Monday, March 12, 2012


Seems to be an auspicious time for formulating perfume and manifesting ideas. Serendipity has visited me in the studio once again. It all started with clearing my drafting table to do some painting. The table had become a chaotic mess of paper with formulas, notes of items to order, tax prep and a magnet for little amber bottles. In fact I think all 10 and 15ml Boston round bottles must come to my studio to die, the amount I have accumulated over the past ten years is staggering.

As I was tediously filing papers and reorganizing boxes that held the amber glass containers (perfume synergies, accords, experiments, etc.) I noticed a heck of a lot of the bottles were labeled Chaparral with various numbers and notes. Then I started to see other bottles of experiments with words like wood chord 3, earth chord, musk chord experiment 4. As I sat there looking at all these bottles I thought "I'm going to put all these together and see what happens." Well the result was a wonderful woody Chaparral-like fragrance. To shift it I began adding woods and resins, attempting to stay away from many of the expensive essences that I would've liked to add.

The whole process became an exercise in constraint. Is it possible to make an interesting, complex perfume without using costly ingredients? I've actually been pondering this for awhile now, but this new fragrance journey put me smack in the midst of it. Niche perfumer Andy Tauer did something along the same lines but limited himself to only five synthetic ingredients, he called the series PentaChords. I'm not so much interested in limiting how many ingredients are in the perfume, at least not now, for me it's limiting key materials such as Rose, Jasmine, Orange Blossom, Orris and Oud. Gosh, I so love Oud.

Perfumes of Yesterday by David Williams, one of my heroes, has quite a lot of formulas from the 19th and 20th century. Not one of them is without Jasmine, Rose, Orange blossom or Orris. In fact most of them have all four. I did find a Lebanon Cedarwood Bouquet where the only floral note was synthetic Rose. It was described as a bouquet of "roses and pencils" for the purpose of scenting incense boxes.

I sat at my drafting table thinking about the spicy woody fragrance that sat before me, although it was nice, there wasn't anything really special about it to me. What could I add to bring in more depth while avoiding the notes listed above? As I pondered spice, Geranium wafted into my mind. Ah-hah, the Geranium would pair well with the spice element already established, add a bit of a rose note and shift the fragrance from a simple wood spice into the realm of leather.

After adding the Geranium I pulled out the formula for the leather chord I use in many of my perfumes. The original formula I had used to create the botanical leather was by René-Maurice Gattefossé, the grandfather of Aromatherapy. I had re-interpreted his formula by substituting notes and my own chords for the animal and synthetic ingredients. Read more about it here at the journal.

Thus I decided to add some botanical leather notes like Tarragon, Basil, Clary Sage and a bit of Mimosa (I know, costly, oh well). The final result is a finely woven botanical perfume with sweet, spice, floral, smoke and leather. The opening, to my nose and on my skin, is: sweet and spice walking in tandem with a warm floral note. As I mentioned the notes are finely woven, thus it becomes difficult to sift out each one. Overall there is a consistent chorus of sweet, spicy floral throughout the orchestration. The final dry down is warm, balsam and botanical leather lasting well over 12 hours on my arm with an end note of Chinese Emperors Pu·erh Tea with a teaspoon of honey.

Since the fragrance was made without a formula, from a variety of experiments all melded together, the name shall be Impromptu. For obvious reasons the first edition is limited. All other editions and a solid will most likely posses a slightly different aroma. Longevity of the perfume on me is extensive, longer lasting than any other fragrance in my line. Keep in mind that natural perfume tends to last quite a long time on me, perhaps because I have no other scents on me (particularly nothing synthetic) or within my olfactory space competing for attention.

Fragrance family is sweet botanical leather. Closest fragrance relatives are Chaparral®, Sierra liquid and Aurora all combined. If you like Aurora you will like Impromptu.

As a special gift to you I am offering a free amber vial of 3.75 grams of perfume for any orders of $75.00 (not including tax and shipping) or small sample vials with any order of $25, until the last day of March 2012. Once I decide on what course to take with packaging I'll post those details here at the journal.

Interesting that Chaparral® has had two fragrance branches, first Tangent and now Impromptu. Next up I am finishing up some custom perfumes and then onto the Sherlock perfume, the new Jasmin Noir, Gracing the Dawn solid and body butters....not necessarily in that order.

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