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Message to Laurent: Round 1, Mods B and C

This concludes Katie’s Round 1 with sketches R1/B and R1/C.
The following is the message I passed on to Laurent with my perceptions of both mods he created:

Dear Laurent,

I want to start by saying that no offense or anything like that was meant by my slowness in getting back to you about the two mods. It was clear that you put a ton of effort and consideration into them, and I wanted to respond to your thoughtfulness by making sure I lived with them for a while, let them walk around inside my head, before I gathered up my thoughts. They are both so well done, well plotted, and deserved some old-fashioned contemplation.

When I was, like, five or six I had a part in the children’s Christmas play at my mom’s church. I was “Y for Yulelog.” I got so overwhelmed by my own rushed excitement that I biffed the line, and in embarassment pulled my skirt over my head. Apparently my little self thought that was less humiliating than showing my red face. “Y for Yulelog” was delivered by a little girl with her skirt worn skyward and her Wonder Woman underpants on display for the whole congregation to see. So in short, I’m pretty much hoping to avoid showing off my underpants to you and all the Made by Blog readers on this project.

Auxeos “B” ~

No one could accuse this fragrance of being a wallflower; it’s quite forward in personality. “B” plays its tune so fortissimo right from the get-go, with a sudden whoosh of sound. The herbally green twang to it is striking. There’s some kind of dueling banjos between the green and the leathery intonations. But it smells so sticky to me. Does “sticky” have a smell? Oh nevermind, don’t answer that. Maybe just humor me for the moment and pretend it does. The sticky seems to be less pronounced on men’s skin than on women’s, though I could swear on paper it smells sticky, too. This is not a criticism of any sort. The green is nifty, but not the direction I hope Auxeos moves towards. I wonder if it would not be too loud for most folks to cotton to.

I sooooooo love the drydown. Or rather, to bastardize that famous line in Annie Hall, love is too weak a word – I lurve it, I loave it, I luff it. Good lord, is it ever so warm and inviting. It’s the equivalent of yanking up the quilts over your shoulders on a chilly winter morning. It’s got a little sweetness, but not too sweet: my inner Goldilocks says to herself, “just right.” The way the incensey bit and some sort of spiced brown warmth starts to rise from the ashes of the fading green-tinged leather is most enjoyable.

“B” starts loud, and winds up being, well, not exactly quiet… but not so ferocious either. The dry down is pure lurve.

Auxeos “C” ~

Flowers on a salt lick! The brisk beach twilight! Brittle incense! These were the aspects of “C” I liked the best. Thematically, I found “C” more enjoyable than “B” in a way. The emphasis is stronger on woodsy but neatly arranged incense rather than leather here? I do like the general crustiness of the incensey bit in “C.” I also really enjoyed the way the scent wore on skin. Fireworks are on the brain right now, so forgive the weak comparison: it seems like here one aspect pops and lights, and as it dims another pops and lights. I dig the way it pings off chunks of time like that. The leather is there, but when I’m not trying to concentrate on it, I’d say it forms a function of the incense rather than a force unto itself. Which, is cool I guess, because that does seem to pony up well to those encrusted flowers and incense. It’s funny, I wouldn’t necessarily describe “C” as a salty scent per se, but that aspect is totally present and it’s awesome. The way it lifts and blows the incensey part along, almost as if you could snap it in half, would sound like the the crunch of wind-strewn autumn leaves.

There’s this teeny weeny moment at the top where I sense a note a bit like a gas-stained rag? It’s not exactly that, but it’s the verbal approximation to what I smell. Is it weird that I kind of like that? I mean, if it were strong I wouldn’t, but it’s such a fleeting little moment, and its brief appearance fits nicely into the overall scheme of things.

As the top fades, the sensastion of strolling past climbing roses and inhaling their aroma becomes apparent, and I have to admit I’m a bit “meh” over this note. It sure is pretty, though. Then, what I can only parlay into words as creaminess also shifts into veiw. It’s so subtle. Yet not so subtle as to go unappreciated. The incense seems to briefly peel back to show off the smell of hiking a trail in wild summer bloom. Yet I also sense a clean but brackish breeze sweeping in from the tide. Perhaps this breeze is the leather-type suede note? It’s dusky but not astringent or tannic. The softened shady tones of “C” allusively reminds me of a snapshot I took a while back…

five minutes after sunset

“C” stands out as more leathery to me after the scent develops far past the first phases. Interesting. Can this lap further onto the fragrance to deepen it? The curving edge it creates is lovely. Or would deepening this note cause the balance to become wobbly?

Ultimately, I like both mods for different reasons, and I’d like something even fuller that would be less brash than “B,” but more expansive than “C.” I lean towards “C” more than “B” generally, but that’s not quite an accurate explanation of my reaction. You know how there’s a certain circularity of composition to Bal a Versailles? But there’s something else in it I specifically relish. That fragrance keeps rising and growing like an improbable crescendo, a wave doomed to self-destruct… only it doesn’t. The Jane’s Addiction song “Ocean Size” goes, “Wish I was ocean size/ No one moves you, man/ No one tries [...] I was made with a heart of stone/ To be broken/ With one hard blow/ I’ve seen the ocean/ Break on the shore/ Come together/ With no harm done.” Can a version of Auxeos “C” be rendered ocean size? Can it be even “more?” More what I can’t precisely say. Just “more.” Maybe drier, more brittle, and more woodsy, too… Or maybe my nose behaves too greedily for its own good, heh.

It took me a wee bit to get over the shock of smelling real physical manifestations of that which I’d only pondered in imagination. There’s this part in Dickens’ David Copperfield where the young title character initially sucks in the tidy luxury of his new home, wanting to take note of it all and commit his feeling to memory. “As I laid down my pen, a moment since, to think of it, the air from the sea came blowing in again, mixed with the perfume of the flowers; and I saw the old-fashioned furniture brightly rubbed and polished, my aunt’s inviolable chair and table by the round green fan in the bow-window, the drugget-covered carpet, the cat, the kettle-holder, the two canaries, the old china, the punch-bowl full of dried rose-leaves, the tall press guarding all sorts of bottles and pots, and, wonderfully out of keeping with the rest, my dusty self upon the sofa, taking note of everything.” That’s how I felt. My boring and Plain Jane self wanted to take note of it all, to hoard the sudden and momentary novelty. And I thank you very much for that.

Cheers, Katie

I am guessing that all of you may find the list of notes forwarded to me interesting? Here’s the notes for both mods:

AUXEOS, or the “B” Mod ~

BERGAMOTE, NEROLI PETALES, ELEMI GUM, SPEARMINT
YLANG YLANG,GERANIUM,JASMIN,CARDAMOM
VETIVER, AQUATIC LEATHER,AMBER,MYRRH AND SANDALWOOD

AUXETIC, or “C” Mod ~

MANDARIN,PIMENTO BERRIES,BRAZILIAN MATE
FREESIA, ROSE CENTIFOLIA,PATCHOULY
LEATHER”TYPE SUEDE”,AMBER,TEAKWOOD,OLIBANUM,MUSK

As we wait…

Grasse.jpg
© What We Do Is Secret

While we patiently wait for Katie’s review on the two trials she is testing on her friends, family and herself, here are fragrant pictures form Grasse, France. The man on the left owns the best rose field in the region.

Message from Laurent, and Katie’s Reply

Before Laurent moved forward with the trials, he had one last question for me.

Katie,

Your feedback was very helpful. I will keep in mind that you like the aromatic note. And don’t worry about the burnt note since it is one of the key elements in the leather note. I just think it should be more refined. Regarding some other notes, I love the idea of frankincense, rich and deep, other resin like Labdanum could be interesting, myrrh, opponax, tolu, peru balsam……

Katie, what floral note do you like and what floral note do you not like? I think I’ll be ready to start once I have the answers to this question.

Thanks,

Laurent.

I wrote up what reads more like a shopping list than what is probably a helpful answer, I’m afraid. Poor Laurent – he has to wade through my rambling and then try to divine some sense out of it. It dawns on me that perhaps in addition to having both technical and artistic skills, a successful perfumer must also acquire psychic powers for reading the minds of those who place demands on him or her. In this case, there’s just me, but having to read the minds of, say, a table full of focus group people… ugh. It sounds impossible, and utterly maddening.

Laurent,

You know, that aromatic quality is something I think I’d not worry over – I tend to appreciate more the overall balance of a perfume rather than individual notes. (Which? I suddenly realize sounds awfully funny given all the talk about individual notes, heh.) And, generally, I don’t usually care for a medicinal-seeming aromatic quality in perfumes except in the Frankincense & Myrrh and in Serge Lutens’ Santal Blanc.

I think the same goes for floral notes. There are those that please me, and some that pique my interest when I read they are contained within new perfumes, but I rarely ever love a perfume solely because it has some specific floral note.

I love, and I mean REALLY love Pre de Provence’s Linden Blossom edt and soap: I think it might be the cheapest linden blossom on the market, but it’s my favorite. There are much more refined and elegant perfumes employing linden blossom in them, of course. The Pre de Provence is the one I happen to like best. It causes me to feel irrationally happy when I use in the morning.

I love the ylang ylang of J&E Atkinsons’ Cananga di Java, though I don’t find the note as compelling in other fragrances. I think I like it in that fragrance because it never interferes with the rich woodiness, it simpy rises and soars above to float across the other notes.

I do like rose, but I don’t think I’d like rose in our perfume – I don’t know why however, and can’t articulate the reason I feel that way. Maybe it’s a tad too prosaic? I really don’t care much for powdery roses. Actually, I don’t personally care for powder particularly with perfume, period. I can appreciate and enjoy powdery ones, but I don’t like it. Except in Desprez’s Debutante de Versailles, but only because it’s a powdery perfume with, uh… I don’t how to put this politely… it’s a powdery perfume with balls.

To me, one of the most relaxing scents is lily-of-the-valley, yet I don’t care for it always, and the only perfume focused on that note that I wear with any frequency is i Profumi di Firenze’s Mughetto di Primavera.

I dig Weil’s Antilope (vintage, not this newer cologne stuff, sigh) with it’s lily-of-the-valley and chamomile combination, yet weirdly I hate chamomile. I hate it in tea, I hate the scent of it in a garden, I hate in compresses, etcetera.

I like the cool, almost creamy marine-infused floral bouquets of Compagnia delle Indie’s Donna, CB I Hate Perfume’s Mr. Huilot’s Holiday, and my John Frieda Kelp Help hair conditioner, but I’d never describe myself as a fan of marine perfumes. In fact, those are the only marine scents I really like. There is something about the soft bouquet of those products that smell like a comforting hug to me.

I like gardenia every now and again, but I find it is far too oppressive to wear very often.

Hyacinth and lily are notes I can appreciate, but I don’t really like them per se.

Freesia is a tricky little bugger – while I do like the candied way the note generally comes across as used in most perfumes, I don’t want that to be in THIS perfume. The only fragrance I’ve smelled that captures a freesia flower with any accuracy is Antonia’s Flowers, and unfortunately, that particular fragrance as a whole smells like a bad hangover on me.

Sweet pea is a very pretty note, but alas, it’s a note that seems to go to die on my skin. It comes and goes within all of a minute – and that’s only a whole minute if I’m lucky.

Jasmine is one of those notes I rarely pay any mind to. Which is awful, because it’s, like, in every other perfume made. Sometimes it reads as clean on me, nearly like a laundry detergent. It’s usually in only the older vintage perfumes that jasmine comes across as something very profound on me. And even then, it’s nothing I pay much attention towards. It’s a nice note when it works in a composition, but I rarely ever seek out jasmine focused scents.

Two actual flowers that I love to catch sniffs of when walking by are rhododendrons and bridal veil, but I do not know if one could honestly translate either of their aromas into a perfume accurately. Both possess such ethereal, gently floating smells. One flower I grew (by accident, which is a whole long story) last year was the crown daisy, and the blossoms had such a fine, rather delicate scent that I deeply appreciated. They look like this:click here. But again, I do not know whether or not it is possible to authentically translate that aroma into a perfume.

The other notes you mentioned I am sure will be fine. I am mostly hoping for a very good, rather dry smelling resinous quality with the frankincense, anyhow. Just not sweet, please – I think I may be cursed with sweet-amplifying skin!

Let’s hope you can pull some common thread out of this list, because I sure can’t. Perhaps I am rather random in my tastes? GAH! I will clarify anything you would like, since I am thinking this may not contain anything of consistency or use. Although I can’t tell if I was being too specific or not specific enough…

Cheers, and thanks again,

Katie

Round 1 Samples

In the next week or two, Katie will post reviews on her two trial versions, like Marina has already done. At that time, samples of the trial fragrances for both Katie and Marina’s project will be made available for purchase.

Please note that the supply is extremely limited, and all samples will be sold on a first come, first serve basis. All three Round 1 samples will be sold together in one package. Each sample will come in a 3.5 ml vial. The price, including shipping, will be $15 for for US customers, and slightly more for those outside the States.

Clement’s response to Marina’s message

Below is Clement’s reply to my message about the first mod, Holy Grail R1/A:

Hi Marina,
 
First of all, there is no problem in criticizing a fragrance, I mean that’s what makes the perfumer go forward! So any opinion is more than welcome!!! Then it’s my job to interpret them to modify the fragrance.
Actually, I found your comments pretty clear and accurate…When you talk about the almond note… that aspect of the fragrance is created by the combination of some powdery milky and sweet notes like cinnamon and vanilla, and citrus notes such as mandarine and orange. And I will remove that effect in the further mods.
Also, from what I understood, it’s pretty clear you want something much richer, raw, straight to the point,  with much more signature and personality, I guess I was a little too shy in my first trial…
Work is already in progress so be ready!

Clement.

Marina’s Message to Clement

This concludes Marina’s Round 1 with sketch R1/A.
The first Mod (trial, version) of my Holy Grail has arrived! Below is my reaction / message to Clement:

Dear Clement,
 
I am so very excited to receive my first “Mod”! Thank you so much once again for agreeing to make my very own Holy Grail. I have never had a perfume done especially for me before and I find it difficult to review something that was so kindly created for me and even harder to actually criticize. It feels awkward to say the least.
 
I want to start by saying that I think my first Mod, “Holy Grail R1/A” is a very pretty scent. It smells feminine and light, almost ethereal. I also smell a lot of almond here. Perhaps my nose is playing tricks on me and there is no almond there? It is not one of my favorite notes and, unless it is crucial for the composition, I would prefer not to include it. If I had to describe how the scent smells right now, I would say it smells of almond, light vanilla and a little bit of musk. It reminds me of scents like Castelbajac, Lea St Barth and Strenesse. In my opinion, these are light, somewhat fresh, “cool” scents. I would like my fragrance to be quite a bit heavier, more “substantial”, much “warmer”, much spicier and much “darker” than it is now.  I wonder if what I am saying actually makes any sense and I apologize if it doesn’t.
 
To sum it up, I would like the scent to become heavier and spicier. More sultry, more sensual. I would like the musk note to be less transparent than it is now, in fact I would love for it to become “dirtier”, more animalic. A more pronounced cardamom note would also make me very happy as would an addition of a warmer, more robust woody note and some amber.
 
I would love to hear from you regarding the scent, the first Mod and my ramblings about them.
 
Bestest of wishes,
 
Marina.

Please tune in next week for Clement’s response to my review of the first Mod.

Katie’s Letter to Laurent

After Laurent sent his response to my proposal, I replied back to him with my thoughts…

Dear Laurent,

I believe I understand what you mean by that “aromatic minty note” in Frankincense & Myrrh. Though, admittedly, I liken that “aromatic minty note” more to the way it feels when you catch an ungodly cold and in desperation smear nose-tingling Vicks VapoRub across your chest. (I lack a poetic soul. Clearly.) I do like it, but solely within the context of that specific fragrance. I can see why you might not be so crazy about it, and I concur it’s best to not use that sort of note for our perfume project. Your description of a “raw woody” note is one I quite like, because I deeply enjoy the arid quality about the woodiness.

The “burnt note” you sense in Cuir de Russie is nothing I’m overly enamored with, but I do like a wee bit of wickedness in a fragrance. Is it possible to use something else that might smell somehow naughty in the base? I think I the fragrances I love best all seem to have some sort of small conflict hidden inside them, perhaps for the same reason that all good music has a degree of tension to it. Cuir de Russie’s trace of smokiness is enjoyable for me, but pehaps this perfume can possess but a small wisp of smoke that smells rather transparent, and not quite so, well, burnt smelling? Or maybe you have something good in mind that is even better? I must defer to your vast knowledge and sense of balance here. It will be interesting to discover what you decide upon for filling out and widening the scent with… Please, go just a little nuts! I am hoping for a fragrance with funny little angles to it, something that beguiles with a few odd quirks here and there.

Hopefully, this is more helpful than not, and I sure hope I’m not being difficult!

Yours,
Katie