Resurrecting the Past

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Can this old gem be brought back to life?

Back in December I was conversing via email with a fellow Basenoter who is very fond of vintage fragrances. It turns out that he possesses a rare bottle of Jean Desprez’s 40 Love and this generous Basenoter even mailed me a decant!

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40 Love, released in the 1940’s, has been discontinued for quite some time. I cannot begin to imagine why; it is a wonderful, soft masculine chypre, somewhat like Dunhill for Men (1934). Both are of the same category but Dunhill steers in a complex direction of soft leather, iris and woods; its lemony opening seems to set a serious tone upon the first spritz. 40 Love is simpler, brighter, it’s fun and carefree.

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My very generous decant of 40 Love

With Dunhill I can picture a reserved, business-minded gentleman in a neatly tailored, worsted wool waistcoat and silk tie…maybe even spats over his patent leather shoes. The wearer of 40 Love, rather, would indeed be a gentleman but dressed in roomy heathered pleat trousers, polo shirt and spectator shoes.

My decant still holds some bright topnotes. I detect orange oil, bergamot and some petitgrain before a neroli-jasmine accord steps forward. At the drydown is some sort of amber base, smooth vetiver, cool moss and a deer-like musk with little civet facets…upon further review, what I detect as civet facets may actually be cresyl notes which were popular back in the day for building white florals like narcissus. Smelled on their own cresyls can come off as something between a freshly run horse and mothballs.

So here’s the idea: I want to resurrect 40 Love to preserve its memory and its availability for other frag-heads to enjoy. I’m sending out a tiny bit of this frag for GC/MS analysis. It can be a bit pricey; anywhere from $200 up, depending on how detailed one wants their results. I will then work on deciphering the results and begin the process of reverse engineering the formula. All in all this project can take up to a year, but I’ll give periodic updates.

I want to be tasteful and very up front about this project and its intention of offering a glimpse of a long discontinued fragrance. I’m not in the business of selling knockoffs as my own. When this becomes available I will clearly label it as an “Impression of the classic 40 Love”.

…aaand touchdown!

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The new batches of Mouse Illuminee and Chypre-Siam are now being bottled and will be available for purchase.
Late last autumn, when the original batches reached their halfway point, I immediately set out to begin formulating new ones. Then arrived the hurdles! I already had most of the aroma chemicals and organic materials on hand, but there was still the waiting period for new stock. Some of my bases were running low so I needed to formulate new batches of those to move forward; no big deal.
The biggest hurdle: being a chef AND a new dad! The greater portion of my life is spent in the kitchen, while trying to help my wife with the baby in between.

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Out & about. Running errands with the little one.

By November my catered events and banquet schedule was already back to back! Most of my perfume formulating took place at 2 or 3 in the morning -whenever I could find a free moment.

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Some of the materials for Mousse Illuminee: rose otto, cypress leaf and wormwood (artemisia) EO, frankincense resin

Fast-forward and here we are in January. I’m just now at the bottling stage and am super excited to be able to offer full bottles of these fragrances for sale again. In the interim I have been working on two new formulas that I hope to complete by early spring. I’ll post more details as things progress but for now I’ll just say that one is an animalic fougere and the other a fresh incense–forward fragrance.

New Batches Underway!

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Chypre-Siam has been a steady seller this year and the supply is running low.

I am presently finishing my amber bases and jasmine base to formulate a new batch. Chypre-Siam should be ready for bottling by early 2019.

For my amber bases I procure my labdanum and other oils and resins from Eden Botanicals. The oakmoss I use is from Mountain Rose Herbs in Oregon. It is dark, viscous and raw – none of that low atranol crap!
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The runner-up lately, to my surprise, has been Mousse Illuminee.

I was initially a little self-conscious about Mousse Illuminee when I first bottled it for release. It was more of a self indulgence when I constructed it; with an over the top, borderline medical, opening of frankincense, cypress leaf and laurel; all surrounding a chunky dose of treemoss absolute from Robertet. I went uber early 80’s in style with this one!

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A new batch of Mousse Illuminee is also in the works as its supply is starting to fade out.

Champs Lunaires

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Floral, creamy, woody, transparent
An intangible summer night
Moonlit fields of white flowers

Notes: Pomelo, Tuberose, White Rose Petals, Sandalwood, Coconut Milk, Musk

I love white florals. There’s something about the way they take over the evening air. We live out the human struggle and their perfume quietly weaves its way into the backdrop of our lives…or at least¬† those of us that have, at some point, lived within the vicinity of a jasmine vine, a champaca tree, citrus trees etc etc.
I am especially in love with tuberose; and am not alone, as a simple Google search for the intoxicating blossoms would prove.

My go-to tuberose fragrances had been Robert Piguet’s Fracas and Serge Lutens’ Tubereuse Crimenelle. That was until around 2014 when I first made acquaintance with perfumer Paul Kiler of PK Perfumes.

Paul Kiler is a hidden treasure of Southern California. He is a database of perfume knowledge and history, and is an accomplished perfumer. Paul has a knack for balancing complex, almost baroque, sets of notes resulting in fragrances that continually unfold and develop on skin. The times I had driven out to visit him at his lab he would have more than one base or accord that he’d be tinkering with on the stirrer whilst compounding a formula at the scale. And at the same time he’d have some bottles heating outdoors with different Schiff bases he was experimenting with. Seeing this was indeed a fountain of inspiration for me.
When I sampled Paul’s TNT (Tama n Tuberose) I was blown away. It is realistic as a live flower. It is indolic, almost fleshy, and sweet and heady, and all the while it is bright and has ‘lift’. This is from where I drew my inspiration to create Champs Lunaires. I experimented for several months with various tuberose formulas until I was finally satisfied. Every so often I’d even run to my bottle of TNT as a reference point.

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With Paul Kiler (right) at the PK Perfumes lab

For my own tuberose I’ve tried to convey the realism of the live flowers with emphasis on the lactonic qualities. I also wanted a transparent yet persistent floralcy, like white flowers on a summer night; they just keep coming at you in waves, yet they’re evasive, you don’t know from where they emanate.

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I took this tuberose accord and set it into a formula, accenting it with white rose, sandalwood and pomelo. I tweaked up the lactonic notes to create the coconut milk effect and used musk ketone for a vintage feel.
All in all I kept the supporting notes subtle because Champs Lunaires is all about the tuberose. Milky white tuberose blossoms in the evening air.

Champs Lunaires will be available by the end of July.  I do have some preliminary samples available. You can contact me here, my Etsy site or via Basenotes and I will send one your way.

Newest release: Derviche

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The original inspiration for Derviche was Emeraude de Coty, of which it smells nothing like! I wanted a rich old-school oriental amber fragrance with a bergamot opening but with the power of many of the fragrances coming from the Arabic perfume houses.

I first developed a labdanum-rich amber base to build the fragrance around and then set out to experiment with the “power” behind it. This involved weeks of tweeking ratios between different musk and ambergris molecules until I found the balance I sought.

I then gave it a heavy dose of the jasmine base I developed for Chypre-Siam. The “antique” mentioned in the fragrance notes is a reference to the older jasmine bases used around the turn of the century. I used cues from these bases in developing my own.

Derviche is rich in vanilla, labdanum and jasmine -its a heavy hitter. The bergamot sets it off just enough before being completely devoured.

 

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