Lonestar Memories: Colombina on Perfumesmellingthings. (...)Lonestar Memories makes me want to escape the mundane confines of my everyday world(...)

Lonestar Memories: Katie on Scentzilla. (...) Lonestar Memories smells of the examined life. Inside there is joy, and there is tiny heartbreak, e xisting only in reverie. The scent unravels into the consideration of past experiences, and pinings for future joys and heartbreaks(...)

Lonestar Memories: Marlen Harrison's review on PerfumeCritic.com (...) If you're a lover of leather or richer wood fragrances, this is gonna be a holy grail scent and in that case, better get two bottles.(...)

Lonestar Memories: Cait Shortell's review on Legerdenez. (...) Do you appreciate scent because you identify with the scent and its image? Does a scent have the ability to create a memory outside one’s own experience?(...)

Friday, September 30, 2005

Green power

Ever tried to concentrate the equivalent of 10 meter square of perfectly mown English grass together with the yield of fresh leaves in May from a 20-year old Birch in a few drops? Ever dreamt of isolating the radiant powder of Tuberose and squeezing it together with the powder aspects of Violet leaf absolute, separated from all flower aspects, into a bottle? This is Cyclamenaldehyde. I admire this scent for its purity in conception (by the way: I adore Alien I, I am a sci-fi addict and the movie is a classic in this field. There is one scene where bad android confesses to a crew member (before trying to kill… Ripley?) something in the sort of “I adore the purity of the Alien creature’s concept”. A wonderful scene. First: Ripley survives. Secondly: Android gets terminated (killed). Thirdly: I like the idea of man made things coming to the conclusion that another creature is from a design point of view superior to its creators. And finally: Bad android might well have liked Cyclamenaldehyde, too, for its metallic shine it may bring into a composition)

Cyclamenaldehyde is not an easy scent to work with, and it is not found in nature, too. It is incredibly powerful and may turn very dominant within a composition. I find it very intriguing to work with in combinations with Lavender notes in Fougères, to empower flowers where I want to get an extra green twist or with woods where I want to bring in another dimension of fresh greenness and light powder. In my hands, it blends extremely well with anything green such as Galbanum, Geranium, Violet leaf, or with citrus notes, or Vetiver notes. Right now, I am working with it trying to bring in an extra twist to a green top note within one leather trial….. (you see, the leather theme is really, really very dominant right now. It will not have peace before I found the solution to this composition challenge….)

A word of warning: Keeping the balance with Cyclamenaldehye it is quite a task and easily you find yourself abandoned in a green wasteland, uniformly transformed into a grassy nightmare of Cyclamen power.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Bubbling and an executive board wearing pour un homme by Caron

We live in a bubble world. Bubbles all around us. We have bubble theories for the universe and are faced with economic bubbles on planet earth that come and go, like the new economy bubble (gone) and the housing market in Great Britain (still there). The cool thing with bubbles: They are there and keep on growing by some intrinsic power of self expansion up to a certain point when suddenly, things crash and the bubbles leave empty space, allowing you to see the real ground again and not just only the mirrored wishful reflections on the sphere’s surface. Maybe planet earth is also faced with a perfume bubble right now and if I was on the executive board of one of the big perfume firms, I would raise my eyebrows and put on my x-ray glasses in order to get a vision of things as they are. One issue on the agenda of my next executives board meeting would be to study why there are long time survivors in the business and why others are as short lived as a fruit fly. And being an executive I would wonder how many fruit flies my firm has launched right now.

One long time survivor for instance is “Pour un homme, by Caron”. With its art deco bottle, this green perfume has become a classic. It is not my favourite fragrance but I like it. It is green, with a nice geranium accord and lots of lavender coming into play right from the start, it goes on rather fresh, cool somehow, reminding me of a may spring morning, kneeling in my garden and cutting the lavender plants that haven’t started blooming yet and inhaling this woody lavender scent. It has powdery aspects, soft woods in the background with some tonka beans (Coumarin) and vanilla. It is a modest note, just being there, pleasing.

Coming back to my executive board: Here, in this multimillion dollar round of important men and women, this perfume would fit perfectly. Dressed in their grey – black business uniforms, these 50+ men (and women) might well wear it, spray it on before their meeting and get started thinking about their company’s long term survival while enjoying layers of a wonderful perfume in their meeting room.

The only trouble: Live within a bubble is quite comfortable and from the inside things look greater than they are.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005


Ms X, strolling around in Zurich downtown, desperately seeking the pleasure of good perfumes, enters a shop, drawn into it by a little cardboard sign saying “scent of desire, discover the fragrances of the Maghreb desert”. She has pictures in her mind, of a Saharan desert with lots of sands, even more camels, beautiful women hiding their natural treasures behind uncounted layers of fabric, wild men, with sun tanned skin, gleaming black eyes promising forbidden pleasures. So, she wonders what this scent might be all about and once in midst of the little shop she discovers the shop keeper behind shelves of books that seem to pour in from all sides, covering the walls, part of the desk, to her right and to her left. In this sea of books she finally discovers a little bottle of perfume and pointing towards it, she asks, what the fragrance is all about. The shopkeeper tries to describe it in all detail with wonderful words, showing her a flyer which describes the scent in detail, how it is composed, that it is something special, that it is the reflection of the Maghreb desert, with lots of typical fragrances of the Moroccan region in it, but it just wouldn’t help Ms X. Thus, he draws up a picture, coloured boxes, circles and lines, symbolizing the scent, bringing it to a visual abstraction. Now, Ms X is really hesitating, it looks so brownish, with those white and little red sparkles. She has never imagined herself wearing in a perfume with yellowish bubbles and white boxes. Our dear shopkeeper sighs, disappointed and realizing again that with all his eloquence he was not able to bring around the slightest idea of this fragrance’s identity. He thinks of himself as excellent salesman, he is proud on his talent, but this perfume line…..he can not sell it by words nor pictures.

Thus, he brings forward a perfume bottle, has Ms X try it, and gets himself ready to write the bill.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Coffea arabica, missing link

Oups, I forgot to add the link to the coffee perfume descriptions. Of course, it is on
My apologies

choc sensorielle

Last week end's edition of the Tages Anzeiger featured an interview with Vera Strübi, director of Thierry Mugler Parfums in Paris. She is Swiss, as the airline "Swiss" used to be before it was conquered or safed to become part of Lufthansa's empire. Four days ago, while sitting entirely bored in the Swiss airplane, bringing me back to Zurich from Brussels the other day, 10000 meter above ground, nipping on my beer and trying to eat my sandwich with style, I read the Swiss airline monthly magazine. And: There she was, too. Of course, the issue was the launch of the Alien perfume. The Muglers are very active in these days.

Now, there are hundreds of books that should be written about sitting in airplanes and trying to think of anything else than how to get rid of those hours ahead, remodelling your life and planning a future freed of the leashes one is bound to .. but this is not the storyline here....

In her interview, Vera Strübi made a courageous statement: "Scents that are successful over years have all a unique character, which is easily memorized by our customers. But this also means: Unique fragrances polarize. They please or they don't." Roudnitska also mentioned once that a good perfume is one that brings with it a sensorial shock. Thus, let's polarize and try to create this shocking perfume news! But, that's not an easy one; it is a thin line (as always...) and it is tricky because at first sight, many (including myself) will walk away from this experience of a truly new, unique assembly, never smelled before. The same is true for other forms of creation. I think this is exactly why an artist is so often faced with complete confusion and miscomprehension. He/she brings up a sensorial shock for which we are not ready yet. A piece of art will prove with time, once the spectator has learned to deal with this shock, to incorporate it into what will become common sense soon.
There is confort here: A lot of consumers will initially not like what they smell, but after a few tough years, a good perfume will find its way....

Coffea arrabica

Today, I will post two notes, with this one being a shorty. In the business section of yesterdays newspaper was a rather lengthy article about coffee prices (not what we pay in the shop, but rather what is paid in Rotterdam or wherever Coffee is sold by tons) and the decline of what remains in the hands of the coffee farmer. For all coffee lovers a take home message here: Please, buy your coffee from cooperatives where the farmers get a couple of cents more for their coffee, as in the last year the coffee traders made more profit while the farmer’s share dropped close to nothing. For all coffee perfume lovers: There’s a must read on in the latest post on lovely perfume blog: .
And finally for all my readers who wonder what it is like creating a coffee perfume note: It’s a tricky one. On a scale from 1 (easy like tutti-frutti) over 3 (flower-power) to 6 (leather, my personal nightmare) it is 5.5. It is quite easy to come from a wonderful Coffee absolute (like the one from Liberty which is gorgeous) to something like:
Coffee was there but is gone
Scent of an old coffee can with scent layers of an old mouldy cup filled with yesterday’s delight
Copy of Starbucks in the morning, nice, but single-lined and not surviving the morning sun.

Thus, I stick to drinking this brain teaser and will consider a flower-power-bomb which is soothing my ego.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Kindly asking for your attendance

We are, unfortunately, not the only ones actively engaged in bringing perfumes to the market. There are many, many more out there. And most of them are much, much bigger, with their voice being heard everywhere, their light shining with 1000’s of Watts all night long. Therefore, the mission: Get noticed, with the right message! (In the end, it all cooks down to positioning marketing. Here for all interested: A blog on the issue of branding and beyond.)

The December scent apéro, featuring a lecture on scents and the fragrance of the Maghreb, will be one cornerstone to shine and twinkle ourselves on Zurich’s night sky, too. We miss the resources to pay the electricity bill for a couple of 1000 Watt lights, brilliant Neons flickering in all colours and forms, but at least we can afford to switch on the 50 Watt lamp and let it shine for one night, so to say. Before this light show of ours is brightening Zurich’s sky, I have to prepare some things that are not easy, such as writing the text for the back of the catalogue which has to be ready in three weeks. This text should announce the event, should create awareness and the ultimate goal: It must be so intriguing that any readers immediately fall into a state of mind where they mechanically grab their agendas, label the date with red pencils and are 100% devoted to attend this most important event. (Something like in the B-movies of the 60’ies, 70’ies where the empire of evil was programming innocent people to become killing monsters upon a signal that was sent to them.)

Thus, I have to find the right words, telling somebody I do not know yet, that the event takes place, that it is going to be interesting and that it might be worth to consider participation. And this is so tricky! I stumble over the words, walking forth and back between poetic lengthy descriptions that are painful to read and short, up-to-the-point marketing messages that are somehow embarrassing. It is really tricky to find the right words without blowing up pathetic marketing bubbles that may sound nice but are exchangeable. By the way: It is even worse trying to find the right prose for my perfumes. But that’s another story. Paper is patient; the same is true for my computer’s screen which has seen endless variations on the theme: Please, don’t miss this interesting event…..

smokey, phenolic horse recipe

Ok, it's time for some honesty now. My original idea for a leather scent, posted earlier, is not working. I met Vero yesterday, dear Vero, my mentor, friend and perfumer. We were smelling the core structure of this supposed to be leather scent and ...ah.... it is not there, not at all. At least, I have already started a new core structure, which is far from being finished and luckily enough, this one seems to come better.

But the previously described fragrance might best be described following this recipe:
Take a horse (if you do not have a real horse, a donkey might work too, but needs longer smoking). Let it run for two hourse until it is thoroughly damp and sweaty. Give it an oxygen mask and let it stand for 5 hours in the smoking lounge of Zurich airport (which I think is sponsored by the Camel brand, isn’t this ironical?...). Before this smoking process, rub in lots of the perfume stuff from the duty free store which is on sales. Do not forget to thoroughly cover the back. Dip (oxygen mask still on) the outmost tip of its tail in fresh Kerosene (carefully making sure not the get any stuff on its skin) and let the animal stand for two hours in the First Class lounge. Give it lots of carrots and tender loving care, as this environment might come as a surprise for little horse/donkey. After the two hours, take a deep breath within the lounge and you will come close to my little experiments on leathers

(Finally, bring the nice, patient animal out in the open field, wash it thoroughly, dry it and let it stroll around in the open air for a while)

Friday, September 23, 2005

Lies and betrayal

Reading again Guy Robert (les sens du parfum). «La première chose à réaliser pour un futur parfumeur, est de composer sa palette.« The first thing to get done for a future perfumer is to compose his set of tools. In the context, he also mentions that all perfumers have a preferred set of scents to work with and on the other hand certain perfumers did not touch a couple of scents at all. Jean Charles, creator of Shoking, Ma Griffe,…) almost never used clary sage stating that “ce produit m’a toujours déçu”, “this product has always deceived me” .

I also have scents that mislead me time over time again. Angelica seeds being one of them. It is a wonderful scent, smelling like dry, ripe nuts, colourful musk tonality behind a slightly harsh cumin-woody entry note, lasting and very present. It is on the strip, a clear liquid, promising wonderful accords with rose and citrus, empowering vetiver and bringing in additional depth. So I sit there and combine paper strips in front of my nose, listening to charming promises. A picture of a musky rose appears and guided by my strips I start composing. The promised land in sight. But what a betrayal! Angelica never does the things it promises, in my bottles at least. I sit there with a yellow-orange liquid in front of me, full of individual delights, yet the arrangement does not work. It all ends up in a grey, disturbingly old smelling, unbalanced mess. Angelica seed is a mystery to me. Is it a liar? Or….do I not speak Angelica seed language yet?

Wednesday, September 21, 2005


My bottles arrived. On Thursday, right before leaving for Brussels which was like it was the last time: Sunny, lovely, with lots of white-shirts, colourful ties, grey suits administrative office men (and women). My bottles for l’air du désert marocain: Finally after weeks of begging and praying for safe shipment they arrived in perfect shape, nicely arranged in cardboard boxes, untouched, pure and waiting silently to find their fulfilment. This bottle was chosen for its simplicity and clarity. It is unpretentious, modest, and with its silver-grey cover cap, rounded edges on the top of the cap, it fits nicely with the perfume it will carry. A scent which is my personal interpretation of an evening at the edge of the great Moroccan Sahara, warm evening winds from the cedar tree covered hills mixing with the spicy and flowery fragrance of a green spot in midst of growing sandy hills.

Christmas season in terms of désert marocain is safe and I am a happy, but the next couple of days a busy man. For me, this is always a very private moment of greatest joy: To prepare the labels, bottles, covers, all layers that holds my perfume tight in place, the cocoon of the fragrance, before it is finally liberated into the air, stretching its wings and setting off to fly away.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005


I will be absent until Thursday, flying to Brussels, home of …..the Commission! The EU is quite an administrative goliath, in every aspect you may think of. Bananas, housing, you name it (maybe that’s the price we have to pay for a neatly working society, who knows?) ….it has also imposed legislation on perfumery, respectively perfumes which addresses issues such as labelling of potential allergenic compounds. Luckily, the Swiss legislation is somewhat more relaxed. Here you have to declare: perfume, alcohol, that’s it. Sometimes Swissness means easy business! But in the end you are still responsible for what you put in your perfumes and you are liable. The state just seems to trust you a tiny-winy-bit more than the EU...

The relevant EU files are all accessible on the internet but not really intuitive as far as their language is concerned. (see here for the Amendment of the Council Directive 76/768/EEC.. (pdf, beware: tough wording)) Bottom line: perfumes to be sold in the EU have to declare compounds (above a very low threshold) such as Linalool which may lead to adverse reaction if applied by sensitive consumers. Somehow, this is good, as every consumer has the possibility to check for a particular compound. On the other hand: Linalool is in Lavender oil, in Bergamot oil, in Corriander oil, …. (The labelling issue, to my knowledge, is also relevant for natural perfumers, but taken less seriously.)

Such, as always in life, there is the question of where to draw the line. For me, the line is for sure within the IFRA recommendations. Here, I am strict. As far as the labelling is concerned. I do not think it is really cared for by the consumers. I live with it, but it is a hassle and not inspiring at all.

Maghreb scents with lecture

Those (not you?!) who have never smelled Moroccan rose absolute: You definitively should! It is a scent emanating from a slightly viscous red-brownish liquid which is full of sun, powerful, sexy, complex, fresh, sweet, red, geen lines in it, with hints of spices, citrus, honey, flowery woody strings interlined,.… it is hard to describe. But it is one of my favourites and it a central part of Le maroc pour elle. I adore the concentrate of this Moroccan rose, it’s like a rose’s fragrant spirit, hence I want customers to discover it in its pure form and then to see how it finds its way into a perfume composition, together with Jasmin, Petit grain, Atlas Cedarwood.

For this purpose, we will make a scent apéro, December 18, 2005, starting at 2 pm. Over the weekend, we came up with the idea to further include a lecture by Pascal’s friend, Egon Fässler, who is a professional speaker at the Swiss TV. A lecture about scents and the orient that will accompany the fragrance discoveries by our visitors; a scent apéro, addressing the sense of smell and beyond. What a great idea (we are really proud on it…). The next issue will be the text. As I have just discovered the perfume smellin' things blog, which is on perfumes, some poesie and beautiful/interesting pictures, this might become easier than thought.... Somebody knows a good text?

Monday, September 19, 2005

Dances with bees

The weekend is over and regeneration took place, partially by being active, partially also by retreating and thinking. One line of thinking was on the perfume industry as mirrored in shops around the world. It is an industry for the masses, aggressively bombarding undecided consumers with their messages. This war for consumer’s money is fought seemingly everywhere. No way to avoid the orchid nebula of industry’s newest creations when entering the big shops. If you want to get around this exchangeable flower-power for the masses you cannot but flee as fast as you can. Run away home, where in the weekend editions of your favourite news paper you will find pages of out-of-this-world beauties, artificially arranged human beings looking right into your eyes, whispering promises of being beautiful and adorable. People in marketing say selling perfumes is selling dreams. True, rightfully as we all deserve dreams, but behind all this magic there must be the seeds of truth; which I often miss. So we run away, clear our head filled up with promises that do not hold. I did on Sunday, peacefully jogging, creating scent castles in my mind, mixing in imagination what will later be tried in the real world. Like the Cistus, Lavender, Cedar arrangement as alternative scenario for my leather theme. Sometimes, however, the real world comes in very fast: A bee, (-> bad, bad, very bad bee) was bringing my imaginative perfume building to a fast end. Trapped between my head (turning into shooting ground for bad bee) and my glasses, this poor animal fought for its life, successfully. I survived, too, with some minor wounds

Next: An excellent idea for our “Scents of the Maghreb event in December”

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Cistus and a debate

I think about working with Cistus today. This oil, obtained by steam destillation from the twigs and leaves of Cistus ladaniferus is long lasting, rich and warm, with a hint of woody-balsamic undertones (more about Cistus and many other naturals see here: An excellent page for anyone interested in natural scents and their chemical constituents) . It goes very well with Cedarwood, Patchouli, Bergamot (with Oakmoss in Chypre) and brings in depth and power into any composition. But...it is not an easy note to work with it. It is rather tricky to get it balanced within a composition. It can turn out very dominant. I sometimes mix it with Ambrein, which is another manifestation of Cistus. This is the solvent extracted absolute of Labdanum, a thick liquid of brownish colour, even more powerful and delicate to balance then the oil. Labdanum is the gum from Cistus leaves that is exuded when they are boiled in water. It is again very intense, but much more woody and somewhat harsher. But it is an excellent natural fixative. Today, or tomorrow, I want to try bringing in (more) cistus on another leather idea of mine.

For all those having lots of time: Here's a discussion (now closed) on Luca Turins blog on ....well.... naturals, sensations, synthetics and beyond. I did not study the douzens of comments in detail. I think it goes too far and somehow misses the point. I leave it to the reader to make his/her own judgments. One thing however strikes me: The intensity of the debate. Could it be that the debate at the very, very end is about something else, about some phantoms hiding behind. Isn't it an almost spiritual debate? Well, I am curious to read what is going to follow. Brave Luca.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

let's talk chemistry

Chemistry... pain for many in school. A companion for many years in my life. I studied chemistry some twenty years from now, but still: I feel attracted to it. It is an amazing science; but I move on to biochemistry, which I considered to be more empirical……and was (in the lab) working on the biochemistry of life, so to say, dealing with enzymes that make the building blocks for DNA biosynthesis (DNA being the carrier of genetic information in one’s cells).

Chemistry does not really help me in the design of a fragrance, but for sure it remains an issue, especially as far as safety, purity and reactivity is concerned. Thinking about the thousands of compounds that you mix (by using natural oils and absolutes) and let react while maturation of your perfume base makes you dizzy. It is also fascinating to realize how perceptive our smelling organ is, detecting slightest change in chemical structure: Change the position of one double bond and you go from alpha-ionone to beta-ionone and voila: It smells quite different, easily detected by our nose, in very low dilution.

For all those interested in some chemistry (also covering the synthesis aspects, and chemistry of some natural compounds…such as what’s the main constituent in Sandalwood essential oil, what is responsible mainly for the scent character, …) here’s a reading for you:

Common Fragrance and Flavor Materials, Preparation, Properties and Uses, 4th Edition, by Kurt Bauer, Dorothea Garbe, Horst Surburg, Wiley-VCH, ISBN 3-527-30364-2

And a final note: Heather posted a note on perfume blogs yesterday and mentioned on the side the issue of external reviewing of her products. (Thank you for this, Heather, your blog is an inspiration and always full of “yes, exactly, that’s the point for me, too….”) Reviewing and feedback, for me, this is key, too. It starts very early. I am very dependent of getting input, critics, feedback: Right from the start. When I make my first thoughts about main lines for a new perfume, when I work on finetuning the storyline, when I decide about the optimal dilution. Here, my grateful thanks to Vero in the first place, who is a friend, a perfumer of her own with compositions I can only dream of and who always provides lovely feedback. And there is my friend, being an ideal consumer nose (my 1-person peer customer group).

Wednesday, September 14, 2005


A short post only: I will study my favourite catalogue today. All those wonderful goodies you can get from Essencia, with their huge range of naturals and of synthetics. It is like Alice in wonderland. Dream stuff. I want to get two or three citrus oils, some tonka bean resinoid, and liquidamber, and copaiva balm and isobutyl-chinolein and and and…. The only problem: Their catalogue of stuff is just too large and I am not always good on decisions. Much more I will probably not get done today.

Glaciers and mountain rain

Today I missed the tramway which is supposed to bring me to the train station. It was 2 minutes too early; hence I had to take the bike which is fine, too. Fresh air and lots of ideas.

One: Luca Turin’s post in his blog on silver rain and the marketing message of La Prairie which is just hilarious. Prairie marketing went off scale, right through the roof, amazing that nobody stopped them talking about ice crystals, glaciers and all that disturbance in the atmosphere.

Two: One question remains, the Swiss perfume. There was a while ago a scent in the Zurich handicrafts shop “Heimatwerk” which was supposed to be Swiss. I smelled it just briefly: Jasmin with lots of Benzylacetate, sweet and disturbingly unbalanced, definitively not Swiss. For me, a perfume of Switzerland must be clean, light, airy, with lots of spruce in it, green with a solid base, probably a Fougère, with fresh Lavender, some earthy (Chocolate maybe!) undertones with a touch of Mediterranean flair (for the southern part of Switzerland, our Swiss scent should be politically correct…).

Three: I should do some marketing stuff in the coming days. I want to make a business card which is more than an average business card. I’ve seen it before: Take 1 page A4, 250 gr/m2 paper, print your name and stuff on it (like the address of the blog, background information about my business, a nice picture, logo, etc. …) cut strips, about 4 x 25 cm and then fold them once in the middle, then again once on each side. You end up with a business card format. There, where I have seen it, it looks very cool.

Four: Coming back to Silver rain…. After the big rain we had in Switzerland, three weeks ago in the mountains, with villages being evacuated, mud slides, the old downtown of Bern flooded, I think they should definitively reconsider. No silver rain in Switzerland.

(picture: Alpine Gentian, as seen last autumn)

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Natural beauty

I am kind of trapped in Marlboro Men world. South Western USA, New Mexico dreamland, the land of the free and of natural beauty. Perfume wise I couldn’t stop thinking about how to reach the vision of my true leather-wood scent. Reading one page again in Roudnitska’s le parfum about beauty I imagined that it is time to break the symmetry and introduce a break, no mercy, no concessions. Think about it: Organic, natural beauty is symmetry and simplicity without concession, with intrinsic flaws breaking harmonies. (And, as Roudnitska justly mentions: There is no need to study and educate oneself to instantly recognize this beauty. Be it the natural beauty of a human face, be it the loveliness of a perfume’s composition. We have all a sense for beauty….isn’t this great?)

Thus, I introduced a tension while keeping things simple, bringing things more to the point, aiming at breaking the boredom of too symmetrical a composition: A crisp, radiant, sharp tone (a trace of Ylang and Jasmine, with lots of decenal, 4-trans) juxtaposed to the warm, grim, vibrant ash-smoke note of Birchtar (lots of it!). The main composition not touched principally, except for some Rose instead of Neroli in the head (adding softness to the harsh spicy accents), replacing Cardamom by Cinnamon (within IFRA limits) and exchanging Lavender by Linalool to get rid of a touch of sweetness which was disturbing.

A never ending story… and I sincerely hope not to bore my readers too much… riding with Marlboro Men is somewhat painful, but a least you get a lot of natural beauty to admire on the way.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

every schallalala, yesterday once more

Listening to the Carpenters, „Yesterday once more“ which fits perfectly: Looking back to this weekends work on the leather issue. Once more, I was trying to find my way to the ideal, the perfect, the absolute abstraction of a vision in my head. And, with all modesty, I advanced quite a bit (schubidu…). Still not being there yet, but at least a couple of hills we have climbed and the view gets clear. Joyfully we shall move on, but first: Time for picnic!

During my thinking about the fragrance to be created I focused on three narrative lines: One spicy line, one being woody and one being a leathery contour line going through. The problem is: It is a very, very narrow path to walk. I never thought it would turn out to be so difficult.

The breakthrough was probably to reconsider the woody line: Myrrh being one key element now in combination with Methylcedrylketone and Vetiverylacetat as well as Cedarwood (Texas variety). Leading to a brilliant, dry, powerful woody line with spicy, saffron-like, and warm undertones. Nice about the Cedarwood here is its vibrant tone, which fits perfectly with the somewhat powdery story of Myrrh.

The spicy aspects of Methylcedrylketone are reflected by a touch of Cardamon, Corriander (which is enhanced by Bulgarian Lavender, some Neroli, decenal (4-trans) to add freshness, and softened by Bergamot). The spices are continued deep into the heart with Ethylcinnamate, taken over by methylcedrylketone. Oakmoss carries the wood story line further into a leather tone, together with Birchtar, Cresylacetat, Castoreum (synthetic reconstitution) and a touch of Amber (ambroxide). Quite a lot of alpha Irisone holds the woody and leather part together, bringing in some vibration, as does the amber.

So, there we are. Once again enthusiastically awaiting the result of a 10% dilution. A first trial dilution yesterday was promising but a detailed analysis will have to follow.


Jasmin, as seen in Tunesia.

I wish all readers a nice and calm Sunday.

Friday, September 09, 2005

time to move

Today, it will be time to move on, hopefully. The weather is right (kind of rainy), the mood is perfect (for my work on the leather issue) and the inspiration will come (hopefully). There is one line I would like to think about today: Musk or Amber concept. Octavian's interesting post wherein he proposes a division into amber and musk as the key esthetic division of 20th century perfumery. Intriguing as guiding system and consideration for owns own work and likes.

Which type of perfume lover are you? Amber or Musk.....this is the question here.

Thursday, September 08, 2005


Well, nomen est omen, in this case: Gomma from ETRO is supposed to be a leather scent with a caoutchouc line. It is well done, and on a paper strip, after 5- 10 minutes, there is a note which reminds me of fresh natural rubber juice, dripping in circular lines down caoutchouc trees like milk. It is a fine line, somewhat hidden behind a powdery, rather sweet chord which is very voluptuous at the start and slowly diminishes behind a dry, sweet mossy leather line. Here, you find maybe some patchouli and a touch of cistus, finally it is leaving off with a sweetish powdery bouquet. At the very start of evaporation, however, the overall impression is somewhat unclear, too much Citronellol-like terpenes?, too vigorous for me, but pleasing anyhow.
I cannot fight the image of a large crowd, all people talking a touch too loud. And in the midst of the crowd you find this the shy caoutschouk girl, timidly raising her hands as she has something to say. Finally, the crowd moves slowly away, leaving but a few smoky guys with woody sticks and mossy shoes. And then caoutchouc girl raises her voice which tunes in almost perfectly with the guy’s murmuring. But soon, she doesn’t speak anymore, as she has said what there was to be said. She moves on too, leaving an empty space behind her.
This is the moment you have to spray it on again, as Ms caoutchouc is just too nice.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Forbidden fruits

Before man (and woman) left paradise for ever a long time ago they had a snack which was forbidden, therefore they couldn’t resist. One reason why they picked the apple was of course because bad, bad, very bad snake sneaked in and naïve as they were, Adam and Eve took a small bite for man, but had a huge dinner for mankind. A meal that we are still digesting. (sorry, I just couldn’t resist twisting Amstrong’s phrase…the apple of course was our entry ticket to moon as it was the starting point for our knowledge based and curiosity driven society)

The trouble with forbidden fruits in general: They are there and they are fabulous. The nice thing about forbidden fruits: There is a lot to learn when eating them; you just have to make sure not to get caught. In perfumery, there are forbidden fruits, too. Smell them and you will be spoiled for the rest of your life. One of my own prohibited fruits being oak moss absolute. A wonderful scent, woody, soft, warm, complex, lasting, adaptable, bringing depth into any composition, a base ingredient for Chypres (together with bergamot, cistus), but…forbidden. Prohibited by IFRA, the international fragrance association, at least at a concentration where it would become interesting. Our grand father perfumers did not had this IFRA knowledge yet, they could use as much of it as they thought was needed!

Being a responsible perfumer, there is no way to cheat here; you just have to accept the facts: It is a perfect building block for perfumes, the limit of use is 0.1% in the final fragrance, and there is no replacement. But at least: A little bit you may use, which is like taking a bite from the apple without getting the rest of it.

Seven pillars, one vision and many post-it

What is a good perfume? There are many answers to this question. One comes from Edmond Roudnitska, outlined in his little book “le parfum”. The essentials of any good perfumes are in his words (translated from French):

+++character, vigour, diffusive power, subtlety, clarity, volume and persistence+++

So far so good. Where’s the trouble with the pillars?, you may ask. The trouble is: You need them all! It is very easy to create a fragrance powerfully diffusive with incredible persistence. I just reach out for a bottle of ambra and bang! Diffusive and persistent. But to go from there to a composition which is shining with clarity and being elegantly subtle, in combination with character, vigour and volume, that’s a long journey. And now imagine you have a vision you want to reach, like creating this true leather scent for him: You definitively are reaching out for troubles.

Yesterday, I started again with my leather scent. The vision is there, the composition not quite yet. It is missing some pillars. I will need to go to the groceries to get a wagon load of post-it to remind me on Mr. Roudnitska’s wise remarks…..

I had a good start, though. (all results being preliminary as the fragrance has not aged for 2-4 weeks, yet…) The vision is to create a leather perfume entirely for him. I want it to be radiating and clear, it’s the scent of a lonesome rider, wearing old jeans and leather jacket, after a long day on the horse in the dry woods, preparing his coffee on the open, smoky fire. I want it to be fresh and light, yet lasting and powerful. Well, I guess I will keep you posted on that one….

Tuesday, September 06, 2005


A teaser for tomorrow:

What's a good perfume?

Monday, September 05, 2005

Celebs in the blogosphere

Celebrity Marketing. Something I never thought about so far. But there is room for improvement.....

Anybody who knows a celebrity Class A personally (the extra special cool celebrity type with high recognition value such as Sophia Loren or Tom Cruise) and knows that he/she is a bloging celebrity: Please visit Eie Flud’s recent post and pass on the link of Eie Flud to mister and misses famous. (Royals are welcome, too) Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the blogosphere could make it happen….? (you also follow the discussion here, A PR Guru's Musings - Stuart Bruce)

Flyers evening

Printing flyers. All evening....

After the coverage also in the "Schweizer Illustrierte" with its 250'000 circulation, it became time to do some extra promotion and to make sure our customers get to know what the journals said. So, another evening devoted entirely to my sweet little baby.

Translation: Dream stuff (right) and wanderlust (left)

Sunday, September 04, 2005

My English grandpa

I have no grandpa to remember but I know a perfume that comes close to the ideal of my grandpa’s fragrance. My real grandpa died in the forties in Germany somewhere in an army hospital in the midst of the last grand war, not fighting but rather being a victim of tuberculosis and of the war’s effect on public health, I guess. Thus no memories of curling his enormous white moustache, watching these shining blue eyes in a happy face full of wrinkles and of lived memories, no pleasure of sneaking into the smoking lounge and watching the old men enjoying his Monte Christo with a Cognac which brilliantly reflects the candle lights and the little flames in the open fire place. My dream grandpa probably was very English, wealthy of course, educated and a lovely man. My dream grandpa must have had Knize Ten, this leather scent that I adore and admire so much. This scent is in its 60-ies by now and it is not one of those modern scents that you get in your shop around the corner; but in a sense, I am like a child and do not care about the age of someone. (Children do not really care for ones age, maybe because they do not have any standard to compare, but they rather have a sense for the inner spirits that light a human being irrespective of age) What I admire about Knize Ten is how well it is structured and composed. It is admirable in this respect and I learn a lot from it; it is a composition that will never leave the trail, maintaining the power of a leather scent which is never turning towards dry tobacco leaves where many other leathers in the end will direct you. It is full of freshness and incredible intensity, somewhat crispy even at the beginning (lavender?) with a wonderful chorus of yellow citrus. There is a very elegant line in it, with its backbone being woods such as sandalwood (leaving hints of Eaglewood as the dry out note), which nicely underline the scent of birch tar that is so present, yet never isolated. For me this is the most admirable part: How the perfumer managed to build a perfume which is strong relying on birch tar without falling apart. It is a masterpiece, the ideal leather scent, lasting for hours on the skin, always very present, but never dominating. It is time to rediscover grandpa’s secrets.

Sources of inspiration

A truely inspiration oriented weekend so far and every bit of it might be worth a blog note.
So we start with what will follow next week:

Next week I tell you more about Knize Ten, Royal English Leather by Creed and Gomma by ETRO, a teaser beforehand: All three are much more inspiring than riding horses with coughing Marlboro man....

And yes: I was in the Osswald Parfumery again, visiting Mr. Abt and his crew, entering this dreamland for all perfume lovers and getting his advice and many many samples for perfumes which will soon end up on this blog. By the way: If riding on horses for inspiration with someone then with Mr Abt....

And then there was Vero, my dear friend, critic and perfumer herself. We had lunch together after meeting in the shop Medieval art & vie (see picture, ain't it lovely in downtown Zurich?) and there was so much to exchange in terms of ideas and critics. With Vero, the hours passed as always too fast and I rushed home, full of ideas and motivated to move on. Thank you Vero!

And then there was a wonderful diner with the shop owner and friend, Pascal and his friend. One of the main topics there: Our free little add we got in the "Schweizer Illustrierte", in their shoping guide. (250'000 copies are printed each week). Feels great and kind of inspires to do more in the direction.

This weekend's conclusion: There's enough inspiration now, maybe it's time for some transpiration...

Saturday, September 03, 2005

truly his

A short post on an idea that I carry around since a year now. I want to create a truely male fragrance, named true, with a picture for the campaign approximatively like the one to the left.

My dream is to finally come up with a composition on Birch tar. One of my favourites to work with, memories of me and my brother, making a little fire in the woods close to where we live, a first cigarette, there is something earthy in Birch tar, something very vibrant, radiant, powerfull and so ...male!.... but (poor little me) for me personally one of the most difficult scents to incorporate.

I want TRUE to be truely pure and simple, very male with a core full of birch tar and a base which is woody, soft and harsh together and warm and....

I started to work on this scent a long time ago and still am nowhere close to the end. Maybe I need an inspiration: Riding together with the Marlboro men in Arizona for a couple of weeks.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Ms unknown

There is another note I have to post which is not related to perfumery at all. It is about a wonderful woman, sitting mostly in a wheel chair, in the midst of Zurich’s main station, there where everybody is rushing by to catch the next train, to hurry to work, to go home. She may seem weird but she isn’t. She has a mission on this world. She is sitting there, her legs covered with blankets, her head seems to be too heavy for her neck, maybe it is the weight of a whole world she is carrying; thus she is following the crowd since years gently from below. Her mission is to take care of the trains and passengers; she is praying and healing by just being there. This is her mission: Gently making sure that nobody gets hurt and finds his way. Whenever I pass by here, I feel how her presence is keeping myself and fellow travellers safe and guarded. Thank you Ms unknown.

Scentzilla and jungle mixes

Today, there are many notes browsing within the 1 kg grey matter sitting on top of my shoulders. First this one: Thank you Katrina for your kind e-mail and thank you for sharing your thoughts on perfumes on your scentzilla blog within the nervous network of this planet (a picture for the www that I have seen on Luca Turin’s blog. I like this formulation, it is perfect). Yesterday, there was time to do some reading in Katrina’s pink weblog on perfumes and I came across the issue of outside temperature on the development of a perfume, exemplified for Floris’s Pink Grapefruit. Staying power on the skin being one issue (which will be a topic on this blog, soon) and overall unfolding of the scent palette being another. Et voila: Yet another challenge for the perfumer to foresee and control. Floris is brave in this sense as the challenge is linked with simplicity and reduction. Having just a few colours and still create an oeuvre which is rich, full-bodied, and holding together is very difficult and leaves no room for errors. You can just draw a few lines and each of it must be exactly right otherwise things will fall apart. Maybe I personally wouldn’t go that far to combine grapefruit and sandalwood in a single line, but reduction is always an issue. And a fight with yourself as there are so many wonderful scents that might fit within a fragrance you are creating. It is always an act of will not to add just a little bit of Corriander or Lavender or Rose or a hint of vanilla or……. the danger of the jungle mix looming around the corner. Suddenly, you find yourself within a green, flowery, vanilla, orchid and woody labyrinth with Godzilla roaming close by.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Drinking in LA

Listening to Bran Van 3000’s Drinking in LA during my commuting way to Berne. What a song: Melancholic, touching, moving. Emotionally touched I am watching out of the window, autumn is moving in with foggy clouds on the fields. Thoughts wandering back to the US where I spent one of my best years in life, to Texas…to New Orleans, oh my, how painful to see those pictures yesterday on CNN. To see how this disaster brings out the best in men but also the worst instincts. My thoughts are with those who have lost everything.
It is disturbing, how close pain and joy are together on this planet earth. My joy of yesterday was the birthday of two neighbours who invited us for a couple of drinks. We had Penhaligon’s English fern in the air (on my friend who really likes it). I was wearing Knize Ten, a toilette water which is like my neighbour in its sixties. I will write a note on that one soon and about leather scents…. Then, we had Intuition discretely moving in, there was an elegant Eau de Cologne of unknown origin and Alice was wearing my composition L’air du désert marocain which is developing very nicely on her, much softer than on my skin. My skin brings out the spicy woody character much more. This brings me to the conclusion and a disturbing fact for the perfumer: The skin chemistry affecting the scent canvas. The more complex the composition of a perfume (meaning especially the more naturals you include!) the more a perfume lives on a skin. When I create a fragrance, I will test in on paper sticks, which allows me smelling the scent palette like a surgeon working on a patient: Clinically and antiseptically clean. If pleased, I always test on my skin. But how it will develop on somebody else is hard to predict. Roudnitska was bringing the paper slips with perfume close to his hands in order to combine his body scent with the perfume without having to apply it directly. Still, there remain unknowns and it is like painting a picture whereby you do not know how much light will bring out the colours. Will it end up in a dim hut in the Swiss Alps or will the colours shine under the Californian sky, in early morning sunlight maybe, somewhere on Venice beach?