My latest experiments II

Since I've launched Brooklyn Perfume Company, I've made three perfumes based on woods or resins, and one musk. I'm eager to create my first floral perfume. Easier said than done. I don't really have the skill to make a completely synthetic aroma but I have been able to get by using Jellinek, one of my favorite perfume authors. I've also been playing around with flower "absolutes" from Shiva. Shiva's products are far less expensive than the equivalent found at other places and are surprisingly good. So, I'm using the Shiva stuff to make the "frame" for the perfume, giving it substance and plenty of floral power without breaking the bank. But the final coup de grace (I'm mixing my metaphors) is the addition of jasmin enfleurage.

While this is redundant for most of you perfumers out there, for those of you who don't know what the enfleurage process is, here's a synopsis: Up until World War II, the aroma of most flowers was extracted by placing the flowers on sheets of cold rendered fat spread out on trays. As the flowers released their aroma into the fat, they were removed and replaced with fresh flowers. This process was repeated until the fat was saturated with aroma. The fat was then extracted with alcohol and the alcohol evaporated without heating. The modern process of making absolutes involves extracting the flowers with hexane (essentially gasoline), getting the hexane to evaporate, and then extracting the resulting "concrete" with alcohol.

I only have two enfleurage-processed aromas: tuberose and jasmine. They are both treated in the same way except that the fat, instead of being suet, is hydrogenated palm oil. In this way, no animal products are used in the preparation of the enfleurage. As how they compare in aroma? I can only say that the enfleurage-processed tuberose and jasmine have a rich, almost jammy, quality compared to the standard absolutes. Those that I own (purchased from Enfleurage in New York) have an intensity that my other florals lack. Alas, they don't do this with more flowers. And needless to say, the enfleurage stuff isn't cheap although it may still be worth it because it's so powerful.

In any case, I experimented today with combining floral absolutes (including the Shiva stuff) with large amounts of my musk. I also added a drop of 2% cire d'abeilles (beeswax) absolute to reinforce the animal nature of the musk and to give it a little bit of earthiness. I then added a floral mixture I made with all naturals, including the enfleurage. What surprised me was the tolerance of the florals to the musk without the musk taking over. The mixtures I played with actually reminded me of my mother's old perfumes (from the 40s and 50s) because, I think, of the large amount of musk. Of course her's were backed up with natural musk and mine with my own artificial musk which, to be frank, is what I consider the most animalic musk I can find out there. Of course the dry-down leaves only the musk. But as I remember, my mother's perfumes left her smelling of nothing but musk too.

In any case, I was able to make a mixture using about 10 parts musk to 2 parts Shiva jasmine and one part jasmine enfleurage. While the mixture smelled beautiful, the usual problem reared its ugly head--getting the stuff to last longer. I've thought of using Hedione but Hedione, to me, turns everything a bit abstract. But truth be told I don't really know how to use Hedione as it's difficult for me to discern its effects.