December 11, 2011
Miriam Vareldzis, fragrance designer and founder of 40notes Perfume, has a life-long relationship with scent. With nearly 20 years’ experience in the fragrance industry, Miriam worked as a professional fragrance evaluator with International Fragrance & Flavors (IFF), the acclaimed fragrance house, where she was mentored by world-renown noses and perfumers. She has helped guide fragrance development for some of the most successful brands in the world. Her clients have included Donna Karan, Calvin Klein, Unilever, Gap, Banana Republic, Bath&Body Works, Victoria’s Secret, as well as celebrity and niche perfumery projects. Miriam now focuses her olfactive talents on her own company and the rare and exquisite ingredients (90-95% natural) and custom perfume creations. I own three of her fragrances— Exquisite Amber, Jasmine Sampasquita and Exotic Ylang Ylang and love them all.
PROFILE: Born in Santa Barbara, California. “My STAIRWAY to Heaven”… for me it’s the perfect combination of light, temperature, flora… the mountains at my back, the ocean at my feet; a gentle paradise. It speaks to the soul of my Mediterranean heritage. All of my grandparents are from the Island of Crete, Greece.
So you could say I’m a descendant of the Minoans! Not a bad thing; I’ve read it was a matriarchial society.Childhood summers were spent with family in Yosemite National Park and later Mt. Lassen National Park near Mt. Shasta in northern California. One memory I carry with me to this day is the fragrant vanilla essence that emanates from a certain species of pine tree in the August summer heat in both those places. The park rangers would tell us to smell the trees up close. The bark was shaped in little puzzle-pieces and the resin would ooze in between, giving off a delicious ambery-vanilla sweet scent.
I believe the sense of smell runs genetically in our family…My mother would stand over whatever she was cooking and, while whiffing and waving her hand, know which seasonings needed to be added! My paternal grandfather was a Sunkist Citrus distributor in California. He would know the quality of an entire box by scent. My childhood was filled with boxes of fresh California oranges, lemons and grapefruits. To this day I select a grapefruit knowing how to smell the rind and sense the thinness of the skin, channeling my grandfather for the best pick! I’m currently creating a fragrance using some of the most beautiful natural citrus essences and feel immediately connected to my own history.
ART: I love art and design. It’s a tough question for me to choose a favorite artist/designer, but one American stands out for me for me—Frank Lloyd Wright. Although his architecture is legendary and iconic, it’s his textiles, tiles, stained-glass, and Interiors detail work that inspire me more. The quality of light that streams through a carved screen and the light it casts reminds me of the delicate nature of a perfume. Even the line work of his blueprints is a work of art.
So many things to inspire perfumery…
AMERICAN PERFUMERY: I believe American perfumery is in a very good place right now. Being in the unique and fortunate position of having been on several sides of our industry: deep within the fragrance industry (IFF), developing products within Gryphon Development (BBW, VS), and now creating and launching my own company 40notes Perfume, I have seen several perspectives: From deep within the “ivory tower” to the farthest reaches of the indie universe!
The conversation has grown much larger than just buying the latest brand perfume in the largest department store. Suddenly there is a real commercial (in addition to artistic) validity in natural perfumery, “Indie” or niche perfumery, and custom perfumery. Just as in coffee, chocolate, tea and some wines, there is a market for small-batch, high-end, Artisinally created products. Perhaps I see it more vividly here in Portland, where we have a niche clientele for everything from bicycles to vodka, but the fact is the market for these brands is national. Perfumery has a real chance now to reclaim its status as the exquisite and refined ARTFORM that it originally held. The sophisticated consumer is interested in the creator of the product, the art behind the creation and the quality and meaning of the materials. I’ve noticed they really value their experience with the scent, not just the label name. And happily, technology and our ability to communicate and purchase at light speed has created the backdrop for this resurgence.
I truly believe the presence of quality blogs, perfumery guilds, small scale materials suppliers, decanters, perfume groups, authors and writers who have passionately taken it upon themselves to learn and share some of the mysteries of our industry have all contributed to bringing the Art back into Perfumery. For me personally, it’s simply about “bringing the essence of beauty to life”.
Our draw is for a reader's choice of one of the seven 40notes perfumes. In order to be eligible: please leave a DETAILED comment on what were the most memorable of Miriam's memoirs and quotes. If you know the name of the perfumista lexicon for the gold cord that wraps around the stopper and you are the first to name it, your vote counts twice. DRAW ENDS ON DECEMBER 13 2011 EST
–Michelyn Camen, Editor In Chief
We announce draw winners only on site and on our Facebook page, so Like Cafleurebon and use our RSS option…or your dream prize will be just spilt perfume