Tuesday, 22 October 2019

New Website

Please note that I have since moved my online portfolio to: www.carlaseipp.com, where I will be posting all future work.
This blog will no longer be update but please feel free to have a browse through.

Wednesday, 8 May 2019

Unisex 2.0: The Bright and Bold World of KIERIN NYC

New York City: an endless flow of bright lights, frenetic energy and fast moving crowds clutching onto their grande lattes in a fabulous flurry of big-city madness. The city that never sleeps, where ambitious ingenues come to fulfil their dreams and a whirlwind life plays out amongst the skyscraper landscape. It is this megatropolis that inspired the birth of all-gender fragrance brand KIERIN NYC.

“New York City is more than just its streets and icons. It’s the life and energy of the people there who embrace a common culture of respect for the individual, a spirit of determination and individuality. It's about diversity and people coming together to do great things. That’s what our fragrances are, good vibes only,” explains co-founder Mona Maine de Biran.

The vegan, cruelty-free and sustainably sourced range is comprised of four scents created in close collaboration with perfumer Mathieu Nardin. Each pays homage to a different Big Apple life scenario.

Nitro Noir, a gourmand floral chypre, conjures up late nights awash with seductive notes of pink berries, orris and patchouli. 10am Flirt — a lush green floral bouquet of gardenia, fig, cashmere wood and sandalwood — is reminiscent of a walk along the High Line. Sunday Brunch opens with an energetic burst of bergamot and lemon, refined with earl grey tea and jasmine for an uplifting floral best shared amongst friends at mimosa hour. Rounding off the collection is Santal Sky, a smooth blend of cardamom, saffron, sandalwood and vetiver evoking meditative strolls through the city parks.

In contrast to the traditionally minimalist unisex aesthetic, KIERIN NYC takes a more vibrant visual approach. “I don’t see why we have to take the sex out of the equation,” Maine de Biran states. “We can celebrate masculinity and femininity in a way which is all-gender inclusive. We’re the next generation of unisex. It's no longer about playing the middle but boldly bringing it all together in a way that hasn’t been done before and being a modern expression of the New York City lifestyle.”

Even the brand's UK debut didn't play by any of the rules, treating guests to miniature tattoos at local studio Velvet Underground instead of a traditional launch event. “We’re not trying to be a fragrance that’s a laundry list of ingredients or projecting aspirational values, but inspiring people by connecting them, encouraging them to use their voice and make the fragrance their own,” she adds.

In line with KIERIN NYC's inclusive approach, while each fragrance is a high-quality artisanal product, its co-founder emphasises the importance of a renewed focus on the uplifting experience of olfactory enjoyment in place of industry pedigree.

“Ultimately what it boils down to is fragrance makes you happy," she says. "I consider being an outsider a real advantage. I am not the perfumer, I am the editor, a storyteller, an activist entrepreneur. This is my platform, my voice to primally and viscerally connect people’s olfactory senses with their third eye, inspire them and help them to enjoy life through the power of scent.”

Pressing the Olfactory Reset Button

Top-notch raw materials were the reserve of the industry elite — until now. Ostens is the fragrance house of Laurent Delafon and Chris Yu, who as founders of United Perfumes have worked with brands such as Maison Francis Kurkdjian, Tom Dixon and Diptyque. Together with Laboratoire Monique Remy (LMR), the premium naturals division of IFF, the brand is offering novices and connoisseurs alike the opportunity to explore raw materials in all their glorious facets and creative incarnations.

During a recent introductory masterclass at Ostens’ Marylebone boutique, attendees were immersed in the world of the glorious rose. From smelling the round and creamy santifolia to the green and spicy Damascena varieties, to explanations of extraction methods, terroir differences and sustainable production futures, no question was left unanswered.

“LMR is the Rolls Royce of natural ingredients. It is quite a revelation, when you smell an ingredient with that level of purity, it is like smelling it for the first time,” Delafon states. “By bringing the ingredient to the fore, we are hoping to press the consumer’s reset button.”

Ostens offers the raw materials in two formats, a Préparation (a singular note fragrance oil), as well as an Impression (eau de parfum), which allows a selected perfumer to interpret the raw material with complete creative freedom.

In the case of the rose, Yu and Delafon decided on a Turkish variant, the Rose Isparta. “Originally we both hated roses, it felt old-fashioned, corny and predictable,” Delafon states. “But when we discovered LMR and their amazing ingredients, we fell in love with this oil. It is very elegant, but also fresh and contains red fruit and lychee aspects.”

The perfumer chosen to transform this specimen to their own liking was none other than Dominique Ropion. His Impression layers the Rose Isparta with pink pepper, patchouli, labdanum, and cashmeran for a scent containing ample amounts of depth and richness without being overpowering. It’s an exquisite olfactive representation of a company that aims to democratise the world of fragrance for all through remarkable creations.

Aside from rose, the Préparation and Impression are also available in vetiver, cashmeran, jasmine, patchouli and cedarwood options, interpreted by renowned noses Bruno Jovanovic, Alexis Dadier, Domitille Michalon-Bertier and Sophie Labbé.

“Our ambition with Ostens was to bring those wonderful ingredients to the general public and lift the veil on the creative process of the perfumer,” Delafon explains. “It’s about beauty being recognised by everyone, not just industry professionals, and experiencing something really beautiful and special.”

View the original article here.

The Olfactory Occult of Sixteen92

Named after the year of the Salem witch trials and with fragrance monikers such as Wicked and I Saw Goody Proctor with the Devil, Sixteen92 clearly has a penchant for the supernatural spectacle. Founded by former opera singer, advertising creative director and fine art photographer Claire Baxter in 2014, the indie company won this year’s Art & Olfaction Award for Bruise Violet, a Babes in Toyland inspired scent with notes of red lipstick, iris and dusting powder. 

The two newest collections are based on classic horror films (such as The Exorcist, Halloween and Poltergeist) and Bram Stoker’s Dracula respectively. Curious noses can expect to find intriguing compositions including sweet ozone, chrysanthemum and cracked porcelain (The House is Clean); jasmine tea, plum and black violets (Mina Harker); and black amber, opium and blood musk (Vlad Dracul). 

But it’s not just the spooky side of things that this versatile, Fort-Worth based brand draws inspiration from, with other fragrance ranges influenced by the likes of 90s girl rock and Greek mythology figures. Other fascinating olfactory creations juxtapose the sweetness of kettle corn and spun sugar with the metallic undertones of machine oil and rusty metal (Shadow Show), or the moody notes of ocean air and damp moss with the juvenile saccharinity of saltwater taffy (The Awakening). In the following interview, Baxter discusses her obsession with the Wiccan world, striking the balance between artistic vision and wearability, and the yearlong struggle of capturing the smell of winter in the desert. 

First off, what is your most poignant olfactive memory? 

It’s not a single memory, but more of a collection of memories of fall throughout my childhood. Here in Texas we’re lucky to get about four weeks of real autumnal weather, so I have a little anthology of fond memories of raked leaves, pumpkin patches, new flannel sheets, marigold flowers, late harvests and the first wood fire of the season. That one morning each year when I walk outside and get the first flash of all of these scents together is something I look forward to every year, and it instantly takes me back to childhood.

Where does your fascination with history, lore and magic stem from?

About as soon as I could open books by myself I picked out compilations of ghost stories, urban legends and all of those stories that have been passed down for generations to get kids to behave. My grandmother had a collection of illustrated encyclopaedias, and the pages about vampires, ghosts and witches were read so much that I probably had them memorized for a time. I still have those books actually. When I was in the fourth grade I discovered the Salem witch trials. I did a big report on the history of witchcraft persecution, which caused a bit of an uproar with a couple of my teachers, I guess because it was considered ‘inappropriate’ for a ten year-old to be discussing ancient witch-hunting and torture practices. But, you know, I just thought it was all super interesting and didn’t think anyone would misinterpret my enthusiasm. The whole situation was a formative experience for me, and a lesson that sometimes people in power can be wrong — a bit of an allegory to the trials themselves, now that I think about it …

How would you describe the voice of Sixteen92? 

Enchanting, curious, polished, and of course, a little bit weird.

How did your background in branding and photography help you develop your vision? 

It was actually a pretty seamless evolution for me. To be frank, after years in the advertising industry I found myself exhausted by working on other people’s brands and decided to shift my focus towards something tangible of my own, under my own control and vision. I’ve always been an artist. I was always happiest working for myself on my own projects with only myself to answer to, and all of the challenges and thrills that brings. I have a love of business and brand management, and been fortunate to have seen firsthand — and learned from — the stories behind the successes and failures of brands I’ve worked with. 

How did it feel to win the Art & Olfaction award for Bruise Violet?

Insane. I had no idea what to expect, and I had a panic attack when I got word that Bruise Violet was a finalist. I mean, I’m just a weird indie perfumer. I don’t have retail distribution. And my perfume is up there listed with all of these amazing works? I couldn’t wrap my head around it for a while, and still sort of can’t. 

What has been the most difficult concept to materialize through scent? 

There’s one that I’ve been working on for a handful of years — the scent of winter in the desert. Creosote bushes and frost-covered rock, the dry chill of the Davis mountains at altitude, and miles of nothing but cold sand. I’ve spent a lot of winters in west Texas and eastern New Mexico and have very distinct scent memories tied to that area. It’s an ever-changing formula that I come back to periodically as time allows, and I’m not sure I’ll ever get it quite right. I’m also not sure how wearable a fragrance like that would even be, but one day I might actually get it finished. I enjoy working on those hyper-real atmospheric types of scent because they always present interesting challenges, but I don’t release many of them because they often end up more as conversation pieces than traditionally wearable fragrances.

What challenges do you see in the growing popularity of niche fragrance? 

I’m not sure whether I’m the most qualified to answer this sort of question since my brand is relatively young. I will say that one of my own increasing challenges over the past couple of years is finding a balance between wearability and artistic vision. On one hand, I like to make what I like, and I’m certainly aware that not everyone can or will like or appreciate every concept. On the other, niche and indie perfumery in general has seen such a growth in customer base that I sometimes need to tell myself to rein in the weirdness a little bit, and remind myself that people will actually want to be able to wear what I’m making. 

Given that the inspirations for your scents range from 90s punk rock bands like Bikini Kill and Hole to Greek mythology figures like sea nymphs to the (predominantly) women involved in the Salem witch trials, how much do strong female characters inspire and inform the work that you do? Or would you say that your creative process is independent from a gender factor? 

That's really funny, I had not actually considered how many of my fragrances draw from female inspiration. It's not something I'm conscious of while working on new fragrances, but I suppose it's true that I tend to personally gravitate my interests towards, and thus draw inspiration from, strong female characters and themes. I believe fragrance itself is genderless. I dislike categorizing my fragrances themselves as ‘feminine’ or ‘masculine’ or even ‘unisex’, since people should be able to decide these sorts of things on their own by simply wearing what they like. I like to approach composition in a similar way — I nearly always compose the fragrances themselves independent of gender, and that might be largely because I have personally always been quite fond of wearing fragrances that are marketed as ‘masculine’ or ‘unisex’. 

What has been the most profound customer reaction to one of your scents? 

I can’t really choose a single standout story, but I love the occasional notes I receive from customers letting me know that a fragrance conjured a cherished memory, or helped them to create a new one, or reminded them of a distant place or loved one. Fragrances are little personal stories, so I am always thrilled and humbled to be given a glimpse into a customer’s world. 

What fragrances and projects do you have planned for the future?

Aside from our usual calendar of scheduled seasonal releases, I am working on a tarot-themed collection that will eventually feature all 22 cards of the major arcana. Tarot has been in the planning stages for nearly a year, so I’m excited to be in the home stretch for the first group of them — the first set of three should be ready for release later this fall or winter. I’m also working on a licensed collaboration with a musician I’m quite fond of, and there will hopefully be more of that type of project in the queue for later on. 

View the original article here.

Tuesday, 3 April 2018

Janette Beckman: A Career in Pictures

Run DMC, Public Enemy, NWA – what sounds like a top trio of hip hop’s finest is actually just the beginning of the roster of famous names that Janette Beckman has photographed. Not limiting herself to one music genre – she started off photographing punk bands like the Sex Pistols and The Clash for publications such as The Face and Melody Maker – Beckman has an eye for capturing musicians and influencers of the moment in their element. The Londoner’s extensive portfolio of work also includes the documentation of various subcultures, from east L.A.’s El Hoyo Maravilla gang to Teds proudly presenting their Elvis Presley records on the streets of London.

Meeting Beckman at her Lower East Side studio on a hot summer’s day, it’s easy to see how she manages to capture her subjects in such a natural and laid-back manner. With her wildly curled raven-coloured locks, friendly smile and relaxed attitude, the photographer immediately makes one feel comfortable in her presence. Slouched back in a chair, her two cats freely prancing around the open loft space, she recounts each experience with the same enthusiasm and excitement as if it had just happened yesterday. Nowadays she may be photographing her subjects on a Fuji XT1 digital camera instead of her trusted Hasselblad, but her images have the same subversive edge as ever. Flipping through her four published volumes of work, Rap, Portraits & Lyrics of a Generation of Black Rockers, Made In The UK: The Music of Attitude 1977-1983, The Breaks, Stylin’ and Profilin’ 1982-1990 and El Hoyo Maravilla, Beckman contemplates her earliest artistic influences, the changing face of photography, and creativity on both sides of the pond.

Can you tell me a bit about your upbringing and how that affected you as an artist?

I grew up in North London and went to a kind of a hippie school from the age of 4 to 17. It was very artsy, and that really shaped my trajectory and life. My mom was always interested in art, so we went to museums a lot when I was a kid; we visited France and looked at the churches and art there too. She was also a bit of a painter and I used to go to these classes in Hampstead with her at night and paint. So I grew up with a lot of art around. I was always drawing at home, cutting pictures out of magazines and making a big pin board in my room. And I got a little Brownie camera, and was taking snaps. I started doing portraits of people. Going to the beach, I would be sitting there with my uncle and drawing him. I was just really into it. No parent wants their kid to be an artist; it’s not the greatest way to make a living, but there really was no stopping me. So in the end, I ended up at Saint Martins. It was just an exciting time because it was very experimental. It was a foundation course that I did there, but it really shaped me. Basically you’re at college doing anything you want. I made a bunch of friends immediately. It was also very political at the time and we were all into leftie magazines. There was about eight of us and we would go to Patisserie Valerie on Old Compton Street every morning to talk about politics, art, plotting the downfall of Western society or whatever we were doing at the time. But we were also drawing the whole time. I lived in this semi-squat in Streatham. My rent was £5 a week and it was full of other students, so we used to do what students do: sit around drawing each other, go to jumble sales and smoke pot. It was definitely a hybrid art environment. The foundation course itself was very free form – you had to attend classes, but it was more about being in the environment. We were all hyper into our art, doing little performance pieces on the street, those crazy things. At that time David Hockney was really big and I thought I wanted to be a portrait artist like Hockney, but I never thought my drawings were quite good enough. So after Saint Martins I decided to go and study photography at the London College of Printing, which is now the LLC.

I think it’s interesting, though, because if you look at painting versus photography, there are some parallels in terms of composition, use of colour, things like that. So those skills did transfer.

Totally, it’s about looking and documenting. When I do portraits now, it’s all about the relationship and I think that’s the same. I still go to the odd life drawing class to keep up. It wasn’t like the drawings I was doing were imaginative or conceptual. I just liked to sit and draw somebody and that morphed into taking portraits.

Your work is a documentation of the time, but then obviously has an artistic value as well. How do those two things come together for you?

I love to take portraits in the street and I’m always aware of the surroundings, what’s going on in the street, in the background. It makes a timeline. I took a picture of Futura and Dondi, two really famous graffiti artists, and an English dumpster which they tagged; this makes a whole story. I would always find walls that had things on them. It was a document of the times because that stuff isn’t there anymore. As much as I love my studio pictures, this [gang] project I did is a prime example. I took this picture of three girls who were part of this East L.A. gang called the Hoyo Maravilla. I spent the whole summer going there and shooting them. I recently reconnected with them a couple of years ago. They’re all fully grown women now: one of them works for the D.A.’s office, one works in rehabilitation for gang members and the other drives a Mercedes and has a big office job. We timelined the photo as I thought it was taken in 1982. They asked me if I remembered what colour the car in the photograph was. If it was blue, it was 1982, and if it was gold it was 1983, because somebody was shot in this car, the car was covered in blood and they had to repaint it. So you know, things like this can really make a timeline, and obviously clothing, style, the way the kids are, their attitude. It gives a lot of flavour. Here’s a picture of Run DMC, on the street they grew up on in Hollis, Queens, in 1984. I had never been to Hollis and got this assignment. I just had a phone number and met someone at a subway, I wasn’t expecting this tree-lined street. I grew up going to the National Portrait Gallery a lot and looking at paintings done by artists in the 17th and 18th centuries. Those were the things that influenced me, portraits of life in those days. And I guess I somehow try and make portraits of what life is like today.

Was there a specific photographer that inspired you?

I got this August Sander book out of the library when I was in college and loved it so much, I never brought it back. He photographed working people, where they worked, on the street. They are simple photographs and not posed, people are just looking in the camera, [it’s] very natural. Irving Penn’s portraits; Avedon; Cartier-Bresson; William Klein – they mostly photographed people in environments, too. Even now, I’m the New York editor of Jocks&Nerds magazine, and we do a lot of portraits. I try to put people where they live. I get an assignment to photograph somebody and they’re like, “Oh, should I come around to see you,” and I say, “No, that’s okay, I’ll just come around to where you are – on the street where you live, in the living room, around the corner in front of a deli.” Signage, cars going by, taxis… all of that stuff means a lot to me, getting that flavour of the city.

There’s this very stripped back aesthetic to August Sander’s work and it’s an interesting contrast to what we have nowadays. There are still a few photographers that keep it in that natural environment as so much of it is Photoshopped, with colour filters or the backgrounds added in.

I shoot digital now, but I don’t do that much to my pictures. I tweak the contrast a little bit, but I don’t approve of that [excessive digital alteration]. I grew up shooting film, where every shot has a dollar value to it. You had to be a lot more careful and I still work that way now. I don’t shoot hundreds and hundreds of shots. It’s not that hard, you just have to stop and think for a minute. I’ve been lucky, because I do portraits, I have someone’s attention, be it for five minutes or two hours, and we can figure stuff out. I think it’s important to compose and get it right the first time. Photoshop is an incredible tool, but it’s pretty horrendous the way they make everyone look like they are 20 years old. It’s really strange – in 100 years, when people look back they’ll say everybody just looked like Barbie dolls. I understand people want to look young and beautiful, but old and beautiful is great as well.

With punk and hip hop being more male-dominated fields back then, how was it for you getting into those scenes and photographing them?

When I started at Melody Maker, there was only one other woman working there. It was all guys and they’re more or less rocker types that went down to the pub and got drunk. I was an art student, wearing white Levi’s and a Madness T-shirt. I felt more like I didn’t fit in because I was so artsy and they would make comments about my style, with me being there dressed in my pyjamas and sneakers. I thought I looked cool and they were like, what’s wrong with you? But all the bands were cool with it because a lot of the punk bands were former art students. I never felt discriminated against particularly as a woman. Melody Maker was more of a rock magazine and because I was into punk, mods and all the new genres, when those assignments came up they were just like, “Oh chuck them to her.” That was fine by me, I got to photograph Boy George, the Sex Pistols, I got all of that stuff. When I came to New York in 1982, it really worked to my advantage that I was a woman. I’d go up to the Bronx to take a photograph of Afrika Bambaataa, he was expecting some American male photographer and I’d turn up. I was like a stranger walking around in their land and because I was a woman I was less threatening. I was photographing a lot of African American culture and because I wasn’t from here, I got what they call a “hood pass”. I was very curious about them and they were curious about me. It was exactly the same when I went to photograph this East L.A. gang. They’re like, “You’re not American, what are you doing here?” I brought a box of my punk and mod photographs. I would say, “These are the gangs in England, I want to photograph you and take these pictures back to the people in Europe.” They got that concept. People were always really nice to me and respectful. Even some of the rap artists that were so-called dangerous or scary, I never had any problems with whatsoever. I think they didn’t look at me with the same expectations they would have had if I was American.

What were the most memorable moments and people you encountered?

I worked a lot with Salt-N-Pepa. The first time that I shot them was for a British magazine and they hadn’t even put out a record. I don’t know how this magazine had heard of them. I was living over on Avenue B and had them come over. It was a hot summer’s day like this and we took a walk in the neighbourhood. They were just giggly girls and we were just hanging out and having fun. I was taking pictures of them in front of various murals and little stores, this that and the other. We got along really well and that led to a long relationship. I did a lot of album covers for them, it was always super chill. They had their own style: jackets made by this guy Dapper Dan in Harlem, earrings and gold chains.

Yeah, it was very DIY and just small communities back then.

Totally, just turn up and take pictures. This guy Just-Ice, I was working for his record label, Sleeping Bag Records, and they told me they wanted me to do the album cover for him. He was this big guy, completely scary. I was like, whatever. So he comes over, a nice guy, very polite, we do all the shots and end up going to drink Long Island Iced Teas in the bar across the street. I remember he had these gold caps and had to take them out and put them in his pocket because we were eating taco chips and he didn’t want the chips to get on his gold teeth. This is supposed to be this guy who possibly might have murdered somebody, but obviously it turned out he hadn’t. A few days later somebody is ringing at the studio door and it’s him. He’s got this box and inside is this little tiny kitten he’s just adopted. He said, “I got this little kitten and wanted to show you. I’m going to call him Money Clip.” There were a lot of stories like that. Things that were supposed to be frightening were not really frightening to me. I mean, these L.A. gang girls, they apparently used to go to school with razor blades in their mouth because there’s so much violence there and they could just whip out these razor blades and cut people up. I’m just sitting there listening to these stories and taking pictures of them.

View the full article here.

Wednesday, 4 October 2017

Stephen Dirkes of Euphorium Brooklyn on crafting scentscapes and olfactory deconstruction

Founded by Stephen Dirkes in 2015, Euphorium Brooklyn has already garnered a cult following for its deep, multi-faceted and no-holds-barred scents. A creative polymath with a background in music composition and film production, Dirkes has applied his love of fragrance to art installations, multi media projects and teaching the Perfumer’s Library perfumery program at FlowerSchool New York.
The brand’s concept stems from his stop-motion film project, Euphorium Bile Works, which depicts the story of an 1860s Brooklyn fragrance factory focused on transcendental sensualism run by Etienne Chevreuil, Dr. Christian Rosenkreuz and Rudolph Komodo. Dirkes’ meticulous attention to detail sees the narrative for every fragrance release interconnect with all three creators.

The scents themselves retain an ode to classic perfumery while still being wearable enough for a daily, offbeat olfactory experience. Creations include USAR, an Indonesian vetiver-inspired fragrance with lime, ginger, and agarwood accents; CHOCOLATL, a hedonistic cocoa, clove and coffee creation; and WALD, a beautifully realistic forest scent comprised of smoky fir, cedar, juniper and damp earth notes.

Dirkes found his inspiration for the brand’s recent release, BUTTERFLY, at the New Town Creek waterfront in Greenpoint. The result is a fougere scent comprised of the olfactory plants that sustain butterfly life — violet, lilac, lavender, mint, sage and moss to name a few. The corresponding special edition kit, comprised of an 8ml EdP decant and curated seed packet, combines both sustainability and scent in one.

In the following interview, Dirkes discusses the process behind his newest fragrance, creative cross-pollination and constructing an idiosyncratic olfactive aesthetic.

What made you want to structure Euphorium Brooklyn around the work of three fictional perfumers as opposed to the traditional route?

The Euphorium Brooklyn perfume house, its perfumers, and the fragrances in the collection are all aspects of story telling and are all telling the same story. I became a perfumer to specifically tell the Euphorium Brooklyn story and that research evolved into a life of its own. I can't really say that there was much of a choice on my part, as I had no intention of setting up a perfume house in any other way. I love perfumery and the history of its materials, but beyond that, I'm not so interested in commercial perfumes or the business structures of contemporary fashion/beauty brands.

As someone who also works as an artist, teacher and musician, what in your eyes is the role of today's perfumer — storyteller, educator, olfactory chemist or something else?

Speaking in regards to the current trend of perfumer-driven niche houses, what is new and important is that the perfumer becomes more creative by controlling the narrative. Perfumery becomes more artful, in that it is the perfumer who is deciding both what to express and how to express it. These creative expressions are brought to market and noses around the world get to vote on what becomes successful.

When the perfumer embraces the creative responsibility from beginning to end as an individual creative voice, it becomes much more possible to create original work. That isn’t the case for a corporate perfumer executing a brief within a traditional structure of a client marketing team, brand managers, fragrance developers, assistants, etc. Traditional fragrance industry structures bring a scent to market in a manner much more similar to creating a breakfast cereal than an artwork and corporate perfumers are often placed in the role of specialty chemist.

Not only is the perfumer's creative and artistic role of storyteller made possible by niche perfume houses, it serves to motivate and reward more and more idiosyncratic, iconoclastic, and unique stories being told. Consumer expectations of the perfumer's creative role rises and the art form of perfumery begins to drive all sectors of the market, from hobbyist to independent and corporate perfume houses.

Your latest fragrance, BUTTERFLY, has a much more lightweight and playful palette compared to some of your earlier fragrances. In an interview you once said that you embrace the idea of working with things that take you out of your comfort zone. How did the work on BUTTERFLY fit into this mantra, and also into the pre-existing catalogue of perfumes?

Composing BUTTERFLY EdP, I wanted to explore the same Euphorium Brooklyn conceptual ethos with a lighter olfactive palette. Similar to all of the other Euphorium Brooklyn fragrances by it being a manifestation of the personal history of the perfumer, BUTTERFLY also refers to the botanical or natural history of an environmental landscape.

I often present multiple, widely varied scents simultaneously to obligate the smeller to analyze or deconstruct what's going on and did not want to shy away from the complexity of the preceding Euphorium Brooklyn fragrances. Complexity can often lead to density and it was a challenge to create several micro-transitions within a note or cluster of similar notes over short spans of time with the added challenge of maintaining the clarity required to make a lighter, brighter summer accord.

While conceptually remaining true to form, I did force myself out of my ‘comfort zone’ to attempt to overcome some technical challenges and personal issues. Although early curation of fragrance notes as per butterfly habitat led to an inspiring and varied fragrant palette of mint, floral, and aquatic notes, these are also some of the most difficult families of scent for me to embrace. It became an interesting challenge to ‘make sense’ of these scents.

It was very important for me to launch the BUTTERFLY SET to take both conceptual and practical aspects of that fragrance to its full circle conclusion by pairing the fragrance with a seed packet. It is a positive fulfillment of the first inspiration for the Eau de Parfum to become an environmental call to action.

You previously stated that materials are often overlooked in favor of the narrative in fragrance. How do you strike the balance between those two factors?

I don't really see it as a balance, in that the stories and the materials are totally integrated. The stories are often about the materials themselves and reflect the histories and origins of the characters. I involve the personal history of the characters and their regional origins to inform both the choice of perfumery materials used and the stories behind the fragrances. I can’t get into something without a concept, it's just bad art-making. If I'm not trying to do some art-making, what's the point?

How do all eight scents work together to express the ideology of Euphorium Brooklyn?

Euphorium Brooklyn has a very clearly defined olfactive aesthetic and each one of the eight fragrances adds to the richness of that aesthetic while further defining it. Each scent makes a bold statement in terms of the richness, complexity, and density of the accord. The fragrances all reference a geo-specific or environment scentscape that further unites them expressing the Euphorium Brooklyn story. I involve the personal history of the characters and their regional origins to inform both the choice of perfumery materials used and the stories behind the fragrances.

I evolve each fragrance by using a combination of natural materials and single molecules in dense clusters to achieve fragrant and durational effects throughout the collection. I employ high quality natural materials to emphasize the raw, pure, and powerful sensation of smelling them straight from the source. As the characters had very influential pursuits and areas of study outside of perfumery, I wanted all of the scents to also express the conceptual, mystic, scientific, sensual and euphoric aspects of the perfumer's interests.

As a self taught perfumer, what figures and creative movements have had the most profound influence on your work?

I began my interest in perfumery with the specific terms of fragrance functioning within the context of multi media storytelling. I began my music studies with 19th century operatic composers and the conceit of a ‘total art’ in which the vision of a singular voice would take overall creative responsibility and have, in one way or another, continued to explore that notion.

You admire Harry Partch for his "determined pursuit of creative vision at all costs". What have been the biggest hardships you faced building Euphorium Brooklyn?

I don't think that I've suffered any hardships with Euphorium Brooklyn. Difficulties, set backs, & challenges yes… Harry Partch is admirable in that his creative vision was unstoppable and he rolled up his sleeves and made the instruments he needed, taught musicians to play them and was able to further his work with a certain amount of dogged self-reliance and convection.

Euphorium Brooklyn has been a creative joy for me to evolve. Commercially there is tons of room for improvement, but my focus has really been on the creative aspects of the brand. I'm a pretty self-motivated beaver and am happy to push my choo-choo train up the hill when required. That being said, I've been so overwhelmed that people out there are into it and Euphorium Brooklyn has a mini fanbase in the niche corner of niche. I am so happy to have only worked with really supportive retail partners and have gotten generous feedback and advice from fragrance industry mentors.

Having just started teaching the Perfumer's Library perfumery program at FlowerSchool New York, what are the biggest misconceptions people have about creating scents?

I am obsessed by fragrance and love to interact with people about it. Teaching students and creating the Perfumer's Library perfumery program with FlowerSchool New York gives me fantastic feedback from a wide variety of people. I'm always impressed by how instinctively people explore making scent when provided with the materials, tools, and techniques to get going. Even within the already interested community of people I interact with in New York City's fragrance world, I think most people underestimate how fun and rewarding trying it for yourself can be. One common misconception about perfumery I hear is the general idea that ‘naturals’ are safer than molecules, which is untrue.

Since you apply your love of olfactory pursuits to many different projects, how do you see your body of work as opening up the limitations of the often insular world of niche fragrance?

Euphorium Brooklyn came to be as a perfume house and I'm interested to recognize and preserve its function as that. I don't want to take away from the core story or force the story into other directions as the single repository for all the ways one can explore olfaction.

I have a long career of creating as a composer, film maker, and new media artist. Once developing some technical skill to express myself in olfactive terms, it was very natural to apply those skills outside of a perfume house context. I don't feel as though I'm trying to “expand on the limitations of niche fragrance". Olfactive art exhibitions, multi media collaborations, and events can have different objectives, explore different concepts and exist outside of the perfume house. There is a lot of cross-pollination and all work informs you. I am grateful that small successes with Euphorium Brooklyn allow me to take on projects outside of niche perfumery. I try to focus on education and study, fine art/olfactive art exhibitions, and collaborative events. This variety of endeavor maintains a high level of curiosity, excitement, and growth. The creative metabolism of a professional here in Brooklyn can be manic and that can fuel and inspire you to rise to the occasion.

Given your love of raw materials, what is your single favorite smell of all time and why?

Java vetiver! It's a wonderful complex little forest of scent that ranges from bright green tinselly aspects & warm amber tones to smoky leather & deep dark rooty notes. There's also a great history and culture around it in Java. I really got to know and love vetiver when I lived there myself, but it has been a material that I've always loved at many different times in my life and many different locations.

What can Euphorium Brooklyn fans expect in the future?

So much going on! I'm composing music for a little ballet I'll film at the end of the summer to tell perfumer Etienne Chevreuil's story of the inspiration for BUTTERFLY EdP. I was so pleased with the new direction that BUTTERFLY took in terms of exploring lighter, brighter aesthetics and will continue in that direction for two more fragrances. I'm leaving NYC to do a residency at Santa Fe Art Institute to work on some olfactive/multi media installations and will have another gallery show here in New York this winter. This fall, The Perfumer's Library perfumery program I put together for FlowerSchool New York starts up and I've created 8 classes, with each one centered on a different fragrance family.

View the entire article here.

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Building a Fragrance Democracy, One City at a Time: Nick Steward of Gallivant on the Wonders of Wearability and Everyday Appeal

True to the dictionary definition of its name, Nick Steward’s new line Gallivant is sure to offer many a delightful olfactory pursuit. Created in collaboration with perfumers Karine Chevallier and Giorgia Navarra, the range consist of the energetic and bright citrus Brooklyn, unconventional green rose London, delicately wafting white floral Tel Aviv and spicy amber-scented Istanbul.

Each scent comes in a sleek 30ml size flacon, retailing for $95 each. There is something refreshingly democratic, accessible (and travel-friendly) about such a product, which in turn offers all the more opportunities to enjoy each consecutive olfactive journey. “You can mix and match your fragrance wardrobe as you do your clothes and food — there’s a fluidity to Gallivant,” Steward comments.
Given his own multicultural upbringing, the former creative director of L’Artisan Parfumeur wanted to emphasize the concept of universal communication, even in the now often jargon-jammed world of niche perfumery. “Fragrance is something really beautiful that we are passionate about. Given that, don’t we want to invite more people into our world, rather than make them feel stupid because they don’t know the notes or how to pronounce certain words? I don’t like that kind of elitist attitude,” he states.

Not only is the packaging modernly minimalist, the fragrances themselves are equally subtle, with Steward commenting that “perfume doesn’t have to be loud to speak, sometimes you need to listen close to the skin for it to express itself.” Take for example the noisy and constantly buzzing city of Brooklyn, which was translated into an uplifting orange, magnolia and musk concoction. “Brooklyn was never going to be grimy as some people imagine I would have done. Like the American Dream, it was always going to be something optimistic,” he says. Fittingly enough, the independently owned, Boerum Hill-based boutique Twisted Lily recently hosted Gallivant’s stateside debut. “Places like Twisted Lily are really important gateways to discovering this kind of perfumery. I think it’s the time where we need to get back in touch with business actually being about human connections,” Steward explains. “My hope with Gallivant is to create a brand which people can feel close to.”

Next stop on the voyage is London, a melting pool of grit-meets-glam set to to the soundtrack of Pet Shop Boys’ West End Girls. The traditional English rose is given an edge thanks to rugged suede and gin-laced cucumber notes. Despite the name of style icon Kate Moss being on Steward’s mind during the creation of the scent, even this one reads universally unisex. He notes that “there was a really positive energy in the co-creation of these fragrances. I tried to balance my own tastes with those of Karine Chevallier and Giorgia Navarra, hopefully that has made for genuinely unisex fragrances. I also believe people are much more open minded than we give them credit for. A lot of men, if you tell them it is a rose or floral, might be put off. But if you just spray it and they smell it, most people don’t have the binary that we think they have.”

Speaking of florals, Tel Aviv is awash with a plethora of them: jasmine, ylang ylang, rose and freesia. “Tel Aviv for me was quite an emotional one to work on, full of a lot of memories,” Steward reminisces. “There is something really comforting about it at the same time. And I’m actually not the world’s biggest fan of jasmine, of itself. It can feel very introverted and dense sometimes, but in this it’s open, fresh and fruity.” Said sheer complexity is gained through notes such as clementine, blackcurrant bud and deer’s tongue absolute. 

The last stop on the olfactive odyssey is filled with the patchouli, myrrh and cardamom notes of Istanbul. By incorporating lavender, geranium and thyme, there is a fresher kick to this composition which veers it away from a cliched oriental territory. “Istanbul has an incredible history as a meeting point between cultures, so I wanted to reference that on some level,” Steward explains. “Sometimes there is a slightly stereotypical view of what Istanbul is and then you go there and realize it’s a mega city of 18 million people that stretches physically from Europe across the Boszporusz into Asia.”
Despite each scent having its own distinct personality and unique namesake inspiration, a vibrant modernity unifies the Gallivant line-up. Much like travel itself, once reserved for only the upper class elite, it offers an exciting and welcoming opportunity to explore. “I want Gallivant to be an invitation for people to travel the world in their senses, broaden their palette, mix things up,” Steward concludes. Thankfully of us fragrance nomads, with two additional releases on the horizon, the
Gallivant journey is far from over.

View the entire article here.

Monday, 14 August 2017

Parfums de Marly launches Delina

Housed in a pale millennial pink bottle, Parfums de Marly’s newest female fragrance, Delina, has all the makings of a modern classic. The fruity floral scent, created by Quentin Bisch, opens with crisp top notes of bergamot, rhubarb and lychee before developing into a heart composed of Turkish rose, peony and lily of the valley. The combination of quirky and feminine components alike rests on a base of vanilla, musk, frankincense and cashmeran.

There is an approachable playfulness to Delina which gives it a youthful edge while still commemorating the brand’s rich heritage. Parfums de Marly pays tribute to Louis XV (and his in-house perfumer Jean-Louis Fargeon) as pioneers of perfumery and advocates of the equestrian world, with each scent being named after a different horse breed. “With Delina, we wanted to remain true to ourselves whilst creating an elegant, fruity floral fragrance. It is sweeter and therefore appealing to a larger audience, although the dry down makes it a very Parfums de Marly fragrance. It is young and sexy with class and elegance — a mix of all of those things,” explains Nicolas Parat, the brand’s sales director.

Launched exclusively at Bloomingdale’s in the US, the scent is already shaping up to be one of the brand’s best sellers alongside the saffron, almond, and amber-infused Pegasus and lavender, violet, and cardamom-laced Layton. “For us, luxury is rarity. We’re not a mainstream or commercial brand, so by using lychee and rhubarb, we wanted to create something special,” Parat comments, “To wear something elegant yet rare, that is not widely represented, is the ultimate luxury.”

Available at Bloomingdales (US), Selfridges (UK) and http://www.pmarly.com/

View the entire article here.

Thursday, 6 April 2017

Clara Molloy of Memo Paris on the Artistic Originality of Tuberose

The secluded town of Marfa, with its scorching temperatures and dry landscape, would probably be the last place one would associate with a luscious white floral fragrance. However, for Memo Paris this creative contrast turned out to be the perfect inspiration. “I loved the name Marfa even before going there and I was not disappointed - the landscape is as beautiful as the name,” says co-founder Clara Molloy.

After Les Echappées, Cuirs Nomades and Graines Vagabondes, the fragrance house has now inaugurated its fourth collection, Art Land, with Marfa, a concoction of orange blossom, tuberose and white musk. But how exactly does one recreate the olfactory landscape of a place almost devoid of all natural vegetation, save for the odd cactus? “We were looking for a ‘sand effect’ because of the desert, an element of softness. But we were also looking for heat, and for originality. This side would reflect the art part of Marfa,” Molloy explains.
Out of all the fragrance’s components, be mandarin, ylang ylang, agave or sandalwood, there is one in particular that takes center stage. “With the tuberose we found a flower that had sophistication and a different vibe than all the others,” she states. “You cannot hide a tuberose in a fragrance, it is always noticeable. I thought that was interesting because good art is also like that –  it stands on its own.”

Seeing as this is the first scent in the Art Land range, it’s only natural to wonder what other fragrances Memo Paris has up its sleeve, to which Molloy simply responds, “I wish I knew! You cannot predict where and when inspiration comes. The collections are a way to stimulate our imagination, it is like changing the language you usually use, speaking French then Russian then Spanish…” No matter which language the house decides on next, it will be intriguing to see which cultural capital becomes the successor to this beautiful debut.

View the entire article here.

Parfums Quartana Interview, Part Two: The Creation of Les Potions Fatale

In Part 1, Joseph Quartana explained the story behind each of the nine scents in his Les Potions Fatales collection. In the following interview, the Six Scents and Parfums Quartana founder discusses the deeply personal process behind his latest range of fragrances and redefining gender in perfume.

First off, how is Les Potions Fatales different from your previous projects like Six Scents?

This is the first time I’ve explored a singular concept in perfumery. All of the Six Scents were of collaborative nature and about trying to get the designer’s unique vision across. I spent a lot of time selecting those specific designers because I felt like they have interesting visions. They were all influential enough in the industry that they should have a fragrance but are not necessarily big enough to do so. That was the whole sort of spiel.

Six Scents also built on your background in fashion.

Absolutely. I was a buyer for 14 years so that was a logical extension of the work I was doing already, just more curatorial.

So how did that shift from a collection like that to Les Potions Fatales happen?

I was actually going to relaunch the best sellers of Six Scents, this was in late 2013, but at the time my business partner and I decided to go in separate directions. I had just closed my shop, Seven New York due to a landlord dispute/nightmare, and Six Scents was suddenly penniless after our "divorce" so I was at a crossroads. In short, I lost 15 years of work and hundreds of thousands of dollars, so I was really angry. This whole collection was a catharsis of all the venom that had built up. So it comes from a real place. After I finished the collection I felt so much better. I got it out.

Each fragrance has a dedicated perfumer with their own signature style. How were you able to keep the common thread flowing throughout the collection?

I told them two things: first the guiding principle behind the development of this is the notion of the femme fatale. Beautiful but deadly, just like a poison flower. It's deceptive. That's really what we were going for from the packaging to the films to the formulas. Secondly, I told them to think about gasoline — which is sweet smelling but you know it's toxic — so that they didn't waver too far from the original concept. That's how I held it together.

From a merchandising perspective they're all going in different directions. We did this on purpose, we didn't want there to be any overlap. It became obvious what they were going to be once we looked over all the folklore and had this holistic picture of it. For example, Bloodflower should be a gourmand, Venetian Belladonna is a fruity floral, Digitalis is a green, spicy aromatic. They fell into line in that way, it was a happy accident. We did a lot of field testing with both random people and creative professionals. I didn't want to hear that it smelled like something else out there. If we got that feedback, we had to go back to the drawing board and pivot it.

Fragrance itself is about deception in a way, because what you smell in the beginning is not what you smell at the end.

Absolutely. It's not necessarily what we think it is. Another thing: perfumers traditionally were also the poison makers in the royal courts. So historically there's always been a huge connection between the two crafts. David Apel, who did Digitalis, was fascinated by that concept. It’s so fundamentally rooted in the history of perfumery and yet no one has done it. It’s been staring at us in the face, so much so that we didn't see it.

In terms of gender assignment, some of the scents have a femme fatale and others a more unisex character.

Well, there's the flip side of the femme fatale concept and that’s the metrosexual movement, men being held to the same beauty standards as women. It’s a pretty recent phenomenon, this didn't happen in the 1950s. So our men's scents are pretty "boys". The folklore ultimately dictated what the gender would be though. All of them are unisex except Venetian Belladonna and Midnight Datura, which are definitely more on the feminine side.

It's interesting that a lot of them are unisex because floral scents were traditionally seen as more feminine. Obviously there has been a shift with that.

Well, in this case just because they are based on flowers, doesn't make them necessarily floral; it's the folklore we interpreted. But yeah, commercially it's been a huge hang-up for men to wear a floral but it's been changing. With this whole collection I wanted to make it dark and romantic. Perfumery lends itself to that concept so naturally, right?

Usually with flowers, there's this idea of them being a delicate object which has a vulnerability to it.

At the same time they have a wicked power to seduce and, in the case of these, to literally kill. That's a serious power. I look at them as strong. As a male I will be the first to admit that these are feminist and female empowering.

From the films to the packaging, it’s all one unified concept.

Nothing is arbitrary. This is the result of me really meditating for hundreds of hours on the folklore and visual symbolism. Me sitting in my local bar every night until four in the morning staring into the bottom of my wine glass and jotting stuff down. It just came alive, I don't know how else to put it. The packaging is an extension of all the research. The sleeve is symbolic of the hallucinations you get from being poisoned with the flowers. The colors were selected through a blindfold test. I had people smell the fragrance without knowing anything about it, and asked them what the first three colors were that came to mind. I wanted them (the boxes) to look like they smelled, sort of a synesthesia effect. The box front badge design is supposed to be a combination lock. We were inspired by Hellraiser. In the film there's this mystery box which is where the demons come from, it's a Pandora's box of sorts. and we chose a blue amethyst inspired vessel because that was what the ancient Greeks used to hold their poisons. You've got multiple layers to the unveiling of the experience, like an onion.

Throughout the three years of creating the line, what’s been the most fascinating thing that you've learned?

For me personally, that I can actually see a project through with this degree of scope, from start to finish. I've surprised myself. I've never worked on something this long in my life, this was a fucking journey [laughs]. I would liken the whole process to writing an album with nine different songs. I was reading up biographies on Depeche Mode and followed a lot of how they went from one album to the next. What I was setting out to create with this collection was cult items. I didn’t expect them to be successful in the beginning, but instead and hopefully 10 years down the road. And that’s just like the Depeche Mode albums, when they first came out they were hated, except by the most avant-garde people. You should see the early reviews, they’re so scathing. They stuck to their guns, didn’t listen to critical reactions and their fan base just snowballed from there on out.

In a way, it’s good if a fragrance is polarizing. I would rather have something that gets love or hate reactions than just the average, middle ground.

Absolutely. That middle ground is the worst insult. I really prefer a scent which elicits a reaction. It’s like effective art in that way. You might not like it, but does it strike you? Do you learn something about yourself, does it have a jarring effect, does it stop you in your tracks? That’s the power of a good fragrance, and I’m all for it.


View the entire article here.