August 22, 2013

Another day in olfaction paradise

We learn so many things every day... Every morning we smell ten paper strips with raw material like a test, we have to tell what is on the strip. Rosey is not rose. Rose is oil or absolute and it comes from Grasse, Turkey or Bulgaria. In this room life gets so many nuances. It moves me. Some raw materials appear similar in our minds - then we get them on separate strips at the same time and we understand exactly. The contrasts between naturals and synthetics are extra-ordinary. Something we think that we know and know in a certain way, like a blackcurrant, has so much depth and darkness and beautiful strangeness.

Fir balsam, childhood memories.

Everyday new raw materials are added to our collection. We talk about our associations to them. Our memories. Today I had a moment where a raw material I had never smelled separated suddenly catapulted me back to my childhood in my grandparents home as I was reminded of wood shavings. We have different references and different terminology and this creates a really rewarding atmosphere.

Oh and vetiver... Every day with vetiver is a better day.

Tomorrow we are going to visit the jasmine fields. But first I have to take control over my notes. And sleep.

I cannot wait to wake up so I can go smell things again.

Moon over Grasse.

August 19, 2013


Picked some on the way home with a lovely new friend from the course after she told me that in her family in Spain they always picked fresh jasmine to have in the bedroom during a warm night because it smells amazing. Now my room smells amazing.

"Everything is important"...

...our teacher Laurence keeps reminding us of this and I love it every time.

I am in Grasse for a two-week course at Grasse Institute of Perfumery, GIP. Actually I started this trip three years ago when I wrote to the school to ask if there were places available. I didn't go then, life took a different path and led to me to other priorities. But now I am here and today was the first day. We are eleven students from all over the world and with different perspectives on perfume which creates a very interesting setting for discussions. And we have Laurence, I could not imagine a better teacher.

We spent a big part of the day smelling separate notes from different olfactive categories and Laurence told us how they are used, practical significant things like prices and how they affect creation and gave us fantastic insight into the work of a perfumer. We also looked at the differences between naturals and synthetics, this was absolutely fascinating. Both to hear about strengths and weaknesses with both and to compare by smelling.

No matter how much one reads and thinks and smells perfumes there is nothing that can substitute the enormous privilege of having a real lab with so many notes of such quality to discover separately. This is such a luxury. I cannot wait for tomorrow. As Laurence says, "At 9 o'clock we smell".

I will share more with you during these next two weeks, I am just so overwhelmed today that I do not know where to start. I don't know how many of you reading this have had the experience of brining out a private passion into the spotlight and just doing it, making it concrete, booking that thing you dream about doing and going there. It is a sacred experience. I feel privileged that I can do this and grateful for being here.

To be continued... I leave you with some photos from yesterday and today and wish you whatever it is that you need - money, confidence, support, timing or other - to follow your inner dream and let it take you to really special moments in your life. Sometimes it is closer than we think.

A special thanks to Clayton at What Men Should Smell Like (is there any perfume blog better than this!?)  for some much appreciated preparation support.


Bought some old perfume posters in the old town.

Very motivated student!

The luxury of all this there to discover...
There is a shop here with only vintage flacons...