This utterly devastating fragrance features electrifying notes of cold baked beans, pool chlorine, beer garden accord, yellow jelly snakes and the head-space sample of a grade 4 school-kid’s back pack.
I recently returned from a fly-in/fly-out trip past the artisan perfumery counter of a far better stocked city than the one I’m in. I observed numerous trend-setters at the airport sniffery eagerly open their wallets to purchase stuff I’d just sampled. It was big brand artisan stuff. Some of it conjured wet nappies simmering under caked-on talcum powder, or wrinkled pickles on moldy rye retrieved from the bottom of the fridge. A lot of it was just so incredibly boring, and most of it’s been done to death. Over and over.
Why have we been culturally engineered to even want to smell like any of that? What has happened to our brains? How did we break away from the truth of our natural world? That’s not oud, it’s floor polish. Those power-prestige ‘products’ aren’t cheap and so many of them are… awful. Not luxury, not ‘sexery’… just chicanery. I don’t for a second fool myself into thinking that I’m the only monkey that smells a rat. I think there are maybe 9 others who are also feeling alarmed and dismayed by the big bucks scent swindle.
When composing perfume, the ingredients I choose are the best brands…. actual plants. If it’s a fougere, then I have either used imported Venezuelan tonka bean absolute, or I’ve hand-tinctured the beans myself and/or combined them. My vanilla is tinctured from … you guessed it, planifolia beans. Cocoa? And once again…. dem magic beans. Murraya Paniculata, Ylang Ylang, Frangipani blossom tinctures create the cordial for many of my florals, and I only select the highest grade absolutes and essentials. I choose best grade because I want best smell.
When I pick up my old red bottle of Samsara, I am sensorily excited by the idea of Samsaran romance and the sassy crimson glass, but then I quickly put it down again. I suddenly remember the feeling of indigestion I get from the synthetic sandalwood in its dry-down phase. It clutches me around the throat and won’t let go. Shudder.
I only want the heady, exotic kiss of Jasminum Grandiflorum and Santalum Album, the flesh of Rosa Damascena trigintipetala, the full force of living trees and roots and lichens and fruits and flowers. I don’t want expensive ‘just-likes…’.
I realise there are zillions of people who may eschew my range with crinkled noses. “eew, it smells like dirt“. I agree. Dirt and wind and rain and sunlight and fire and oceans and rivers and dust and the shimmering scent of life celebrated by gloriously beautiful blooms. There is even a fragrant place for decay and desolation as well as the wonder of renewal and rebirth and the rainbow of organismic splendour… on the grass.
I have some stock of almost every fragrance I’ve composed, some in large quantities and some in very short supply. I stand behind each and every one with total belief in its goodness, it’s rightness (all except Juniper Bay which I can’t stand, but a few others seem to like it). Ultimately I aim to retain an archive of the full range, but I’m happy to supply those 9 like-minded brethren with my natural perfume wares until the end of my days. I believe that many exquisite things in our natural world are leaving. I intend to cling on to the wonder of perfume created from natural essences until all my strength is gone.
– top photo taken By Steve Reinthal ©2006