On Saturday, May 12th James and I flew from Amsterdam to Nice. Our plan was to have lunch in Nice and wander around then drive to Grasse, where we had rented a little cottage. We left the Amsterdam flat at 5 am so by the time we arrived in Nice, we really just wanted to get to Grasse and have a nap. So we decided to forego our lunch plans and arrived in Grasse in the early afternoon.
We were a bit lost. It was analog maps and the compass on my iPhone guiding us, especially since the French are pretty relaxed when it comes to signage. At one point we stopped at a McDonald’s that was advertising free wifi in order to get our barings. It ended up that the McDonald’s was on a roundabout and our guesthouse was straight across that very roundabout.
We stayed at Mas des Romarins, which is walking distance from two perfumeries and 45-60 minutes walk from the town of Grasse.
After a nice little nap, we ventured out into the warm afternoon and trekked uphill to the town. Right at the top of the hill is Molinard, a little history of perfume museum with old bottles and photos and a small factory tour below. We wandered around there, then stopped at a creperie for a bite to eat.
The town was a quaint little village with windy streets and little stalls selling lavender and rose products. Overall I was disappointed in Grasse because I was hoping for more insights into the perfume industry and I was keen to see the rose fields where Channel grows their special stock. Alas, the internet (in French and English) was not helpful in getting us sorted out.
We did do one of the tours though, just to look around.
Thankfully I discovered a loop road and we planned our adventure for the following day.
Sunday, May 13
After a lovely breakfast we drove off to Valbonne, which is a typical Provence town.
There was a huge garage-sale event happening in one of the parking lots so we walked around there, then stopped at a butcher and vegetable stand to collect some lunch items.
Then we took to the road, driving passed Chateauneuf-Grasse to Gourdon. The road was absolutely spectacular and Gourdon is tucked up at the top of a mountain.
In Gourdon James stumbled upon a confectioner who was only too happy to chat us up about his son’s visit to America, French politics, the art of making nougat and the perfume fields around Gourdon.
Since it was afternoon, the roses would be already picked, but after having a sip of orange blossom liquor from their private stock, we decided to see one of the fields anyway.
It’s not really that hard to find beautiful roses.
In May, the orange blossoms are scenting the air more so than the roses.
From Gourdon we travelled eastward to Tourres-sur-Loup and Vence. We stopped at the Florian confectionery and visited La Colle-sur-Loup where there village was celebrating Rose Festival. Then it was back to Valbonne for a nice dinner.
The Florian confectionery had a lovely garden with roses and orange blossoms.
In Colle sur Loup is where we encountered the Rose Festival with traditional dancing, sweets and roses bushes of every kind for sale.
Monday, May 14
Our host Claire made us a lovely breakfast in the garden and chatted to us about the jasmine growing and orange blossoms. By the time we left we had a small flower and herb garden of clippings in our car, which made for a fragrant journey to Chateauneuf-du-pape.
We also stopped at a few of the perfume factories to poke around. They are rather touristy but it was still fun to see the old stills.
The smell of money has a whole new meaning with Canada’s new $100 bill. The enhanced security features include the smell of maple.
The frosted maple leaf window has 2 tricks (that I know about).
1. If you place the maple leaf window close to your eye and look at a light. There are hidden numbers you can see inside the circle.
2. If you scratch the maple leaf, you can smell maple.
This CTV report, including a segment with a Sannich police woman who investigates fake money, says it’s false. But as a perfumer, I can tell you it’s true.
Last weekend I was sitting in a pub with some friends and one of them knew about this feature so they got me to do a blind sniff test.
The bill smells like maple, or more precisely like immortelle. Immortelle has a herbaceous, honey scent with a hay or tobacco body. It’s maple syrup pancakes. Sweet, rich and wonderful—a double entrendre for Canada’s new $100 bill. I love the smell of money. Ingenious.
(Now I need to find a $50 and see if there’s any scent.)
First Saturday Open Studios is a mini studio tour with a rotating roster of Culture Crawl artists that happens on the First Saturday of every month.
For the First Saturday in December you can visit Rachael Ashe’s studio for a holiday “inventory clearance” sale.
Rachael Ashe will have older artwork for sale (and new stuff), but she’s clearing the deck and has some great metal prints and a selection of altered books.
Me, Monique (Trottier) Sherrett, of Botany of Delight will have a selection of magical muggle fragrances on hand and other perfume creations inspired by the Harry Potter books. I have some Coca-Cola perfume too. Come for the olfactory journey, stay for Rachael and Heike’s stuff.
Heike Kapp, maker of hand-blown glass pendants and art objects, will also have a select display of wares.
Make us a spot on your First Saturday Open Studio tour.
Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab, creators of “magickal, pagan and mythological” scents, have released the RPG Series — perfumes inspired by Dungeons and Dragons. The Halfling Scent, for instance, is made up of “Porridge, kukui nuts, and pastry crumbs,” while the Dwarf smells of “Iron filings and chips of stone, Styrian Golding hops, and soot-covered leather.” Love it!
Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab’s RPG scent series is designed to be layered: layer your class, race, and the two fragrances that compose your alignment to construct your character scent. Very fun.
In addition to BPAL, you might be interested in my own Harry Potter inspired scents under my perfume label Botany of Delight. See my magical fragrances for muggles. If you live in Vancouver, they’re only $10 and I’ll personally deliver them to you. Cash accepted upon delivery. If you’re outside of Vancouver, use the credit card link, $15 and that includes shipping.
The Scent of Departure is a perfume collection that captures the scent of a city in a bottle. They are sold at airport retail shops for the traveller who wants to remember the “crisp, refreshing and green scent” of Munich, the “gourmand notes of vanilla, liquorice, chocolate and coffee” of Vienna, or the “rose Turkish delight” of Istanbul. There are 5 perfumes in total—Frankfurt and Budapest being the other two—and more on the way.
The line is created by Gerald Ghislain and Magali Sénéquier. Gerald Ghislain is a fragrance creator behind the luxury brand Histoires de Parfums. Magali Sénéquier is the artistic director behind both lines.
In bolded text throughout the report are words like “secret chemicals,” “multiple sensitizers,” “multiple hormone disruptors,” and “widespread use of chemicals that have not been assessed for safety.”
Culprits named include:
I’m going to read this report in full and decide whether there’s an actual concern here, but my initial instinct as a perfumer is that these elements are contained in pretty innocuous items. Limonene is an organic compound in citrus that gives things an orange smell. Linalool is a naturally-occurring alcohol found in flowers and spice plants. Eugenol is a chemical compound in extractions from clove, nutmeg, cinnamon, basil and bay leaf.
I’m not discounting this report all together, and I’m certainly interested in the synthetic elements that they study as well as the natural elements. But I also think the phrasing and presentation of the report preys on people’s emotions without fully educating consumers about these substances, how they are found and used in perfume, and the testing and regulation the industry is already following.
I’ll update this post once I’ve dug into the report further.
Interesting Vancouver 2009 was held the evening of Friday October 23th at The Vancouver Rowing Club in Coal Harbor.
Interesting Vancouver a multi-disciplinary conference. It seeks to impart new knowledge, things you’ve never known, or thought about. I talked about perfume and how to smell. The intimacy of this talk doesn’t really come across in the video presentation but it will give you an idea. Also the first part of the presentation was lost due to technical difficulties.
Interesting Vancouver always has a degree of spontaneity, unexpected moments, lessons and humour. I highly recommend Jer Thorpe’s presentation for all the above.
The other day, Ad Age’s CMO Strategy Section ran a column by Harald Vogt on scent marketing. Vogt may not be entirely impartial on the topic – he is the founder and chief marketer of the Scent Marketing Institute – but he makes some good points when he questions why so few marketers employ olfactory marketing strategies [...]
Carnal Flower by Dominique Ropion is part of Frederic Malle’s Editions de Parfums. Dominique spent 2 years perfecting the formula for this perfume, which reportedly has the highest concentration of tuberose on the market.
So what? The “what” is that tuberose is a really heavy, dark, sexy floral essence. Tuberose flowers are white and light looking but they pack a powerful punch. Dominique’s perfume is not light but it’s not heavy either.
The first notes on my skin were citrus and green but as the hour wore on, the scent evolved to be a dull heady floral (and I mean that in a nice way). Most floral perfumes become really powdery on me but this one smelled a bit smoky and camphorous. It’s a bit like smelling the wrapper of a stick of Juicy Fruit next to a bouquet of tuberose.
Christina Aguilera’s new perfume Inspire was a big hit in Tel-Aviv thanks to a great marketing stunt.
Mizbala of Tel-Aviv placed tens of thousands of quality clothes hangers, with a perfume sample and a branded Christina Aguilera label in public locations all over the country. (Via AdPulp c/o James @ AdHack)
The campaign is called “Sometimes It’s All You Need to Wear.”
The perfume sold out in 1 week.
Inspire is a beautiful white floral, with a lightness of touch, twisted with colourful fruit notes. This is a fragrance that’s classic and enduring; sweetly feminine and sexy, with a vibrant freesia top note and a heart of beautiful Tuberose flower, one of Christina’s favourite ingredients.
“It Stinks Like Sex in Here” is not the subject line of an email that I was eager to open. Funny enough, it was a forward of an article on Heartbreaker by Jenna Jameson. Yes, sex pots now get into the perfume game. The perfume industry can generate more money for celebrities than the movie industry, apparently more than the porn movie industry too.
Heartbreaker, eau de parfum spray 100ML/3.4OZ, item#1207, $50.00
Heartbreaker is young and sexy, with an attitude! The top note, is a fresh splash of sparkling raspberry Champaign garnished with lovely rose petals. After a taste of champagne, the middle note or the heart of the fragrance, takes us into the night of blooming jasmine and magnolia ﬂowers, to keep the mood casual but seductive. The base note, surprises us with the infusion of sophisticated sandalwood and tonka bean wrapped in an intoxicating morning of amber.
Neuroscience Marketing has an article on how we need to know the name of a scent in order to better recall it at a later date.
In studying perfume, this is certainly the case. The more that I am able to describe a scent, the more names for scents that I know, the better my recall and the better my ability to create combinations.
In San Francisco, I was in the Polo store and had a whiff of “Love,” Ralph Lauren’s perfume that launched in the fall to huge fanfare. The huge part was really the price tag, £2,000 a bottle.
Marketing Week UK did a profile on the launch expenses and the various aspects of the marketing campaign. In brief, it was a ballsy move to launch a premium perfume into an economic crisis, especially one aimed at 25-year-old women with high discretionary spending. Although what do 25 year olds know about economic crises anyway? Good market.
I left the Polo store with a sample of the Eau de Parfum. It’s lovely at first. Sparkly, then amber, with a slight floral smell. Initially I thought it was a chypre, there was something lovely and green, but it quickly announced itself as a floriental. Like most perfumes on me this one becomes quite powdery (1-2 hours later) then disappears (6 hours later). Love at first sight but it doesn’t stay the night.
The luxury limited edition has a 47-carat amethyst in the 24-karat gold painted cap, and it comes with a lucite stand. This is what you’re paying £2,000 for, not the juice, which they now sell in smaller quantities, in plain bottles for anywhere from $50-600 depending on bottle choice and quantity.
For the perfumers in the crowd:
Top: Chinese magnolia, mimosa
Heart: Bulgarian rose, ylang ylang, mai rose
Base: amber, iris root, patchouli, vetiver, musk, vanilla
There’s also chatter about the Goji berry, reminiscent of aged red wine, and vintage champagne sparkles with a cool green water accord. I guess the initial whiff of a chypre wasn’t a total miss on my part.
Love, Ralph Lauren is lovely but not a perfect scent for me.