August 23, 2017
Image by Alexander Khokhlov & Veronica Ershova©
Last week, we featured six “pioneers” of Artisan Perfumery. In Part 2, The Next Generation you will meet five artisan perfumers who, although may not have decades of experience, they are not apprentices, but came to the community as artisans in their own right following individual paths of learning and expansion. They know that social media is critical to their existence and they reach out to international markets. “ Next Gen” perfumers are managers of their brand, understand that there are no country borders in Perfume land and many have garnered international acclaim and awards.-Michelyn Camen, Editor and Chief with introductory contributions by Dr. Elise Pearlstine, Editor
Michelyn: Why is artisan perfumery ART?
Bulgarian Rose Attar Painting by John Biebel
John Biebel: This is tricky question, as I’ve read some well-reasoned essays arguing that perfume isn’t an art; but in support of it as an art, I’d say there is a spirit of revolution. Artisan perfumers are fortunate to have a very broad palette of material in front of them. Since they have fewer clients than a large perfume house, and smaller advertising budgets, they can afford a rare essence or attar in a creation. They can also appeal to a smaller market and make a perfume that might not appeal to every sensibility, so risks are allowed. Those two facts alone make experimentation and exploration possible, and that brings it much closer to true artistic expression than ever
Claire Baxter of Sixteen92
Why and when did you become an Artisan perfumer?
Claire Baxter: I started Sixteen92 in 2014, though I’ve been interested in and experimenting with fragrance for about a decade. My journey into perfumery started as a very personal project; years passed before I even considered sharing anything I made. My background is advertising, and while I enjoyed my work as a fashion, retail and beauty art director I often longed to create something more tangible that could make a more personal connection than website copy or print ads or client photography could.
Daniel Gallagher: I started my journey toward the very end of 2015 into 2016. I was on the hunt for a new "signature scent" after I had grown tired of my normal go-to fragrances, which at the time were Burberry for Men and Emporio Armani, but I could not find one. When I visited your average mall cosmetics store, all of the options that I tried out all seemed a bit alike in a way….none really jumped out at me. Sure, there were quite a few options that smelled pleasing, but in comparison to all of the other offerings in the store, none that really fit the vibe I was going for at the time. So, standing there in the mall, I asked myself, "how hard could it be [to make a perfume]?" Thus began my perfume journey…
Pissara Umavijani of Dusita Paris
Pissara Umavijani: I always desired smelling everything since I was young. Back in Bangkok, Thailand, it was a passion I developed when I was still a student. I put together a small palette of basic perfumery materials, both naturals and synthetics and I was very obsessed with it. I installed a sort of “perfume shrine” at my mother’s place. I was having great fun experimenting with different combinations. I thought of it like being a painter adding colours to a blank canvas. Later,I happened to meet two people who are very knowledgeable in perfume creations and I spent an intense period of discussing, discovering, and experimenting the different raw materials. We also read perfumery books and do many researches on vintage perfumes together. What motivated me from the beginning till now is how great the vintage perfumes are!
Prin Lomros: I grew up in a small town southern part of Thailand after graduated high school I moved to Bangkok, the capital city for study film. Shortly after, I became perfume collector; beginning with designer brands and working through niche perfumes. When I was a student, my Masters was in Film and I had the chance to exhibi my film project at the Cannes Film Festival. My world changed when I visited Grasse and then my story as perfumer began.
Are you self-taught and if so did anyone or anything inspire you?
Claire: I am self-taught, unless you count my AP Chemistry teacher from high school who fostered my love of molecules 😉 My original inspiration (and something that continues to inspire me today) are fragrances that mark specific times and places in my own life — the scent of my grandmother’s garden in the Summer, the woods where we spent holidays camping as a kid in East Texas, riding bikes in the Summer until the street lights came on. The science behind the construction of these vivid scent memories is something that has always fascinated me.
Prin Lomros of PRYN PARFUM
Prin: I am self-taught. As a perfume collector I found so many fragrances to be cliché, imitations or unoriginal. Many follow “trends”. I call it “boring. I wish to smell myself differently. I wish to be unique.
Pissara's father the great poet Montri Umavijani
Do you have a mentor? Who influences you?
Pissara: My father was my greatest influence; he is someone who chooses to spend his life doing what is meaningful. I have certain values that I would like to achieve, first, is to be able to deliver the poetry work of my father (Montri Umavijani) in forms of scents and the freedom to choose the raw materials, and blend them with my own hands, just liked the old époque of perfumery.
ÇaFleureBon Senior Editor Ida Meister with John
John: I have many mentors, and would not be involved in perfume without them. Mentors are people who invite you into their own world, and share some of themselves. Writing for Fragrantica provided a unique opportunity to meet such people. Fellow writer and CaFleureBon’s Sr. Editor, Ida Meister opened up my perceptions to many perfumes and components I’d not smelled before; interviewing perfumers like Charna Ethier (Providence Perfume Co) who was featured in Part 1: The Pioneers, Alessandro Gualtieri (Nasomatto) and Spyros Drosopoulos (Baruti) all were enormous for me in understanding the motivating drive behind creating things. What I respond to in each of them is a determination to fulfill an idea, despite setbacks or “logic,” fierce dedication to an idea.
Prin: I must honour my two main mentors– Mr. Stephen Dowthwaite of Perfumersworld, Thailand who gave me an opportunity andencouraged my skills and Mr. Ryan Chadwick of Perfumersworld, Thailand who’s advice was invaluable and always challenges me to create something new.
Claire getting ready to ship orders via Instagram
How do you meet the demand for your fragrances, what are the challenges?
Claire: I have two workshops — one for creating and another for fulfillment. I release new collections seasonally (a practice that no doubt carried over from my background in fashion advertising with Spring/Summer, Fall/Winter, Holiday and Resort collections 🙂) So, I’m nearly always working at least a season (or two) ahead of the calendar, which is a challenge but usually a fun one. We are a business of two people, so filling orders and keeping our catalog of inventory stocked to meet demand while also planning and prepping for the next season can be challenging, so we work on a pretty strict weekly schedule with each day devoted to a specific task (a day for stocking, a couple of days for shipping, a day for inventory and supply ordering, etc). Over the past three years we’ve found a flow that works, and so far no one has gone insane, though there are certainly some 16-hour days involved 🙂
Daniel Gallagher of Gallagher Fragrances
How did you learn to make fragrance?
Daniel: Trial and error. I learned the very basic requirements through various online resources, though most were taken with a grain of salt. "Very basic requirements" can be loosely defined as learning the materials required to create a perfume from a general standpoint, e.g. perfumer's alcohol and the raw ingredients that make up a perfume's composition. I'm not one to sit for hours reading about how other people have done things; instead I prefer to make up my processes and form my own opinions as I go. If you continually read about what others have done, you will be less likely to come up with something truly original.
Prin: From here and there. Learning by experimenting, reading, and asking questions. For me, skill come from what you experience, sometimes problems or mistakes are the best teachers. Most importantly, learn by smelling other creations. Do not duplicate their works but learn the methods and learn to be different.
What is a typical day in your life as an Artisan Perfumer?
Pissara: The most important thing that defines my day is my morning routine. I wake up early, around 6:30, and I start the day with a routine of yoga, meditation, a little exercise afterwards, and thinking positively – feeling grateful for my life, for just being alive and be in good health. I like making myself a healthy breakfast. I also share breakfast and breakfast time with my faithful little friend – my dog. As a perfumer, there is a new goal that I set every day to improve myself, for examples, if I want to create a certain family of a perfume, I would start from doing research on vintage perfumes, then the raw materials they use. I believe that the nose can smell best around 10:00 am, by that time I would have some formulations ready to smell and I would give myself a break by calling my loved ones. Then, I would continue and collaborate with the team of Dusita in other business aspects, which occupies the rest of my day often until late. For lunch, I usually cook Thai food for my team. I would bike out in the evening to exercise and sometimes during I would dine in the park near the river. I love watching the sunset and I would go to bed early
Daniel: Upon arriving home from my day job, which is normally after 4pm, I will begin by filling orders that have come in and preparing them to ship the following day. After fulfilling all of the pending orders, I will do one of a number of things. Some days I will grab a handful of perfume samples I have purchased and revisit them. I don't really study the perfumes per se, I more just want to see if something jumps out at me that didn't the last time I visited the perfume. Other days I will grab 5-10 ingredients at random and mix them together and see what the result is, which leads to ~10 different variations. Sometimes an image will present itself some time throughout the day and then I will begin mentally listing what the composition's ingredients should be. More often than not, if I set forth to create a perfume based on an image I thought of or witnessed throughout the day, I will likely end up with several completely different compositions at the end of the night. I use 5ml decants to mix while I am experimenting, a (digital) notepad to maintain notes of everything I do, and I number and date the 5ml decants using small 1" round stickers and a fine-point sharpie. These experiments will quite literally go on the shelf for days/weeks/months and I sporadically re-visit them to see if they have changed much over time and then assess whether or not there is anything that is usable. If after a couple of months I reject the same composition, then it goes in the trash. If I am still undecided after a couple of months, I will place it into a large Ziploc bag and into my fragrance storage cabinet with all of the other "maybes." During an average experimentation session, I can come up with 10 different compositions. After a few hours, I will normally take a break or call it quits for the day, because while my mind can keep going, my sense of smell cannot 😉
Green Hallway by John Biebel
Are you an artist in other areas?
John: Yes, I am a painter. I have been involved with art since I was young and it’s always continued. . Because I work back and forth all day between different sensory environments (sound, analytical thinking, speaking, making art, working with scent, writing) I find that the different media and expressions become layered. Smells are sculptural in my mind, like 3-D mid-air constructions. Painting is intuitive but gradual, built-up. In this way it’s almost architectural and very much relates to perfume.
Prin: As film maker I consider film as the art of storytelling. Perfume is a “silent” story teller, you cannot see it, or hear it but a great fragrance has a plot and characters; they are alike in many ways. One day I would like to combine both.
How important is word of mouth and social media been to your perfumery?
Pissara: It is important because as an artisan perfumer, there is no way that we can advertise our products like the big brands out there. The only 'brand ambassadors' are people who truly love and passionate about perfumes. These people are important for a brand development.
Daniel: One word….invaluable. I have many great people to thank for giving me a chance and continuously supporting me since the very beginning and I would certainly not be where I am today if it weren't for them. For a small business owner with no physical storefront, word of mouth and social media are crucial to stay afloat in a world with many, many larger and wealthier competitors.
via SIXTEEN92 instagram
What does being an artisan perfumer mean to you, what are the challenges, i.e. marketing, bottles, mailing, awareness, etc.?
Claire: It means that you must “wear many hats,” since you are often the maker, the bottler, the graphic designer, the publicity department, everything. In short, you have to have a vision. For me, it meant that I needed to work in relative solitude for many months searching, taking notes, making decisions, purchasing supplies, packaging, and waiting for it all to coalesce on the calendar. The biggest challenge is time, since it requires so much time. You must manage time efficiently. When you find a rhythm with time, the work begins to flow.
John Biebel of The January Scent Project
Why, in your opinion, are so many people interested in artisan perfumes?
John: Artists, while creating objects, perfumes, can take more risks. They have less concern about appealing to a mass audience, so their end product can be stronger, more daring, richer, more exotic. Buyers see these creations, smell them, and feel that they’re connecting with something tailored, not watered down to suit everyone. So, artisan products make people feel special. Customers can choose something that’s more suited to them, not just made for anyone.
In one word, what inspires you?
Pissara: Love ! It creates passion and positivity. People who are passionate and love what they do, that makes all the difference! The world always needs people to love one another. Life is too short to do otherwise.
Art by Lathesh and Suma of Webonautics Photography
WORLDWIDE: Thanks to Gallagher Fragrances 100 ml of Daniel’s soon to be released “Evergreen Dream”debuting September 1st. Top Notes:Galbanum, lime zest, white grapefruit; Middle Notes: Birch Tar, Cashmeran, Pine Resin; Base Notes: Cedarwood, Coumarin, Oakmoss and Patchouli
WORLDWIDE: From Thailand with love two PRYN PARFUM discovery set 3ml. x 7 eau de parfum intense-Amalfi, Taiga, Jardin d’Iris, Turkish Leather, Rosuerrier, Le Mimosa and Hikari to two readers
WORLDWIDE: From Claire Baxter, you can choose a 7.5 ml of any of her in-stock Eau de Parfums (including her Art and Olfaction 2017 winning Bruise Violet
Please follow us @cafleurebon, @gallagherfragrances, @januaryscentproject @parfumdusita, @prynparfum and @sixteen92perfumerie
Please leave a comment with what struck you about the “Art of Artisan Perfume: The Next Generation”, quotes that resonated with you or what you learned from our Next Generation Perfumers, where you live and what you would like to win. You can list as many as you would like to win from the options but please be specific. Draw closes 8/27/2017