Fashion is the fastest game of all. Nothing sassy or glam’ stays current or on trend for more than a minute.
Yet, people want perfume to be the same eternally. Same fragrance, same price, same packaging. There are so many factors that determine the path of change in a fragrance. Ingredients come and go. Companies come and go. License agreements too. Regulations, profit margins, good and terrible ideas drive the changes. And people mourn the changes.
Admittedly, some reformulations bully a fragrance into a mere shadow of its former self. Others are so artfully composed that the differences are minimal. Some fragrances even benefit from the change. Many civet cats and musk deer and beavers have breathed a large sigh of relief. (Whales don’t give a shit). A friend of my son recently burst out laughing as we were discussing the evolution of perfume (as you do). ‘Why put animal excretions in perfume?’ he asked, and it’s a very good question. The answer is, as always.. you guessed it… sex. Flowers are fertility flags, beckoning those winsome pollinators (the bees) with pollen for honey. Beavers and deer and civet cats exude their own fecund, feral, fertility pheromones and humans are just so greedy. We want everybody’s sex chemicals to be working for us. Aren’t we sexy enough?
There are many rules and conventions in perfumery. Most of them I ignore. I never wear a lab coat. For me, perfumery is art, not science. I definitely don’t work for the accounts department, the marketing division, the Board of Directors, stockholders, the customer, Solomon Lew or Rupert Murdoch. I only work to the whims of my nose. It calls ‘MORE’ and I comply. It says ‘STOP’ and maceration begins. My nose is sovereign. I trust it completely. It decides, detects, analyses, evaluates, accepts or rejects and I like to keep her happy. I’m not in this job for the money. I’m here for the perfume.
Some people love to suggest I make changes. Some people complain when I do. Some people demand special treatment, and others attempt to control and interfere and take over and dictate how I must operate. That’s just creative entrapment. I follow my nose.
There’s a lot of resistance to natural perfume in the main. I admit, I’ve smelled a number of natural perfumes composed by other noses, and frequently I find aromatherapy blends that rely on the good nature of rose or jasmine or ylang ylang etc to provide a pleasing scent experience. Often, however, combinations of ingredients are muddy. The ‘cold’ versus the ‘hot’. The sour volatile sharps against the viscous sweet. I too, have made many awful messes. At one stage I obsessed over making civet and leather accords from plants (combinations of agarwood/oud, birch tar, cypriol, patchouli, narcissus and tobacco). I wanted a plant-based substitute for traditional animalics so that no cute, furry guys suffer.
Some formulas have taken a very long time to synergise. Some happened instantaneously. Some required tinkering for years until a most curious phenomena arose. All the lights came on. The fragrance was no longer a pleasing sum of its parts. It was a whole new being, an animal with its own name, a composition. Perfume.
I’ve recently reached a very different place in how I make perfume. Now I compose small batch jewels with very few ingredients. I’ve learned how to blend them without needing more and more complexity to fill the entire stadium. The right ingredients in the right quantities. It’s much more difficult to arrive at this landing when working exclusively with naturals because natural ingredients have a will of their own… their own spirit, personality and voice. Next season will be a new harvest. Different rain, different wind, different soil. Different climate, different growers, another set of harvesting hands and the next generation of masters of distillation and extraction.
Change. Evolution. Life Force. – It’s natural.
Anyone interested in purchasing a share of my strictly limited edition, private collection compositions, please contact me. These small batch treasures are not for the shop. Purely for perfumistas. I have one litre of each (500mls of OM) and I definitely intend to keep some of these gorgeous fragrances for myself. I’m happy to sell 10 x 50ml vintage French crystal flacons from my stock of each of these (and 5 bottles of OM).
OM:- The fragrant centre of the universe. Taif Rose, Mysore Sandalwood, Sumatran aged Patchouli, Amber accord.
VERSAIILES:- Simply the very best tuberose fragrance. Grapefruit, Tuberose, Sandalwood, Neroli, Kashmir Lavender.
LIGHT:- Bardo of transformation and bliss. White Lotus, Frangipani, Jasmine Sambac, Mysore Sandalwood.
SUR L’HERBE:- Romantic Expressionism circa 1862. Citrus, Herbs and Woods
JESSAMINE:- Blossoms shivering with the weight of raindrops. Murraya Paniculata, Neroli, Orange blossom, Turkish Rose and Tonka