PYRAMIDS, LIES AND MYTHS OF MODERN PERFUMERY

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From my house in lefke.

If you believe that olfactory pyramids published by the industry are meant to give you information about the ingredients or about the smell of a perfume you are really ingenuous.

Pyramids are but a marketing tool used to persuade you into buying frags.

If you believe that the ingredients listed in the pyramids are in the fragrances you just missed the point. Pyramids are to make you dream a of a wonderful world where perfumes are made with real musk, real amber and real rose…

If it is written “Lavender”, it does is not meant the extract of lavender flowers, it means “lavender note” such as the one you find in dish wash soap. It smells nothing like lavender but it is, let us say, “legal lavender” because if it is not written “Lavender essential oil”, it is a “legal lye”.

Olfactory pyramids have been arbitrarily divided into 3 layers, called top notes, middle notes and base notes. The problem in categorizing natural essences is that they are almost never just top, middle or base notes. Most often they overlap 2 or even 3 layers of intensity and longevity. Rose essence is a top and middle note. Tobacco is such a strong middle and base note that you must use it in infinitesimal doses. Angelica is a difficult essence to work with because it is a top, middle and base note. It will characterize your whole perfume even in tiny quantity.
Olfactory pyramids can give you no indication whatsoever about the perfume, firstly because the ingredients listed are not in the fragrance and secondly because if they were, they would refuse to behave as the pyramid orders.

But the Pyramids are powerful, after reading them you may even smell lavender in a perfume where there is none at all, as some reviewers do, because we humans smell more with our brain than with our nose.

As a demonstration of this, Avery Gilbert made once a funny experiment, spraying water in the air, he cautioned the public against the smell (saying that it was harmless, what a clever fox is he), carefully building in their mind apprehension and distrust. After a short while, the public averted a bad smell in the air and some persons felt nausea and had to leave the room.

It was just water.

So, even if you smell some of the ingredients written in the pyramid, know that it does not mean that they are in it.
As Cypriots say here in lefke: What you see, believe only half, what you hear, believe nothing of it.”

THE BIGGEST MYTH OF PERFUMERY.

MY-HOUSE-IN-LEFKE

 

From my house in lefke

The biggest of all perfumery myths is that making perfumes is complicate, technical and time consuming. It is not true, making perfumes is easy, instinctive and fast. I have never spent more than 2 hours on any of my perfumes.

In all arts there is 99% of work and 1% of inspiration. In perfume making, the work is 1% and 99% is inspiration.

The claim that perfumers have to work for years on a fragrance before it can be released on the market is a carefully cultivated myth.

If ever a perfumer takes more than a few hours on a perfume, it has nothing to do with a real difficulty to make a good fragrance. Rather it is because composing something acceptable to human nose out of the cheap chemical ingredients that perfumers are forced to use is a real “tour de force”.
Time consuming work if there is has only to do with successive changes imposed by boards of evaluators, commercials and marketers in order to erase any originality and personality to the original fragrance so that the new perfume will be in line with the existing crap.
This because the amount invested in a new perfume is such that no risk can be taken, producing perfumes is just to be understood as a business, a “one season” hit sales in which to get your money back and profit, before passing to a new business, that is to a new fragrance and to a new launch.

Crap selling is a profitable business, as Chinese know, because you will always produce new things, letting people hope that the new one will be better than the old one. Hope is last to die, the Italians say. Crap selling is an endless production scheme, based on delusion and hope.

People are no more looking for a perfume, they just want “The new perfume”.

Perfume is so easy that children in my perfume classes make fragrances far better than most of what is sold in perfumery shops. Holding these classes it became so evident to me that the ability to make good perfumes depends only on character and personality, not on nose sensibility or “technical” knowledge.

Some children just go straight to their choice of ingredients, straight to the right blending proportions and just stop when they are satisfied of the result. That’s the way to do it, in half an hour.

This is the way I do myself, then in following days I can smell the fragrance and complete it.

Some people instead, in the children or adult classes, cannot chose their ingredients, they are in doubt at every step and they can never complete the fragrance because never do they reach a result that they like.

Making perfumes is done with a life attitude, not with a special olfactory ability.

If you have the right life attitude, making perfumes will be very easy to you. If you don’t, don’t even try making perfumes, unless you are young, open to change and willing to better yourself. Then you could learn the right life attitude through perfume making.

OLD AND NEW MYTHS OF PERFUMERY.

lefke-house

From my house in Lefke.

Fixative ingredients, one of the strongest myths of perfumery.

If you intend by fixative a single molecule that will smell on your skin for hours after all the rest of the perfume has disappeared, then fixatives exist, they are called calone, macrolytic musks and so on… The more persistent, the more incompatible with your biology and the more dangerous to your health, I affirm.

If by fixative you intend an aromatic product that will carry your whole perfume in the time, give him persistence on your skin without leaving pieces of it behind, then just listen to Guy Robert, whose fame as a perfumer is no more be done, but whose iconoclastic nature is largely unknown.

The author of Madame Rochas, Caleche, Equipage, Gucci Parfum and Dioressence says: “Lasting power is not easy to reach, nobody knows how and why this is happening. I hate and find stupid that theory of “fixateurs”.   We all know these many little songs we are hearing anywhere and forgetting almost immediately, but, from time to time, one of these songs sticks to our ear and we go on whistling it the whole day … I can assure you the author of these successful songs do not use any “fixatives ingredients” to get that result …”.

“Nobody knows why this is happening…”,  “Fixative ingredients being just a theory… “???…

This is enough food for thoughts for the readers today. Just recall how many apparently competent and qualified people talked to you about fixative ingredients.

“Lasting power is not easy to reach…” I would say that it can be reached by sheer luck only, but if by perfume you intend the last smelling molecule of Calone or Sandeol that you enjoy, be happy with it, but really, this is not perfume.

 

DEBUNKING THE MYTHS OF PERFUMERY

pepper-tree

From my house in Lefke

What makes quality in a perfume?

There is no doubt that the quality of a perfume depends only from the quantity of naturals that it contains.
There cannot be a good perfume without some amount naturals.
There can be more molecules in a single natural essence than there are in a mass fragrance composed of 100 or 200 single synthesized molecules.
No surprise that any amount of natural in a chemical frag brings volume and depth that are completely lacking to it.

The only problem facing the industry is how little of natural is enough to make a chemical soup into an edible dish.
The problem of niche perfumery on the other hand is how much natural will bear a customer so used to eat chemical soup that he will accept nothing else in his diet.
After the pluri-decennial olfactory dis-education of masses, the universal belief is that there cannot be a good perfume without some amount of synthetic.
Just like the universal belief that there can be no freedom without democracy and “free” market. It is obviously false but only those who have not been blinded see it.
It would be like saying to Leonardo that there can be no good painting without chemical colours. The search of quality colours and their making was a major part of the painter’s work in the past, exactly as the search for quality essences and their distilling is a major part of the natural perfumer today.
You cannot cook any wonderful dish with low quality ingredients. The same applies to perfumery.
Mass perfumery is like supermarket food. It is for the mass. If you are looking for something more, you must search out of the supermarket circuit, out of the perfume shops, directly into the chef’s restaurants, directly with the artisan perfumers who both choose with utmost care their ingredients and whose finger prints you will find on your dish, on your bottle.

DISTILLING AN ISLAND: PINK PEPPER

THE PERFUMES OF MAULANA’S GARDENS

pepper-tree

My house in lefke has the most beautiful pepper tree of the village. The pepper tree has long falling branches that dance in the wind as if they were long hairs. From this I imagined that it would be a good remedy for falling hair.

 

pepe-frutti  pepper-flowers

The perfume of the leaves, flowers and fruits is the same and we decided to distil all of them at once.

abdulhalim 40liters

This time we are using Abdul Halim’s  more rudimentary installation and the smaller distiller of 40 liters.

 

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The distiller is filled, we select only the leaves, flowers and fruits cutting them from the sticks. This is the longest part of the work.

 

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Abdur Ra’uf American is visiting us and checks the result of this first distillation of pepper tree.

 

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He smiles at our small machine because he uses only the 200 liters distiller and he looks at us like one who drives a big Range Rover looks down at the driver of a Morris Mini by the traffic light.

 

pepper-essence

When the essence starts to get out we are delighted by its limpid transparency and by the quantity pouring out.

 

pepper-bottles

The essence is fantastic, it is peppery and balsamic. Everybody likes it and we already prepare the bottles for our shop.

Lefke 15 04 2014

Distilling an Island, Turunj: bitter orange leaves and flowers

THE PERFUMES OF MAULANA’S GARDENS

 

The orange tree is really the symbol of North Cyprus. The Orange grooves are all over and the orange trade was the wealth this region.

aranceto

 

Turunj, bitter orange tree is called here ”father of oranges” because all other citruses are grafted on its trunk trunk. Turunj has the most fragrant leaves of all citruses and its flowers are used to extract the essential oil of Neroli.

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Abdul Halim from France has learned the rudiments of distillation from me a few month ago and he is now becoming an expert.

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We went to the garden od Sheikh Baha uddin in search of Barakat trees for our distillation of Lefke “maulana’s gardens perfumes” production.

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A lot of Leaves and flowers are necessary to obtain just a little bit of essential oil. It is indeed a most precious liquid.

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We shall use the 50 liters distiller that I have built myself.

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caldaia

 

Our pupil is Learning the craft with his father and me.

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The still is filled with our fragrant crop.

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After Half an hour, the wonderful miracle happens, the pure essence, the very living spirit of the plant comes to light in its material form. The odour made liquid through elimination of everything which is not itself. Immaterial scent transformed into material substance. This is the wonder of the first of all alchemical processes, the distillation.
There is much thought there for the sufi murids of Lefke who distill the gardens of Maulana. The separation of essence and water occurs in a “Floentine vase” that I made with local materials.

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The essence is delicious, flowery, soothing and opening of the heart. So similar to Neroli but more grounded. We are dancing of happiness.
After this hard labour and the beautiful reward of obtaining the wonderful fragrant spirit of Maulana’s gardens, the least for us dervishes is to sit down on carpets under the trees, taking time to stay together drinking tea and smelling perfumes.

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This is a beautiful life.

Lefke 14 04 2014

perfume