Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Focusing In On Our Art of Natural Perfumery

Sometimes the busy bee that is me has a bit of a blurry see. Ok, bad poetry. Sharper image now, though.

In May of 2005 I discovered that there were folks out there blogging on perfume. I also found perfume forums. As a respite from some rather nasty folks who had plans to take over my natural perfumery group and used some rather Machiavellian means, I drifted around the internet looking for some related, non-stressful talk on perfume. (BTW, that "group" founded on my stolen list is well, listless and feeble, and mine has more than doubled in size to 1300 members -- the good guys do win in the end.)

I found about a dozen blogs, and made friends, or at the very least, acquaintance, with the bloggers. I chatted about mainstream perfumes, aka those made with synths, the stuff you find in all the department stores, boutiques and drugstores, always referring to my beloved natural perfumes also. Many of the ladies (and two men) bloggers weren't very familiar with natural perfumes. They confused them with aromatherapy perfumes, and that is understandable. We use many of the same materials, but our intent and techniques are quite different. So, if the bloggers heard of a perfume made only with natural aromatics, they tended to associate it with the perfumes on the shelves of health food stores, which are wholly 100% aromatherapy perfumes. Or synth-laden aromatherapy perfumes. Not natural perfumes at all.

Used to be, I linked to these blogs from both Natural Perfumery and then, this blog. No more.

As of yesterday, no more links to any sites that report on, chat about, or promote mainstream perfumes. Let those who choose to spritz and dab with the latest niche or artisan or Big House perfume have their fun. I just want to focus on our art, promote our art, and keep the image and intent undiluted. An analogy would be - well, if this were a vegetarian blog, why in the heck would I link to blogs with recipes for meat? Sure, it's all cuisine, but there are subdivisions within any discipline, any art, and ours is all natural.

In the next year, besides teaching my class in perfumery, creating perfumes, managing the Natural Perfumers Guild, I'll be working on educating the public on natural aromatics. There is so much confusion out there, so much fiddling with the truth from the big companies who produce household products, and yes, even the "natural perfumes" sold at Whole Foods that are full of synths.

There will also be an emphasis on raising and holding firm on standards for natural perfumes. I've had the painful task of turning down applicants for perfumer status in the Guild this past year. So many submit lovely aromatherapy perfumes with no structure, no sign of sophisticated technique, not comprehension of why, when their perfume "smells nice" it can't be labeled a natural perfume. Several of them are what we call "weekend warriors". They've taken a short course often taught by an aromatherapist who says they'll "certify" them, and they are churning out blends at the rate of one a month. Or quicker.

Natural perfumes, any true perfumes, take months, if not years, to create. Aromatherapy blends can be put together in a day, or less. Definitely not the same thing.

I was invited by Grant Osborne of Basenotes, a perfume forum I originally found in 1998 or so, to write an occasional column on naturals. That will be my one remaining link with the world of mainstream perfumes, and I wills strive to contribute informative, lively articles on natural perfumery and all it means.

As a final note, I do want to add: The Guild does not have the monopoly on natural perfume. We only have a duty to ourselves to set goals and standards for our members. That is the task at hand. And I'm focused.


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  2. Your decision is quite understandable, it is coherent and I believe it is a good decision.
    You initiated the whole fuss about natural perfumery, you defended it with teeth and nails even sometimes exeedingly, you have become the point of reference on the subject, and your choice to stand apart from commercial mass perfumery is the best one for you to keep the original "purity" of this trip and to avoid that confusion be instilled in the mind of people interested into perfumes.
    I saw that you managed to remain in good terms anyway with the people whom you stopped linking to.

    I do not have the stature and responsability that you have on the net and I have had to choose recently what to do when I bloged in on the web.
    My aim is just to comunicate my philosophy of perfume and to give insights on the perculiar life of a perfumer in order to inspire and attract people towards natural perfumery.
    So I choosed to link to about any perfume blog that cared to exchange link with me.

    Thank you for your link to me by the way.
    see you soon, inha Allah.


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