Evie and I met in the store I manage. We bonded on our passion for perfume, and how, by seeking it, we find solace in its ability to transport and expand our consciousness at times of hardship, or weariness. Perfume shoppers are thrill seekers, too. We sat down, drank tea, walked, and explored fragrances together one evening. Here is the interview with Evie, and a video discussing one of her favourite perfume, Serge Lutens/Christopher Sheldrake/Shiseido’s classic, ‘Féminité du bois’ (click here to watch).
1. What brought you to perfume, and/or smelling?
I have an old friend from high school who I sometimes ‘catch’ hobbies from. She spoke one day about a perfume she had found, maybe in a second hand shop or the discount section of a department store; John Galliano. She loved it so much, and spoke about the notes. I smelled the same thing as she did. I had never really thought about perfume before, and started to pick-a-part the notes and composition. I then revisited perfumes my mother used to wear, and tried to figure out what made them beautiful.
2. Was/is there something that you are searching for in fragrance? Something of a passionate need, perhaps.
I suppose balance in a fragrance is important, but more than that to be surprised and feel wonder. Scent has a close connection with memory – a power that can be disturbing, funny, or emotionally stirring. Often a combination of ingredients or notes will form something strange and dynamic that changes on the skin or in different weather, or smell different to each person. Beauty is slippery, and this invokes wonder and forces a person to be flexible.
3. You like to create/recreate perfume…what have you discovered in your creations, your way of alchemy?
I am at the very beginning of learning to create perfume. Some ingredients are very powerful and will take over without careful use. Balance is a challenge. The first perfume I made I was very happy with. I had an idea in mind, and it wasn’t too complex. It unexpectedly had a note that my nose registers as hot metal. It hasn’t gone as well since. Intentionally creating something more abstract that might evoke wonder is going to be a journey. I should probably expect to learn a lot about ingredients, spill tenacious materials, and make a lot of interesting mistakes.
4. What did you discover that made your mother’s perfumes beautiful?
The first time I realised that those fragrances that my mother wore were really beautiful was when I discovered that they and the impressions they made were totally unique, and sometimes elusive. For example the scent of Clinique Aromatics Elixir is in the background of many memories of growing up. Occasionally I wore it myself. I have a memory of wearing it on a hot day. It had a sweet shimmering facet, and others noticed. I am not sure what produced this effect, and I haven’t experienced it again in the same way. I am not sure if my nose or the fragrance has changed, or if my memory exaggerates.
5. Your way of talking about notes, compositions, ingredients, and the “interesting mistakes” you mention has this openness and non-judgment about the creative/creating process to me, where do you see this taking you?
I hope that all the mistakes I make have something to reveal, but I know this isn’t always possible. Looking for wonder in things, I often lose focus, get distracted, disappointed, or disappear into very specific knowledge rabbit-holes. I have never thought of these detours as necessary or even useful parts of the creative process, which doesn’t make much sense on reflection.
“I am not sure if my nose or the fragrance has changed, or if my memory exaggerates.”