Summer Series Part 1: Frida by En Voyage Perfumes

sheepWelcome to Perfume Polytechnic’s Summer Series. I’m taking a break over summer from writing new posts, but instead of stopping publishing altogether, I want to share with you some of my favourite posts from this year and earlier. I hope you enjoy reading them; you may even come across something you missed the first time round!

Today’s post was originally published in July 2015, and contains a review of Frida, the innovative and brilliant recent release by Shelley Waddington of En Voyage Perfumes. I’m sharing this post again because Frida is the stand-out indie fragrance for me this year. It’s really unusual and is brilliantly composed.

I’m also publishing it because it’s summer here. We’re in the midst of a long, dry El Niño weather event. It’s been hot and dry for months already. Frida is an ideal perfume to wear in the summer time, with its tropical, heady flowers, fruity and vegetal notes. It’s both evocative of summer and promises cooling, watery, shady relief from the dry, hot weather. It seems apt to revive this post during the Australian summer. Enjoy! Continue reading

Merry Christmas & Thanks from Perfume Polytechnic

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Pub Santa

It’s been a very busy year here at Perfume Polytechnic, with the writing and publishing of 70 blog posts, and a very busy month in particular. In the past four weeks I’ve written, edited, submitted and/or published over 16,000 words about perfume. That’s about as many words as I wrote for my Masters thesis! No wonder I’m tired. It’s time for a break.

Over the next few weeks I plan to re-publish a selection of my favourite, already published articles, reviews and/or interviews from my blog while I take some time off writing. Blogs aren’t the most navigable websites, and this is my way of sharing some of my older posts with you that I think you’ll enjoy!

Thanks to all of you for reading Perfume Polytechnic over the course of 2015. It’s been a huge year, and the blog has grown in readership enormously, from an average of 25 views per day in December 2014 to around 100 per day currently. I’m really chuffed and I intend to grow and develop Perfume Polytechnic even more in 2016. I have some fabulous ideas for posts coming up, including more Smell and Sound Series articles, investigations into the use of olfaction in art, book reviews, cross-sensory explorations, reviews of wonderful indie and niche perfumes from around the globe, and of course, more Thirteen Thoughts interviews.

I want to also thank all the wonderful perfumers that I’ve connected with in 2015 – I’ve met some of the most wonderful, interesting, multi-talented and intelligent people I’ve ever come across. I really feel like I’ve found my tribe and have forged some genuine friendships out of these connections, which I’m very grateful for. You’ve all inspired me so much to explore, create and learn. Thank you.

And so, I wish a very Merry Christmas to all of you who celebrate it. I hope it’s a happy and safe time for you all. The urge to connect is strong at this time of year, and it can be a loaded and difficult time for those who don’t have close friends or family to be with, or for those with difficult familial relationships. I urge you all to check on your friends and family and make sure they have been included in Christmas celebrations. A phone call, a drink, or even Christmas lunch, can make all the difference to someone who feels lonely at this time of year.

Lots of love to you all. See you in 2016.

Polly Technic

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Thirteen Thoughts: Perfumer Interview Series – Hiram Green of Hiram Green 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’s interview with Hiram Green is the final in Series Three of Thirteen Thoughts: Perfumer Interview Series. There have been five instalments in this series. Hiram is a Canadian-born perfumer who lives in Gouda in the Netherlands. He produces small batch perfumes using natural materials.

Last week, I interviewed Yosh Han of YOSH Perfumes. The week before that, Dawn Spencer Hurwitz of DSH Perfumes answered the thirteen questions. Prior to that, Josh Meyer of Imaginary Authors was interviewed, and in week one, Dana El Masri of Parfums Jazmin Saraï started off the third series of Thirteen Thoughts.

You can catch up with Series One of Thirteen Thoughts here, featuring interviews with Emma Leah, Mark Evans, Angelo Orazio Pregoni, Paul Kiler and Sarah McCartney.

For Series Two of Thirteen Thoughts, I interviewed Mandy Aftel, Ellen Covey, Shelley Waddington, Andy Tauer and JoAnne Bassett. You can read those interviews here.

As 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, without any further ado, let me introduce you to…

Hiram Green of Hiram Green Perfumes

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Hiram Green

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

I don’t really have one. I can remember the perfume my mother wore, but I wouldn’t say that this was a significant olfactory memory, more of a general childhood memory.

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

I studied fine arts in Toronto, Canada, where I grew up before moving to London, England. My plan was to be an artist in London. I quickly learned that I needed job on the side to earn some money. This by chance ended up being in a perfume store. I quickly became more fascinated with the world of perfume and less interested in making art. This fascination led me to eventually opening my own perfume store in London. At that time I also started mixing fragrant oils together in an attempt to make perfume myself. Several years passed, I eventually closed my store, moved to The Netherlands and only two and a half years ago launched my own fragrance brand.

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Artwork for Hiram Green’s fragrance Voyage

  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 self-taught. Some formal training would have certainly come in very handy in my early years of fragrance mixing.

Continue reading

Perfume Polytechnic’s Christmas Gift List & Olfactory Experience Ideas

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Christmas Party on Bondi Beach, Australia, 1959. From The National Archives of Australia.

Is it that time of year again already?! My, hasn’t it come round fast! I’m sure most of us understand the sensory and emotional excitement that Christmas brings. For those us in the Southern Hemisphere (including myself), Christmas is an important part of summer; most people are on annual leave, children go on school holidays, families go away together, spend days at the beach, picnicking or bush walking. Christmas in Australia is part of an extended summer festival, and is – I can only imagine – very different to the cold Christmases up north.

But there are things we all no doubt have in common: those of us who celebrate Christmas often get overstimulated, overwhelmed even by all the expectations and complexity of this holiday. There is frenzied shopping, cooking and eating, and a busy schedule of catch-ups with friends, family and work mates before the year is out.

Here at Perfume Polytechnic I like to focus on the sense of smell, learning about olfaction, the connections between people (and the role smell plays in that), and explorations of multi-sensory art and experiences. I like to keep things personal, small-scale and intimate, and as a starving artist myself, have learnt that the best things in life are often free, or at the very least, affordable.

So, this year, instead of focusing my Christmas Gift List entirely on consumables, I’m including some experiences that cost nothing (or very little), but might just bring you joy, happiness, wonder and connection with those you love anyway. I’m also including fragrances or fragrant products that I love, or those that involve a process of exploration, curiosity, daring or education.

I hope these ideas interest and inspire you and that you all have a very lovely and peaceful Christmas.

Continue reading

Thirteen Thoughts: Perfumer Interview Series – Yosh Han of YOSH 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’s interview with Yosh Han of YOSH perfumes is the fourth in Series Three of Thirteen Thoughts: Perfumer Interview Series. There are five, weekly instalments in this series.

Last week, I interviewed Dawn Spencer Hurwitz of DSH Perfumes. Prior to that, Josh Meyer of Imaginary Authors answered the thirteen questions. In week one, I interviewed Dana El Masri of Parfums Jazmin Saraï. Next week I will conclude the third series of Thirteen Thoughts by interviewing Hiram Green.

You can catch up with Series One of Thirteen Thoughts here, featuring interviews with Emma Leah, Mark Evans, Angelo Orazio Pregoni, Paul Kiler and Sarah McCartney.

For Series Two of Thirteen Thoughts, I interviewed Mandy Aftel, Ellen Covey, Shelley Waddington, Andy Tauer and JoAnne Bassett. You can read those interviews here.

As 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, without any further ado, let me introduce you to…

Yosh Han of YOSH perfumes

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Yosh Han

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

When we were growing up, our family would take summer holidays across the country in an RV. One particular summer, when I was about 12 or 13, we drove across from California through Arizona, New Mexico and up through Wyoming and into Canada. It was such an epic summer. I remember the smells of the Great Outdoors and how each scene was vastly different. Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico have a wet earthen smell from minerals in the cave walls. I also remember the smell of the sulphur geysers at Yellowstone National Park. We ended up at Niagara Falls, Toronto, Canada. The impact was just enormous. The velocity of the waterfall is truly remarkable and the scent of the falls, forest and fresh air is amazing.

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

The Chinese character for my name means fragrant. One could say it was destiny.

  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?

Straddling East-West will forever be a theme for me. There are so many nuances from my diverse cultural background that I try to bring into my professional work, yet it’s very subtle. My Asian programming is based on not being direct but that is in high-contrast with the very direct Americanness of how I’ve been educated in the school system and work place. I think this shows through in the way I create and blend perfumes. All my perfumes have clearly defined edges yet the trajectory unfolds in a less direct manner. One could say, it’s my signature.

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Some of the YOSH range of perfumes

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

I have so many friends who are perfumers – it’s hard to say! I am drawn towards the conceptual indie artists more than commercial perfumes for sure. I’m a sucker for great packaging but I draw the line when something is over branded.

  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.

I practice vibrational perfumery. Each of my perfumes has an energetic component to them because I design using scent resonance. I don’t only focus on the olfactive but also on how scents work together synergistically to produce a specific effect spiritually. I try to teach my students how to feel when a fragrance formula is complete. Many people design their formulas from a cerebral place but for me, it’s truly about feeling the vibe of a particular scent – if one learns to listen to the raw materials, one can learn to hear the compositions rather than figuring out a mathematical equation. Of course, one has to understand chemistry, but blending intuitively is very important to me.

  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?

Inspiration comes randomly – emotions, flavor pairings, events, traveling, reading, conversations, ingredients, art, music, textures and collaborations. Sometimes, I have an idea for a perfume that I might mull over for months or sometimes years and they might be blended but not bottled up for commerce. I tend to work in themes so if I decide to produce something commercially, I will work on the blend, packaging and marketing simultaneously and edit and adjust until it feels right.

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Konig by YOSH

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

I originally blended everything by hand when I first started my business. I still do the concepting and aromatic sketches by hand. In the last few years, I started working with Robertet and their in-house perfumer, Olivia Jan. For the last three launches, we worked collaboratively and won a Golden Pear award from the Institute of Arts and Olfaction for my men’s fragrance, König, a scent inspired by the Bavarian forest. We worked on three subsequent fragrances that will launch in 2016. I feel like the film director and she, the cinematographer. It is a very close relationship that is really rewarding.

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

I abhor all the regulations. I understand the need for them, but it is stifling as a creative entrepreneur. I think retailing has become really boring and impersonal. I can appreciate an efficient check-out experience both on-line and brick-and-mortar, but I really envision Perfume as Art and hope to see more gallery or showroom settings where people can relax and enjoy perfumes as aromatic narratives rather than mere commodities.

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

I love expanding my repertoire of smells – my library of odors. It is important to me, culturally, to have a wide range of odors that come from various parts of the world. I enjoy learning about new scents – whether natural or synthetic. However, I do not like, when I meet a new person who upon learning my profession, sticks a body part in my face. I find this to be an occupational hazard that while it does not happen daily, happens too frequently!

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Yosh Han at her blending desk

  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?

What I think is more challenging to communicate in scent is the ability to convey textures, whereas in flavors, that’s much easier. I would like for example, whipped cream textures to be more available in perfumery. I am working on a second umami scent right now and that seems to be more challenging to express in perfumery. That might have to do more with the fact that consumers are tuned into wanting sweet, floral smells, but I hope to change that. I love savory, salty flavors and I would like to offer that more as a perfume category.

  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 would love to go back in time to the Edo Period in Japan when the Imperial Geishas were versed in various arts. I would love to be one of the eccentric artists working with incense, beauty products and perfumes. What an amazing time period when the high arts were valued and appreciated. It was also a highly competitive, politically charged climate amongst the women so many of the formulations were kept secret. I am particularly fascinated by the game of Listening to Incense where one would burn incense, ask a question and play back and forth. Much of the Japanese language is subtle and nuanced and so one would have to be an astute poet to play the game well. The fragrance scent game is also featured prominently in court during the Heian period so I would love to go back and be there too. It has been chronicled in The Tale of Genji by Tosa Mitsuoki. I love burning Japanese incense and particularly agarwood chips and feel like I am in a time machine when I burn it. It’s so narcotic and mesmerizing!

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The Evanescent collection by YOSH

  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?

I would love to invent a way to magnify odors: like glasses, binoculars or telescopes, but for the nose. It could even be like a hearing aid or listening device where one might be able to turn up or down the volume of aromas. I would not necessarily want olfactory bionic powers all the time, but rather, the ability to increase olfactory capabilities in specific situations. It would really benefit those who lose their sense of smell as they age or those who lose their sense of smell due to an accident or surgery. I think the ability to turn down smells could potentially be interesting in urban environments as well. People are so sensitive now to odors in public spaces that it would be amazing to have that ability to just shut out displeasing odors. As I write – on the plane – I am interrupted by the scent of nail polish, and to my chagrin, the woman behind me was in fact, painting her nails as if she were in the privacy of her own home!

  1. What is the purpose of perfume?

Sensuality, inspiration and enjoyment. We still need olfaction to ascertain danger especially when something intuitively smells fishy but perfume is an elevated art and should be enjoyed as such.


I hope you’ve enjoyed the fourth interview in this third series of Thirteen Thoughts and reading Yosh Han’s answers.

My heartfelt thanks go out to Yosh for taking time out of her busy schedule to conduct an interview with me for Thirteen Thoughts. I find Yosh’s intuitive, vibrational approach to creating perfume really interesting and unusual, and her ideas about textural perfume are so fascinating! Japan is one of my favourite places, so learning about the importance of scent in culture in the Edo and Heian periods has been interesting to me too, and is something I want to explore further.

If you’d like to find out more about Yosh and her fragrances, visit the YOSH perfumes website. Yosh has some really interesting information on her website, so you can learn more about her practice and the ideas behind her perfumes there. YOSH perfumes are stocked at various retailers: online, in the US and around the world. You can also find information about these retailers on her website.

YOSH perfumes are listed at Fragrantica and Basenotes.

Next week:

Stay tuned to see how perfumer Hiram Green answers the thirteen questions in Thirteen Thoughts, a Perfumer Interview Series. Follow the blog here or over at Facebook so that you don’t miss out!

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.