Thirteen Thoughts: Perfumer Interview Series – Hiram Green of Hiram Green Perfumes

thirteen-thoughts-v2_800_shadow1Thirteen thoughts from perfumers around the globe. Each perfumer profiled at Perfume Polytechnic has been presented with the same set of thirteen questions that probe into scent memories, imagination, education, history, the creative process and philosophy. How each perfumer answers these questions, and what form the answers take, is up to them. Tune in each week for a new instalment to learn more about the olfactory arts and how perfumers think about smell.

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

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

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

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

As the intention of Thirteen Thoughts is to let each perfumer speak for themselves about who they are, what drives them, and what they do with fragrance, without any further ado, let me introduce you to…

Hiram Green of Hiram Green Perfumes

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Hiram Green

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

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

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

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

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Artwork for Hiram Green’s fragrance Voyage

  1. Do you have any formal training in perfumery, or are you self-taught? Have there been any mentors or other personal or cultural influences on your work as a perfumer?

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

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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.