfums2

Aftelier Perfumes fragrances

  1. Describe your brand to us: tell us about the kind(s) of perfume that you make, as well as your brand’s philosophy or ethos.

The first company Grandiflorum Perfumes came to a bad business end. Now I love being able to combine my love of research, writing, and flavors & aromas into creating perfumes for my own line, Aftelier Perfumes. I find my creative inspiration in the natural perfume materials — I totally enjoy the hunt for the best versions from around the world (I actually enjoy everything about my business!).

I think of my perfume line as a whole work in itself, almost like a book to be edited and fit together chapter by chapter. I consider the relationship between my fragrances, trying to complement and diversify the emotional experience that people can have with my perfumes. Sometimes I myself get bored with some part of my line and look for the experience that is missing or can be done better.

AtMyPerfumersOrgan

Mandy Aftel at her Perfumer’s Organ

  1. How do you come up with the idea for a new perfume? For example, do ideas come to you spontaneously, do you work conceptually, or do you try to fill gaps in your range?

My main goal is to capture a memory or experience I’ve had and share that through scent – like a poet would do with words. My perfumes start as a conversation between two ingredients; that wouldn’t be obvious when you smell the finished perfume at the end, but that’s the way it starts in my head. I’m always trying to solve some aesthetic problem that’s just beyond my comfort zone, so I’m always learning something new on everything I make, which I enjoy.

AntiqueOilBottles

Antique oil bottles

  1. What element of your perfume making process do you think readers of this blog would be interested or surprised to learn about?

I’m pretty ruthless about my work, I don’t pay attention to what people think or what’s fashionable. I don’t think about the past or the history of perfumery — maybe because I use a natural palette and there’s so little history to go on, or maybe it’s just my nature.

I am inspired by food, color, and good writing — also by the quirky beauty of the past, I need some of what I consider beautiful every day. I cannot believe my good fortune in working every day with materials that are so gorgeous, diverse, and historical.

PalimpsestQuarterOunce

Palimpsest by Aftelier Perfumes

  1. What are the current challenges you face as a perfumer, both creatively and in regard to manufacturing, distributing and marketing your perfume?

Every new perfume presents a creative challenge – that just comes with the territory as part of it, not something new or special. I relish the hunt for the materials – both completely new essences and better versions of ones that I already have. Over the years I have bought an astounding amount of stuff that turns out not to be any good, and I have to throw it out, but that’s part of the challenge that I love. I get bowled over by my good fortune at making perfumes that speak to me and please me, and that miraculously have found an audience with other people; it’s quite gratifying to do something that other people believe in. I love creating a handmade product, so I’m actually not facing any challenges about growing or increasing my production or distribution. I’m not interested in being in stores; I love the personal connection of selling directly to the customer. If it weren’t for the internet, I couldn’t do it this way.

  1. How has your work as a perfumer affected your perception of everyday smells?

Well, I like the funk, in the perfume and period. Having such a wide palette of natural aromas to work with has increased my awareness of the smells from doing gardening, or just being out walking – I’m aware of how vibrant they feel to me because it’s my métier. Smells are very personal to me, not so much about identifying things individually, but to learn the subtle differences and variations between smells. There is such a glorious panoply of fragrances in the real world.

  1. Many ingredients that are edible are also used in fragrance (chocolate, vanilla, coffee and rose, to name a few). If you could reverse this process and turn any perfume ingredient into an edible ingredient, what would that be? Which fragrance ingredient do you think would taste nice as a flavour?

Because I like odd things… I think frankincense would be interesting to cook with (I already use it in my perfumed tea). Or finding some way to cook with patchouli would intrigue me.

Frankincense

Frankincense resin

  1. If you had a time machine, which historical period in perfumery would you like to go back to and work in as a perfumer?

I’d love to see the turn of the 19th century, when most of the natural perfume materials were in play. It was just on the cusp of thinking of perfume as an art form, and before it became so dominated by the synthetics. But honestly, I’m very thrilled to be working in this period, it’s a wonderful time where I can choose from a wealth of very high-quality natural materials, create a perfume that expresses my personal aesthetics, and have a direct relationship with my customers.

AntiqueCasesSolidPerfume

Mandy Aftel’s solid perfumes, housed in beautiful antique cases.

  1. If you could invent a new olfactory gadget, tool or technology, what would it be and how would it benefit perfumers and/or society?

Well, this isn’t very complicated, but what I want most right now are some really really beautiful — like sculpturally beautiful — perfume blotter holders, to keep the scent strips organized while creating a perfume. I like every part of the perfume-making process to be beautiful (I’ve already invested in letter-press printed, all-cotton heavyweight perfume blotters).

  1. What is the purpose of perfume?

I make perfume, and people wear it, as a vacation from reality. It is a place — an ideal place — that you can visit without traveling. It is restorative and it makes you feel good. It has no practical purpose whatsoever; we wear it as a personal adornment like jewelry. It simply allows us to inhale bliss and however briefly, stop time.


I hope you’ve enjoyed the first instalment of this second series of Thirteen Thoughts with Mandy Aftel.

I want to thank Mandy for taking time out of her very busy schedule creating and travelling to answer my questions. Mandy has been a delight to communicate with throughout this process, and so friendly and approachable! I really enjoyed reading her very personal and considered responses.

I will be writing a feature article on Mandy’s Chef’s Essences flavour sprays in the coming weeks. Stay tuned, or follow Perfume Polytechnic so you don’t miss reading about these fabulous food flavours and how you can use them in your cooking.

If you’d like to find out more about Mandy and her fragrant wares (and buy them), visit the Aftelier Perfumes website. You can also find Aftelier fragrances listed on Fragrantica and Basenotes.

For those of you who want to learn more about perfumery, the sense of smell, the history of perfume and/or how to use essential oils in cooking, you can read more about and purchase some of Mandy’s books on these topics at the Aftelier website.

Next week:

Stay tuned to see how perfumer JoAnne Bassett answers the thirteen questions in Thirteen Thoughts, a Perfumer Interview Series.

Intellectual Property:

All interview answers and photographs were provided courtesy of the perfumer, and remain their intellectual property. All interview questions remain the intellectual property of Perfume Polytechnic. Please do not reproduce interviews or images without permission.

JAMES&CO Fragrance Reviews: Winterosa, Elegancia, D’Azul and Seven.

logo2

Photo courtesy James&Co website, copyright Justin James http://www.jamesandcoscents.com/

JAMES&CO is a new niche fragrance house from Sydney, Australia. Its premiere range, all created by Justin James, offers four fragrances: Winterosa, Elegancia, D’Azul and Seven. Winterosa and Elegancia are described as feminine fragrances, D’Azul as unisex, and Seven as masculine.

Justin James

Justin James. Photo courtesy James&Co website, copyright Justin James http://www.jamesandcoscents.com/

Justin James, who is a graphic designer by trade, prefers not to call himself a perfumer, choosing to describe himself instead as “an artist who makes perfume” in a recent interview at The Olfactive. The distinction Justin makes is that although he has had some training in perfumery, he considers perfumers to be fully fledged, trained chemists as well, and as he doesn’t have that kind of training, he doesn’t consider himself a perfumer. Modesty aside, Justin is off to a great start with the perfumes he’s created, and I was impressed by his first four offerings. Justin’s background in perfume also includes fragrance reviews in print and on YouTube under the moniker of the Prince of Cologne.

I’m excited to be one of the first to be invited to review Justin James’ creations from JAMES&CO, a new Australian fragrance house. I’ve reviewed each of the four fragrances from the launch range and hope you enjoy reading about these new and interesting local creations.

Winterosa

PROMOS4

Photo courtesy James&Co, copyright Justin James.

Winterosa is a rich, sweet, yet curiously zesty fragrance. It’s bright and energetic on first spray, and reminded me a little of the character of the fresh, sparkling opening of Eau de Shalimar by Guerlain, and also of Shiloh, a luminous rose fragrance created by Michel Roudnitska for Hors La Monde.

The JAMES&CO website lists the notes as: Verbena Mint, Steel Rose, Gardenia, Clean Amber, Green Wood, Fig Accord.

On opening, the zest of the verbena mint is quite apparent, accompanied by a strong rose, quite fresh and crisp. The verbena mint lends the fragrance a citrussy, cologne-like character at first, but the fragrance soon morphs into something richer, sweeter and deeper, with fig and gardenia rounding out the composition. The fig note is slightly earthy and compliments the fresher green wood notes lurking in the background. The gardenia emerges around half an hour into the development, adding a slightly intoxicating, tropical sweetness. As the fragrance dries down, the green freshness of the verbena mint lingers (but not its cool, camphoraceous aspects), the fig comes more to the fore, and the rose and gardenia soften.

The JAMES&CO website describes Winterosa as follows:

Where traditional florals exude a warm and powdery appeal, Winterosa turns the appeal around 180 degrees to give coolness and a crisper take on the traditional floral fragrance.  From the creamy headiness of Gardenia, to a cool dewey Rose. With the additions of Mint and Fig lending a freshness and sweetness respectively, making Winterosa a unique scent for the floral lover after something a little different.

Labelled as a feminine fragrance by JAMES&CO, this is a lively and interesting take on a floral fragrance. It has a complex development and real depth. Winterosa has good projection and longevity too, lasting around three hours before becoming a softer skin scent. This is my favourite in the new JAMES&CO line-up.

Elegancia

PROMOS3

Photo courtesy James&Co, copyright Justin James.

Elegancia is herbal, citric and green on first spray. The combination of mint and citrus reminds me a little of Nuit Etoilée by Annick Goutal.

The notes are listed as: Mandarin, Peppermint, Bergamot, Green Rose, Clear Wood, Floral Accord.

Mandarin is such a lovely citrus note, and in Elegancia it takes on a slightly savoury, sour character that blends well with both the sharper bergamot and the peppermint. The peppermint is mildly cool and vegetal, and slightly savoury and woody too, just like a freshly-crushed peppermint leaf. The rose is indeed green and reminds me of chopped green acidic apples.

JAMES&CO describes Elegancia as:

…delicate, fresh and alluring.  Imagine a fresh green rose, covered in morning dew, floating on a crystal clear pond.  The air scented with sweet mandarin and peppermint.  The scent evokes an image of a woman in white, bare feet on moss by the pond, the light breeze shifting her dress ever so slightly.

Classed as a feminine fragrance, to my nose Elegancia would actually make a good unisex perfume. It reminds me of aromatic citrus fragrances by Annick Goutal, such as Nuit Etoilée and Mandragore; it’s classic, light, invigorating and restrained. The name Elegancia is spot on. It is indeed an elegant fragrance. Projection and longevity are only moderate, but as Elegancia is so top and middle-note and citrus heavy, this is to be expected. Elegancia becomes a skin scent on me after about two hours and sits quite close to the skin.

D’Azul

PROMOS

Photo courtesy James&Co, copyright Justin James.

Despite the name (which means “The Blue”), this unisex fragrance to me smells cool and green (in a herbaceous, vegetal sense), and not really “blue” at all.

Justin writes the following about the fragrance:

D’Azul (loose translation ‘The Blue”) takes the bare bones of a blue/ocean scent, and adds just enough intrigue to create something altogether unfamiliar yet immensely appealing.  Taking the clean coolness of absinthe and adding the sweetness of the Green Tea Accord has you walking a fine line between a dewey green forest and the crystalline blue ocean of the Costa Del Sol.

The notes are listed as: Green Tea Accord, Peppermint, Bergamot, Absinthe, Blue Wood, Fig Accord.

This really isn’t a typical aquatic, despite the name, but as Justin says, the fragrance is a twist on the ocean scent concept. The peppermint dominates on first spray, but there is also something slightly sweet and woody lurking in the background. About ten minutes in, more sweetness emerges alongside the peppermint, as hints of fig and licorice-like Absinthe start to emerge. The Green tea, which is sharper, fresher and greener than a traditional powdery matcha type of green tea, emerges quite a bit later in the development of the fragrance.

D’Azul sits like a cool layer or veil on the skin, an aura of mentholic, light and herbaceous notes hovering an inch above my wrist. This fragrance would be lovely on a really hot day as it’s refreshing, cool and light. It would be good to wear at the beach, even if, to my nose, it doesn’t evoke the ocean. D’Azul would be great for someone who likes light and uplifting fragrances, or for an environment where you want to smell clean and fresh, but not dominate the space with your scent. D’Azul is the subtlest fragrance in the JAMES&CO range and becomes a skin scent on me after one-and-a-half hours.

Seven

PROMOS2

Photo courtesy James&Co, copyright Justin James.

Seven is described by JAMES&CO as follows:

Seven does nothing quietly.  A sweet bright beginning leading into a dark, mysterious and brutally masculine story. Visions of a man sitting upon a high backed leather chair, his sweet pipe smoke still lingering in the air.  He speaks with confidence and power, a cheeky smirk hints at his sweetness and sex appeal.

The notes are listed as: Bergamot, Pink Peppercorn, Fig Accord, Tobacco, Leather, Civet, Clear Wood.

From reading this description and the list of notes I was expecting a brutish, masculine fragrance, something rough and dry and smoky and animalic. However, Seven, to me, is quite rounded and sweet. Masculine, yes, but veering more towards unisex, as it radiates such warmth and cosiness. This fragrance presents as a rich gourmand to my nose.

Seven warms on the skin and radiates a sweet and lovely sensuality that reminds me a little of Maurice Roucel’s Rochas Man, without any coffee or lavender, but with a similar kind of character. As the fragrance settles down, what I can mostly smell is an amalgam of subtle tobacco and sweet fig (which also adds a hint of green) and possibly a touch more sweetness from the civet, which is not fecal at all to my nose. Personally, as a lover of tobacco and leather, I would like these two notes to be a little stronger, but Seven is a well-blended and balanced composition as it is. This is the strongest fragrance from the new JAMES&CO lineup: Seven radiates enormously and lasts at least 6-8 hours before dying down.


I was excited to have the chance to be one of the first to review JAMES&CO’s new range of fragrances. It’s always exciting to discover new Australian perfumers, and I wish Justin James all the best in his new olfactory venture. JAMES&CO’s first four fragrances are well-composed and offer interesting twists on classic formulas. My favourite of the four is Winterosa, which emanates a rich and vibrant energy. I like Justin’s use of slightly more unusual citrus and aromatic notes including peppermint, verbena mint and mandarin. This makes for fragrances that steer subtly away from the norm, towards an aesthetic that is slightly left-of-centre and modern.

If you’d like to read more about JAMES&CO and find out more about the fragrances and Justin, visit the JAMES&CO website. All four fragrances can be purchased on the JAMES&CO website.

Disclaimer

Samples were provided by JAMES&CO at no charge, however, all opinions and views in this review are my own. Perfume Polytechnic strives to give honest and fair reviews and feedback to both readers and perfumers alike.

My Dad: A Tribute Through Scent Memories

11140129_10152852556073214_169184343958637322_oToday is the fifth anniversary of my father’s death. Above is a photo of my parents on their wedding day on New Year’s Day, 1966. Dad is only 23 here, handsome, and looking full of life and happiness. As several years have now passed since Dad’s illness and death, it’s easier to remember and reconstruct memories of who Dad was. When someone is so ill for so long, as my father was, you start to define the person by the illness they are afflicted with, and almost forget who they were before they got sick. Time does heal though, and my thoughts and memories of my Dad are more complete and balanced now as time passes. Smell is an undervalued sense. We normally remember people with photographs, videos, objects and stories. But what of the scent of a person, or those smells associated with a person that you hold dear? In tribute to my Dad today, I want to pass on a few scent memories associated with him…

Wood, Leather, Rattan

The smell of varnished, antique woods. Dad was an early collector of fine and unusual antique furniture. The smell of varnished cedar or mahogany or pine was everywhere in my childhood home. One of the pieces that defined my Dad was his enormous antique desk. Dad was one to always bring his work home. The desk was made of a polished, dark wood, topped with red, gilt-edged leather that smelled sweet and warm. Dad’s office chair was made of honey-coloured wood and had a woven rattan seat that smelled of dry hay, a smell that always made my nose itch a little.

Motor Oil and Metal

Whenever I catch a whiff of motor oil I think of my father. For years Dad ran a business importing spare parts for Italian cars, and ran a small mechanic’s workshop on the side. Dad also collected and tinkered with old cars, including a 1939 Packard, 1950s Thunderbirds, and rare Fiats. Old and collectible cars and their smell pervaded my childhood and adulthood. The collective smell of motor oil, metal, and fine interior wood, leather and fabric (the smells of vintage cars) reminds me of Dad, every time.

Chewing Gum

When I was little Dad would chew P.K. gum often. He would always offer me two pieces of “chewy” at a time, one too many for my small mouth. The cool, minty freshness of gum reminds me of my Dad.

Wine

Dad was an avid wine collector and at one stage his cellar housed 3,000 interesting and rare bottles. The cellar was unusual, cut into the side of the hill under our two-storey house. It was long and narrow and cool and dark, and smelt of damp, wet earth and salt from the water softener. There was the smell of wooden shelves and cork too.

Hamburgers and Chips

Back in the 1980s, you could really only get burgers at chain outlets or at Australian-style fish and chip shops. We occasionally enjoyed the latter as a family treat. The smell of one of these burgers always takes me back to my childhood, and waiting with Dad in the fish and chip shop for our food to cook. Dad loved burgers, no tomato or sauce, thank you very much, and he would (embarrassingly) do a series of twists and stretches in the shop every time we waited for our food. It was always a delight to open the paper at home and release the fatty, salty, steamy odour from within. I loved the smell of the over-seasoned mince meat and greasy chips straight out of the paper as a kid.

A Warm Hug

I associate Dad’s hugs with the smell of a clean, woolly jumper. I love the comforting, slightly fatty, animalic smell of wool. It’s a smell that always makes me feel cosy and loved.


RIP Paul White: 20/10/1942 – 9/4/2010. Scent memories are an important part of remembering and paying tribute to loved ones and helps keep their memory alive. Smells are so immediately evocative and help us recall people, special moments and emotions, often without much interception from the rational or thinking brain. I hope you’ve enjoyed me sharing some scent memories related to my Dad with you today. I hope that you will consider writing down (or sharing with me) some of your own scent memories of those who are special to you, and that together we can start to revalue the sense of smell and all that magic it conjures up for us.

Perfume Polytechnic Receives a Real Neat Blog Award

real-neat-blog-awardThis morning I woke up to a Real Neat Blog Award nomination from Dear Kitty. Some blog, which is a blog well worth reading. This is my first nomination for an award for Perfume Polytechnic, which is very exciting. Thanks for the nomination Dear Kitty!

Here are the rules for accepting a Real Neat Blog Award (feel free not to act upon them if you don’t have time; or don’t accept awards; etc.):

1. Put the award logo on your blog. 2. Answer 7 questions asked by the person who nominated you. 3. Thank the people who nominated you, linking to their blogs. 4. Nominate any number of bloggers you like, linking to their blogs. 5. Let them know you nominated them (by commenting on their blog etc.)

My seven questions are:

1. Where do most visits to your blog come from?

I get most of my referrals/views from Facebook, followed closely by search engines. But, if you mean which country do I get the most visits from: the United States is in the lead, followed closely by Australia.

2. What is your favourite sport?

I’ve never been a sports fan (as in spectator sports). As for participation in sport, when I was a kid I did rhythmic gymnastics, and could run very fast. The sports I engage in now I don’t really think of as sport: walking and some stretching and yoga. I do these for fitness, and they relax me and help with body aches and pains. I also enjoy gardening and mowing the lawn with our rotary mower for exercise!

3. What has been a special moment for you in 2015?

The most special moment of this year has been celebrating my tenth anniversary with my partner, Olly Technic.

4. What is your favourite quote?

“The day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” This quote is frequently (and probably incorrectly) attributed to Anaïs Nin, but was most likely authored by a former Director of Public Relations at John F. Kennedy University in Orinda, Elizabeth Appell.

5. What was your favourite class when still at school?

At University, I loved most of my classes, but got the most of Women’s Studies and Women’s Art History. When I was in High School I liked Art, Music, English and Drama best. I went to a special music High School, so we had a lot of music classes and extra-curricular rehearsals and performances. I enjoyed all of that very much.

6. Anything you had wished to have learned earlier?

I wish I’d learnt to drive properly (I still can’t) and to swim. I’m hoping to remedy the former soon, but can’t really see a need for the latter. Water and I don’t go together.

7. What musical instrument have you tried to play?

I’m a classically trained musician and as I mentioned above, went to a special music High School. I also studied music at University, and have a Diploma of Music in flute performance, a Bachelor of Arts majoring in music composition, and a Masters in music composition. I learnt the recorder at Primary School, as many children did, but my first real instrument (that I had proper lessons for) was the piano, which I started at age 10. I picked up the flute at age 11, and I also studied singing at High School when I was 14-15. I learnt the cello for a couple of years at age 18-19. These days I’m still a composer and I play the flute a bit. Mostly I create music using pre-recorded sounds (natural, vocal, etc.) and manipulate and edit them using computer software, though I have written for instruments too.

I nominate the following bloggers to receive the Real Neat Blog Award

1. White Stone Farm 2. —later, maybe, soon 3. Dear Kitty. Some blog (I hope you don’t mind me nominating you back!) 4. Michael Borkowsky 5. Megan in Sainte Maxime 6. The Perfume Magpie 7. Volatile Fiction

Your Seven Questions Are

1. If you’re old enough to remember, what do you miss the most about the pre-internet era? 2. Could you be self-sufficient if you had to be? 3. What are your thoughts on climate change? 4. What is your best developed sense? 5. Do you make anything with your hands? 6. What is the most thoughtful gift someone has given you? 7. Tell us about a person you miss, and what you miss most about them.

Ernesto Neto’s The Island Bird at the National Gallery of Victoria: Photo Essay

Neto6

The Island Bird by Ernesto Neto

The other day I wrote about Brazilian artist Ernesto Neto and his amazing installations that often use olfactory elements. Neto has been known to use large quantities of spice inside his sculptural, multi-sensory works. His pieces encourage engagement and interaction and can be touched, climbed in and upon, and often smelled.

The Island Bird by Ernesto Neto

The Island Bird by Ernesto Neto

Olly Technic and I visited The Island Bird at the National Gallery of Victoria the other day. The piece is a recent acquisition for the NGV, and will only be on display until the 19th of April, so if you’re in Melbourne, or visiting, and like good art, head along to the St Kilda Road gallery and check it out.

Neto5

The Island Bird by Ernesto Neto

I wasn’t sure if Neto had used any olfactory elements in The Island Bird, but sadly he didn’t. Nevertheless, Olly and I had a great time climbing inside Neto’s beautiful piece, which was knotted out of muted shades of primary-coloured rope. The floor of the piece was filled with squishy plastic balls, and it was hard work to move around inside the tunnels, a bit like walking on very loose sand, but much more difficult. We held on to the netting to help us move around, and in the back of the piece found a circular, cushioned area to sit in. It was lovely sitting in this spot, suspended in the air; a bit like being on a very large swing or on a boat with a subtle rocking motion.

Olly sitting inside The Island Bird

Olly sitting inside The Island Bird

I didn’t feel even slightly ill at ease or unsafe in The Island Bird. I think my childlike curiosity and excitement got the better of me and I forgot to feel afraid, which made for a very joyful, playful experience.

Polly Technic inside The Island Bird

Polly Technic inside The Island Bird

Neto

Detail of the ceiling of The Island Bird

Neto4

Squishy plastic balls fill the sculpture

Neto3

Walking through a tunnel in The Island Bird

The Island Bird is currently on display at NGV International, 180 St Kilda Road Melbourne, until the 19th April 2015. You can find it on the third floor.