Eleanor Jane picked up her perfume Leoti, and carefully placed it behind her right ear; she then gently turned her head ever so slightly to the right so she could apply it behind her left with extraordinary precision. She is not afraid to say that she reapplies her fragrances during the course of the day. Eleanor refers to it as anointing herself, and as I listened and watched her place her perfume on her body, I realized that her thoroughness drives her perfume line, Tallulah Jane. From first perfume draft to design, all the perfumes are handmade and hand poured. Jane is a natural perfumer, which simply means a perfumer who doesn’t use synthetic raw materials to create fragrances. Jane's fragrances are abstract and impactful, not what I normally think when I hear the words,"natural perfume."
My day with Eleanor began in the morning at the doors of MiN New York Apothecary in Soho. We arrived before they were open, but they let us in anyway. While I was busy dreaming of having a cocktail party in their memorable space, where mixologists actually make drinks to complement certain fragrances they feature; Eleanor already had blotters in hand and was busy smelling Kilian. As I admired Penhaligan's Quercus, she handed me a blotter with their Bluebell, and told me it was her grandmother's signature scent. There is so much to smell at MiN, but we kept going back to the dynamic label, Parfum D'Empire. She would hand me a blotter and ask, "Do you smell.....?", and that's how our day continued as we worked our way through the perfume boutiques of Soho and Nolita. At Le Labo, she marveled at their Ambrette 9, all the while, she was responsive and inquisitive; her love of perfume is strong and steady. As we left the final boutique, we settled at one of my favorite places, Housing Works Bookstore on Crosby Street.
Our conversation touched upon her fascination with the history of specific notes, like Coumarin, which was discovered by Sir William Perkin in 1868, our mutual love of YSL's, Poison, she landed a bottle at the age of 14. I was curious to find out how Jane narrows her palette while working, and found that her inspiration comes from nature, visual memories, and even words. Tallulah, her first fragrance, and my favorite is centered on her love of Jasmine, here she conquers Jasmine's polarizing reputation, by marrying it with Tuberose. It's memorable. Leoti, was inspired visually, after a long walk, she was pleasantly surprised by the wide expanse of a meadow filled with wild flowers in full bloom. Leoti is a blurry floral that is slightly anisic to my nose, warm and comforting. Hope was commissioned by the American Cancer Society, and a percentage of the proceeds are donated. This time a single word was her inspiration, "uplifting". Notes of Madarin, Mimosa, Neroli, Champa Leaf, Fir and Amber base, are realized here.
After we parted, I was left with the remnants of our conversation. I was reminded that perfume can prepare us for the day, give us a second chance, a rebirth, if you will, as we go around, doing what we do day in and day out.
Photo: Abelardo Morell, Camera Obscura: View of Central Park Looking North-Fall, 2008