Profile: I think that the most interesting thing about my life is my French Canadian mother, who met my Puerto Rican father via the love-lorn section of a New York newspaper. He wrote, she wrote and within 6 weeks she was on a cross-country bus, married my father and I was born 8 months later.
1st Decade. I grew up in California on an Apricot ranch where my dad grew whatever we needed. The scents of my childhood are Almond and Apricot blossoms and their fruit odors, also Roses and Wisteria and Oleander. My dad who was born in Puerto Rico said plants had to have purpose; they either fed your sense of taste, your sense of smell or your sense of enjoyment.
Jeanne Rose in purple bellbottoms left; Janis Joplin in Yellow Poncho upper right
2nd decade.I have had several completely different lives. First as a child from a small town, then college as a Zoology major, graduate school in Marine Ecology, hippie chic in Big Sur, couturier during the Rock ‘n Roll years; herbalist and writer and teacher; aromatherapy writer and teacher and for the last 15 years teaching Natural Botanical Perfumery Seminars here in San Francisco. Evening in Paris was the preferred scent of the girls in my high school while I enjoyed and preferred the magical forest of Woodhue by Faberge whose scent is Rosewood/Lavender/Vetivert/Sandalwood.
Jeanne Rose with her mother Aline Lanacette Colon
My elegant mother used MaGriffe by Carven and I loved that with its great green Galbanum odor, florals and Vetivert. I used Peppermint oil for pets.
In my 3rd decade, I used Storax in the lab to ‘fix’ small marine animals and Benzoin for the skin. These scents are particularly evocative to me. Habanita by Molinard was my most desired odor in Big Sur, that is, besides the fabulous scent of seaweed, Redwood trees and fresh creek odor. Flashback to 1967 in the Haight: I had returned to my native Bay Area after the University of Miami's graduate program in marine biology and after working in watermelon and bee research. I began sewing clothing for the rock 'n' roll crowd, outfitting everyone from Jefferson Airplane (Starship) to Donovan. In 1967, the owners of Kiehls (?) gave me a bottle of Jasmine that I promptly smashed on the plane trip home – thereby sealing in my love and fear of Jasmine.
In 1969, the Village Voice published an article about my clothing designs for those rock and roll guys, and a book publisher was intrigued enough by the herbs in the background of a photo to contact me about writing a book. The articles states, “Rose is steeped in the herbal tradition: Both her parents were gardeners and herbalists, and she grew up making homemade herbal cosmetics and medicines. She sits down and slams out her first book in a quick six weeks.” "Herbs & Things, Jeanne Rose's Herbal," subtitled, "A Compendium of Practical and Exotic Herbal Lore," is published in 1972 and goes on to sell over 600,000 copies, establishing itself as one of the classics in the field.”
In my 4th decade I started scenting my gloves and jewelry. I liked anything with Rosemary, herbaceous scents and citrus. I developed the first U.S. natural skin care company, called New Age Creations with the plants, scents and herbs from my garden and was quite successful at that until I gave it (the business) away in 1980. I made skin care and naturally scented massage oils that became quite well known and perfumes that developed a cult following as well as developing personalized perfumes for hotels and people.
In 1980, I just stopped making products for my company, New Age Creations (started in 1967). Many products became available that I felt were truly natural. With the advent of more technology those ‘natural’ ingredients are being divided, separated, isolated, and the components are being used in products. This, as far as I am concerned, is no longer natural. There are tons of petroleum-based products that are touted as ‘natural’. Most of what we use, we don’t need.
My 5th decade is characterized by Chypre- anything chypre. It is a favorite odor because of the Labdanum, Oakmoss, Bergamot and Clary Sage. I make sure my Natural Botanical Perfumery students make a Chypre blend to know what women smelled like 90 years ago. I was and am a consultant and have helped many companies develop skin care and body care products and subtle perfumes. I am a teacher rather than a product maker. I have continued to nourish myself with my garden of sensory delight and include a photo that was published in a lovely book on “Scented Gardens”.
6th decade. My favorite herbs and smells are Rosemary, the sea, Conifers and whatever else happens to occupy my attention on any one day. You can visit my collection of great herbal books (1500) that I donated to the Lloyd Library in Cincinnati, OH and my pop-up book collection (600) is at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Library at San Jose State University in California.
7th decade. I distill plants for odor and have since 1970 or so, and extract all sorts of things for scent. One of the most remarkable odors that I have ever made was the fragrant tincture from my son’s combat glove from his year in Afghanistan. That doesn’t sound so good as the glove itself was quite unpleasant but the remarkable thing is that the tincture I extracted was remarkably evocative and rather sweet and as the diluent in a Chypre base that I made it was deliciously attractive.
I am in my 8th decade. This I find rather unbelievable. Living is good. Vintage champagne is terrific. Walking in the morning in the Botanical Gardens is delicious, smelling fragrant air is lovely and being able to teach people about aroma is really fulfilling. I think that education is the cure for many problems. I wish I had a lifetime grant to teach, so that I could teach and not have to charge for it. My work is not done – there is still so much to do. I think that the more people learn about plants the more they will want to make their own perfume and in the learning they will become more responsible and educated about the environment and realize that ‘nature’ provides. I feel that “the mind and body as one” is the best way to stay healthy. Thus natural odors can help keep you healthy.
When I teach, I have always tried to help women realize their full potential, helping them focus on what they wanted to achieve and to educate them in what they are trying to accomplish. I believe that education in all things is very important and I believe in the power of knowledge through disciplined reading. "The answers are right there if only people would read!" I work all the time to teach others about the power of essential oils, hydrosols and herbs and now Natural Botanical Perfumery. My best Seminars are always held right in my own home, "The Home of 1,000 Aromatic Mysteries” as Bella says. I try to live and breathe in what I believe – it isn’t just something I talk about when teaching a class or writing a book. When you walk into my house it is evident that I use what I write about as the entire house has become saturated with years of scented living and aromatic perfumery.
On American Art I have many interests in art. Several of my husbands were artists and thus there were many artists of various media in my home. Several artists have painted me and I have those paintings. I have collected art as well; usually desert landscape, botanical drawings and alchemy themed art as well as supported our local museums. One of my favorite paintings is by the American artist John Singer Sargent, called Fumée d’Ambre Gris and I was able to obtain permission to use this painting as a cover to one of my books, The World of Aromatherapy.
A Barbier illustration called Egypt has been used as the cover to another book of mine, The Aromatherapy Book: Applications & Inhalations. There are many paintings that I enjoy including murals and illustrations by Maxfield Parrish who was commissioned to paint the 16-foot mural "The Pied Piper of Hamlin" that is over the Pied Piper Bar in the Palace Hotel where as President of the Aromatherapy organization, I had its most successful and spectacular Conference.
On American Natural Perfumery People ask me if natural perfumes are therapeutic and my answer is absolutely. There are many Natural Botanical Perfumes that can be built in such a way that they are indeed therapeutic. You should have a solid foundation in plants to know how to use their odors. The foundation of natural perfumery is plants/herbs; the advanced study is their aromatic scents and graduate study is Natural Botanical Perfumery. One of the reasons that I use ONLY naturals is that I feel that “the mind and body as one” is the best way to stay healthy. Thus natural odors can keep you healthy. Also, there is the point about the synthetics being pollutants in the atmosphere. I do not wear scent on my body every day, they are just part of my body; and I keep various natural essences around me at all times and my home is a compendium of over 40 years of scent.
I was invited to speak to the Fragrance Foundation in 1975 about what I was doing in Natural Perfumery. Now here it is 35 years later and it is really exciting to watch the renewed bubble of interest and the developments that are happening here in natural perfumery; to look at the gorgeous packaging, to inhale the interesting and fabulous odors and see finished products; to hear the excitement that people have in their many blogs and discussions on odor, scent and perfumes. We spoke of this years ago. Stimulating the limbic system with odor is a fantastic rejuvenative tool for health.
This same thing happened in herbs and then aromatherapy as well; reading, interest, lots of talk and using and then classes. It takes years to root – like an Oak tree.I am hoping that people will continue to want to learn about the plants used in natural perfumery through good critical reading of books and studying and learning. I see that they are interested in actually learning about the plants that lend their scent to perfume. This is a critical part of perfumery – learn the plants and you will also learn their therapy and the best ways to integrate the odors.I think that the more people learn the more they will want to make their own perfume and in the learning they will become more responsible and educated about the environment and realize that ‘nature’ provides. This is the earth-driven web of life.
-Jeanne Rose, Renowned Author and Award Winning Aromatherapist
Rather than give a draw for a Jeanne Rose perfume, there will be a draw for two lucky winners of any book from Jeanne Rose's list of 25 books – see http://www.jeannerose.net/books.html. (CLICK ON THE LINK AND LEAVE THE TITLE OF THE BOOK YOU WOULD LIKE TO WIN)
Please leave a comment about what you thought was fascinating about this fascinating profile of an extraordinary woman and teacher. DON'T FORGET TO INCLUDE YOUR BOOK CHOICE IN YOUR COMMENT. Draw ends January 23, 2011
Post Script: A Yosh Han question and quote: “While having tea with famed aromatherapist and herbalist, Jeanne Rose, Time was the topic of choice. I specifically wanted to get her opinion on what changes she has noticed since she started teaching over 37 years ago. Nothing has changed according to Rose, especially in the natural perfumery category. Rather, Rose says, “The interest rises and falls periodically like bubbles in a stream.”
-Michelyn Camen, Editor in Chief
Editor's Note :Classes and Seminar are listed at http://www.jeannerose.net/calendar.htmland are now enrolling the August perfumery course