Posts Tagged ‘PLAP project’

Amazing!  Another year has screamed by and we’re here again reviewing what made 2011 a stand out year for us.  This year was filled to the brim with diverse projects and more exciting events than I can even recount but there are some highlights I’m happy to share.  As a perfumer and not really a ‘blogger’ in the sense of being a writer about perfume in the way so many of my friends and colleagues participating in this joint blogging event are,  I always find it a bit challenging to come up with a ‘Best of” list.  So, I hope that you will enjoy my funny little list.  But before I begin, I’d like to thank so many who have made a huge impression on me this year; who have supported my work and others who are producing wonderful works of art and love. This past year a much greater sense of community has grown up in through my own work / creative life and I am eternally grateful for that.  I look forward to 2012 and beyond with this new community and feeling of sharing.  I felt a tremendous amount of love this year and I just want to say thanks.

So, here’s my Best of 2011 list:
*best natural perfume I smelled this year: Riverwalk by Liz Zorn for the PLAP project.  To me, Riverwalk was a lusciously rich and deep chypre creation more so than a patchouli… but who cares?  It’s fabulously long-lasting, sensuous and just what I would have expected from my first Liz Zorn experience.  ( I loved it ).

*perfume I wish I’d had the chance to sniff but didn’t in 2011: Mona di Orio Oud.  Everyone, but everyone(!) loved this perfume and I for one will be on a mission until I get a sample or a decant to enjoy what has been called the ‘end of the story: perfect oud’ perfume.

*vintage perfume discovery of the year: Golliwogg de Vigny.  I know… it’s horribly un-PC.  It took me YEARS to get over the name and all, but I ultimately came to terms with my discomfort and dove in for the sake of my little museum.  I’m so glad I did.  While Heure Intime is probably the best known from this house, Golliwogg is the most surprising.  It is a wonderfully, *delicately balanced* fougere – eau de cologne with the kind of herbal twists and turns in the topnote that made Francois Coty famous.  My apprentice Amber and I have been exploring the variations of this design to our heart’s delight and it never ceases to please.  It has that perfect balance of naturals and synthetics mixed with modern and classical elements that make it a sadly forgotten classic.   I *love* this scent.

*most fascinating accord of the year: The Osmanthus / Tuberose concept devised by Mandy Aftel and myself for our “Letters” series.  When we started out, we were both less than enthusiastic about our choice, but by the end of the design, I found a real simpatico between the notes.  The leathery aspects of Osmanthus are coaxed out when paired with the heady, green waxy Tuberose note and if you wish to play on this field, it’s magic. The trick is, as is so often the case, in finding the perfect balance.

*best fragrant flashback moment: Candid by Avon.  My mother used to wear Avon’s Candid when I was a small child.  I didn’t understand it AT ALL when I was little but I did understand that it was ‘perfume’ which meant something sophisticated, grown up and beyond me.  I think it is actually the only green, aldehydic (sort of) chypre my mother ever wore and it made a huge impression on me, although I didn’t realize it at the time.  After that, my mom seemed to quickly move on to (and stay) at the fruity – floriental which I did, somehow, understand and with that move *her* perfumes lost all mystery for me.
When I saw and bought this little vintage bottle of Candid for my museum this summer, it was like I was propelled back to that mysterious land of ‘grown-ups’ and what perfume really meant.  This time I knew what I was smelling and it solidified in me that love for ‘true perfume’ and the unseen magic that it portrays.  (**disclaimer: Candid by Avon  is NOT, in any way, a long lost masterpiece of true perfumery.  This sense of it’s being “true perfume” is purely idiosyncratic and based on my childhood impression.  I think that most might find it, well, lacking.  My nostalgia is based on the imagination of a 4-5 year old).

*best new line of perfumes I came across in 2011: Nobile 1942.  I had the pleasure of sampling these perfumes at MiN in NYC at the Sniffapalooza Spring Fling 2011 and found them all lovely; very traditional and palpably “Italian”.  I love that!  I loved the traditional use of citrus / fresh eau de cologne topnotes that sometimes moved into leather, others into spice and others staying right there on the Sicilian Coast.  So often I shy away after a few samples of a collection finding something that turns me off (hey, I’m picky!) but I really enjoyed each of the scents I tried from start to finish.

*the most fun I had this year with fragrance: creating the bespoke design for Carrie Meredith.  I have been creating bespoke perfume from my beginning in 1991 so you wouldn’t think that creating a bespoke design would necessarily be on a list of superlative experiences some 20 years later.  But working on an idea forged from the creative mind of Carrie Meredith (of eyeliner on a cat blog) and expressed so beautifully on my blog when she entered my anniversary contest, immediately transported me.  So, I was thrilled when random.org chose her as the winner of the perfume creation.  Her concept was perfectly designed for a synesthete: a sense of texture was always there and of color and tone.  Something sensuous like silk, and a little gauzy, blue-violet-grey, a little melancholy in tone; with dominant violet / orris notes as well as gourmand and animalic underpinnings.  The result is launching in January, so you won’t have to wait long to try it.  The perfume design came in only a few adjustments because working with Carrie was like having the ‘Vulcan mind meld of Spock’.  I felt like I could read her mind and she could read mine; like the perfume alone was a language and we both understood it perfectly.  This doesn’t always happen with a client or even a friend for whom you are designing.  This experience was easily the most fun I had all year in perfume.

* most disappointing line I tried this year: Jovoy, Paris.  I had such high hopes for this collection, as an amateur historian and burgeoning curator of a perfume museum.  There are such great historical pieces from this line from it’s former glory days. Sadly, the resurrection of the name and (sort of) bottle are about all that’s fabulous about it.  I thought that for  the price that they are asking for their perfumes, they could have spent some cash on good materials.  The fragrance designs themselves are not bad but it was so evident from smelling these that they would be immeasurably improved if some costly (or not so costly) naturals had been used instead of plasticky synthetics.  The presentation is still very beautiful but the juice… not so much.

*best perfume experience of the year: a tie: the PLAP (Peace, Love and Patchouli) and the Clarimonde project.  Both Monica Miller (of Perfume Pharmer) and Lucy Raubertas (of indieperfumes) outdid themselves this year in creating two of the most wonderfully creative and enchanting projects of the year.
First came the ‘PLAP’ project, as it became known, in the Summer with a full on competition as to which perfumer could come up with the most creative and enjoyable all natural patchouli fragrance using at least 25% patchouli in the mix.  No small feat.  And what came from this was a host of incredibly diverse patchouli designs as well as a full fledged community of perfumers and supporters.  It was miraculous and something that has stayed with us.
Next came the Clarimonde project in October and as the seasons changed, so did the mood.  We got the ‘brief’ which was the short story “Clarimonde” by Th. Gaultier filled with luscious imagery, color, texture, gothic themes, opulence beyond all measure and an otherworldliness that Lucy herself manages to embody in her 21st Century person.  Creating for Clarimonde was atmospheric and delightful (even though the perfume itself is quite rich and oriental).
For me, the PLAP project was earthy and sun-filled and Clarimonde was like walking on clouds.  Each was pure pleasure and some of the best perfume experiences I’ve had this year or at any other time.

* greatest perfume sadness: the loss of Mona di Orio.  I was not fortunate enough to meet this great artist in person as I had wanted to but she has left a legacy of grace, immense creativity and beauty behind her.  I am very grateful to at least know her work and hope that she is flying with angels as I write this.  Rest in Peace and know you are missed.

Thank you Trish at Scent Hive for organizing this blog event and inviting me to take part. I am glad to continue to be welcomed into the community of perfume bloggers with another wonderful joint blogging adventure:

Another Perfume Blog


Perfume Shrine

Scent Hive

Smelly Blog


The Non Blonde

I hope that 2012 will be an exciting, creative, prosperous and health-filled year for everyone! I am looking forward to incredible new things!  oxoxo

Thank you Roxana Villa for the gorgeous image! ❤

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The big reveal has begun.  No, the verdict from the  judges is still out in terms of who will have the most favored patchouli perfume in the PLAP project but we now know which noses are behind each of the secret numbered vials.  *For anyone who has been following the numbers on Perfume Pharmer’s site, I’ve posted the list (and the names of the perfumes) at the bottom of this post.  I can now say that I am mysterious #11 and so happy to be so; 11 has always been ‘my’ number.  It makes me smile every time I see it.

So, now that I am free to talk about my own entry, BodhiSativa, I’m wondering what to say about it.  Hmmm…  I mentioned in a previous post that all of the patchouli perfumes I conceived are ‘Summer Patchouli’ designs.  True.  They have a lightness that I think is delightful and so unusual when considering the nature of straight patchouli oil.  I know that some of the judges (aka Patch Test Bunnies) have really been digging the heavy, serious deep patchouli that you would expect or that they remember from back in the day.  I wanted to do something different… you know: a challenge.  And a new aromatic signature for me; a note I’ve never used before.

While I was already working on the original “Bodhisattva” floral patchouli scent (no.3), there was this simultaneous phenomenon happening at the studio: an influx of interest in the cannabis aroma which seemed to be coming from everywhere.  My apprentice has had a few aromatic fascinations from the start: tomato (!), green notes in general and cannabis.  She just loves very complex plant aromas and cannabis is no different.  We had been exploring accords to develop this aroma for a little while when we happened upon some ***hemp / cannabis essential oil.  It occurred to us that an all natural / aromatherapy that had a cannabis note would be very relaxing and soothing to LOTS of clients in Boulder.  And then there were people stopping by the studio wanting to talk about cannabis perfumes.  Like every other day for weeks.  It seemed to be an omen.  That’s when the concept for Bodhi Sativa came.  I really wanted to do a patchouli design that was going to be more long term; something we would keep as opposed to most of the ‘project perfumes’ that have a very limited edition.  This was it.  (Aquarius, patchouli no.2 gave BodhiSativa a run for it’s money, but the animal tinctures are not ingredients I would be able to keep in stock all of the time, so it had to be a limited number).  I also have to say that as a patchouli scent, it seemed to fit like a glove with the project: kinda hippie-ish, has a summer time freshness, and well, something new to give the patch a twist.  I knew that I *didn’t* want to make a pseudo-aveda, head shop or natural food store style patchouli (not that there’s anything wrong with those).  I wanted a real original.  Bodhi Sativa was it for me.

For anyone that has smelled what some would call “kind bud” (aka a really sweet, sticky, resinous pot bud) there is an unmistakable sweet-fruity-ok: mildly skunky-herbal-floralcy to this smell.  Some dislike it but many find it the best part of the cannabis experience: the smell.  And that skunky reference might seem anathema to perfume but there are many smellers out there who profess a deep love for the smell of skunks and gasoline (not dissimilar aromas).  Some even call it addictive.

BodhiSativa is what I feel is the best of balancing acts: the rich aged patchouli, the fruity-floralcy of the cannabis accord and an exotic wood / incense drydown.  Oh, and there are little hints at animalic nuances throughout to give it even more interest.  I like that some of the judges smelled these notes as leather and others as chocolate.  We know what the secret ingredient really is… and according to Alice B. Toklas, it goes well with brownies.


*Here’s the whole Peace, Love and Patchouli / Summer of Patchouli LOVE project perfumers / perfumes lineup:

1) Dupetit, Indienne

2) Liz Zorn, River Walk

3) Shelley Waddington, Go Ask Alice

4) Jane Cate, Haight and Ashbury

5) April Aromatics,  Bohemian Spice

6) Happiness, Perfume by Nature

7) Providence Perfume Company,  No Name yet…

8 ) Lyn Ayre, Patchouli Paisley

9) no one gets this number…

10) JoAnne Bassett, Tetu

11) DSH, Bodhi Sativa

12) Amanda Feeley, Queen of Punk

13) Opus Oils, Wild Child

14) Therapeutate, Royal Water

**image credit: green cannabis found here, cannabis kind bud found here, “marijuana girl” found here

***FYI: Hemp / Cannabis essential oil has no THC.

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The results of the judges are still trickling in so we’ll soon, VERY SOON, get the reveal: which perfumers are behind each of the, up to this point, numbered designs as well as where the ranking is.  Of course, we all have our fingers crossed for our labors of love.  One thing I do know at this point is that with such a diverse group of ‘patch test bunnies’ (aka judges) every perfume will find a lover; no one will be left behind.  And I am happy to report that just after listing my three designs on the site one kind sampler of the three has emailed to say that she has not only found the patchouli project scent she desires but perhaps her ‘holy grail’ patchouli perfume.  Of course, this makes me immensely happy.   Her choice?  Bodhisattva: my number 3 patchouli project perfume.

Bodhisattva was actually the very first concept that came after being asked to take part in the PLAP project.  As I mentioned in an earlier post about ‘PLAP’, I was having Indian food and drinking a lassi and thinking about patchouli when the first hit came: the home of patchouli is India.  And this lassi I’m drinking is sending me over the edge in swirls of creamy delicious glowing, orange-colored clouds.  It’s sublime.  I want to make a patchouli perfume that sails on clouds of divinity.  It’s spiritual and yet earthly.  Something or someone who has a foot in both worlds.  Then the Thangka image popped into my head.  Yes, like this: a patchouli perfume that smells like this *feels* to look at…exactly like what this image invokes.  That was where it started… the lassi, the Thangka (Tibetan) and India.  I chose nearly all the notes from traditional Ayurvedic / Indian perfumery and set out to create heavenly orange / red clouds swirling and billowing up with flowers that float down to rest on the soft earth of patchouli, sandalwood, incense and subtle spices.  Oh yes, and a little sparkle in the very top note like a gleam from a knowing eye.

The resultant perfume is a subtlely fruity floriental patchouli.  The fruity nuance is ‘plum-like’ and one of my favorite fruit notes to pair with patchouli.  (Did I mention that there are many perfume ‘precedents’ for the use of patchouli with plum?  and also peach?  Many great perfumes contain this ‘dialogue’ between these two notes. It was especially popular in the late ’70’s through the ’90’s.  Magie Noir by Lancome, Poison by Dior,  Nahema by Guerlain, and Feminite du Bois by Shiseido / Lutens all contain this juxtaposition to great effect).  The heart is redolent of champaca, orange blossom and centifolia with the base of the spiced wood and incense.   It has a creamy luminousness and a deep spiritual quality in the drydown while maintaining the theme of patchouli very well.  I also like to think it’s a graceful patchouli walking softly.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I personally love all three of my very different patchouli progeny.

image credit:   graceful wooden bodhisattva here ; bodhisattva thangka here  ; bodhisattva eyes here

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