Blocked senses
Behind the Scenes, In Conversation..., Indigo Perfumery

Blocked Senses

Not one thing. No smell. No taste.

 

Salty nuts? Warm and tasty broth? Aromatic herbs? Spicy sauce?

 

No. Nothing came through these blocked senses.

 

We had just returned from a trip to Spain full of sensory gratification. Between the sweet flowering orange trees, mimosa blooms bursting and plenty of gourmand smells wafting out of the restaurants, our noses were working overtime. And, of course, we were also trying to avoid the smokers. Most of the country seems to ignore that smoking is not good for one’s health.

 

Within a few days after returning on the plane (otherwise known as a germ-laden tube), we both came down with a respiratory virus unlike any we had ever had before (which thankfully is very rare). It only took a couple of days before my clogged sinuses apparently crossed the line and all taste and smells diminished… diminished… and were gone.

 

Suddenly my food tasted like cardboard. Dry. Crumbled plaster came to mind. My mouth was… there. I could not eagerly anticipate the smells of dinner in the making. No basil in the sauce? No tomatoes, garlic or onions. Grilled meats on the barbie? Couldn’t tell- I just saw that the grill was on and an occasional plume of smoke escaped. Drinking a cold drink was not refreshing.

 

But the worst of it was I could no longer smell the perfumes in my perfume boutique. I opened the doors in the morning and knew that I should be met with the immediate need to air the store out before opening but no, nothing. I of course proceeded to open the two sets of doors for the cross breeze and turned the fans and vent on high, but it seemed for naught. Intellectually I knew it was needed.

 

After a week, I began to worry- what if this became a permanent loss? OMG! What would I do? I knew the perfumes in the shop pretty well by now so could still guide customers, but this was certainly not ideal. And we were having a well-known perfumer visit the boutique at the end of the week.

 

Anosmia (the absence of smell) and ageusia (the absence of taste), although not well known, are often responsible for lethargy and depression. Who knew how much we take the senses of smell and taste for granted? As a matter of fact, we usually do not even think about the sense of smell. The act of smelling is automatic, reflexive and immediate. When that is suddenly taken away, you feel a certain disconnect with the world. Cooking with your nose is not possible. Knowing something is burning is no longer available to you. How would I know if there was a fire?

 

Each day was a further reminder of how important the senses of smell and taste were. During the average day, every person takes more than 20,000 breaths. The anosmia meant I could no longer smell my husband wearing his favorite cologne. Or my dog. Or the fresh bunch of jasmine in the store. Each breath provides the opportunity to develop or recall a different memory or emotion. That is if you can smell.

 

Two days before Indigo Perfumery’s event, I thought I tasted the toothpaste for a second. An hour later I thought is that really the taste of oranges in the fresh orange juice that my husband prepared or my imagination?  I felt like the luckiest person alive as throughout the day, I slowly began to taste my food and even smell the new line of perfumes that had just arrived. The smoked salmon was almost overwhelming. A few times smells disappeared, only to return after blowing my nose.

 

A true blessing. With my smell and taste having fully returned, I am more aware than ever of their importance. I’ll take the good with the bad.

 

I am grateful. Spring’s renewal has taken on a new meaning!

 

 

Jasmine G
Indigo Perfumery, Perfume Ingredients, Perfumes

Sultry Jasmine in Perfumery

 

 

With Valentine’s Day around the corner, we thought it appropriate to explore one of the most well known aphrodisiac ingredients in perfumery: jasmine. If you have not smelled jasmine yet, it will be quite challenging to imagine its sultry character that, defying expectations, somehow contributes lightness to an accord.

 

Jasmine has hundreds of species; the two most commonly used in perfumery are Jasminum grandiflorum and Jasminum sambac. Jasmine is thought to have originated either in India or Persia. It is famously nocturnal. The blooms open at dusk and remain open all night, becoming a nectar source for moths and other nocturnal insects. The blooms are harvested ideally in the early morning hours.

 

Jasmine’s scent is obtained through the process of solvent extraction, producing a “concrete” which is then treated with alcohol to separate the precious jasmine absolute. In the early days of perfumery, enfleurage was used which consisted of placing jasmine blooms onto layers of fat, which absorbed the scent after many days and many blooms used. The blooms are harvested in September and October.

 

It takes around 8,000 blooms to produce one milliliter of jasmine absolute. One can understand why it is among the most expensive ingredients used in perfumery.

 

Besides jasmine’s aphrodisiac properties, it also is considered to be an anti-depressant and is used to relieve headaches. In skin care products, jasmine helps to improve the elasticity of the skin and balances oil production.

 

What do the jasmines smell like? Both are rather intense and strong when smelled on their own, but when used in a blend, they add brightness to an accord.

 

Jasminum grandiflorum absolute is described as floral, slightly animalic (due to the indole and skatole notes within), resembling orange blossom flowers, rich, sexy, musky and intense. It is the jasmine most well known in the West. It is described as creamy and full-bodied.

Jasminum grandiflorum

 

Jasminum sambac absolute’s scent is greener, fruitier and fresher than its cousin. It is used more in Indian and Far Eastern cultures than in the West, but it is gaining a strong surge in popularity. J. sambac is the national flower of Indonesia and the Philippines (where it is called Sampaquita) and much loved in India and Japan.

 

Jasminum sambac

 

It is important to mention the “jasmines” which are really not part of the Jasminum family, even though they are widely considered to be so.

These include “night blooming jasmine” (really Cestrum Nocturnum), “night flowering jasmine” (really Nyctanthes arbor-tristis), “Madagascar jasmine” (really Stephanotis floribunda) and “Confederate or star jasmine” (really Trachelospermum jasminoides).

 

Here at Indigo Perfumery, jasmine takes a prominent role in the following perfumes:

Sumatera by Coquillete Paris

Jasmin Rêvé by Aux Pays de La Fleur d’Oranger

Loretta by Deco London

Indochine by Belle Fleur

Pretty Machine by Kerosene

Fiore di Bellagio by En Voyage

Hindu Honeysuckle by Providence Perfume

Néa by Jul et Mad

 

(1), (2)(3)

For a short but sweet view on J. sambac‘s harvesting in India, check this out:

 

 

Behind the Scenes, In Conversation..., New Releases

Meet Deco London Founder

Indigo recently welcomed the elegant perfumes of Deco London into Indigo Perfumery’s curated collection. And now it is time to introduce you to the lovely Sophia Fannon-Howell, its founder and creator, whom I’ve had the privilege of getting to know over the past few months.

 

   

Sophia sm     Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? 

I am a mother of two children ages 9 and 7 (my greatest achievement!) I am a Dr of Geology, business owner, entrepreneur and have worked in industry for over 17 years.

I was born and raised in Surrey, England and am descended from poet, satirist and Restoration RakeJohn Wilmot

John Wilmot 2nd Earl of Rochester and Grace O’Malley the Irish ‘Pirate’ Queen.

Perhaps that’s where I get my love of history!

 

What led you decide to focus on perfumes? 

 

I’ve always been drawn to fragrance, but my journey really began when I became interested in essential oils, aromatherapy and perfumery back in 2004, when I began creating fragrances for skincare products.
I had a vision to create a brand to share my love of history and bring the elegance and glamour of times past to a modern audience. Using the medium of fragrance seemed the perfect way to do this and so the idea for Deco was born.

 

How did you come up with your particular scent ideas?

 

For me historical periods and characters are vivid in my imagination. The personalities of 1920s London were larger than life, glamorous, hedonistic, tragic and elegant, coming to terms with a new changing world. I wanted to capture those characters in the fragrances I created.

 

The 1920s was also a time of great advancements in perfumery when many classic perfumes and modern perfume families (oriental, chypre etc.) were created. I looked at the fashionable fragrances and fragrance notes and took inspiration from them.

 

How did you determine which fragrance house to go with?

 

As I was new to the fragrance industry I needed to find some experts to help me create my vision and who understood the challenges faced by a startup company.  deco party

 

I approached Robertet as they create perfumes for some of the biggest brands in the world and have a UK office near to London. Robertet were founded in 1850, so have a long history, which fitted very nicely with the Deco London brand.

They are also the world leader in natural, sustainable and organic ingredients and the only company to fully integrate every stage in the creative process “from Seed to Scent”. This really appealed to me as I have a particular interest in naturals.

 

Robertet enjoy working with new brands and their perfumers were really excited by my brief. They are also a lovely bunch of people!

 

Do you have a holy grail beauty / wellness product you like to use? 

lavender     I still have a love of essential oils. They not only smell great but they possess therapeutic          benefits. I always travel with a little bottle of lavender oil. If my skin is stressed I mix a drop of Lavender essential oil into my moisturizer before I apply it. If I can’t sleep, a few drops on my pillow at night or dabbed on my temples works wonders. I also put a few drops of lavender oil in my children’s bath every evening to calm them down!

 

What fragrances do you like to wear? 

 

I love lots of different fragrances, but I am a vintage Guerlain girl at heart. There is something about that slightly old fusty scent that I love. I also love Chanel No 5, but I don’t like the modern version. I buy vintage bottles on eBay!

 

Were there any especially helpful persons along the way?

 

Everyone I have met in my Deco London journey has been really helpful, but if I have to single someone out it would have to be Robertet. They have been so supportive of both my brand and me. It can be a lonely ride setting up a business, creating a product and taking it to market, but having experts like Robertet at my side has filled me with confidence.

 

In addition to working closely with me on my fragrances, they visit me twice a year at home to give me a personal preview of all the key perfume releases and trends, they give input for PR and marketing and they even give me little samples of the raw ingredients in my perfumes to show customers.

 

Which designers or artists do you look up to or are inspired by?

 

I love Alexander McQueen; his designs were so exciting, exotic and daring and the cut was impeccable. The recent ‘Savage Beauty’ Exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London was absolutely mesmerising. He was a genius.

 

I love Ralph Steadman’s Gonzo art, my husband and I have a number of his prints and I also admire British guerrilla artist Banksy’s work. I think I like art with a rebellious edge to it!

Behind the Scenes, Indigo Perfumery, Perfumes

CINNAMON in Perfumery

 

Ceylon cinnamon

Ceylon cinnamon

 

 

Cinnamon in a perfume? Customers are often surprised when I answer their question “What am I smelling? I can’t put my finger on it.”

Too often cinnamon is associated with that all too potent potpourri smell of the holiday season- you know, the smell that clings to your clothes for days? Thankfully the perfumers of our four perfumes have fine noses and know when enough is perfect.

 

 

The true cinnamon, C. Verum or zeylanicum is from Sri Lanka (formerly known as Ceylon). It is an evergreen, aromatic tree that must be grown for at least two years before its bark can be cut. After harvesting, the stems must be immediately processed while its inner bark is still wet. The outer bark is first scraped off, the stem is beaten to loosen the inner bark, which then allows the inner bark to be pried off in long rolls which are cut to exactly 4.2 inches long.

 

In America, Cinnamomum cassia or Cinnamomum aromaticum are used because they are sweeter and more aromatic, although they are inferior to the Ceylonese cinnamon. You can tell the difference by smell as well as looks: Ceyonese cinnamon sticks (also known as quills) use only the inner bark and have numerous thin layers with a subtle and aromatic flavor and smell, whereas the C. cassia sticks, using all layers of the bark, are much harder, harsher and stronger in taste and smell.

 

Cinnamon is a well known medicinal spice high in antioxidants, and noted for its boost to mood and memory, for lowering blood sugar and “bad” cholesterol (LDL), for stopping the growth of bacteria in food, for alleviating sinus headaches or migraines and for preventing the onset of cold or flu.

Cinnamon quills can be stored for periods of years as long as they are not a powder.

In perfumery, only Ceylonese cinnamon is used. According to Mandy Aftel, in her must read book, Fragrant, “Cinnamon opens with warm, sweet, candy-like notes, and finishes with a powdery, dry wood.”

 

Cinnamon most often is used as a heart note, imparting a warmth and lightness to other notes.

It takes a very small amount before it overtakes the perfume, so a very light touch is advised.

 

The House of the Vetti perfume cherubs
Upcoming Events

Ancient Perfumery in Pompei

 

Indigo Perfumery welcomes the Mini Museum of Perfume History’s traveling exhibit, Unguent, Unguentarium and U, on Thursday, August 13th.

 

While preparing for this fun and educational exhibit, we decided to explore the history of perfume. This journey led us to Pompei and the story its frescoes revealed. The Pompei friezes are a bit younger than the perfume bottles in our exhibit, but give us insight into the importance of perfume in ancient times.

Who would have guessed that after the production of woolen clothing, perfume production was the second most important industry in Pompei?

Early 20th century postcard by G. Sommer, no.124, showing painting of cupids from the east wall. Photo courtesy of Rick Bauer

Early 20th century postcard by G. Sommer, no.124, showing painting of cupids from the east wall.
Photo courtesy of Rick Bauer

Perfumes have been used since the dawn of civilization. The first recorded perfumer was Tapputi, often referred to as the world’s first chemist living four thousand years ago in Mesopotamia. She reportedly used a still to distill natural materials such as balsam and myrrh.

The Egyptians famously used perfumes to anoint and cleanse, even including them in burials tombs for the after-life. In India, the creation of attars has been known for thousands of years. Cypress was the home of the oldest known perfumery, also 4,000 years ago.

Natural materials were exclusively utilized, placed in an oil (usually olive oil) base. Myrrh, cinnamon, frankincense, balsam, galbanum, labdanum, saffron and cassia were some of the ingredients used.

In Pompei, the perfume industry’s key component was the strongly scented flower of the region, the rose. Its precious oil was obtained by distilling the petals in horseshoe-shaped furnaces. (Roses and other local flowers in the Campania region were also used for creating garlands.) Other materials were often costly, having to be brought in from far places.

Red roses P2

 

Perfumes were usually reserved for the wealthy due to their high costs of production. Through excavations and testing, it has been discovered that their personal gardens were large, well organized and well tended. The gardens contained the botanicals used in making perfumes, unguents, and flower garlands.

The famous House of Vetti’s triclinium (dining room) contains detailed friezes of cherubs compromising nine masterpieces, depicting among other things, picking flowers and making garlands, baking bread and harvesting grapes.

Pictured below are the three scenes from the perfume related frieze in which the cherubs are manufacturing and purchasing perfumes.

 

Crushing flowers and working with the press to extract their oils

Crushing flowers and working with the press to extract their oils

 

 

 

Mixing the oil in vats

Mixing the oil in vats

 

 

Selling perfumes to a young woman

Selling perfumes to a young woman

The bottles used to hold the perfumes (unguents) and ointments are called unguentariums. They were created out of blown glass and are often found encrusted with sediment.

The exhibit at Indigo will feature three Roman perfume bottles from the first century A.D.,

typically used to contain ointments (unguents), cosmetics, perfume, balsam, and fragrant oils.

Late Summer Releases Sampler
Indigo Perfumery

Late Summer Releases Sampler

Your late summer pick-me-up is here!

 

You’ve been wearing your lighter-weight perfumes for a while now- 

and you’re ready for something different. 

 

We present you with a wide range of families, notes and moods.

Late Summer Sampler

The Les Cocottes de Paris trio is the new chapter by Anaïs Beguine (of Jardins d’Écrivains).

The perfumes tell the memorable stories of three nineteenth-century French courtesans:

La Castiglione‘s combination of notes is utterly unique, ranging from citron and mugwort to licorice, myrrh and styrax. A ride to the fascinating darker side…

Melle Cléo is an unusual floral for those who prefer no sweetness. It is fresh and delicate in a substantial sort of way.    

La Belle Otero opens with a sweet neroli/fig tempered by the spice of pepper/ginger. Violet and a dry iris evolve into a woody dry down. Its progression is captivating.

 

Framboise Noire by Shay and Blue made its debut this week. With notes of black raspberry, Iris pallida, white oud and dark woods- all perfectly balanced to prevent it from becoming too sweet or fruity. Darkly noir.

An Air of Despair was just launched by Josh Meyer at Imaginary Authors. This limited summer edition focuses on cedar, with saffron and musk working their magic to provide an ode to the outdoors.

Jul et Mad‘s new trilogy of perfume extraits, Les White, continues their line of modern, refined fragrances using the best of ingredients. Madeleine and Julien enlisted the assistance of award-winning Luca Maffei to create Néa and Garuda. Nine-Shar’s nose is Sidonie Lancesseur. 

Garuda is as smooth as metal, as warm as saffron and as exquisite as the Cambodian oud in its heart. Its fruit and spice opening combination leads to an oud accord that is modulated by saffron and rum. Its base of smooth and comforting woods extends its silky warmth.  

Nin-Shar opens with a rich bergamot + rose liquor blend. Turkish rose and Egyptian jasmine become evident in the heart, continuing the display of the rose’s soft, floral petals to the green leaves, steam and thorns, and all the way to the roots with the earthy, woody base of oud, cedar wood and sandalwood.  

Néa is composed around a gourmand accord with rich oriental influences. A beautiful fruit combination of date, pomegranate and plum opens the scent, eventually accented by rose and jasmine. It progresses through a woody dry down, finishing with its gourmand vanilla/benzoin/tonka bean flourish.

Place your order here.

Lilies
In the Garden

Frida Khalo: her garden

If you happen to visit New York City before November 1st, be sure to go to the New York Botanical Garden‘s Frida Kahlo exhibit on Art Garden Life. Frida’s colorful (and short) life is interpreted in the growing medium of the garden and its blooms.

Frida's Asclepias

The basis is color, the bonus is scent.

Both are befitting of and reflective of her art.

 

Bold reds and oranges, bright yellows, cool purples and healing whites were all integral to the paintings of Frida Kahlo.

 

Frida's Passion Flower

 

Many of the flowers- esclepias, passion flower, zinnias bougainvillea and sedum have very subtle scents.

The Oriental lilies, marigolds, gardenias and jasmine are very scented and frequently included in the roster of notes used in perfumes.

 

 

 

Frida's MarigoldsFrida's Zinnias

Frida's Gardenias

Frida's Boug

 

 

Frida's Rudbeckia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Frida's Sedum

 

Besides her love for flowers and her garden, one also has the opportunity to observe more than a dozen of her paintings and works on paper.

This is a reimagining of Frida’s studio at the Casa Azul, her Mexico City home.

Frida's studio

Tonight, July 18th, En Voyage‘s new perfume, Frida, makes its debut on the West Coast at Tigerlily Perfumery.

We congratulate Shelley Waddington on her new ode to Frida and look forward to receiving it at Indigo!

Frida perfume sm

July 4th sale car
Indigo Perfumery, Upcoming Events

July Fourth Celebration Sale

We invite you to celebrate the Fourth of July with us: receive 20% off orders of $100 or more of FULL BOTTLES only in our website collection on July 4th & 5th!

 

Use code Special Fourth during checkout.

This offer is not good on gift certificates, samples or premium lines**.

The minimum order amount is pre-tax and pre-shipping.

Orders will be shipped on July 7th-8th.

**Tauer, Jul et Mad

Indigo Perfumery

Gratefully Scented

 

Grateful.

The day began with 3.5 inches of rain in 2 hours, with too much of it seeping into our entire basement. Cleanup and drying out is well underway. Unexpected was the relief at purging- good for the soul.

The rain and humidity delighted our scented garden and we were rewarded with Lady of Shalott roses (they smell a bit like tea, but richer with hints of clove and apple),

Lady of Shalott rose

gardenia buds unfolding with their amazing scent

Gardenia bud Gardenia unfurling

and a jasmine sambac plant that is covered with buds about to burst.

Jasmine sambac 1 Jasmine sambac 2

Life is good!

We’ll be smelling these on Sunday as part of Indigo Perfumery’s Mix Your Own Floral Workshop.

Father's Day 6-15
Upcoming Events

Father’s Day: The Possibilities!

Looking for ideas for Dad? Not quite sure what he will like?

Indigo suggests a few fragrances to help your choice become a bit easier:

Acquasala by Gabriella Chieffo is a thoroughly modern, salty, marine and spicy scent, backed by incense and oakmoss.

Mahon Leather by Floris London is an elegant, woody fragrance with key notes of leather and saffron woven into an elegant heart of vetiver and underscored by deep woods and amber.

Classic Opoponax by Von Eusersdorff opens with a rose/jasmine combination that deftly moves into the heart of its objective: a resinous, balsamic sweet myrrh. Benzoin and sandalwood accent the headiness. Its longevity is enhanced by the amber/vanilla/patchouli base, with a bit of castoreum thrown in for depth. Very smooth.

Salt Caramel, the classic by Shay and Blue, is one of the most popular fragrances for men in the shop. It’s gourmand opening drifts into sea salt, tonka bean and sandalwood- a combination that takes one to a deeper edge. It is addictive!

R’oud Elements by Kerosene reveals soft wafts of woods- oud and sandalwood, accented by amber, vanilla and lavender . The scent is soft, deep and longing for closeness and invitation.

 

To ensure sufficient time for delivery, all web orders should be placed by Wednesday, June 17th.  Complimentary gift wrap is available-  just ask!