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.

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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!

Top Ten Olfactory Moments of 2014

This time of year perfume bloggers around the world often post their top ten fragrance releases of 2014. Living on the somewhat fragrantically-isolated island of Australia, without easy (i.e. free) access to many of these releases makes it difficult for me to write such a post. No matter, as this blog is as much about the sense of smell and all things olfactorial, I am going to list my top ten olfactory moments of 2014 instead, in no particular order. This list includes perfumes, real-life smells that really made a mark on me and my nose, and creative experiences based around scent and fragrance.

Sheep and twin lambs in the clean, fresh country landscape.

1. Moving to the country

Moving to a small rural town in Australia, away from the stinking, pollution-filled hubbub of Melbourne this year, has given me access to clean, fresh air, a wonderful petrichor-like smell as dusk falls and the massive fields of grasses release their oils into the atmosphere, and of course the smell of sheep. We live on a sheep farm, and I love the smell of oily, slightly animalic lanolin that pervades the air subtly at all times. It’s warm and comforting, just like the smell of your favourite woolly jumper.

Guerlain's Shalimar

Guerlain’s Shalimar

2. Shalimar

As much a constant in 2014 as the clean country air, the gorgeously rich, animalic and constantly delightful Shalimar was my most worn fragrance this year. While I own this in many different vintages and versions, including several flankers, the 2010 EDP is the version I like most. Every time I wear Shalimar, it surprises me, but it also soothes me. I wear it on special occasions, when I want to wear an old favourite, and when I need cheering up.

Bois des Iles by Chanel (vintage version)

Bois des Iles by Chanel (vintage version)

3. Smelling Bois des Iles for the first time

When a friend brought her large bottle of Chanel’s Bois des Iles to a lunch catchup last Easter, I was taken aback by this beauty. I’ve long been a fan of sandalwood, and smelling Bois des Iles for the first time, I felt like I’d discovered the superlative sandalwood fragrance. This fragrance is such a gorgeous melange of creamy sandalwood, ylang ylang and spice, held together with the floaty, fizzy lightness of aldehydes. This will be a life-long love, up there with my favourite fragrance Shalimar.

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Smell walks

4. Smell Walks

When I started this blog, I started going on smell walks. Smell walks are an exercise in mindfulness, appreciating the present, and the everyday smells around me. These walks open my nose up to all kinds of smells, and I’m learning to notice and appreciate all the odours around me, not just those that are considered pretty or pleasant. A good side-effect of these walks is that I am more mindful of the smells around me most of the time now, whether I choose to write about them for Perfume Polytechnic, or not. If you’re interested, you can read about my Smell Walks here.

Karatta House – finally restored

5. Making my own “Karatta” perfume with Emma Leah at Fleurage

Not only was this a creative person’s dream activity, making perfume for the first time under the guidance of perfumer Emma Leah, but I had a ball sniffing all of the 80 ingredients available to me! What fun for a perfume enthusiast! Best of all, I got to create a perfume that was a tribute both to a wonderful old family holiday house, Karatta (in Robe, South Australia), and to my now-departed father, who had dreams of restoring this lovely old mansion from a state of extreme disrepair, but was not able to do so.  You can read about my experience at Fleurage making my own perfume here and here.

Karatta Beach, Robe

Karatta Beach, Robe

6. The smell of the ocean at Robe

Just before Christmas I made a pilgrimage back to Robe, South Australia, the little seaside town where we spent many family holidays throughout my childhood. I wanted to see Karatta House, and I wanted to see if my smell memories (from creating Karatta perfume, see above) were accurate. The ocean at Robe has the most beautiful smell: intensely salty, strong, slightly fishy, and incredibly fresh. It was marvellous, and I think Emma at Fleurage captured this salty sea smell very well in the Karatta perfume that we created together.

Giant Morton Bay fig tree

Giant Morton Bay fig tree

7. The Moreton Bay fig tree

Smelling the Moreton Bay fig tree at my childhood holiday house in Robe for the first time in almost 27 years was a treat. This fig note also made it into my Karatta perfume, but smelling the actual tree, in real life again, offered so much more than I remembered. If you haven’t smelled a Moreton Bay fig (it’s an Australian type of ficus), let me describe it for you: it’s a bit like a standard fig tree, but with some differences. It’s sweet and figgy, but also dusty, slightly earthy and powdery. It’s a strong smell and this massive old tree gave off quite a fabulous aroma.

Hyper-Natural at the NGV

Hyper-Natural at the NGV

8. Chandler Burr’s Hyper-Natural scent exhibition at the National Gallery of Victoria

Melbournites were treated to an exhibition curated by Chandler Burr at the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) this past spring. This scent exhibition, situated in the gardens behind the NGV, was a delight. It featured sniffing stations, or “pods” that contained seven different Guerlain fragrances and the corresponding aromachemicals that feature in each fragrance, and atmospheric mist (sadly unscented, but visually pleasing) was pumped into the air around the garden. The sniffing stations were arranged chronologically in the garden, starting with Jicky (1889), and ending with one of Guerlain’s most recent releases, L’Homme Idéal. I attended the opening keynote speech given by Chandler, and a guided tour with him the next morning, and visited the exhibition a couple more times. Hyper-Natural was my first ever fragrance exhibition, and as Guerlain is my favourite house, this event was pretty exciting! I also made lots of new fragrance buddies and met some online fragrance friends in person for the first time. You can read my blog posts about Hyper-Natural here.

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Cèpes Mushroom

9. The smell of Cèpes Mushroom Absolute

At a meetup at Fleurage Pefume Atelier a few months back, a small group of Melbourne perfumistas got to smell many rare and unusual fragrance ingredients. A highlight of the night for many was the cèpes mushroom. This unusual perfume ingredient smelled of an intensely savoury and rich combination of mushroom and vegemite. I would love to smell this ingredient in a perfume one day. If you want to smell this magnificent, rare ingredient for yourself, you can purchase some from my friend, perfumer Mark Evans (of Evocative Perfumes and Hermitage Oils) here.

Rainbow Lorikeet feeding on a lemon myrtle tree. Copyright  James Niland, Brisbane, Australia.

Rainbow Lorikeet feeding on a lemon myrtle tree.
Copyright James Niland, Brisbane, Australia. URL: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/20/Trichoglossus_haematodus_-Brisbane%2C_Queensland%2C_Australia-8.jpg

10. Native Australian Spices at Saltbush Kitchen, Ballarat.

Olly Technic and I had a thrill just yesterday while we were snacking at the new Saltbush Kitchen Cafe at the Museum of Australian Democracy at Eureka (M.A.D.E.) in Ballarat. As well as offering scrumptious food and drinks using Australian ingredients (something that is done far too infrequently in Australia), they had for sale some Australian “Bushfood” spices that smelled absolutely incredible. Our favourites were Lemon Myrtle (a sharp and vibrant smell reminiscent of fresh lemongrass, but somehow richer), Strawberry Gum (a combination of eucalyptus, and intensely sweet, sharp strawberry), and Aniseed Myrtle (a strong, sweet aniseed smell with a hint of lemon myrtle). It was a great olfactory experience to finish off 2014! You can read about Saltbush Kitchen here, and while their yummy herbs and spices are not yet for sale online, they do have plenty of other temptations to indulge in. Or if you’re visiting Ballarat, drop in and see them at M.A.D.E.


I do hope you’ve enjoyed my top ten wrap-up of olfactory experiences in 2014. What were some of the best things you’ve smelled this year? I’d love to know – make a comment in the box below!

Happy New Year readers and followers and thanks for your support in 2014. See you next year!

Polly Technic

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Shop Local: An Australian Perfumista’s Christmas List

Since the Australian dollar has been strong, it’s been tempting for us in Australia to do most of our perfume shopping online in order to find the best price. While this is nice for our bank balances, it means that sometimes we don’t pay attention to all the gorgeous scented products being made and sold right on our doorstep. As Perfume Polytechnic is an Australian perfume blog, this Christmas I’ve compiled a list of fabulous, fragrance-related gift ideas from specialist Australian perfume stores and Australian perfume makers. There’s a wide range to choose from, including gorgeous fragrances, creative experiences, books and scented products for your home. Better still, there are options for perfumistas and non-perfumistas alike. I hope you enjoy this list, get some inspiration for your Christmas gift shopping, and support Australian makers and shops in the process!

1. Kleins Perfumery’s Moor Street Gardenia Eau De Parfum

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Kleins Perfumery’s Moor Street Gardenia

If you’re a Melbourne person, you will already know and love Kleins – the legendary little store on Brunswick Street, Fitzroy, stacked literally to the rafters with an eclectic and exquisite range of high-quality niche perfumes and beauty products. Relatively new to the scene is Kleins’ own range of fragrances, including this gorgeously realistic gardenia fragrance, Moor Street Gardenia. Fitzroy locals will know Moor Street (located only a few hundred metres from Kleins), and may even know of the very gardenia bush that inspired this fragrance. Imagine buying this for a local! Adding further kudos to this Australian-made product, Kleins’ fragrances are created using distilled grape alcohol from the Australian Barossa Valley. The fragrance is richly creamy and heady, and is perfect for summer.

Moor Street Gardenia comes in Eau de Parfum strength and you can buy a 50ml bottle for $110, online at Kleins, or wander in and buy in store, if you’re a local.

2. One Seed Scent Bar Fragrance

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One Seed Scent Bar Fragrance. Photo courtesy of Liz Cook.

One Seed, based in Adelaide, is the natural fragrance company of perfumer Liz Cook. One Seed’s fragrances contain 80% organic materials, use recyclable packaging and are cruelty free. As well as making a range of wonderful fragrances and offering a bespoke fragrance service, One Seed offers a Scent Bar Fragrance service to appeal to the creative soul lurking in all of us. The Scent Bar service is a satisfyingly easy process in which you choose the top, middle and base notes (single ingredients and accords) of your handcrafted fragrance. Perfumer Liz Cook then does all the hard work, blending these ingredients to create a beautifully balanced creation just for you. Make a custom fragrance for a friend or loved one, and try your hand at making a fragrance!

At $29.95 for an 8ml bottle, it’s a steal. Scent Bar Fragrances can be purchased online here.

3. Create Your Own Perfume Experience at Fleurage Perfume Atelier

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Create Your Own Perfume Experience. Photo by Emma Leah.

If you know a creative type or perfume enthusiast who is keen to make their own unique fragrance from scratch, under the guidance of a trained perfumer, then the Create Your Own Perfume experience at Fleurage Perfume Atelier in South Melbourne is the perfect gift. Readers of this blog will know that I was lucky enough to be gifted with a Create Your Own Perfume experience a few months back. You can read more about that experience in this blog post, and also here. I can’t recommend it highly enough! This two-hour, one-on-one experience is a great introduction to perfume making. Best of all, you end up with a one-of-a-kind fragrance, and you can order refills once you’ve used it all up! Master perfumer Emma Leah, who also creates sublime, botanical, vintage-inspired fragrances, will guide you through this process.

The experience costs $250; for that you receive 2 hours of personalised, one-on-one attention from Emma, and take home a 40ml bottle of fragrance. You can read more about the Create Your Own Perfume experience and make bookings here.

4. Siberian Fir Perfume Oil and Eau de Toilette by Evocative Perfumes

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Evocative Perfumes’ Siberian Fir. Photo courtesy of Mark Evans.

We all love the smell of a Christmas tree, don’t we? Adelaide-based perfumer Mark Evans’ camphoraceous yet surprisingly rich fragrance, Siberian Fir, will satisfy all longings for that wonderful smell, while offering a fragrance that is much more interesting and complex than that. Siberian Fir is a rare variety of fir from Russia with an unusual complexity and richness, and has a green fruitiness that adds sweetness and depth to any cool, camphoraceous notes that one usually expects from fir. The fragrance is balanced out beautifully with notes of Poplar bud, Australian Buddha Wood, chamomile and rose. Siberian Fir is a great fragrance to wear in both warm and cool weather. The cool, green freshness of the fir, while evocative of winter, snow and Christmas, is refreshing on a warm day too.

You can find Siberian Fir online here, priced at a very reasonable $40 for 12ml of perfume oil, and $50 for the newly released Eau de Toilette.

5. Mud 01 and Mud 02 Scented Candles by Ainslie Walker

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Mud Candles by Ainslie Walker and Mud Australia. Photo courtesy of Ainslie Walker.

Ainslie Walker really knows her stuff: she is a Jasmine Award winning writer, fragrance journalist and perfumer. A recent collaboration with Australian ceramics company Mud has resulted in two scented candles created by Ainslie and encased in Mud’s serenely clean and minimalist porcelain vessels, in a range of edible colours.

Mud 01 features tuberose, along with notes of green ginger, jasmine & tolu balsam. This lusciously creamy and narcotic fragranced candle is available encased in either red, slate, or milk coloured porcelain, and refills are available. The candles are 100% hand blended and poured in Australia.

Mud 02, released only two days ago, features a warm blend of amber and woods, complemented with animalic notes of leather and musk, heady neroli, fresh orange and sun-dried hay and herbs. Divine! Mud 02 is available in the following colours: bottle, plum and dust. Refills are also available.

Mud candles range in price from $100-120, with refills costing $50. Mud 01 is available at the Mud Australia website and directly from Ainslie at her website. Mud 02, which is brand new, is currently only available in store. See the Mud stockists page for details.

6. Fragrances of the World 30th Anniversary Edition by Michael Edwards

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Fragrances of the World 2014 Edition

Not strictly speaking an exclusively Australian item, but as Michael Edwards’ legendary book, Fragrances of the World, was conceived and born in Sydney in 1984, and his publication team is still based here, I am claiming it as Australian! Edwards, an Englishman, now divides his time between Sydney, New York and Paris. This year marked the 30th anniversary edition of Edwards’ now legendary Fragrances of the World, an industry guide-book suited to perfume retailers and enthusiasts alike. Fragrances of the World classifies thousands of commercially available fragrances into categories as defined in Edwards’ equally famous fragrance wheel. Retailers can use the guide to recommend new fragrances to customers, based on their existing preferences, however the guide is also an invaluable tool for perfume enthusiasts to help them learn about fragrance families and classification, and their own tastes. A must for any perfumista!

Fragrances of the World 2014, 30th Edition, can be purchased online for $195.


I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this list and got some ideas for your gift giving this year. What do you want from Father Christmas this year? Are there any Australian fragrances or perfume-related goodies on your wish list? I do hope you feel inspired to shop locally and support Australian perfume talent!

Merry Christmas everyone!

Polly Technic

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Perfume Meetup at Fleurage Perfume Atelier

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Perfumer Emma Leah in front of her work space

A small group of Melbourne perfume aficionados recently had a wonderful and immersive experience learning all about fragrance from botanical perfumer Emma Leah at her perfume atelier Fleurage. Back in September I created my own fragrance with Emma, and wrote about it in one of my early blog posts. We ended up with a magnificently rich and original fragrance called Karatta, a fragrance based on scent memories of my childhood holiday house at the beach. It was such a lovely experience and on the day, Emma and I discussed the various perfume groups I’ve been a part of, both online and in person. She very generously offered her space for a perfume meetup, and I arranged for a group of six of us to meet with Emma and her partner Robert, at Fleurage, for a supper meeting.

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Emma talking with the group

Emma offered to talk about her practice and show us her perfume-making materials. The format of the evening took the form of a free-form conversation between Emma and all of us. She encouraged us to ask questions throughout, and it was these questions that guided the conversation. We got to hear about Emma’s own perfume education and training (traditional, botanical), her process of making fragrances, the materials she uses, her opinions of the new IFRA restrictions, the price of materials and their availability, and so on. So much was discussed that I can’t possibly record it blow-by-blow here, but it was a fascinating and very educational experience.

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Emma talking with the group

Emma also passed around some of her own fragrances periodically for us to smell. These are wonderful, botanical, vintage-style creations, and I recommend anyone in Melbourne go and visit Fleurage and give them a try; they are truly beautiful and sophisticated fragrances and like nothing else on the market today. We also got to smell some of the perfume ingredients that Emma uses to make her fragrances. It was a real treat to be able to smell real iris – which had everyone in raptures. Iris is one of the most expensive and hard-to-come-by ingredients used in perfumery, so none of us had smelled it before as a discreet ingredient. Iris smells very much like violet (which surprised me), and much less “flat” and waxy than it does in the iris-heavy fragrances I’ve smelled. We also smelled several types of lotus (from memory, pink, blue and white), which were also beautiful, but the highlight ingredient of the night for many was cèpes mushroom. This unusual perfume ingredient smelled of an intensely savoury and rich combination of mushroom and vegemite. I would love to smell this ingredient in a perfume one day, I think it would be earthy and marvellous!

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Gabriella sniffing the cèpes mushroom – a magical ingredient!

All of those who attended the meetup were very grateful for the opportunity to meet with Emma and have an open conversation about perfume. Being able to have an in-depth discussion with a perfumer and to have access to her fragrances and materials was wonderful. Thank you Emma and Robert for sharing your fabulous perfume atelier and your time with us!

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Emma Leah’s fabulous perfumes

If you are interested in learning more about Fleurage Perfume Atelier and Emma Leah’s perfumes, you can visit the website here.

Creating Karatta Perfume: Part Two – Process

Adding the ingredients directly to the bottle drop by drop to make Karatta perfume. Photo credit: Emma Leah from Fleurage.

PREPARATION

In Part One of this post, Creating Karatta Perfume, I wrote about the inspiration for the perfume I made at Fleurage Perfume Atelier in South Melbourne, during my Create Your Own Perfume experience. You can read that post here.

To quickly recap, the notes I wanted to capture in the fragrance were my scent memories associated with Karatta House, a wonderful old dilapidated mansion that my family owned when I was a child. The smells that I was keen to recreate in this perfume were:

cedar / honey and beeswax (the bee hive)/ leather / smoke / mulberry / salt / orange / chocolate / fig

Along with these notes, from Emma’s list of 80 ingredients, I then chose a few more that I thought would complement the composition and the concept. These notes were:

forest / earth / seaweed / ambergris / resins / amber / sandalwood / warm wood

PROCESS

My Create Your Own Perfume experience was a one-on-one experience with perfumer Emma Leah and took about two hours. The session took place in the Atelier, which is a combination of workspace and shop. Fleurage is a gorgeously decorated old shop, very stylish with vintage and Art Deco accents. The store was closed for business the day I was there, so I had the space to myself, which certainly felt luxurious. The work bench was set up on my arrival with all 80 ingredients lined up in racks according to scent families (Fougère, Chypre, Oriental and Floral) and in groups of top, heart (middle) and base notes.

As I mentioned in Part One, my session didn’t follow the usual process as I had a concept for the perfume I wanted to make and some knowledge about perfume already. So, rather than familiarising myself with all of the notes and scent families as is usually done in a Create Your Own Perfume session, Emma had me pull out and sniff all of the ingredients I’d chosen to use, and I smelt them one by one. Then began a process of elimination. Did I like the note or accord? Did it remind me of Karatta House? Did it smell how I thought it would smell? I eliminated a few that I didn’t like or that I thought wouldn’t work, but kept many of the notes I chose before the session.

Some smells are tricky to replicate in perfumery, which often uses synthetic ingredients to replicate natural smells. And sometimes natural essences, while extracted directly from the raw ingredient, don’t match up to our conceptions or memories of how things might actually smell to us in nature. From the group of smells I was trying to recreate in Karatta, salt, the bee hive and mulberry fell into this tricky area. Emma explained that we could create illusions of these particular scents by combining multiple notes or accords. So, mulberry was created from raspberry, a touch of lime and geranium; the smell of a beehive from a combination of beeswax and warm woods; and salty and beachy smells from seaweed, ambergris and an accord called seaforest.

Once these notes were chosen, Emma suggested a few more heart and top notes to round out the composition and these were used discreetly in the final formula. The extra notes and accords we decided on were:

metallic / cinnamon / ylang ylang / dryspice / champa flower / chypre accord / pepper

Emma explained to me how top, middle and base notes interact, and how each of these categories literally have a different molecular weight to one another. Base notes are the heaviest, so when you make a perfume in a bottle, as we did, they literally sink to the bottom of the formula, the heart/middle notes hover in the middle, and the top notes sit up top. When mixed with perfumer’s alcohol and left to mature, these notes combine, rather than staying in their separate layers. The different kinds of notes also evaporate from the skin at different rates – the top being the most volatile and transient, evaporating quickly, but most apparent when we first spray a perfume. The middle or “heart” notes create the body, or main character of the fragrance and last a moderate amount of time. The base notes provide support for the whole composition and last the longest.

After deciding on our notes, Emma devised a formula for the fragrance. She worked out the relative proportions of base, heart and top notes that would work well, and then the number of drops of each ingredient that we would need to use to achieve both a balanced fragrance and something that represented my vision of Karatta perfume.

Once Emma had all the numbers worked out, it was my turn to add the various notes and accords, drop by drop, directly into the perfume bottle. You can see a photo of me doing this at the top of the post. It takes quite a bit of time and concentration to make sure you get the correct amount in the bottle and don’t make a mess!

We added the notes in a specific order too, effectively building the fragrance from the bottom up, and testing the formula along the way to ensure it was progressing well. Starting with the list of base notes Emma had entered into the formula sheet, I added ingredients in groups of three or four at a time. After each group, Emma dipped a fragrance blotter into the liquid and we would smell the result. As I added more and more ingredients, we kept testing and sniffing the new results on blotters, both on their own and in combination with each other. It was a fascinating, additive, creative process and we continued this method right through the middle and top notes, until I had added all our ingredients and we had our final creation.

Emma advised me to leave the fragrance to settle for 24 hours before testing, to allow the notes to properly combine and give a more realistic effect of how the fragrance would smell. It was hard waiting those 24 hours, but well worth it.

THE PERFUME

So, what does Karatta perfume smell like? It is a wonderful and unusual concoction, and is very rich, strong and complex. Each time I sniff it I smell new ingredients that I haven’t noticed before. At first spray there is something green and vegetal mingling with the dominant heart notes of mulberry and seaweed; this is probably fig, but it also reminds me of cut grass, pine needles and crushed leaves. It’s a very curious and fascinating fragrance, and like nothing I’ve ever smelt before. The beeswax note is strong, adding a warm, sweet and animalic smell to the composition. The woody/resiny notes, so evocative of Karatta, with its polished wooden staircase and floors, is very much apparent, becoming even more so as the fragrance develops. All of the base notes that I chose combine to form a solid, complex foundation for the fragrance and are complementary to one another. But it is the overt combination of mulberry and seaweed that really grabs me: it’s edible, it’s odd, warm and sweet, salty and sexy all at once. This is the heart of Karatta.

VERDICT

I would recommend Fleurage’s Create Your Own Perfume experience to anyone – it was such a fun, educational and enriching creative activity and it would appeal to both perfume aficionados and to those with no prior knowledge of fragrance. I had such a wonderful time making my own fragrance with Emma from Fleurage; it was a really magical experience and a wonderful way to make a tribute perfume both to my father and my own childhood scent memories.

You can read more about Fleurage’s Create Your Own Perfume experience here.