Saturday, December 16, 2006

Artisanal - Worldwide and Wonderful


This image of perfumed gloves hand-in-hand, as if two friends reaching out and clasping hands in friendship is very evocative of the old Artisan Perfumer and Glovemakers Guild in France. The two guilds used to be intertwined, since Grasse was the center for both the perfume and glovemaking industry, and perfumed gloves were the rage for many years.

Now guilds are spread out all over the world, all with the same credo: help others learn the art of whatever the product is you are making, and work to keep the standards up by finding new methods and helping the apprentices.

The Artisan Natural Perfumers Guild, although only six months old, has 75 members now, from all over the world. This week, if you click on the Basenotes website you'll see photos of a guild member,  Alexandra Balahoutis, who was interviewed by Basenotes, and the guild logo, posted by Basenotes in recognition of the guild naming December Natural Perfume Month. It's a historic moment of our small, growing guild, and a wonderful way to go into the holiday season, as it shows that our members are out there, getting recognition for their fragrant creations and energy in the industry.


We'll all find ways around the roadblocks, eventually, as artists are persistent, we love handmade, small-scale creations, and heck, we want stuff from all over - don't deny us, darlin', we're breaking all the old regulations down.

No longer is France the stronghold of perfume or wine.

It's a no-holds-barred world we live in. The international group that makes up the Yahoo group for Natural Perfumery is able to interact on a daily basis, exchanging information on how to source, blend, or bottle. We chat about the great and mundane ideas that cross our minds as the fragrant muse moves us.

Here is a fun look at some of the group members and where they are:


You can zoom around the world by holding down the left button on your mouse and moving in whichever direction you choose. Don't miss out on clicking on the balloons to see the info and "shout out" of the different members.

If you have any trouble viewing it, go to The Frappr Natural Perfumery page You'll need DSL or broadband to view.

There are only 81 of us who have bothered to sign up on Frappr, but the group is over 1000 members. Artisan natural perfumers who toil from Bombay to Bucharest, Johannesburg to Jamestown. The perfumes being produced are incredibly varied according to style and execution. The old French standards may be acknowledged, but the modern world demands evolution and change, and they're meeting the challenge, creatively and without complaint. Can't get to Grasse to study? Get some books, interact with other natural perfumers, get your act together. It's actually pretty simple - no drama, no great expense, no snobbish attitude -- just do it!



Artisanal winemakers have been doing this for years, and winning blind taste tests against French wines. Don't get me wrong, I love French perfume and wines, but the new multicultural, multicontinental stuff rocks with a fevered heartbeat of a pioneer forging new creations from terroir. Napa Valley was my regular tour destination 25 years ago, now The Willamette Valley in Oregon, the Hudson Valley in New York and many, many more regions are staking their claim as local, artisanal winemakers.

Let's not forget the artisanal cheeses. Heck all this is making me hungry for some artisanal wine, some artisanal cheeses, and while I'm at it, I'll spray on some artisanal perfume. Ah....what a wonderful world!

3 comments:

  1. Love those gloves. There are a pair of similar ones in the Met I visit every time I go, Elizabethan...
    I am glad to hear thåt people are getting more distribution, we do need more brought into NYC, tho. There is a big appreciative market for those kind of products here, but unfortunately it is so expensive to open a store in Manhattan. I guess basically the stores that are here already must be the ones to carry the products. I wish also that people placed their perfumes in places like Bigelows, or ABC or other creative design and clothing boutiques, such as the many there are in the Lower East Side and Nolita and Soho. I am not a salesperson; I wish I were, because there ought to be more promotion and availability in NYC and there are many places that would carry the products, I am absolutely sure.

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  2. Hi Lucy:
    Next year you'll see a lot of big-market PR from the Guild. Maybe you could help by passing on the names and contact numbers of the boutiques you've mentioned. I'd love and welcome your help with this, as you have the inside info, and I can do the salesperson bit ;-)

    Happy New Year!

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  3. I'll look into it a bit further when I get a chance and pass it on to you.
    Definitely NYC needs more outlets for the truly natural perfumes.

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