I will now shut my bad mouth and get back to business. There’s a new comment for Katie’s last review on mods I, J & K. Check it out!
Enjoy the New Year Quiz. (This quiz closed on Sunday, January 7th, 2007. Thanks for your participation! » the quiz and answers)
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Made by Blog Team would like to thank all of you for a fantastic year, and we look forward to seeing you in 2007.
Mele Kalikimaka me ka Hauoli Makahiki Hou!
This concludes Katie’s Round 3 with mods R3/I, R3/J, and R3/K.
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!
And since I doubt I’ll be posting here again ’til the calendar flips over:
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.
A few years ago I had dinner with Jacques Cavallier and some other people from Firmenich at my favorite Japanese restaurant in Manhattan which he had heard about from Issey Miyake and wanted to go. Jacques had been in Japan a few times to work with Issey and seemed to have liked being there except for one thing. During the dinner Jacques told me that the smell of Japanese women’s skin bothered him when testing fragrances on them, “Their skin smells like fish.” I laughed and told him that I kind of liked it.
First, I have to say I don’t know about Japanese men because I’ve never stuck my nose to a guy to smell his skin, but I knew the subtle smell of the Japanese women’s skin that Jacques spoke about that evening. However, I’m not sure if I can pick up that smell when a fragrance is sprayed over the skin. I’m talking about a genius that appears only once in many years – Jacques Cavallier can smell many of the things that we can’t. There are a few “scent experts” trying to discredit the genius, but I have to say they either are jealous or cannot understand his sharp sense of humor, and therefore dislike him.
Anyway… what am I trying to say here? Oh right, I think most fragrances smell boring on Japanese women. Generally they have faint body odor, and on top of that they cleanse their bodies too much. When they wear fragrances they only smell like the fragrances. I’m not a big fan of Paris (I’m talking about the city) but love the way women there smell. I don’t particularly enjoy the smell in the Metro or NYC subway during summer, but the mixture of a woman’s body odor and her perfume is often more exciting than any perfume.
Basically the fragrance industry is driven by Western people who don’t know much about Japan or other Asian countries. They often say “Oh, it’s so difficult to sell fragrances in Japan,” or “The Asian market is so unpredictable.” Maybe it’s not important for them to make smash-hit fragrances for Japanese market… but think about Prada or other European fashion brands. Sometimes more than half of their revenues are coming from Japan. Fragrances could do the same as well. So Fragrance Industry, bury your noses in Japanese women and think! I wouldn’t be surprised if you guys come up with a scent that smells like soy sauce.
“It’s the season for gifts, and most people are looking for a safe bet, especially men.” Clement says it’s the time for classics and good sellers.
Among the classics Clement chooses:
for women: Beautiful, Happy, Chanel 5, Chance, Romance, Light Blue
for men: Acqua di Gio, Eternity
Among the newer fragrances he chooses warm, rich and musky:
for woman: Euphoria, Lovely, Angel, Hypnose
for man: Code, Le Male
Clement also predicts Unforgivable will be popular among younger consumers during this holiday season.
This concludes Marina’s Round 4 with mod R4/L and R4/M.
© What We Do Is Secret
I had a wonderful opportunity to talk on the phone with Clement Gavarry, the wonderful perfumer who is creating my Holy Grail. He said that my idea behind the scent was very “niche” and “avangarde”…and that is the best compliment I have received in a long, long time. In turn, I told him that I loved one of the two latest mods, R4/M, and that I thought that we were on the right track.
R4/M has all the qualities I am looking for in my ultimate fragrance. It has soft spiciness (cardamom), sweet amber, quite prominent leather and musk, and a comfortable and comforting but not too “fluffy” vanillic drydown. What I want now is for all these qualities to be amplified and emphasized. I would like more spice (I asked Clement to experiment with pepper and coriander), more leather, more musk, even more vanilla. Plus I’d love for the scent to acquire a distinctly smoky undertone. Not so realistically smoky as to be borderline disturbing, like CB I Hate Perfume Burning Leaves; I am looking for subtle, elegant and softly-enveloping smoke of Bois d’Armenie.
The other mod, R4/L, although not drastically different from R4/M, still had, on my skin, the saffron note that I apparently cannot stand anymore. I realize that I actually specifically asked for saffron in my proposal. I loved the note but now the love is gone. I wonder if perfumers in general and Clement in particular find their clients’ ever changing requirements exasperating. I also wonder whether working with one individual client is actually harder in that respect, whether it might not be easier to deal with a committee who submit their brief once and don’t mess with it again, like I do with my “brief” for Holy Grail. In other words, I wonder if it is easier to satisfy a corporation than it is to satisfy one fickle perfumista.
I used to make sculptures from sugar. That’s when I started to incorporate scents made by wonderful perfumers like Jean-Pierre Bethouart and Thierry Wasser in my art.
In 1999, I used 5 tons of sugar and 50 kilograms of fragrance oil for an installation in Japan. Everyday during the exhibition, 2 kilos of scent created by Thierry Wasser was sprayed on the floor. The visitors to the exhibition left with the scent on their clothes and shoes. As a result, an old downtown neighborhood in Tokyo was scented for a several block radius during the exhibition, and the scent remained for more than a year in the former rice market which housed the installation. Surprisingly, there wasn’t even a complaint, and I was still receiving messages from people who wanted the scent a year after the exhibition.
© What We Do Is Secret
There is a question from Sariah which I want to answer in this post. This is the same question I had when I first stumbled in the fragrance industry – why are the industry’s most talented and creative forces hidden behind the curtain?
There are mainly two different types of players in the fragrance industry: the clients (i.e. L’Oreal, Estee Lauder, Dior, Calvin Klein, and so many more) and the suppliers (i.e. Firmenich, Givaudan, IFF, and a few more).
Now, the relationship between these two is not like the one between a fashion designer and his client. If a rich woman orders an haute couture dress from Giorgio Armani Prive, the dress will be saying “I’m Armani!” to the world. Everyone would know Armani’s creativity is woven into the fabric.
Although the word “supplier” doesn’t imply a serious act of creation, these few major suppliers in the fragrance industry are the true source of creativity. Their scientists develop new molecules, and their perfumers create scents. Things become complicated since their clients are supposed to be the creator of fragrances in the eyes of the consumers. There is another factor which contributes to the complication – there is only a limited number of suppliers that can handle the demands of these clients. As a result, a perfumer will often be working simultaneously for several clients who are competitors. Imagine if the perfumer has a great formula which may set a new trend, and all his clients want it for their new fragrances…
The perfumers are very much aware of their circumstances and mission. Jacques Cavallier was once quoted as saying, “Our profession is based on the notion of secrecy. We are the temple guardians.”