September 26, 2006

Ajne

Last Friday I went to Bendels to check out the Ajne trunk show. Seems that Bendels has decided to make a point of showcasing fine natural perfumes. Ajne is run by a husband and wife team from Carmel, California, where they have a shop, and they produce natural perfumes and other products such as fragrance for the home, body, face and bath. Jane Hendler has training and certification as an aromatherapist and an herbalist, and deliberately designs the fragrances with purpose to affect the mental and physical systems and states. They have their own large farm where they grow lavender and other plants for use in their products. The fragrances are fairly classical as to type, a rose floral blend, a oriental spice, a citrus, a chypre, about nineteen in all, including a subset specifically designed for mothers. They have a following among Hollywood celebrities and also make bespoke fragrances, and modify their created perfumes for specific enhancement on a personal basis. My favorite of their line was Savoir, an oriental that has a reverse dry down from intensely woody into floral. They also offer special flacons that are made of tinted bohemian crystal mounted with silver and gold that are very fine. They use a very high percentage of essential oil and everything is natural. There is an aura of the glamorous side of Calfornia, which seems like it has become our version of France, with the vinters, the chefs, the perfumers and what seems to us in the driven East Coast to be a hedonistic more leisurely attention to the consumption of the finer things in life. When mixing all this along with the climate and the money for luxury generated by the entertainment and computer industries based there, it has become one of our central magnets for beauty and brains.
Above is shown the scent bar at the Ajne Carmel shop. They offer a computerized analysis matching body chemistry to a formula for you. See www.ajne.com for more detailed ingredients lists.

6 comments:

Anya said...

Lucy, I'm so glad you made it to the show. Thank you for your lovely report, and thank you Bendels for being so supportive of natural perfumes. The Ajne shop must be a beautiful place, hope I get to visit someday. I'm going to post a link to this on my yahoo group today so that the members may learn more about Ajne.

Jennifer said...

For once a place on the west coast to visit as far as fragrances are concerned; I feel fragrance adventure beginning, I really have to visit this place in the near future.

Lucy said...

Carmel seems such a fairy tale place as it is, anyway....

chaya ruchama said...

This sounds very promising...
Maybe I need an excuse to visit my rather unpleasant relatives in Queens...

Actually, you New Yorkers are SO spoiled !
Carons, Aedes,Guerlains, Aftels, et al..[wags pedagogical forefinger in pseudo-threatening manner towards penitent and lovely Luccia] !

Sounds as if it was a wonderful show.

keren said...

Yes, the store is nice, but it seems that when you buy a product, what you pay for are the store location, the full pages of advertising in local glossy magazines and the huge ego-boosting marketing campaign behind Ajne, more than quality ingredients and real competence or experience. If Ms. Hendler was introducing herself as a perfumer, it would be fine. But does a three months training in an obscure aromatherapy school devoid of any serious credentials authorize someone to claim to be "one of the few Certified Master Essential Oil Therapists and Herbalists in the nation?" Where did she train as an herbalist? As a certified herbalist and acupuncturist, I would say that the whole thing smells really like
Californian hype for gullible people lacking discernment.

Lucy said...

Keren,
Obviously you are not a fan of Ajne.
In defense I must say that many great perfumers come from no formal training and have no formal credentials -- many of the most interesting, to my mind. (I am thinking of Serge Lutens and Christopher Brosius and others, and I believe Mandy Aftel started out as a self taught perfumer, tho now she gives classes herself). As to proper credentials in Natural Perfumery, I don't really know if that has been sorted out as of yet. Anya McCoy who I rely on for solid information about Natural Perfume made a point of telling me about this event at Bendel's, and suggested I meet with the perfumer and try the perfumes. As you know, the materials are beautiful and so the perfumes are beautiful. Price is another story. I think most perfumes are vastly vastly overpriced, but it is as you know because of advertising, packaging and promotion, and other costs that are necessary in order to bring a perfume before the market.
Aromatherapy is a different discipline altogether. Most alternative therapies still have no legal recognition of their credentials in the U.S., but that doesn't mean people do not respect them...