My first memory of grandmother’s field of flowers was when I was no more than five years old. I vividly recall sitting among her prized flowers as bees droned lazily around me. I remember the blue summer sky above me, the sun shining down on me, butterflies dancing about and a soft fragrant breeze.
I remember being completely aware of the incredible beauty of flowers in their natural state, growing right out of the earth and I knew I was close to God. As the bees went about their work, never bothering me as I sat transfixed, I pondered my first thoughts of life and of a world that was simple and perfect.
I loved staring deep into the petals of a flower as if looking into its soul.
The jewel-colored irises were a favorite. The velvety deep beauty of purple, lavender, yellow and blue nearly broke my tender heart!
Oh, and the smell of the earth from which those flowers grew. Even that rich, Southern soil was fragrant in its own way.
Have you ever gazed into a flower and thought, as you deeply breathe its essence, “I want to be one with this flower”? That was me at age five, and still, I feel that today. Flowers and their fragrance have that effect on me, as I know it does for many of you.
I remember one hot summer’s day, I picked some of my grandmother’s prized roses, though I must have known that I should not. I used her pestle and mortar and ground the precious petals, trying to discover their essence, trying to produce oil.
I must have had a longing for the alchemy
of perfume even then.
I can still smell the fragrant beauty of the
many-colored rose petals, red, yellow, pink,
white and my favorites, peach and deep
orange. Of course, my grandmother found
me, happily trying to produce rose oil and
rose “mash” mixed with iris.
I was sent to my room. I know now my
grandmother understood a child’s fascination,
as she smiled at me patiently and explained to
me why I could not pick her flowers. The next day, she allowed me to gather any rose petals that fell to the ground and I could grind them to my heart’s content, trying to make perfume.
To this day I miss my grandmother and wish she were here to share my love of fragrances. She passed at the age of 88, but is still with me in spirit very much today. Her flower fields are gone now, the trees cut down, having been replaced by now blighted apartment buildings.
I still do, however, feel lucky to have grown up in that rarified “perfumed air”. So please remember, my fragrant friends, you all have fragrance stories that you have lived in your own lives. Recall those memories and keep them close to you.
Because my grandmother lived during a time when most people didn’t have the opportunity to splurge, she may have been shocked to know the extent of my fragrance collection today.
I have no excuses. And it’s all because of her fields of flowers.
Couer de Fleur....
Heart of the Flower
Ruth Brescia 1920
The ART OF SHAVING offers men an opportunity to view shaving as something more than just a “chore to be dealt with”.
According to the ART OF SHAVING, a man shaves more than 20,000 times during his lifetime and how he shaves is essential to attaining healthier, smoother skin. The Art of Shaving is a unique concept guided by the expertise of its founders, the young husband and wife team of Eric Malka and Myriam Zaoui.
Their vision was to offer truly exceptional men's
grooming products with the benefits of
aromatherapy and natural ingredients.
Realizing their dream, Eric, one of the world's
foremost experts on men's shaving and Myriam,
a Certified Aromatherapist with extensive
background in Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine,
opened their first retail shop for men in
1996 on New York's Upper East Side and later,
The Art of Shaving Barber Spa, also in New York.
Within the first year, they launched The Art of
Shaving product line. Based on aromatherapy
and created to maintain, treat and nourish the
most sensitive skin, these unique products are
formulated using high-quality botanical ingredients
and 100% pure essential oils, no synthetic dyes
or fragrances, no alcohol.
In addition, The Art of Shaving re-introduces the shaving brush and razor, two essential tools beautifully handcrafted, offering proper weight, balance and grip to ensure the best results. It brings art and passion to a daily routine.
The Art of Shaving is available at all fine department stores.
THE ART OF SHAVING
“A rose is a rose is a rose...
until it becomes perfume.
In this hour of “To the Best of Our Knowledge”, the power of the flower, a science journalist introduces us to Luca Turin, the most amazing nose in the business, with a new theory about how we smell. We'll talk with photographer Joyce Tenneson about her new collection of flower portraits. And, Sharon Lovejoy is back with maggot martinis and other recipes for your garden.”
The below link is an invitation to listen to the live interview featuring excerpts from the perfume reviews of Luca Turin, voiced by Doug Gordon.
Then, Steve Paulson talks with Chandler Burr, author of "The Emperor of Scent: A Story of Perfume, Obsession, and the Last Mystery of the Senses." The book explains Luca Turin's theory of how we smell and recounts his amazing ability to recognize the odor of particular molecules. You will also hear some excerpts from the book.
To listen please click on link below, then click “listen” on the website.
well-known beauty lines, such as Lorac, Hard Candy, Urban Decay, Philip B., and Peter Thomas Roth. Additionally, Ron Robinson has pioneered such mainstay brands as Kiehl’s Since 1851, an APOTHIA staple for more than twenty-five years, Creed and L’Artisan Perfumer fragrance lines. Some of the most prestigious, exclusive lines have been supported from their beginnings at APOTHIA. Skincare lines like Arcona, Aesop, and Osea, and fragrance makers such as Czech & Speake, Lorenzo Villoresi, and Child.
Synonymous with beauty, fashion, and style, APOTHIA now introduces its own aromatic candle and fine fragrance line - blending art, innovative design, world-class ingredients and craftsmanship. Produced with intensely perfumed oils combined with the highest quality premium waxes, the candles delight any living space with a modern fragrance experience. APOTHIA also presents their highly acclaimed line of three unique and fashionable fine fragrances, IF Eau de Parfum, Velvet Rope Eau de Parfum, and L Eau de Parfum.
Ron found inspiration for the aromatic collection from the vibe of the city that has been a vital part of his daily life for many years – Los Angeles, an internationally recognized city – renowned for its fashion, progressive culture, energy and sunshine.
Every aspect of the candle is exceptional – from the premium one-of-a-kind fragrant blends to the exclusive patented “halo”, a translucent silicone band that wraps around the candle and serves a variety of functions, both visual and practical. Distinctive and sensually tactile, the silicone overlay refracts light and creates a heavenly glow when the candle is lit, as well as disperses heat so the candle may be touched easily, moved if needed and reduces the chances of the slick glass slipping from one’s hand.
The entire collection of eight aromatic candles has just won the Interior Fragrance of the Year Award from the Fragrance Foundation. The award, known as the FIFI, is the fragrance industry’s equivalent to the Oscars. In addition, on June 10th, the American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA), the oldest and most prestigious organization of professional graphic designers, selected the APOTHIA Los Angeles candle collection as a winner in their annual design competition. As a result, the entire collection will be housed in the institute’s permanent museum. APOTHIA fine fragrances have been touted in W, Dallas Modern Luxury, Elle, and Harper’s Bazaar as some of the coolest, most innovative new fragrances in years.
The collection is available at some of the finest and most highly acclaimed stores in America - Fred Segal, Barneys New York, Bergdorf Goodman and the Montage Resort and Spa in Laguna Beach, to name a few. In Tokyo, the new Louis Vuitton owned shop CELUX, and lifestyle stores CIBONE are our proud retail partners.
(reprinted with permission from Apothia press office)
Sniffapalooza congratulates Lorenzo Villoresi
ITALIAN PERFUMER LORENZO VILLORESI WINS THE PRIX COTY!
The 7th Prix FRANCOIS COTY Award Ceremony took place this past November at the Château d’Artigny. Around 250 people attended this prestigious ceremony at the Chateau, the magnificent house of the founder François COTY. After the prize was awarded, the guests enjoyed a gala dinner prepared by the famous French Chef, Francis Maignaut. Chef Maignaut created a “perfumed” cuisine for the special guests.
The Prix FRANCOIS COTY is an international award, now in its seventh year, which celebrates the perfumer of the year. It is similar to our “Oscar Awards” ceremony for fragrance creators held at the Château d‘Artigny, one of the most beautiful castles in the Loire valley, built in 1912 for François Coty, the famous perfumer. Open to the world’s leading perfumers, the prize celebrates the winner’s career as well as recent creations with a special trophy created by Lalique. He is the first Italian perfumer to win the Coty Prize.
Lorenzo Villoresi from Florence, Italy creates fragrances for the perfumery that bears his name. From his studio overlooking Florence, influences from far off lands give life to decadent fragrances. During his many years of study and travel he widened his knowledge of spices and aromatic substances, developing a real passion for rare and precious ingredients, like Osmanthus and Mignonette flowers, Oud and Cascarilla, Nardo and Atractylis, Sweet vernal grass, Chaulmoogra, Karo karounde and many others.
His fragrances, inspired by real “visions of fragrance”, evoke exotic and dreamy worlds, atmospheres and landscapes. Those who attended the Sniffapalooza Spring Fling ’06, remember the excitement of receiving our very own miniature sample bottle of the specially produced perfume titled “Sniffapalooza”, graciously created for us by Lorenzo Villoresi. Our very own Sniffapalooza perfume was presented and distributed to the members through the Lafco New York boutique on our visit to the store.
What a precious honor to receive this gift during our trip. I know that many of our “perfumista” members wish that this fragrance would be released for sale.
Mr. Villoresi, on behalf of Sniffapalooza and its members, we would like to congratulate you on your FRANCOIS COTY Prix Award.
Press release information gathered from Château d’Artigny and L. Villoresi site.
The Lady of the Amber Fumes
By Dora Truong
This is the story of how a painting becomes more than a mascot though not exactly the inspiration for a fragrance collection.
I will never be a nose, not in this life at least.
Until pregnancy, over a quarter century ago, I never
knew how sensitive my sense of smell really was.
Those first three months of nausea I smelled among
other things someone lighting up a cigarette a car
lane away. How sensitive was my nose if hormones
could amp it up to this extreme? Never mind the
time my husband decided to fry smelts in a closed
When the child grew up; I finally had some cash
that seemed discretionary. What to buy, what to
collect that would actually hold my interest?
After the agressive assault of Giorgio in the eighties
and the discontinuance of the gorgeous Mandarin,
Ceylon and Attar by Isabelle, fragrance wasn't
something I much considered anymore.
Around the start of the new millenium Providence
opened a new mall with Nordstrom as an anchor.
In my happy perusal in this the first substancial
retail to grace litte Rhody's capitol for thirty years;
who should approach me but a fragrance rep with
a sample of Ghost in her hand. So sad that the
beautiful hypnotic jasmine scent is no longer there.
Nonetheless my scent obsession was born anew;
and I still treasure that deep blue, moonshaped
Many years earlier I had become enamored of a
picture by John Singer Sargeant that he painted
in 1880. The genre scene is of a woman, life sized
and swathed in white robes. What drew me to the
picture was the amazing bounteous depth that
Sargent created with the many tones within the
white. The fabric over her head has the palest
yellow traces and the folds of blouse around her
chin and elbows stand out with bluish gray against
her rosier skin. Only foreams, hands and the
smallest part of her face between the eyes and upper lip are visible.
She is standing over an intricately drawn silver incense burner.
The only real color is in the Oriental carpet and tiles on which she stands.There are hints of orange in her garment and her elegant, long fingers have red nails, but these remain mere color wisps in that ocean of white and off white.
You can see her, too, if you go to the Francine and Sterling Clark Art Institute web site and visit collections. Her image may still grace their calendar although mine is quite old, now.
Only after the pleasurable and sometimes agonized indecision of which fragrances to make my own did an idea occur to me. This lady of the amber fumes is my Goddess of Scent. She belongs with my fragrance collection. Indeed she resides there as I write; she is nestled among my samples. Hopefully she is helping me to pick the good scents that will not just mak
(story re-published with permission from Dora Truong, painting courtesy of the Francine and Sterling Clark Art Institute)
Ron Robinson of Apothia Los Angeles is getting ready to introduce Apothia to world wide distribution. "We want to become a significant brand," said Robinson. "We are in the ‘who's who' stores. We are going to capitalize on that and let them capitalize on us." He said in a recent interview in WWD.”
After reaching 70 U.S. stores in just over a year, Apothia is expected to enter all Harvey Nichols stores in February with his three fragrances, IF, Velvet Rope and L, as well as 10 candle scents. Robinson has also set up a company titled “Apothia Japan”.
Tanya Killeen, the beauty buyer at the Wynn in Las Vegas, recently stated that “Apothia's candles have surpassed Jo Malone to become the number-one seller in the category at the Drugstore, a perfume and body products outlet at the hotel, and Apothia is among the top five fragrance resources”.
Ron Robinson helped shape the beauty industry, starting in the early 1970's, at the renowned Fred Segal in Los Angeles. Ron Robinson effectively helped make FRED SEGAL a world-famous fashion, beauty and shopping destination.
A decade later, his own company, Ron Robinson Inc., became the independent owner and operator of APOTHIA at Fred Segal Melrose in Los Angeles that carries hundreds of beauty and fragrance items as well as Ron Robinson’s full line of products.
Apothia won the prestigious 2006 Award from the Fragrance Foundation Award for Interior Scent of the Year during it's star-studded FiFi Awards. "I am proud beyond words to have won this prestigious honor" says Ron Robinson,"we intergrated our knowledge and passion in this product and the recongition is very rewarding. It does not get any better than this award from the Fragrance Foundation!"
Apothia Aromatic Candles combine one of a kind fragrance blends. Each scent is inspired by it's muse-Los Angeles, where the Apothia boutique is located. "I wanted a candle to capture the city's many diverse characteristics-the nightlife, ocean, air and fashionable people" Robinson says. "There's an energy and a personality in this city that is unique to anywhere else in the world.
For the past three decades, Ron Robinson’s Apothia and Fred Segal’s in West Hollywood has been the “hot spot” for the ultimate shopping experience.
Ron Robinson and Apothia were the gracious sponsors of Sniffapalooza's first West Coast event in February at Apothia at Fred Segal’s in Los Angeles.
The palace of Versailles is set to launch a perfume based on the fragrance once used by Marie-Antoinette. The perfume, which is based on the original composition, was unearthed by a historian the palace says. Austrian-born Marie-Antoinette (1755-1793) was married to King Louis XVI of France and had a reputation for lavish tastes. She was executed by guillotine at the height of the French Revolution.
She has come back into fashion of late following a recent biography by the UK's Lady Antonia Fraser and the ensuing film directed by Sofia Coppola released this summer. Visitors have been flocking to Trianon, Marie-Antoinette's retreat in Versailles, which was reopened this summer and is now among the palace's star attractions. Historian Elizabeth de Feydeau discovered the authentic formulas used by the former queen's perfumer Jean-Louis Fargeon.
The scent - to be launched on next month - was developed by French perfumer Francis Kurkdjian, who combined the ingredients after detailed research.
The perfume is said to adhere to the 18th-Century custom of combining "100% natural primary materials" and is "intensely floral". It combines various scents including rose, iris, jasmine, orange blossom and sandalwood.
On All Things Considered - Listen!
Based on notes from an 18th-century royal perfumer, the Chateau of Versailles now sells the perfume once worn by Marie Antoinette. It's not cheap. Francis Kurkdjian, who developed the scent, speaks with Melissa Block.
Some perfumes are like musical phrases, and others like a photograph or a one-act play. Mandy Aftel’s perfumes are like beautifully bound antiquarian books. Reading a book is not a passive act. You have to make the effort to sit quietly until you enter the world of the writer, until her mysterious lodestone of creativity falls into your head trailing with it bits of places, characters and events. Her perfumes require the elements of attention and time to unleash their stories so they will never appeal to those who do not possess a passion to explore antique fragrant worlds.
Tango is composed of choya nakh (smoked seashells)
and champaca. It is described as a winter fragrance but
what I see when I open this book is a story of darkness
and spirituality. At midsummer, for only a single night,
the Night-Blooming Cereus produces a waxy white flower
scented like a phosphorescent jasmine shimmering
over honeydew melon and wisteria. Tango starts with
this glistening white flower but the flower transforms into
a full moon above the sea. Out of the waves arises the
indigo-skinned goddess Yemaya, and around her neck
are black pearls, corals and purple cowries dripping with
seaweed and spices. From her hair emanates an incense
of storax and balsam that fades into an imperial leather.
Tango and Cognac were created as a pair and are meticulously crafted with Ms. Aftel’s palette of extraordinary essential oils and absolutes. Like most naturals they stay close to the skin and fade to a soft powdery presence after a few hours. Due to the scarcity of the materials, they will never be produced on a large scale, but they are available at Henri Bendel’s in NYC and online at aftelier.com.
Sniffapalooza members will be happy to note that Mandy offers her perfumes in samples and minis so we don’t have to run out and look for decants on ebay.
Available at Heni Bendel's in NYC and at
Cognac is her newest perfume and it is created almost entirely from food notes: green cognac, sarsaparilla root, fresh ginger, olive absolute and blood orange. This opens to a candied orange with notes of cherry liqueur and buttery olive bread. The sarsaparilla is uncanny.
It makes me feel that I am seated in a 19th century apothecary sipping a root tonic but then it hovers into invisibility. Next there is something tactile like cat fur (is it costus?) and I can picture a smoke-blue Scottish Fold cat with large cognac eyes quietly lapping at a porcelain bowl on a marbled green floor. The drydown is an egg-cream soda amber. Like a cat, Cognac is quietly chic and will only approach if it senses you are a cat person.
"Heaven" original artwork by perfumer and artist Roxana Villa
Dark, soft purple of Twilight
Like a dusky cloche over the
fair hair of Day,
descends in magickal reminiscence
of anise, the poignant redolence
of carnation, and heliotrope's
- Mary Mitchell
Amnosia; The Loss of Smell
THE FINAL SNIFF
Dr. James Dotson
When I am dead I don’t care what I’m wearing because I won’t have to look at it...but I’d better smell good. Obviously, I’d prefer to be embalmed pharaonic-style with myrrh and gold leaf though due to technical constraints I can see the need for a back-up plan:big sloshes of Etro’s Messe de Minuit for that instant odor of sanctity, altars and old books.
Did I mention that Egyptian embalming features a long hooked spoon that goes up your nose, punches through your ethmoid bone and scoops out your brain? Yes, the nose is a vulnerable place. Way up at the top of the nasal vault between your eyes sits the olfactory epithelium, a piece of tissue about the size of a bullet hole. A delicate slip of bone, the cribiform plate, conducts the olfactory nerves up through your skull. It can all go wrong so easily.
Anosmia is the general term for any loss of smell, something we’ve all experienced temporarily during a bad cold. For the unlucky, it’s a permanent thing. Another creepier variation is a dysosmia which causes a profound sensory distortion so that when you reach for a delicious warm bit of apple tart which you actually smell is a dead cat.
It’s not surprising that people afflicted with smell problems lose their appetites. Anosmics also tend to suffer from severe depression and a profound sense of being withdrawn from their families and familiar environments as if they were ghosts passing through the halls unable to touch anything. To make matters even more bleak, most physicians have no training in olfaction and dismiss serious disorders of smell as trivial complaints as if you were just dropping into the office for a tiny rash on your elbow. Luca Turin put it bluntly, “There are few diseases of smell , and those that exist are usually incurable and get little sympathy.” Fortunately there are now a few academic medical institutes with specialists and if you live on the East Coast there is the Monell Center in Philadelphia which is probably the premier smell research facility in the world.
Now that I have horrified you, let me lead you on a tour through the more common causes of anosmia so you can develop a strategy for avoiding them. Or if you are a hypochondriac you can develop new and more vivid obsessive fantasies.
HEAD TRAUMA: When your head flies through the windshield you can actually shear off your olfactory nerves where they enter your brain (insert gruesome mental image here). Other blunt traumas can cause localized swelling or bleeds that might knock out your smell. The solution? Wear a seat belt. And if you are a boxer or roller derby queen please wear proper headgear or get a new job. Avoid bar brawls.
STRUCTURAL: Nasal polyps and severe sinusitus can sometimes impact one’s olfactory acuity. Take care of these now before they get big and scary.
INFECTION: Rarely someone gets an upper respiratory infection which leads to odd neurological problems leaving half your face paralyzed and drooling, with a bonus of anosmia. Prevention? Wash your hands a lot and avoid preschoolers.
TOXINS: In a word, do not put strange chemicals up your nose. If you have to scrub your toilet don’t mix up those chlorine and ammonia products while leaning down to suck up a storm of toxic chlorine gas. And over the counter nasal sprays that contain zinc and decongestants have been linked to anosmia so I would avoid these. Stick to saline spray or make sure it is something prescribed by your doctor for a limited period.
DEGENERATIVE: Both Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s Diseases cause smell loss. You can only avoid these by dying young.
IDIOPATHIC: 22% of cases fall under this rubric of “we don’t know.” But happily most of the time they improve with time or topical steroids
Barring the rare exotic tumor, bizarre seizure or genetic disorder these are the main worry categories. Your take home advice is to reach up to that back shelf where you keep your incredibly obscure and expensive perfumes that you are always sort of “saving for later” and just go wild with them, because you never know how much sniffing time you have left.
James W. Dotson, M.D.
As soon as he could crawl, James dragged himself into the garden and began smelling the scented pelargoniums and purple bearded iris. He began precociously reading peculiar old herb books and attempted to prepare Hungary Water from rosemary. Since alchemy was not a contemporary career choice, he became a psychiatrist with a fondness for deeply strange things. His current interests include the neuropsychiatric aspects of olfaction, cross-disciplinary studies of smell, healing and magical perfumes, and all things odorous. James enjoys meeting fellow flaireurs and olfactophiles and feels they represent a superevolved form of humanity.
For those who do not know-James Dotson's board name is osmomantis-
Since 1730, the seductive and captivating quality of Floris fragrances has provided their products with a unique connection into the worlds of literature, politics and entertainment. Today, while continuing to expand its presence among high-end specialty retailers, hotel amenities offerings, and corporate gift collections, Floris is looking to build on its special brand heritage with US consumers by reaching out to trendy, young people who spend much of their time online, and like to “layer” different fragrances in order to create their own “custom” aromas.
Located at 89 Jermyn Street, for centuries the epicenter of distinguished London near the Royal Court of St. James, Floris was first appointed by King George IV in 1820 as 'smooth pointed comb-makers' to the Crown, and to celebrate Queen Elizabeth's Golden Jubilee in 2002, they reintroduced their 1860 scent 'Bouquet de la Reine.'
Floris customers have included Frankenstein author Mary Shelley, who requested that friends purchase her "favorite combs" only at Floris, and 19th century dandy Beau Brummell, whose elaborate Regency fashion style, magnified by his affinity for Floris men's fragrances, has been dramatized in several films, plays, and a 1960's band named after him.
Floris’ tradition of elegance and suave sophistication has also enabled the brand to penetrate pop culture by way of James Bond, who famously wears Floris No. 89 on his exotic adventures around the world. It’s also reported that Floris is popular with film celebrities Michael Caine and Sharon Stone, and Al Pacino's blind character in Scent of a Woman found Floris fragrances extremely helpful when identifying a woman he knew was in the room.
The founder of Floris, Juan Famenias Floris, arrived in England from his native island of
Menorca to seek his fortune. Shortly after his arrival, in 1730, he secured premises in
Jermyn Street in the elegant quarter of London`s St.James. Juan Famenias Floris initially
set up business as a barber and comb-maker, however, he soon missed the aromas and
sensations of his Mediterranean youth.
In an attempt to put form to these memories he began blending oils, essences and fixatives,
transported from Europe, into the first Floris fragrances. He used the skills he had acquired
during his stay in Montpellier, which at the time vied with Grasse as the capital of French
perfumery. These fragrances were blended for customers on an individual basis, their formulae
carefully recorded so further supplies could be made. Fragrance quickly became Juan Floris's
true vocation and has led to Floris as it thrives today.
Floris fragrances quickly became the talk of fashionable London society, the barber`s shop
gave way to become the elegant setting for fragrances and accessories: Beautiful handmade hair combs were imported from Menorca, while shaving brushes, hatpins, toothbrushes, fine-tooth combs and razor-straps were made on the premises. Jermyn Street was the epicentre for distinguished London gentlemen in the 18th century. Since opening in 1730, Floris has provided fragrance, fine toiletries and accessories to an incredibly loyal customer base. The Floris archives hold reams of treasured letters from customers detailing their preferences and their thanks, examples include: Florence Nightingale: 25th July 1863 -
thanking Mr.Floris for his 'sweet-smelling nosegay' and giving news of the Army's sickness record in India. Mary Shelley, who whilst abroad sent friends clear instructions on where to purchase her favourite combs: Floris. Beau Brummell, the dandy of his day in the early 19th century, would discuss his current fragrances at length with Mr.Floris. Floris is even a fictional
character's choice! Ian Fleming's James Bond always wore Floris No.89, while Al Pacino's character in Scent of a Woman famously declared he knew the woman in his 'sights' (sic) was wearing Floris fragrance.
Floris first produced a catalogue listing its products in 1862 - pre-empting the modern day mail order version introduced in the late 1950`s and now produced twice a year. The mail order facility has proven very successful with customers who are happier shopping from their own homes.
Floris products are available from: Floris, 89 Jermyn Street, London SW1Y 6JH and Floris of London,
703 Madison Avenue, New York, 10021 and other selected outlets world-wide. The Floris Mail Order
catalogue can be ordered by telephone on: 0845 702 3239 or by e-mail: email@example.com
THE PERFUME YOGI
By James Dotson
Siddhi is a Sanskrit term meaning an occult power (like the ability to levitate,
or see into the future) which is usually the accomplishment of long years of
yogic meditational practices. One of the rarest of these faculties is the power
to materialize perfumes out of nothing, and one of the only known masters
was Visuddhananda Paramhansa.
The first written account of this perfume adept appears in The Lives of A Bengal
Lancer (1930), a memoir of the very upper-crust English officer Francis Yeats-Brown.
While traveling to Puri, a coastal town near Calcutta, for the Festival of the Chariots,
Yeats-Brown became keen on investigating temples and strange Indian customs.
He decided that he must find a wonder-working swami, so he began to query his
guide (and I picture him here in his jodhpurs and pith helmet), “Can you tell us,
then... whether there are any Yogis now living in Puri who possess those
supernatural powers of which we hear in the West?” He was directed to
“Babu Bisudhavan Dhan” who was described as, “a very fat man wearing nothing
but the usual loin-cloth” with a reputation for transforming common objects
into gold and other miracles.
In short order, Yeats-Brown asked if he might demonstrate his powers and a
pupil in his entourage replied, “The Mahatma is in the middle of a lecture
about the aspects and appearances of our Lord the Sun, whose energies
he can control. If you like, he can summon any scent to appear before us
out of the circumambient ether.”
‘We should be honored if the Mahatma would do this,’ I said solemnly...
He called for cotton-wool and a magnifying glass...The Mahatma took the
cotton-wool in his left hand and the glass in his right, focusing a spot of
light upon the wool. Immediately the room was impregnated with the perfume of attar of roses.
He waved the scent away with his hand, and I certainly had the impression that
it vanished at his gesture. ‘What other scent would you like to come?’ he asked...
with a smile that showed two rows of perfect white teeth. I suggested violets and
instantly the room was full of the scent of violets....So I named musk, and sandalwood,
and opium, and heliotrope, and flowering bamboo, and nicotine plants at evening.
Each came instantly. There was nothing near him that could have served as a
receptacle. He had no sleeve, no table, nothing but a magnifying-glass and a
piece of cotton-wool.”
Yeats-Brown decided that even if it was mass hypnosis, it was of a sort that
no one could explain and he later became an avid yoga student, publishing
some of first popular yoga texts in the West.
In Yogananda’s Autobiography of a Yogi (1946) the young Yogananda described
entering the retreat of Visuddhananda and engaging in some rather sassy doctrinal
dispute about why anyone would waste twelve years of meditation just to master
a Siddhi when it would be easier to go to the market and buy a bottle of scent.
Still, he was impressed. “I extended my hand which the yogi did not touch.
‘What perfume do you want?’ ‘Rose.’ ‘Be it so.’
To my great surprise, the charming fragrance of rose was wafted strongly from the
center of my palm.” Later in the day, when he visited his sister Uma, she teased
him for being “quite stylish” with his perfumes and Yogananda decided that since
someone else who was not present could smell the perfume, it was more than
just hypnosis but an “actual materialization.”
Visuddhananda Paramhansa apparently died or otherwise disappeared in 1939,
so there are no further accounts of him except for some few stories collected by
his disciples, most notably Gopinath, though none of these have been translated into English.
He was said to have learned his ancient art of solar science or surya vigyan when he was taken at the age of 12 to live in Tibet for two decades in the hidden mystical land of Gyanganj, someplace north of Mt. Kailash. There he attained the Siddhi of materialization through his study of maya, the illusory dark matter that permeates and creates the Universe. Unfortunately, the secrets of his perfume art have moved back to the hidden land from which they came.
James W. Dotson
An Open Love Letter To
By Juvy Santos
The first time I smelled Bois Farine your name was etched into my heart. It took me years to buy it. I kept standing on the edge, and then changing my mind. What if I wouldn't be able to wear it beyond a tiny dab on my wrist? I asked. Some perfumes are like that. And then just a week ago I finally came home with a bottle, and now I wonder why I waited so long. Every time I smell it I whimper. It makes me weak. Though it is a 3.4 oz bottle it is already showing signs of heavy use. I think I shall have to replenish within a year, at this rate.
And then I learned you were responsible for Eau des Merveilles, and my wonder deepened. I would never have thought lightning could strike twice. These two were so different, so clean, and spare...and yet utterly complex at the same time. By the time I found out that you were also responsible for les deux Jardins en Mediterranee et Sur le Nil, I had decided to follow your work. By the time I came across Bvlgari's The Vert and The Vert Extreme, I was an avowed, die-hard fan.
Last week, unbeknownst to myself, I ended up buying three more of your fragrances, packaged in tiny tiny bottles--the Different Company's travel mini-pack of Osmanthus, Bois d'Iris, and Rose Poivre. And I loved all three, without knowing they were yours. Imagine my surprise upon looking them up that you, after all, were behind them. Your Terre d'Hermes almost had me pounce on an attorney in the elevator. And Amouage Dia, which I had only smelled in passing...that richness and lushness--that was yours too...Your Frederic Malles--many love Roudnitska's Parfum de Therese, but it was Angeliques Sous la Pluie and L'Eau d'Hiver that suited me best.
Mr. Ellena, my nose knows you, and it loves you. Mr. Ellena, you can do no wrong.
And now all I've got to do is sniff the Hermessences.
With love, Your rabid fangirl.
A LIBRARY OF PERFUME NOTES
James W. Dotson
The body soon dissolv'd, and all around
Perfum'd with heav'nly fragrancies the ground,
A sacrifice for Gods up-rose from thence,
A sweet, delightful tree of frankincense.
Since you are reading Sniffapalooza Magazine you are obviously someone like me who loves to check out every last scented product on the planet. More than a few Sniffa members have personal collections of thousands of samples, full bottles and decants. But this is more than just being a crazy collector; it also serves as a way of educating yourself about how fragrances are constructed and understanding the various facets and interpretations of accords. That’s why you need thirty rose perfumes.
I am a big collector of raw materials. Besides using them in my own strange blends, incense and bath gels, I feel that it is one of the primary ways I can learn about scent. I would never be able to discern notes of “ginger lily” or “osmanthus” in something if it were not for my vials of the real stuff that I can sample and dab on my skin.
Unfortunately, you can’t just walk into your local store hoping to sniff a bottle of wormwood, unless
you live in Manhattan in which case you can head to Enfleurage on Bleecker Street, where you’ll
find multitudes of sublime oils and a few really obscure (and genuine) ouds and attars. For everyone else,
you might try one of the natural food chains, like Whole Foods, which always carry some essential oils
and absolutes. But the thing about natural materials is that they differ radically in quality and a lot of what
you will find is mediocre and pricey.
Your best resource for perfume notes is the web, and luckily there are a few reliable sources that offer
carefully curated oils in trial sizes, and at a reasonable price. One of my favorites, and a source for
indie perfumers like Andy Tauer, is Eden Botanicals. They are best known for their superlative ambers,
both oils and crystallized essences, but for me their resins and woods are what’s most amazing.
They have several labdanums, all profoundly beautiful, and their styrax is the most ethereal I have ever
experienced. As an incense maniac, my Holy Grail is their frankincense CO2 extract (which I believe
is featured in Tauer’s Orris where he refers to it as “the best frankincense on the market”). On top of
that you can buy in small quantities, they are super friendly on the phone, and are generous
with the samples.
Another impressive source, including a site packed with formularies and historical material, is The
Perfumer’s Apprentice, in Santa Cruz. Linda Andrews was inspired to open her business after studying
with Mandy Aftel, and now she has a boutique with a perfume station of over 300 scents where you
can compound your custom fragrance. She also likes recreating vintage scents, and recently made
a version of Coty’s original 1917 Chypre from archived perfumer’s notes. Her online shop offers a large
variety of accords, “Master Bases” from high end houses like Givaudan and Firmenich, and many aromachemicals, not to mention the naturals too. Since sandalwood has been over harvested to the point of extinction in the last few years I was on a quest for synthetics that might partly replace my beloved Mysore sandalwood. She has a proprietary Givaudan sandal blend of synthetics and naturals that is very rich and effusive, as well as Javanol, Sandalor and other fun things.
You never know when you might need a bottle of Iso E Super.
I was much surprised that she was based in Pittsburgh, PA. I was even more
surprised when I learned later that her boutique was located above Aldo Coffee
Co., a local Pittsburgh coffee shop that I've frequented for quite some time!
Dorothy and I met this Friday, on an unseasonably cold day. It was snowing.
REALLY snowing, and I must confess, I was freezing. Dorothy kindly treated
me to a latte, and we sat and talked for a little while (a lot about Sniffapalooza,
too!) before we went up to her boutique.
Kingsbury Fragrances is located in an apartment above the coffee shop, through
a little door and up the stairs. A photo of a young woman picking roses greets
you before the door. Dorothy told me that this young lady was from Turkey's
Valley of Roses...the same rose used in Twilight Rose (Dorothy, please correct
me if I'm wrong on that). The first thing I noticed upon entrance were crystal
perfume flacons on a center table, reflecting the light from two hurricane-style
lamps in the back. A white unicorn, like the one that adorns the 'Silver Water'
packaging, sits with the lamps. And then your eyes are drawn upwards to the
ceiling, where dried roses, herbs, and lavender make their home. The walls are
filled with beautiful photographs, and the soaps, lotions, and perfume are found
in whimsical displays and groupings all about the room. An Oriental rug is on the
floor, inviting you to sit down and be comfortable. If one word can be used to
describe Dorothy's boutique and perfume, it would be 'lush.' One feels that the
boutique should be in a garden, running riot with roses. And it must be roses, I feel,
for no other plant fits the boutique nearly as well. The windows were closed, and
I knew they'd probably open on a very cold Mt. Lebanon, but they should have
opened someplace green and rich. This boutique feels like a secret, almost,
and I think that might truly be the case.
Whoever it was that walked away with the 'pretty spots' during Sniffapalooza is
a very lucky person. I didn't quite know what a 'pretty spot' was at lunch, and
didn't get to take a close look at them. I came across them in the boutique,
however, and frankly, I'm impressed. I picked up a box, looked inside, and here was
a perfectly formed rose, opened. And it's soap! Dorothy has said before that she has over 50 molds with which to make soap, but this was a beautiful rose....she had hand-painted it with a gold sheen. Delicate pink on the edges, golden yellow subtly throughout. The soap was nestled in a bed of potpourri--rose petals and bits of fern framed it as I looked at it. And it was scented with a heavenly rose-and-clove scent, which I LOVED. I've alluded to an inability to wear roses before, but bathing with roses...especially roses coupled with clove...is a definite possibility.
Not that I could bathe with such beautiful soap! This is the kind of soap you lay on by your bath sink for guests to admire. Special soap.
I got to sniff many of Dorothy's creations, including the Vanilla, a fougere, Fern (again!), and, my favorite, Classic Amber. These are Perfumes (note the capital 'P') in the grand old tradition, classical compositions with triumphant florals and deep bases. And high concentrations. I had taken a shower with Dorothy's Tres Bon the night before, and it scented my skin for hours afterward. Today, I've showered twice with Silver Water, a much lighter fragrance, and it, also, has stayed on my skin. I've had better staying power with Dorothy's SOAP than I've had with Safran Troublant. No kidding.
Classic Amber's got my name on it. It's a 'lush' fragrance, of course, and works wonderfully on my skin.
Head: Amber, Jasmine Grandiflorum Morrocan Jasmine and Orchid
Still, even with these notes before me, I can't tell. This amber is superbly blended, very smooth, and very comforting to me. I can't tell there's patchouli in this, and patchouli is somewhat of a mercurial note on me (it sometimes goes very badly). It's slightly sweet, but definitely not a gourmand. Dorothy has another version, without the Jasmine, but I found this particular version better suited to me, less dry, rounder, smoother. (Check this one out! Dorothy says no one's given this a home yet, and that makes me SAD. An amber this beautiful deserves to be loved and worn out in the open air).
I also sniffed Silver Water, which I've already alluded to several times. Dorothy kindly gave me a soap and a sample. Silver Water is a subtle scent, and a calming one. It is no less 'lush' than its other counterparts, but, in many ways, it is quieter. For a moment I feared Silver Water would resemble Creed's Silver Mountain Water, but those fears were quickly allayed. Notes include 'green tea, radiant musks, and violet.' Once again, very well blended. The violets are far more evident in the perfume, but I think it will be the soap--and the subtle aura it produces--that I will treasure. The soap itself is a translucent aqua with a pearly sheen, and comes molded in a variety of forms. Like seashells, for instance.
There were lots of wonderful potpourris and candles that Dorothy showed me...my favorite being Kingsbury Woods. This was earthy, resiny--and if it were a perfume, I'd have bathed in it already. Dorothy's love of the fougere shows. She says she'll be making a candle of it soon. We went into the adjoining room, which was filled with raw materials for potpourri, ribbon, and the brushes used to paint the Love Bunnies and Pretty Spots. (BTW...if you're a bunny person...the love bunnies are huge soaps, molded and painstakingly painted like bunnies, and then nestled into potpourri inside a hand-painted egg). I had never made potpourri before, nor had any idea of the process, but Dorothy showed me several bins where mixtures were steeping in fragrance. And everything was beautiful--I especially recall one bin where little dried jasmine buds were interspersed with the rest of the material. There was an orange flower potpourri and an ornate box Dorothy was preparing as a gift for someone's daughter in law. Lucky daughter-in-law, to receive such a wonderful box! It was, like the rest of the shop, a romantic, pre-Raphaelite in feel presentation, heavily fragranced.
We also sniffed 1000 (Patou), and talked about civet, and oud, and real sandalwood (it turns out that Dorothy's sniffed all three--and owns real sandalwood and oud!)
By this time several hours had gone by, and I began to take my leave. Dorothy gave me a generous sample of the legendary Zibeline Secret de Venus, and I will be sniffing this when I am 'ready.' (I have heard so much about it I feel I have to prepare myself, lol). I will report when I have done so. (Thanks, Dorothy!)
I think the most important thing to know about Kingsbury Fragrances is that Dorothy does this all out of love--and it shows. Every soap, fragrance, and potpourri is lovingly made and packaged by her own hands. It is a level of detail and craftsmanship that very few are capable of doing these days. I couldn't quite believe that everything in the boutique was made by her alone--and yet they were.
We are, of course, going to do this again.
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-J. Dotson. As soon as he could crawl, James dragged himself into the garden and began smelling the scented pelargoniums and purple bearded iris. He began precociously reading peculiar old herb books and attempted to prepare Hungary Water from rosemary. Since alchemy was not a contemporary career choice, he became a psychiatrist with a fondness for deeply strange things. His current interests include the neuropsychiatric aspects of olfaction, cross-disciplinary studies of smell, healing and magical perfumes, and all things odorous. James enjoys meeting fellow flaireurs and olfactophiles and feels they represent a superevolved form of humanity.
Sampaguita is a giant among memories
by Juvy Santos
It's known by a million other names: Jasmine sambac, Arabian jasmine, pikake, mogra, kampupot, melati, mallipu…but to me, that flower is sampaguita, and I refuse to know it by any other name.
It is inescapable if you've ever visited the Philippines. It's our national flower. Vendors run up and down the streets and outside churches selling necklaces strung with sampaguita buds and ylang-ylang. These are simpler necklaces—different from the luxuriant leis of Hawaii and the wedding garlands of India. One strand of thread holds it all, a single line of buds, sometimes the ylang-ylang at the center. Young boys run towards you from the squalor of their homes—the din of the streets and the stench of the sewers behind them—laden down with a king's ransom in sampaguita blossoms. You wonder how there are any left on the vine. Arms will stretch towards you in seeming desperation, holding strand upon strand of sampaguita buds. The necklaces hang on the garish fixtures of jeepneys and are strung on coffins, on saints, and on crucifixes.
The sampaguita is sacred and mundane, ubiquitous and magical at the same time.
It grows with great strength, with hardy vines and deep green leaves, and surprisingly delicate small flowers.
We lived in what was then a small town, in a house that was relatively new. My father, my sister, my two aunts, and paternal grandmother shared it. My mother was away in America then, working so that one day we could come over too. The room I shared with my baby sister faced frontwards onto the street. It was painted baby blue on the inside, and the windows, though barred, were arched. Less than three feet away was a tall fence (because all of these houses were fenced in—burglars), overrun with sampaguita vines in a riot of verdant bloom.
It would be at night when the scent was strongest, wafting in through those windows like a song in the dark. Back then we would burn an oil lamp because I was afraid of the black, and so sometimes in my memories the smell of sampaguita is mingled with the smell of burning oil. I would lie awake and smell huge draughts of it, amongst the sounds of cicadas and the occasional lizard.
On some mornings my grandmother and I would pick the flowers, placing them in front of a statue of the Virgin Mary and baby Jesus as an offering. She rarely took the buds…we would take the opened ones instead. When she had a handful I would bend down and smell them—and then the smell would surround me, concentrated and solid. Those blossoms, so generous with their spirit, so bountiful in blooming…sometimes there would be too many to harvest, and those left on the vines would fall like so many shooting stars onto the ground. Those we took were placed in a bowl, where they stayed until they dried, darkening to an odd pink and then a brown, having given up their souls.
When we left the Philippines for Baltimore, there were several years without Sampaguita. And then my father received a cutting from a friend and before long sampaguita was thriving again in our house. My father would look at it and say, "Let's go home." I always protested, but even in our middle class, central-heated comfort something in me did want to go back. Those small flowers recalled something that I didn't know I'd lost, even though by then I considered myself thoroughly Americanized. In the winters we would keep them by the patio door to soak up sun, turning our suburban living room into a small bower. And with my maternal, state-side grandmother, this time, we would gather the blooms and place them in front of our statue of the baby Jesus as an offering.
Even now, with my maternal grandmother fading into the evil that is Alzheimer's, we still gather those blossoms whenever she comes to our house, to place before the baby Jesus. But the flowers seem more precious to me now…they are fewer, they are rare. In a world where so many flowers are robbed of their scent, these few overcame the winters and managed to bloom.
I have never found a perfume that has smelled of sampaguita, not even the Ormonde Jayne of the same name ('Sampaquita'). I have smelled perfumes that remind me of it (La Chasse aux Papillons, Marc Jacobs Blush), perfumes that rely heavily on its essence (many), but never, never, NEVER the fragrance of the real flower.
I invite the perfumers of the world to try.
Fragrance Memories with My Mother
by Dora Truong
My mother was not agoraphobic, although luring her from home was a Herculean
effort. She was a homebody and loved her daily routines. She also loved perfume.
"What have you got?" she would ask. Scent was what she meant. The daily post
shower splash of Jean Nate was just a fragrance appetizer.
Recently, I heard television journalist Meredith Vierra say she liked nothing better
than cleaning the house. Maybe it's a Rhode Island thing. Like my mother Eva,
she too hails from the smallest of united states.
Eva Cohen was born in Providence in 1910. Her earliest home was on Chalkstone
Avenue a block or so from the Blackstone Canal. What is now a condo nee mill studded
river was then a foetid, brackish miasma flowing south from Massachusetts. She never glossed over the poverty of her youth, but she was quick to say she didn't notice it all that much. Still, the memories of that stinky canal might have helped to make her obsessively clean and a lover of fragrance.
Having begun working at the age of thirteen, she worked her way up to manage the mail order department of the Outlet Company in Providence. Any family that lived for any length of time in Rhode Island usually had at least one member working at this local legend of a department store. Somewhere around 1940 she was offered a big raise to do the same work at a store called Kays-Newport. At age 38 she married my father. Four years later I arrived. The joke was "I thought she was the change of life."
One of my earliest memories was a mirrored tray on her bureau. A filigreed gilt rim edged the oval and inside were several bottles of scent. One might have been Bal a Versailles. All I remember are the shapes of the bottles that became part of the room's landscape. Gradually sitting in the sun all scent was lost, but we were busy buying new ones.
As a teenager; I discovered the cosmetic counter of another Providence department store called Shephard's. Fascinated with the colors and shapes, I could easily pass the time trawling the counters while eyeing the merchandise. Yardley, Coty and Max Factor were favorites. Tabu was too over-powering and my mother scorned it as cheap. She would go off looking for clothes and leave a fragrance choice to me.
After her morning coffee she loved to try something new. We didn't know the word sillage, but she told me, "I love to catch the fragrance as I clean." She liked lavander, but I prefered the Orientals. I found something called Bakir which we both loved. When I got older and began babysitting; I would tell her what some of the neighbors wore.
One elegant neighbor had something called Madame Rochas which Shephard's did not carry. My mother thought we should try the local jewelery store which stocked only the most select brands. Sure enough, they carried both the Rochas scents and we tried each one. The one my neighbor wore is still a classic, but the second 'Femme' had more allure in a bottle that appeared to be wrapped in black lace.
One of the last fragrance lines we found there was Roger R. Gallet. Some of his fragrances could be purchased in individual packets. On the back in French, German, Italian and English is written "Unfold the tissue. It is impregnated with Eau de Cologne Jean Marie Farina: when passing it over you face you immediately feel an agreeable sensation of bracing freshness." The packet is over thirty years old and will remain unopened as long as I have it. No longer a fragrance, it is a memory of the perfume loving youth I spent with my indulgent mother.
Self-Portrait in Fragrance:
Beth Terry’s Creative Universe
Artists convey their innermost feelings through a variety of mediums; painters paint, authors write, musicians compose. Beth Terry, founder and owner of Creative Universe, expresses her imagination through the nuances and provocative notes of fragrance. Her scents are worn by mega-stars such as Elton John, Will Smith, Brooke Shields and Lee Anne Rimes, and have achieved a cult status with the fragrance cognoscenti worldwide.
It seemed fitting to meet Beth Terry over a cup of Earl Grey tea (the “star” ingredient used in all her fragrances) at the Sant Ambrose Restaurant on Madison Avenue and 77th Street, where she welcomes our readers to her “creative universe”.
MC: I have been wearing Tė for years. No matter how many fragrances I discover, I keep going back to it.
BT: You must be a “Fashionista”. People who love fashion always gravitate to Tė.
MC: How do you know that? I am a Fashionista! Do you have a background in fashion?
BT: I was in the fashion industry before I began my company. I worked for Charivari, which was the first upscale store that catered to fashion people and celebrities.
MC: When did you start Creative Universe?
BT: I started Creative Universe in 1995. It took a bit of time to discover what I was really passionate about and the same answer kept coming over and over. The answer was fragrance.
MC: Did you study to become a perfumer?
BT: I am not a perfumer by trade. As a child I was always sensitive and very aware of smell.
MC: How do you create a fragrance?
BT: I consider myself a “fragrance designer”. I first come up with a concept and define it; then ingredients, then a first sample. I make adjustments to my exact liking. I am the customer so it must be very elegant... sometimes we can go through hundreds of samples before it is a concept match
MC: As a woman with no training as a perfumer, how did you create a worldwide business?
BT: In 1995, when I started, the climate was good for “indie” brands. You had
girls that were starting make-up companies and bath lines. Hard Candy,
Urban Decay and Philosophy all started around that time. So it was the perfect time
to come in.
MC: How is the market different in 2007 than in 1995?
BT: It’s changed now because the indie fragrance market is huge. Now,
there are thousands of small brands out there. There are also bigger companies
that are positioning themselves as indie brands.
MC: Tell us about your first fragrance, Tė.
BT: It was a childhood memory of seeing tea in a glass. I always loved the way it sparkled and looked so refreshing. My first store was Barneys and I am still with them today. A friend was wearing it and the fragrance buyer for Barneys fell in love with it and asked her what it was. I was in their office the same day. Tė is a beautiful, sophisticated fragrance of green tea, grapefruit celery and bergamot. I am so proud of it. It’s a tribute to the fashionable side of me. I launched it in 1997.
MC: Do all your fragrances represent a glimpse into your life?
BT: Yes, I created them during different life events. In 1999, I was going through some challenges, so I created Mare. One of its main ingredients is sea salt; I believe I was the first to ever use sea salt in fragrance. It was my “safe haven”, a soothing escape in a bottle.
Next, was Vita, which was created in 2002. This was during a period of time when I was feeling joyful. Vita is a special blend of four handpicked teas; that was a first in the fragrance industry. It also contains notes of black currant, plum and lily of the valley.
Element of Surprise represents my personal rejuvenation. It’s my favorite. It is like walking through a citrus orchard in Sicily. I launched it in 2004. I used white tea notes, Italian lemon, lime and jasmine. My latest fragrance is Element of Desire; Dimbula tea, peony blossom, snowdrop and apricot, express my smoldering, feminine side. It’s my only fragrance that isn’t meant to be unisex.
MC: You have a distinctive packaging; it’s so minimalist.
BT: It reflects my sensibility. I wanted to create a bottle that would tower above the rest, like a skyscraper. My fragrances are all 4.3 oz; that amount was unheard of when I started Creative Universe.
MC: Lots of indie fragrances come and go. Why are your fragrances so timeless?
BT: I keep my blinders on so to speak. I am much focused on creating fragrances that I love and know that others will love. I really believe if you are passionate and create a great product your customer will seek you out.
MC: Are you working on a new fragrance?
BT: I am. It uses a “sweet” tea. I love working with tea based materials because they work well with so many different ingredients. I am not a fan of heavy scents so I will stay with what I love.
MC: Who lives in your “creative universe”.
BT: Men and woman who are very discerning. They like to discover new thing. They seem very adventurous.
MC: Beth, What is something about yourself that might surprise our readers?
Beth: I think people would be surprised to know that I have a very dry sense of humor. I also have flown over the desert in Carefree Arizona in a Hot Air balloon.....
Creative Universe Fragrances by Beth Terry are sold in some of the most beautiful shops in the world. Available at Barneys New York, Maxfield’s, Los Angeles and online at www.beautyexclusive.com
This article was used with the permission of www.beautynewsnyc.com. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
It seems that rehab is the currently the cure for everything. So why not for our industry addiction to launches. Everybody goes to rehab. Actors, actresses, singers, dancers, designers and other people who are famous for being famous. What do most of them have in common? They all do fragrances, or they want to.. Is there a correlation between putting your name on a fragrance and needing help? Or is the whole industry in need of help? Now there's something to explore.
In 2006 not one new women's fragrance made it into the top 10 despite the myriad of celebrity and other launches. Now what about the men's business? Nine of the top thirteen fragrances come from three guys who have been around forever...Calvin, Giorgio and Ralph. How do they manage to put out winners year after year while having the old winners hang around as well. Newness combined with oldness appears to keep the customer focused on the brand. Perhaps we need a twelve step program which leads us from the old to the new in a more or less straight line. I recently attended a presentation which heralded the fact that the entire prestige fragrance business has made it all the way to it's 1997 volume once again. That alone might be driving people to drink and do crazy things. All those thousands of nice new fragrances and the same business as 10 years ago.
Actually, we are selling less pieces by far, it's only the increased prices that have kept the industry flat after 10 years. All of this and women are living longer and apparently buying less pieces of fragrance from the tried and tired distribution model. Only three female celebrity fragrances recorded prestige retail sales in excess of $10,000,000 for all of 2006, One of these, White Diamonds, has been around long enough that it is now really a classic.. The top five women's prestige fragrances are nearly as old as I am. In fact......one is older than me and eligible for medicare. Some of the others are not far behind. So what would happen if we stopped launching hundreds of new fragrances every year and stayed a little more focused? Would women stop wearing fragrances?..... I don't think so.
Peter Allen wrote a song called "Everything old is new again".....maybe would should bring back the old, dust them off, come up with some clever marketing (something better than flankers) and have them join the other oldies that currently populate the top ten. Surely we could marry innovative marketing ideas with tried and true fragrances. At the end of the day, too many of the new fragrances smell too much like each other, or they smell like the winners of yore... A tribute to all the money spent on focus groups and other market research.
If we slow down the launches all the poor celebrities would not have big royalty checks to pay for all this rehab
and there might be some openings for some of us bloodied and battered fragrance executives. At my age,
I am so happy to have my hair that I would not remotely consider shaving my head. So I will happily give
my space in rehab to any launch addict who needs it. After all, what are friends for?
David Horner's legacy in the beauty industry began over three decades ago, his launch of Giorgio Beverly
Hills set in motion his career in marketing. He is now President of Strategic Marketing Solutions.
I MARRIED A PERFUMISTA
By Neal Patterson
“What do you think of this?” Kathy asks, jutting her wrist underneath my nose. My stomach clenches. A new pop quiz has begun. A pungent blast of fragrance assaults my sinuses. Not necessarily bad, but strong, with a choking flash of alcohol fumes. I nod my head, hoping in vain that this reaction will satisfy her query. “A nod. What does that mean?” she probes. Oh God. I take another whiff, and memories of my grandmother’s bathroom come flooding back to me. Those overpoweringly feminine scents which would thrust my boyhood soul into a state of anti-girl revulsion.
“What does it smell like to you?” This is my wife’s way of trying to be helpful. I want to say “perfume,” but I know that won’t suffice.
I use my catch-all description of anything that smells like an old lady’s lavatory.
“It smells powdery.” I reply. Kathy flashes me a disapproving expression. “No, that’s not what powder smells like.”. Now I’m confused. I thought the question was interpretive, like ‘how does that piece of music make you feel?’, or ‘what does that cloud look like to you?’ I take another feeble stab. “It smells like soap,” I mutter with a quiver in my voice. The same quiver of uncertainty and shame which accompanied every answer I ever gave to any math teacher in my life.
Predictably, Kathy flashes me the same disapproving expression of every math teacher I ever offered a reply to. “No, it’s orange blossom, with a touch of sandalwood and musk.”
Oh right, that was going to be my next guess.
I always prided myself on having a pretty good sniffer. As a young man, I took a certain joy in identifying an enigmatic ingredient in a dish just by the aroma. I was usually the first one to notice when a pilot light had blown out or when something was burning in the oven. And when it came to aftershave, I felt somewhat superior to my friends and co-workers in that I actually tried different fragrances in search of the one which would best suit my body chemistry. While others doused themselves in Old Spice or funky body sprays, I focused on aftershaves with a musk note. Granted, I was still buying from the drugstore, but I was a discerning drugstore shopper.
Then I met Kathy, who has one of the best noses I’ve ever encountered. Within months of our dating, Kathy had me switch to Obsession, which offered warm, natural scents of nutmeg, clove, lavender, and sage in addition to the musk. Not only did Kathy find it wildly appealing, I enjoyed smelling like a cozy kitchen with pies baking and dried flowers on the table. I soon realized there was more to selecting a good aftershave besides focusing on one complimentary note…like not buying aftershave in a drugstore.
Speaking of obsession, Kathy has always been one to cultivate consuming passions for certain topics or hobbies. We each have hobbies and are always showing support for the other’s compulsive inclinations. We first met through hobbies, in a way. Many years ago, I was working on independent comic books with an artist friend and, while we were in the living room creating comics that hardly anyone would read, Kathy was in the loft upstairs with the artist’s wife creating beaded jewelry. Impressed with her artistic flair, I enjoyed offering opinions on which beads to use, or which color combinations worked best. Having labored in a paint store during college, I felt confident in my knowledge of color.
After we were married, she took up knitting, and I dutifully provided suggestions on the colors and textures of yarn I liked best. I still sit beside her at night and feed out the yarn from the ball while she knits and purls.
This perfume thing has me stumped however. I just don’t smell all the things that are supposed to be going on in these perfumes. Kathy assures me that I could detect these notes if I trained my nose to understand what they smell like. I’m skeptical. Just as I never had the hand/eye coordination to play video games or throw a baseball properly, I don’t think this ol’ schnoz has the necessary number of scent receptors to discern the myriad notes in a fragrance. Usually, the scents come to me in general categories: floral, soapy, powdery, musky, sweet, etc. If I’m having a good day, I can detect rose or lavender, but that has to be a really good, pollen-free day. I can detect citrus scents, but Kathy usually points out that I’ve guessed the wrong fruit. Suddenly, I’m back to third-grade Phys. Ed. class and I can’t shinny my lard butt up the rope beyond two feet.
I’m also perplexed by the vast number of perfumes on the market. Every flat space in our office is decorated with tiny glass vials rolling about and clattering on the floor. To me, they all exhibit a certain category of scent: floral, soapy, powdery, musky, sweet, etc. I’m beginning to think the perfume industry could use the same suggestion I would have for the porn industry. Although it’s against our capitalistic nature, I believe someone could put together a comprehensive encyclopedia of pornography, featuring people of every possible race, gender, size, and hair color, then cross reference them with every possible act, position, and fetish. The result would be a porn library for everyone, and no other porn films would have to be created ever again. Why not have a comprehensive collection of perfume, selecting the most popular scents for every known body chemistry? Then there would be a scent for everyone and no other scents need to be created. Of course, our active, independent human brains convince us that, just as there has to be some new sexual activity that’s never before been invented, there has to be a unique new scent that no one has experienced before. All I can say is, if this revolutionary scent be experienced, it won’t register on this pedestrian nose.
Several months back, Kathy excitedly informed me of the Sniffapalooza going on in New York. I secretly prayed that she would have a friend who would want to go along with her because, otherwise, I would end up the default travel companion. Don’t get me wrong, I love New York, but I couldn’t see myself spending a weekend in the Big Apple trudging through department stores burning out my olfactory sense on the latest from Calvin Klein or Dolce & Gabbana. Fortunately, she found a girlfriend who was curious and tagged along. Now the girlfriend is a perfumista-in-training. I guess the affliction can strike anyone…except me.
With her new recruit, I thought I was safe from any perfume quests. Now I’m informed that there will be a Sniffapalooza in Florence, Italy. I have to get my passport renewed for the pursuit of more floral, soapy, powdery, musky, sweet, etc.
Well, at least I’ll get to indulge in one of my passions there – pasta!
To See A Flower
by Juvy Santos
To See a Flower is to see a flower rise up before you, invisible,
I see Charlotte, a volunteer at the Pittsburgh Garden Center
where I work part time. She's in her 80's, with shortish silver hair,
a survivor of both breast and uterine cancer. She's a woman of
sound sense, sharp tongue, and blistering wit--someone who,
in her youth, was one of the few women that went to college
and one of the fewer that chose to study science. She has the
greenest thumb of anyone I have ever seen, has literally brought
flowers back from the dead after wilting in their pots. She can
propagate just about anything living, and makes cactuses bloom.
On Saturdays, when I make my way to the Garden Center shop,
she comes in the early afternoon to tend the tiny greenhouse in the back.
There, in the humidity of green, growing things, she prepares soil for planting,
and plants for propagation, and waters the greenhouse's residents. She cares
particularly for her scented geraniums, especially a Vancouver Centennial geranium with an oddly beautiful smell.
When I smell To See a Flower, I see her, cheerfully working away in the greenhouse, and hear her chiding me for not watering the African violets on the store's windowsill. Something about Charlotte makes me smile...and To See a Flower is in the air that follows her.
The actual scent is quite literal. There is a rich earth at the base, just moistened and ready for planting, and then green leaves and stem and then an abstract flower scent, neither violets nor hyacinths, nor anything exotic, but unequivocally spring flowers--the kind that grow in your yard and your park, within reach. The earth is bitingly evident at first, and then it fades as the scent becomes fresher, greener, more 'flowery' as it fades--it's an upside-down pyramid, and it's just like planting something. I see Gerber daises, though I know they have no scent other than the green sap that flows through their stems. There is nothing more I can say as to what it smells like--I say go uproot a bunch of daffodils and hyacinth from your garden after a spring rain and sniff them as hard as you can.
And so Christopher Brosius continues to amaze me, and I've really only smelled four of his fragrances. It is not so much that he can reproduce these scents, but that he can reproduce these experiences...what power it is, to bring poetry to life. And it is not poetry for the sake of being pretty--it is the power to bring back experiences in the mind's eye, to make them lucid and real, adding a separate dimension to our powers of memory. The memories that his perfumes recall are not the memories we have of the scent of our mothers--the smell of vintage Diorissimo, or, in my case, Opium, or the smells we associate with perfumes past. No, these are perfumes that are small movies in a bottle, an idealization of experiences that no other perfume line has ever done before. And I say that with not a trace of irony. For those of you that read 'Sampaguita,' you should know that I think Christopher Brosius is probably the only perfumer in the world likely to succeed in recreating those night-time scents from my childhood. Not because others aren't talented, you see, but because Brosius has the will, the vision, and the intention to recreate experience and memory.
I've read others' views on being unable to wear CB's scents...not because they are bad, but because they are too evocative.
I love that about these. And if I had to choose between feeling too much and not feeling at all, well, I've always been a bit of a glutton at heart. I love having an escape chute on my wrist.
A HAUNTING PERFUME
By James Dotson
In a remote region of Romania, in the delicately spired summer castle of Pelisor, once lived the beloved “Saint Queen” Marie, granddaughter of Queen Victoria. When she wasn’t artfully draping herself against leopard skins, composing fairy tales, or heaving massive bouquets of lilies to her dramatically veiled face, she managed to design much of the interior of her castle in a curious mixture of Celtic, Art Nouveau and Byzantine styles. Her favorite room was the lushly ornate Gold Salon and this is the room that she chose to lavish with her mystical violet perfume both while alive, and long after she was dead. According to the tale of a faithful family servant, Gyuri, Queen Marie had first received the violet attar in a gold bottle dusted with sapphires and brilliants, as a gift from a mysterious maharajah who also gave King Carol many of the teak furnishings in the salon. This rare essence of Indian violets became her favorite fragrance for many years.
Nearly ten years after her death, in May of 1948, a committee of communist officials from Bucharest arrived at Pelisor, intent on cataloguing the decadent monarchy’s treasures, planning to remove and sell them to liberate the funds for the good of the people. On that day, as they opened the doors to the Gold Salon, the walls began to ooze with the heavy scent of violets, which then drifted down to fill every floor of the castle. In a panic, armed guards were sent scurrying from room to room to locate this perfumed intruder. But the spectral violet would appear and abruptly disappear from one room to another, playing a cruel game of cat and mouse with the increasingly pale and terrified bureaucrats. Later, it was decided that it would be best to preserve Pelisor as a museum.
Queen Marie is not the only scented ghost, though arguably the most glamorous. In fact, the presence of supernatural odors is a fairly common aspect of hauntings and other paranormal phenomenon. The general rule is that the ghost produces something that they were truly passionate about during their life: 19th century gentlemen favor fine cigar smoke, Dolley Madison permeates the Octagon House in Washington D.C. with her favorite flowers (lilacs), and the presences of the Winchester Mystery House produce the aroma of chicken soup. Unfortunately, the meaner sorts of poltergeists which throw furniture about the room tend to like to blast out smells of rotting and charred flesh. That is why it is better to stick to the classier haunted castles like Pelisor.
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