The Elements of Scent-Dry

dryDry is a word we don’t often associate with perfume and it might mean something different to different people. I mean that it is not flowery, it is not candy sweet, and it is a slightly bitter scent. Hatshepsut comes to mind from my collection, it is a scent based on galbanum, an element which I think of as the soul of dryness. It is beautiful but you would never be tempted to put it in your mouth. Boozy note add a dry element as well mostly because of the sour/bitter thought they conjure up.

A huge component of the idea of “dry” is that the scent has no sweetness of flowers (i.e. honeysuckle, rose, lily, lilac, or any of the sweet flowers). It can have no aquatic/ozone notes. There should be no hint of the gourmand scents (like candy scents) or fruity notes. I also think that a crystalline musk is a very dry element.

In the current collection, Mona Lisa is a great example of a dry perfume.

Hop over to Possets and take a look at our brand new Yule listing for 2015. There are representatives from each of the scent families and it’s just fun going through the list of perfumes on offer. This year our Yule theme is Portraits and we are offering free shipping on all orders through December. Now is the time to stock up and give your gifts (we always have a great presentation, perfect for gift giving right out of the shipping envelope! Http:www.possets.com

The Elements of Scent-Chypre/Fougere

chypreA well loved classic which few people know anything about, the blend called Chypre is actually named after the island of Cyprus where the original idea emerged. Europe went wild for a new perfume they had never smelled before and it came from dealers on Cyprus. It was a combination of bergamot, labdenum, and oakmoss and smelled ever so much better than the straight up essential oils which the good people of Europe had been using as perfume. Complex, dark and elemental, Chypre took the West Countries by storm and soon they were producing their own version of this item.There is some magic which happens between the two foundation elements in a good chypre, and a lot of it depends on the quality of those ingredients. I have tried chypres which just did not make the grade even though their elements were of the best sort, and I have tried chypres which were divine with great elements, too. Depends on a lot of factors, if the perfume works or not.

Chypres can be dressed up quite a bit, with citrus or leather top notes, floral tops, resins, patchouli, or amber. It is a very versatile category.  Out of all the places which are renowned for chypres, France has to be the most famous. They were the source of such blockbuster perfumes as: Bandit, Cabochard, Mitsouko, and Femme.

A hallmark of the 20th century, chypres fell out of the public preference when aggressive musks and candy sweet scents came along. With the simulacra of fragrances, novelty made chypre seem “old fashioned” and quaint. That started in the 1980s and here, about 40 years later, chypre is re-introduced to a new generation which sees it as being a break from the oh, so expected sharp musk and fruity scents. Chypre does deserve its place among the perfume families and so it is back with a vengeance. I say hooray. One of my favorite chypres is a blend I made and named Sorrow; it’s a classic into which I have inserted a good deal of galbanum. It’s named after a character in a Thomas Hardy novel.

Fougere is a member of the chypre family, too. A fougere is the combination of oakmoss, lavender, and coumarin. I think there is a similarity between that and chypre due to the oakmoss base which is uncommon in other sorts of perfume blends. One of the most famous fougeres (which you never knew was one) was Gillette Foamy shaving cream’s fragrance! It was a beautiful fougere and highlighted the fact that it is considered a man’s sort of scent.

Fougere Royale was first made by Houbigant and it was rumored to be the first perfume which used artificial ingredients as the coumarin (vanilla scent) in it had been manufactured in the lab! It was said to have been presented to the French Empress Eugenie, who was the supreme taste maker for her generation. Her approval signaled the beginning of the rage for artificial scent which persists to this day.

And, the term fougere means fern in French, and refers to the fact that this fragrance is very much like the scent of dried ferns. My perfume, Landscape in Suffolk is a fougere and one of a modern type which still carries the unmistakable traces of the genre.

Hop over to Possets and take a look at our brand new Yule listing for 2015. There are representatives from each of the scent families and it’s just fun going through the list of perfumes on offer. This year our Yule theme is Portraits and we are offering free shipping on all orders through December. Now is the time to stock up and give your gifts (we always have a great presentation, perfect for gift giving right out of the shipping envelope! Http:www.possets.com

The Elements of Scent-The Aquatics

The Aquatics

The Aquatics

Few people are neutral about the classification of perfume known as “aquatics”. They have a sea-like tang about them which might not be what you expect from a perfume.They are usually “cleaner” and not at all spicy/resinous/sweet. So, this is a group of perfumes reserved for mavericks in general.

They were practically non-existent until Issey Miyake came out with his blockbuster, Eau d’Issey. It was the soul of aquatic and became the darling of taste-makers everywhere. This was the 1990s and overnight the “old” perfumes became out. This strong and slightly aggressive type was in every collection from Guerlain to Demeter, everyone wanted to smell like the sea.

And what gave the “aquatics” their characteristic fragrance base? In most cases it was the use of  a compound called calone. Calone is supposed to be the scent of the pheremones of the brown algae. This makes perfect sense. I am sure that our ancestors perked up when they smelled the mating “call” of one of the most common of all plants. Must have signaled food and comfort. Calone is frequently described as having a melon odor and I think an argument can be made for its having a cucumber fragrances. Think about it, both of those vegetables have a very high water content.

I have a great deal of fun coming up with aquatics, mainly because I never liked them and decided to create a form of aquatic that I did like. Maryland (one of the perfumes “about” an American state) is a classic aquatic from Possets, but I managed to bend that prim seashore edge until it was much more interesting and merged with a true perfume vibe. It’s one of my favorites, and I never thought I would say that about an aquatic! I have done that with Michigan, Custance, and The Shipman. All of them have been VERY successful, and that is in a collection which features loads of vanilla (that perennial top-seller).

Pick of a sample of one of my aquatics and see for yourself. You could even write in the comments section that you want a sample pack of 6 and you want me to pick them out for you!

Hop over to Possets and take a look at our brand new Yule listing for 2015. There are representatives from each of the scent families and it’s just fun going through the list of perfumes on offer. This year our Yule theme is Portraits and we are offering free shipping on all orders through December. Now is the time to stock up and give your gifts (we always have a great presentation, perfect for gift giving right out of the shipping envelope! Http:www.possets.com

The Elements of Scent

meltbabyYou have heard of the Elements of Style, I think we are due for a tour around the Elements of Scent. We have not evolved a scent vocabulary or grammar yet, and I think that is a pity. This might be because everyone smells things in a different way, or that scent is not as easily classified as color is. But I suspect that no one really tried to make scent into a logical progression of things in an orderly way, like the Periodic Table of the Elements based on atomic weight.

There are a lot of ways we could approach this task: by sweet to tart, from natural to man-made, from old to new. I think that doing it as a family might be a good way to approach this initially. I don’t mean to be weighty about it, and there is no chemistry test you are going to have to take at the end of it, but let’s take a trip through the scent neigborhood and see what is where. It might surprise you and you might find out a thing or two. I am going to follow the Possets “Scent By Note” list on my website. And the first one of the families is: Aquatics. Stay tuned, this is going to get interesting.

In the meantime, hop over to Possets and take a look at our brand new Yule listing for 2015. There are representatives from each of the scent families and it’s just fun going through the list of perfumes on offer. This year our Yule theme is Portraits and we are offering free shipping on all orders through December. Now is the time to stock up and give your gifts (we always have a great presentation, perfect for gift giving right out of the shipping envelope! Http:www.possets.com

Bad Lavender Is Bad…

janusangelsWe all love lavender, but for the love of Pete…PLEASE stop with the amateur lavender blends made by professionals. Please. There is nothing in the world as cloying as a badly made lavender blend, and it is subtle and revolting. Let me explain.

Two nights ago I was at a Black Friday sale at about 11 p.m. I was standing in line by a display of Obsession and all its spin-offs. There was one for men and I thought I would try it out and see if my husband would like it. I sprayed it on, and here is the “magic” of bad lavender. At first I was charmed, but this sensation was quickly followed by stomach turning revulsion. I wiped my hand off and hoped I would not get the nausea I usually get when I encounter Bad Lavender. This was Bad Lavender.

Most people think of lavender as being one of the eternally upbeat and healthy elements of smell. No, it’s not. If you are using a substandard type of lavender (and there are a million grades of it from a plethora of places) it can be just about the most disgusting stuff you can smell. So, inferior grade is a big culprit, probably the biggest one. Counter intuitively, I find that the lavenders which tend to cumarin (vanilla) scents are the most tolerable, and those which tend to the middle area (between vanilla and turpentine) to be the least.

There are times when I have smelled someone’s earnest attempt at perfumery, especially Natural perfumery, and they are always experimenting with lavender and they always seem to make the same perfume. It carries the same characteristics: really nice at first followed by a ghastly turn off. It can be great mixed with: pepper, vanilla, sandalwood, and the like but look out….it can go bad really quick. To be fair, as I have alluded to, even the big perfume houses make a dreadful concoction at times, and I suspect that it is due to inferior ingredients or even using artificial lavender scent/simulacra. Ew, just ew.

So, I am convinced, lavender is one place you don’t want to skimp. Actually, perfumery is not the place for bargain basement things which twist your hard won recipes into a mess within 2 minutes. It is 100% about how your brain perceives it but the goodness of the components have a lot to do with that.

Possets is famous for its wonderful lavender blends. Yes, we start with excellent ingredients, but we have had more than just a bit of experience, and it shows. Come on over for a visit and take a look for yourself. There is a “scent by note” link you can click on the left hand side of the screen and bring up all our delightful lavender blends. I think you will be pleased. Http://www.possets.com

Going Back To The One You Love…

Madame X of course. Recently I got a yen to smell a favorite perfume of mine from long ago, Or Noir by Pascal Morabito. Much to my delight I found that a site sold it. With some fear, I paid my money and ordered it. The bottle looked legit and it arrived last night from France.

I opened it up and the bottle was indeed right, I took of the top and sprayed it. Here is where the strange things happened. It was Or Noir, all the notes were there and the whole thing but it was now composed of several accords which came and went with some pleasure and some puzzlement. That never happened with Or Noir before, which was as tight as it could be, no accords peeling off and commanding your attention for 10 seconds before they turned into something very ordinaire. Then I had to say that it was Or Noir, and something insinuated that it was something far better than Or Noir, and I must believe it! For a moment I chased that thing, it was beautiful in a cheap and modern way, in a contrived way. Then it vaporized and I was left with something like a uni-dimensional Or Noir, a changeling which looks like the original but you know in your soul it is different.

This stuff was strong and it’s life cycle is tremendous. I think that to get it out of my jacket, I will have to burn the jacket! I reeked of Or Noir all night long, through my sleep, and as I staggered in to drink my coffee this morning. It had gone from an imitation of my old friend to an acquaintance who had vastly overstayed their welcome.

What went wrong? The European Union has waged war on perfumers. Some of the most benign ingredients have been declared off limits by the EU and cannot be used by perfumers, one of those is patchouli (thought to make the wearer more sensitive to sunlight…thought to be, by whom I do not know), and there are lots of others. In order to make up for this ghastly loss, there are several “green” chemical companies who are trying to simulate or duplicate the smells which are now “off limits”. Good luck with that. It never works. Honestly, you can get close to duplicating something like patchouli, but you are not going to make it exact, and even if you do, the resulting mix with anything else is at best unpredictable. So, if patchouli mixes well with a Bulgarian lavender, fake patchouli might not combine so well because it is not the same chemical mix.

Then, there is the ugly reality that when an perfume first comes out, the maker is glad to add expensive ingredients to it as the sales will be brisk. It’s new, it’s fresh, it’s different and so money is lavished on it! But once it is new no longer, the cheapskates march in and substitute more cost effective fake jasmine for real, rose for real, and whatever special accord now becomes something far more bargain priced.

Alas, that is why we are bereft of some of the best perfumes ever made. My greatest loss is Mitsouko by Guerlain. I tried it, it’s hot asphalt now. I will never buy it again.

These are the things which force a woman to become a perfumer, my friends.

Oh, and the voting is over at Possets. Zombie, Min-Min, and Ouija are the winners. The others stay around for a short time, so catch them now! No overlap. See for yourself.

Coming Blog Post

sample6blackI am going to be writing a very difficult blog post about one of my most deeply felt points in perfumery. I hope you tune in for this. I recently bought a bottle of Or Noir by Pascal Morabito and realized something quite profound. It didn’t make me happy but it certainly sobered me up. So, stay tuned. The piece does have something in it for everyone.

Fondly, Fabienne from Possets Perfume

The New Slider On My Blog

Now you can enjoy a slide show on my blog! Here is a nifty exhibition of the latest packaging, photos done by Master Photographer John Engleman, Professor at Antonelli College here in Cincinnati. He is a wizard with product shots, and has made my Possets really sing through his expertise. Just click on the first image for the show. Click anywhere on it to return to this post.

While your at it, don’t forget to pick up your favorites from Possets Perfume from the Halloween Collection. They are going to vanish around Black Friday and there will be no overlap with Yule.

Perfumer in Belgrade

eid_03Fascinating story about a perfumer who is struggling and doing well. http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-34807225

Read it, it’s captivating.

DO, hop over to Possets for the wonderful Halloween perfumes in the Scent of Night Collection. See for yourself.

Wait For It!!!

sample6blackWe are getting our ingredients together to give to our Samples Lady to put together for you. These are the winners from the Halloween Collection which you just got through voting on. The Winners were: Zombie, Min-Min, and Ouija. Alas, I don’t have them put together yet and so won’t be able to let you ask for them until I get them back all assembled and ready to go. Sorry, but it takes a bit of doing to get that aspect of the business together. But, they are in process, and you have a zillion other possible sample to choose from now. I will announce when the new samples are ready for you. In the meantime, take a look at the last days of the Halloween collection and buy the ones you want now. They won’t be around forever and I am planning on taking them down on Black Friday. No overlap with the Yules, so get your Halloween Possets now. Fondly, Fabienne from Possets