Friday, February 6, 2009

Tale of Two Cities

This past summer, shortly after the review of Vera on the Perfume Critic website, the New York City based fragrance writer Michelyn Camen contacted me via e-mail. In our cyber exchange, I learned that we shared a plethora of shared interests including Argentine ancestry. The fertile connection has birthed a collaborative project on our beloved city Buenos Aires. With Michelyn's creative input I am formulating a Chypre perfume based on Argentina's capital city, Buenos Aires.

I was born in Buenos Aires in 1962 just as my mother was hitting her prime with her fashion business. My family roots go back to Western Catholic Europe, mainly Northern Italy with a bit of Irish and Spanish. My father and mother choose to immigrate to the United States with my older brother and I in the mid sixties. Read more about this by following this link to a post on this journal. Michelyn's experience of Buenos Aires stems from her Jewish Argentine mother.

Thus, Michelyn and I come together to bring you the two aspects of Buenos Aires; the Paris of South America- a city of culture, literature, mate and the Tango and the dark side of Buenos Aires, one of death, military juntas and tragic repression.

The fruity Chypre perfume will reflect a tale of two cities, reflecting the dark and light of Buenos Aires and the perspectives of its two creators.

Chypre as a perfume family was made famous by Francois Coty with the launch of 'Le Chypre' in 1917. The perfume contrasted the citrus top note of Bergamot with the heavy, lichen base note of Oak Moss. Since then the classic formula has grown to have many sub-families including the fruity Chypre.

I am beginning this formulation by creating a fruity accord. All the citrus essences are being contemplated as well as those notes in the natural botanical perfume palette which convey a definitive fruit note such as Black Currant, Osmanthus and the Absolutes from the Conifer family. Italian Blood Orange and Bergamot will tie in nicely with my Italian heritage and that of so many who have immigrated to Argentina. Labdanum and Patchouli will manifest in the base note as well as both my Vegan-Ambergris accord and a Leather accord. For the middle east influences and the nod to all the Argentine Jews we are contemplating Oud, Damascus rose, Dates, Star anise and Cardamom. Mate, Tobacco and Cacao will also be featured somewhere in the composition.

Michelyn has asked that the fragrance contain a hint of blood and tears. Two resinous materials come to mind for this request, Dragons Blood and Frankincense. These will be added either in the form of tinctures from the resinous material or a Blood & Tears accord.

Back in October 2006 I modified a chypre perfume created for the pastoral Pampas. It is warm and earthy, depicting the agricultural land so vital to Argentina. Aspects of that formula will be woven into this fragrance, as my family has a ranch out on the Pampas.

If you are a regular follower of this journal then you are already aware that as of late I create my perfumes utilizing multiple accords which I have formulated in advance. During Andy's visit here in April he referred to the word "accord" as bases.

This perfume is a challenge for me because I am not a fan of the fruity category of fragrances. Thus, I will be stepping out into a new arena on many fronts. I intend to create something beautiful that is evocative of my home land.

Read part two to this segment here: Forbidden Fruit.

Michelyn Camen is a New York City based writer and is the former Editorial Director/Fragrance Editor for Beauty News NY and LA. Michelyn is our Senior Contributing Writer for Sniffapalooza Magazine, the New in Niche Columnist for, and a contributor to national magazines.
Camen is a multi award winning marketing executive, a fragrance consultant and the Founder and President of BrandWidth Consulting Co., which specializes in brand development and positioning in niche and emerging markets.

Photo at top was take at La Recoleta in March 2005, ©Roxana Villa, photo of Michelyn Camen courtesy of the author and illustration of the question mark pen is by Greg Spalenka,


Michele said...

I just recently purchased several of your perfumes and am looking forward to receiving them.

I am a Master Perfumer of ancient lines and I am both moved and motivated by your traditions which are so important to the naturalist perfumer.

Illuminated Perfume said...

A pleasure to have you here at the journal. I am so happy to hear that my working methods have moved and motivated you as a Master Perfumer.
Cheers to that ancient line of perfumery! Thank you so much for your support.

Gail said...

How wonderful to be allowed into a perfumers thoughts as well as to be the recipient of their olfactory largesse.

It is so interesting that you choose to express your cognitive realities via olfaction and that your creative choices resonate with others in a form of kinesthetic communication.

I look forward to your newest explorations.

Illuminated Perfume said...

Gail, what a great choice of words.
This olfactive largesse must sound a bit familiar non? After all I learned much of this form of working from you.
It's all very cerebral at this point. We shall see what transpires when all the genies get into the bottle together.

Perfumeshrine said...

Of course this whole exploration of choosing materials to foster an idea of a place but also a culture is immensely interesting! I am looking forward to what you are composing, hoping to explore Buenos Aires through your eyes and nose (and Michelyn's as well)

Hugs to you!

Illuminated Perfume said...

Lovely to have you here for a visit. Thank you for your post, I look forward to sharing this perfume with you when it is finally completed. Argentines and the Greeks share some cultural similarities I've been told.
Perhaps I'll put just a tad of my olive absolute in with the leather accord to acknowledge this.