Monday, February 27, 2012

Eiko Ishioka

In January of this year the great Japanese artist, creator of gorgeous, surreal and fantastical costumes died. Her name is Eiko Ishioka, in my opinion one of the most creative and inspirational costume designers to have graced planet Earth. I was intending on doing a blog post on the day she died but got side tracked.

Last night at the 2012 Oscar show the Academy choose to snub her in their "In Memoriam" slide show. Given that they used a clip of Bram Strokers Dracula in a presentation, has worked on a number of blockbuster films AND won an Academy Award for her work in Bram Strokers Dracula it appears to be either a deliberate snub or major faux pas.

Besides her contribution in film she also created costumes for Cirque du Soleil’s “Varekai” (2002), the opening ceremonies of the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing and singer Grace Jones. Her most recent work can be seen in a new film Mirror, Mirror by one of her most regular collaborators Tarsem Singhs.

Images are from a variety of blogs: , ElPostDelDia, OpenersBlog, SoulBots, TrouvaillesDujour

Friday, February 24, 2012

At the Shore Line

We went to Santa Monica yesterday afternoon to breath some ozone rich air. My allergies are acting up and thus a little drive through Topanga to the beach became a necessity. In fact it may become a regular thing, it was so very nice there.

The air was fresh and clean with barely any smell, except that very subtle sandy beach air which is so hard to duplicate as a botanical natural perfume. There is a hint of it in Page 47, but the actual air on the beach has so much oxygen rich ozone that I don't know if its possible to duplicate.

Pollen free
Ozone rich

It was about 5:30pm or so when we arrived into Santa Monica. We parked the car in one of the structures and walked across Wilshire Boulevard, over the bridge onto the Santa Monica Pier. Looks like Cirque de Soliel is in town with the OVO show. We were very tempted to purchase tickets and go see the show that night, but alas, I need to purchase essential oils this month. Maybe next month, for Greg's birthday would be awesome.

It's a new moon, good time to start projects.

On our way back up the toward Santa Monica we walked through the renovated Santa Monica Place. Despite the fact that I used to teach aromatherapy regularly at the Santa Monica Massage School on the Third Street Promenade, it became obvious that I hadn't been there in a few years when I saw the renovated mall and that the Broadway deli, a local fixture, was gone. (sigh) There are a bounty of trendy and cool boutiques, here is a photo of one little shop that had a very hop bohemian vibe to it. Love the suspended scarves overhead.

Photos ©RoxanaVilla

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Pomegranate

Although Spring is soon to arrive it feels very much like the doldrums of winter at the moment, mainly because we've had very little rain and the land is fairly dry. If we do not get a bounty of rain soon I am doubtful that there will be extra honey for harvesting this season.

The poem below arrived in my inbox from my friend Jazmin – a writer, poet, mother. Thus, as I woefully ponder the weather my thoughts go Persephone and pomegranates, rather fitting since my daughter Eve has once more departed back to Vermont for the next school semester.

In the palette of botanical natural perfume we have a pomegranate seed absolute and a C02 extract by the botanical name Punica granatum. The absolute comes and goes from the market like the tides of the ocean. I have mainly used the absolute in blends for symbolic purposes to evoke the female. The aroma of the essence is very subtle. The C02 is a carrier oil, wonderful for the skin with interesting chocolate prune-like aromatics.

The Pomegranate
by Eavan Boland

The only legend I have ever loved is
the story of a daughter lost in hell.
And found and rescued there.
Love and blackmail are the gist of it.
Ceres and Persephone the names.
And the best thing about the legend is
I can enter it anywhere. And have.
As a child in exile in
a city of fogs and strange consonants,
I read it first and at first I was
an exiled child in the crackling dusk of
the underworld, the stars blighted. Later
I walked out in a summer twilight
searching for my daughter at bed-time.
When she came running I was ready
to make any bargain to keep her.
I carried her back past whitebeams
and wasps and honey-scented buddleias.
But I was Ceres then and I knew
winter was in store for every leaf
on every tree on that road.
Was inescapable for each one we passed.
And for me.
It is winter
and the stars are hidden.
I climb the stairs and stand where I can see
my child asleep beside her teen magazines,
her can of Coke, her plate of uncut fruit.
The pomegranate! How did I forget it?
She could have come home and been safe
and ended the story and all
our heart-broken searching but she reached
out a hand and plucked a pomegranate.
She put out her hand and pulled down
the French sound for apple and
the noise of stone and the proof
that even in the place of death,
at the heart of legend, in the midst
of rocks full of unshed tears
ready to be diamonds by the time
the story was told, a child can be
hungry. I could warn her. There is still a chance.
The rain is cold. The road is flint-coloured.
The suburb has cars and cable television.
The veiled stars are above ground.
It is another world. But what else
can a mother give her daughter but such
beautiful rifts in time?
If I defer the grief I will diminish the gift.
The legend will be hers as well as mine.
She will enter it. As I have.
She will wake up. She will hold
the papery flushed skin in her hand.
And to her lips. I will say nothing.

Image: Persephone by Dante Gabriel Rossetti

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Image Making

Over the weekend the house was transformed into a film studio with green screens and tarps hung from high beams. It was quite a bit more chaos than the normal artistic meanderings that take place here in a household of creative people.

We've been working on new illuminations for my perfumes, including some that move, to fully convey the artistry and vital nature that goes into the fragrances. The intention is to use some of the new visual tools available to more deeply convey all the aspects of the natural perfumes I create in a very authentic and personal way. Each individual making images has a different take on the way they wanted to visualize my work.

Since film and animation require new skill sets it may be a little while before I have anything new to share, we shall see.

Images: top Greg Spalenka, bottom Roxana Villa, ©RoxanaVilla

Downton Paper Dolls!

Unless your in the UK Downtown Abbey is, regrettably, over for us for now. Oh, but wait, now there is Downton Abbey paper dolls by Vulture!

Not sure which is my favorite, they are all so funny and full of wit.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Botanical Tapestry

In the nineties we discovered and swooned over the work of artist Andy Goldworthy, now we have the french botanist deemed a "vertical garden designer" Patrick Blanc. Patricks glorious botanical tapestries are beautiful to gaze at while providing all the benefits of garden. I can just imagine the natural botanical perfume emanating from these pieces along with fresh, vibrant oxygen. Here in super dry Los Angeles they probably wouldn't work, unless of course he made them with California natives, even so in the hot summer months it would look pretty dry.

"Using a metal frame against a load-bearing wall, a framework of PVC pipe and layers of polyamide felt deliver water and nutrients to the vertically grown plants in a closed circuit system. Patrick Blanch has showcased his work in public and private spaces world wide." 1

So inspirational! I'd love to visit the wall at the Qantas Lounge at the Sydney Airport however one of his new projects at the Brooklyn Botanical Garden will probably be more do-able.

Andy Goldworthy
Patrick Blanc

1. Unforgettably Yours

Tree image Andy Goldworthy
Patrick Blanc: 1.Pont Max Juvenal, Aix en Provence, 2. GreenWall, 3. Le Mur Vegetal, Vertical Garden, Living Wall, Paris, France, 4. Vertical Garden in Caixa Forum, Madrid

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

I heart you

Happy Valentines Day everyone! Intending you are all practicing random acts of love today, most especially on your self. Self love, in my opinion is the key to happiness and attracting more love into your sphere.

"Make the most of yourself, for that is all there is of you."
~Ralph Waldo Emerson

I've written quite a bit over the years regarding essences related to love, love potions, love stories etc. Here are a few links some good reads:

2010 Arcadia
2010 Perfume Illuminated: Chocolate, Wine and Roses
2009 A Rose will Bloom
2009 Love Notes
2008: A Red, Red Rose

Red Star illustration by Greg Spalenka

Monday, February 13, 2012

Sign of Four

There are now four different styles of the natural solid perfume lockets in stock. The newest addition is a filigree locket that allows the scent to waft out more than the other three due to the openings in the filigree.

The etymology of word filigree appears to stem from the Spanish "filigrana, from "filar", to spin, and grano, the grain or principal fibre of the material"1. Although this locket face is called filigree it isn't quite as delicate as the real fine filigree you see coming from Europe, Greece and the middle East, probably because they are machine made.

I shot the photos on a very old burgundy colored book because they remind me of Lady Mary from Downton Abbey and I associate that particular color of red with her.

1 Wikipedia

Images ©RoxanaVilla

Friday, February 10, 2012

The Fragility of Tactile Mediums

It was in the 80's while attending Otis that I discovered the art of the handmade book and letterpress. There were no clues in my conscious past that I would fall in love with these mediums. Well, perhaps my attention to detail and meticulous, patient nature was a clue.

Back then, when Otis was still in downtown LA, students would head over to LA Type Founders for whatever was needed. Harley Bell would be there to assist us with all our needs whether it was purchase a font, ornaments or getting some linotype (a line of type) set. Although I was aware that I was working in a very old medium I didn't quite realize that thirty years down the road it would be close to extinction.

Much of the metal and wood type, ornaments, printing paraphernalia I own was hunted down in the 80s in LA, NYC and Argentina. Ben has brought over much of John Neuharts vast collection, which is quite amazing. I am still missing a some basic fonts and would also really like to have a Vandercook flat bed press to work with. Still kicking myself for having sold the TWO I once owned, ugh!

I've been going through organizing little pieces of type and sifting through some of Johns boxes filled with odds and ends that conjure up stories I wish I could hear him tell.

As the raw materials to make natural perfume continue to escalate in price or become almost impossible to obtain, like true Mysore sandalwood, I'm realizing the parallels in the two art forms. These old crafts that require hands and nature have their own specific niche market that appreciates them. The patrons along with the artisans working in these tactile mediums are an interconnected team with the ability to keep them alive and in our consciousness.

I'll leave you with this new trailer titled "Linotype, The Film"

Moon Garden

The last of the trial edition of the temporarily titled Jasmine Noir is now gone. All that is left here is the written formula and a few drops to ponder as I move onto her next phase.

Thanks to readers of this blog and loyal customers a name has been chosen which helped inform the color harmony. Once a hue has been chosen for a fragrance I then need to find the wax and pouch thread. This aspect can be pretty frustrating, luckily with this fragrance it came together fairly quickly.

Since I am working on the Sherlock Holmes perfume, a solid version of Gracing the Dawn, a secret fragrance, new product lines and this jasmine perfume all at the same time I can't say exactly when I will release it.

Here is the original post about this botanical, natural jasmine fragrance.

Images ©RoxanaVilla

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The Violet Haze

At least once a week, sometimes twice, I remove the saturated violet flowers from their soak in organic grape alcohol and replace them with fresh flowers. The spent violets are a pale lavender tone when I remove them and drain them. However, once dry the rich violet hue returns, although somewhat dimmed.

This week there has been an over abundance of violet flowers, probably due to it being their correct bloom time. Thus, I started a second tincture, which I will add to the first as the alcohol slowly evaporates.

These violets come to me via my mother who has a plethora of them in her garden. I've tried growing them here but our clay soil is not right for them. Thus I have a few in a pot, but they are still not nearly as happy as the ones that come from my mothers rich soil.

The traditional violet used in perfumery is the heavily fragranced, double petaled Parma violet with origins the warm climate of the Mediterranean region. According to the American Violet Society they came to Italy by way of Portugal via the Bourbon royal family. The infamous Parma violet is a hybrid from the Viola alba, V. odorata, or V. suavis. Experts lean toward the ancestry being the Viola alba. If you are searching for the old varieties look for Duchess de Parme, D’Udine, and Lady Elsington. The Marie Louise is another variety of the Parmas that is very fragrant.

I do not know the Latin name of the wild volunteers in my mothers garden, I would take a guess that they are a very, fragrant variety of the Viola odorata. The fragrance is quite beautiful with strong hay notes.

The tincture I have going is finally starting to take on some of the aroma after many months of "working" it. By working I am referring to straining the tincture, removing the spent flowers and adding new ones. This tincture is featured in my violet chypre natural perfume called Gracing the Dawn, one of the sheerest of all my fragrances.

Images: Most of them ©RoxanaVilla, Gracing the Dawn by Greg Spalenka

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Portable Magic

Sweet, little book necklace lockets featuring the iconic bee have just arrived in my shop. These are handmade by Lori using archival prints that I send her. The base locket is made here in America by a family owned manufacturer. I had Lori add 16 and 20 inch rolo chains to them.

"Books are the bees which carry the quickening pollen from one to another mind."
~James Russell Lowell

When you open them there are two recesses to add you favorite photos, artwork and or a tiny love note for your beloved.

"Books let us into their souls and lay open to us the secrets of our own."
~ William Hazlitt

"Books are a uniquely portable magic."
~Stephen King

Speaking of books, Martha the knitter of our crochet pouches for our natural perfume, has just created the most beautiful bookmarks. I can't decide which is my favorite, perhaps this one featuring an oak leaf and acorn.

Ah, and more book inspiration, here is a sweet animated short created by illustrator William Joyce titled "The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr Morris Lessmore", enjoy!

The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore from Moonbot Studios on Vimeo.

Photo images of Locket and Bookmark ©Roxana Villa

Friday, February 3, 2012

Downton Abbey

My new favorite television show has been Downton Abbey, indeed, another British program. The series takes place on a fictional estate located in Yorkshire England. The first season occurs at the end of the La Belle Époque from April 1912 to July 1914.

Since the ladies in the program have bottles of perfume on their dressing tables I started to wonder what fragrances were popular at the time, here's what I found:

Bouquet de Napoleon a floral Eau de Cologne, for Rallet by Ernest Beaux
L'Heure Bleue a powdery floral with hints of wood, spice and citrus created by Jacques Guerlain
Quelques Fleurs for Houbigant by Robert Bienaimé
Muguet a Lily of the Valley fragrance for Coty by François Coty
Narcisse Noir for Caron created by Ernest Daltroff

During this time frame in the world of fragrance synthetic compounds had entered the perfumers palette at the turn of the century, thus the perfumes of the time were a combination of naturals, animal ingredients and the newly arrived modern synthetic molecules.

I decided to assign an Illuminated Perfume for each of the Crawley women. Please let me know if you have different ideas.

Lady Mary Crawley, the eldest daughter of Lord Grantham’s is clever, good looking and although passionate comes across quite cold. Her grace, drama and composure led to me to Vespertina, an elegant floral fragrance with a mysterious, dark side.

Lady Edith Crawley, Lord Grantham’s second daughter and middle child. Smart, responsible but lacking in self esteem. I choose Aurora for Lady Edith, a pretty floral with a bit of spice.

Lady Sybil Crawley, the youngest daughter of Lord Grantham. She is compassionate, strong, and concerned about social justice. The bravest and most idealistic member of the family, with an artistic flair for dressing.

For Lady Sybil I'm choosing Q because of it's association with an environmental cause. Back then it would have been very unique for a young lady to wear a scent such as Q since it is somewhat androgynous. It wears beautifully on women as a warm, woody oriental and perfect for someone who is feminine, assertive and socially conscious.

Violet, Dowager Countess of Grantham, imperious, aristocratic head of the family who (almost) always gets her way. Though bossy and arrogant, adaptable and exceptionally loyal to the people she loves. Gracing the Dawn is perfect for this countess, not only because it is a classy chypre but it has a tincture violets!

Cora Crawley, Countess of Grantham, wife to Robert Crawley and mother of Mary, Edith and Sybil was born in Cincinnati. Cora is sweet, quite sensible and devoted to what is best for her family. Since she is very feminine and pretty I am choosing Lyra for her.

Isobel Crawley comes from the professional middle class and embodies an entirely different set of values than those of the current Downton Abbey inhabitants. She is educated and compassionate, appears strong and outspoken. For Isobel I am choosing Page47, a woody floral amber that is like a warm embrace.

If you haven't started watching it, you must! The first season is on Netflix. Take the Downton Abbey Quiz and find out which character is most like you, or vice versa. My quiz result was Lady Sybil Crawley.