Friday, 15 March 2013
Scent Story 5 - Shazam!
I met Lila das Gupta, journalist, founder of Perfume Lovers’ London and Basenotes writer, at a one day course with Karen Gilbert on synthetic materials. Lila was working on her oriental scent for real oriental women. She’d made one at a previous workshop but had forgotten to record the materials she’d used so after creating a tiny bottle of her perfect signature scent, she’d no idea how to make another one.
A bit later in the year, I was round at her house for my Basenotes interview, and she brought out her magnificent collection of amber and oriental fragrances. The problem, I thought, was that the classic orientals were developed in the 1920s by European men who’d never been to the Orient, and had some very odd ideas about eastern women. Lila wanted a scent for real oriental women, to celebrate her 50% eastern origins – and she wanted me to make it for her. (I was stunned, honoured and scared at the same time.)
(The reason that Shazam! isn’t further down the geographical inspiration list is that Lila’s house is just a couple of miles away, over the river from mine.)
So I went for it. This is a deep amber, made with vanillin and labdanum, with piles of Middle Eastern sweetness and spicy resins, plus a dose of incense. Lila hasn’t smelled it yet. I’ll do an update when she lets me know what she thinks.
The classic amber smell (not ambergris, that’s different): vanillin and labdanum. My chocolate note, cocoa absolute (which I think smells like bacon on its own at 100% strength, but only one other person has ever agreed with me) plus caramelly ethyl vanillin.
For the eastern spice market, you have patchouli, frankincense, cardamom, clary sage and cedarwood. Pink peppercorn, holy basil, bergamot and juniper berry give it a spicy lightness.