Sunday, September 30, 2007

Féminité du Bois

I love this fragrance from Shiseido. This fragrance is based on woods, especially cedar wood. Other notes are not used to round off the accord, like it's done in many classical fragrances, but they are used to deepen the main accord. I can't find it in the descriptions of this fragrance, but when I apply it to my skin, I can smell a very dominant cumin note, besides the notes of cedar wood. The cedar wood can be smelled from the top trough bottom, what makes me wonder what materials are used in this fragrance. Somehow if you create fragrances yourself, you smell and judge fragrances differently, you 'feel' the emotion of the fragrance like any other, but you also want to recognize some materials that are used, it's more analytical smelling. Because I know the smell of many materials, and how combinations of these materials do smell like, it's easier to recognize them, otherwise I can only guess what's used. I think there is some Vertenex used, which smells like wood but appears in the top notes as well. Another note that I recognize is Iso E Super, this material smells woody, but warm and amber like at the same time. It makes this woody accord more warm. I can smell a honey note as well, which I think is wonderful in combination with cedar. I think besides the cedar notes a sandal note is used as well.

So in my opinion the following woody notes are used; Vertenex, to create a woody top note, Cedar with Cedryl acetate and Cedrol, maybe some Cedramber as well, Iso E Super to create a warm woody note, Sandal wood to add warmth, and some Ionones for violet and woody notes, which creates a bridge between the heart and the base notes. Besides the Cumin there are other spices used as well, like clove and cinnamon. There is some sort of animalic scent in the base notes that could be Civet or Castoreum, together with soft Vanilla, but not too much though. Some fruity notes of plum and some floral notes are used as well, but in a modest way, not disturbing the all over woody aura of this fragrance.

Féminité du Bois is created by Pierre Bourdon (photo on your right) and Christopher Sheldrake and launched in 1992 by Shiseido. The bottle was designed by Serge Lutens and he was the one that looked over the shoulder of the perfumers. It's a very mysterious fragrance, I think it can be worn by both men and women. It definitely makes a statement, it's emotional and very unique. Although.... I read a review by Luca Turin where he tells that the perfumer Pierre Bourdon used the idea of Féminité du Bois in another context for the perfume Dolce Vita by Dior. Of course I got curious about it and put Féminité du Bois on one wrist and Dolce Vita on the other. It's true, you can recognize Féminité du Bois in Dolce Vita, I would never come up with this myself. The bottles and the presentation of both fragrances looks so different that I never would have found the link between the two. Dolce Vita is not build up with notes to deepen the cedar wood notes like in Féminité du Bois, but is more dimensional. It has more citrus top notes and instead of plum it has peach as the fruity note. The floral heart is more deepened with 'lighter' floral notes like lilly of the valley. Dolce Vita is more crisp juicy and floral than Féminité du Bois, but the cedar wood and again the cumin note are recognized real easy.

Sunday, September 23, 2007


I heard about the Monclin before, it sounded fascinating, but wasn't doing much with the information. The first time that I read about it was on Luca Turin's blog. You can see two Monclin's on the photo above, they look like two wine glasses putting upside down with a little hole in it, where a scent strip is pushed through. It was invented by the perfume house Jean Patou.

A couple of days ago, I was studying some of my materials that I put on scent strips, I was searching for a nice combination of these materials to find a new accord. I grabbed a Bordeaux wine glass and put a couple of these scent strips in it, and smelled...... Wow, this was an unbelievable experience. This experience is so totally different than smelling just straight from the scent strips. The smell is much more concentrated, more lively and full, it's like you smell in 3D. I play with my own 'Monclin' all the time now. I start with one scent strip dipped in a material and than add another one to it, and smell the combination of these two. I can add as many scent strips as I like. I like to do the whole procedure backwards as well, by taking away a scent strip and smell how much difference this makes, I can smell the difference in an instant now, I keep smelling while I take the strip away.

Here you can read how you can create your own Monclin.

Sunday, September 16, 2007


Mmm the scent of Oudh sometimes called Agarwood or Eaglewood is so incredible wonderful. It has all kinds of shades, it's smokey, deep woody, a bit sweet in an intriguing way. It even has some green notes and some kind of mouldy notes. It's hard to describe the scent. It reminds me of a blend of vetiver, birch tar, sandalwood, guiacwood, vetiveryl acetate, patchouli and some spicy notes like the note of clove. But this all can't create the scent of Oudh, it's way too complex for it.

I used Oudh in my first 'swap' perfume, which I worked on some more. I studied the feedback that I've got from the members of my group and used this information to alter the creation.

Some of the feedback I received about this fragrance is that the top notes are too overwhelming, I agree with this, this is not because I used too much top notes, but because I used strong smelling woody and ambery notes, which pushes themselves towards the top notes. I started to reduce the amount of patchouli, birch tar and cedar, and added a creamy warm sandalwood to round the fragrance out and smooth it a bit. To give the woody notes a fresh woody boost I used a bit more vetiveryl acetate, which smells like the fresh smelling part of vetiver oil. I also added less amber, instead I used more rose and jasmine to create a stronger heart note.

The fragrance has a sweet honey note which is wonderful in combination with Oudh, I want to keep that note, but it was too sweet, so I also reduced the amount of honey and added a bit more bergamot to create a more sparkling top note. After reducing some of the base notes and adding some sandalwood and more vetiveryl acetate, it still needed a warm note, I decided to use Aldron a material from Symrise with an animalic scent, which create a warm aura. I'll let the creation mature and will see if these alterations worked.

Something totally different:

Yesterday I visited the blog of Andy, when I started to read the first line of his post, I got goosebumps and knew what he was about to tell us, the following sentences I had to read trough the tears in my eyes. It's heartbreaking to hear that his mother past away last Friday. My heart goes out to him, his partner W. and his family and friends. It's so hard to loose one of your parents. I hope they all will find strength and consolation among each other. Of course Andy shut off the comments on the post and asked not to send emails. I just have to say something, that's why I will do it this way.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Velvet Blossom

Can you recall the experience of touching the petals of a blossom? Doesn't it feel soft like velvet? I thought of which name I could give to the fragrance I worked on based on the soft fresh scented magnolia combined with other white flowers like lily of the valley, white lily, orange blossom, Mai rose, freesia and jasmine. The fragrance smells tender, romantic, fresh and sweet at the same time. When I smell this fragrance, words like tender, romantic, petals, blossom and velvet comes in mind. Then I thought, why not call it 'Velvet Blossom'? I think it's a nice name, I also thought of 'Velvet Petals'. I'm not sure which name is best yet, but I think it will be 'Velvet Blossom'. Now I'm dreaming of how it will look like in a beautiful bottle and how the fragrance description would sound, maybe something like:

Velvet Blossom

A fragrance for the romantic soul, tender like a fresh blossom.

Top notes: Lemon, Orange, Grapefruit, Rose wood and green leaves

Heart notes: Magnolia, Lily of the Valley, Orange blossom, Freesia, Mai Rose, White Lily and Jasmine Sambac

Base notes: Vetiver, Vanilla, Oak moss and musk

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Interview with Michael Storer

I'm very glad that I got to know Michael Storer almost two years ago. We never met in person yet, but we talk a lot by email. Michael is also a very active member of my group 'Perfume making'. Always willing to share his knowledge of perfume making with the members of the group, he likes to help other perfumers to grow as well, something that is admirable. Michael is a very kind man, who is very modest about his own success. He launched six fragrances, three men's fragrances; Monk, Djin and Il Giardino and three fragrances for women; Stephanie, Yvette and Genviève. I did an interview with Michael Storer before, we talked about his men's fragrances and he told us how his passion for the creation of fragrances started. In that time he already started to talk about his idea to create fragrances for women as well. Now that he finally launched his three women's fragrances it's time the world should hear about these wonderful fragrances. In this interview we talk about his three 'sister' fragrances for women:

Can you share with us what the inspiration was behind all three perfumes?

Well, the whole idea for three sisters started out with one fragrance I wanted to do. Genviève, named after my mother. I wanted to design a perfume... not a cologne... that was very "upper class" and quintessentially soft and feminine and that had a floral base with just a bit of fruitiness for modernity. I wanted something that was refined and tasteful, not gaudy or loud. Something that reeked of good breeding and understated old money. I guess I wanted to do this because I had been working so long on masculine or actually unisex scents, my Monk, Il Giardino and Djin. Rose as a theme was a natural for this and I wanted to use some aldehydic notes to give it a Chanel No. 5 sort of luxury feel. I wanted the wearer or anyone who smelled it to think of diamonds and platinum. Anyway, I was browsing the Internet and hit upon some vintage Vogue magazine covers. I found the January, 1950 issue and thought... 'Oh, there's my girl in this classic gown and there's my ideal image for this perfume.' It featured a classy young woman in a chiffon opera gown. Strapless but in impeccable taste. The only thing that could date the picture is the long black gloves she wears. But I maintain that even now this look can be very with-it. Her look and her gown are totally timeless and refined femininity to my thinking. I even came up with an ad idea for the picture. It would feature my crystal perfume bottle and read: Timeless. Like you.

Well, after really quite a bit of real goal-oriented experimenting over several months, which of course is the joy of doing perfumery, I hit upon just the right thing and I knew I had what I wanted as soon as I whiffed it. It was just suddenly done. Just like that. It's an odd feeling when you finish an art project in whatever medium. Once it's done, it becomes this construction, this 'thing' that exists but that feels like it's no longer yours. You simply gave birth to something that exists on its own now. That's how it's been with all the fragrances I no longer have floating around in limbo in bottles still left with ideas to try this or that on. These as yet unborn ones are still yours. The finishing cuts the umbilical cord so to speak.

Soon after, I found a source for these beautiful heavy crystal bottles that were just perfect for the image I wanted for Genviève. Suddenly it became clear that I had enjoyed designing Genviève so thoroughly and the bottles were so nice, I wanted to give her 'sisters'. Three is a nice number, so I thought, 'Good. I get to design two more very womanly and equally classic perfumes.'

Next came Stephanie, my full-out gardenia perfume. I had been doing some experiments with single flower perfumes and I felt I had made quite a bit of headway on a gardenia. It just seemed a natural to me to have a heavier floral scent as many women's personalities are attracted to that rather than a lighter scent. I worked for a couple of months on that one. I smelled all the gardenia fragrances I could find and even asked women on the beauty and perfume boards to send me samples of ones I couldn't locate. These ladies really came through for me! In the end, there was something about each of them that just didn't capture the real flower for me. I have two gardenia plants growing in my back garden and was lucky that they were prolifically in bloom at the time. I said to myself, 'I can do better than any of these.' Well, tell me I have a big ego, but in the end I think that I surpassed all of them and a lot of users think so, too.

I had an epiphany of sorts making Stephanie. I got to the point where I thought it was finished so I set the little brown bottle aside for a few days to do its own magic. When I revisited it and put a dash on my arm, I thought that something was disappointing about it... Although it was quite good, it seemed to lack a certain crisp green pungency at the top. It just didn't have a certain sparkle I wanted. I had a sudden flash of what to try adding. It was a certain almost radishy-green chrysanthemum note.. very potent. I put just a drop of that into the mix and like a miracle the whole fragrance sprang to life. It's just funny to me that it was so after-the-fact. Almost serendipity. At that point, Stephanie flew the coop just as Genviève had and belonged no longer to me.

Yvette came to me with a lot of effort. I first tried a carnation fragrance, which I still really like, but after submitting it for our "group swap," Jenny, I came to the conclusion that it just wasn't exciting enough. People in our group liked it ok, but there were no big raves. So I thought, 'Why bottle this?' Next I experimented with another single flower note I'd been working on, a violet. I developed a very nice violet perfume, but I don't know... somehow I grew tired of smelling it and thought I'd rather create a fantasy perfume as the third sister.. something a bit more risky, not a solo flower and perhaps a bit gourmand. Something that wasn't so easy to categorize.

The final product was born out of curiosity about a few basic notes, one of them being genet, also called broom absolute. I built an accord around this and slowly Yvette began to take form. The somewhat buttery and bakery notes came later and the tarragon was a sudden bold stoke that just happened to work right. It's the fragrance that I fretted the most over. With a pure fantasy fragrance one has no real flower or any other kind of map to follow. Creating this kind of scent is the most exciting of all, but you really feel alone doing it because you're completely in uncharted waters with nothing to tell you if you're hot or if you're cold. It's all about trusting yourself. That's exhilarating but scary for anyone. I admit I had a lot of trepidation sending a sample vial to you, Jenny. I honestly had no idea what kind of reaction you'd have and I regard your nose very highly. My jaw practically dropped open when you told me it was your personal favorite 'sister' because I knew that the other two were very good.

I like all three of your fragrances, but Yvette is my personal favorite, I like fragrances that are complex, and Yvette is a very nice complex fragrance. I have to say that Stephanie comes close behind Yvette, it depends on what mood I'm in. If you would compare your three sister fragrances with music, which music would you compare to which fragrance?

Ummm.... That takes some thought. I'd say Genviève might be the ensemble of silver flutes that play Tsjaikovski ballet Danse des Merlitons in the Nutcracker Suite. That's silvery, light, classic and very feminine. Yeah, that could be a match.
Ummm... Stephanie.... Oh, this is hard! I get a very cool and sexy tenor saxophone. Yeah, and trombones, trumpets... It's the blues. That's what fits for me. What would Yvette be musically?? I think again jazz. But not so bluesy. More upbeat. Or in a totally different and romantic direction... "Stardust Memories" by Hogie Carmichael even though it's pretty old now, it's still one of the most beautiful melodies ever written. I think I'm telling you more about myself here than about my perfumes. [laughs].

Ohh I love the music of Tsjaikovski, when I was a little girl I always danced to it in my tutu. Can we expect a new women's fragrance soon? Are you working on one and will there be a fourth sister?

Will there be a fourth sister? I don't have anything planned. I want to work on a dark perfume next. Something for men and women. But I'd like it to be a perfume. Woody, musky.... I'm working on a few ideas, but I don't know yet how to package it. Should it be packaged like the three sisters? I don't know at all yet.

So a unisex fragrance? I think you need bottles that are 'unisex' as well then.

Yes, that is exactly the problem. Bottles. I will perhaps unify all of my bottles in the future, using just one bottle for everything I make. It would solve a myriad of problems. I'm not sure about that yet. But it may be coming.

Are you ever planning to start your own boutique?

Well, I guess one should never say 'never', but I can't see myself doing that in the near future. I'm currently more interested in wholesaling to boutiques, etc. I don't know how I'd like standing in a shop all day waiting for someone to walk in. I'm much more comfortable at my perfumery bench surrounded by raw materials.

I guess you right, but I think it's a nice experience for you and the buyers of your fragrances to be able to talk to each other. Is there a material you have only started exploring in your work recently?

Yes, I'm intrigued completely by Karanal. You know it Jenny, but I don't know if you've worked with it or not. It's fascinating, but at the same time I find it challenging to dose correctly.

Yes, I know how it smells, it smells a bit like amber, but have not worked with it yet, I think it's a difficult material to work with. What is the most unusual perfume you have ever created?

Oh my god! I've made a lot.. I mean a lot... of stink bombs. Way too many of them to count. They were certainly the most unusual. I've made things that ended up smelling like gasoline, farts, dirty feet, you name it. All in the name of discovery... [laughs] ... You should ask my partner. He'll tell you!

I know what you mean, I have the same discoveries.LOL What profession would you have gone into had you taken an alternate route in life?

Well, I was an actor in television for many years and I traveled the world as a photo model. I started with perfumery when I was in high school, but laid it aside for many years. For a long time I was a visual artist and I did some music composing. I can't imagine having taken a different path. It seems I was cut out for just what I'm doing. I'm fascinated with astronomy and also paleoanthropology, but I really can't image what kind of life I'd have had without art. I know I was destined to be an artist.

I would love to see a photo of you at work as a model, do you have a photo that I can add to this interview?

Here is one:

What do you think women are wanting from fragrance in today’s world?

I don't think much changes in this respect. They want romance above all. They want some perfumes to make them feel like they're being taken seriously and they want others to make them feel playful and sexually attractive. They want novelty. Women and of course men, too, tire of the same fragrances. It's just like shoes, actually. Styles will just go back and forth like a pendulum. And we'll be lucky when science brings us new aroma materials to work with and sad when others are made off limits to perfumers.

What do you hope women will take from your three 'sister' fragrances?

I frequently get e-mails from women well as men... who have bought my fragrances. One woman recently wrote that Stephanie is the is most beautiful scent she has ever smelled and that it almost brings tears to her eyes when she wears it because it's such a beautiful work of art. Wow! Now that's potent and really touches me deeply. To think that I can make someone that happy... even just one stranger... It truly is sublime.

A final question, uhm... are you ever planning to create a perfume called Jenny? Just kidding. Thank you so much for this interview, I enjoyed it very much.

The main problem with that would be getting people who speak English to say the name Jenny correctly. Everyone would pronounce it Genny and not Yenny... Then it would sound like a nick name for Genviève.
Jenny, I don't think it will be long at all before your name is all tied up with your own fragrances! I enjoyed this interview too, it was fun, thank you so much!

Michael Storer's three 'sisters' and his men's fragrances and samples are available at the website of MICHAEL STORER Fine Fragrances: well as at Lucky Scent online and at their trendy Scent Bar in Los Angeles:

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Genviève by Michael Storer

The last but not least star of the three 'sister' fragrances by Michael Storer is Genviève. A classic fragrance with a modern twist, build around the scent of roses from Damascus and Bulgaria, with their ultra feminine scent. Combined with the fresh but tender scent of Mimosa absolute, the intense tropical scent of Ylang ylang and the sensual notes of Jasmine absolute. Cool green notes of Violet leaf absolute calms the rose notes. The muguet makes it sparkling fresh. All these lovely flowers are bedded in a dream of a gentle peach note, which gives this fragrance a golden glow. The green tea gives this classic fragrance a modern twist. Sensual notes of civet, ambergris and musk preventing Genviève to become innocent.

Genviève is a fruity floral fragrance, intense feminine, timeless and rich. If I had to equate this fragrance with a Hollywood star it would be Grace Kelly. An actress seen as a standard of beauty, grace, and style, as timeless and feminine as the fragrance Genviève.

Genviève and her two 'sisters' are available as eau de parfum strength.
Michael Storer's three 'sisters' and his men's fragrances and samples are available at the website of MICHAEL STORER Fine Fragrances:
as well as at Lucky Scent online and at their trendy Scent Bar in Los Angeles:

Tomorrow an interview with Michael Storer!