Have you ever wondered where your perfume comes from? Who decides the composition of the fragrance and what skills are employed to balance it so delicately? Many of the ingredients originate in far flung countries and go through complex extraction processes. However, the true skill is the alchemy performed by a master perfumer.
Poetry of Scent
According to Roja Dove, British Perfumer and Fragrance Historian, a perfumer is one who is not only technically brilliant but who truly feels their art. Dove believes that creating a scent is akin to poetry. For Fragrance Designer and founder of STORIES Parfums, Tonya Kidd-Beggs, it is about weaving a story from the memories that scents evoke.
Tonya spent time in Grasse in the French Riviera when she was developing her Eau de Parfums. It is the perfume capital of the world with a fragrance history dating back to the seventeenth century. She sat for days at the perfumer’s organ, surrounded by tiny bottles of essential oil. Under the tutelage of a perfumer, she went on an olfactory journey. From the citrus groves of Southern Italy to the Damask Rose fields in Bulgaria, some of the oils resonated deeply. The perfumer used her knowledge of the oils and her ability to differentiate between thousands of ingredients, and how they interact with one another, to create something unique.
The Balancing Act
Balancing a composition is a delicate and often painstaking process for the perfumer. He or she needs to ensure that there are enough top, heart and base notes so the fragrance develops on the skin over time rather than evaporating on application.
When you spray your perfume, your initial impression will be influenced by the notes in the ‘top’. These scents have a very different olfactory profile from notes in the heart or base section. At the centre of the fragrance, notes from the floral family draw you deeper into the story of the blend. They may trigger your own memories and captivate your imagination. Notes in the base section of the fragrance determine the lingering quality of the composition.
Olfactory Expertise Meets Creative Vision
A Fragrance Designer draws inspiration from the olfactory expertise of a perfumer and combines it with their creative vision for the fragrance. Tonya honoured ancient techniques to curate perfumes that tell a story with which the wearer can relate. The next time you spray your fragrance, give a thought to the process by which it came to be in the bottle. Think of the Bergamot rind that has been expressed to remove the fresh, zingy oil or the cedarwood bark that was chipped and steam distilled to leave that lasting warmth on your skin. Give a thought to the perfumer and his years of committing scents to memory in order to bring the perfect balance to your blend. It is art. It is poetry. It is a story worth remembering.