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Posts Tagged ‘artisan perfume’

Last May I started thinking about an idea that I call “the retrograde files“.  It came as a little brainstorm about taking the time when Mercury is retrograde (an astrological phase that makes it look like the planet Mercury is sliding backward in its orbit when seen from Earth) to look back at projects that I haven’t completed, perfumes that I once launched but for what ever reason decided to discontinue, and the like, and to consider re-imagining.  Thus, using the ‘energy of the times’ to good advantage and taking what was good and making it better, clearer, and ultimately new again.  (Art, if nothing else, is recycling and filtering inspiration through one’s unique lens and the exact time and space it’s created in).  So as Mercury has gone into its retrograde phase I started looking through what is now a surprisingly growing section of my notebook.

 

Passionflower Perfume Poems was a small collection that I started releasing around 1999 – 2000 with a young, ‘millennial’ audience in mind.  It never quite hit the target the way I wanted it to… although a few of the perfumes have lived on in the form of special orders and requests by devoted clients who have loved the perfumes as their signatures for the past – wow – almost 20 years.   Lately the requests have come in with more frequency and something sparked: these Passionflower Perfume Poems scents seemed to be the perfect first candidates for inclusion in the retrograde files.

 

Say hello to April.

I didn’t rework this design too much, as it’s fans would be pretty bummed if I’d changed it a ton.  I did add some cool, humid notes via some molecules that I didn’t have in my studio c.2000, like cyclal-c and cucumber aldehyde.  It’s just as fresh and lively as the first design but with an additional pump up of the sweet pea and the green clover notes.  I’m really enjoying the energy of April with its clean but not soapy freshness and soft fruity-floralcy.  Fruity-florals aren’t usually of great interest to me (maybe that’s why I missed the mark with my first attempt at a ‘youth’ collection) but this one is fresh, green, and ‘unsweet’ enough for a more grown up audience and to keep me coming back for more.  I hope you like it and the other two heading your way this Spring. ❤

 

I thought I’d share one of the original stream-of-consciousness poems that went with the original launch.  I still think they’re fun:

April (poem)
green    clear    soft    white    frosty    dew  •  ethereal    morning    fresh  •  delicate    blossom    dawn    breath

emerge     enlighten     evolve  •   imagine     breezy    serenity     rain   •   shining     meadow     flowers    dream

sublime    veils    smiling   senses  •   relax    renew    refresh  •  awaken   cherish    clean    bright    light   pools

glistening    shower    sweetness  •   invite    pure    beauty    april    be    spring

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queenofflowersimage

The Queen of Flowers by Svetlana Valueva

What an exhilarating evening it was on January 31 in Denver.  It wasn’t the snowstorm or the bitter cold but the hoards of people who flocked to Denver Art Museum to enjoy the first “Untitled” evening of the 2014 season.  And lucky, lucky me; I was there to share in the festivities and better still to present a new work of aroma-art commissioned by the museum for the event (Untitled #63: au naturel) that was a ‘translation in aromatic form’ of a painting in the museum’s permanent collection called “Young Girl with Flowers”, by Eugene Carriere.  This isn’t my first project with DAM but it may be the first time that I have been able to present a new work that has never been smelled before as well as to give a talk that is specific to my process as an artist (as opposed to presenting researched designs and speaking about the aromas from a more purely educational standpoint).  I have had the pleasure of doing this sort of thing at BMoCA (Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art) but this was my first at DAM and I liked it.  I liked it a lot.  It was right up my alley, as my grandmother used to say.  To invoke the historical content available in a visual work from the late 19th Century and to apply it to an aroma art translation allows me to delve into the concurrent themes in perfume history, materials in use, trends in art, culture and scent as well as to speak directly to the image and what it feels like to view it.  To bring all of this to play when designing is for me, instant love.  I can feel all of my senses engaged and it is like riding a delicious wave taking you to distant times and places.  I can feel myself there smelling the air and sensing the fabrics of the costumes and the bodies of the people around me (and what their skin emanates).  It is immersive and complete.

Young Girl with Flowers

Young Girl with Flowers by Eugene Carriere

When I first saw “Young Girl with Flowers” I knew that this would be my chosen subject for the perfume.  I have been asked many times how I come to find inspiration, or what makes me want to create perfumes and often I have answered that the name and scent come together or there is some sort of sensory stimulation that sends me down the rabbit hole in search of what the perfume story wishes to be.  With this perfume, the name came last.  I wanted to work purely from the image without a ‘product name’ potentially distracting me.

The image is striking, no?  It’s dramatic and rich, but playful and sweetly innocent.  I love this girl playing with flowers in her hair (with that shock of red, they would be roses.  Or maybe geraniums?  Let’s use both).  And that porcelain face so light and smooth.  Is she playing dress up?  Is she the Queen in her own heroic story?  Is she working out how to be a woman and how she wishes to be perceived?  There are many ways to come to this image and decide what it’s all about.  What came for me was to speak to the drama, the sense of light and dark as well as the playful innocence paired together with the woman she will ultimately become.   I made this perfume for her to wear.  She is the Queen of Flowers.

queenofflowers

this image perfectly evokes the rich texture of La Reine des Fleurs

Anyone who has studied perfume has come across the concept that “jasmine is the King of flowers and rose is the Queen”.   The image itself sets up the first impulse to make this perfume with a rose dominant heart.  And as geranium comes to mind as well (plus it has so much in common with the chemistry and aromatic signature of rose) it’s a natural pairing.  Now the 19th Century influence…yes, it must be a more classical construction and yes, it will contain mostly naturals as this would have been the norm for the time.  But, the dawning of synthetics had begun and this perfume must have a modern element.  There is youth mixed in this after all.  Peach…oh yes, that face speaks to me of peach, but a soft note; it can’t be a juicy, jolly rancher of peach.  Aldehyde c-14 can do that soft, fuzzy, creamy note that is that smiling face that comes out of the image and floats on top.  The base needs to be dark and rich.  The blackness is there and this says that the perfume must rise up and float at places and plunge into depths as it dries down.

What I chose is ultimately an oriental base (balsams, resins, vanilla and civet) but winks at chypre with just a little moss.  The effect is something that I personally adore: a rich, luxurious velvet of a dry down that is kept from being too sweet by the balsams and civet but keeps you coming back for one kiss after another with just the right amount of deliciousness.

mdno111

Rose perfumes are not usually my *thing* to wear for myself.  They don’t really smell good on me, with the exception of Rose Vert, which I love.  La Reine des Fleurs is the second exception.  It unfolds like the opening of the most sensuous flower and seems to last forever on my skin (until the next day).  I can’t stop smelling my arms when I am wearing it.  In fact it makes me feel like the heroic queen in my own story, too.

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In case you’re interested to read more about the perfumes that I created for DAM and the Passport to Paris exhibit, you can check out the interview I did for their blog.  I also created some pared down versions of La Reine des Fleurs with recipes that you can check out on their DIY tumblr.  There’s some great shots from the Untitled #63 to check out on flickr , too, in case you’d like to take a peek.

Lastly, I’d love to share by giving away three 3 ml deluxe spray samples of La Reine des Fleurs!  Please post a comment and tell me about your favorite roses, rose perfumes and/or 19th Century paintings to enter.  The draw will be open through February 25.   oxox

image credits: queen of flowers image by svetlana valueva found here; young girl with flowers image was generously allowed by Denver Art Museum.

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Another special project? Can you believe it? I can scarcely believe it… In actuality, this is special project no.4, but I still haven’t posted about the work I have been doing with BMoCA (Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art) that started this January. (!) Soon, soon. Right now, I’m jumping right over that to my new collection for Denver Art Museum called “The Italian Splendor Collection”, for DAM’s “Cities of Splendor: A Journey through Renaissance Italy” exhibit which opens tomorrow. Venice. Milan. Mantua. Florence. Siena. And a region called “across the Alps” which extends from Flanders to Northern Italy. All I can say at this moment is: what a bonanza for inspiration!! I have wanted to work specifically with the Renaissance as a theme for some time. And research? Oh yes, delightful. It’s been wildly exciting albeit under loads of pressure to finish WAY ahead of time. (My event at the Museum with the curator of the show isn’t until May).

Venetian Courtesan

And the most wonderful part of all is that this time I am getting to integrate elements of the ‘aroma art form translation’ work that I have been doing with my own paintings (the Quintessence Multi-Sensory show) and my work with BMoCA (don’t worry; I’ll get to that SOON). What this means is that I not only get to include influences of each city during the Renaissance, but also choose a specific work for each city from the exhibit to design based on the image / medium. Isn’t this a GREAT project?? I’m in love. Again.

Adoration PERFUME mini flask for DAM

So why, you may ask, am I on about this tonight? Well, because I spent the whole day creating the pamphlet and the first run of products that will be in the museum shop tomorrow when the show opens. 🙂 I’ll have to save the run down on the perfumes in the collection for next time. For now, happy Friday!

*image credits: Madonna head image can be found here
the Venetian Courtesan image is (potentially) poetess and courtesan, Veronica Franco. It can be found here
** none of these art images are in the show… I just got creative.

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