Have you ever felt that
progression has eaten itself?
Or wished you’d been born into a different land or a different time?
This is what I feel when confronted with the mainstream perfumery.
When I think about what perfumery has become, I see that so many of its most beautiful facets have been lost. The modern day mainstream perfumery business is a mulit-billion dollar global get-up. It has become a crazy money making machine that has traded true beauty, luxury and romance for cash. And we happily comply and happily keep the system going with our scent obsessions.
Our sense of smell is the least understood of all our senses. What we do know is that whether it be for ourselves, or to affect others, we love to find a particular fragrance that gives us a memorable emotional experience. In more romantic terms if we find the right scent, it can take us to places that are far beyond the realm of words.
Scent triggers memories from the past or promises to create the memories of the future. Either or both is irresistibly appealing to us. It has always been so and always will be so.
Aromatic oils have been used by women since ancient times for their own pleasure and for the effect their scent has on others.
Scent has always played a key part in attraction, seduction and romance.
Women anointed themselves with precious and luxurious aromatic oils to enhance certain aspects of their femininity and the essence of themselves – whether it is elegant, mysterious, sexy, powerful, energetic or captivating. In ancient Egypt, where the colourful history of aromatics began, essential oils were as precious and treasured as gold, silver and gem stones. They were only available to holy men (for ritual) and the wealthy (for pleasure).
Back then aromatic oils or perfumes were made all from natural ingredients, because there was no other way….
As time passed and essential oils were traded with the Far East and then moved into Greece and Rome, the love of aromatics and perfumes became very widespread. It seems that no-one could resist the attraction of being beautifully scented for one reason or another.
France at the time of The Revolution was an outrageously stinky era and the town of Grasse (where leather gloves were made) began scenting the leather to mask the stench of the urine that was used to soften it. The scenting of leather gloves became so popular that the people of Grasse began farming lavender, jasmine and other aromatic plants for the oils they could distil. This was the beginning of a nation, led by its King, obsessed with being perfumed. And this is how and why and where the perfume industry really took it’s foothold. French perfumers used natural aromatics to custom make perfumes for ladies and gentlemen. They copied each other and dreamed up new and beautiful all natural perfumes that were outrageously expensive. Perfumers were alchemists, taking raw materials, extracting the aromatic components and then blending them together to make natural perfumes that drove the French gentry wild. And that was the beginning of perfumery as we know it today…
The perfume industry today is sad state of affairs compared to it’s natural, romantic and at times amusing beginnings. No longer are perfumes made from natural ingredients. Mainstream perfumery mostly utilises ‘aroma-chemicals’ knocked up by chemists in a lab.
There are over 500 aroma-chemicals available to perfumers today. I don’t argue the skill level of the worlds top noses’…. I argue that the perfumes they create lack a certain beauty, integrity, heart, soul and energy that an all natural perfume possesses, simply because they are a concoction of toxic man-made aroma-chemicals. There’s no escaping that fact.
Where’s the romance gone?
Chemists have become extremely skilled at creating complex chemical concoctions to mirror the scent of their natural counterparts, because it’s cheaper. Aroma chemicals aren’t seasonal so there is never a supply and demand problem. And they are not labour intensive to produce (No posse of rural flower pickers with woven baskets going out after dark to harvest night jasmine blooms at the height of their scent going on here)
That’s why they are cheap.
So tempted to add ‘and nasty’.
But I won’t. I shouldn’t…
Oopsies – I just did….
The work is carried out in a sterile and completely unnatural laboratory environment. In any mainstream perfume, some of the ingredients are disclosed to the consumer and some are not. Some of the ingredients are known to be safe, some are known to be unsafe and some have not been tested adequately to know what the true effect over time is.
The end result is tested on animals before being deemed safe enough to go on shop shelves.
As a natural perfumer I take a stance against the mainstream perfume industry. Call me mad, call me crazy, but I just can’t see the beauty and romance and luxury in wearing a concoction of toxic chemicals.
Somewhere, somehow a major part of the beauty, romance and luxury
that perfumery stands for
has been lost in the name of progress.
Natural perfumery is an art practised by few. The process of creating is long and beautiful and the perfumer becomes naturally, quietly and deeply immersed. If I’m honest, like most long creative processes, at times it can be painstaking and not always a pleasure – even a labour of love.
So picture in your mind if you will, my lab (or workshop for want of a better word). Probably similar to the lab of any small time natural perfumer….
You’ll find the french doors are open, the sound of the wind whispering in the banana palms and my chooks contentedly scratching in the mulch below floats in, along with sunshine.
All natural perfumery ingredients are essential oils and absolutes from around the world. I have chosen them all for their superior fragrance qualititis and they are housed in little dark bottles, some needing to be gently warmed in order to be pourable. Tiny empty bottles lined up in handmade wooden stands that are themselves fragrant from years of spillage, are ready to be hand filled by me with my pipette.
My workshop quickly becomes naturally and deliciously fragrant when I’m pouring oils. It has never been cleaned with a disinfectant, only with hot water, earth friendly detergent and eucalyptus oil.
My ‘lab’ occasionally has children playing in it, and if I need a break,
I usually pick up my guitar from it’s stand in the corner and sing…
Creating with beautiful all natural ingredients is good for my heart and soul.
Creating with natural ingredients
honours my femininity
and my connection to the earth.
When I’m pouring oils I feel that my energy goes into each little bottle of aromatic potion. Like food that is cooked with love….The palette of natural ingredients available to the perfumer these days is extensive and the scope of what is possible to create, broad.
Natural perfumery has a luxurious pleasure about it that comes from working with such beautiful aromatic materials. Some of the oils are rare, costly and need to be hunted down. The prices fluctuate, sometimes wildly, because the harvest abounds. Or is pitiful. Depending on the weather, which as yet, thankfully we cannot control.
These are no lab created synthetics.
They are the essence, the life force
of plants and trees.
They carry within them
the earth, wind, rain and sun.
THIS is why the wearer of an all natural perfume enjoys a perfume experience that has an intimacy about it that will never be achieved with the use of synthetics.
As a natural perfumer, I call in and honour the ancient traditions of natural perfumery and invite you to join me. In doing so you will find yourself absorbing the real luxury, beauty and romance of perfumery….