eyeliner on a cat

eyeliner on a cat
beauty, scent & style scrutinized for pleasure

Monday, September 26, 2011

New series: Mini Mondays! [9/26/11]

I've been wanting to do this for awhile now, and I'm finally getting to it. I can't say for sure that I'll be doing this every Monday, but I'll try! My plan is that each Monday, I'll pick a few perfumes to do mini-reviews of, and I'd love to hear what your impressions are of them as well, if you have any!

[my favorite mini- a pygmy marmoset, just a few inches high]

Guerlain Shalimar Parfum Initial

I'm a little late with this one, considering I've already used up 1/3 of my bottle and have since relegated it to the warm weather fragrance area, but better late than never. This flanker to Shalimar is quite good, it sparkles, it's a true gourmand Oriental in Thierry Wasser style. It's an energizing scent for me as opposed to the usual slightly narcotic effect an Oriental has on me, and while I admit that I've never been a fan of Shalimar (despite my mother's early proclivities toward it), I think Parfum Initial is a wonderful fragrance for warm weather. Lemon tart, vanilla, patchouli... a strange masculine edge that is not particularly easy to reconcile with the over-the-top doughy sweetness, but somehow, it works. By the power of Wasser, it works. 

Molinard Vanille EDT

This is one of the best straight-up, cheap and cheerful vanilla scents for layering, and you can get it for a song on discount sites, too. One of my all-time favorite combinations is Le Labo Oud 27 with Molinard Vanille-- it lends a pure, cozy and warm edge to Oud 27's cold, woody, bewitching weirdness. The effect is much like M. Micallef's Aoud Gourmet, which is wonderful but expensive. This was one of my earliest scent layering experiments that turned out beautifully, and I wore it a ton last fall and winter.

Comme des Garcons Series 6 Synthetic: Tar

Sadly discontinued with arguably some of the worst packaging ever, I still love Tar. It's similar to Bulgari Black, except not as sweet, complex, or annoying. Instead, Tar gives me everything I love about avant-garde synthetic fragrances: an impression in broad strokes of newly laid black top in a school yard. While not being classically pretty in any way, shape or form, it should appeal to those who tend to be attracted to the scent of skunk and gasoline. If you happen to find a bottle somewhere in the open market, beware of the packaging, which resembles a black condom inside a clear plastic bottle. Sometimes it leaks and forms condensation inside, and whispers nasty things into your ear in the middle of the night. But, if you can find it, grab it anyway. Victoria from EauMG and I were lucky enough to pick up the last two bottles from The Perfume House in Portland thanks to a hot tip and quick thinking by Dee from Beauty on the Outside. We both still wonder if there are any more bottles out there in the world, but rather doubt it because of the high chance of evaporation due to the packaging. 

[all perfumes purchased by me for my personal collection]

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Prada Candy- don't shed your benzoin tears on my account, I think you're cool

It's been awhile since I've encountered such an incredibly misnamed perfume as Prada Candy. It's comforting, cozy and resinous. It's also many other things, including fantastic, but it really does not remind me of candy in any way, nor is it even that sweet. I should warn you that my tolerance for sweetness in perfume is extraordinarily high, however. Point in case:  I list Guerlain's Iris Ganache as one of my favorites. It does have a caramelized sugar aspect to it, but the overdose of benzoin really counteracts excessive sweetness. There is a sharp woodiness at the outset that takes over for a little while, but Candy is worth sticking it out to see where it takes you and may yield a surprise or two for you depending on how you feel about previous Prada releases.

Candy has heart. Much more heart than any of the other Prada fragrances I've tried, which all feel cool or cold to me-- too anemic, which is something that's always turned me off about Prada perfumes. I am someone who is more drawn to excess and opulence than starkness, severity and minimalism. There are always exceptions, but even the soliflores I love tend to have so much life, layers and richness to them. Candy veers away from opulence but is simultaneously a skillfully balanced resinous gourmand which lends the comfort of fragrant curlicues of incense smoke without the heaviness of a bonfire. Prada Candy will never overwhelm, and proves that where there's smoke, there doesn't necessarily have to be fire.

The quality of the vanilla is excellent, and it reminds me of the smell of antique books or newsprint, similar to what I get from Barbara Bui Le Parfum. In fact, Candy could really be considered a sibling of Le Parfum, which I also adore and is sadly discontinued. Consistent with the Prada brand, Candy has a streamlined approach to gluttony, but I believe it succeeds with a certain warmth that none of their others have. It draws you in and invites you to stay, instead of simply stating its existence, defying you to connect to it.

When analyzing Candy, it's not the caramel I keep thinking about, it's the benzoin. I imagine a host of benzoin tears at my disposal, appearing as nectar of the gods- sticky, resinous, and yes, a little sweet. When Prada got a hold of those little benzoin tears, they sang until there was laughter, eschewing the tears for joy. 

The packaging is great, though not well suited to the scent. From the outer box with its bright pink and illustration of a slightly amused and chic blonde in an LBD to the improbably vintage 1960s-looking UFO bottle itself, it is truly giddiness-inducing. You would not expect a comfort scent perfect for cooler weather to emerge from the atomizer, but something more in line with cherry lollipop or a sweet, fruity floral.

The sillage is moderate, and the longevity is quite good. I spritzed generously in the evening and woke up with the luscious fragrance all over me, still (in fact, I think it gets better the longer it's on skin/clothes). After about 6-8 hours, it starts to take on a mellower, warmer and nutty quality that is very attractive and pretty hard to resist. This is one of the very few recent mainstream releases I can write about enthusiastically (I don't even bother writing about most of them because they're so unremarkable)-- it is a wonderful scent for a very reasonable price. This will be one of those perfumes that I'm likely to repurchase once my supply is out. I never thought I'd say that about a Prada release, but there it is. Perfumer Daniela Roche-Andrier really caught my attention this time around, and I hope to see more designs like this one from her in the future.

For the mainstream consumer, I think the packaging and bottle will attract certain tastes, and some people will be surprised. I feel pretty strongly that Prada has a success on their hands, even though the artistic concept and the product itself are somewhat at odds. It doesn't smell like 50 other mainstream fragrances you can find in the department store, and that will definitely benefit Prada, especially come this holiday season. I predict huge sales just for the adorable presentation alone. It's the kind of thing girls just like- delightful AND useful.

The only listed notes are caramel, musk and benzoin. Prada Candy EDP is available in 1.7 and 2.7 oz bottles for $80 and $108 respectively. It can be purchased at Neiman Marcus, Bergdorf Goodman and many of the other usual suspects.

[my bottle was purchased by me for my own collection]

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Major Thrill: I'm featured in an article for Allure Magazine's October issue!

A couple of months ago, I was lucky enough to have been interviewed for the October 2011 issue of Allure Magazine by Contributing Executive Beauty Editor Alyssa Hertzig for her perfume article, "Bottled Seduction". I'm there along with several others including  fellow bloggers (and gals I adore) Victoria from  EauMG and Annie from Blogdorf Goodman, as well as my good friend, perfumer Mandy Aftel.

I am thrilled and honored to be included in Alyssa's article and to be a part of Allure Magazine's October issue, even if in a small way. I've been an Allure reader for a very long time and I don't think I've missed a single issue. So if you love perfume and/or me, or if you just like me and love perfume, whichever, please pick up the October issue of Allure Magazine and read "Bottled Seduction".

The perfect cover model for my first print interview [brows are everything]

Friday, September 16, 2011

Fragrance Foundation Indie Committee News: eye on the FiFi!

Press Contact: Lyn Leigh, lleigh@fragrance.org

Press Release
For Immediate Release

The Fragrance Foundation
Shares Further Details on
“Indie” FiFi Award Initiative
New York NY September 16th 2011. The Fragrance Foundation is very pleased and excited to announce that thanks to the great generosity of Givaudan Fragrances Corp., a congratulatory  $10.000.00 cheque will be presented to the winner of the Indie FiFi Award at a festive ceremony during the Elements Showcase at the end of January 2012. 

“We are delighted to support this Foundation initiative,” comments Cosimo Policastro, Givaudan’s dynamic and respected Executive Vice President, Fine Fragrances, “and especially pleased to provide an extra measure of encouragement  to these talented, creative free-spirits. We admire their entrepreneurial skills in balancing business with much passion and love of the art form that is fragrance.”

The Foundation is very excited to be able to encourage niche/independent brands that add such inventiveness, creativity and personality to the fragrance world to vie for the Indie FiFi Award.  The  stellar members of the newly formed “Indie” Committee have already met to action   guidelines and procedures. “Each and every committee member is absolutely in tune with this world, knows their needs and understands their dreams,” comments Mary Ellen Lapsansky, Vice President of The Fragrance Foundation. “We thank them for their enthusiasm and support.” The following recommendations have now been instituted by the Committee:

· Submission forms will be posted online early October at www.fragrance.orgwww.elements-showcase.com and on various fragrance websites and blogs.
·      Submission forms will be due late November.
·      Judging will take place in early January 2012 in New York.
· The Indie Committee will select the judging panel based upon knowledge, experience and expertise and will formulate guidelines to assist the panel through the judging process.
·     An Indie brand must be an established brand that has been on the market for at least 2 years and must be sold in 1 to 50 doors including online in order to participate. The brand must be independent, not owned or distributed by a large company.
·      The entry fee is established at $200.00 per entry.

“Indie” Committee Mission statement
To support the excellence, talent and artistry of ‘indie’ perfumes, celebrate their individuality and craftsmanship, give a voice to the “indie” brands, address any issues and concerns that are important to the group as a whole.

The “Indie” Committee Members:
Mandy Aftel (Aftelier Perfumes) Arnaud Adrian (Robertet) Rochelle Bloom (The Fragrance Foundation) Frederick Bouchardy (Joya Studio) Karl Bradl (Aedes de Venustas) Virginia Bonofiglio (Fashion Institute of Technology)  Denise Capozzalo (Barneys) Rodrigo Flores-Roux (Givaudan Fragrances Corp.) Victoria Frolova (Bois de Jasmin) Mary Ellen Lapsansky (The Fragrance Foundation), Carrie Meredith (Eyeliner on a Cat) Ralf Schwieger (Mane)

Thursday, September 15, 2011

The Shift: adapting fragrance habits for Fall

It's that time again, my favorite time of year. The weather cools- slowly but surely, and I start thinking more and more about rich and spicy home fragrances and also switching out the perfumes in heavy rotation on my bedside table. Yesterday, I moved out Esprit d'Oscar, Shalimar Parfum Initial and several other similarly sparkling scents on the lighter side of the spectrum and have dusted off the perennial (and more recent) favorites for cool weather.

[not my cat, but I wish she was]

Here's an updated list of what now occupies the prime real estate on my bedside table (full bottles and decants included):

Guerlain Iris Ganache
Vivienne Westwood Boudoir
Le Labo Oud 27 & Patchouli 24
Ormonde Jayne Woman
Amouage Opus V
Caron Tabac Blond (vintage)
Coty L'Origan (vintage)
Balmain Miss Balmain (vintage)
Etat Libre d'Orange Tom of Finland
Soivohle Meerschaum
DSH Perfumes Sienna
Mona di Orio Vanille
Diptyque Tam Dao
L'Artisan Traversee du Bosphore

There is only one permanent artist-in-residence on the table, and that is Aftelier Perfumes. They are as necessary to me as oxygen, and I need them all at hand to satisfy my moody tendencies and to cure my mind of its mischievous ghosts. Particularly useful in this regard are Tango, Cacao and either the Jasmine solid or Candide. My newest daily treat is slathering on Aftelier Chocolate and Saffron Body Oil and layering Cacao perfume on top. I've always been a gourmand fragrance lover (and all year-round, too), but the Fall weather makes me practically insatiable.

Beyond the gourmands, I must have all manner of leathers, Orientals, woods, musks and rich vintage florals-- a little of everything. I've accepted that even if we have another surge of warm weather, my fragrance desires have shifted and they must be heeded.

The recent order I placed with Candles Off Main also reveals where my interests currently lie:
Belle Fleur Cacao Tabac
Votivo Smoke on the Water (I love the travel tins, I always get a couple)
Modern Alchemy Opium Den

And although my husband has pleaded with me to save our NEST Pumpkin Chai candle for closer to Halloween, I've already started burning it. He can buy the next one.

What about you? Have you made some switch-outs in your heavy-rotation perfume area (if you have one), and if so, name names! Include any preferences in home fragrance, as well.

[photo credit for Autumn kitty: animals.desktopnexus.com]

Monday, September 12, 2011

Indulgence never sleeps: Aftelier Perfumes Chocolate and Saffron Body Oil

Today I got the singular pleasure of trying Aftelier Perfumes Chocolate and Saffron Body Oil for the first time.  Its base is jojoba and fractionated coconut oil, and is very light in texture. I used it straight out of the shower when my skin was still damp, and found that I didn't need to use much to saturate my skin and to leave a softly scented veil that lasted for hours. Since the scent has worn off, I may have applied it one or two more times, just to get my jollies. 

The scent is a true cocoa scent; those familiar with Aftelier's Cacao perfume will recognize its authenticity and ability to whip any sour moods right into shape in no time flat. The Chocolate and Saffron Body Oil manages to never be too sweet; it is tempered with the equally luxurious yet slightly floral, spiced botanical nature of saffron. 

I need to make a point of mentioning the presentation. It comes in a 3.5 oz rectangular glass pump-top bottle,  looks absolutely chic on a dressing table, and is very satisfying to hold in the hand and use. The genuine nature of the chocolate makes itself known right away, it says right on the label to "shake well before using". The pseudo-lava lamp thrill you get in the beginning is fun, but not as fun as shaking the bottle vigorously until the drops of almost-black cocoa essence dissolve into the oil base, sending tiny bubbles of light and dark into a beautiful flurry. 

apricot saffron profiteroles with chocolate saffron sauce [payard.com]

The product itself leaves the skin feeling like silk, and that would be enough for me, except the fragrance is out of this world and it's clear to me I'll never be able to live without it again. Other scents available are: Rose, Vetiver Mint, Patchouli Spice, Lavender and Fresh Ginger. A 3.5 oz bottle retails for $40 and is available at Aftelier.com

[my bottle was purchased by me for my own personal use]

DSH Perfumes Pandora: A Beautiful Evil [new launch]

The image that Dawn Spencer Hurwitz associates with her new perfume Pandora  is of Odilon Redon's 1914 painting "Pandora", and she sites Redon as one of her favorite artists and an ongoing inspiration to her. Redon is also one of my favorite artists, so I was happy to know that Dawn and I have one more thing in common (and this is a good 'un). Redon's "The Spider" has been a long-running spark to my imagination, and while quite different from the style of "Pandora", a case could be made that "The Spider" could also represent the idea of "beautiful evil" as told by the Greek Hesiod

he may look evil, but you'd be surprised

Most of us know the Greek myth of Pandora, and how she unleashed evil on the world by opening her box, but there is always a flipside when it comes to extremes. Along with evil, she also set truth free upon the world and allowed humankind to gain knowledge of what truth really means. This changes the ideals of the human race forever. To me, Socrates' statement that "the unexamined life is not worth living" very much applies to me. I find the alternative a bit terrifying-- I'm the sort that prefers to live in truth no matter how disagreeable, because honesty and integrity are of paramount importance to me. As I discovered the artistic intent behind Dawn's perfume Pandora, I realized how well this concept suits not only my life, but Dawn's as well. Dawn is one of those people who, if you know her at all, you know that her intentions are pure, her spirit is generous and her conscience is clear. These are the kind of people I like to surround myself with. 

Pandora is a siren song to lovers of the classic, unadulterated chypre; in fact, it has many of the startlingly narcotic qualities of the much-missed vintages that perfume lovers the world over currently mourn. While the ozone and aldehydes present in the opening give Pandora a bit of modernity, the predominant notes soon reveal themselves to me as rose de mai, patchouli and oak moss. It's the recreation of the "Mousse de Saxe" accord, however, that is most noteworthy here. It was originally created by Ernest Daltroff for the French house Caron, and famously used in Nuit de Noel among others. It traditionally consists of geranium, licorice, leather, iodine and vanillin. In Pandora, Dawn has modified and used it to great effect, giving the blend a cool, almost icy anisic smoothness, like a deep chocolate brown in olfactory form. With the inclusion of oak moss, Pandora confidently leads us to the densest part of the forest to seat us on its rich and fertile floor, where it's unclear even what time of day it is (but it ceases to matter). Dawn used some materials that are relatively new to perfumery in order to create this perfume, and it leaves its impression as an ode to the classics (which Dawn is spectacularly good at), while treading new ground at the same time. 

The drydown is my favorite part of Pandora-- it leaves a long-lasting trail of powdery and slightly sweet amber and tonka, the soft breath of orris, and recalls vintage Miss Balmain and even Coty L'Origan. There is history contained within these rich depths, and if there is evil to be found in this particular beauty, it can only be through the temptation to indulge oneself. 

Pandora is 97.5% natural origin, and 2.5% synthetic origin, and the notes include:

TOP: ruby fruits (botanical), bergamot, aldehyde, spice notes, ozone, violet leaf absolute, davana, cassis bud, green and pink pepper

HEART: rose de mai absolute, juhi jasmine, linden blossom absolute, yerba mate absolute, cabrueva wood, orris co2, green tea absolute

BASE: mousse de saxe accord (botanical), cyperus, fossilized amber absolute, ambergris tincture, patchouli co2, vetiver co2, muhuhu, Australian sandalwood, tonka bean absolute, green oakmoss, vanilla absolute

Here is a list of links to other bloggers participating in this launch event:

Scent Hive
Perfume Pharmer
This Blog Really Stinks
Esscentual Alchemy
Indie Perfumes
DSH Notebook
Oh, True Apothecary
Scentual Soundtracks

[sample of fragrance provided by DSH for review]

Saturday, September 10, 2011

The Winner of the EnVoyage L'Emblem Rouge sample set is...

Thank you all so much for entering the draw and leaving comments on this unique pairing of a perfume and a hydrosol.

The winner of the draw is Tara!

Tara, please email me at eyelineronacat at gmail dot com with your mailing address and I will get your goodies out to you soon.

Don't forget to stop by Scent Hive... you still have a chance to win Trish's draw for the same sample set!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Baptism by fire: Amouage Jubilation 25 Candle

Clean and dirty, pristine in its details on the surface but with an earthy growl behind it. These are the descriptors of the best incense fragrances, and ones I often use to describe my favorite Amouage scents, too. One of my biggest weaknesses (and I have many, so consider this a King Weakness) is incensey candles. And for every King of Weaknesses there is a Queen's Indulgence, an over-the-top representation of luxury that sends a shiver up my spine and melts any resolve that might be lurking beneath the surface. Meet Amouage's Jubilation 25 candle- gilded, glowing and gorgeous.

notes: tarragon, lemon, ylang ylang, rock rose, frankincense, davana, labdanum ciste, patchouli, amber, vetiver, musk, myrrh

the first burn is always the best

The perfume Jubilation 25 was created by Lucas Sieuzac, and in my opinion the candle is a very faithful representation of the EDP. I almost enjoy this particular fragrance even more as an ambient one. It's worth mentioning that because of the softness of the wax, it is entirely feasible to use the candle wax as a solid perfume. In fact, as soon as I unpacked the candle, that's the first thing I did and it worked quite well. The candle is clean-burning and quickly creates a pool of luscious liquid when lit.

This is my first experience with Amouage home fragrance products, and it's clear that the firm adheres to the same high standards as with their personal fragrances. The cold throw is excellent (the scent the candle gives off when not lit) and fills the room quickly with rich fragrance when burning. The Jubilation 25 candle is a feast for the senses and is particularly delightful as cool, rainy weather descends on the city as I write this.

candle and holder are available as a set

Amouage's Jubilation 25 candle is 6.9 oz and is available from the Amouage website for 120 Euros (candle with the beautiful holder is also available together as a set for 165 Euros) as well as  from Parfums Raffy for $195 USD. I will update this post with additional US retail outlets as I find out about them. 

[candle was sent to me by the company for my consideration]

photo credits: top photo is my own, bottom photo from Amouage.com

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The rose that stayed for dinner: En Voyage Perfumes L'Emblem Rouge EDP [and a draw!]

The lovely Trish (from one of my favorite perfume blogs, Scent Hive) and I decided to create a little blogging project in order to celebrate the launch of Shelley Waddington's En Voyage Perfumes L'Emblem Rouge, a rose soliflore. I will discuss the eau de parfum here, and Trish will be exploring the accompanying hydrosol, created by Dabney Rose.

The people who know me best know that I am not generally a fan of rose-centric perfumes, but my mind is always open, because there are always exceptions. Take Aftelier Perfumes Roses Solid, for instance. I really appreciate the fresh aspects of rose, like crushing rose petals in the palm of your hand and then inhaling, and Mandy's Roses is that exactly.

L'Emblem Rouge captures that moment in time so well, even if it doesn't last too long. I have long since made peace with the reality that the best of natural perfumes don't last as long as I'd like, but in a way, I savor their fleeting nature even more because I know it won't be staying with me for several hours.

L'Emblem Rouge is the first entry in  perfumer Shelley Waddington's new all-natural Rubicon Collection. Lovers of rose soliflores will rejoice when they get their hands on this one, and those with charitable hearts will, too:
"A lifetime gift of five percent of all L'Emblem Rouge proceeds will be donated to Broadway Cares, a leading non-profit AIDS fundraising and grant-making organization." -from the En Voyage website

top notes: cassie, mace, bitter orange, juicy grapefruit, green pepper, Iranian galbanum, violet, cistus heart notes: organic Iranian rose otto, ylang ylang, heliotrope, French jasmine sambac, violet, honey base notes: guaiacwood, sandalwood, copaiba, vetiver cedarwood Virginia, tolu balsam, benzoin Siam, tonka, vanilla, ambergris

Once the fresh rose aspect has faded down, the warm depths of L'Emblem Rouge emerge to envelop you in the kind of comfort you crave on a cool, windy Autumn day. It becomes redolent of a well-loved chenille blanket that has held on to traces of incense smoke from night after night of revelry. It is simply stunning.

[photo: obeygiant.com]

Once in awhile the impossible happens, and it reaffirms my pledge to myself to keep my mind and heart open, and if a rose perfume should want to come in for a trial-run, I will certainly open the door.

En Voyage Perfumes L'Emblem Rouge may be purchased in two concentrations. The EDP is available in 0.25 oz and 0.50 oz bottles ($40 and $115, respectively), and L'Eau Emblem Rouge, the hydrosol it is paired with, 0.35 oz for $25. Samples are also available for $6.

To celebrate the launch of L'Emblem Rouge, I am holding a draw for a sample set: a mini spray sample of the hydrosol and a mini-roller ball of the eau de parfum. Just leave a comment here to enter-- tell me what your thoughts are about rose in perfumes. Do you love it? Do you give it the ol' side-eye? Does it sleep at the foot of your bed, curled up in a ball?

Drawing will be held on Saturday, September 10th at 12:00 pm, and will be decided by random.org. I will announce the winner on my blog, and the winner is responsible for contacting me via email with their mailing address (eyelineronacat at gmail dot com). In the meantime, don't forget to head over to Scent Hive to read all about L'Eau Emblem Rouge. Good luck!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Perfumer Interview Series: Kedra Hart of Opus Oils

Kedra Hart, creatrix of fragrant delights and owner of Opus Oils and the Jitterbug Perfume Parlour in Hollywood, CA, is one of those rare individuals that I can say I was instantly drawn to. The more you get to know her, the more you want to know. So, I found it natural to ask her to be a part of my Perfumer Interview Series. It turned out that this interview coincided with the official launch of her Les Bohemes collection (I have written about several of those scents), and also the 3rd Anniversary of her by-appointment-only Jitterbug Perfume Parlour. Kedra has become an inspiration to me creatively, and I am thrilled to be celebrating these happy occasions with her here on my blog. 

CM: How were you initially inspired to create your new Les Bohemes collection? What was the process like in creating it? 

KH: The Les Bohemes Collection began as a single Solifleur & blossomed into a whole garden!  It was quite a process spanning the course of several years. 

It all started with my fascination with a single flower - the Datura (Flapper)…  I used to live in Laurel Canyon & would take lots of walks around the neighborhood at night.  I loved the scent of the night air & would follow different scent trails until I found their source.  I became completely enchanted on many occasions by Daturas/Brugmansias in the area.  These mysterious beauties gave off a scent that was so unique & intoxicating that I spent a lot of time with my nose stuck in their petal trumpets! 

I wanted to use a Datura note in my Bespoke Fragrance Palette but there were no Datura captives on the market so I started work on a Datura Solifleur…  Over time, I began developing more & more Solifleurs to add to my Palette as a method of doing simplified Custom Scent Blends for special events where I didn’t have time to blend note by note.  I debuted this Bespoke Scent Palette during a Valentines Day event for the Beverly Hills Four Seasons. 

The Les Bohemes Collection came together as a group of scents from my bespoke palette that all fit into the theme of the roaring 20’s.  These were all perfume notes that were popular during The Golden Age of Perfumes.

CM:  Did you design all the Les Bohemes scents to blend easily together or was that something you discovered after the fact? 

KH: Pretty early on into my creative process as a Perfumer, I started thinking about the possibilities of creating a Fragrance line with layering capabilities.  The idea had been with me for a long time as I had experimented with layering scents long before I was creating them.  I can remember doing this when I was very young, with what I now understand were Solifleur Perfumes, that were acquired on family trips to Hawaii.  Orchid, Pikake & Plumeria were some of my favorites to mix & match.

I did have it in mind with the Les Bohemes Collection to have the scents work in layered combinations with each other. It was a monumental task to get each scent to the point that it was a "Star" in its own right as well as being able to play well with others! After years of trial and error, I am thrilled that the feedback has been so positive on the layering aspect of this collection!

CM: Do you ever listen to music while you’re composing perfumes? If so, what do you listen to?

KH: Music has always been a great source of inspiration for me.  I do blend with music playing most of the time.  My taste is very eclectic, ranging from rock to jazz, blues, swing & everywhere in between.

For blending, I tend to favor soulful singers like Billie Holiday, Louis Armstrong, Nina Simone, Edith Piaf, Serge Gainsbourg.  Generally I like to listen to music with lots of feeling that encourages my mind to wander & dream, putting me into certain moods that complement the particular scent that I am working on…  

For the Les Bohemes Collection I was listening to a lot of “Flapper Music,” Edith Piaf & French Café Music. 

Lots of Psychedelic Rock was playing while I worked on WILD CHILD #13 for the Summer of Patchouli Love 2011 Scent Event, hosted by Monica Miller of Perfume Pharmer.  Which, I guess, must have been some good MoJo because my scent actually won 1st place in the competition!  

CM: What led you to want to have a brick-and-mortar perfume parlour in addition to having your products available online? Do you have plans to open any others?

KH: Our Jitterbug Perfume Parlour is really an extension of the environment that was happening in our previous workspace, just on a much larger scale!  Space had a lot to do with it, we needed more room for Perfume Classes & special Scent Events that we were putting together.  Also, the location was so perfect that it was hard to pass up!  We’re located in a building on Hollywood Blvd. that was built in the 1920’s…  Which is actually pretty rare in Los Angeles as this city is fond of tearing down old buildings & putting up pod malls.

I should mention that we are not your traditional brick & mortar.  Our retail space is open by appointment only, which allows us to provide a very special personalized shopping experience for our Customers & Bespoke clients.  

CM: How much bespoke work do you generally do? Does it account for a lot of your time?

KH: I do quite a lot of bespoke work both for individuals & for businesses, which suits me perfectly as my absolute favorite aspect of the Perfume Business is the creative aspect!  I love to get going in my atelier & slip into the trance headspace where the dreaming part starts.  At that point the fragrance I am working on takes on a secret life of it’s own - a personality with a unique voice in scent. I love to create living, breathing art! 

Tiger Powers for Dirty Sexy Wilde

CM:  Les Bohemes has marked a new chapter in the history of Opus Oils and is being received very well by the public and press, how are you going to follow up Les Bohemes? Will you go with another themed collection?

KH: I am thrilled that Les Bohemes has been offered such a warm welcome into the Fragrant Universe!  I really put a lot of heart & soul into this collection & I’m pleased beyond words that people have had such a positive response to these scents. 

I do tend to think in terms of themes when it comes to Collections...  An idea usually starts as a fascination with one aspect of something I experience (music, books, movies, art, food etc.). 

When I start exploring that one aspect it usually winds up dividing into different branches like a family tree.  By the time I get it all “worked out” there are usually several scents that fit nicely into the theme. 

There are currently several different areas that I am exploring that I could see turning into a Scent Collection project, but it’s still too early for me to narrow it down to one specific theme.  I’ll definitely keep you posted on that one! 

For now, keep your eyes open for a new unisex fragrance I created for Fetish Model Tiger Powers.  Being close to Halloween, Opus Oils is hosting a special “Pajama Party Massacre” launch (murder mystery party) Oct. 23rd, 2011.  Be there or be scared…  

CM: What’s one piece of advice you would give an up-and-coming independent perfumer?

KH: Well, it’s definitely a tough market to crack & there is no shortage of competition (or Haters)!  You really have to be passionate about the art of perfumery, because that is what will keep you going through the trials & tribulations that are bound to happen along the path of pursuing the business of being an Independent Perfumer. 

Of course it is important to really learn your materials inside & out.  Study them closely & let them teach you.  There are so many wonderful scented materials out there right now to explore.  I find myself in perpetual study mode as far as materials go. 

I encourage my students to be true to themselves & their own creative vision at all times.  This is the only way that they will be able to develop their own style or signature as a perfume artist.  It’s the same with any art form (perfume, painting, writing, music, etc.), it takes years of study & practice to master any craft. 

CM: What do you feel is your forte as a perfumer? And which materials do you love working with the most?

KH: That’s a tough question!  I really love working with all aromatics, but the areas that interest me most on the fragrance wheel, are usually the heart & the base notes.  My forte is probably rich, animalic florals. 

One of my absolute favorite materials to work with is Ambergris (the Mermaids Treasure).  I love the whole process involved in working with this ingredient.  Taking a solid brick & turning it into powder, then tincturing it for several months…  It’s a lengthy process to be sure, but it feels truly alchemical & I love that!  I also like to put it into Cocktails for a decadent treat. 

CM:  I appreciate the sense of fun and playful sensuality in all of your work. Would you say that also describes your personality?

KH: What a sweet compliment to my work!  I would like to think that also describes my personality as well, as I have always been inspired by artists & sensualists & I do try to focus on the bright & fun side of life. 

Kedra Hart

CM: The Jitterbug Perfume Parlour is coming up on its 3rd anniversary, congratulations! What do the next three years hold for Opus Oils?

KH: Thanks so much Carrie!  I am so happy to be marking this special occasion with you in this interview! 

It really does feel like a milestone of sorts to be making it to our 3rd year given this particular economic climate, especially the way things have been going for the past few years in California!

In the next thee years I would really like to extend our brand distribution to include more Fragrance outlets & specialty stores. 

I will also be focusing on continuing & expanding my work in Bespoke Services.  I am looking forward to continued involvement in the fragrance community. 

CM: What do you say to the world through your fragrances?

KH: I think of my fragrances as a celebration of life, beauty & magic!   I hope that translates to those who wear my fragrant creations.  I believe we should appreciate, respect & celebrate life every day!  Scent is a wonderful way to communicate non-verbally about beauty & pleasure. 

 Kedra's cat Gish, conserving energy

Kedra's soul kitty Neptune~ Rest In Peace

For more information on Opus Oils and the Jitterbug Perfume Parlour, you can visit www.opusoils.com. All photos courtesy of Kedra Hart.