August 8, 2007

Niche Perfumers

When I try to explain my interest in niche perfumes and the current explosion of creativity in that area of endeavor, I find that it easiest to relate some stories about the niche perfume makers. Learning about the new perfumers who have been doing the most creative modern work surprises people new to niche perfumes. Many niche perfumers do not have "formal" training, or come to perfume from paths that are not necessarily one of training in the traditional way. For example Christopher Brosius, of I Hate Perfume, started out working with customers at at Barney's and Kiehl's before starting his own company. He based his perfume formulations on the most ordinary and precious of beautiful experiences, such as his famous scent Snow, and others such as Burning Leaves, and Summer Kitchen, and many others that are not in the traditional repertoire of perfume, but all evocative triggers to the deepest sense memories in us. Another example is Mandy Aftel, psychologist and author of Essence and Alchemy; a perfumer and teacher of the use of traditional methods and natural materials, inspiring many to become part of the natural perfume movement. I have recently tried Aftelier Tango in the heat and humidity of this summer, and it is like taking a deep drink of a complicated intoxicant that develops intensity over time. Her example and teaching have encouraged many to learn about the history and use of precious natural materials and traditional hand made methods, and to become natural perfumers themselves.
Anya McCoy, Ayala Sender, Ajne, Liz Zorn, and Alexandra Balahoutis of Strange Invisible Perfumes, and others pursue an individual expression through the medium of scent and its action on the body and sense memory. I know that Andy Tauer in Switzerland, came to perfume by his own path, also by starting his own company to make refined and deeply sensual perfumes based on his inspirations from daily life, travels, and his observations of nature.
Annick Goutal, from European family tradition of artisans, started her own perfume business after a career as pianist, and bases her work on personal associations with the people closest to her and their experiences together over time. Jo Malone in England, worked as as an independent practitioner of beauty treatments for years before she began making her own products, was "discovered"and became an internationally known brand. Her sensibility been instrumental in bringing unusual gourmand notes together with florals in combinations that were uncommon before her influence. Serge Lutens, who started as a hairdresser's apprentice at fourteen, has deservedly become a cultural hero of France, and awarded the title of Commandeur in the Order of Arts and Letters for his innovative work. As a revered impresario of perfume productions, his ability to embody his exquisitely developed sensibility through fragrance deeply rewards those who have developed themselves into connoisseurs. There are many more, working privately to make beautiful things for themselves and others, who create perfumes from their interpretations of human experience and a sense of nature, history and their own personal preferences. It's a privilege to be living in a time of creative energy in perfume, trying the new, while rediscovering the classics of the past.
Above, Borneo 1834 - limited edition - Serge Lutens


chayaruchama said...

It's an exciting time, because there are many options available to perfumers.

In the final analysis, it comes down to conscience and choices.

What can you live with ?

karen, said...

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Gabriel's Aunt said...

I am a huge fan of Ayala. I am wearing her "Guilt" blend as we speak. Thank you for writing about these niche perfumers. The world needs to know!

Lucy said...

g.a. -- yes, Ayala has a gift!