July 5, 2011

Patchouli Part 4 -Mysteries, Answers & the Winners Are

This Summer of Patchouli Love project has opened many doors to the mysteries of natural perfume creation by some of its most skilled and inspired perfumers.  Some of the participants have started to share their creative process in detail, and I find it fascinating.  I highly recommend you open the highlighted links below, because these are the three perfumers who made the patchouli perfumes that I picked as my favorite three from 13; completely blind-tested.  What I like best is this information expands my pleasure in their perfume all the more by highly personalizing their creative scent inspirations.  Each one ends up describing a way of life and thinking devoted to creating beauty through perfume.

For example, Liz Zorn tells about her inspiration, the notes, the melding of the perfume concepts into the concerns of her daily life and scent memories and creative practices.  She recalls patchouli rubbed into her wet hair and the scent of the river by her home, and these olfactory influences on her, in River Walk (#2)

Shelley Waddington's interview/talk with Ambrosia Jones on the Perfume Pharmer site, discussing among other things bio-friendly musks and the pairing of orange blossom enfleurage from extrait and mimosa notes (mimosa has been ringing my bells since discovering it recently in Le Mimosa by Goutal).  She made Go Ask Alice (#3)

Rodney Hughes based his perfume on the time he spent in Greece, the morning sun glowing on lavender walls, with lavender and patchouli in balance with citrus, coriander and jasmine, for Royal Water (#14).  He says that "my idea for this fragrance was to capture the experience of the Greek Isles. In particular Santorini and Mykonos sunlit lavender stucco walls, the cool crisp morning air  turning into blazing sun that cooks the hills and sets alight the Aegean Sea. It's really a poem in liquid form. Laying nude all day on Paradise Isle and dancing into the morning above the Aegean at Cavo Paradiso. I tried to create a perfume that would serve as a sense memory for those days long past in Greek Mythology".   Sounds like the undercurrent of wildness in patchouli could influence a fragrant celebratory return to pagan sensuality. There will be more on Rodney's Therapeutate Parfums at a later posting as part of my Brooklyn perfumer series.

This is the Peace, Love and Patchouli / Summer of Patchouli LOVE project perfumers / perfumes lineup, with matched number to perfumer and named perfume.  All of which are available in a coffret of the sample sizes at Perfume Pharmer, in a limited edition.  The answers to the mystery of who made what has made this patch test bunny's experience even more interesting.  Some are available directly on the perfumer's sites too:

1 Dupetit, Indienne
2 Liz Zorn, River Walk
3 Shelley Waddington, Go Ask Alice
4 Jane Cate, Haight and Ashbury
5 April Aromatics,  Bohemian Spice
6 Happiness, Perfume by Nature/Ambrosia Jones
7 Providence Perfume Company, Rose Boheme
8  Lyn Ayre, Patchouli Paisley
9  no one, to save confusion with 6
10 JoAnne Bassett, Tetu
11 DSH, Bodhi Sativa
12 Amanda Feeley, Queen of Punk
13 Opus Oils, Wild Child
14 Therapeutate, Rodney Hughes, Royal Water

In addition, I am sending the three flacons to the winners of the give-away, Happiness (#6) by Ambrosia Jones, -- see her interview of Shelley Waddington above - and (#8) by Lyn Ayre, Patchouli Paisley (I love that pattern, as you can tell from the prior patch posts) and River Walk (#2) as follows:

(#2) to Taffy4aday, for her lovely Margaret Mead/patchouli story:

I wore the Patch quite a bit when I was a young woman in the 70's. I was studying for my degree in Anthropology and attended a conference in Toronto. Quite a few of us students were invited to a party and lo and behold, a quick visitor to the party was Margaret Mead! Of course I was wearing patchouli (for the life of me, I don't know if I was wearing oil or a little solid perfume compact at the time), and Margaret Mead herself said I smelled nice.

(#8) to Laura , for her adventurous spirit towards perfume:

I used to be one of those patchouli haters. The first time I made a
patchouli soap I was sick for three days. But that was because I
overexposed myself, and because I didn't know, back then, how much the
different grades of patchouli differ.

Now I love some patch-heavy perfumes: Mandy Aftel's Shiso, Illuminated
Perfume's Cimbalom, Providence Perfume's Gypsy, VireoPerfume's Lover's
Patchouli I'm guessing that, like you, I'd swoon over #2. But I do
like tobacco, and I'm intrigued by chypres, so I'm sure my nose
wouldn't think there's a bad patch in the bunch.

and #6 to Andrine, for sharing her archetypal scarey 60s & 70s patchouli experience, and especially because #6 couldn't be more the opposite of all that:

I first smelled patchouli in the 60s when I was very little and didn't know what it was, but always loved the scent and would go happy whenever I smelled it. I'd heard the word but didn't associate it with what I smelled.

Then in high school in the 70s, a girl in my grade used to smell very strongly and not pleasant. She said it was patchouli, and the kids would turn up their noses and comment on how overbearing and awful it was. It was truly pervasive and terrible to my sensitive nose, and I could always tell when she was in the building. I did my best to steer clear of her. So I had this idea that patchouli was rank and powerful and horrid. I now know that whatever she was wearing, it was not pure patchouli, but some foul stuff likely full of synthetics and goodness only knows what else.

In the late 80s with the nouveau hippie movement, I started smelling something wonderful and it reminded me of my childhood. I learned that this was patchouli, and I fell in love. Deeply in love. The deep, rich, carnal earthiness of it has enchanted and entranced me ever after. Since then, I've collected many different patchoulis from many sources and love most of them dearly and abidingly. I use patchouli in many of my fragrances, and it shares an exalted space in my heart with frankincense and cardamom, both of which I also collect from as many sources as possible. 

So now I would say Patchouli as a strong ingredient in perfume has come a long way, and further that this project has helped rehabilitate its reputation among a wide number of perfumistas.  Congratulations to the winners.  The little silver flacons will be on their way to you once I get a mailing  address.  (We can communicate at the gmail address again.)

Above first photo "Magical Creatures" from Monica Miller, and the psychedelic bunny (referencing our patch test selves) from her too, on the Perfumer Pharmer site, where you can access much more on every one of the above 13 perfumes and the myriad of brave perfume testers who gave their noses over to the blind test.  The paisley fractal pattern antique black glass button image is from Bower Bird, fascinating for those of us who like vintage buttons.


JoAnne Bassett said...

Thank you for such an interesting post to which I can relate. I also remember smelling the horrid patchouli in the 60's and's 70s..they must have bought it at a gas station or cheap head shop...choke.

Lucy said...

JoAnne, I like hearing about people's experiences this way. Patchouli has come a long long way thank heavens, and some truly gorgeous vintage patchouli is transporting. Glad this project has contributed to change the zietgeist around this material. I've been so enjoying your perfume Sensual Embrace I got myself for my birthday last year, and the two new samps -- thanks for stopping by


Olive and Oud said...

Thank you, Lucy! I haven't tried any of Lyn Ayre's perfumes yet, though I've visited her website. Patchouli Paisley sounds wonderful--Justine Crane's description of it had me drooling--so I'm very excited to try it!


Ambrosia said...

So glad you liked my "Happiness" (No6)Lucy!

Lyn's "Patchouli Paisley" is also really lovely! I finally got to sniff all of my collegues PLAP perfumes...and I have to say hers is one of my favourites! It's a very balanced friendly and gentle take, and extremely wearable! But then most of Lyn's perfumes are...she has a lovely touch!

Lucy said...

Thanks for stopping by Ambrosia (what a great name)
The interview/conversation you conducted with Shelley was one of the most insightful about perfume I have ever read, since both of you are perfumers and really know the materials and what you are talking about and are generous with your knowledge. I hope read more of that kind of thing.

Ambrosia said...

Glad you liked the interview Lucy! It's part of a series I'm doing...It's really fascinating getting to compare notes with my collegues, and find out what makes them tick, perfume wise!
some of the interviews are already on Monica's "Perfume Pharmer" site...
All of them will also be on a new Indie blog called The Natural Place