February 25, 2012

On the first day she said

There is no other way to describe spring’s arrival in the Swedish capital than… shy. From an olfactory perspective you can feel it approaching as the air gets softer and sweeter. In the evening though it smells of Baltic winds and gravel. Hard and cold. But there is a scented cure for everything. Some time ago I received a collection of samples from Kilian and they have been waiting for their occasion ever since. The occasion is now. My plan is to go through them, one per day, and share my reflections with you. By the time I reach the eleventh one maybe spring will be here.

Kilian Hennessy, for those of you who are not familiar with this brand and man, is a perfume creator who is also the grandson of the founder of the LVMH group. This of course is not irrelevant, he was brought up in a family dedicated to cognac and early in life encountered the phrase ”angels’ share”, a term used to describe the percentage that for unknown reasons evaporates from cognac cellars. This was one of the things that led Kilian towards perfumery.

After writing a thesis on the semantics of odours he trained alongside the noses of Dior, Paco Rabanne, Armani and Alexander McQueen before eventually (2007) creating his own brand. I am an admirer. The fragrances are exquisite and the perfume house takes much more devoted care of its brand and fans than most competitors. Just look at the website, it is pure dedicated seduction.

So, back to my 11 Days With Kilian. Fragrance number one.

I have been wearing it for a couple of hours now and it is an adventure of the mind. It is sophisticated but has that dark side twist that all Kilian fragrances have. All kinds of associations come to mind… ceremonies or rituals. Druids? Yes, it sounds crazy I know but try hearing an aria from Norma in the back of your head. It is ceremonial in a very sensual carnal way, a mix of incense and leather. Some moments I can’t feel it on my skin anymore and I wonder where it went, then I make a slight movement and there it is. But like the scent of someone standing behind me rather than my own.  Spiritual. It is the scent of a temple. Perhaps not a physical one out of stone with pillars, but rather the one inside of you. 

Unfortunately, I am not sure this is a fragrance for me. It seduces me but it is not ”mine”. Fortunately... I had an instant association with someone else. And I think this could be a scent for that person. We will see.

February 24, 2012

Rites of beauty: Camille Goutal

"Growing up, she would make me smell everything - newspapers, flowers, the earth and grass. It was a general training to make me aware of what was around me, rather than to learn specific notes."

Just recently I wrote this post on scents and memory. I am deeply fascinated by the power of scents to create and recreate feelings, to enhance our perception and to guide us into the future as well as into the past. It is striking how many perfumers are children of perfumers, we should all learn from that. The awareness of scents and smells is something that we learn when we are children. The confidence to trust and cherish our senses is one of the most important things we can give a child. The encouragement to discover life and the world with all kinds of curiosity.

Yesterday I read Mandy Aftel's story about her mother's mink and Joy. Today I found this story from Camille Goutal, daughter of Annick Goutal.

February 23, 2012

Two perfumers' minds: Interview with Mandy Aftel by Dana El Masri

If your soul connects to scents you have to read this, every word. Promise me. This interview, from The Perfume Magazine with Mandy Aftel by Dana El Masri is a masterpiece. The answers describe the beauty and infinity and sensuality of scents so well. Mandy Aftel's answers paint the big painting, and at the same time describe details in the most beautiful way. Now you already know from my previous posts that I am a big Mandy Aftel-fan. I am fascinated by her way of representing the finest things about scent creation while also making this world accessible to many others. Her book, Essence & Alchemy: A Natural History of Perfume, for example is perhaps the No 1, intro course globally for anyone interested in learning more about perfume. This combination between artistry and guidance in itself is extra-ordinary. But what makes Mandy Aftel so interesting is her devotion to natural ingredients which makes her creations even more seductive and exquisite. All this you can read more about on Afteliers website.

But this interview is not only about Mandy. You can sense immediately when looking at the questions that they are asked by someone who truly gets...feels...this topic. The questions are precise, sublime and they lead the reader to a magic place where you can understand a professional's fascinating process of creating perfumes. So I was not suprised, but enchanted to find out more about Dana El Masri at the end, and I hope to encounter her name many many more times.

Dana El Masri is an aspiring perfumer and scent blogger. When Dana first opened the pages of Tom Robbins’ classic “Jitterbug Perfume”, she knew she had found her calling - to create authentic and whimsical perfumes. Since then Dana worked at the niche fragrance house, L’Artisan Parfumeur and decided to pursue her dreams further at the Grasse Institute of Perfumery in France. During her studies, Dana’s recreation of the scent of luxury was chosen as the winning scent of the year. Her personal collection blends melodies of the past and the present through scent and music - crafting a playful symphony of fragrances. Now back in Montreal, Dana continues to grow and evolve as an aspiring perfumer while sharing her love for music, culture and scent on her blog

Thank you to you both, Mandy and Dana for this precious rendering of things that are not easy to capture with words. You both gave me an injection of inspiration and bedazzlement, and the story you tell together just captures it all so very very well. 

February 19, 2012

Bespoken life.

One of the most beautiful and enchanting persons I know, fashion journalist and author Karin Falk, had a birthday party yesterday. A party that was the perfect reflection of herself and her unique mesmerizing blend of sweetness, elegance, charm, style and... magic sparkle. If I one day (wishing) have some kind of perfume-making in my life she is one of the first persons I would want to make a bespoke perfume for.

Happy birthday magic person 

The party in itself was beautiful. For me, it was also pure ego-bliss as I spent most of the evening talking about perfume with Anders and David. I hope they were not painfully overwhelmed by my neverending discourses. I can't help it. Standing in that kind of setting, surrounded by all these Karin-kind-of-people, with fantastic playlists in the background and a candlelit cake-vaganza and neverending champagne...and then these two men ask me about perfume... It is almost too much. My heart went all...well, like this:

Photo by fellow party guest Karin Jacobsen

The conversation revolved around a new perfume for Anders. Anders is special so his perfume has to be also of course. He is one of the stars of Diablo Swing Orchestra, a band that creates music made of this world, other worlds and everything in between. Listen to the song A Tapdancer's Dilemma, you will understand, this man obviously cannot have just some "nice perfume". David, works at Swedish fashion brand Acne and his girlfriend wore a striking red folded envelope/clutch-ish pièce de conversation handbag that he had chosen for her. He was also totally in the zone when it comes to perfume talk. Isn't that just a really great quality in people?

So. Now I am looking for a special scent. Masculine but young, something that captures unusual width of heart and depth of soul. Warm but with integrity. Soft but strong. Solid but with a charming twist. Poetic but sharp. Infinite but present. Present but free. It will include amber, neroli and wood notes. Also definitely bergamot. And then something else... Animalistic notes for sure, but not sure which one. As you understand this is a challenge that I embrace with great enthusiasm.

I wish all parties in my life were like Karin's party. I wish all days in my life included searching for someones scent.

Life is bespoken. Cherish the people that remind you of that.