Katie’s Project - Page 1

New mods are now available

A limited number of Katie and Marina’s new mods are available upon request. If you are interested in trying them out and commenting on them when the reviews are up, please write to: madebyblog [at] gmail [dot] com with your mailing address. Numbers are limited and available on a first come first serve basis. (Sorry, but we can only send the samples to U.S. addresses this time.)

Thanks all, mods will be sent out shortly.

A Rose By Any Other Name

So… here’s the thing: Auxeos is not a word. I got the root word for auxetic materials all wrong. (Going to go crawl under a rock now and then die there from embarrassment. Yes indeedy, I will.)

Now, on the one hand, one could argue that cosmetic companies make up words all the time, especially absurd quasi-French/quasi-English ones. On the other hand, auxeos is not a word.

It basically boils down to this: Laurent’s fragrance for me needs a new name. It’s something I’ve been mulling over for a little while now. I’d sounded out my husband Jon for some ideas, which gleaned nothing. To wit -

“Honey, what would you name a perfume?”

“Hm… I think I’d name it Steve.”

“?”

“C’mon! I bet there’s not any other Steves out there on the market.”

“Uh, no.”

“Okay, fine. How ’bout Craig?”

So then I was thinking, oh I know, I’ll name it “A Million Bucks.” And that way, when someone says to you, “Omigod, you smell like a million bucks!” you could be all, “Dude! I KNOW!” But that’s no good. Especially for my Canadian friends, who just won’t smell as quite as nice, what with the exchange rate and all. (Hacky currency joke! Apologies!)

Funnily enough, Nobi floats the name “Slinky” in the comments for his last post. Which… yeah. I like that. What do you all think? Does “Slinky” work?

Got your own ideas? What would YOU name a fragrance? And what might you name this particular fragrance?

(Please note, per conversations with Jon, that “Yoda,” “Stan,” and “Peggy” have already been rejected. As was his suggestion of “Jon,” because no one wants to hear they smell like the john.)

Laurent’s Reply: Moving on to Round 4

Katie,

Firstly, I would like to wish you a happy new year, and hopefully your dream fragrance will come true.

I was very happy to see that you enjoyed the last round of mod, and it even sounds like you are not the only one. I just want to take this opportunity to say that our phone conversation was very much a turning point, and that it shows how important it is to communicate and make sure that we are talking the same language.

I have to say that I am very impressed by your knowledge and you are right on target. Mod J is definitaly more balsamic aromatic: It is a combination of different resin like labdanum, peru balsam with geranium, coriander and thyme. Where mod K is more olibanum, musk and woody notes.

So for the next round and maybe the last, I am going to try to combine the best of these two mods and I will keep in mind the comfort of J and its saltyness.

I really enjoyed reading all the comments on the blog,

Talk to you soon,
Laurent.

Giddyup! Katie’s Letter to Laurent and Reviews of Mods I, J & K

This concludes Katie’s Round 3 with mods R3/I, R3/J, and R3/K.

Dear Laurent,

I want to begin by calling a quick time-out to tell you just how thoroughly I’ve enjoyed this last round of mods. Like, a can’t-see-straight enjoyment. I seriously want to be nose drunk off of them, rather than have to set anything down into words. Which would land me in the doghouse with you and Nobi, and grind the project to a halt, so here goes…

It’s funny. I see a progression from first to third in this series more than I did with the previous rounds.

I” pushes forward with those things we talked about in our phone conversation nicely. Breathing a little bit of funk and “animal” into it really puts Auxeos’ feet on the ground. The incensey leather suddenly seems richer to me. There’s more layers of shadow now?

But as we move over to “J,” I discover I am demolished by it – in a good way. “J” takes place in a parellel universe to “I,” where everything from “I” bears a comparatively “spicy” twist. I’m hard pressed to describe it accurately, but I’d say it’s almost like an aromatic balsamic quality that gently rises off the composition. Especially at the top. That truly is an awful verbal approximation, so I hope from that you can gather some idea of what I’m trying to say? It’s not really “spicy,” but I lack a word to nail down what I mean. This is really frustrating! I don’t know how to communicate this, and my apologies!

J” lights up all those primal reptile knurls in my brain. Obviously, I responded the most viscerally to this mod.

Next we have “K.” I am initally struck by its “perfumey” quality in the initial first phase of wear. I’m not sure about the top on it. It’s a little powdery to me, but then on the other hand, it’s sure not any powder I’ve ever known.

The development on “K” seems the most far-reaching of any of the mods thus far. And I love that. The way it moves and shifts in tones as it develops is quite rewarding. The drydown has a lovely flourished feeling to it, which I can see being very appealing to others, too.

But I love the cozy warmth on “J“s drydown, too. I think it’s something to do with the way the vanillic element in it is used, perhaps. But it’s not explicitly vanilla at any point, which I appreciate. (Or it’s not there at all and I’m a total nutter.)

I hope you can extrapolate something meaningful from this feedback. I have layered “J” and “K” together for some sort of mutant creation, but of course… that’s neither workable nor an elegant solution.

After sniffing this round, I’m tempted to rename our fragrance project “Gestalt.” These new mods create allusions without condescending to spell every little thing out too completely: None of the notes whomp you over the head with a frying pan of obvious. But then, “Gestalt” isn’t a very pretty word, so maybe not. Heh.

I,” “J,” and “K” are all so well done, and they’ve induced an inability to speak objectively or analytically here. I keep putting them on with the idea I’ll be wearing my thinking cap, too. But I can’t do it! I simply enjoy them too much to do anything except inhale happily. We are galloping down the right path, to say the least.

Oh wait – one hope? Please don’t lose that brittle crust of salt! So many sweet fragrances are out there in the world. If Luca Turin is right, and perfume is not about sex but food, then there ought to be more bold salty ones, too. (For the record, I happen to think it’s both: a little from column A, and a little from column B. It’s my Chinese take-out menu hypothesis on perfume.) That quality seems a little less apparent with this round, but that’s okay. As the fragrance becomes more involved and complex, it’s to be expected that it’ll all change. But I do hope you might find a way to retain just a hint of that, if possible. Unless it smells bad, of course. Then nevermind, heh!

Merry Christmas,
Katie

And since I doubt I’ll be posting here again ’til the calendar flips over:

Deck the garden with boughs of hollyHappy Chanukah, Kwaanzaa, and Christmas to everyone who’s been following our project.

And thank you! It’s been a fun ride this year, and I hope you’ll enjoy the rest of the ride in 2007.

A limited quantity of samples from this round will be briefly available through the Made by Blog shop. The set includes sample vials of both mine and Marina’s latest mods.

New Mods

A quick note on the latest mods: Both Marina and Katie has just received their new mods from the two perfumers. It may take a few more weeks to hear from the two ladies on their new fragrances, but the samples of their new mods are now available online.

On the Phone: My Chat with Laurent for Round 3

As Nobi noted in the previous post, I had the opportunity to talk on the phone with Laurent regarding the next phase of development for our project.

It felt rather surreal, to say the least. Well, let me explain that: I was wearing my grubby jeans with the hole in the knee and faded varnish stains, and a worn out t-shirt that long ago has turned the corner into rag territory but I won’t throw it out since it’s oh-so-comfy. I’d just finished shoving half my body under the kitchen sink counter to clean out stank goop from the plumbing trap, pulling out gobs of unspeakable ickiness. And this, just so I could do the dishes without pinching my nose shut. Yeah, my life is simply one glamorous event after the next. Chatting about “my” perfume contrasted wildly with the rest of my day. (Or more accurately, with my life in general.)

We talked a bit about the email and my feelings about the previous mods, just to clarify things. The worst part is, I keep getting the letters mixed up unless I have my notes or scent strips with the letters written down right front of me. Perhaps I ought to consider giving them goofy nicknames from now on, so I can better remember which is which. It’s kind of like when companies use numbers instead of names for their lipsticks – unless I bring the old used-up tube with me to replace it, I’m lost, y’all.

The way leather shall be used was one big topic of conversation. I mentioned how much I liked the animalic growl of leather as used in older fragrances. One such example I cited was the growl smoothly contained in vintage Chantilly (as opposed to the triviality it has now become.) But Laurent pointed out that of course, those older fragrances were animalic because they WERE animal. He mentioned that we could go ahead and try natural animal ingredients, but I feel like it would be for the best if we avoided that. He then pointed out the limitations, if not impossibility, of sythetics mimicking that quality so deeply. However, as much as I enjoy those old perfumes, I’m a vegetarian, and wearing them calls up a whole ethical conundrum as it is. Hopefully in this modern day fragrance we can spare others that same conundrum, by continuing use of non-animal ingredients to imbue a lovely leathery expression.

We also discussed other choices for notes, one such being use of a honey note. I found Laurent’s suggestion very interesting, but as I said on the phone, I find honey too cloying usually. What’s crummy is that sometimes honey notes are able to convey a sense of feral wilderness to a scent, but I know I’m not alone in finding my skin turns honey notes into something approximating the aroma of sweet, sugary cat pee. Eeek. Those of us who can’t carry off honey well pretty much despise and envy those of you who can, heh heh.

The overtly soapy smelling character that some of the mods exhibited was also discussed. While I do like it in some small measure, I don’t want it to be anything that predominates our final product. There’s already too many “clean/soapy” fragrances out there, and it was the one thing that my guinea pigs specifically cited as something they didn’t like so much. Laurent explained that when certain ingredients are used in combination, this quality can come out. So, we shall see what he can devise to lessen the effect. He did say what the likely cause was, but I forgot it almost instantly, since that sort of information kind of sails right over my head. Perhaps the reason all us perfume-nuts remember metaphor- and adjective-based descriptions is because, for many of us, the technical details are simply too far removed from our everyday life to be mentally recorded.

Hm. What else? I think I apologized over much to him about my amateur-hour knowledge. Excessive apology is just as rude as never apologizing for anything, so I hope he didn’t take too much offense. Part of that was due to my feeling that ultimately I wanted to make sure that he felt like the various mods were solid concepts and balanced. While it’s my imagination that spaked the creation, when it comes down to it, the entire project should be credited to his work and his creativity. I have this terrible fear that if I try to insert myself too much into his own ideas, Auxeos will meet some laughable Wile E. Coyote end. No one wants to smell the aromatic equivalent of a “splat!” as the end result of this process; Letting me get ahold of the Acme catalog to order up item-specific failure is not an option. I feel more strongly than ever that my input should be kept to general descriptions, rather than me trying to specify in details, when obviously I am not as intimately familiar with them as Laurent. Attempts at interfering too deeply with his own wisdom and judgement seems to me like a destructive action. It’d be like telling Picasso “too much blue!” or Donizetti “no minor keys!” In other words, it would be downright silly. Consequently, my input as far as notes go is more along the lines of vague preferences, rather than anything even close to resembling a strict edict.

It’s so funny to me that Nobi created a “roadmap” for Made by Blog. That’s precisely what this project feels like. The whole process seems to me like an open-ended road trip. We have the vehicle; we have a general destination. But how we get there, and all the little stops and detours we make along the way are up to us, to be decided on the fly. I might express a desire to head north, but it rightly should be up to the driver, meaning Laurent, to decide if we take the scenic route or the freeway to get there.

100% LOVE

Auxeos. Another Round. Katie’s Review and Letter about Mods E, F, & G

This concludes Katie’s Round 2 with mods R2/E, R2/F, and R2/G.

Dear Laurent,

It’s taken me more than a while to wend my way through the three new mods. The differences between them are comparatively more subtle than those in the previous two mods.

I’ve tried writing up a review of the three several times, and each time ended up crumpling my notepaper up due to a lack of any coherence. I’m flummoxed over what sort of feedback to give you, nor am I at all sure where we should go from here. Eeeek! Help! What do you think would be some interesting and better approaches? I’m sure you’ve got strong opinions on the subject, and certainly yours would be comprehensive and informed. Is there something I’m missing? Ach, of course there is.

I do want to keep the slight crusty saltiness that I liked so much in the earlier mods, specifically “C,” I know that for sure now. It’s like a good hook, or a tasty guitar riff. And the darker corners on “G”s drydown were intriguing. Outside of that, I’m feeling weirdly indecisive.

I feel like “E” more closely stems off the earlier mod “C” in a way. Perhaps consequently, it was this one that nearly all my guinea pigs preferred the best out of these three. I liked it, well enough also. But after smelling “E” off and on during all this time, I feel like an asshat now. Mostly because I can’t help but compare it directly to the “C” mod you created. It’s hard not to wonder if perhaps “C” was superior, and thus didn’t need me trying to stick my spoon in the soup before it was served. “E” is darker than “C,” but what it gains in edginess, it kind of loses some of “C”s brittleness.

I like the drydown of “F,” but overall I wonder if the opening is not too citursy, and if it’s not too soapy overall. I tried it out on folks at a party, and the general reaction to it was “whoa.” I would like our fragrance to give folks a nice jolt, but I don’t want to scare anyone with it, heh. “F” demonstrates decisive phases of devolopment the best of the three, bearing more distinct phrasing when it dries. Which is nice. I like the way the notes come tumbling down slowly.

“G” was the mod I ended up gravitating the most towards personally. I really, really enjoyed the darker shadowy feel to it. I do wonder if it would be less satisfying to others compared to “C” or “E,” and not just amongst my random collection of willing victims (aka friends and family.) My guinea pigs were saying it was “nice,” but didn’t particularly seem to find it as interesting to wear as did I. It strikes me as a slightly linear composition, especially compared to “F” and “C.” But… urgh… there’s something quite enjoyable in “G”s drydown that would be wonderful to use, if possible. I gave turns off and on to all the mods, but it was the base on “G” that turned out to be the most deeply addictive.

All three mods were described as “soapy” at various times, and I too feel perhaps they were a bit TOO soapy. Which is my fault, I am sure. Did I just send us off on a wild goose chase for this round? I hope not.

In short, I don’t really know what to say. I’m… at a loss. Lost, lost, lost. What shall we do next?

Katie

An Interview with Laurent Le Guernec

laurentvideo.jpgHere’s a short film starring Laurent, describing a little bit about himself and the way he works.

For whatever reason, I had it in my head he’d be a little different. Not personality-wise really, but when I think of the perfumers working at the big three companies, I always picture them in long white lab coats with their names sewed on the breast… Maybe it’s human nature to mentally uniform people respective to their occupation? Gah, I dunno. And now that I think of it, it IS a little ridiculous to think they’re skulking about all day in work smocks.

Because I knew Laurent and Clement had collaborated on Ms. Parker’s Lovely, I imagined them working together a little like this. Which I suppose would make Marina and I into the Lenny and Squiggy of my loopy scheme, sadly enough.

I clearly haven’t a clue.

So, anyhow… enjoy the interview! If you wish to ask Laurent some brief questions of your own, please leave them in the comments for this post, and he will try to answer some of them in future post.

Nobi, our blogging emcee and the mad genius behind this project, is currently unavailable for the rest of the month. He’s vacationing in a technology-deprived area, like the desert, or the Amish countryside, or my mom’s house (same rotary dial phone for 40 years), and won’t be able to check in here. However, Marina and I will check in as often as we can, and will try to keep house well! [by Katie]