Sunday, October 30, 2011

Guerlain Trunk Show

I live a mere 50 miles from San Francisco.  But it takes a bit of effort to get there and each visit has a special “Going-to-the-City” glow.    The Guerlain trunk show at Neiman Marcus, presented by Guerlain’s National Fragrance Beauty Director Marie Line Patry, was a California premier that added to the aura of yesterday’s visit.  

But let’s begin at the beginning.
The House of Guerlain is among the very few older houses that exist solely to produce and market perfumesFounded in 1828 by Pierre François Pascal Guerlain, the flagship store is still located at 68 Champs-Élysées.

Guerlain's second generation in-house perfumer Aimé Guerlain’s greatest composition was 1889's Jicky.

Jacques, Aimé's nephew, became Guerlain's third master perfumer; he was the author of many of Guerlain's most famous classics, Après L'Ondée (1906), L'Heure Bleue (1912), Mitsouko (1919), Vol de Nuit(1933), and Guerlain's flagship fragrance Shalimar (1925). Jacques composed his final perfume, Ode (1955), with the assistance of his grandson, the then-18-year-old Jean-Paul Guerlain.

In a decision widely seen as a break with tradition, the Guerlain family sold the company to the luxury goods conglomerate Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton (LVMH) in 1994. Jean-Paul Guerlain remained as an in-house perfumer until 2002 when he retired. Thierry Wasser was appointed the in-house perfumer in 2008. 

Guerlain Secrets . . .

·         What is “Guerlinade?”  Just as one can identify the origin of a great wine, or the composer of a symphony, so it is possible to identify Guerlain’s “trademark” fragrance. The olfactory signature for Guerlain is referred to as “Guerlinade,” which is composed of tonka bean, iris, rose, vanilla and jasmine.

·         The inspiration behind all of the Guerlain masterpieces?  A woman who was loved or admired.

·         In 1955 when Jean-Paul began his tutelage there were no schools or colleges dedicated to studying perfumery and the ISIPCA (International Higher Institute of Perfume, Cosmetics and Aromatic Foodstuffs) would only be created many years later by his father Jean-Jacques Guerlain in 1974. “In those days we did not routinely make fragrance ‘hearts’ like we do now – which saves us from having to recompose an entire formula when very slight modifications are made.”  In those days perfumery was done by working in a spontaneous way, with no marketing brief to follow and no constraints except those of the perfumer’s imagination.  “Fortunately our formulas are short and this is a characteristic I have retained,” once noted Jean-Claude  Guerlain.

·         The Guerlain philosophy of perfume is to allow the body and skin of the wearer to affect the fragrance, rather than the fragrance putting its smell upon the person.  “The body ‘perfumes the perfume,’” according to Marie Line Patry.  Patry also informs us that Guerlain perfumes continue to retain the classic vertical structure, as opposed to the horizontally constructed perfumes of some other companies. 

·         Mitsouko (1919): Named after the heroine of the novel La Bataille by Claude Farrère, Mitsouko is said to herald the ending of World. Due to a bottle shortage at the end of the war, it was marketed in an identical bottle to that of L'Heure Bleue.

GI’s took home the essence of Paris to their girlfriends, in bottles of Shalimar, Mitsouko, and L'Heure Bleue.

·         Some say that the concept for Mitsouko was originated by a mistake in blending caused by oakmoss being accidently included in the formula for Jicky.  But  Mitsouko could never have existed but for the discovery of aldehyde C14 in 1908.  And this would have been a great pity because this masterpiece paved the way for all the later fruity chypre perfumes.

Best of Show  
Voyeur, a stunning men’s fragrance that is both aromatic and herbal with a toned-down vanilla.Chypre Fouleil, very similar to Voyeur but with less vanilla.  And of course the classics Shalimar and Mitsouko

Here are the visuals of a fun afternoon.

Marie and Rich, testing Voyeur.  

Product Specialist Lana Lulis-Lou makes samples for us.

Matt says, “I’m taking the trunk to catch a red-eye back to New York.”

Monday, April 18, 2011

A TROPICAL ESCAPE By David Lincoln Brooks, Guest Writer

Welcome David!  And thank you for sharing your thoughts with our readers.

Here is what David has to say about our EnVoyage  NECTARS DES ÎLES and VENTS ARDENTS... 

Shelley Waddington of EnVoyage Perfumes has released the fifth and sixth perfume in her EnVoyage Odyssey Collection: NECTARS DES ÎLES and VENTS ARDENTS. In a novel fashion, Waddington has conceived of these two fragrances as "partners" in a his-and-hers fashion.

Composed by noted Purto Rican perfumer, Juan Manuel Perez, NECTARS DES ÎLES is a    feminine fragrance, and VENTS ARDENTS, by Waddington is its masculine concomitant. The two scents are marvelous and full enough on their own, but when layered together, they form a magical third scent which is more than the sum of their parts. With this symbolism, they are perfectly suited for weddings and vow renewals, where it is implied that the union of the bride and groom will become more than the sum of their parts.

The theme of these two fragrances is one of foreign, overseas discoveries... islands, sea-waves, sunshine, trade winds, tropical fruits, exotic woods and liquors, rare fragrant flowers. But each fragrance approaches the island theme in a different fashion:

NECTARS DES ÎLES, the feminine potion, opens with brilliant, green, tart, juicy citrus notes, laced with the waxen, chilly, pure brightness of Chinese Osmanthus... this sparkling tang, as it settles, reveals an enchanted bouquet of rare and costly tropical flowers: gardenia, tiare, plumeria, frangipani, supported by the somewhat duskier ylang-ylang, and fresh blooming jasmine. Undergirded by the most subtle base of sandalwood from Vanuatu, Tahitian vanilla and fresh, transparent musks, NECTARS DES ÎLES is a fresh, sparkling, intoxicating love potion knowing no equal.

The official pyramid:

A Modern White Floral

Top Notes: Wild Oranges, Mandarin, Green Citron, Osmanthus Nectar
Heart Notes: Fresh Gardenia and Tiare petal accord, Absolutes of two frangipani species, Ylang Ylang and Jasmine auriculatum.
Base Notes: Sandalwood Absolute from Vanuatu, Tahitian Vanilla, Amber and Fine White Musks

The masculine partner of NECTARS DES ÎLES is the exotic,   delicious and mysterious VENTS ARDENTS.   

Its name suggests the burning winds blowing cargo-laden ships to their exotic journeys. A subtle and discreet perfume, VENTS ARDENTS is a rich blend of sea-blown delicacies... scrumptious notes of curacao and rum soak compote of tropical fruits... (Do we detect notes of sweet mango, granadilla and juicy melon?). This delectation is supported by warm, subtle florals suitable for a swashbucklingly masculine perfume: magnolia, heliotrope, and the "bulbiness" of French narcissus. Anchoring this delirium of seductive delights are masculine notes of tonka, amber, rich woods, vanilla and balsams, recalling and strengthening the kiss of toothsome fruits introduced earlier.

The official pyramid:

A Rustic Amber

Top Notes: Curacao, Wild Oranges, Bay Rum, a touch of Tropical Fruits
Heart Notes: Venezuelan Tonka Beans, Heliotrope, Magnolia, French Narcissus
Base Notes: Amber, Mahogany, Tobacco, Oak, Driftwood, Musky Vanilla, Balsams

NECTARS DES ÎLES is a most exuberantly feminine perfume, bearing the most costly extracts of rare petals, but there will some intrepid men out there who will undoubtedly find it an irresistible wear for themselves, especially in summer vacation months. VENTS ARDENTS is decidedly Unisex in mood, and many women and men will be quick to claim it as a favorite. In my own case, I have been much in the mood for a fruity which can be masculine; VENTS ARDENTS is my new favorite non-citrus focused fruity, and it will likely be my new summer favorite.

For a time,   EnVoyage  will be releasing a limited number of these exquisite tropical elixirs in exclusive "message in a bottle" flacons of delicate glass.   This limited release will be available on selected perfume blogs as complimentary gifts.   Keep an eye out for these collector’s items.

The engaged couples you know, planning their nuptials, simply could not receive a more appropriate, loving, tasteful, utterly one-of-a-kind gift...    Worn on their special day,   the fragrances will become inextricably part of the heady memories of the day, never to be forgotten.   Brides who especially love fragrance may insist that every bridesmaid and flower girl in her procession wear NECTARS;     and magical it will be if groom,   groomsmen and ringboy are spritzed with VENTS!

Please visit ENVOYAGE PERFUMES online for more information regarding this sensational, spirit-lifting duo.

Thank you again, David, for taking the time to evaluate our newest release. We wish you fair winds and following seas!

Photo Credits:
Couple on beach:
Sailing Ship:
Tropical Floral:

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Perfume Formulas, Part 1

FOUGERE, (pronounced foozsh-air) means "fern" in French.   This classic  perfume family is built on a base of lavender, coumarin, and oakmoss. Many men's fragrances belong to this family of fragrances, which is characterized by its fresh, sharp, herbaceous and woodland scent.  

Fougere Royale by Houbigant was made back in 1821, and Jicky by Guerlain came along a few years later.  

Here are some famous modern fougeres:

Faberge’s Brut, Caron’s Tabac Blond. Canoe by Dana, Clinique Wrappings, Kenzo Parfum d'Ete, Givenchy III.   Also Annick Goutal Eau d'Hadrien, O de Lancome, Yardley English Lavender. Paco Rabanne for Men, and Guy Laroche Drakkar Noir. The list would be incomplete without a mention of Davidoff Cool Water .

Although coumarin, is typically a synthetically laboratory produced material, the natural isolate is now available.  Both come in the form of white crystals.  Also, liatrix (deer’s tongue), sweetgrass, tonka bean, and vanilla contain enough of this sweet new mown hay/fresh field fragrance to be used successfully in an all natural blend.

The following is a very basic formula for a natural fougere base:
               Orange cold pressed oil 30
               Bergamot essential oil 75
               Labdanum resinoid 70
               Lavender essential oil 70
               Oakmoss absolute 50
               Vanillin natural isolate or Vanilla absolute 30

For those with access to aromachems, here is a formula for making a version of Fougere Royale:

Bergamot 120
Linalool 30
Lavender 70
Phenylacetaldehyde 10% 20
Methyl Salicylate 25
Phenylethyl Alcohol 60
Geranium 80
Ylang ylang 10
Anisic aldehyde 5
Oakmoss 50
Benzoin 50% 20
Labdanum resinoid 10
Patchouli 10
Vetiver 5
Amyl Salicylate 20
Coumarin 100
Heliotropine 30
Hydroxycitronellal 20
Musk* 60
Vanillin 5
Jasmine base** 100
*Musks used at the time were nitro musks. The modern perfumer can substitute with Ethylene Brassylate or any of the newer musks.
**Suggest Sampaquita, Hedione, or any of the newer jasmine bases.

Photo Attributions:


Wednesday, February 2, 2011

A Personal Invitation

As you’ve probably noticed, this blog is non-commercial, non-promotional, is not monetized in any way.

Certain things in the world affect my art and inspiration - I write about them to provide value to you, my readers, who now number nearly 500 perfumers, artisans, and fragrance lovers.

Today I am making an exception, because I’ve found a way to bestow a small gift.  Last week I wrote the following content for the blog Perfume Pharmer, and donated one of my perfumes for their drawing that will take place on Valentine’s Day.  Please follow the link, enjoy the article,  and  leave a message on the Perfume Pharmer.  That will enter you into the draw. 

Again, please follow the link, enjoy the article, and leave a message at the bottom to be entered into the draw.
Bonne chance!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Perfumer’s Alcohol

I am driving through the Siskiyou Mountains  at an elevation of 7500 feet (2200 meters), and it is snowing. Traffic has slowed to a stop. Getting over the summit between California and Oregon in time for my appointment is not going to happen. Rats.

My destination? Alchemical Solutions  in Ashland OR. I was hoping to buy some organic grape alcohol and to interview the master distiller, Peter Formosa. I call Aaron Glover, the CEO, on my cell to tell him I won’t be able to get there before he closes for the day. We reschedule our meeting for Saturday.

Small-scale micro-distilleries such as Alchemical Solutions produce high quality certified organic alcohol - in contrast to their large corporate competitors, they are more aligned with the long term values of sustainability.

It’s still snowing like crazy, but the roads are clear on Saturday. Peter drives out to open the shop and he welcomes me in for an informal tour. We begin our interview. “190 proof alcohol is made from organic corn or from grape wine”, he explains. “All phases of the production process - fermentation, distillation, packaging and shipping - are done according to strict organic guidelines. This is pharmaceutical grade alcohol that meets USP (United States Pharmacopeia) standards.”

“Fermenting is a simple metabolic process involving yeast and sugar” continues Formosa. “Although I remember once, as a beginner, when I overlooked one step and ended up with 1,000 gallons of polenta instead of fermented mash. That was an interesting day,” he chuckles.

Above: Peter Formosa and Shelley Waddington, during interview.
Below: The 1,000 gallon fermenters.

Below is the 55 gallon distillation unit and detail:

Above: Peter making adjustments during a distillation.
Below: Fermented mash prior to distillation.

I also learn that Alchemical Solutions delivers world-wide, but that most of their clients are located in the U.S.  “Our  primary clientele are herbal tincture makers,”  Peter informs me.   (Those are presumably the guys who buy those palettes of 55 gallon drums I see stacked up  - and I’m feeling pretty happy that they opened the doors for me and my little one gallon purchase.)

Shelley: “A lot of perfumers have questions about the various alcohols, Peter. Can you recommend a place for accurate information?”
Peter: “Our website provides the basics for people who want information about various proofs and percentages, denatured and undenatured alcohol, taxable and non-taxable alcohol, liquid extracts, kosher ethanol, you name it.  We even have a couple recipes  on there as well."

My hearty thanks to Aaren Glover, CEO and Peter Formosa, Master Distiller
I exclusively use their organic grape alcohol for all of my natural perfumes, for over 10 years.
They provide an excellent price and a superior product that supports organic farming and sustainable values.

They drove through the snow and opened their doors to me on a snowy day.

Neither Snow Nor Rain Nor Gloom Of Night…

"Neither snow, nor rain, nor heat, nor gloom of night stays these courageous couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds" was said about 2500 years ago by the Greek historian, Herodotus. He said this adage during the war between the Greeks and Persians about 500 B.C. in reference to the Persian mounted postal couriers whom he observed and held in high esteem.  I think Herodotus would’ve esteemed Aaron and Peter too.

Shelley Waddington
Ashland, Oregon, Winter 2010