By now I’m sure that most of you have heard about the “new animalics” trend that’s been gaining speed for the last few years.  In case you don’t have a clue as to what I’m talking about, fragrances “of ” and inspired by animals are kinda hot right now.  I’m not at all surprised since the strong interest in vintage / vintage style perfumes has been gaining traction for quite some time and many (most) of those older fragrances are laden with animalic aromatics.  It gives them that luscious body, and sensuous warmth that we’re hard wired to crave.  Certainly some densely animalic perfumes can scare the bejeezes out of the wearer while others seem to purr and softly seduce bringing you ever closer… like moths to a flame, when they smell that olfactory ‘siren song’.  I am definitely one of those vintage perfume lovers who couldn’t be more delighted with this renewed interest in what some might call ‘poopy’ or ‘cat pee’ fragrances.   (I’m sure that warmed you up, right?).



It occurs to me that another avenue into animalic fragrances, especially of the ‘retro-nouveau’ variety, might be the prolonged fervor for oud / oude / oudh perfumes which depending on the quality and the amount of natural aquillaria wood oil used, can be mighty fecal.  Yes, some are down right ‘poopy’.  Not a bad…well, that’s in the nose of the beholder.  Anyway, it seems that if these particular aspects that can be found in botanicals are to your liking then true animal notes (real or synthetic) are not that far away as you journey through fragrance. It’s only a hop, skip, and a furry jump from the more intense oud perfumes to that of the cultivated critter.



There are a number of fabulous vintage fragrances and houses that specialized in more animalic scents but I’m only going to delve into one right now: the House of Weil.  Their main affair was furs.  The fragrances that they are known for came later but most were inspired by, and meant to be worn with, their furs.  Their most famous and longest selling perfume was Antilope and I believe their most sought after fragrance is Secret de Venus (sometimes fetching well over $1000 per bottle on ebay).  Secret de Venus actually started as a bath oil and came in a number of ‘fragrances’ such as Antilope and Zibeleine, but there was later a Secret de Venus perfume developed that to me, feels like the House of Weil’s “Guerlainade’; their fragrant signature base.  It’s warm, ripe, sensuously animalic, and lushly floral in that early – mid – twentieth century kind of way.  Aldehydes are present but not very loud at all which allows the base to rub itself around you like a cat hoping that you’ll scratch it’s ears and belly.  A lesser known Weil fragrance that has long intrigued me is Chinchilla.  Of course, I *LOVE* the name.  And the beautiful silken creatures, so soft and sweet.   I had had this name and some scribbles in my notebooks for some time before the real impetus came to push me toward creation.  Last summer, a lovely young woman came to work part time at my studio whose family name is also Chinchilla.  That was it!  A sign… that the time was right to get to work.




Especially when making retro-nouveau style perfumes, I love to leave little trails to historical perfumes in my designs.  It’s fun.  And I hope that those that know vintage fragrances will pick up the trail and find my clues.  So, too, with my Chinchilla, I thought about the House of Weil as well as the original ‘Shocking de Schiaparelli’, with it’s dominating CIVET note and honey heart.  Most importantly, though, I wanted to really evoke the texture of fur.  That would be something new that these beauties from the past didn’t do.  The furriness and the kind of ‘dusty honey’ quality that came together really sang to me… and I have to admit that I fell in love.   And to my amazement and delight, many others did, too.

So, that was last Summer into Fall… and now I’m working on a couple more to fill ‘my little petting zoo’.    They’ll still be the more contemporary retro-nouveau designs with the vintage calling cards.  I’m having a ball creating these… some a bit more whimsical, some more sophisticated.  All with a little growl, and a purr.


I’m really happy to share some links to reviews for Chinchilla (with many thanks) to Lauryn at CaFleurbon, Samantha at IScentYouADayCynthia at The Fragrant Journey, Victoria at EAUMG, and Steven at the Scented Hound,

credits: aquillaria aromatic link to wikipedia.org; image for arabian oud perfume found here; house of weil links at fragrantica.com, shocking de shiaparelli link at fragrantica.com; image for weil furs found on pinterest; chinchilla de weil extrait image found on our instagram. (please feel free to follow! 🙂 )








It’s another new year and with it there are resolutions and intentions to be set.  I have found since about 2011 that each year I have resolved to find more time to blog.  After many fits and starts, I think I’m finally ready to attempt something like regular writing.
One thing that I found rather inspiring was the fact that I had started almost 150 posts over the last couple of years, so I’m going to revisit these posts.  It’s actually kind of exciting to look at works through the lens of time.  And lord only knows that I have a pretty crazy list of perfume concepts, paintings, drawings, and gem art pieces in my notebooks to get to work on this year.  I hope to get it together and share it all.   {We’ll see}.

For now I am wishing you a wonderful new year filled with new beginnings, creative endeavors, and most of all, LOVE. ❤

ps: Oh yes, and this is perfect timing for a New Year post: Happy year of the Fire Rooster!

fireroosterimage credits: all images found on the web



i just might barf


I don’t usually just blurt these kinds of things out (well, I do if you’re someone I know quite well and feel very comfortable with) but I just can’t fight the compulsion to cyber scream it. (!!!)  Why, you may ask?

It’s. This. SMELL.

I find it so upsetting when things, especially medicines, have added absurdity; like dyes, weird flavors that do not mask the medicine taste, and the worst:  horrid perfumes that give you a migraine and instantly make you feel queasy.  Why, why, why, why, WHY?

Of course, it’s spider season and as I’m allergic to most of the natural world I’m also allergic to spider bites.  Every year my reaction gets just a bit more severe.  This morning I awoke with multiple bites that are huge, swollen, and itchy.  Calamine!  I need Calamine.  Apparently everyone in Boulder also needs calamine lotion as well since most was sold out at the store.  I had to get this one:


There are no words to describe the enormity of how awful I smell.

And what’s worse, the scent is growing.


I have noticed this phenomenon with a number of mainstream perfume releases in the past few years where the scent is pretty bad but not too strong when it first goes on.  Then it snowballs into the fragrance blob that ate Manhattan.  Poorly created rose accords do this frequently, as do weird musk compounds.  This horror has both and some kind of floral bouquet bug spray mixed with weeds and decaying fruit.   I say again: WHY?  I’d like some medicinal smelling medicine please.   There needs to be a skull and crossbones symbol on this can next to the words : Fragrance.  It’s worse than the smell of a walk in my neighborhood on Sunday afternoon when every college student is doing laundry and the entire world smells of tonalide, berryflor, lyral, and floralozone.  It’s this sort of thing that gives “perfume” a bad name and drives me completely insane.

image credits: found on the web.  skull and crossbones found here; environmental hazard pictogram found here.




Mixed Vegetable garden with broad beans, cabbage, chive herbs, carrots, sweetpeas


It’s really summer here.  June went from still quite wet and cool at the start then jumped right into the deep end with 100+ degree (F) heat.  Instead of making me completely crazy it seemed to stimulate a very, VERY creative flow and NEED to work in the studio.  And for the first time in ages I just let myself have it – scheduling whatever time possible to be in the studio designing.  My usual way these days is to write notes in my notebooks (and laptop, and ipad, and iphone..) you get the picture.  It’s a blessing really as sometimes I need the psychic relief to just DO IT.

The main theme that’s emerged is some kind of serious vegetable obsession.  Is it that I started a small garden again this year?  I don’t know.  Maybe it’s a combo thing of the ‘retrograde / looking back’ thing that I mentioned in my last post and what I need in the absolute NOW.  Veggies have always been important to me ( being a “vego-pescetarian” for most of my life ) and with this heat all I think about wearing are eau fraiche/ eau de cologne designs.  What I do find fascinating is that suddenly some inspirations and concepts that have been bouncing around in my imagination for years are coalescing into a kind of collection, well, actually a series centered around the vegetal note.  One design feeds into the next.  It’s kind of fun and I like the idea of a serial.




Of course, most people have at least run into or know about the classic ‘eau de cologne’ style: fresh and refreshing; citrus based with some herbal notes and maybe some soft woods and musk / ambergris kind of structure in the drydown.  It’s generally a pretty simple formulation and it’s really fun to play with twists on the theme using more modern styles or modern materials that do novel things (like Albino, which can do a very surprising creamy textural thing while still remaining fresh).  The eau de cologne style is also one of the most ‘historic’ as it comes straight out of the first European distillation / medicinal / beautifying ‘tonic’ ideas.  King Louis XIV wore a version of it as did Napoleon (who made it famous).  It’s the first style or family of fragrance that I teach my students when they begin perfume classes / internships.  What’s really got me going now, though, is a kind of idea that mixes the eau de cologne family with vegetal / edible notes which could be considered a rather strange ‘gourmand’.  {fun!}




A few years ago, (actually 8 years ago…) I was playing around a bit with this concept when I released my first version of Wasabi Shiso.  As an avid fan of sushi, Japanese food and culture, and a gardener growing shiso, I was in love with the scent and taste of it.  {I still am}.  But at the time, I didn’t have access to true essential oil of shiso (or perrilla ) nor was I able to get anything close to wasabi essential oil so I made accords for of both of these notes.  What came out was playful, green, leafy, spicy, cool, and a little musky.  I really liked it.  And I guess that I could describe this re-launch of Wasabi Shiso the same way but oh!  is it so much more what I wanted it to be just by the virtue of having many, many more materials at my disposal today.  It’s really like having a whole new palette of paints, pigments, and mediums to work with.   What’s come out this time is a more cohesive, true shiso (because yes, I was able to get real shiso essential oil!) and there are better notes to compose that spicy, piquant, earthy green wasabi accord with as well.  I’ve added even more yuzu to the top and lemon to give the shiso even more pop and brightness.  This has been June’s release and I’m soooo loving it!

{Wasabi Shiso is the first installment of the series and since today is July 1st, the next installment is coming right around the corner on July 4…  Oh YES!}


image credits: many images found on the web:  Vegetable Garden image found here; Eau de Cologne image found here; Shiso leaf image by me.






Although it’s thoroughly Spring outside complete with the showers we should have had in April, my mind has been moving forward and contemplating deeper, woodier hues, darker spaces, and scents.  Particularly, I have been meditating on dry, incense, subtly smoke-tinted resins and woods.  It may be that I have been working on a series of designs for Dawn Perfume in Japan; a collection that I design for and reflects a kind of west meets east collaboration between myself and my cohorts (the link takes you to ‘cohort’ Anzu’s instagram).  Which isn’t to say that everything I create for Dawn Perfume is of this woody, meditative vibe.  In fact, most is not.



No, there’s something coming out of the ether that wants to manifest.  I find myself dreamily contemplating soft, powdered wood shavings and the accompanying burnt sugar and smoke lingering to give an added dryness to the sensation.  And frankincense.  I’ve just received a new batch of the most wonderful frankincense from Oman (boswellia sacra) with a potent sweet gummy-ness and dry spice complex that makes me swoon every time I open the bottle.  I’ve also been going, again and again, to a new batch of frankincense absolute (boswellia serrata) from India.  It’s got a touch more of the typical terpene bite of many Olibanum essential oils, but it also has some of that spicy, gummy quality that the ‘sacra’ has only less sweet.  And delicious cedar; the drier, the better.  I’m daydreaming in Texas cedar with all of that tar and smoke, hiba (even with that band-aid thing you do), and dusty, soft Virginia cedar.  (How could I forget you?)   I’m really feeling compelled to sit down and get some sketching done.  But what is the premise, exactly?   This is not my usual way.  Generally, I get a very clear picture or series of images with a new inspiration for a perfume.  It all comes at once and I have to take time to put the pieces together and design in my head until it’s distilled but this one is coming on hazy clouds and shadowy half images as seen through gauze.  Maybe my psyche is just telling me I need more time to sit in meditation; or maybe I just have to keep looking through the smoke.

What are your thoughts on this subject ?  I’d love to hear…



image credits: I found these images on the web: japanese crane screen image here; japanese temple image here.


Mercury has just gone direct.  (woo hoo!)  I’m sure that a bunch of you have heard of the astrological term “Mercury Retrograde” which basically means that the appearance of Mercury, as it moves in its orbit when seen from earth, looks like its moving backwards.  Symbolically, it means that everything you are trying to do to get ahead on projects, move through traffic, deal with communication of any kind, etc, will also be moving (or feel like it’s moving) backwards, too.  Travel goes haywire, electronics get goofy, and the basic gist is to stop working on moving forward as it’s time to do a re-wind so you can reexamine old ideas, old projects, and or older works to see if they can or should be updated, made more perfect, or reworked in some way or just tossed on the heap.  It’s great for clearing out and making room for the new as well.  So while now is the time for getting back to the *new* stuff, as this phase passes I’m still working on something I’m calling the “retrograde files”.  Its actually kind of exciting.




I’ve been slowly compiling a list of materials, oils, single notes, and older designs that I used to sell on my website that people still write in and ask for.  Usually clients can get these items by special order or what have you but I’ve been attempting to create some “Archives” pages for the site so as to make the process easier.  And instead of getting annoyed at the apparent cosmic slowdown, it’s been a wonderful journey, like taking some extra quiet time to look at a scrap book or an old photo album.  It’s the scented equivalent of “This is your Life”.




As I’ve looked around in my notebooks and dug out some old bottles I’ve rediscovered some very interesting ideas and lovely perfume names (you know I love that) that I had sort of forgotten about.  Some of these designs are from very early in my body of work and I see now that had I had some of the materials available now, the concepts might have been realized very differently.  So, my big idea is this: when Mercury goes retrograde I’m going to set myself down to re-imagine some of these older works.  It’s a go with the flow and artistically grow kind of thing.  I don’t know if I will release the new visions or not but I know that I will enjoy the process.  I like this looking back / looking forward notion.  We’ll see how it goes and I’ll keep you posted. ❤

ps: here’s the next retrograde phases for 2016: August 30 – September 22; and Dec 19 2016 – Jan 8, 2017.


image credits: I found these images on the web: beautiful mercury planet image found here; moving backward image here; berlin 1994 photo album here.


dude, you smell great

It’s no surprise that more and more men are stopping into the studio to find the perfect scent.  I’ve been blessed with a pretty strong male clientele from the beginning of my perfume practice, but lately there have been more than the usual…and I love this…for lots of reasons.  I’ve known for quite awhile that scent culture is blossoming among young men; that they are checking out niche firms alongside the mainstream houses to see what’s new, what’s different, and even what’s challenging.  Yes, challenging; intellectually and aesthetically.  I think this is huge.  We know that scent has the power to get inside you before you are consciously aware and start you on a path to emotion, memory, and experience.  Now add that it can open your mind to design elements that may not be initially ‘handsome’, or easy, or even recognizable.  There is a push that can make you go deeper and the result is a true(er) connection to yourself and the art that you are experiencing.





Unlike many perfume establishments, in my studio / shop I don’t categorize the perfumes by fragrance family, dominant note, or gender.  I arrange the bottles by collection as each collection has meaning, a story, and a relationship between its members.  It’s my hope that people will take notice of how each design relates to the others sitting next to them.  This can be a little disorienting to the casual shopper who doesn’t know what they’re in for when they walk in.  I often get asked: “Where’s the stuff for guys?” to which I reply, “everywhere”.  🙂   This allows me to ask some important questions so that I am able to curate a bit for each client.  I like that.  Not so much to be in control but to break the usual patterns to allow for a really authentic experience.



In the past few months I’ve been seeing some interesting patterns forming and I’m pleased because some really great scents (IMO, of course) have been getting some serious love.  SEVEN, one of the first designs I created specifically with men in mind and with a kind of meditative yet vintage-y (non-fougere) vibe has been the pick of a number of new clients.  I love its vetiver meets incense, woods, and herbs.  It’s really easy to wear and since it’s 88% botanical there’s an intrinsic quality and depth to the perfume that comes through.  SEVEN has had a steady stream of admirers over the years since it came out, as a limited edition, in 2002.  It hasn’t been a sleeper, but as of late it seems to just hit the spot and I am really happy about it.  Another design that came out with SEVEN that’s been garnering new fans is Michelangelo.  When I created this design I didn’t have scotch on my mind (and the “whiskey notes / boozey thing” hadn’t happened yet) but there is a really distinctive single malt scotch note to the opening of Michelangelo that I truly love.  It’s not exactly Macallan, but it’s in that ball park.  It bursts open with a slightly herbal nuance, and a hint of oak and caramel in the background but it’s not sweet and it’s very low on the (smoky/loamy) peat.  The remainder of Michelangelo is a wood paneled men’s club (think the Bohemian Club meeting at the Bohemian Grove ) with the whispers of the cigars once smoked and patina-ed leather armchairs.  Michelangelo is also high in naturals (94%) and masculine in very artistic way… (maybe that’s why a number of women also love and wear it, too!)





From my viewpoint there may be a trend in the making for herbal notes.  I’m not sure if this is because younger people are getting more familiar with herbs through exposure to aromatherapy or new culinary interest, or if it’s because it’s very foreign and new.  I do see more and more interest, especially from men, in herbs, conifers, and woods.  We know there will always be a love of musk (the clean and the dirty ones), leather and oakmoss, as well as the citruses.  And vanilla is still really big with the guys (Vanille Botanique and Vanilla Bourbon Intense, I’m looking at you), but I am very encouraged by the recent gravitation to the retro-nouveau / classic stylings of SEVEN and Michelangelo.  As they say in Boulder: Dude, you smell great!

image credits: found on the web: 1st image found here, 2nd image found here, 3rd image here.

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