I don’t know about anyone else but for me last week was one crazy week… Was there something in the stars? Or is it the pre-Holiday ramping up we’re all doing right now (whether we realize it or not) ? It might have also been the big excitement around the studio for the launch of the newest joint project with the Natural Perfumers Guild and eight bloggers, which starts TODAY! Tah Dah: The OUTLAW Project.
The OUTLAW Project was presented to us, as perfumer members of the Guild, to create a perfume utilizing botanical perfume materials that are on the IFRA / EU restricted and / or banned list. You might ask why we would want to do that? Well, in the past few years more and more naturals have been singled out as ‘hazardous’ ( ie: might cause a rash or you might be allergic to it) and what we are left with is an increasing selection of synthetics to replace the naturals with. I, personally, am not one to dis synthetics altogether as gross or whatever… I see their beauty and their value. However, I do find that most perfumes that are composed of nearly all synthetics are poor quality, feel soul-less and flat-out don’t smell good to me. This whole thing has sadly become a political hot button issue in many places and what seems to be the result so far is the killing off of some of our best historical classics (YSL Opium, whether you like this fragrance or not, is a masterpiece and has recently been re-formulated to exclude all of those pesky naturals on the IFRA /EU list and while some find the new fragrance pleasant, it’s not Opium…more like “Ghost of Opium”).
As a Perfumer I am horrified to consider life without rose absolute / rose otto, or jasmine, bergamot or styrax for that matter… These classic perfumery materials are fundamental to classic perfumery styles and without them, we can not practice our art. As an artist, I will always work with materials that I have, but to be relegated to an entirely synthetic world changes everything. And I don’t think it is for the better. Not by a long shot. So, the OUTLAW perfume project was born out of protest and a call to common sense and sanity when it comes to the potential risks of interacting with perfume. A simple label should suffice (* if cigarettes can just have a warning label, why not perfume?) Plus, on the political side, seriously, we have more exposure to chemicals in food, which we completely ingest by eating, than we do from applying scent to the skin. Oh and the chemicals I am speaking of are naturally occurring, like eugenol in cloves or terpenes in orange oil. You could get more exposure by eating pesto (basil is on the list as well).
So, we will be outlaws: we will continue to produce perfumes outside of the confines of IFRA and the EU standards because we know that the materials we are using are not HARMFUL (to most everyone) and that a simple label suggesting caution and forethought when using the product is enough. Also, speaking as someone with asthma and who has been tested to find that I am allergic to just about everything in nature (grasses, mold, pollen…) I know that I have to be careful in the world; people with allergies, etc know this. So they will read the label, take it to heart and do the recommended patch test. They will also go slow in terms of spreading something all over them before they know how it will react. This is common sense and we will stand for that by going rogue…by being OUTLAWS.
By now, you might have read a bit about my OUTLAW perfume submission, Mata Hari, who was quite the outlaw herself. I really liked that she was European so that I could take some influences from classic European perfume from the early 1900’s and show how integral the naturals are to the richness, quality and overall design elements of classic perfumes. I also like that she was pretending to be Indonesian, of Hindu royalty and trained in the Temple rituals of her culture. This inspired traditional Oriental aromatics that were also on the forbidden list. All in all, I must have used over 20 essences on the list (*which is huge and you can see it at indieperfumes blog and also WAFT…blog), maybe more. When creating an all botanical perfume, how can you not end up using notes that are on that list… EVERYTHING is on that list.
In this post I was going to talk more about the perfume but I ended up talking politics and the destruction of our art form. Good. We need to talk about this. We are losing so much more than our history… we’re losing the opportunity to create more wonderful works on the continuum of that heritage. Our future is at stake. We must make a stand and become OUTLAWS.
ps: I almost forgot to list the bloggers who are partnering with the Guild to review the perfumes and talk about our project:
It’s going to be an exciting week!