How a perfume is born

Hands holding flowers

With the head or the heart, nose or the brain, . . .

There are many ways to approach perfume formulation. Whatever method is chosen, all approaches require skill, patience and a thorough knowledge of the aromatic materials.

I choose the creative route. Like a dream, an idea or ingredient will come to me, sometimes quietly as a whisper, other times insistent and demanding.

Developing Tangled Garden

I developed Tangled Garden in the darkest days of 2020. I started working on the formulation when an eerie silence settled upon the world like an invisible fog, as lockdowns rocked the globe. And I finalized the formula in the midst of a personal crisis. It was a time of great risk, uncertainty and anxiety.

So I created Tangled Garden as a talisman of hope and abundance. While I and the rest of the world were trapped both physically in our homes and metaphorically in our heads, I blended Tangled Garden eau de parfum to serve as an escape, to a land of plenty ripe with fruit and flowers.

Tangled Garden is built around a delicious triad of jammy fir balsam absolute from Canada, tangy black currant bud from France, and sweet, juicy and welcoming Moroccan rose absolute. After deciding on these pillar notes, my next step was to pick the accompanying notes, keeping my scent vision in mind.

Building a formula

While I have hundreds of ingredients in my perfume organ, each ingredient behaves differently, and a simple substitution (tangerine vs. mandarin) can make can have a dramatic impact to the final perfume experience. Each ingredient reacts with the whole - so I carefully test each new addition. Deciding the quantity of each ingredient is almost as important as deciding which ingredient to use, as one drop can change the formula from sweet to sickly, from succulent to sordid.

Much like a fine wine (or a coy date!) the aroma changes over time, revealing new facets and nuance as the days pass. So each iteration must be aged before revealing it's true character.

Listening to the plants

This process is very iterative, requiring an abundance of patience and detailed note taking, and for me, an almost meditative frame of mind. To hurry the process is a fools mission, as if the plants themselves can sense when I am impatient and rushed. The plants demand attention, requiring the perfumer to slow down and play. And that's when they dance.

Once the formula is finalized (a process taking many months), I then create a small batch, which is aged for at least a full month. Batch making days are heady days of bliss and intense concentration, as the whole studio is filled with the aroma of the volatile oils.

After aging, I carefully fill and label each bottle by hand.

And so a perfume is born.

The plants demand attention, requiring the perfumer to slow down and play. And that's when they dance.