Monthly Archives: September 2012

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  • October. almost

    I wish you a lovely weekend! It is almost October, Q4 almost started and I am simply baffled by the fact that I should seriously start preparing for the perfume highlight of the year: x-mas. Let's try to shake this thought off for a second, it will come anyhow, right? Although, I have to admit, I started searching for a nice flower concrète since a while, in preparation for soaps and other goodies, that I might (no promises here) prepare as extra goodies for the season. Next week, I will get some samples of rose and jasmien and orange blossom concrète and I cannot wait.

    Maybe one word one concrètes: These are wonderful raw materials. It is what you get when you extract flower petals with organic solvents: A waxy mass that is a bit closer to the flower and usually richer than the absolute. The absolute is made from the concrète, by extracting the concrète. By this extraction all the waxes that make up a good part of the concrète are left behind. Together with the waxes some scent components are left behind, too. For ethanol based perfumes: These waxes are a pain as they precipitate and clog everything. But when doing solid perfumes, oil based perfumes, or soaps! then they do great. Actually, they are perfect for soap scenting. A bit on the expensive side, but hey!  it's going to be X-mas.

    So I am looking for these concrètes samples and then I hope that I can order some of them, without minimal orders of 10 kg or so.

    So, it is almost October and October will see me in Los Angeles, where I will present Loretta, easy going and with a big smile, at Luckyscent's scentbar (October 19). Before that I will head for a day or two to Joshua Tree to collect some sun and peace for the rest of the year. October will also see me presenting the art of perfumery and how I turned into a perfumer to a Rotary Club gathering. This is an event I am looking forward to.  And yes, early October sees me packing piles and piles and more of my scents into boxes.

    Actually, I will start today, although it is Saturday and not October: And  after a day, yesterday!, all behind the computer, and ending it behind the ipad, booking hotel rooms at 10 pm from the comfort of the couch, I am actually looking forward to packing for an hour or two.

    I wish you a lovely autumn day, and if you are down under (or up over): Enjoy spring!

    (today's picture: scanned chestnut that fell from the tree and missed me by a few cm)


  • an inconvenient formula

    There we go again: Welcome to another gardenia related post. Today, the accompanying picture is a simplified sketch and I wish simplification would be equally easy for perfumes. This is a quick post as I have a lot to do in the factory. One reason why I am still not there, in the factory, to do what I should do, is the DHL man who is riding his car somewhere in Zurich and I know that he has a parcel in his yellow car and I know he is going to come today, but I do not know when. It may be in a minute or in 6 hours. If I miss him and his yellow car, then I might have to wait until next week. And I am not good in waiting.

    So, they day before yesterday, late at night, I sat over my excel sheet where I have the gardenia trials stored. Version 8.1, sitting there, in all innocence. So I started to write it again, having super excel calculating the individual ingredients from the two bases and putting them into the formula. With the individual ingredients from the bases, the formula grew to 33 ingredients. I printed it out and carry it with me since then. Actually, the formula is not too bad. But it is still a bit too long. I would say: Inconveniently long when you have to mix it all together.

    Thus, I am trying to come up with simplifications that my intuition tells me are not going to change the overall picture too much. I haven't found too many so far. Not easy. My goal is to reduce by at least 15% (=5 ingredients).

    Looking at the formula without bases comes with a few aha!s.  Like the total amount of jasmine absolute that I put in there is with 2.8% pretty large, larger than I thought. The lowest concentration of one particular ingredient is 0.07% and trust me: It has a bigger effect than the number of " 0.07%" would make you guess. So this one is going to stay. But maybe the cinnamon leave has to go. Ah well!...

    Time for the factory.

  • money and something it can buy

    Today's picture shows you a look into a metal box (the bottom part of a pentagonal tauer perfume packing box), sitting on my desk, where I put my change that I collect in the back of my jeans. Sometimes I take some out to buy stuff at a vending machine, or in order to have change for a tip. But usually it just sits there and gets more, until I empty it and spend it, on something useless.

    Actually, although just a few pieces of Swiss coins, there sits more money than the average family in (<enter your favorite pour country here>) has in a week. This sort of puts what follows into perspective....

    Money is a fascinating thing and I tend to think a lot about it. One one hand, I am always amazed that we still believe in a pile of paper or some coins made from cheap metal.  I wonder for how long this bluff will last. There are a couple of currencies that are pumped up by the money printing press these days; quite troubling. I am also thinking about money, as money kind of makes my little perfume world go round. It flows. Some comes in , some goes out, and the goal is to trying to balance what goes out and what comes in. This is important in days like these, where you do not know what is going to happen next: Let's face it... we all walk on pretty thin ice these days. See the printing presses above and why we got us in a situation where we just cannot but print money.

    And, we got used to so many billions spent here and there that a few more here or there do not really shock us anymore. Thus, it becomes more and more difficult to think in hundreds or thousands. A dangerous mind set.

    Sometimes I spend money, my company money, on things that I do not really need, yet. Usually, it is when I come across a raw material that I just MUST have. Because it is SO GOOD that I just want it. Hoping that one fine day I will come up with something fragrant that is good enough to do it justice.

    The other day, or rather: A few weeks ago: I could not resist spending a bit more than you would find in my coin box on TUBEROSE. The best tuberose absolute that I ever smelled. Absolutely stunning. The BEST. I have smelled a few qualities. But this one was so floral, so rich, so pure and in a sense so radiant and shiny, without any oily or "hydrocarbon aftertaste" that you find quite often in absolutes. Nice, orange, thick tuberose perfection. Ok, it was not cheap , but not expensive for what you get either. I got whatever they had in stock (it wasn't that much, lucky me). And since then I am in tuberose heaven, from time to time. Thus, for the time being,the company that sold it to me has not more in stock. But they will get more. "They" are called alambica.

    Actually, this is what money is made for: To bring down a little bit of heaven to earth, by feeding us and others, keeping us warm, making us happy and smile. I do not think money should be printed just to flow into banks. It should flow to bring us tuberose.

  • complexity

    Another post on gardenia, accompanied by a sketch of the flower, as seen this morning in the house of tauer, on the little bush, still blooming from time to time in the living room. Actually, it is a sketch done again on the wacom tablet, using an H2 pen emulation. Quite funny, how accurate the painter software together with the wacom simulates a pencil on rough paper. I did todays sketch this morning, smelling the latest version of my many gardenia trials.  Smelling and trying to sketch another flower on 2 dimensions is meditative, and I am the longer the more convinced that painting the illustration and painting the scent are different manifestations of what  happens somewhere inside.

    Inside me, that is to say.

    Contrary to the sketch, however, the scent got quite complex. A bit non-transparent for sure. Kal brought this up in the comment section of yesterday's post. The longer I work on a scent the more imminent the danger that I get too complex and try to get too many things into the scent. So, already yesterday, when looking at the formula, I figured that I need to write it out today and have a look at it. "Write it out" means: Instead of writing so and so much of my base x and so and so much of my base y  rather write how much of each ingredient that is in the base. Thus, a formula that still looks sort of neat and sharp ( 20 ingredients) will finally show its complexity.

    I am using 2 bases in my gardenia trial(s): A gardenia base that is quite rough and spicy. And a white flower base (green, heady, and heavy, somewhere between lily of the valley, lily and a non indolic jasmine). Both are created with around 10-15 ingredients, and they share some of the ingredients. Thus, in order to have a clearer look at the formula, and where I actually stand in terms of complexity and number of ingredients: Time to write the formula out. Ingredient by ingredient. And maybe I will see a few ingredients that might not be necessary, allowing me to reduce complexity, a bit at least.

    On a side note: I love the waxy, dark, shiny leaves of gardenia, with their 3 dimensional structure, and this wonderful obscure green.

  • on never ending trials

    today's picture shows you a sketch, 300x400 pixels, of a gardenia, an ideal illustration, created from an archetypical memory of what a gardenia might look like. Next to the screen on which I painted it sits a formula, version 8.1, printed on paper from excel that waits to get mixed today.

    Hopefully, I will find the time to do so before my interviewer comes over after noon: A visitor from Hongkong, a writer for a magazine there. A visit to which I am totally looking forward to and I am keen to show my place where I actually mix trials. A chaotic place, organized by an line of thoughts that an outsider does not get, probably.

    Anyhow: I am going to mix another version. The trouble, my trouble, to find the right form for the gardenia centric scent are actually quite typical for me. It is pretty rare that a few trials are enough to come to a pleasing solution. Usually, I work for a year or more on an idea. So.... where's the trouble with the versions I have so far?

    One issue was fixation, making things stay, for a while at least. I did a version 8 that addressed this issue rather effectively, and I loved the dry down that is a bit dark and not too sweet, but I hated the opening, and I will use what was good there, in a version that I labelled 8.1 , which is basically a hybrid between version 5.6 and 8.0. I brought in a new player: Coumarin (think Tonka beans) , and will shift some proportions and then I will see where we are heading. In the mean time, things got rather complicated in this formula and I am optimistic, as always: Before mixing and smelling the result the world is all bright.




  • Perfumes are romantic escapes

    Today's blog post title comes from Ursula, who left it in her comment on my latest post on packaging.

    Perfumes are romantic escapes.

    I like that. A lot. Maybe, from a creator's point of view, perfumes are a bit less romantic, but for sure the perfect escape. Like last Thursday, when instead of working seriously in the factory, I ended up for a while escaping and drolling in essential oils and formulas, mixing yet another version of what is supposed to become a gardenia one day. Thinking new perfumes, notes, lines, accords, colors and shapes is the perfect escape indeed. The world disappears in fluffy clouds of soft leaves, sweet roses, indolic jasmine and spicy tuberose.

    Guess what: This is what I will head for today, at least for a few hours. Later you will find Andy in tauerville, boxing some MIRIAM, and preparing samples for the upcoming Loretta launch activities.

    I send you fragrant weekend greetings from behind fluffy scented clouds.

  • another post about Pitti

    Here's another picture from the Pitti for you: This time the sun set over the river Arno, almost black and white, with hints of blue and yellowish orange. After yesterday's post where I wanted to briefly give you a little piece of food for thought on communication, and where I was sort of reflecting what perfume communication actually means for me: today I would to talk packaging again.

    It is quite enlightening, when walking the Pitti hall of fame: Perfume business is packaging business, too. Very much so. Maybe this is, besides the communication, the most important part in the perfume business.  It is quite amazing what you see there, at the Pitti. It is the perfect showcase. There is no effort big enough to pack perfume. The packaging comes in gold and silver and white and black and colors, and a few, very few come in something unique, like styrofoam. I like to think in boxes, as simple categorizations help my simple mind, and thus here are my packaging color codes: Gold-Russia, silver-middle East, white-neutral, black-luxury, colors-for all of us, styrofoam-new concept. Although: White is quite difficult. I guess we could do the same game for fonts. Forgive me my simple packaging design assumptions. Anyhow, I guess my metal box would fit the middle East and maybe this is why I got a few visitors from this area, too.

    Thus, the possibilities for packaging perfume seems endless and this is nice. There are so many things you can do with an open packaging mind.

    When walking Pitti, I always want to get another brand for myself and come up with a new super cool packaging and bottle. It is almost infectious. I guess I can be glad that money is sort of limiting here. Otherwise, I would end up with  a multitude of brands. Although, I have to admit, building a brand is a wonderful adventure. I discussed this with a perfumer friend. We both agreed, that building a brand, choosing a packaging, a bottle, labels, and all that goes with it, all this is actually as fun as creating a perfume. Well....almost.

    If you "have" a perfume brand yourself, you walk through Pitti with different eyes, I guess. I tend to compare. And, also in light of the past 4 years, there is no "new modesty" when it comes to packaging. You might guess that in times of economical crisis you see a lot of simple straightforward packaging. Nope. The same is true for prices: Going up and it looks to me as if niche sells more in the 150 EURO to 200 EURO range these than below. I looks as if the worse the economy is, the higher the prices go. And there were a lot of luxurious specials presented, such as extraits, perfume super strength, for a super price. I wonder how successful these will be in times where money is tight.

    Thus, bottomline: Perfume business is packaging business. This is why I will visit this year's Luxepack in Monaco.



  • Back from Pitti

    So I am back from Pitti since yesterday evening and managed to send most e-mails, and ship orders and open the snail mail without major bills induced depression. It is always amazing how many bills fly in when you are gone for a couple of days, isn't it?

    I took the train back, allowing me to get an hour or two of sleep: And after three days on the stand and with a lot of evening gettogethers, this came in handy. Being at a stand at Pitti is very tough. I ususally got there after 9 in the morning and left after 6 pm, without lunch break, just interrupted by a coffee break from time to time. Thus, you stand and meet perfume lovers, retailers, business partners, and also some suppliers. I do not speak Italian, thus much of the talking was left to my friends and partners from Italy who make sure that Tableau de Parfums finds its way into some shops.

    I was interviewed by Extrait about niche and what I think about the market these days. So I was talking about the way I see this market these days. First, one has to say that there is an economic crisis and it will affect the way we do things. You do not really feel it when you are at a show like Pitti where all is gold and light, but it sure is there. Furthermore, I mentioned that I do not use niche for what I do, but rather artisanal perfumery. But in the end, to be frank, let us call it niche or mass or artisanal or artistic: In  the end it is about bottles that want to get sold. The bottles are different, the inside is different, the way the fragrances are created and how they speak and engage its wearer is different, but in the end we all make perfumes that we wish to be sold at the end of the day because it is how we make a living.

    And this, in a sense, is weird. In a sense, I feel like an artist, and in a sense I feel like a business man. Trying to bridge this gap is not always easy and a constant balance. To give you an example: I ended up talking to a Middle East distributor who wants my scents for his shops which is fine. The business man in me would tell you: Yes, there is a big potential for some of my scents. The artist however was a bit shocked: We discussed the brand, the history, the packaging, the bottle, but I could not show one of my scents. There was no interest in actually smelling.

    So, this is another side of Pitti that I wanted to share with you. Besides all this glitter and scent and glory: There is a business side to it all.

    One (no names here) of my perfume making colleagues, well established and known for his brand(s) brought it to the point by saying: "We create perfumes for the people who buy them. Not for the people who talk about them" (i.e. bloggers et al.) There is some truth in it. On the other hand, I create perfumes for people who love perfume, and many may not buy a bottle, but just get a sample, and I guess that is fine, as perfumes speak to us and we want to speak to other perfume lovers about them. Perfume is communication. And yes: Perfume business is communication business.

    And a lot of visual comunication!  You see a lot of wonderful presentations, stand decorations that were simply mind blowing! There were simple stands, there were opulent stands, there were huge stands and there were very little stands. I guess this is one of the aspects that I love about Pitti: There is room for all of us. And as every year: A LOT! of visitors.

    So, on our stand that was still quite modest, we showed Loretta, the newest offering from Tableau de Parfums. I told the story of this fragrance about 1000 times that last days: Thus, in a nutshell Loretta is a fragrance inspired by a film character in Brian Pera's movie "Woman's Picture". Loretta is a young woman, working in a motel, as room cleaning lady, and she is shy and won't speak. She lives in a dream world, builds a reverie, where there is music, where she dances and falls in love with a man. Loretta is sensual, sexy, but there is a secret, a dark mysterious side that the film won't solve. There remains a secret.

    In today's picture you can see the mini poster that we did for Loretta and I love it. It was designed by Jessica Jones.  It encapsulated what Loretta is all about. For me, Loretta translated into sensual white flowers: Jasmine, tuberose, orange blossom. A sweet ripe fruit that is yummie and sexy, too. And then there is this dark secret: Patchouli, amber, and a woody, resinous underline. Loretta is present, but not loud. Loretta is sweet and soft, but not too sweet and there is a strength in Loretta.

    Loretta was admired and loved. And I am very happy. I think Loretta is very unique. In my palette of scents it sure is. One last detail about Loretta, the fragrance: I made two trials, only. Trial one had a minor mistake in the head notes. Then I created version 2 which was basically identical, just a change in the head notes. And then I was done. Loretta, the Woman's Picture character spoke to me obviously in a very inspiring way.

    So... Loretta was very well received and I am looking forward to sending her out soon into the world. Next stop: Los Angeles, @ Luckyscent's scentbar October 19.



  • On our way to Pitti 2012 in Firenze

    Today's sketch shows you: Florence, we are coming. Or at least: Soon! Tomorrow, we will take the early train to Florence, to help build the stand and get ready for the biggest thing in artistic and artisanal and niche and indie and luxury perfumery:  Pitti.

    I cannot wait to finally get there,  and show Loretta, our newest offering from Tableau de Parfums, chat and talk to perfume lovers, and smell and see other fragrances from friends and fellow perfumers.

    It is an amazing number of things to see and smell: Here is the list of all the brands, their offereing, and all of their new scents. The Sniff List is provided by and I hope I will manage to sniff at least 50%.

    Am I ready? Technically, yes. All the samples are there in Italy. I have made a pile of things to bring with me, including business cards and adaptors and all my e-goodies. Mentally, I am not really ready, yet. It still feels like far, far, very far away. I guess, once through the Alps, by train, I will feel ready.

  • on petals and names

    Rose essential oil and the rose absolute from Bulgary, Jasmine absolute from Egypt, Comoran Ylang essential oil, Tuberose absolute from India: These are the natural flowers extracts in the scent that had the running title "aldehydic rose" in the excel file where I store all formulas. Some of them are higher concentrated than others. Tuberose is at 1% not a main note, but supportive.

    Yet, with all the petals inside, the fragrance is not a typical floral. It has a rich aldehydic core that is balanced by a body that is airy, woody, and very rich. The main chord in the base is a chord of soft woods, such as Sandalwood (I am using a S. spicatum from Australia in this scent). There is an orris root line, complementing a dry incense (Boswellia serrata, CO2 extract), an elegant patchouli and vanilla combo and some styrax that adds to the oriental sub-context. I am using the resinoid of liquidamber orientalis that is sweet, balsamic and slightly smoky. A perfect complement to the incense line.

    So you see: It is not only about petals. In my nose it is going to be a fragrance that is pretty unisex. An aldehydic woody floral if you so want.

    I am thinking about a name since eternities.

    Here's what I think about naming perfumes these days: I do not want any rose in the name. (It repells 75 % of all men.) I do not want it to be too clichés. There are so many cliché names for fragrances out there. Rose d'Isfahan would be sort of cliché, and it would bring in the rose again. I was thinking "petals" , in combinations, but again: so cliché and focusing on the floral aspect too much.

    So I came up with No-14 which is not really evocative and sort of Chanel like. Nope.

    So I tried to come up with a fantasy name and failed so far.

    So I went back and wondered what I wanted when I created it. So there we go: I wanted to create an aldehydic, elegant, rich fragrance that circles the heady perfume of rose petals, I wanted a classic scent, with a rich, luxurious base that I would love to wear myself. A brillant fragrance, radiating floral and yet a classic unisex. You know: Petals in bright sunlight.


    Noontide came to my mind when I was playing with sun and midday. At least it is easy memorizable and there is no danger of confusions when people order or try to remember: Was it intense rose, or rose extreme, or rose memories ...

    One of the bigger obstacles when coming up with names for scents: Most of them have been invented and used at least once. And many of them are protected by brands. Noontide isn't.

    That's a big plus. Ah well...



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