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.

Chandler Burr’s Hyper-Natural Exhibition at the National Gallery of Victoria

Chandler Burr’s Hyper-Natural exhibition in the garden at the National Gallery of Victoria

Chandler Burr’s scent exhibition Hyper-Natural: Scent from Design to Art opened recently at the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV). I attended the Keynote Address given by Burr on the evening of Wednesday, 24th September. Burr and co-curator Ewan McEoin introduced us to the key concepts behind the exhibition, and Burr spoke at length about his own philosophy of scent-based art and design, interspersed with discussion of the materials and fragrances that are on display in Hyper-Natural.  The talk was somewhat free-form and very high-energy. Burr riffed without notes or script, pacing up and down the stage with a headset microphone on, interrupting his address periodically to introduce to the audience, one-by-one, the seven synthetic scent molecules and related Guerlain fragrances from the exhibition. Each fragrance in the exhibition uses one of these scent molecules, some of which are nature-identical, which means that they are intended to mimic a natural smell, such as sandalwood or vanilla, while some are new smells entirely, devoid of intentional reference to existing smells.

Here is a short snippet from an article Burr wrote in The Age prior to the exhibition – it encapsulates some of the concepts behind the exhibition:

In 1969 Jean-Paul Guerlain designed a work entitled Chamade with the synthetic p-Mentha-8-thiol-3-one, which smells like a neon fruit salad of sulfury mango and guava powered by the nuclear radiation of the Fukushima reactor. [Note: Yes, I actually want to say this, and yes, the shock is the point.] It is a shocking material, and it let Guerlain create a work that presented these natural olfactory aspects not as natural but as hyper-natural. Which is why my exhibition, in which you will smell these molecules and these works, is called Hyper-Natural.

Text quoted from this article in The Age, September 19, 2014.

Burr speaking at the Keynote Address

During Burr’s address, a group of volunteers and staff busily dipped perfume blotters (tiny white cardboard strips used to test perfume) into large silver flasks of fragrance and scent molecules that lined the stage in front of Burr and handed them out to the audience. As we sniffed each of the blotters, Burr told us what they were, and interacted with the audience: asking us whether we thought the molecules smelt like something else (natural or otherwise), and if we could identify the Guerlain fragrances. All of this was interspersed with copious amounts of audience chatter and with interesting morsels from Burr about the history of scent, anecdotes about famous perfumers, and opinions and assertions about fragrance and the arts. It was an action-packed, fascinating and lively talk, and was followed by questions from the eager audience and a preview of the exhibition.

Hyper-Natural at night

At night-time, in the garden behind the gallery, on a rainy evening, the exhibition emitted an ethereal, fantastical energy. Mist was pumped out into the air around the garden, which, along with the rain, darkness, and aromas emanating from the installation, created a magical and intriguing atmosphere. The installation consists of seven numbered pods: these are white, minimal, column-shaped sniffing stations, one for each molecule and the corresponding Guerlain fragrance. Information about each molecule and fragrance is inside each pod, with the fragrances and molecules lying in small, circular, liquid pools within. A sheet of tear-off fragrance blotters is provided (with the name of each fragrance and molecule on it) so that you can dip a blotter into each pool and have a sniff. Moving from pod number 1 to number 7 is also a chronological journey, starting with Jicky (1889), and ending with Guerlain’s recently released L’Homme Idéal (2014).

The paired synthetic scent molecules and fragrances are as follows:

  1. Molecule: coumarin / Fragrance: Jicky (1889)
  2. Molecule: ethyl vanillin / Fragrance: Shalimar (1925)
  3. Molecule: sulfox / Fragrance: Chamade (1969)
  4. Molecule: polysantol / Fragrance: Samsara (1989)
  5. Molecule: cis-3-hexenol / Fragrance: Aqua Allegoria Herba Fresca (1999)
  6. Molecule: methyl cyclopentenolone / Fragrance: La Petite Robe Noire (2009)
  7. Molecule: benzaldehyde / Fragrance: L’Homme Idéal (2014)

Sniffing station no. 1 – Jicky (1889)

The following day, I got to view the exhibition again, and took part in a short curators’ tour with Chandler Burr and Ewan McEoin. The tour was a brief, 30-minute walk around the exhibition, stopping at each station to sniff, with Burr discussing each scent molecule and fragrance as we went along. It was, more or less, a clear and concise re-run of the concepts and information from the Keynote Address the previous night.

Curators’ tour

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Hyper-Natural during the day

It was lovely to see the exhibition during the day and to watch members of the public interacting with the materials. Children seemed to love it, and enjoyed running around the garden, using the mist-generators as makeshift hurdles. Hyper-Natural is a fun, interactive and informative exhibition. It’s a great introduction to scent, the science and design that goes into it, and its history. Sniff it or miss it!

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Hyper-Natural during the day

More details about the exhibition can be found here. Hyper-Natural runs until the 30th November. You can read about some of Chandler Burr’s ideas behind Hyper-Natural in this article from The Age.