With the Institute of Art and Olfaction’s awards ceremony drawing near, we decided to take a closer look at the finalists. The competition is divided into Artisan Perfumers – those who hand make their own scents in small batches – and Independent Perfumers – slightly larger operations where the company oversees production and branding. From hundreds of submissions, the impressive panel of judges have narrowed it down to ten from each category. On the 25th of this month the two victors from each category will be announced.Read More
For a country with such a sizeable penchant for shopping, the Japanese aversion to perfume is initially baffling. For instance, Tokyo Hands, the sixteen-storey department store specialising in absolutely everything, devotes more space to its model plane section than its fragrance section. They tend to prefer neutral smells and as such it’s not really their thing. Even so, when I visited Tokyo recently, I had a few great perfume experiences, which I’d absolutely recommend to break up the arduous onslaught of great shopping, eating and hot-spring bathing.Read More
Over the last few years, fragrance maven Samantha Taylor from The Powder Room, has led a series of really interesting perfume groups and this Thursday she'll once again be conducting a masterclass with a syllabus squarely focussed on great smells and carefully matched cocktails. She is brimming with interesting stories and facts and keeps the groups small so you can bombard her with your questions, thoughts and opinions. It's happening at the 1806 venue in Melbourne. There are only a couple of places left and you can get full details and tickets here.
Earlier this year I stumbled upon the website of a Sydney-based perfume maker called Aromantik. The packaging artwork was intriguing and the fragrance descriptions sounded great so I bought the sample pack, consisting of seven .75ml vials, and when they turned up in a box customised with my name, I was treated to some of the most delicious scents I’ve ever come across. All of Aromanik’s perfumes are entirely natural and although each is unique, there is a consistency to their warmth and depth. Coffee, chocolate, orange, vanilla and mint co-exist with flowers and spices. They are rich but not sweet – fragrances that you will never tire of. Sally Woodward-Hawes is the creative mastermind behind each small, hand-brewed batch.Read More
Our friends at the Institute of Art and Olfaction are up to their old tricks again, busily forging new paths for talented young fragrance makers. In April 2014, they will recognise the best independent and artisan perfume makers in an unprecedented event called the Art and Olfaction Awards. Until now, unlike in the worlds of fashion, art, jewellery, hairdressing and probably any other creative pursuit you can imagine, there hasn't been an avenue of recognition for young perfume designers. This is an awesome and necessary initiative and we're really excited about speaking to the new bright, young stars of the perfume world early next year.
IAO are accepting entries from around the world and all the entry details are on their site.
Elise Pioch is the kind of person who makes you feel like you’re looking at life through a Vaseline lens. She is super charming, French-born and channels her sense of style and grace, as well as her dedication to quality into her incredible range of heavenly-smelling Maison Balzac candles.Read More
Chandler Burr is arguably the world’s most famous scent critic. He has the very rare ability of being able to smell something and creatively articulate it in such a way that you feel like you’re smelling it too. Chandler’s passion for fragrance harks back to the early 90s when, as a young journalist, he happened to meet the perfumer, perfume writer and biophysicist, Luca Turin on a train station platform in Paris. They forged a friendship, which resulted in Chandler’s book about Luca and his work called The Emperor of Scent. A following feature in the New Yorker about the making of an Hermés scent resulted in Chandler being approached to become the first ever fragrance reviewer for the New York Times. Over his four years in the role, Chandler’s reviews of the latest perfumes were like mini works of art in their own right and became instrumental in changing the way the multitudes perceived small bottles of smelly liquid.Read More
I was given a magazine called Catmopolitan sometime in the 80s and it remains one of the most awesome things I’ve ever read. It’s basically a cat-fuelled pun-fest with an obsessive attention to detail in terms of its content, layout and design. I guess the fact that it’s the only thing I’ve kept from my childhood is testament to its greatness.Read More
Holygrace is not a new perfume (it came out a few years ago) but it's new to my collection so it's getting a review. It has a cute backstory. Holygrace is one of two perfumes made by COMME des GARÇONS for Jun Takahashi's label Undercover. It's inspired by and named after a series of amazing and kind of petrifying dolls Takahashi's created called Graces. They were crafted from things like wool, lace, pearls and light globes and look like deceptively friendly Edwardian alien teddybears.
So how does it smell? It starts with a warm, powdery spicy-sweetess and eventually settles down into a creamy vanilla and ginger vibe. The makers describe it as “a perfume of elegance, soap freshness and poison with notes of bergamot, pink pepper, purple ginger, cardamom, jasmine, incense, broom, red pepper, vanilla, amber, vetiver and styrax."
Like most of the COMME des GARÇONS scents it has a synthetic quality but I like the idea of wearing something that has no natural equivalent and Holygrace is constructed in a way that makes it a positive.
In late 2012 a creative centre called the Institute for Art and Olfaction was set up in Los Angeles by super-driven, Fine-Art graduate Saskia Wilson-Brown. The institute’s mission, essentially, is to provide a democratic space where people interested in perfume can learn and experiment. The IAO is really a first-of-its-kind and in its short existence has brought together a bunch of interesting artists, scientists and perfume-makers to develop really unique, scent-related projects.
It’s a giant leap for niche perfumery and maybe precisely what’s needed to push the world of scent beyond its traditional boundaries.Read More
Nasomatto is a dutch perfume house which makes small bottles of a-may-ziinngg scents from high quality ingredients. I recently bought Black Afgano, which is a dark coloured, easily unisex perfume inspired by the essence of hash, and ever since have basically fallen in love with whoever’s wearing it. It’s woody, spicy, smoky and has a herbally sweetness that is just super delicious. There’s also vanilla and amber in there and I guess you could say that it captures the depth and earthiness of hash and then transforms it into something even better that’s less likely to end with you losing your job. It only comes in a 30ml bottle but it is strong stuff – it lasts for hours so you don’t need to wear too much or reapply too often.
Welcome to my scent blog, odelab.com. It’s here that you’ll find lots of information and fun facts about perfume, things with fragrances as well as the people with noses doing interesting things in the industry. We’ll help you find new and rare scents, narrow down your next selection from the endlessly overwhelming range of possibilities and talk to good-smelling people about what they wear.
We all breathe in around 19,000 times every day so there’s a lot of opportunity to make it count. And while nice smells might not cure all the world's problems, they can definitely cure moods and make people want to be around you more. Happy sniffing!