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Quite recently Hermès announced that nose Christine Nagel would be joining Jean-Claude Ellena as new nose to create new fragrances together for this legendary luxury brand. It was interesting news for many reasons. One is that Jean-Claude Ellena has been alone in his role for a long time (a decade) and it is hard to distinguish what is Hermès and what is master Ellena in an Hermès fragrance. Each fragrance is permeated by his artistry and endless choices down to the most detailed detail. Some were surprised by the choice. I am not familiar enough with Christine Nagels character as a nose to say anything about it other than that it is obvious that taking in a new nose to work with Ellena at Hermès must be a very particular process since everything about this brand is an homage to detail and perfection. So I am curious to discover what this new phase will bring and what Christine Nagel will bring to it. She is the nose behind many Jo Malone fragrances and Narcisco Rodriguez For Her so not at all a typical French haute parfumerie artist but more contemporary in her style.

Photo of Ellena and Nagel in The Cut.

Photo of Ellena and Nagel in The Cut.

The Cut recently did an interview with the new nose team that includes some really interesting statements. Direct and art-focused, just like the fragrances that monsieur Ellena makes.

I do recommend you to read the interview but let me share some highlights. The description of their collaboration is something many creative professionals can relate to and be inspired by. It’s great to hear a master such as Ellena describe their differences as an asset and then their generous way of working as a strength of their team work. They describe progressing together and surprising each other.

The discussion on luxury is also very interesting, this is really a core question in today’s market and zeitgeist I believe. We are becoming more globalized and more ethical consumers which leads to a decreasing interest in show-off luxury items in informed markets. Consumers want something else than a shortcut that mainly signals affluence, the “specialness” in luxury has changed. Jean-Claude Ellena says: “There is no scent that is luxurious. It’s what we do with it that makes it luxurious. Otherwise, how will we know when something is luxurious? The supreme luxury is to take time, and we have time at Hermès” and adds, “the thing that is important at Hermès is that it is the perfumer who decides whether the perfume will go on the market”. He concludes, “this is really the luxury, the freedom”. There is another perfume house characterized by this rule, Editions de Parfums Frédéric Malle. A much anticipated launch can be delayed because the perfume is not ready. If this is considered luxurious working conditions for the perfumer, than how luxurious is it not for the person who wears the perfume to know that this is the level of dedication and ambition behind it? Does this mean that these perfumes are better? If I look to myself, definitely these two perfume houses take up more space in my perfume collection than other ones and I made many of those selections before knowing these facts behind them. Not surprising of course that Malle’s fragrance range includes two creations by Jean-Claude Ellena.

Jean-Claude Ellena's photo from his lab. Photo used in The Cut.

Jean-Claude Ellena’s photo from his lab. Photo used in The Cut.

For Hermès fans it should be interesting to read the description of Hermès as a day and afternoon brand. To be honest I had actually never thought of this aspect. When I think about it though I realize that in fact I never wear Ellena perfumes in the evening or night, it never felt right. Voyage, Bigarade give me fresh air and energy as I embark on a new day. Ambre Narguilé comfort for an afternoon that closes circles. There is one exception though, Poivre Samarcande, this one I love for a dinner with conversations about life and travel!

I will not reveal more, read the interview. It’s great. And then you will also find out what smelled of vanilla and mold.

For more Ellena I suggest this interview at Perfume Shrine and this one or even better, reading monsieur Ellena’s own books.

There is much wonderfulness to say about fragrance and drinks. Not too long ago I shared this great piece on whiskey from Samir Dave and just now I heard about a great event in Berlin.

"Whiskey is a journey, not a destination", quote and photo from Samir Dave.

“Whiskey is a journey, not a destination”, quote and photo from Samir Dave.

On Thursday, June 12th, Ritz-Carlton Berlin will open Fragrances, a mixology/olfactory experience where patrons use their sense of smell to select their drink of choice.

Designed by “Cocktail Whisperer” Arnd Henning Heissen, the menu’s alcoholic beverages are presented with a bottle of perfume. The drink will not only smell like the scent, but will also reflect that smell in its taste.

There will be a display of the drinks’ ingredients, placed in glass domes next to the perfumes. Each drink will be served in a unique way to augment its individuality.

PSFK write: “Smells evoke memories and create strong emotional bonds with the environment. They have an immense influence in product and experience association, and the Ritz-Carlton is evidence that brands are capitalizing on this idea.”

Ingredient display. Photo from PSFK. article.

Ingredient display. Photo from PSFK. article.

Dresses, fabrics, cutlery, eye shadow(s), hair, playlists, scallops, weather, tents, napkins, wines, cakes, cookies, beloved relatives, impossible relatives, speeches, ribbons… The list of things that can be part of planning a wedding is endless.

If you ask me an important sense is often neglected. There are perfumes advertised in wedding magazines, and every now and then a story about a particular perfume and a related love story of someone famous, or a perfume created as a love declaration. But I can’t remember a more dedicated piece on the scent aspects of a wedding. (If you have, please share). Some perfume writers and bloggers have addressed this topic in an ambitious way though. I have also not seen proper consultations offered in retail (I don’t count “there is a new romantic lily of the valley out on the market, the perfect scent for a bride” as a wedding scent consultation).

Now you may think, well maybe it’s just not as important and prominent as the dress, music, place, flowers etc… My answer is: are you sure?

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Smells have a very powerful impact on our memories, moods and feelings. So when selecting the details that will create the atmosphere of a wedding, it should be natural to consider also how scents will contribute. It is easier than you think.

The scent of an occasion like this (the thoughts in this post can be applied to any event of significance) is just as significant and influential as the music or scenography. It’s just that there is no tradition of working with it. That however does not mean that we are not affected, and making more personal, emotionally valuable, romantic and wise choices would indeed make a difference.

So, what should you think about? Two things mainly: yourself and your partner (that is one thing) and the other smells at your wedding. The other ones are for example the food, the flowers in your bouquet, surrounding flowers and plants (both decorations and already existing ones), the setting.

Choosing a scent is not very different from the other choices you will be making in that the same criteria should apply. At some point you probably sat down and made a list of what you want your wedding to be like, for example romantic, elegant, unusual, playful, sweet, decadent, personal, sophisticated, relaxed. And you had some ideas on what that would lead to, for example if you and your partner love nature and you want your wedding to be personal you’ll want to incorporate some nature elements into your wedding in setting and menu and clothes. If you are a couple from different cultures you probably put some effort into coming up with ideas on how to add different elements and symbols based on that. If you want a Rat Pack wedding that has influenced your choice of DJ and dress and venue. Etc etc. All these kinds of thoughts and ideas can be translated into scents.

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Your fragrance
Let’s start with you. If you like to wear perfume (or other fragranced products), you will want to wear some for your big love celebration and you’ll want it to be special and right. A wedding is usually an event that lasts for a few hours and as a bride or groom you want to feel fresh and uplifted not tired, uplifted. Maybe you prepared the day before by doing sports and eating and drinking healthy, you have gone to a spa or beautician to add some glow. Scents too, affect our energy, they can help us feel fresh. A scent can also soothe or even make us tired. I would be very surprised if there have not been some people getting married wearing a perfume that either made them tired or maybe even allergic. A wise fragrance choice is one that keeps you in the right mood and supports energy – for example a nice clean cologne or other citrus fragrance for the day and the emotional moments that easily make your body send off extra heat, and then for the evening something more sensual, gourmand or spicy. These two fragrances should be selected so they go well with each other though.

If you feel tense and a little more nervous that you want to feel – it might be unwise to have a fragrance that is too complicated, a more clean fragrance with balanced calm notes will help you relax and feel centered. On the other hand if you are exhausted from preparations, support yourself with something that keeps your mind awake. And of course… coordinate your scent with your partner. You will be close all day, don’t expose yourselves to a scent collision that will not smell nice and give you both a headache. These are just some aspects to consider from a more practical point of view.

Choose a fragrance synchronized with your wedding bouquet. A perfect perfume and a perfect bouquet might clash when in combination if they include smells that don’t go well together. Choose flowers in your bouquet also from a scent perspective; avoid sedating or too strong smell. Co-ordinate your perfume provider and your florist.

Generally, I would say that for your wedding day – don’t go complex. Choose something light, soft, intimate and personal but easy. There will be so much going on, so many people, so many emotions and hormones. Trust your preferences. While its never right to make a perfume purchase too fast (too fast in this case means for example without taking the time to experience more than top notes) this is really really not the time for a hasty risky purchase. Other things to consider can be looking for a perfume house or creator that you identify with, associations to geographical places (for example places that are part of your romantic history together), perfumes created in a romantic contexts (By nose couples, or perfumes created by a nose for a lover or commissioned for a beloved.) And if you can, maybe consider creating your own fragrance for this day with the help of a perfumer.

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Smell an(d) emotion
Now from an emotional and romantic point of view (and what occasion is there more relevant for that than a wedding) there is so much you can do with scents. It is a fact that regardless of whether we are interested or pay attention to it, scents are very powerful because of the brain’s design. Scents are connected to memories and feelings. If you think about it, you probably have some scent memories that you connect to a person, a place or a situation.

This is the same mechanism that teleports us to places and times when we smell something and suddenly get an image in our head. So imagine how beautiful to use this brain force at your weeding and connect this day to those particular moments. During a wedding scent consultation process I talk to a couple about their romantic history to identify one, or several, particular scents that we can work with. Maybe the scent of the first flowers your partner gave you, maybe there is a spice in your favorite meal to cook together, maybe a smell in the apartment or something from a trip together.
A scent that creates an instant connection to the feeling of “us”.

Not only will highlighting such a scent detail during the wedding add emotion from the past, which will intensify your experience, it will also be coded in the brain for the future. So in one or ten years when you want to relive some of that feeling from your wedding day using that scent will help you.

Scent scenography
Naturally, we are not talking just about perfume but also about the food, the setting, floral arrangements etc. What we are looking for is a consciously created scent scenography for your wedding which supports atmosphere, emotion and well-being. It should be functional and personal.

Here are some concrete things to consider:

– The place your wedding ceremony and party are in already has/have some scents – take them into consideration. If it’s a church maybe don’t wear incense-like perfume, it will be too much. If you are in a garden with trees and flowers – be careful when adding more flowers so not to create an overdose.
– Synchronize the smells in food, fragrance and flower decorations.
– Avoid smells that guests might react to. For example big lilies give many people a headache and they take over so if you have a lovely plate in your menu with delicate tastes it might not get the attention it deserves.
– If you are giving guests gifts, a scented candle can be really special. Create a red thread, for example if you had roses in your bouquet and fragrance a nice scented rose candle will make the day live on. (Scented candles deserve a post on their own…, they are often used to create an atmosphere, sometimes a shortcut. A good candle is great but no candles by the food! And choose carefully.)
– Create a sensory frame that is comfortable for the senses for guests – everything from food to scented candles in wash rooms should be treated like members of one ensemble. Think of scent as a scenography tool.

If reading this made you interested in making scent scenography part of your wedding and you would like some help with that or if you are a wedding coordinator and would like to incorporate this into your process please feel free to contact me for a consultation using the comments section below or by e-mail sylvia(at)interabang.nu

This started about a year ago. Well, of course to be honest it started much earlier. It started when I was a student studying at the libraries in various European cities that I passed on my young journey searching for my future path(s). It also started when I understood why my father would buy very old books at auctions not necessarily to read them (for example seven or so versions of Qvo Vadis). It started many times. But also about a year ago. I was talking to my friend, and at that time colleague, Karl about how we loved the smell of books. All the ways in which old printed paper can smell… How it is part of the reading experience and about the feeling of stepping into an old book store. When I read about Dead Writers a few months ago I remembered this conversation. Karl had actually read about this perfume too and had the same association. So – this post is dedicated is to you, Karl. One of the most intellectually rapid and insightfully witty persons that I have ever had the pleasure to be around! 
chicagopubliclibrary.tumblr.com/post/31525993209/the-reason-old-books-smell-so-wonderful

So, what happens when a writer starts experimenting with aromatherapy trying to create a remedy for migraines?

Home of the Dead Writers line of literary perfumes, Sweet Tea Apothecary is a Seattle based micro-perfumery specializing in historically inspired handmade perfumes. About three years ago the owner – writer, journalist and teacher JT Siems started to experiment with aromatherapy to create something for herself that would help her deal with migraine problems. One thing led to the other and soon she found herself crafting scents around the ideas of famous historical people.

And one day I stumbled upon Dead Writers while doing some research and had all these lovely associations based on my past and personal references. So I contacted JT to hear more about her thoughts about perfume and the idea with the writers theme! This is what she kindly shared with me.

How did it all begin? 
I’ve always loved perfume. That was always the luxury item I wanted. I think I have good body chemistry or something because people tell me I smell good all the time, even when I’m not wearing any scent. Reactions like that are really intriguing to me so I find it fun to kind of play mad scientist and see what I come up with. I also really like hearing people describe my perfume because it’s so subjective – sometimes people come up with stuff I haven’t even thought of. In making my own perfumes and mixing them with writing and learning about other people’s lives, I’ve really found it to be another creative outlet for me.
 

How do you choose your writers?


My intention was to have a whole line of writer inspired perfumes but the Dead Writers perfume itself got popular before I could release the others. Right now I’m working on getting those ready. I have an Edgar Allan Poe inspired perfume called Lenore coming out soon and am working on a Zelda Fitzgerald called Zelda and a Jack Kerouac called Dharma Bum. My process for choosing writers is kind of all over the place. Sometimes I have a fully formed idea and I just go for it, sometimes I’m just working on a perfume and say to myself, “Wow that reminds me of [insert writer].” Lenore and Dharma Bum were intentional, Zelda, I was actually trying to make an F. Scott Fitzgerald scent and what I came up with just screamed Zelda. I also think she’s under appreciated so I’m happy to give her the spotlight. Thoreau was also an accident. I like woodsy scents and after I first made that one, the first thing that came to mind was Walden. 
Is any of your perfumes a favorite of yours? 

Remy and Georgiana are probably my favorites. I could wear Remy everyday, I just love the honey quality to it and the saffron also gives it this nice spiciness that keeps it from being too sweet. Georgiana is my favorite to wear for special occasions or going out because it has this elegant, sultry smokiness that is subtle yet very memorable. It shocks people to know that I don’t usually wear Dead Writers. I like Dead Writers but two things prevent me from wearing it. 1. I tend to like lighter perfumes that have tea, floral, or honey qualities. 2. I literally spill Dead Writers all over myself every time I make it, which is very frequently these days to keep up with demand.

You categorize three of your perfumes as unisex. What are your thoughts on this, is it necessary or good to separate perfumes into for men /for women? 

I separate three into men’s / unisex more as an identifier for the men who happen to come looking at my shop. They tend to want to stay away from the florals and the sweeter perfumes so I do it as more of an easy way for them to find something they might like. That said, I love wearing “men’s” cologne and have found that many of the women who visit my shop aren’t at all bothered by the label and feel as I do. Maynard is the only one so far that I’ve made with men in mind, Dead Writers and Thoreau turned out how they did and I heard feedback from both men and women that they liked it. I made Maynard for my husband, but that’s another one I actually really like to wear. Overall, I think if you like a scent you should wear it without worrying about whether it’s perceived as masculine or feminine. We all have different body chemistry and you never know what’s going to sit well on you. 



Where do your draw inspiration from in the perfume world? Are there any specific noses or houses that you are inspired by?


I’m not that heavily involved in the perfume world to be honest. Here in Seattle there’s an amazing indie perfume scene that I’ve met up with a few times. They’re really cool people who are very passionate about making artisan scents. They all have interesting collections that you just don’t find at your standard perfume counter. I would say that this spirit of perfume as artistic creation is what inspires me. Apart from that group of people, I’d say I’m more inspired by the ideas, people, places, specific materials. I went to Paris for the first time about two years ago and just walking around Versailles gave me these intense feelings that became my Antoinette perfume as soon as I got home. That’s my usual process – I read about someone or watch a movie etc, and just feel struck by the emotions in their life and I try to capture it.

If money was not an issue, what perfume is your dream to make?


If money was not an issue, I would literally buy every kind of rose out there. It’s probably a good thing that I can’t really afford some of them yet because then I’d have rose in every perfume. I would also really like to be able to work with some of the high end chamomiles. I love the smell of chamomile and have so many good ideas for use, but it’s so prohibitively expensive I’d never be able to make it on a large scale. 

Any favorite ingredients?
 

Right now I’m all about the Dragon’s Blood. I love it. Dragon’s Blood is featured in Lenore and Boleyn, my two upcoming perfumes.


Who buys your perfumes? 

When I started it was mostly women aged teens through 50s who were interested in the little histories I write for the perfumes, or were just looking for handmade perfume oils. I had a lot of teen customers buying up Dead Writers until it went viral and now, it’s everyone. All ages, men and women. A lot of people have been coming for Dead Writers but end up buying either sampler packs or splurge on something else that caught their attention. I’ve noticed lots of university addresses recently. As far as countries, I’d say the rankings right now are USA, Australia, Canada, and the UK. But I’ve sold all over – France, Spain, Bosnia, Greece, Turkey. It’s so amazing to have people find you from all over the world.

Right now I sell only through Etsy but I have a brand new website coming out soon at the super imaginative address www.sweetteaapothecary.com I’ve been on Etsy for almost a year and it’s such a great starting point for opening your own business. Now I’m trying to branch out with my own website and have had talks about various wholesale opportunities 


I am fortunate to have samples of the entire range. (I really appreciate the not only cute but excellent little sample bottles! Everything stays where it is supposed to be, an aspect that should not be underestimated.) The variation in JT’s range is really impressive. It is a grand adventure and olfactory portrait gallery that she has created with all sorts of guests around the table – some light and romantic, some weird, some stubborn, some philosophers and some kindered spirits. Some seem to have appeared straight from a summers evening and some from a long travel in leather boots (that would be Boynard). Antoinette tries to seduce you, Dharma Bum will give you life advice and Maynard…oh you will want to go on a long walk over the meadows with Maynard. HRM Victoria however – you don’t want to get into an argument with her! I cannot really specify exactly what it is, but I do associate these scents and their complex voluptuous character with reading. They go well with a blanket, candle light and a big cup of tea. Darkness won’t bother you wrapped in Georgiana, the rain will feel cosy scented with Pamplemousse. And the harsh HRM Victoria will keep you safe from harm.
“If you find comfort in the tea stained pages and dusty covers of 
old leatherbound books, then the perfumes and colognes 
in this collection will speak to the writer in you.”
JT Siems

I am guessing this makes you curious to also find out more about JT’s writing. I can reveal that two of the things she has written are two novels, one is a steampunk adventure and the other one is more of a dark fairy tale a la Coraline. If you are interested in finding out more about these and getting your own uniqye olfactorized writer experience go to sweetteaapothecary.com or visit www.facebook.com/passtheteapot 

Book jewelry from Etsy