Power and Presence

Sometimes, my experiments don’t project enough, or fade too soon, or don’t have enough power. I get discouraged.

But my recent seminar with Mandy Aftel has given me pause. For her, the sensual interplay of complex natural ingredients is more important than the ability of a perfume to fill a room. Her scents are discrete and may need close inspection to reveal their secrets, but they are no less beautiful, no less affecting. 

There is a difference between “power” and “presence.” Mandy’s perfumes have psychological power. They have presence, nobility, and terroir.  

The other night, I showed my young friend, Ricky, the latest iterations of Black Iris. I had deconstructed the perfume into three test tubes, in which were separated the perfume’s top, middle, and base accords. We got to the base-note complex, and Ricky yelled, “This is it!” I smelled the accord again and more carefully. The complex is almost of violets, except with orris’s ineffable depth, of roots, fungus, and loam. The perfume is discrete. It doesn’t project very far. It doesn’t last for many hours. But it has beauty. It has presence.

It is the orris I’ve been looking for.

What do I do now? Dare I release a perfume, an expensive one at that, that doesn’t hit you like a dose of Poison? I must ask myself whom is the scent is for? A cluster at a cocktail party? A lover? One’s self?

There is much left to be done. I must track the accord’s aroma during all phases of evaporation to make sure that at no point it smells weird or unpleasant. And, it must project and last at least somewhat.

Orris is a divine thing I have wanted to share with many people. Perhaps, though, this is not its nature. It may lie in a sphere of the ineffable, of the evanescent. After all, it is orris.