BIG NEWS! A reveal of what I’m working on.

hard at work or hardly working? Depends on the day!

hard at work or hardly working? Depends on the day!

I don’t know why I normally do this, but I like to keep my upcoming projects slightly under wraps. However, I’ve decided that this time I will just come out and SAY what I’ve been working on for months and months: perfume oil.

You guys? This is my passion. I could do this every day, and never get bored. Never lose interest. Never want to stop.

As much as I love skincare, I ADORE scents. Stark is pretty well known for it’s amazing aromas, and trust me when I say that I am holding back when scenting skincare products.

I think I was born to be a nose. And this really excites me, because in 2014 this is what I will be revealing… Stark’s smelly new phase! Another Stark baby! A fresh design in beautiful packaging, our perfume line will both complement and stand apart from the skincare range.

Here’s a little insight as to how I create a scent. With perfume, my true artistic nature takes over and I go into a different place. Except, creating with scent isn’t like getting into the writing flow or playing with color or jamming on an instrument. It can be really abstract and fleeting, and even when you have created something good, one drop can ruin it or change it completely, one hour can reveal a new scent, forgetting to document one step of the process will make it impossible to ever recreate. And how a scent is perceived depends on so many things, more than I even know or understand at this point (the environment you’re in, your mood, how well your nose is “working” that day, your own desires and thoughts and just where you’re at mentally.) Scent is so basic and animalistic, that it’s easy to play tricks on you, especially natural scent. Its a real shapeshifter.

So, at least for me, this incredibly simplistic part of the brain takes over and tells me what is working and what isn’t (“Smells good…like rain and wet leaves and damp earth.” “Oh god, no! Make it stop!” “My mouth is watering. Smells like something I’d like to eat… fruity and creamy and all kinds of delish.”, “Reminds me of that hike through the Cloud Forest.”, “I feel uncomfortable with this scent…in a provocative way.”). And although my emotions can definitely affect how I compose or perceive a scent, I know that if something really works for me, even on an emotional level, others will agree since as unique as we all are, we’re all pretty the same, deep down.

Next, this far more logical and eloquent part of my mind starts putting words to what I’m sensing and creates a catalog: soapy, rosy, woody, musky, smokey. Then, and I don’t know how other people’s nose-brain works, but I start imagining layers to that scent. It’s like a mental pallet that I can create, first as a scent-image in my mind, then I start sniffing around for the right colour, the right texture, the right size scent. For example, for our Neroli Midnight Oil, I wanted a deep, dark scent that was solid, hard and flat (but not shiny!) to balance out the ultra-light pale orange, sheer silk that is Neroli, to me. A juxtaposition as much as an anchor. Earthiness without any weediness to counterbalance the ultra-ethereal, angelic nature of Neroli.

Interestingly, the more I am becoming experienced with scents, the less I reject as “smelling bad”. Nearly everything in natural scents has a unique talent, it’s simply finding the right partners for the dance. I used to hate vetiver. It’s intensely earthy, and even has the odd tar-like quality to it. Then, it started reminding me of hot childhood summers of playing by the traintracks (oh, the ’80s), and smelling the creosote of the tracks, the iron scent of the ties, the smell of the fields around me, the pine trees and birch trees, of drying dog shit (there’s way more poo-elements to perfumery than you’d imagine…I’ll recount in another post. Yes. Because this blog needs more poo-related content CLEARLY), of pungent weeds and tall grasses. And that’s vetiver, in my mind’s…nose. And since I don’t have vetiver with me, that’s just my memory of it, from the last time I smelled it and thought about it. And although I have not yet experimented with it yet for perfumery, today my mind’s nose would imagine it both with some woodsy notes, like a cedar (middle note to vetiver’s base note), and a clean top note, like a lemony essence such as lemongrass…and I think the grassiness would work as vetiver is also a grass. It’s just an idea. I would start with those three and see how that works together, and compose from there. It might not work. It could be a disaster. It might, as I am thinking could be a problem, come out smelling kind of sour, and a little spice, or maybe something anise-like would be needed. It might take hundreds of iterations to get it right. Or, perhaps I nailed it. I won’t know until I try, but usually I’ll have an idea for the general picture I want to create, although the journey getting there isn’t always so clear. My picture for this is warm, woodsy, savannah-like, unisex.

There are some perfumers who can compose a scent this way, only using their mind’s nose, which can only really work when using synthetics. Naturals are way too complex, volatile, and full of their own personalities to play nice, so lots of hands-on experiments are necessary (and boy, does this get expensive!). Sometimes two essential oils, or oil absolutes, have the strangest reaction to one another, resulting in a completely unexpected scent. Sometimes it’s like pure alchemical magic. With essential oils, it can takes weeks to let a scent profile “cure” (ie. sit around in a dark bottle), and only then will the true identity be revealed. Sometimes you forget what you were even going for in the first place, which is not always a bad thing! Natural perfumes, like people, like to change from time to time.

This is part of the reason for our trip. I am sniffing my way around Kuwait right now, and later, I’ll nose Italy. Food, perfume, home-fragrance, candles, oud, boukhour (my current obsession…not sure if I spelled it correctly, but it’s like an incense), oils, markets, spices… I’m taking stock of these experiences and making smelly sketches, slowly getting ready to reveal Stark’s next super-exciting line of products!

Like this post? Sign up for updates… it’s free!