Being Led by the Nose
I'm on vacation, so this won't be a long review, but I just had to get the word out on Alec Lawless' new book, Artisan Perfumery or Being Led by the Nose. The title should give a hint of his humorous approach to the subject of artisan perfumery, and he is consistent throughout the book with his sly wink at the industry, of which he's been a part of for over twenty years.
The co-owner of Aqua-Oleum, along with his ex-wife, famed aromatherapy author Julia Lawless, Alec knows where the greatest aromatics are to be found, either in essential oil, concrete or absolute form, and after years of playing with the essences, began blending. He has a wonderfully relevant background in wine appreciation, and some of his observations on scent and perception, working in his love of sensory and psychology topics, are eye - and nose - openers.
Lest I forget, the book's cover, a small piece of an original artwork he also sells, is pointedly evocative of the lush and beautiful nature of naturals, jasmines and lotus being the cover focus, more aromatics depicted on the full canvas. I have an order in for a print - ah, if only I could have gotten this artwork for my book. Well, I know all current and potential authors of perfumery books will be envious of the artwork, as they will be of his background and travels in search of aromatics, which he freely shares.
Some of the idiomatic British English terms in the book were mysteries to me, but the author speaks clearly, in his own conversational tone throughout, as if you're sitting down with an old friend who is a raconteur sharing all of his devilishly funny observations, so you just slide past them. You'll get the full meaning where it counts, so you'll come away bursting with ideas from the positive and inspirational stories.
Although Alec dips slightly into the world of aromachemicals, and admits he uses them at about 1% in his own blends at Essentially Me, his focus is on naturals. I love that he's incorporated Jean Carles study methodology, and for the first time, to my knowledge, a GC/MS and how to read one appears in a contemporary book!
I just found a page on his perfumery site that combines the book and samples of his perfume. The books is reasonably priced at £9.99, with samples, £19.99
Alec shares some wonderful insights in aging and "softening" alcohol for perfumery that any artisan perfumer would find educational. After speaking with him the other day, I hope I convinced him to create a short video of how to use the pipettes sold on the Essentially Me website. He readily agreed, and I have a feeling that we'll be hearing a lot more of this fellow who has burst on to the artisan perfumery scene with a book, a perfumery raw materials and lab equipment website and decades of knowledge to share.
Natural Perfumers Guild members receive a 10% discount on purchases from Aqua Oleum and Essentially Me, and will also enjoy Alec sharing his knowledge in the private Guild Yahoo chat group. Welcome to our Guild and thank you for producing this lovely book for all artisan perfumers to enjoy.