Thursday, November 12, 2009

Lovely series: North American Originals: Perfumers on Fall &Winter



Natural Perfumers Guild President Anya McCoy is featured on The Scented Salamander website series: North American Originals:Perfumers on Fall & Winter.

Anya's Garden Perfume's two new colder season scents, MoonDance and StarFlower are explained in Part Two

From the Scented Salamander:
American perfumery is as varied as its landscape. One of its most notable traits is the fact that in spite of the presence of giant corporations like Coty or Estée Lauder, there exists a strong breed, I am tempted to say, of independent perfumers who appear by contrast even more like the necessary missing pieces of a vast puzzle. And without them, one could argue, American perfumery would be forgetting the flip side of anonymous efficiency, large-scale organization and big business, that is, originality, primitivism, naïveté, a sense of community, intimacy, individualism and let us not forget, the can-do attitude. If we only had the big labels, we would still have rivers of perfume, but we would have less of a certain moral spirit, the individualist one. And I don't know really what is America without the individual.

She or he is like the flavor of home-grown local herbs added to a standard national recipe.

Nonetheless, we still need the giants because without the Leviathans, perfumery would not be as democratic an art, a pleasure and a way of life. Mass-marketed perfume may be a French invention borne out of the intuitions of François Coty, he who knew perfume could both be a sign of luxury and a household name, but mass-market perfumery particularly thrives in the United-States thanks to sheer size and a deep culture of consumerism.

Ultimately, the ideals of democracy and pluralism that are the bread and butter of the American psyche open up enough room for independent perfumers to be not isolated and too rugged but an expression of a particular sensitivity.

In this series we meet with a number of North-American indie perfumers who reveal a naturalistic approach. They can be distinguished from so-called "niche perfumers" easily by realizing that their reference point is their own personal experiences. Indie perfumers are more hands-on and are usually less inspired by a tradition, genres, a cannon or the market. And as far as independent perfumery goes, this means to me also that independent perfumers make their perfumes themselves almost from scratch, even sometimes devising their own ingredients or searching for new sources of natural inspirations in their self-cultivated gardens. Due to this sensitivity to the naturalist context, their catalogs tend to be colored, more or less explicitly, by real-world references like the seasons in an impressionistic sense, or the fruits of the seasons. Some of these perfumers have extensive libraries of scents, others concentrate on a more compact collection.

To develop one step further the food metaphor, American Originals are more like non-processed food. Even though indie perfumers do not necessarily use only natural ingredients, the creative process itself seems more natural and unmediated. An art of the vignette is born where nature is approached in an interpersonal manner, where scents refer to a precise point in time, evoke warm, nostalgic memories.

After asking a group of independent perfumers for their thoughts on Fall & Winter fragrances, I have weaved their voices and their beautiful words into a virtual conversational exchange. Some perfumers who have contributed longer answers, I have taken the liberty to interrupt for a day to let them pursue their thoughts on the next not because what they said was too long but because it creates a balance and a rhythm, a journal-like quality that echoes for me, the charm of truly seasonal fragrances as natural clocks of time, images of the ebb and flow of the days.

I will add short bios on the last day of the series.

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