Posts Tagged ‘Denver Art Museum’


austrian copper – yellow roses


June is right around the corner and so with it brings the big blooming season of my cherished roses in the garden.  The yellow roses are in bloom now as they start early but the others are just beginning to bud.  This may be in reaction to a long, cold but very wet snap we’ve had since mid-April.  The roses are loving the extra moisture and I’m expecting an incredible show in about a week.

It actually couldn’t be better timing as I’m preparing a talk for the Denver Rose Society at the Denver Botanic Gardens on June 10th.  The talk will be all about roses, rose molecules that give the aromatic signature of ‘rosey’ and how this applies to the creation of rose perfumes.  I’m really excited!  I LOVE talking about roses and rose fragrances; especially how they might seem easy to create because there are so many of them and the rose scent is so recognizable.  Of course, it’s really deceptive.  There are a gazillion different roses with as many varying scents and if you’ve started to *smell the roses* you know this is true.  It’s actually true of lots of flowers: we think we know them but if we start to examine them more closely they show many ‘faces’ and many fragrances.


napoleon's hat

napoleon’s hat centifolia


Since last Fall or maybe even earlier I’ve been immersed in flowers and floral perfumes.  I’m not sure why, exactly; the inspiration as well as the work itself has brought me to the garden again and again.  With the Brilliant Collection for the Cartier exhibit a multi-facteted white floral emerged for Deco Diamonds, a lush, damp earth hyacinth for Jacinthe de Sapphir, and a deep ruby-hued rose for Rubis Rosé.   There’s a fascinating array of fruit nuances found in roses, from zesty citrus nuances, to crisp apple and juicy pear, to lush blackcurrant and berry-like notes.  Rubis Rosé has a deep tea rose in the heart and a bright red raspberry top note.  It’s a combination of influences: my neighbor’s vintage (1960’s) tea roses and the fabulous berry quality of classic red long stems.  I also wanted to create a rose design that spoke to a real classicism as well as the mid-century fruited-aldehydic-floral.

You know, speaking of aldehydics and roses, I find it very interesting that some of the roses in my garden display a sort of green aldehydic quality.  Part of it is a linalool-ish citral (citrus-y) flash and other parts are the geranium-like,  green rosey aromas of geraniol and geranyl acetate.  The yellow roses (the Austrian Copper roses especially) that are blooming right now have this incredible scent.  It has those geranium-rose notes at play with an almost metallic kick as if it were a constructed perfume with the citrus-green rosy mix of aldehyde c-8 and aldehyde c-12 Enic in the top.  I love it!



harrison’s yellow


Years ago I created an all-botanical yellow rose scent called “en Vacances” which is based on a Harrison’s Yellow that grew in my back yard when I was a kid.  It always bloomed on the last day of school.  To me it was the scent of Summer Vacation.  Saving Grace, also in the Garden Bathe aromatherapy perfume collection, is another more woody-based, more clearly rose (I smell it as pink) design that has some of these characteristic gernium-rosey tonalities as well.


blooming eglantine, june 2010

blooming eglantine


But it’s not just the geranium-rosey aromas that are coming out of the rose garden.  One of my favorite aspects that is showing up is the characteristic peppery-green notes wafting from the leaves and stems on the centifolias and the fabulous scent coming from the green apple – aldehydic fragranced leaves of my eglantine.  It’s reminiscent of certain peonies, which for me are filed away in my mind as a subcategory of rose note flowers.  They are their own delicious, wonderful thing, of course, and they too have quite a lot of variation from dewy, ever so slightly powdery-apricot-y, to softly watery pear, to a very deep and spiced rosy-green.  Last year I created a Peony perfume after many years thinking on it.  I wanted to tell a story like a ‘day in the life’ of the peony flower kind of experience.  I could bring it from a slightly metallic-green, softly peppery – softened with dew note at the beginning, through its most ‘rosey’ phase and into a twilight shaded and darker aspect in the drydown.  I’m not sure it’s for everyone but I really like it and I feel it tells it’s story nicely.



jacqueminot rose


I grow a fair number of “Old Roses” but I hadn’t really pushed myself to decipher their varied nuances to the point of creating a perfume to speak to their unique characters until recently.  Deeply honey – spice, almost carnation-esque, the old rose types are rich and can be a bit heavy.  It would be very easy to get involved with a perfume design around the old rose scent and end up at “granny rose” in no time.  Not that the roses themselves do the powdery note that I most associate with granny rose but the density of their scent and how you work with that quality could get you there if you weren’t very careful to avoid it.  I’ve smelled too many old rose and tea rose perfumes that, for me, smell of granny rose due to their sheer density.  (If you couldn’t tell: Granny rose is not my thing. At all. But I digress).   I can’t talk much about a recent project I’ve been involved with for Denver Art Museum just yet but I will say that it’s allowed me to delve into the old roses character some and pull it into a rose bouquet that is unlike any of my other rose designs.  First off, it’s not intended to be a rose soliflore but the rose is clearly experienced along with a couple of other focal floral notes.  There will be more on that topic, and more very soon. 😉

This seems like as good a place to stop part 1 for now.  I’m hoping that as I send this out and in the next few days, some of the other buds will pop out into full blossom.

I’m so thrilled to be talking flowers and roses in particular, that I’d like to offer a little drawing for 3 sets of 3 – mini sprayers of Rubis Rosé EdP, Peony EdP, and en Vacances EdP.  Please leave a comment about your favorite rose and/or rose perfume to enter.  The 3 winners will be chosen at random in the wee hours of June 6th so the deadline to enter is 11:59 pm on June 5th.  Winners will be announced on June 6th.  I hope that everyone will enjoy the start of Summer and good luck in the draw!   ox


* images are all my own.  you can see most or variations on them at my instagram page.

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a Renaissance Brussels Tapestry that inspired "Alba", one of my perfumes for DAM

What a week it’s been… I think I say that every week : “Wow! what a rollercoaster ride”, but it’s true. I’m always amazed at how topsy-turvy life is and the world is. Or is it me? Who knows…
As a culmination of the week or maybe the month, I gave my presentation and official debut of the Italian Splendor collection at Denver Art Museum tonight and had the wonderful good fortune to meet and make the presentation with the Assistant Curator of the museum, Angelica Daneo. What a lovely woman and so very knowledgeable. I have studied much of Italian Art and the Renaissance but I still learned quite a bit more about the history of the specific cities in the DAM show and their artistic traditions. How I love that…learning so much more.
I thought as I drove home in the rain from the museum tonight that life is just like a tapestry… all woven together of this and that; this person and that, to make this ‘picture’ for a moment. The crazy endless rain, the nervous energy of presenting a new collection and the coming (I know it!) Springtime thrill is this new image and I am grateful to have this moment of experiencing it in its fullness: Life. Yes.

And so I came home all immersed in Italy and it’s multi-faceted culture to settled down with some steamed vegetables with parmesan cheese, olive oil and fresh garlic… poured a lovely glass of chilled soave and flipped on “Summertime” (c.1955 starring Katharine Hepburn and Rossano Brazzi) on netflix. I could (and have!) watch this film about a thousand times and still love it; especially when I want to see and feel Venice, which is *always*. (There are luminous colors and sounds that I can only find in Venice and when I’m so far away from it, I console myself with films). And am I imagining it? This soave smells remarkably like the Venus & Cupid perfume I presented tonight. How delightful…

Well, Buona Note, mi amici! (aka: so long, cookie~) 😉

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It’s going to be a big day.  Tonight, I will give my talk on “Ancient Aromatics” at the Denver Art Museum, complete with Sampsuchinon oil and unguent as well as tons of raw materials (oils and herbs) and finished perfumes.  I’ve worked on the outline for my talk but I still have lots to do to edit it and focus my scope. *Commercial: for those of you who are in the Denver / Boulder area, call DAM for your ticket for the talk.  It starts at: 6:30 pm on the 2nd floor of the north building.  It’s always like this when a big project comes to a head.

Just to add to the overall hectic-ness is the ‘moving back in’ project, that is the aftermath of the fourmile fire scare from last week.  I am still grateful this is all that I have to do: clean, re-arrange and move a bunch of stuff back in, instead of making inventories of lost articles for the insurance.  It’s amazing how the Universe works.

mummy bottle - i still love this photo

Since I have to dash- for now, I am wishing you a fragrant and lovely day!

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I can’t believe it is September already.  Where did the time go???  I feel as though I just got back from Wellfleet and it’s already well into E.’s school year (he’s a 2L at Colorado Law) and Autumn is closing in fast.  I better bust-a-move is all I can say…  I am sorry that I have been so remiss in terms of my blogging project but now that we’re all getting back to school / work, I hope to regain my momentum.  Here’s hoping!

Last Friday I was at the Denver Art Museum for their last “Untitled” event of 2010 and we got to promote the amazing sights, sounds and smells of KING TUT at  “UnTUTled”.  ( cute, huh? )  I was previewing my upcoming talk about the aromas of ancient Egypt as well as explaining the first 6 perfumes in the “Secrets of Egypt” collection.

DSH at DAM, UnTUTled

One of the new and soon to be released designs is a perfume called “Sampsuchinon” named after the Crocodile God of the Nile and the herbs associated with him, marjoram and oregano.  I have actually been creating a true recipe of Sampsuchinon based on the ‘formula’ written by Dioscorides -using oils, fresh herbs and spices, honey and wine… (*see Lisa Manniche’s work for more info on these formulae) and then reworking the scent using modern materials (essential oils, not fresh herbs) to create the same style perfume but something we 21st Century folks could feel comfortable wearing.  It’s also quite interesting to see people’s reaction to the old vs. the new versions.

* mixed with fats and sprinkled with wine

shaped into cakes and ready to macerate covered with water, overnight

after maceration, boiled, reduced, and strained

marjoram herb

There’s also one more perfume on the way to complete this collection: one to speak to aromatics that Egypt is known for now.  I want to showcase the fact that Egypt is still an aromatic paradise.  More to come about this one in my next post.

Mummy Bottle at DAM Gift Shop
Secrets of Egypt collection at DAM Gift Shop

I hope you will have a lovely, fragrant day!

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The bottles are finished and ready to be unveiled at DAM’s gala tomorrow night.  Here’s a little preview for you:

hand blown bottles, sealed in beeswax, wrapped in gold wire, embellished with gemstones

each mummy presentation is wrapped in 'aged' cotton

ANTIU (aka METOPION) "mummy" presentation oil perfume

This is the most elaborate design we did.  We also did mini dram perfumes in super cute boxes of Cardamom & Khyphi, Arome d’Egypte and 1,000 Lilies (aka Susinon).  LOVE.

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