This time of year perfume bloggers around the world often post their “best of” lists: new release fragrances, perfume houses, perfumers, etc. that made a mark on them during the year. As Perfume Polytechnic is not just about fragrance releases and reviews, and is by no means comprehensive in its coverage of such things, I feel unqualified to write such a list. However, as Perfume Polytechnic is about all kinds of olfactory matters and the sense of smell, its role in art, science, food etc., I am going to list my favourite olfactory moments of 2015 instead, in no particular order. Perfume Polytechnic also investigates the connections between people and the function that scent plays in bringing people together, as well as interconnections between the various art forms and mediums, including scent. This year’s list deals with some of these themes. Continue reading
It’s my absolute pleasure today to bring you part one of a survey of six fragrances from American indie brand En Voyage Perfumes, all created by perfumer Shelley Waddington. Shelley very generously offered to send me a few samples from her range when I interviewed her for this blog. I was thrilled to find six samples when I opened her package, including: New York Man, Fiore di Bellagio (both a perfume sample and body butter), Indigo Vanilla, Captured in Amber, A Study in Water and Zelda.
Shelley is a very gifted perfumer and I love the discernible style that carries across her creations. Having tried six fragrances now, I can say that her style is rich, complex, and vibrant. While all of the perfumes I’ve tried are unique and have their own character, they all certainly have the stamp of their creator. When I first tried Indigo Vanilla, the word “wow” escaped from my mouth without conscious thought, and the same thing happened when I tried New York Man! While Shelley’s perfumes have oomph and are really striking on first spray, they also develop beautifully. As most of her fragrances are strong, rich and complex (with the exception of A Study in Water, which is pared back and minimalist), and contain many varied notes and accords, the development of each is just as fascinating as the opening, and they morph and transform over time, revealing different characteristics, making for an interesting and engaging olfactory experience.
There is a vintage feel to most of Shelley’s creations, not just in style, but in the quality of the ingredients used and the longevity and power of the fragrances on the skin. It has been an exciting and refreshing olfactory experience sampling Shelley Waddington’s marvellous fragrances from En Voyage. I recommend that you also try some samples from her very decently priced sample range if you’ve not yet tried En Voyage Perfumes.
If you’d like to read more about Shelley Waddington, how she became a perfumer and the processes involved in creating her perfumes, please read my Thirteen Thoughts Interview with Shelley.
New York Man
New York Man is a fantastic fragrance. Don’t be fooled by the name. While it is designed for men, to my nose this one sits right on the fence, gender-wise. And while the name conjures up a stylish man-about-town going about his business in a frenetic and cultured urban environment, New York Man smells equally as good during a late-afternoon wander in the vast paddocks of a canola farm in South Eastern Australia, which is where I tested it. Names and meanings aside, this is a great fragrance and one that lovers of woody, warm, vintage-style fragrances should definitely explore.
New York Man is very strong and is also a sillage bomb. On a walk with my partner-in-crime Olly Technic across the paddocks one afternoon, he said the fragrance radiated five metres! Writing this review, two hours after spraying, New York Man is showing no signs of letting up any time soon. I like this kind of fragrance – you get much more bang for your buck and you don’t have to respray throughout the day.
After six hours I still experienced pleasant wafts of this fragrance as I went about my day, proving that it has enormous staying power. The following morning (18 hours after spraying) I could still smell it quite distinctly on my wrists, though it was more or less a skin scent at this stage, hovering a couple of centimetres from the skin.
But how does New York Man smell? Before I mention any ingredients, I’ll give my first impressions:
At first spray, I smell an old-fashioned, animalic amber fragrance, combined with somewhat sweet, gourmand elements. It’s rich and complex, somewhat edible, and very warm. Despite being assigned as a masculine fragrance, this reminds me of feminine, animalic fragrances of the early 20th Century. New York Man is wonderfully cosy and comforting to wear; as such it’s a great winter fragrance, but I imagine it would work well year round.
After five minutes, individual notes start to emerge, and I smell a large dose of tobacco, one of my favourite notes. I try not to dissect the fragrance too much over the next hour, enjoying its caramelly warmth and sweet booziness (it contains a whiskey note) while I take my afternoon walk. When I return, one hour after spraying, the character of New York Man has changed a bit, and while it’s no weaker, a very strong fir note has emerged, which adds a layer of cool airiness that hovers above rich myrrh and warm resins. It’s a little less sweet now and is starting to veer a little more toward “masculine”.
New York Man was created as part of the Peace, Love, Perfume Project, initiated by perfume blogger Carlos J. Powell to celebrate the third anniversary of his Facebook fragrance appreciation group, Peace, Love and Perfume. The brief to artisan and indie perfumers was to create a fragrance based on the following concepts:
“Peace: a meditative incense fragrance; Love: a sexy animalic fragrance; and Perfume: a traditional cologne with a twist on the concept.”
Keeping this creative brief in mind, the notes listed on the En Voyage website for New York Man are:
Peace Notes: Incense, Myrrh, Sandalwood, Smoke, Patchouli, Cannabis Flower, Natural Oudh, Resins
Love Notes: Sexy Animal Notes of Musk, Ambergris, Castoreum
Perfume/Cologne Notes: Citrus Notes, Fir and Cedar, Herbal Notes, Jasmine
Bonus Notes of Scotch and Cigars
Where can you get New York Man?
En Voyage offers eau de parfum samples for $6 USD, and a 7.5ml (0.25oz) bottle of eau de parfum is a very reasonable $35 USD. You can purchase New York Man here. En Voyage Perfumes are also stocked by Indigo Perfumery and Tigerlily Perfumery in the US: for stockist details, click here.
Fiore di Bellagio
Fiore di Bellagio is a floral fragrance, a big, rich vintage-style bouquet, well-blended, with a few stand out ingredients. At first application, Fiore di Bellagio reminded me somewhat of Yves Saint Laurent’s Paris, with an overt and sweet, syrupy rose (Bulgarian Rose Otto) and a touch of violet. But subtle green notes, a touch of citrus and a not-so-subtle musk lurk in the background of Fiore di Bellagio, creating a different impression to Paris, something both a bit cleaner, fresher and more complex, at the same time. I also detect heady white floral notes at this stage, which adds to the vintage feel of Fiore di Bellagio.
While this is a grand floral fragrance, it has elements of lightness about it. After 1-2 hours the sweeter, intense floral notes die down, while simultaneously the green notes and an airy, “white” musk, come to the fore. The kind of musk used here is the kind that reminds me of cleanliness: freshly washed hair and clean laundry. At one point I briefly smell the sweet, slightly fecal and animalic note of civet, but it quickly fades. Fiore de Bellagio is tartly sweet, rich and clean, all at once.
The En Voyage website says of Fiore di Bellagio:
Fiore di Bellagio is crafted in the 1920’s vintage style of fragrance worn by European and American beauties of the Golden Age. Exquisitely recreated and contemporized for more modern noses, Fiore di Bellagio retains the quality of a vintage masterpiece that will forever delight and inspire.
As with most of perfumer Shelley Waddington’s creations, Fiore di Bellagio is rich and opulent. Her fragrances have explosive, colourful openings, intriguing developments, and fascinating endings. There is never a dull moment as her fragrances unfold. While I’m not a lover of florals generally, I do enjoy Fiore di Bellagio and enjoy its theatrical opening and interesting development.
Fiore di Bellagio has excellent staying power, lasting about 6 hours before fading to a skin scent. It has a moderate sillage.
The notes listed on the En Voyage website are:
TOP: Italian Lemon and Citrus, Green Leaves, Ylang Ylang
HEART: Spicy Carnation, Gardenia absolute, Jasmin absolute, Bulgarian Rose Otto, Muguet, Violet, Bois de Rose
BASE: Dark Vanilla, Antique Sandalwood, Iris Florentine (Orris absolute), Costus Oil, Vintage Resins, Civet and Musks
Fiore di Bellagio was awarded the Best Artisan Perfume of the Year award at The 6th Annual Taste Awards in 2014.
Where can you get Fiore di Bellagio?
En Voyage offers eau de parfum samples for $6 USD, and an 18ml (0.6oz) eau de parfum for $75 USD. You can purchase Fiore di Bellagio here. En Voyage Perfumes are also stocked by Indigo Perfumery and Tigerlily Perfumery in the US: for stockist details, click here.
Indigo Vanilla – from the Souvenir de Chocolate Trio
Indigo Vanilla wowed me from the very first application. It’s a fragrance I didn’t expect to love so much from the notes, but it surprised me from the get-go and is my favourite of the six En Voyage fragrances that I’ve tried. Indigo Violet is one of three fragrances from the Souvenir de Chocolate Trio, a series of chocolate-based fragrances that can be combined or worn alone.
Indigo vanilla is a sweet, ultra-feminine creation (though it’s labelled as unisex by En Voyage), laden with crystallised violets over a creamy vanilla-musk base, with a very subtle hint of warm, sweet, milky cocoa lurking in the background. I really had to sniff hard to spot the chocolate note; it’s more of a sweet, supporting note than anything particularly obvious. Indigo Vanilla has a vintage feel also, and smells a little like old-fashioned powder puffs and violet-scented makeup. It doesn’t really smell like a gourmand, despite the inclusion of chocolate, crème douce (sweet cream), and vanilla, and it’s not really a floral either, despite the intense violet note. It’s lies somewhere in between and reminds me somewhat of Histoires de Parfums’ 1889 Moulin Rouge.
I find Indigo Vanilla a very comforting fragrance, and I fell in love with it quickly. It’s a go-to scent when I need comfort, happiness and prettiness in my life. I wore it recently during laser eye surgery, and found it quite soothing.
Indigo Vanilla is fairly linear in comparison with the other two fragrances reviewed here, which means it doesn’t change a great deal over time, but I don’t mind as I love the smell. The sample I received is an extrait (parfum) sample and has considerable staying power and radiates enormously at first. Five hours after applying a tiny smear to my skin, I can still smell Indigo Vanilla wafting up at me as I type, and I suspect it will last several hours more, at least!
The notes listed on the En Voyage website are:
TOP: Sugared Violet
HEART: Chocolat Chaud, Crème Douce
BASE: Soft Woods, Vintage Ambergris, Vanilla alliage, Tonquin Musk
Where can you get Indigo Vanilla?
En Voyage offers parfum extrait samples for $6 USD, a 4ml (0.14oz) parfum extrait for $30 USD and a 15ml (0.5oz) eau de parfum spray for $65 USD. You can purchase Indigo Vanilla here. En Voyage Perfumes are also stocked by Indigo Perfumery and Tigerlily Perfumery in the US: for stockist details, click here.
I hope you’ve enjoyed my reviews of three of En Voyage Perfumes’ fragrances, and that they inspire you to try Shelley Waddington’s fabulous creations. Have you tried, or do you own any perfumes by En Voyage? Which ones are your favourites? Let me know in the comments box below!
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 is the fourth of five, weekly instalments in Series Two of Thirteen Thoughts. Today’s interview features Shelley Waddington of En Voyage Perfumes. Shelley’s fragrances are adored by perfume aficionados and critics alike, and her fragrance Zelda (inspired by Zelda Fitzgerald) has gained a cult following. En Voyage has won multiple international awards, including several prestigious Gold Artisan Fragrance Salon Awards. As well as being a talented perfumer, Shelley is also a musician — she plays keyboard, woodwinds and guitar — and has worked as a music teacher. As a synaesthete, Shelley experiences smells in colours and shapes. I hope to write more about Shelley’s synaesthesia at a later date on this blog, as part of my Smell and Synaesthesia series.
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…
Shelley Waddington of En Voyage Perfumes
Tell us about a significant olfactory memory from your childhood.
My Aunt Bobby was tiny, rich, glamorous, and wore the highest heels I’d ever seen. One day she gave me her bottle of Schiaparelli’s Shocking, right off of her dressing table. The bottle was shaped like a little glass dressmaker’s dummy, and was under a glass dome. My parents were horrified at the idea of their 5-year-old wearing such a fragrance. I thought it was all perfectly wonderful.
What is your “origin story”? When, why and how did you decide to become a perfumer?
My early life in an artist colony was involved with music, textiles, clay, charcoals, paint, jewelry making and sculpture. Eventually I needed more income, so I entered the corporate world. During those corporate years I missed having something to hold up at the end of the day and say, “I made this”. It was like living in a sensory deprivation chamber.
As a diversion I bought a few essential oils. I blended a few little things and put them in pretty bottles. I had some talent and wanted to learn more. So I took a vacation to Paris and Grasse to study, learn, and to find better oils. I gradually collected an extensive reference library, a fully stocked perfumer’s organ, and developed rewarding relationships with other perfumers and helpful suppliers.
My first business, Beau Soleil Perfumes (in 2000), was an all-natural perfume, bath and body outlet. It was the early forerunner of En Voyage Perfumes and remains the parent company.
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?
My only formal training was in 2001, a small workshop in Grasse where I learned some new things that helped me to progress.
My most significant learning comes from ongoing curiosity, study, practice, and immersion in the arts.
During my early years I frequently corresponded with other perfumers in online study groups.
We didn’t realize at the time that we were to be the Emergent New Perfumers. We learned together, competed against each other. We delivered our version of “Ted Talks” among ourselves before anything like that ever existed. We were the first of the new West Coast indie movement.
Who are your favourite perfumers or perfume houses, and what do you like about their work?
My favorite perfume house is frankly my own. We’re acknowledged as being at the cutting edge of perfumery, as daring to innovate, and to take the risks to make unique, lovely, quality fragrances for wallet-friendly prices. We use all the beautiful essences that the big commercial perfume houses avoid due to cost and unnecessary restrictions. We aren’t beholden to shareholders, investors, or corporate creative directors. We’re one of the few places in perfumery you’re going to find this.
My favorite classic perfumer is Ernest Daltroff who founded Parfums Caron in 1904. He was a young Russian Jew who immigrated penniless to Paris, and then trained himself to make perfume for a living. His assistant, muse and beloved life partner Felicie helped him to escape to America when the Nazis occupied Paris during WWII. His masterpieces include Tabac Blond, Nuit de Noel, and Bellodgia, trendsetters of their day. Today they’re treasured classics that radiate the poignant authenticity of his life. I like his story because he was the real deal who succeeded on his own merit despite not having a wealthy family or a famous mentor.
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.
My philosophy is simple: artistic independence, honesty, and transparency. That translates into gorgeous materials, quality, and a fair price point.
I am closely connected to my perfumes and to my customers.
It isn’t unusual for me to hear from a customer who feels as if one my perfumes was made especially for them.
Each of my perfumes tells a new fragrance story – about a person, a place, an ethos, an element or a legend.
Memorable people whose story I’ve depicted in fragrance include Zelda (Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald) and Makeda (the real name of the Queen of Sheba).
Stories of fragrant places include New York Man, and Fiore di Bellagio (Lake Cuomo, Italy).
Go Ask Alice is the story of Hippie drug days of the 1960’s Summer of Love. Captured in Amber tells of ancient and exotic resins of Persia, Egypt and India. Lorelei tells the tale of the mythical Gallic water siren.
I also explore stories of water, fire, sand, a Japanese peach, and a special wood named Oudh in (respectively) A Study in Water, Chang Chang, Durango, Peche Noir, and L’Hombre.
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?
I constantly evaluate new ideas. When an idea has a heart, my passion quickly develops and I follow that. It’s always nice when something new fills a gap, but I’m not always that practical.
What element of your perfume making process do you think readers of this blog would be interested or surprised to learn about?
I’m not sure how interesting or surprising this is, but I’m the author of a well-known perfume textbook, Perfuming With Natural Isolates. I also teach and mentor other perfumers.
Also, I devote blocks of time to evaluating new fragrance materials. I’m always looking for something that speaks to me in a new way.
Lastly, sometimes a fragrance I seek isn’t available commercially. So I make it myself, using resins, woods, leaves, and blossoms. I use traditional methods and also some new techniques I’ve developed myself.
What are the current challenges you face as a perfumer, both creatively and in regard to manufacturing, distributing and marketing your perfume?
Hand-crafted perfume was once the standard, and it’s now experiencing an exciting renaissance. Global demand for quality non-commercial, artisan perfumes continues to grow. My challenges are to create market awareness of my small brand and to find distribution without compromising the quality and price – which are the very soul of my product.
The best part is that fragrance lovers are an incredibly beneficial, well-wishing audience. Hardly a day goes by that I don’t receive encouragement from a person or a company who appreciates my work. My adverting budget is tiny, and having so many kind people spreading the word is a huge help.
How has your work as a perfumer affected your perception of everyday smells?
I sometimes notice smells that aren’t noticed by others. And when I try to describe smells I probably sound a little crazy to non-perfume people.
My language often includes references to fragrance families, such as chypre and soliflore; and sometimes use names of specific fragrance materials like liatrix and hedione and Lavandula augustifolia.
I also use other words that aren’t always a part of everyday language, such as agresic, hesperidic, indolic. I sometimes say something like, “This smells blue”, and I use descriptive similes, such as, “This smell reminds me of dawn light shining yellow through a blooming pussy willow.” I also speak comparatively on the basis of other perfumes, such as, “This smells like the rustic coumarin note in Aramis, if it was mixed with the new-mown hay note in Ralph Lauren Polo Sport”.
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?
Ambergris is the ultimate in elegant flavor. It was once a custom of Marie Antoinette and the French Royals to flavor their creamy hot chocolate with ambergris. In fact, that is the fragrance I depict in my perfume Café Cacao.
And once I combined ambergris, patchouli and musk into my homemade almond Roca and brought it to a party of perfume colleagues. Lots of perfumers wanted the recipe.
If you had a time machine, which historical period in perfumery would you like to go back to and work in as a perfumer?
Each era is so terribly romantic! And each one influences and inspires me by their materials, styles and innovations.
I feel very privileged to have access to the work and information of those who went before me. I learn so much from them. Using that knowledge as a point of departure for new ideas and interpretations is the Ultimate Artistic Freedom.
If you could invent a new olfactory gadget, tool or technology, what would it be and how would it benefit perfumers and/or society?
That’s a hard question. Olfactory gadgets for marketing are interesting and fun, such as fragrance booths that have scent piped in. But my own interest is focused more on making perfume. I’m less interested in bacon-scented alarm clocks, olfactory smartphones or smell-o-vision.
I have invented a couple proprietary things for my own use, mostly to improve efficiency. Many perfume houses do this. It sometimes has the side-effect of contributing to identifiable brand characteristics. People often comment that my brand is recognizable, that they can smell something and tell that it’s a “Shelley”. Part of that comes from technique.
What is the purpose of perfume?
For me, the overarching purpose is to deliver unexpected beauty that moves someone deeply.
I hope you have enjoyed today’s interview with Shelley Waddington. I would like to thank Shelley for the time and care she took to answer the thirteen questions. I enjoyed the email communication we had in the process of conducting this interview; Shelley has been such a lovely, warm and friendly person to deal with. I will also be reviewing some En Voyage fragrances on Perfume Polytechnic in the near future – follow the blog to stay in touch!
Shelley is also an author and perfume educator: she penned the textbook Perfuming with Natural Isolates and runs an online course on the topic.
To find out more about Shelley and her En Voyage perfumes (and to purchase them), visit En Voyage Perfumes. If you’re in the US, you can also purchase En Voyage fragrances from Tigerlily Perfumes in San Francisco and at the Indigo Perfumery in Lakewood, Ohio.
Shelley enjoys connecting with the fragrance community through social media. Here are some links to her Facebook pages:
- Shelley Waddington’s personal Facebook page
- En Voyage Perfumes Facebook page
- Perfuming With Natural Isolates Facebook page
Previous & Future Instalments of Thirteen Thoughts
Last week, Andy Tauer of Tauer Perfumes was interviewed. You can read his answers to the thirteen questions here.
In week one of this second series of Thirteen Thoughts, Mandy Aftel was interviewed. You can read her answers here.
In week two, JoAnne Bassett of JoAnne Bassett Perfumes answered the thirteen questions. You can read her interview here.
You can catch up with Series One of Thirteen Thoughts here.
Visit Perfume Polytechnic next week to find out how Ellen Covey of Olympic Orchids Perfumes 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.
All interview answers and photographs were provided courtesy of the perfumer. All interviews remain the intellectual property of Perfume Polytechnic and the perfumers. Please do not reproduce interviews or images without permission.