Natural Perfume is a delicately fragrant, peaceful day on Earth. It’s that timeless day spent really, truly being ‘at home’; cherishing the bounty of perfect and fresh ingredients for a family meal, some just-picked from the kitchen garden. There is a true sense of comfort and tranquility all around you; birds and insects are actively zooming about their business. A feeling of pure joy washes over you as you rinse the soil away from your harvest and begin to fill your home with the delicious aromas of love and sustenance and heart-connection. People you love are here. You breathe in deeply. All is well in your world. You give thanks for just being alive and present in this moment.
Many fragrances within my existing collection of eau de parfums and oil parfums were composed with the sole intention of discovering how plant-based aromatics could produce beautiful, contemporary fine fragrances. Not aromatherapies – nothing about being ‘good’ for you or calming or safe to use. Real perfume made the old fashioned way. Many of my fragrances incorporate hand-tinctured botanical ingredients, and I also liberally include numerous ingredients that are banned or restricted by IFRA (eg oakmoss, rose, jasmine, citrus oils etc). IFRA’s recommendations are adhered to on a voluntary basis in Australia, and I choose not to abide. I’m in agreement with numerous other natural perfumers who established an ‘outlaw’ perfume category in the USA. I’m not a member of their guild, just appreciative of their courage and commitment to their craft. So, I exclusively use natural ingredients and I advise my consumers to patch test my fragrances on first use. Common sense stuff.
Perfume originates in the garden, yet over time, we have become culturally trained to recognise and identify lab-synthesised aromatic compounds as ‘rose and oud’ et al. From a business perspective, synthetics are a no-brainer. They offer control, they increase the profit of a product, and they stabilise fragrance components so that mass quantities can be produced over many years and satisfy the consumer market with product continuity. Yet, a dreamer like me just believes that’s just not how real life is. Everything living changes. It ages. It warps and struggles and it ends. Perhaps it has an infinity component that journeys beyond life, but it’s time as a leaf, or Little Lord Fauntleroy has expired.
I reached a point a little while ago where I had amassed a collection of 70 TRNP fragrances. Not the largest catalogue by any means, but considerably diverse enough to satisfy my greedy desire for a comprehensive wardrobe of perfume choices. One day, I suddenly decided it was time to stop making perfume for a while and to go outside, begin to enjoy wearing (not testing) my perfumes.
I was occupied with refining some and discontinuing others when I realised that the fragrances I was most drawn to when choosing my SOTD were rugged, raw, big vista scenes, not massive macros of petals explored from the bee’s perspective. I wanted landscapes that would roll out in front of me – causing me to feel infinitesimally small. I wanted to see Planet Earth, I wanted to experience the whole horizon, read the entire seasonal vocabulary, sniff the big picture, fly through eons of time and space. I wanted oxygen, sunlight, water and soil. I needed to enter the forests, witness the volcanoes, the tsunamis, the earthquakes, the meteors and comets, the floods, the fires, the migration of all life – from above. Beyond time. Beyond me.
I realised that so much of the fragrance speaks to my unconscious mind. My mind is decoding and decrypting and deciphering the stories of organisms that are written or recorded in the juice. The soil minerals, the climatic changes over generations of harvests. The air quality, the density of particles in the water and the hands of humans that have sown, cultivated, harvested and distilled the plants into essences. These are not perfumes. They are a living library of nature. Tiny flasks of life and growth and change and fecundity, and ultimately of death. The fragrances don’t behave like perfume. They speak internally to the mind of being in life, being alive, being here and now. They drift in and out of awareness, at times being timid vapours that appear to be pleasant and then evaporate. At other times they are bold and penetrating and stay present for hours and hours. They shape-shift on the body. They need to be worn and broadcast as biological beacons from a sapphire-blue oasis that spins majestically around the sun.