Hello and welcome to my world! This is an entirely new experience for me and it’s really exciting! I am still on an extreme learning curve with wordpress, so I hope you will bear with me as I go. Nevertheless, I thought that I would just jump right in with the announcement of “The Mystery of Musk” project that has just begun at the Natural Perfumer’s Guild.
I’ve had the good fortune to take part in a few collaborations before; some visual art interpretations through perfume design and even poetic concerns & imagery interpreted through perfume design. But this project is something a bit different. It’s a fascinating ‘brief’, if you will, to explore and construct a musk (animal in nature) built out of all botanical offerings. (Well, there are actually a few animal based notes allowed: ambergris, beeswax, horax and goat’s hair. Since I generally don’t use animal based products except for beeswax absolute, this is the only technically non-botanical note I have chosen to work with). I also love this kind of challenge; it’s what many visual artists call a ‘limited palette’ work. So, if this were a painting, I would choose, say, one black (there are many), one white (there are many) and one other color with which to create my work. All of the nuance and dynamics are suggested by juxtaposition; of which parts of the work intersect and connect and how those relationships tie the image together. The same is true for a limited palette perfume. You must make your design based solely on the prescribed ingredient list.
At first, I took the challenge quite literally: construct a musk. OK. let’s go. Oh, wait, not so fast. Did I mention the ingredient list? Here goes: Ambrette seed and Angelica Root (Ambrette seed and angelica root are the only botanicals that contain macrocyclic musk, like the musk deer.) Also, Sandalwood, Labdanum, Vetiver, Spikenard, Oud, Vanilla, Musk Rose, Black Currant, Jasmine Sambac, Patchouli, Cumin, Black Pepper, Costus, Seaweed and Carrot Seed. It’s a little like Iron Chef : ” Please make your gourmet menu entirely out of turnips”. I am not saying that this wonderful palette of exotic notes are like turnips but what I am saying is that to the novice, creating a perfume, let alone a musk with these notes would make some pretty serious, yet fragrant, mud. And, I can cook but I would not be able to make a gourmet meal out of turnips. No way.
Happily, I am pretty familiar with historical musk perfumes as well as synthetic musks and how they tend to work in a perfume so it’s off to work to construct a botanical musk from the ingredients above that in as many ways as I can conceive of will smell like, feel like and maybe even act a little like the musks we all know. So ends part 1.