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 One – Inspiration

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Dad in front of a painting of Karatta House by Kenneth Jack

Recently I had a very special birthday. My wonderful partner, knowing that (A) I love nothing more than making things and (B) I am obsessed with perfume, gave me a fantastic gift: a voucher for a Create Your Own Perfume experience at Fleurage Perfume Atelier in South Melbourne. Fleurage is a traditional, European-style perfumery. Emma Leah, owner and perfumer of Fleurage says:

We created Fleurage to re-establish the lost art of classic European perfume making. The Fleurage Perfume Atelier is a traditional working perfumery. We manufacture our own perfumes, conduct classes and offer unique perfume events and experiences. (Text from Fleurage website)

The Create Your Own Perfume experience is a two-hour, one-on-one experience with perfumer Emma Leah that involves the creation of a custom scent with the perfumer’s guidance and assistance. At the end of the experience you get to take home your own unique, 40ml perfume. You can read more about the Create Your Own Perfume experience here, and the usual process that it involves.

In this post, Creating Karatta Perfume: Part One, I will write about the inspiration for my fragrance. In Part Two, I will talk about the process that Emma and I went through to create my fragrance.

The time I spent with Emma was a little bit different to the usual Create Your Own Perfume process. I contacted Emma prior to the appointment as I wanted a list of the 80 scent ingredients available for use (both single notes and accords). I had a concept in mind that I wanted to work with, and I wanted to see if this would be possible. Emma was very open to me bringing in ideas, and was very excited when I told her about my concept, which was to recreate my scent memories of a holiday house that my parents owned when I was young: Karatta House.

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Karatta House c. late 1970s

Karatta, situated in the idyllic seaside town of Robe in South Australia, was built in the 1850s and was Governor Sir James Fergusson’s summer residence between 1869-1873. Karatta sits on a large parcel of land, flanked by a harbour on one side, and Karatta Beach on the other. By the time my family bought Karatta House in the early 1980s, it was in a state of disrepair, bearing more resemblance to Miss Havisham’s house than a grand mansion.

My father had a close attachment to the house. He had dreams of returning it to its previous, majestic state, but sadly it never happened. He reluctantly sold it in the late 1980s, and felt a keen sense of disappointment and loss for many years afterwards. Dad died four years ago. Karatta reminds me of him, of his striving to be different and to take on big things. I wanted to create a perfume that would be a tribute to Karatta House, my scent memories of the place, and to my Dad, with his courage to dream big.

When I was a child, we would spend most holidays at Karatta House: Easter, Christmas, school holidays. It was an eccentric and magical place for a kid. Karatta was a relic of a bygone era: it had a ballroom with a marble fireplace, crumbling servants’ quarters, deep feather mattresses, an old pedal organ, a magnificent, curved wooden staircase, pressed tin wallpaper, a claw-footed bath, rotting floorboards and peeling paint. My mother would often dig up 19th Century bottles and crockery when gardening. Up the road were the ruins of an old gaol, and an obelisk on the edge of a crumbling cliff.

There were many places in the house that were forbidden to my brother and I, which only made Karatta more exciting. One of these places was an upstairs room that contained an active bee hive. Oh, the smell! That waxy, mellifluous sweetness!

When we first stayed at Karatta House I was only six years old. Sleeping upstairs was terrifying for me with the howling winds coming off the ocean; I honestly though the house was haunted. We quickly moved our bedrooms downstairs, and I felt much safer. Dad built a rope playground for my brother and I just outside our bedroom, with swings and tightropes. I still remember the feeling of rope burn on my hands after a day of play. But the best place to play, apart from the rope playground and Karatta Beach, with its caves and rock pools, was in the Morton Bay fig tree. This massive, old tree, with its dusty smell of powdery figs and earth and protruding roots was the site for a game that we invented: Tree Chasey.

One day last year I was thinking about Dad, and Karatta, and I came up with the idea of creating a perfume based on scent memories from Karatta House as a tribute to him. I made a list of smells from the house that I would want to include in my perfume:

  • Cedar: for the wooden floorboards, antique furniture and staircase
  • Honey and beeswax from the forbidden hive
  • The warm leather smell of Dad’s car seats from the long drive down to Karatta
  • Smoke from the fireplace
  • Mulberries: juicy and sweet-tart, fresh from the tree
  • Salt: the smell of seaweed, the ocean, and seafood
  • Oranges that I would gorge myself on every summer
  • Chocolate Easter eggs
  • The Morton Bay fig tree

As I lack the technical skills and knowledge to make perfume, this dream lay dormant for a little while, until I received the voucher for my Create Your Own Perfume experience. Two worlds collided. This experience would provide the perfect opportunity to create my Karatta perfume with the expert guidance, assistance and knowledge of perfumer Emma Leah. I couldn’t wait…

Next: Part Two of this post, in which I discuss the process of making the perfume, and write about the resulting fragrance and how it smells.