Sunday, December 25, 2011

Guerlain Parfumeur VETIVER, a Gift

My first introduction to Guerlain's VETIVER held my attention. It is incredibly woody and aromatic, and evokes an olfactive memory so strong, yet impossible to pinpoint. It keeps me guessing. Perhaps it has to do with its use of Quinolines, which contemplates a fine and precise mix of diesel, leather, moss, tobacco, and earthy goodness. My nose also detects a gentle menthol note that gives the fragrance a gentle push forward, allowing it to take flight, perhaps suggesting the breeze, that Jean-Paul refers to (see below). Even after my extensive Vetiver perfume crawl at Barneys New York all that remained was my memory of Guerlain's VETIVER, created in 1959, I couldn't stop thinking about it. VETIVER is a bit of a trickster, initially it makes you think it's simple, but in fact when you live with it you begin to see that it is masterful in its abstraction and restraint. 

Holding the VETIVER box in my hand this morning I read these words: 

"The scent of earth after the rain, the cool breeze of an early morning, the aroma of tobacco...each of these was a source of inspiration which gave rise to my first perfume, VETIVER."
                                         Jean-Paul Guerlain, Perfumer

I wish everyone peace and happiness now and for the New Year. Thank you for visiting and sharing my interest in perfumery. Valerie

Friday, December 9, 2011

Fun at Sephora's Sensorium

I know it's over, but I have to say I enjoyed Sensorium, a perfume "pop-up" installation that Sephora and Firmenich delivered in the meatpacking district. I heard around town that fragrance insiders thought it was a bore, but I found it informative and dare I say, even fun :-). First up and literally written on the wall was the history, antiquity through present, and geographical mapping of perfumery that highlighted major discoveries, pivotal raw materials, and classic perfumes. The first entry reminded me that the word perfume comes from the Latin  word, "Per" for through and "Fumus" for smoke, through smoke. Nice image. The Sensorium experience was part museum and part hands-on. There were plenty of antique bottles to look at, one could smell the subtle differences between Vanilla from Mexico, Tahiti, and Madagascar, and there was a mini lesson on synthetic raw vs. natural raw materials and how "natural" doesn't mean it's better or good for you, the prime example always given is Arsnic. Then I went willingly into a deprivation booth of sorts and heard the very sad recordings of people who lost there sense of smell and suffer from Anosmia. Since the sense of taste and smell are intrinsically linked one of the haunted voices described her last memory and longing for a sour cherry lollipop. In the booth, a tasteless red cherry lollipop was offered, allowing for an empathetic moment. We then went through a room with different accord stations. The accords were uniquely displayed in hanging laboratory glass beakers, that dripped into one roller ball application on the bottom of each station, offering a hint of how a perfumer might begin to build a perfume. Finally, the installation culminated with four scented interpretations, Lucid Dreams, the most realized came from perfumer Pierre Negrin, and it was entitled, Creation, as one inhaled a kind of Rorschach image emerged on a screen in front of you. After, my friend an I happily sat at the perfume bar where we blindly smelled 4 different trays of fragrances, and yes, to my surprise, I found Kate Walsh, Boyfriend very appealing. Now I just have to find out who Kate Walsh is. All was well when I ended the evening at the pop-ups' cocktail bar, that offered a lovely pear and elderflower martini. Oh my, it was delicious and so fragrant.

Photo: Roy Lichtenstein, Aloha, 1962