Living and creating perfume in Grasse


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My home is a newly renovated apartment in a lovely dilapidated old building in the centre of the old city- three or four hundred years old, according to the Belgian who was doing some repairs here. I have sunshine pouring in the kitchen windows in the morning with a view that looks out toward the Gorge du Loup- and toward the Palais Provencal, formerly known as the Grande Hotel Grasse-  a beautiful big white hotel where Queen Victoria stayed at times during the winter. I’m on the top floor and with my view out over the terra cotta tiled roof tops- there is a feeling of being perched up with the pigeons. On the opposite side of the apartment, facing west,  is the salon sejours- a big bright room with two tall double windows that receive the afternoon sun- and this is my office and atelier. An old (decommissioned) fire-place accents the room (there is one in the kitchen as well) and the walls have several inset cabinets with yellow-glass paned doors to store all my perfumery related books and other small treasures that I squeezed in to my suitcases from Canada. This is

bees and sunshine

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The Fete du Miel I have written about before- it is a market consisting only of honey producers from the south region of France.  There is every kind of honey you can imagine- lavender, orange flower, rosemary, spruce, mimosa, chestnut etc etc… and what I mean is that the bees have been placed to collect pollen from these flowers in particular to make their honey.  Plus there was honey cake, honey candies, candles and so on.  As well, there was fresh pollen and I came home with a tub of dark orange pollen granules from Cistus flowers- which of course, is the plant that Labdanum is extracted from.  This pollen was fresh, soft and sweet; just having been collected that week by the amazing creatures that bees are. I ate it by the spoonful for several days after!


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Two days ago- I went to meet with a very renowned perfumer who lives nearby and had a chance to share with him the perfumes I am working on.  It is so personal to do this- perfume creation is subjective, especially if one is doing it from an artistic place and with the purpose of creating something new- not a copy of something that exists already.  So I may like it  alot, but will another person?  And what about a master perfumer?  I felt very vulnerable as I waited for his response.  But in general, it was good!  One was ‘addictive’, (my Black Licorice that is my baby that I created while in perfumery school here in Grasse).  Another was very well balanced and pleasing, (a floral) and third, needs some work to find the form within the structure.  Too complicated and cloudy.  The third one I agreed about fully- it is called Boy, and is a chypre type, very woody, vanillic… masculine although many women I know love and wear it. And it was very interesting to learn from this man, that vanilla can have a ‘suffocating’ effect on a formula.  I have quite a lot of vanilla oleoresin in this perfume and it will be very interesting to see what happens if it is reduced.  I also use a natural vanillin and tend to be a bit heavy on it, since I love it- but I didn’t realize that it could have the effect of reducing the volatility of the perfume. Jean Claude Ellena says that we should never chose certain raw materials just because we like them, but rather by whether they are appropriate for the desired final effect. We must be impartial to our personal preferences.


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Ok, back to work…. xo

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