Friday, August 28, 2015

Melli & Fleur

Greg has created two new illuminations to accompany the release of Mellifera and Fleurish this weekend. We decided to work with a local model discovered at the San Diego Comic Con a couple years ago shown in the photos below. Her name is Stevie and she is a dream tow work with! Regrettably she won't be joining us this Saturday in physical form but the new images will bring her essence to the event.

The opening image, pictured above, is one of the thousands of photos Greg took as reference for the two new pieces which are a secret until tomorrow night.

The image above and below this tect are from the 2014 San Diego Comic Con dressed in renaissance type attire and as the White Violin.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

The Nose: Searching for Blamage

Rarely does an event invitation arrive in my inbox where I feel compelled to attend, such was the case when I received the invite to attend a private screening of The Nose: Searching for Blamage. I immediately RSVP'd YES for Greg, Eve and I without a second thought, it was pure instinct.

Thus last Friday evening, instead of heading to Whizin for the monthly Street Art Live event, we set off in the opposite direction to Raleigh Studios for the private screening in Hollywood. We were instructed to "wait" at the on lot cafe/bar amongst a crowd of well dressed professionals in expensive suits strongly scented in woody-type fragrances. Later it occurred to me that some of the suits probably worked at the Barneys perfume counter and other similar locations.

I spotted the "nose" of the hour immediately by the large magenta colored dahlia on his white jacket and the festive hat. His name is Alessandro Gaultieri, a niche perfumer who in his twenties worked for a large fragrance lab and now creates his own extremely successful perfumes. I knew nothing about him, or his perfumes, except for what I had seen in the trailer of the film we were about to see.

Gualtieri is a good looking and charismatic Italian with a very healthy ego and might just be part genius. One of my friends who had come along with us called him in Alpha Male. He currently lives in the Netherlands where he has a beautiful studio saturated with natural light. The film we were patiently waiting to see documents the making of a perfume titled Blamage by director Paul Rigter.

Mr. Rigter followed Alessandro as the perfumer reluctantly set out to design the tenth and final fragrance for the Nasomatto Perfume House. It's interesting that instead of referring to Nasomatto as a line, he calls it a house with himself as the perfumer of the house. Although I am of the perfume world I am not part of it and thus the concept  of house versus line is intriguing. Usually you have one house, like Guerlain, Chanel, Dior, etc. with the perfumes being made for the house.

The film begins with a plaster cast blindfold over Alessandro's eyes and nose, excluding his nostrils. He is led to his organ to select four ingredients that begin his quest for the creation of Blamage. I'd never heard of the four ingredients he randomly selected and assume they are all synthetic by the name and also by the fact that all the bottles were clear. Essential oils are stored in dark glass because they are light sensitive.

The name Blamage is loosely translated as mistake or disgrace. In the opening of the film Alessandro speaks about how some famous perfumes, such as Poison by Dior were accidents in a lab from the addition of too much of an ingredient. My husband Greg calls this a "happy accident" and relies on them quite a bit. Once the blindfold is removed Alessandro sees what he has chosen and remarks “Cazzo!” which translates as a vulgar version of penis. Later we learn that he is quite irreverent and appears to rather enjoy heavy indolic odors of the human body.

Alessandro is a walking, complex contradiction – he is beautiful with piercing sky blue eyes, extremely creative, warm and magnetic juxtaposed by his shadow side. Like many perfumers he holds a fascination for the darker or cheeky aspects of human aromas and our bodily fluids. Somewhere online I read that his spokesperson, probably Rita, said:

"In the body the parts that smell more, that is where the soul is more present, but now our society says this smell must not be present because the soul must not be present." This sentiment was echoed by Gaultieri, who chimed in with "I'm sick of all this hygiene shit"

Sure Alessandro, I get where you are coming from, particularly as an artist and a perfumer. However, if you smelled of shit at the film screening I most likely would not had wanted to hold your hands and gaze into your hypnotically, enchanting eyes.

Mr. Rigter traveled with Alessandro to Delhi in India, the Esxence perfume show in Milan and the middle east. The caption for the film reads:

"Witness the adventurous quest for a new perfume, called Blamage, by rebel perfumer Alessandro Gualtieri aka The Nose. He wants to design this fragrance by abandoning all the common rules for designing perfumes. For inspiration he travels around the world, but the farther he goes, the more he seems to disrupt not only his environment but also himself. Will Blamage turn out to become the perfect mistake?"

I had incorrectly interpreted that the quest was a search for raw ingredients, probably a projection on my part. Since his fragrances are most likely synthetic, the use of pure sandalwood oil from India, or the newer distillations coming out of Hawaii and New Caledonia would be impossible for a fragrance house selling such large volume of perfume under strict IFRA regulations. Thus, his search throughout the film is for inspiration not actual ingredients that would go into the fragrance. I am speculating at what raw materials he uses because he refuses to disclose information regarding notes and/or ingredients.

In one scene, while Alessandro walks through the crowded, dusty streets of Delhi he encounters a store with perfume knockoffs, one of them is his popular fragrance Black Afgano. His reaction to testing the knockoff with the vendor in site, is absolutely priceless.

Paul Rigter, the film maker behind the lens of the 52 minute documentary, both wrote and directed the piece which was stopped before the final version of Blamage was finished. Mr. Rigter perfectly captures all the qualities that make Alessandro so unique: magnetic, lovable, quite fun, retrospective. He is a pleasure to watch throughout the film, despite his somewhat vulgar characteristics.

At the film screening in Hollywood a fragrant handkerchief was draped over the top of each velvety seat. My daughter Eve is the one who noticed the handkerchief and pointed it out to me. We picked ours up and inhaled, I immediately picked up citrus and herb, then, as I tuned in more deeply I began to think perhaps neroli and something that reminded me of celery.

After the screening when Alessandro came back into the room, he told us he had a game for us and shared that behind everyones heads there was a handkerchief which had been sprayed with a perfume, except one. The exception contained Blamage and the person who could discover which handkerchief has the Blamage will receive a bottle as a gift. The young gal in back of us, who had attended Bennington with Eve, was the winner of the lucky winner of the bottle.

I asked what was on all the other handkerchiefs, mentioning that I perceived notes of neroli and celery, Alessandro replied that people shouldn't get hung up of perfume notes and ingreidents. That when we look at a painting we don't ask what the materials are, we experience the piece.

Indeed, I can see where he is coming from, however mentioning a few notes AFTER asking about how the perfume makes one feel or what notes one is picking up would engage us in the story a bit more. I left the event with no idea what fragrance was on the handkerchief. I was convinced that it must be another version of Blamage because Eve, Greg and well as my purse and house reek of an indolic, smoky sandalwood which I thought for sure Blamage would smell like. Saskia, the organizer of the event informed me that Bergamask, from the Otro Parisi House is what the handkerchiefs are scented with. Bergamask has a very a sharp citrus note on the handkerchief but the dry down is what makes it super interesting to me and almost narcotic due to those heavy, rich, dark and burning incense notes.

In 2014, with the completion of the Nasomatto, Alessandro revealed Orto Parisi, the name of the perfume house is inspired by 'orto' which means garden combined with last name of his grandfather 'Vincenzo Parisi'. According to Alessandro "We don't talk about the notes but in all of them there are two main animal notes. This is not to cover our smells but to put another layer on." His booth at the Excense show in Milan showcased a furry, defecating hairy creature. The five fragrances debuted in that line are Bergamask, Viride, Brutus, Stercus and Boccanera were presented on a compressed bed of horse manure.

Here is the trailer that is on YouTube, there is a much better one on Vimeo where you can also watch the film on demand.

"I begin to make something but at a certain point, it starts making choices by itself. It is the process that interests and guides me. I like the feeling of loosing control and I’m not the one making the choices. My involvement is to create something that is alive and will be able to say new things. I want my perfumes to have an intelligence of their own, not just be slaves to my meaning."
     ~ Alessandro Gualtieri

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Harnessing the Soul of Jasmine

The article I wrote for the NAHA (National Association of Holistic Aromatherapy) journal is live, check it out here.

In the meantime, this years tincture is coming out quite spectacular. Every night or morning when I add more flowers I take a little taste. In the photo above with the notice the different shades of yellow of each liquid contained within each glass jar. The largest one on the left, is the first one I started, thus the hue is more golden compared to the second jar on its right and the green hues of the little jar on top.

My jasmine plants haven't been looking so good the last few days, I'm not quite sure why. They seem a bit "spent", like they are tired, but I could be projecting. We shall see how much longer the season will go, normally they continue offering up the flowers into November.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

The Perfumista

There's been lots of wonderful perks to my new workspace, one of them being all the interesting people that come into the space and turning them on, or not, to the botanical way of perfume. At times it can get a little odd, like when one woman said to me "I love my toxins!" but, even then it makes for a heck of a story.

Occasionally I'll get a "perfumista" in the shop, this has been occurring more often lately. These are people who adore perfume, know some of the history, particularly the legendary houses with gravitas like Guerlain, Chanel, Patou, Caron and Coty. In fact, if you asked a group of perfumistas to list the five or ten most legendary houses there would probably be a pretty interesting debate. Angela over at the Now Smell This blog has written a fun piece titled "Becoming a Perfumista" for those of you who would like to delve deeper on what constitutes a perfumista.

I find perfumistas absolutely fascinating to speak with because of their extensive knowledge. If you want to hang with perfumistas get yourself to a Sniffapalooza event in NYC or hang at any of the numerous perfume blogs.

As I mentioned, recently I have had a few perfumistas come into the shop. One couple immediately endeared themselves to me when they brought out a sample of Mitsouko as a gift. Mitsouko is basically like the Mona Lisa of modern perfume. The fragrance was created by Jacques Guerlain in 1919, it is a classic chypre released on the heels of the original perfume in this category titled Chypre de Coty from 1917. A basic chypre perfume contains bergamot in the top notes with florals, usually jasmine, in the heart and oakmoss in the base. Mitsouko follows the blue print with additional notes of orris, vanilla, peach, rose, lilac, cinnamon and black pepper.

I'm fascinated by the fragrance because it is quite elegant with herbal nuances and doesn't scream "synthetic", civet or musks at me. Due to the ridiculous restrictions from the fragrance regulation board the perfumes has had several reformulations over the years. Luckily the latest one, from 2013, honors the beauty of the original and is said to be quite close in scent and evolution.

On a second visit to the perfumery my new perfumista friends brought a bottle of the parfum extrait and Eau de Parfum of Jicky, Pois de Senteur de Chez Moi by Caron, and others. I'm so enjoying this grand adventure into a modern perfume history made possible by perfumistas that know much more about these fragrances than I do.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Blossoms of Summer Event

"Blossoms of Summer" 
A Sensorium of Sensual Delights and Artful Musings. 

Roxana Illuminated Perfume, 
Whizin Market Hall in Agoura, CA
Saturday, August 29th
7:00 to 10:00 pm

A celebration to mark the debut of two highly anticipated fragrances associated with flowers of the season.

Mellifera is the part of the latin name for the honey bee translated as honey bearer of maker. The unisexy fragrance features notes of honey and wild flower meadows, the scent is evocative of the terrain where the winged alchemist collects the nectar to make her golden elixir. One of the dominant ingredients is Helichrysum italicum, also known as Immortelle or Everlasting, which contains fresh floral and warm herbaceous notes perfect for conveying a sun drenched meadow buzzing with bees.

Fleurish is a feminine, fresh floral bouquet featuring three types of jasmine. The scent is indolic, sensual and evocative of languid nights heavy with the hypnotic scent of these treasured night blooming white flowers. The perfume contains Jasminum auriculatumJasminum grandiflorum and Jasminum sambac. These sweet, white florals with varying notes of tea, honey, gardenia, leather and ripe fruits is paired with sandalwood, ambrette and kewda embellishing the luminous night sky with more depth.

The introductory sketches of Mellifera and Fleurish will continue to be offered at the perfumery and through the Fan Funding until sold out.

During the festivities we will have music played by esteemed composer Fritz Heede, a drum circle at 9:30 (bring something to bang on), and unique culinary delights including a platter from Blue Table Wine & Cheese Bar and local mead generously donated by Golden Coast Mead.

Greg is creating two new “illuminations” to accompany each perfume and will be working on a new chalk board drawing in the perfumery that night. Save the date, more specifics about our fellow participating friends to follow.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Jasmine Tincturing Summer 2015

Although the jasmine blooms seemed to get to a slow start this year they sure have been producing dynamically lately!

Every evening or morning I harvest the little flowers, take photos and add them to the 190 proof grape alcohol. Sometimes I filter the alcohol before adding the flowers, besides that, I do these tasks every single day and will continue until the cycle ends, usually in November.

The amount of photos I take daily is probably as abundant to the blooms. At the moment I have three glass mason jars filled with the aromatic elixir in my refrigerator. This fragrance potion ultimately goes into Blossom, a citrus and herb cologne I created based on traditional formulas. I'm experimenting with using the tincture like a bitter added to cocktails.

Each time I filter the infused alcohol I pour filtered water over the spent flowers I drink the heavenly tonic with Greg.

The biggest challenge each day is figuring out how I will shoot a new and interesting photo of the process, I feel like I've shot every possible potential image and then a new one, thankfully, presents itself. Here's a few from this morning....

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Oak Tree Circle

Yesterday, just as I was about to head off to the perfumery a gardener with a chain saw almost starting going at the oaks on the neighboring lot. We were able to fend off the fellow by taking photos and calling the police. Since I'm not sure if this method of protection will be sustainable I am asking each of you to encircle the seven trees in love and protection. If you have some Q Perfume than please anoint yourselves with this elixir devoted to the California oak.

Fragrance family: WOOD, CHYPRE
Main notes: Resin, wood chord/accord, Italian bergamot, tinctured Coastal Live Oak leaves

Return of the Light
A New Green Cloak
Q Queurcus agrifolia - Reviews
+Q Perfume - Review
Celtic Lunar Month Oak - Reviews & Links
Ode to Trees
Celtic Lunar Month: Oak
Q Review - Review
The Green Man
A Secret in the Forest
The Duir Way
Save the Oaks
Scent of the Day: Oak
Spirit of Nature
Medicine Wheel