Rewind Repost: Easter Smells, Easter Memories

Below is a repost of the piece I wrote last year on Easter smells, in case you missed it. Easter, for me, always brings up a plethora of very specific smell memories. Year after year, I find myself transported back to my childhood through these memories. I love Easter: the weather is getting cooler, the four-day long weekend is so lazy and relaxing, and I especially adore the rituals of eating spiced fruit buns and chocolate eggs. Have a happy Easter everyone!


Easter has always been a favourite time of year for me. Although I’m not Christian, I like the four-day holiday in Australia and some of the related traditions, whether or not they stem from Christianity or pagan times. Part of my fondness for this holiday is because I have very fond memories of Easter weekends spent at Robe as a child, a tiny coastal town in South Australia. My family owned the historic Karatta House then, and this run down and dilapidated, sprawling property was a great place for a child to spend so much time.

Karatta House

Karatta House

I have many scent memories spending Easter at Karatta. I remember the rich, wake-up smell of bacon cooking in the stone-walled, lino-floored, musty kitchen in the mornings. When I cook bacon now, I always think of Robe, and the old kitchen Mum cooked in. The brass kitchen taps and bore water gave off a strange combined aroma: metallic notes mixed with dirt and that slight funk of undrinkable bore water. I also associate this kitchen with the pungently salty smell of freshly caught fish, and my Dad and brother gutting and scaling them on the sink. I’ve never like seafood much, and I think my experiences at Robe (my parents also cooked live Crayfish) have a lot to do with that. The smell of fish, no matter how fresh, still makes my stomach turn.

fire-551665_640Every Easter Dad would light the fire at night in one of the grand old fireplaces. Robe is host to a cool climate, but as autumn and Easter sets in, it gets quite nippy. The smell of the wood smoke was always comforting, and a treat for us as we didn’t have a fireplace at home. Dad found small pieces of copper wire to burn in the fire for us, creating magical, coloured flames of blue and green.

On Good Friday, the scent of toasting hot cross buns infused the kitchen, with warm cinnamon and the sticky-sweet smell of caramelised sultanas and dried citrus peel wafting around. The smell of lactonic, fatty butter slathered on top completes this smell memory. I loved the cross on top of the buns the most, and would pull it off and reserve it, eating it separately after I’d finished the rest of the bun.

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Design Age: Dulux Colour Forecast 2016 With Room Fragrances by Fleurage

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Dulux Design Age Colour Forecast 2016 launch. Infinite Worlds colour palette display room.

What do certain colours smell like, taste like, feel like? Do colours trigger emotional associations, and do they suggest certain forms and shapes, the use of certain materials and the creation of certain kinds of objects? What of other times and worlds? Can these be denoted or expressed with certain colours? All of these questions were opened up, explored and experienced at the Dulux Australia Colour Forecast 2016 launch last Tuesday evening, September 1, at Meizai in Richmond, Melbourne.

The new Dulux colour trend collection is titled “Design Age”, and features four colour palettes, all with evocative names: Bio Fragility, Infinite Worlds, Future Past and Retro Remix. I’ve not been to a product launch of this kind before, and was thrilled when perfumer Emma Leah, of Fleurage in Melbourne, invited me to this cross-sensory event, which featured artisanal objects by local makers and designers, all influenced by Dulux’s new interior paint palettes and the creative concepts behind them. Emma designed a room scent for each colour palette, and textiles by Elise Cakebread, ceramics by Porcelain Bear and furniture by Grazia+Co were also featured.

As Perfume Polytechnic is interested in exploring the art of olfaction in all forms, including synaesthesia and multi- or cross-sensory events and art that features scent, I’m very excited to share my experience of this immersive, hyper-sensory event with you.

The launch began with champagne and canapés on the ground floor of the Meizai furniture showroom, which gave me time to talk with Emma Leah about her involvement in the project, the colour palettes, the concepts behind them, and how she incorporated these ideas into room fragrances. After an official welcome, we were each handed a Dulux paint colour swatch from one of the palettes, and divided into groups according to colour. Each group was then guided separately through the four Design Age room displays on the top level of the showroom.

Each of the palettes was displayed in a unique room, specially created for the launch, with wall paint in a number of colours from the designated palette. Each of the designers had their work featured in one room, although Emma had created room scents for each palette, all of which we experienced at the launch. Emma’s main focus however was on the room scent for the Future Past theme and her scent was the feature design object for this room and colour palette.

What transpired during our tour was a cross-sensory delight, an intense experience of interrelated tastes, colours, scents, furnishings, decorations, and specially designed artisanal objects. As we were led into each room, we were offered specially designed gourmet canapés and mini-cocktails by Peter Rowland catering that also drew on the theme of the room’s palette for inspiration. Emma’s scents had been sprayed into the air of each room, adding an olfactory element not often considered or experienced in designed spaces, and the scent component was a welcome counterpoint and addition to the otherwise very visual displays.

Room One: Bio Fragility

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Dulux Design Age display room: Bio Fragility

“Fragile life is the embodiment of beauty…

We marvel in the intricacy of creation and its duality of fragility and strength…

Bio Fragility takes its colour cues from natural and living matter – flesh tones, lichen, moss and stone influence the subtle hues of the palette which are derived from chalky brittle elements rather than soft textures.”

(Source: Design Age Dulux Colour Forecast 2016 launch brochure)

Canapé: Mushroom macaron
Cocktail: Elderflower martini
Featured Designer: Porcelain Bear – “Porcelena Bowl” and small vessels

Upon walking into the Bio Fragility room, we were surrounded by muted pastel paint shades, furniture, decorative objects, and softly chiming, Eno-esque electronic music punctuated by tinkly and percussive sounds, which was replicated in each of the rooms. The mushroom macaron was a surprisingly stunning canapé. It matched two of the paint colours (the pale pink “frock” and the mushroom-coloured “mangaweka”), and provided a fascinating taste combination of a sweet exterior with a pungent and savoury mushroom filling. The crunchy yet brittle macaron gave way to a gooey filling, perfectly demonstrating the duality of strength and fragility in this design concept. The elderflower martini was delicate and sweet, but not too sweet, just like the colours in the room.

Room Scent by Emma Leah

Emma spoke to me about this colour palette and the concepts behind it – that Bio Fragility was “pastel” and delicate, but that the concept didn’t allude to softness or cuddliness, as pastels often do. Rather, the theme was more about hard and fragile surfaces, such as chalk and porcelain that easily shatters, hence the bowl by Porcelain Bear as the feature object in this room, as well as shattered ceramics as a room decoration. She says of this colour trend and her scent: “powdered pearls are a high quality abrasive exfoliant that shines and sparkles like fairy dust, and struck me as the perfect representation of what this trend captures. The scent is smooth and elegant but cool. It is alluring but what we call a hard scent. Nonintrusive but present and affecting.”

Notes used in the Bio Fragility scent and related colours from the palette*:

white musk (great star), rose musk (chamber), baby powder (chain pearl), coconut (snow queen), smoke (silkwort), anise (purebred), lilacs (partita)

*note – to refer to the full colour palettes, see the link at the bottom of this post

How does it smell?

The baby powder dominates and is soothing and familiar, and there is musk and a hint of coconut. It’s a very pretty fragrance, and it certainly smells fragile in a powdery way, a little like broken chalk, or, as Emma says, powdered pearls. It aligns superbly with the colours from the palette that were chosen for the walls, which included a muted pink (frock), a pale mossy green (fibre moss), a pale lavender (atelier) and a soft mushroom (mangaweka).

Room Two: Infinite Worlds

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Dulux Design Age display room: Infinite Worlds

“As the world becomes overcrowded we explore the innovative possibilities of unknown worlds…

Our fascination with the deep ocean and infinite space inspires visions of creatures glowing with phosphorescent light against dark coloured backdrops and celestial objects such as planets, moons, exploding stars and vast nebular clouds.

Dark colours… juxtaposed with flashes of brilliant reds, pinks, coral and space age metallics. Glowing hues are used as accents to help recreate the eerie effect of deep uncharted worlds.”

(Source: Design Age Dulux Colour Forecast 2016 launch brochure)

Cocktail: Homemade lemonade cocktail
Featured Designer: Elise Cakebread – hanging soft hemispheres and pile high club floor cushion

Infinite Worlds is an entirely different colour palette to the previous one. We walk into a room filled with deeply soothing dark and pale blues, with pops of brighter reds and oranges. The room and its contents nod back to David Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust of the 1970s while at the same time hinting at the future, and unknown worlds on planets far away. Futuristic textile hanging orbs and a floor cushion by Elise Cakebread are the featured design items in this room and they add a whimsical, organic element to the otherwise mostly hard and smooth textures in the room. The cocktail for this design concept is a homemade lemonade cocktail in a sci-fi shade of aqua.

Room Scent by Emma Leah

Emma Leah in the Infinite Worlds room

Perfumer Emma Leah in the Infinite Worlds room

Emma says of this scent: “To me this is a burst of star dust – a soft metallic scent with a watery fruit note, gentle but present, cool and ethereal, gender neutral but a drifting prettiness to its feel. It flows and reveals itself smoothly.”

Notes used in the Infinite Worlds scent and related colours from the palette:

blackberry (purple verbena), melon (melon baby), pomegranate (lickety lick), metallic (thebe touch), white musk, ocean salt (lake tekapo), velvet rose (jupiter jazz)

How does it smell?

Emma’s Infinite Worlds scent is full of fruit; at first my nose struggles to identify what the fruit is and I think I’m smelling something sharp and citrussy, but then melon, blackberry and pomegranate emerge quite clearly. A sweet rose compliments and blends with the luscious fruit notes. Most of these fruity and sweeter notes represent the warmer, brighter and metallic tones in the palette, literally popping out with sweetness and brightness from the fragrance. They seem to float on a salty ocean surface, with an ocean salt note reflecting the oceanic blues of the colour palette and a metallic, slightly smoky note in the background providing further interest and a hint of sci-fi.

Room Three: Future Past

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Dulux Design Age room display: Future Past

“As we move towards the future we look to reassurances from our past.

Our reality is one of a digital world where we seek comfort in nostalgic references that ground us in times of uncertainty… We are drawn to contemporary designs that evoke reassuring memories and fuse modern with heritage and classicism… This theme takes its cues from Steampunk references merging with modern design to create a new version of the old…

Deep and decadent traditional hues are made modern with the addition of mustard, pink and purple. The scents of tobacco and leather are reminiscent of an 18th century explorer’s lounge, evoking visions of luxurious browns and rich timbers.”

(Source: Design Age Dulux Colour Forecast 2016 launch brochure)

Canapé: Roast duck tasting spoon
Cocktail: Mulled wine
Featured designer: Emma Leah – Future Past room fragrance

The Future Past room revisits old worlds and is reminiscent of times past, merging colours, materials and styles from the Victorian era and pre-WWII decades with clean and modern design elements. Shades of brown, grey and lime green dominate. Gorgeous brass lamps, wooden and leather furniture, and a shelf display featuring old-fashioned perfume bottles fill the room. A modern take on a Persian rug, in mottled shades featuring lime and musky pink, dominates the visual space. The surfaces in the room are mostly hard and sturdy, yet the ambience is warm and inviting. The rich red colour and spicy flavour of a small glass of hot mulled wine and an exquisite roast duck tasting spoon, complete with pate and dried kale garnish, expresses the opulence and vintage feel of this colour palette perfectly.

Room Scent by Emma Leah

Emma says her featured room scent for the Future Past theme is “complex and rich but smooth and elegant. Bold and dark with definite presence, I have woven a delicate floral through a complex mossy wood with era-specific hints of unusual notes like hay, tobacco and leather that deserve exploration like the colour palette of this trend.”

Notes used in the Future Past scent and related colours from the palette:

moss (highlander), green wood (emerald forest), violets (passionate blue), honeysuckle (army canvas), lilac (purple people eater), leather (loose leather), bergamot (pickled), coriander (vintage green) and a hint of cherry (ripening grape)

How does it smell?

Emma’s feature scent for the Future Past theme is rich and opulent. It’s a beautiful and complex chypre, with an opening of fresh green notes, well-blended old-fashioned, sweet and powdery florals (including a wonderful violet), and a touch of leather and cherry to make things really interesting. It’s refined yet plush, and is a sexy, feminine fragrance. It reflects the bygone eras that the Dulux palette alludes to and yet is perfectly suited to the modern era at the same time. As Emma is a vintage perfume expert and specialises in vintage perfume making techniques, I can’t think of a better choice of perfumer to design a fragrance for this theme, mixing old and new.

Room Four: Retro Remix

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Dulux Design Age room display: Retro Remix

“A new retro is formed — mixing together iconic elements from across the mid to late century…

Less of a nostalgic trend this theme explores a more youthful expression, with new generations discovering these influences for the first time and creating their own remixed style…

Experimentation in colour combinations leads to acid brights clashing with faded, muddied colours such as browns and olive greens. The colours are happy and nonconformist, optimistic and energetic.”

(Source: Design Age Dulux Colour Forecast 2016 launch brochure)

Canapé: Banana split
Cocktail: Brandy Alexander
Featured designer: Grazia+Co – David ottomans and Bowie side table

Retro Remix blends colours and styles from the 1960s, 70s and 80s. It’s an unusual juxtaposition, and one that I personally find a little jarring. Bright, clear, pop colours of the 60s and 80s co-exist alongside more muted, nature-inspired colours from the 70s. The furniture and room decorations are clean and sparse, with a nod to the modernist and slightly futuristic pieces of the 60s and 70s. The Brandy Alexander cocktail is a delicious nod to the 1970s and the miniature Banana Split is a classic, fun retro dessert, suiting the vibe of this playful palette.

Room Scent by Emma Leah

Emma says of this theme: “Fizzy pop is what jumped out as I looked this over and my symbol of the seventies is pineapple! A lively, playful, interesting fruit that went with everything I have taken it as the cornerstone but not dominating. Instead what results is a fresh fun combination that pops with green grass, subtle woods and herbaceous greens.” Emma also said to me at the launch that when she created this scent she imagined summers from the 1970s and drinking fizzy pineapple drinks while sitting on grass. We also spoke about the use of pine in her scent, which was a ubiquitous fragrance ingredient of the 1970s.

Notes used in the Retro Remix scent and related colours from the palette:

grass (grass court), sandalwood (tuk tuk), green fern (green olive) , traditional musk (titi islands), pineapple (brassed off)

How does it smell?

Realistic, fresh, crisp and green grass and pine notes open this fragrance. As it develops the pineapple emerges, and the fragrance takes on a more tropical feel. I feel transported back in time to my early childhood in the 1970s when I smell this fragrance and reminisce about pineapple flavoured ice blocks and my Dad’s Pino Silvestre. Pineapple was king during this era, and while it is strong in this fragrance, it’s not sickly sweet or fake smelling. The sandalwood is gorgeously sweet and creamy and the musk blends in well, adding an airy, light and sophisticated aura to the composition. This room fragrance certainly matches the fun vibe of the Retro Remix palette, but displays an extra air of elegance thanks to the green notes and musk.

Gift bags

Gift bag contents

Gift bag contents

At the end of the evening we were each presented with a gift bag containing a range of goodies including a bottle of one of Emma’s room scents and a full colour brochure of the Dulux Design Age Colour Forecast for 2016. Lucky me – I managed to score three bottles of scent (from various bags) and one of Emma’s samples, so I can enjoy all of her specially commissioned fragrances at home now too.

Reflections

The Dulux Colour Forecast 2016 launch event was a fun, engaging and creative night. I was pleasantly surprised at the degree of cross-sensory thought that had gone into the production of the room displays, the works by the various makers and designers, and the food and drink. As an artist and synaesthete myself I have worked in cross-sensory ways for a long time. In fact, I think it’s a core aspect of how many creative people think, in ways that recognise the connections between life and art, between the various senses and art forms, and by finding creative equivalences between one art form and another. It’s a method of working and thinking about the world that appeals to me, and this is why I thoroughly enjoyed the event.

The colour trends themselves were really fascinating, distinct from one another, and broad-ranging. A nod to the past and an almost nostalgic longing for the pre-digital age was a theme that traversed several of the palettes, as well as the influence of natural elements, from worlds both real and imagined, contemporary, and into the future.

I’m really thrilled that a global company like Dulux has taken this cross-sensory and very intimate approach to launch and promote its new colour range. The event was smoothly organised and felt personal, special and unique. All of my senses were fully engaged and stimulated throughout the evening.

Scent helps to create specific and complex moods in architectural and designed spaces and can be tailored to match certain colours, design concepts and themes. It was wonderful to experience Emma’s room scents in each of the spaces, and exciting to witness scent being used as a design element, featured equally alongside the visual design objects. I do hope this is a trend that we see much more of in the future.


Dulux has produced a short video about each of the designers involved in the launch:

To explore each of the colour trends further and to view the full colour palette for each of them, visit the Dulux Australia website.

To find out more about perfumer Emma Leah, visit the Fleurage website, and read my interview with Emma, right here on Perfume Polytechnic.

Easter Smells, Easter Memories

Easter has always been a favourite time of year for me. Although I’m not Christian, I like the four-day holiday in Australia and some of the related traditions, whether or not they stem from Christianity or pagan times. Part of my fondness for this holiday is because I have very fond memories of Easter weekends spent at Robe as a child, a tiny coastal town in South Australia. My family owned the historic Karatta House then, and this run down and dilapidated, sprawling property was a great place for a child to spend so much time.

Karatta House

Karatta House

I have many scent memories spending Easter at Karatta. I remember the rich, wake-up smell of bacon cooking in the stone-walled, lino-floored, musty kitchen in the mornings. When I cook bacon now, I always think of Robe, and the old kitchen Mum cooked in. The brass kitchen taps and bore water gave off a strange combined aroma: metallic notes mixed with dirt and that slight funk of undrinkable bore water. I also associate this kitchen with the pungently salty smell of freshly caught fish, and my Dad and brother gutting and scaling them on the sink. I’ve never like seafood much, and I think my experiences at Robe (my parents also cooked live Crayfish) have a lot to do with that. The smell of fish, no matter how fresh, still makes my stomach turn.

fire-551665_640Every Easter Dad would light the fire at night in one of the grand old fireplaces. Robe is host to a cool climate, but as autumn and Easter sets in, it gets quite nippy. The smell of the wood smoke was always comforting, and a treat for us as we didn’t have a fireplace at home. Dad found small pieces of copper wire to burn in the fire for us, creating magical, coloured flames of blue and green.

On Good Friday, the scent of toasting hot cross buns infused the kitchen, with warm cinnamon and the sticky-sweet smell of caramelised sultanas and dried citrus peel wafting around. The smell of lactonic, fatty butter slathered on top completes this smell memory. I loved the cross on top of the buns the most, and would pull it off and reserve it, eating it separately after I’d finished the rest of the bun.

easter-2164_640Come Easter Sunday, the Easter Bunny had always paid a visit. My brother and I awoke to find bright, foil-covered chocolate treats at the ends of our beds. There was always something very satisfying about crunching into an easter egg, the hollowed-out shape intensifying and amplifying the smell of the chocolate. It brings the chocolate scent closer to one’s nose, cocooning it in the shell. The cracking open of such beautifully crafted shapes with one’s teeth is both decadent and destructive, and is incredibly satisfying.

easter-eggs-6001_640The other joy that awaited us on Easter Sunday was the easter egg hunt. Karatta was a large house, a crumbling mansion that had seen better times. It was a fabulous place for a chocolate hunt, filled with antiques and interesting cupboards, nooks and crannies. When my parents bought it, it came filled with ancient things, including a solid, enormous old cabinet filled with tiny drawers. Was this an apothecary’s cabinet? An old library catalogue? There was also a pedal organ, a hand-powered water pump, an under-the-stairs cabinet made of a dark, varnished wood, and a claw-footed bathtub. I remember how exciting it was ferreting around, finding the eggs hidden in tiny drawers, under the roll-down cover of the organ, or inside the fireplace. The smell of varnished hardwoods always accompanies my memories of these easter egg hunts. Aromatic woods and foil-covered chocolate: organic, sweet and metallic all at once.

As an adult, I recreate easter egg hunts every few years for family and friends. I love the magic of this form of hide-and-seek, and it always instills joy in whoever is hunting for the eggs, whether they are children or adults.

I have many fond memories of Karatta House, and last year made a perfume with Emma Leah of Fleurage Perfume Atelier to capture some of the smells of the house and its surrounds. You can read about the perfume we created here and here, and some of the scent memories associated with the house.

For those of you that celebrate Easter, I hope you have a lovely weekend, full of olfactory delights! I’d love to hear about your Easter experiences and any olfactory memories you have associated with Easter: let me know in the comments box below!

Celebrating International Women’s Day with fragrances by Sophia Grojsman

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A woman’s place is in the Revolution

Today is International Women’s Day. It’s no secret to anyone who knows me well that I’m a card-carrying feminist. The purpose of my Masters folio in music composition was to research and create feminist music, a topic that I studied and engaged in for years prior to my degree, and in the years since. I’m passionately interested in women’s issues and in working towards and advocating for the equality of women, in all areas of life and all occupations. So today I got to wondering about women in perfume: how many women have made perfume in the past, or make it today? Who are our female perfumers? I can’t answer that question in its entirety, but I can make a contribution, and point you in the direction of some resources about female perfumers.

Earlier today I (briefly) had the mad idea of creating a list of all the female perfumers that I could find, until I realised how difficult and time-consuming that would be, and until I discovered the fabulous lists already compiled by DeeOlive at Basenotes. DeeOlive has compiled a thirteen-part series of lists of women perfumers and their creations. Her list starts with this post here; at the bottom of the post, click on the “Female Noses and Perfumers – Part 2” link at the bottom, and so on at the bottom of each subsequent post, to sequentially find your way through all thirteen parts. Thanks DeeOlive – what an amazing resource you’ve created for us all!

As well as sharing this resource with you, you can read the recent interviews I’ve published with contemporary female perfumers Emma J. Leah of Fleurage and Sarah McCartney of 4160Tuesdays. These interviews are fascinating reads into the work of two innovative and brilliant female perfumers. I hope to bring you more interviews with other female perfumers in the near future!

Sophia Grojsman

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Perfumer Sophia Grojsman. Photo taken by Alison Yarrow. Photo source: http://forward.com/articles/144873/perfume-nose-conjures-up-perfect-scents/

Today, in honour of female perfumers, I’m testing and briefly reviewing for you a quartet of fragrances by renowned female perfumer Sophia Grojsman. Grojsman created such popular and well-known fragrances as Paris, Yvresse (Champagne), Trésor and White Linen. She has worked for major fashion labels and smaller, niche perfume houses to produce these (and many other) well-known fragrances, including A Lab on Fire, Frédéric Malle, Lancôme, Lalique, Estée Lauder, Yves Saint Laurent and Calvin Klein.

Grojsman’s style is described by many as “baroque” and I can testify that wearing four of her fragrances at once (one small spray of each, mind) is olfactorily overwhelming. But, in her defence, I am wearing four eighties-nineties “powerhouse” fragrances all at once!

The four I have on today are Paris (EDT), Yvresse (EDT), SpellBound (EDP) and Trésor (EDP). I can certainly detect a “Grojsman style” by wearing them all at once, which was one of my intentions in spraying them all on together. To me, Grojsman’s style is rich, quite sweet, complex, and the ingredients are well-blended. Certain ingredients play a starring role in each fragrance, but in the background, the impression is of well-blended “backing notes”. The feeling I get when wearing Grojsman’s fragrances is kind of like how I feel after eating a too-rich dessert: I enjoyed it, I wanted it, but afterwards I feel a little overwhelmed, and declare that from now on I’m only going to eat clean, minimalist foods like white rice, miso soup and green salad. Thankfully, this feeling doesn’t usually last very long! Similarly, I am rather fond of Grojsman’s fragrances, despite their richness.

Yvresse

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Yvresse / Champagne for Yves Saint Laurent

Yvresse is a fruity, sweet, floral concoction, and is hard to pin down in any traditional fragrance category. It belongs firmly in the camp of “early 90s powerhouse fragrances”. On Fragrantica.com, the most frequently detected notes among users of the site include peach, nectarine, apricot, cinnamon, lychee, rose, carnation, oak moss, caraway and violet. But to me, I smell intensely sweet plum rather than the more peachy stone fruits listed, a bucketload of carnation (to rival any traditional Caron fragrance), a sweet-sharp apple-ish rose, a slight waft of warm spice and yummy, smooth vanilla or benzoin in the deep background. It’s a gorgeous fragrance, suited to a warm day and happy occasions.

Trésor

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Trésor for Lancôme

Trésor, a great commercial hit for Lancôme, is one of those fragrances that I associate with growing up as a teenager in the early 90s. I own a bottle now mostly for nostalgia’s sake, and I like it, but rarely wear it. This doesn’t mean it’s not good, but my preference these days is for ambers, woods, Orientals and Chypres, and Trésor doesn’t quite fit the bill. Trésor is basically a peach-rose-oak moss fragrance, although oak moss isn’t listed anywhere in the specs for the fragrance on Fragrantica. I love the way the oak moss offsets the sweet richness of the peach and rose; it’s almost mouldy and earthy and a little bitter. I probably should wear this more. In comparison to Yvresse, Trésor is much further along the spectrum towards “savoury”, but worn alone it seems quite a sweet and overbearing fragrance.

SpellBound

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SpellBound for Estée Lauder

SpellBound takes the liberal dose of carnation found in Yvresse and turns the dial up to the max. Fragrantica lists carnation, cardamom, amber, tuberose, vanilla and rosewood as the top six ingredients, but to me this fragrance is just a rich melange of sweet, fruity and floral notes. Apart from the carnation, I can’t really single out many other notes. The warmth and sweetness combine in SpellBound to create the impression of a rich and heady nectar. It’s a beautiful fragrance, and so far is outdoing Trésor and Yvresse in both sweetness and projection. Yvresse is a beautiful beast of a fragrance. It’s the epitome of glitz and glamour, and is the olfactory equivalent of gold lamé, bling and wine-coloured velvet. But it’s good, as all of Grojsman’s fragrances are: they are well crafted, well blended, balanced and distinctive, even if they are a bit too much for today’s pared-down tastes.

Paris

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Paris for Yves Saint Laurent

Finally we come to Paris, another fragrance that reminds me of my teen years, filled with stolen sprays of fragrances like Paris from counters in department stores. Back in the day when perfume was too expensive for me to buy much of it, I wished I could own a bottle of Paris, but that wish has only recently come to pass. Now I have various versions of this beauty, but today I’m wearing a newish Eau de Toilette. I’d love to own a bottle of the Eau de Parfum one day, which is more majestic, complex and even more beautiful still. Paris is a celebration of the rose. Rose underpinned by violet and a bouquet of seemingly a hundred other flowers including hyacinth (which gives off none of its usual bitterness), iris, mimosa and geranium. It also includes such ingredients as musk, woods, amber and oak moss, but the overall impression is of a lush, sweet, beautiful rose. A hyper-real rose. It’s gorgeous, and the vintage Paris is even more so.


It’s been a fun exercise covering myself in Sophia Grojsman’s creations for International Women’s Day 2015. By wearing several perfumes of Grojsman’s at once, I’ve been able to compare and contrast them in a way I haven’t done before. I feel like I’ve got to know her signature style as a perfumer much better, and appreciate her work more.

Do you own any fragrances made by women perfumers? Will you wear something made my a female perfumer for International Women’s Day? Let me know by leaving a comment below!

Happy International Women’s Day to all my female followers and readers, and to all the female perfumers out there!

Polly

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Thirteen Thoughts: Perfumer Interview Series – Emma Leah of Fleurage Perfume Atelier

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Thirteen 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 Thirteen Thoughts, a Perfumer Interview Series that will run weekly for an initial series of five weeks on Perfume Polytechnic. Today’s interview is with Emma Leah, master perfumer at Fleurage Perfume Atelier in South Melbourne, Australia. Future instalments will feature O’Driù’s Angelo Orazio Pregoni, Mark Evans of Evocative Perfumes, 4160Tuesdays’ Sarah McCartney and Paul Kiler of PK Perfumes.

I want 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, I introduce you to…

Emma Leah of Fleurage Perfume Atelier

Perfumer Emma J Leah

Emma Leah of Fleurage Perfume Atelier

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

My olfactory memories are intricately linked to other sensory inputs. I grew up in a desert area in Victoria (in South-Eastern Australia) and one of the most surreal was the smell of the salt pans. The alien metallic tang that you could taste in your mouth, coupled with the blinding white light, tempered by the dusty red sand and bursts of dry green hay from the landscape were like nothing else I have ever experienced and something I draw on often when dealing with the abstract and unusual.

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

On the one hand I could say I have always been a perfumer but it was only a ‘conscious’ decision later in what I regard as my journey of study. It began with aromatherapy. I was creating different blends and frustrated by the limited palette and the exploration and learning progressed into high-end traditional perfumery. I officially called myself a perfumer when I founded my own company Fleurage.

  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’m self-taught due to circumstances but had I been given the choice I still would have been self-taught because the schools don’t really teach traditional perfumery using botanicals anymore. I was inspired by three important industry names: Septimus Piesse, Edmond Roudnitska and the family Guerlain. The perfumery style I have embraced is 1700’s French.

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

Guerlain by far stands out in my mind and to my nose: exceptional blends and attention to detail in presentation. It was also a highly professional company who in my mind understood the intimate connection of perfume to the individual and designed, created, and marketed their range in line with this thinking. This ended when they sold it.

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Fleurage Perfume Atelier

  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.

Fleurage Pty. Ltd. is an Australian company owned and operated by Emma J. Leah and Robert G. Luxford.

It began in June 2007 as a vision of a Parisian Parfumerie at 88 Millswyn St., South Yarra.

We were one of the only perfumeries that specialised in purely natural scents across our whole range and still stand as one of the largest range of botanical parfums in the world. Since those sleepy days in the Domain area in Melbourne we have grown by leaps and bounds fulfilling the niche scent market requirements as they have come along. Our perfumery in South Melbourne is double the size of our beginning location and we look to expand again in the coming year as we grow and evolve.

Along with our large original range of natural perfumes, we now offer custom scent creation for individuals and brands, a large range of bath and body products and an extension to our perfume range using modern commercial ingredients. Demand for information has seen us recently develop perfume making courses and experiences for the public and it is this unique application that has brought us to new exciting projects. Offering patrons the chance to explore and create perfume is rare and coveted and we are proud of our achievements in this area making it accessible to everybody with a desirable outcome.

Everything we do at Fleurage has a central core of attention to detail, exceptional quality, and taking the unorthodox approach. We believe in elegance, working hard and enjoying a glamorous life.

Anywhere Fleurage is located strives to be an oasis of gentler experiences, enlightenment and joy.

As a perfumer of Fleurage I create whatever is inspiring and holds a kind of beauty in the expression of the scent. This allows me to work with a wide range of ingredients for many and varied applications. I have worked with artists, theatre, fashion, cosmeticians and famous people.

  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?

Ideas come all the time in a variety of situations. Music, movies, people, fabrics, food, stories, snapshots of life, colours, paintings, books, feelings, times and eras. For me anything can be expressed in a scent.

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

I think many people know the mechanics of perfumery but the finer details of creation would probably surprise a lot. What I hear mostly is the shock at how many ingredients can make up a seemingly simple perfume and how few can sometimes create a complex scent. When the notes are listed on databases etc. they only pick out around ten highlight notes (or less) and I think many people assume that’s all that is in the scent.

Some people are also surprised that I work with a brief (and have the name first) for all of my fragrances and three-quarters of my process is writing and sniffing before I even contemplate mixing anything together.

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Covet, one of Fleurage’s botanical fragrances.

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

Perfumery is changing so rapidly these days I find the biggest challenge is to stay true to my creative ideas and processes. I could complain for pages about the isolation, the cost and the frustration of shipping and competing with the giant companies that own 90% of the market but in the end I just get on with the job of doing what I love and trusting it will get to the right people.

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

I am captivated by smell and always have been. Being a perfumer has just meant I get to experience this joy on a new level every day. I don’t judge smells, I accept them and file them away for future use. Admittedly sometimes I find some odours and application of scent to be offensive but I am only human. I also find the “fashion” of fragrance to be very boring.

  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?

Without hesitation I would love to eat or drink Blue Lotus extract.

  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 1700’s when new ingredients were being discovered and used and perfumery was an exploration of beauty and capturing desire. Or ancient Mesopotamia when perfumery was part of the rituals of the gods.

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A gorgeous custom creation from Fleurage

  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 actually don’t know how to answer this. I am not much of a futurist. I feel that we have forgotten so much and are losing so much that we need to revisit the past.

My personal favourite indulgence I am working on obtaining for the Fleurage Perfumery of the future is a perfume fountain. It has no use beyond being beautiful.

  1. What is the purpose of perfume?

Scent is our primal messaging system, warning us to either stay away or encouraging us get closer.

BUT…

Perfume (truly beautiful perfume) connects our brains to our hearts through the experience of pure joy and for a moment we are ethereal beings.

For me the purpose of perfume is to give ready access to joy and beauty.


I hope you’ve enjoyed the very first of our Perfumer Interview Series with Emma Leah of Fleurage Perfume Atelier. Many thanks to Emma Leah for her wonderful and interesting answers. If you’d like to find out more about Fleurage, the beautiful perfumes Emma makes, and the courses and creative experiences she offers, visit the Fleurage website.

You can also read about my experience with Emma creating my own “Karatta” perfume a few months ago at Fleurage, here and here.

NEXT WEEK’S Thirteen Thoughts: Perfumer Interview Series will feature Mark Evans of Evocative Perfumes, an independent fragrance house from Adelaide, Australia. Make sure you visit Perfume Polytechnic again this time next week to find out how Mark answers the same thirteen questions!