- 13th September
- 20th June
- 28th May
- 3rd April
- 28th December
- 27th December
I count him braver who overcomes his desires than him who conquers his enemies; for the hardest victory is the victory over self.Aristotle
- 29th November
- 28th November
- 28th November
Le Labo’s Gaiac 10.
While at Sniffa earlier this Fall, I was on a mission to go to Le Labo. I had to choose between going to the newly renovated Diptyque or missing a good chunk of the Sephora Sensorium just so I could make it to this store!
So I walked, really fast, through Soho (the one neighbourhood I always get lost in) towards Elizabeth street. Thankfully, I wasn’t alone- I had met a super outgoing Vegas-based perfumer called Vilma (You can find her here), who told me about her life over there and we tackled finding this place together.
So we finally find this teeny store, with just a print on the cement outside the door to identify it.
As we walked in, I was truly touched by such a simple yet inviting space. The guy behind the counter, Isaac was his name I believe, was incredibly helpful. We smelled almost everything including Neroli 36, Oud 27 (surprisingly not too overpowering), Ambrette 9 was just too good for words and the City Exclusives were a treat. We were allowed only one sample each, so I went nuts and tried to smell whatever I could find in the store, for the fear of missing out on the next big thing.
As I was discovering the store, customers would walk in with empty bottles and would have a new batch reblended for them. I remember how impressed I was with the personalized feel Le Labo offers - while I was there and when I posted another perfume of the week for Rose 31 earlier this year. People keep coming back! They love that one perfume, and they get it redone, by hand! This is some excellent customer service.
There were jars of precious raw materials lined against the walls, there were old school leather seats in the back, cluttered files, organized vials. It looked like a place I would like to see everyday, it was almost as if I were exactly in my element (and I didn’t want to leave.)
So, all this to say, I found my way to Gaiac 10, one of the City Exclusives - representing Tokyo. This collection includes Tubereuse 40 (New York - very well put together, my second choice), Poivre 23 (London), Musc 25 (LA - didn’t get a chance to smell this but will be ordering it for sure), Vanille 44 (Paris), Baies Rose 26 (Chicago) and Aldehyde 44 (Dallas).
Gaiac 10 starts off with a hint of sweetness on my skin. It gets a little more ‘sec’ or dry but not in the way that it tickles your nose (the cedar works its magic here.) The incense is SO good, and if you read all my mumbo jumbo, you’ll know that I’m obsessed with it.
Now onto the Guaiacwood. Found in Paraguay, it is steam distilled into the oil that is used today. Apparently, the trunk is made into 25% powder and 75% water (so when it is used in pure, it has a gooey texture, and needs attention.) It is a strong, characteristic base note. It is one of my favourite ingredients in perfumery because it is versatile, powerful and can give a fragrance the kick it so desperately needs. The fact that it has a delicious smoky facet doesn’t hurt either, who doesn’t like the smell of burning wood on the fire?
So in the end, it was a pretty easy choice for me. I was so excited to see a perfume revolving around Guaiacwood. It is done well, it is tenacious, and just really riveting. The fact that it was made with the imaginative Annick Menardo gives it that extra oomph. It changes on your skin, but not in the way that it is no longer recognizable, but more that it matures, so it changes into different versions of itself. Therefore, keeping the main character of the fragrance but still making it interesting for the wearer.
Gaiac 10 has notes of olibanum, guaiacwood, cedar absolute and a blend of musks.
Well done Le Labo, I love you, I really do.
- 23rd November
I know this is a little late, and it’s been a while since Sniffa, but I still have so much more to say, and not enough time to write about it, so here goes…
As part of our second day at Sniffa, we went to the Sephora Sensorium in the meatpacking district. This exhibit has been on display since the beginning of October and goes on until the 27th of November (so just a few more days left! GOOO!)
Firmenich and Sephora decided to partner up to educate the public with a scent exhibit like no other. It is multi sensory, engaging and highly informative. It connected the whole day for me, because earlier we had listened to Sue Phillips of Scenterprises talk about environmental scenting. It got me thinking, that since it is so hard to describe scent, sometimes it’s almost necessary to bridge the other senses in order to do fragrance justice and get the point across to others who don’t entirely understand how our olfactory senses work.
The exhibition takes you from a concise history of fragrance to how the sense of smell works on a day-to-day basis, how our brains react (the amygdala’s function too), process scent (how it is linked to memory for example), and how perfumes are created on a molecular level.
(The osmophone, created by Firmenich. It releases up to five different scents depending on your choice)
My favourite part of the whole thing? The Fragrance Bar. Here, you sit with a few lovely ladies and go through groups of perfumes classified by the way they make you feel. One group is more ‘casual’, another is more provocative, there’s playful… and so on and so forth. (I had so much fun, it reminded of GIP where we would have to guess perfumes as part of our training)
If you seek an experience like no other, you shall find it here. Three-dimensional art, colours, scent diffusers, deprivation chambers where you can listen recordings of people talking about anosmia and how difficult it is to go on with your day-to-day when your sense of smell is nonexistent.
What makes me really happy, is to see that marketing and bottle design aren’t the main focus here - it’s all about how scent affects you. It was interactive, which made me feel like a little kid again. I was especially excited to smell the perfumers’ creations inspired by their first scent experiences. Bacon & Biscuits (created by Annie Buzantian) intrigued me instantly, too bad it wasn’t working. Honorine Blanc’s “6:01AM” scent was warm and comforting.
All in all, I learned a lot, I appreciated the openness and inclusivity of the whole experience and I was reminded of how fascinating the world of scent is.
You can find the address and opening hours here.
- 22nd November
Because the rare perfume
Of your swanlike paleness,
Because the innocence
Of your fragrance,
Ah, because all your being,
Music so piercing,
Clouds of lost angels,
Tones and scents,
Has by soft cadences
With its correspondences,
Lured my subtle heart, Oh
Let it be so!
From “To Clymène” by Paul Verlaine, translated by A.S Kline, text from Poetry in Translation
- 14th November
Ah yes, the perfumes..
Starting with L’Etrog, introduced as a citrus chypre. It is meant to evoke the Etrog citron, which was a specialty in Medieval Calabria. The use of Myrtle is perfect, giving it an edge. The date fruit note adds warmth that works synonymously with the woods in the base. It is very inviting, quite comfortable, and very fresh. The mossy note gives it a subtle humidity that makes it really approachable, and there is an almost tangy greenness throughout that helps make it more contemporary. The zest isn’t overpowering and is well done It is one of my favourites and I’m not usually drawn to citrus scents, so I was pleasantly surprised. Well done perfumers!
Next is Flor y Canto. Evoking the festival with the same name, the scent follows the rhythm of the drums and the trail of the fragrant flowers. These aren’t just regular flowers; all queens in their own right. The Tuberose (from Mexico in this case) is the most apparent to me, and it is perfectly sweet and buttery. The Magnolia gives it a bit of a citrus-lift, and the Plumeria gives it a green freshness that makes this white floral heady, but not heavy. Then comes the Marigold, it’s sunny and warm. The first thought that came to mind was sunflowers, even if they don’t have a particular scent.
Then we have Fleur de Louis. Classified as a woody floral. It tells the story of King Louis XIV and his peacekeeping union with the Infanta Maria Teresa of Spain. Out of all the fragrances, I would have to say this one transports you back to that time the strongest. I smell oranges at the departure, like a hint of anticipation almost. The orange blossom gives it a fresh perspective and blends perfectly with the harmonious trifecta of the Iris, Jasmine and Rose. The Pine/Cedarwood combo representing the pavilion in which they are joined together is so so so appealing. Knowing that so much research went into this makes it even more exciting.
Infanta en flor isa floral musky amber. So.much.musk….and I’m in heaven! A dark blend of resinous-like musks; warm, intriguing and full of depth. Innocent yet provocative, this makes so much sense, fitting perfectly with the idea of the young Maria Teresa. The immortelle is divine; it has a hint of see-through gourmand, and has a fuzzy texture. The cistus and the leather give it a slight smoky sharpness, hinting at an impending courtship. An absolute pleasure.
Anima Dulcis is the wild child of the bunch. Perfect for winter. Made for those who dare to wear it. Inspired by the traditional dish Mole, exotic spices are blended wonderfully with dark cocoa. The chili infusion isn’t too spicy or jarring to the nose, and compliments the darker inflections in the fragrance. The vanilla is necessary and well placed, and the cinnamon gives it a sweet/spicy edge that seems to work with everything else. When they say it’s a ‘rich experience for the senses’, they’re not kidding!
Aleksandr was not a part of the samples I was given, but I look forward to smelling it once more.
One thing I do know is that the level of artistry in this collection is breathtaking and incomparable, and I feel blessed to have been a part of it’s introductive journey into the world. Thank you Arquiste, here’s to many more!
- 9th November
One of the highlights of Sniffa was when I finally smelled Arquiste.
The fascinating Carlos Huber presented his collection at lunch on Sunday at Barolo. I had read an article online and was excited to hear what he had to say.
I was inspired by it all…not only were the perfumes well crafted, but also the story behind how the creation came about was down right enchanting. Arquiste is more than just perfume. It is about friendship, loyalty, innovation, passion; and all of this was somehow encompassed in the span of less than an hour.
The idea focuses on how scent is a ‘time capsule’. Hubert’s background is in architecture and historic preservation, which has played a big role in creating these fragrances. Each perfume brings you back to a specific moment in history, crisp and clear.
It’s a small world out there. Turns out that Carlos is good friends with the multi-talented Yann Vasnier, the perfumer at Givaudan who created (among others of course) perfumes for Divine; as well as the whimsical Rodrigo Flores-Roux who created Clinique Happy, Fougere Royale for Houbigant, Tom Ford’s latest Jasmin Rouge (if you live in Montreal, you can find it at Holt Renfrew) and many more. Vasnier and Flores-Roux also worked closely with Sophie Bensamou who is the Senior Creation Fragrance Development Manager at Givaudan.
Seeing them interact was an absolute pleasure. You see friends collaborating creatively with a mutual respect for one another, and an undeniable curiosity and artistry for making perfume. It made me appreciate my friends, the ones who have been there for me through thick and thin.
It reminded me of how much I love the moments I shared and continue to share with the friends I made in France. Sitting down and bouncing ideas off one another, we become inspired. We root for each other and always have the other’s back. Isn’t that the most important thing? The feeling of trust and loyalty is hard to describe sometimes. There is a comfort level there that we take years to achieve, but once you’re there, great things can happen.
Not only are these perfumes impeccably made, you can smell the love. No, really, you can. You can smell soul. Knowing how much work went into the creations was astounding. It made the collection instantly more appealing. The level of artistry was impressive. And it reassured me that no matter what, if you truly believe in your work, and you have the need and ability to share that with others, then you must do it.
Stay tuned for Part 2 where I’ll be reviewing the fragrances!
- 7th November
If there is no passion in your life, then have you really lived? Find your passion, whatever it may be.
Become it, and let it become you and you will find great things happen FOR you, TO you, and BECAUSE of you.T. Alan Armstrong
- 1st November