Monday, June 4, 2012

Singing scents.

About a month ago, I did a perfume mixing workshop at the excellent independent perfume shop Sweet Anthem, based in West Seattle. The workshop was part of my birthday present from my lovely partner. Given my recent obsession with pomanders, it was a fitting gift and eagerly anticipated! 

The shop was gorgeously decorated in mellow colors and vintage fixtures. It was like walking into the boudoir of the most stylish woman in town (specifically, a small, southern French town in the 1940s).     

Meredith, our instructor, talked a bit about how perfumes can be described in synesthetic terms, which means that the olfactory qualities of perfume are suggestive of colors, sounds or sensations. So a well-composed (see, music and art terminology!) perfume will have "notes" that complement and enhance each other instead of clash.

She showed this color wheel to help us figure out what notes would work well together:

And then we went on a sniffing spree:

about 2/3 of the base notes we smelled
We smelled about 40 different base, heart and top notes before trying to mix our own perfumes. 

I ended up being very surprised about the scents that I was drawn to. I expected to like the more androgynous scents, like pepper, cedar, sandalwood and cardamom, because my absolute favorite perfume in the world is a spicy, woody man's cologne that I love wearing as a woman. 

But surprise, surprise- I gravitated towards the more delicate and feminine notes. Peony and jasmine and white musk! Even ambergris, which smells nothing like what I expected, since it's basically whale poop and vomit that has floated in the ocean for years. Ambergris is sweet and warm and almost floral. A sunny, contented smell.

I finally decided on a blend of black tea, jasmine and bergamot- it's light enough for summer but also reminds me of drinking a big, delightful mug of Earl Grey. After the workshop, I was picking up dinner at PCC and a lady walked past me and exclaimed, "Someone around here smells really good!"

I highly recommend taking one of Meredith's perfume classes. Then you'll be able to pair your custom fragrance with one of my pomanders! :D

1 comment:

  1. Hi Dorothy! I took one of Meredith's classes as well. She was pretty neat, and revived my interest in blending perfumes. I wanted a more complex blend, but we were limited to three notes in the class (as you can no doubt recall). I settled on violet and ambergris (I was also surprised by the scent of ambergris!) and... oh gee, I can't remember the middle note!

    You may enjoy reading Mandy Aftel's books on perfumery? :)