One thing you have to be able to do when you are a perfumer is…to make perfume. Now I had collected lots of things which were needed to make perfume, I had been an aromatherapy lover for years BUT there is a big difference between aromatherapy and perfuming: one is for your wellbeing only and the other is aesthetic only. I have not loved everything I have smelled in aromatheraputic circles, it’s never a turn off but it isn’t meant to be the good smelling stuff.
Perfume is strange, subjective, vague, overwhelming, unscripted, hard to classify, and without a popular vocabulary. It’s almost as if you can’t talk about perfume because it defies words, as if the right side of your brain rules the subject and will not bow to the logical superiority of the left side of brain. Not. Nope. If you can’t really talk about it, you have a far harder time learning it and explaining it. You have to come up with your own ideas of harmony, your personal paths where you walk when you want to create.
I was fascinated with the “foody” perfumes which were so popular in the early 2000s. They seemed magical to me. Thierry Mugler’s Angel broke into mainstream perfuming in such a decisive way that it created a separate category of fragrance! Some people thought it an abomination but nothing takes the heretic into the sanctum sanctorum as swiftly as success and within 10 years Dior was ruining the dry classic Miss Dior by dumping some sweet strawberry concoction into it and trying to ride the gourmandy wave. Angel had changed the landscape, and I loved it.
There were other perfumers who were taking totally non traditional paths, the most successful was Demeter and I adored them. They created simulachra forEverything from cut grass to sugar cookies, clean laundry to dirt out of the potting soil bag. They were so bold and their concepts were damned creative. Their perfumes never seemed to last, though. They were all ethereal top note, full of the punch and buzz of the concept but then *poof* gone. Layering, using oil, soaking a cotton ball in it and putting it in my bra, nothing worked. I was scent free and bewildered within 5 minutes of each application. Oh, the agony of the dedicated scent lover!
So, I went looking for ingredients, mixed my own building blocks, fiddled with things to make perfume last and to amplify it. Most importantly, I learned about the parts of a perfume where one thing has a part which reminds me of another. That was when I really started to “get it”. So, when I was creating Issota and Sigismundo, I found that there was something in sandalwood which reminded me of…banana! I put that unlikely combo together and was immediately gratified. It worked, and worked so well that there were several other components which found their way into the bottle and made that perfume what it is. It is unique, harmonious, mind grabbing, and classy at the same time. I still sell a lot of it and for good reason.
There were times when I “got it” before. The first time was with Silver Violets, one of my still favorite scents, it was when I created the harmony. There was nothing in it which did not belong, and it would not have been good without every single one of the ingredients. That is the formula for a good piece of graphic design, and it holds especially true for perfume, even if the vocabulary is different.
This is the first in a series of essays about the origins of Possets Perfume. It is written to go with the Retour event which is going on now at Possets where Fabienne, the perfumer, re releases all of the perfumes she has ever made for two weeks. All of the scent which was in past seasonal collections can be re bought and stocked up now. It is being sold in 6, 10, 15, and 30 ml bottles so you can keep yourself in your favorite Posset forever. Go there and see for yourself!