October 19, 2010

MCMC - Brooklyn Perfumer

Another in my series of perfume makers working in Brooklyn, Anne McClain, has been busy lately. I recall a recent feature in the NYT Style section, following her on a shopping expedition, and she was also conducting perfume workshops on the first Monday of each month at Le Labo in Nolita, and now gives intensive classes in her own studio.

She has orchestrated the development of a perfume for a fountain in a Brooklyn public park, flowing until November 6, 2010, with the lovely fragrance Humanity.  Its signature fragrance is part of an art/volunteerism project.   Plus she has created a range of appealing scents that represent different aspects of her own personal history.

It is an interesting manner of expression, to use fragrance to understand and mark a significant event or the important people that come to the forefront in a life.  These experiences and perfumes are all of a type that most anyone can relate to.  They are classic, such as the good friend who influences you through example while being together doing outdoorsy things (Hunter), or falling in love in a State like Maine where nature is a dominant force.   Humanity has the fresh scent of bathing a child’s skin and hair in rainwater. Garden is the appealing plant results, such as lavender and thyme, of a lot of hard work that can be turned to good use. I’ve never been to Maui myself, but I get the salty air carrying a green and floral warmth around, and with Noble the Eastern traditional elements of jasmine and vetiver stand their ground with each other, together emanating an earthy spirituality.

I  discern a very affectionate take and good-natured attitude towards life within each of these perfumes. They are gentle and soft, with a sunny aspect that references the beauty of the materials to comment on the concept of the perfume itself, and what it represents to the perfumer or stands in for, for us.

Hunter - suggested to be worn with a flannel shirt, possibly because the soft absorbent cotton texture will hold yet wick up and disseminate the tobacco absolute (like a cigarette without the smoke) Bourbon vanilla (the dark kind) combined with fir balsam, that tree vapor that brings your mind into alert awareness yet soothes it with a pleasing freshness.

Garden –  pretty, gentle, soft, cloudy yet modern, strong herbs like thyme, lavender, lemon and bitter orange blended and smooth yet discretely still show their distinctive notes without the typical herbaceous bite. This fragrance was created in honor of a group of gardeners who gather upstate to teach themselves and others farming, with half of the proceeds of the perfume going to support the project. It strikes me as contemporary and stylish because it gives out the basically herbal heart of what a floral truly is, without the sweetness most often associated with florals.  The green and fresh lively quality of floral is predominant instead.

Maine – evokes the marine air with the sun bringing up the scent of the wild roses, wind mixing all together with coolness from the Atlantic. The rose absolute shines through the saltiness and that tang keeps it well away from sweetness but lets the fresh air and sun come through.

Noble – the jasmine and vetiver together work together so that the earthiness of vetiver pulls in the cloy from the jasmine which then remains as honeyed air floating over aromatic dry grass. Associations with the traditional perfume materials of the East lend strength and connect these effects to the heat and creative fecundity of ancient spiritual cultures steeped in fragrance.

Maui –ginger and anise give a contemporary aura to the lush tuberose and frangipani center, modified by touches of green bamboo and salt. This is the vacation/yoga aesthetic where you won’t quite lose your sense of elegant self-presentation even while in a state of floating relaxation in the midst of an island paradise.

Humanity was developed in collaborative art workshops, developing through several drafts and versions for a public fountain, as a perfume that could be experienced in quantity by the public, without becoming overwhelming. The scent is the version that represented the project as a perfume, ultimately developed from a subtle combination of lotus absolute, sandalwood and mate tea, with an invitation to  deliberately invoke a moment of compassion while applying. It has a warm, transparent, softly floral rainwater-bathing-the-skin quality.  I have a strong sense that it does indeed convey an understanding and therefore compassionate attitude toward our fellows, reaching for a commonality.  We all live within our own skins and we all enjoy the idea of bathing in warm rainwater. It's something that would make anyone feel good. All of the proceeds of this perfume go towards supporting a yearly act of volunteerism as part of the Humanity project. The bottle is a gorgeous rock crystal formation kind of abstract object, designed and made by a Brooklyn glass artisan.

The use of absolutes as a base in many of these perfumes holds the notes together, allows the individual notes of the absolute to remain true, yet keeps everything floating within the middle range of the scent spectrum.  This maintains their sense of lightness, and gives a sheer and contemporary quality to the fragrances' intelligent modern elegance.

Samples can be obtained through the website and will give you 5% off the next order.

There is much about the process of creating Humanity, the fountain perfume online at their site.

MCMC has an informative site about all the perfumes and their stories, with information about classes and links to other articles and retail locations.

For other Brooklyn perfumers, see CB I Hate PerfumeAroma M, and Cherry Bomb, and D.S. & Durga, and Herbal Academy and on another type of creative air, the Butterfly Lady.

Above photos from the Maui album and other areas on the MCMC site.


Rose said...

I've just got the samples for these and can't wait to try them!

Lucy said...

Rose, also want to get over to that fountain by November 6, if at all possible!

Scent Hive said...

I am so intrigued by this line now Lucy! Maine, Noble and Maui sound like fragrances I need to try. Thank you for the review!


Lucy said...

Hi Trish, I think you would like Garden and Humanity too.



Scent Hive said...

So many to choose from! :-)