Blend Of Both Worlds: Interview With Natural Perfumer Marie Aoun, Founder of Saint d’Ici

Marie Aoun of Saint d'Ici

My home town is associated with many things (not all of them positive), but it’s certainly not a centre of perfumery, natural or otherwise. So I was very intrigued to discover that Marie Aoun’s natural perfume company, Saint d’Ici, is based right here in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Marie was most kind to send me a sample pack of her natural Saint d’Ici perfumes. The metal box contained five scents. These included: The Company’s Garden, Myrrha Ambrata, Nomvikeli, Une Mandarine Pour Mon Homme and Mon Coeur Noir. At first I had to adjust to the raw earthiness of Saint d’Ici fragrances. But once I had done so, I enjoyed their unpretentious, almost “dirty” character. I use the word “dirty”, because many modern fragrances are overly sanitised.

Saint d'Ici Natural Perfumes

LITTLE BOTTLES: Samples of Saint d’Ici Mon Coeur Noir, The Company’s Garden, Nomvikeli, Myrrha Ambrata, and Une Mandarine Pour Mon Homme.

On the Saint d’Ici website, Marie explains how the name of her company came about. It also captures her approach to natural perfumery.

“The name, Saint d’Ici, comes from my earliest olfactive memories. I spent a great deal of time growing up at my grandparents’ house near the small village of Saint Jeannet in Provence. I distinctly remember rosemary, lavender and laurel when I think back to that time. It was these beautiful, classic, natural scents that first drew me to natural perfumery. However, as I started to explore African perfume materials, a whole new world of smells opened up to me. Rich, dusty, sweet-herbaceous, animalic and deep scents. Saint Jeannet was updated, it became Saint d’Ici (of here), a blend of both worlds.”

Saint d'Ici's Marie Aoun Lavender

OLFACTIVE MEMORIES: Lavender is one of the classic scents that attracted Marie Aoun to natural perfumery.

I was not able to meet Marie for an actual face-to-face interview, after my initial email questions. She had just become a mother for the first time, so obviously didn’t have much free time. I hope to meet her in the future, as I would love to learn more about her craft. In the meantime, though, this is what she had to say about her love of natural perfumes, “synthetics” and working with natural ingredients.

Marie Aoun of Saint d'Ici

PORTRAIT OF A NATURAL PERFUMER: All pics courtesy of Marie Aoun, except images of sample pack, lavender and sample bottles.

Where does your love for natural perfumery come from?

Quite simply, from my love of nature. My happy place is lying down under the trees in my garden. I believe most of us find nature therapeutic – we’ve been programmed that way. Perfumes are a sensual pleasure. I find that natural perfume ingredients affect me, mentally, physically and spiritually, in ways that synthetics cannot.

Why did you launch Saint d’Ici? And what do you hope to hope to achieve with Saint d’Ici?

I launched Saint d’Ici to create beautiful perfumes made exclusively from natural ingredients. Our perfumes are limited to editions of between 50 and 350 bottles per scent. This way we honour the seasonality and variability of natural ingredients. We also source most of our ingredients directly from farmers and artisan distillers in southern Africa. This way we ensure the purity of the ingredients and the ethics behind their production.

We created the hashtag #farmertofragrance to illustrate the importance that we attach to working this way. The added benefit of directly sourcing from small-scale farmers is that it provides us with access to lesser-known perfume ingredients that are only produced in small quantities. Our goal is to make all of these wonderful natural ingredients come alive through our perfumes in ways that will enchant the wearer.

Saint d'Ici iris harvest

FARMER TO FRAGRANCE: Saint d’Ici sources most of its ingredients directly from farmers and artisan distillers in southern Africa.

Are you totally against “synthetic” fragrances?

I wish I could remember where I had read this so that I could give the author their due. But the gist of what they said was: choosing a branch of perfumery is like choosing a religion. You cannot claim superiority. Clearly my religion is natural perfumes, but I am happy for others to practise synthetics. Having said that, I do take olfactory offence at the proliferation and strength of synthetic smells. I literally have to hold my breath until I’ve passed the candles and diffusers in most home stores.

“Clearly my religion is natural perfumes, but I am happy for others to practise synthetics.”

Saint d'Ici African perfume ingredients

THE OTHER HALF OF THE BLEND: African perfume ingredients.

What’s your favourite natural ingredient to work with?

That is a very tough question! I find that I go through phases. Lately I find myself adding a little bit of omumbiri or Namibian myrrh to most blends. I find that it helps seemingly disparate elements come together. It also lends expansiveness, modernity and masculinity to my mixes. One ingredient I never tire of smelling and working with is bergamot. Although true bergamot is from Sicily, I source mine locally from South Africa’s Western Cape province. It is just as beautiful.

Saint d'Ici Ingredients - Gemmerbos

FOLLOWING THE INGREDIENT: Fresh and dried gemmerbos.

How do you go about creating your fragrances? And how do you select the noses for your saint d’ici fragrances? 

I almost always start with an ingredient. My formula book has titles such as “Opoponax Absolute no. 11” or “Fever Tea no. 8”. I like to see how many different ways I can use a single ingredient and whether it works best centre front or in the chorus. I know that most perfumers start off with a story or fantasy, but I prefer to let the ingredients tell me where they’d like to go.

Saint d'Ici ingredients - clary sage

HERBACEOUS: Clary sage, one of the ingredients used in Saint d’Ici fragrances.

Saint d’Ici currently works with three other noses, all of whom I met whilst studying natural perfumery in Italy. I selected them because they are all talented and each bring a different aspect of natural perfumery to the table. Maurice Val nails unisex perfectly. Andrea Dittler brings vintage, old-world charm. Constance Beck-Treadway has the creativity to try radically new combinations together, with the ability to make them work.

Saint d'Ici Nomvikeli Constance Beck-Treadway

CREATIVE COMBINATIONS: Constance Beck-Treadway is one of the noses Marie Aoun works with.

Do you have a fragrance hero/heroine?

Not specifically. I am much more likely to be inspired by traditional cultures and their use of perfumery. The San’s use of buchu [a South African medicinal herb], the Sudanese matrimonial perfume ceremonies, even the Dogon’s love of the scent of fried onion are far more interesting to me than a fragrance master. They remind me of the instinctive response that we all have to raw and natural perfume ingredients.

Saint d'Ici Ingredients - Orange Bigarade

INSTINCTIVE RESPONSE: Marie Aoun takes her inspiration from natural ingredients.

What’s next for you?

I am currently researching the various ways in which people fragrance their homes that are perhaps a little less obvious than scented candles and diffusers. I am look forwarding to doing more custom projects in the future. All the while I continue to work on new blends, to explore new ingredients and connect with various farmers and distillers across the continent.

Dunhill Icon Fragrance Reviews: Dunhill Icon, Dunhill Icon Absolute, Dunhill Icon Elite, Dunhill Icon Racing

Dunhill Icon, Dunhill Icon Racing, Dunhill Icon Elite, Dunhill Icon Absolute

It’s intriguing to watch the evolution of a fragrance range from the launch of its pillar fragrance (Dunhill Icon) to the roll-out of its flankers (Dunhill Icon Absolute, Dunhill Icon Elite and Dunhill Icon Racing). It tells you something about the heritage of the brand and where it’s now re-staking its claim.

Dunhill Icon, Dunhill Icon Racing, Dunhill Icon Elite, Dunhill Icon Absolute

ICONIC: The Dunhill Icon fragrance collection, from left to right, Dunhill Icon, Dunhill Icon Racing, Dunhill Icon Elite and Dunhill Icon Absolute.

Dunhill has released many memorable fragrances since the launch of the superb Dunhill For Men in 1934. But the quality of releases over, say, the last two decades has been erratic, even for the most devoted fan. The launch of Dunhill Icon in 2014 was the esteemed British brand’s reclamation of all the iconic descriptors associated with its fragrances. “Quality”, “elegant”, “craftsmanship” and “British gentlemanliness”.

Dunhill Icon

CRAFTSMANSHIP: Dunhill Icon was launched in 2015.

With the recent release of the latest addition to the Dunhill Icon range, Dunhill Icon Racing, I sniffed out all four fragrances. These are my impressions of each of the EDPs.

Dunhill Icon Racing

RACING GREEN: Dunhill Icon Racing is inspired by the British brand’s motoring heritage.

DUNHILL ICON EDP

Launched in 2015, Dunhill Icon makes its debut with this complex scent created by master perfumer Carlos Benaim. It’s so much more than its aromatic-woody profile suggests. Notes of neroli, bergamot, cardamom, lavender, black pepper, leather and oakmoss feature in this effervescent EDP.

Dunhill Icon

DUNHILL ICON ABSOLUTE EDP

This later 2015 release ventures into more opulent territory. It’s the Dunhill Icon take on the oud trend, while not going the whole shebang. This is a refined treatment of agarwood, with bergamot, black pepper, jasmine, saffron, black rose, leather and tobacco leaf notes adding to its appeal.

Dunhill Icon Absolute

DUNHILL ICON ELITE EDP

An unapologetically woody fragrance, with ebony and sandalwood notes featuring prominently. There’s also a smattering of citrus, cardamom, black pepper and suede notes in this 2016 release. It’s smooth, seductive and modern, without being overly trendy. We’re talking Dunhill bespoke suit kind of stuff.

Dunhill Icon Elite

DUNHILL ICON RACING EDP

Complete with stripes on the top of the bottle, Dunhill Icon Racing is inspired by Dunhill’s motoring heritage. To my nose, Dunhill Icon Racing is not as immediately impactful as its predecessors. Give it time, though, and this Laurent le Guernec composition make an impression with vetiver, lavender, cardamom, citrus and musk notes. I normally like my vetiver dark and dirty, but this fresher and younger interpretation is a winner too.

My conclusion? This is not a range, but rather an evolving fragrance collection that warrants its higher-than-the-average perfume price.

“Mark Eisen’s award-winning cylindrical metal and glass design for the Dunhill Icon collection gets it right on so many levels.”

I must also mention the design of the Dunhill Icon bottle. The fragrance industry has no shortage of beautiful bottles to behold. But South African Mark Eisen’s award-winning cylindrical metal and glass design for the Dunhill Icon collection gets it right on so many levels. Paying homage to Dunhill’s motoring heritage, its solid and classic design is a sophisticated statement that Dunhill Icon is a collection with longevity. You can read more about fashion designer-turned-industrial designer Mark Eisen (picture below) here: http://fragroom.com/2017/09/15/south-african-beauty/.

Dunhill Icon Racing EDP, R1 095 for 50ml and R1 595 for 100ml.

Antonio Banderas Interview: The Business Of Seduction

Antonio Banderas With Queen Of Seduction

It’s not every day that a celebrity is in Johannesburg to promote his latest fragrances, Antonio Banderas The Secret Temptation and Antonio Banderas Her Secret Temptation. And do good while smelling good.

Antonio Banderas The Secret Temptation

Antonio Banderas is best known for his films with director Pedro Almodóvar (Matador, Women On The Verge Of A Nervous Breakdown) and Hollywood hits (Philadelphia, The Mask Of Zorro, Spy Kids, the Shrek franchise). What’s not so well known is that the Spaniard is also a photographer. Funds raised from the sale of his photographs at a gala event auction will benefit Nkosi’s Haven, an HIV/Aids NGO.

Antonio Banderas Her Secret Temptation And Antonio Banderas The Secret Temptation

THE TEMPTATIONS: Antonio Banderas with Her Secret Temptation and The Secret Temptation. All portraits of Antonio Banderas courtesy of Puig.

It’s fun to be part of the whirl for the four days he’s in the city, attending the press conference and gala event. But the real reason I am excited is the one-on-one interview I have with him, in which I plan to focus on his fragrances.

“Unlike many other celeb scents which crash and burn, the Antonio Banderas fragrance range is doing quite well, thank you.”

Unlike many other celeb scents which crash and burn, the Antonio Banderas fragrance range is doing quite well, thank you. Originally launched in 1997, the line now includes 20 fragrances and has bagged some awards along the way. All of them play on the theme of seduction and why not. Antonio Banderas has used his Spanishness to great effect in his films and his fragrances shamelessly ooze seducción.

Antonio Banderas

Antonio Banderas fragrances are smartly positioned and priced. They cost more than the average celeb scent, but are considerably cheaper than designer fragrances. Although I have not tried all of the fragrances in his range, those that I have tried offer surprisingly good quality at the price.

Antonio Banderas Queen Of Seduction

I arrive early for the interview (officially I have 10 minutes), dreading a haze of ego and entourage over the swanky and secluded hotel he’s staying in. When I meet Antonio Bandera in the flesh, I am immediately put at ease. He’s utterly charming, professional and looks good in blue jeans and a T-shirt. Before the interview kicks off, we chat about how he reduced his caffeine intake and stopped smoking after having a mild heart attack in January 2017.

Antonio Banderas

When we start talking about his fragrances, he’s visibly animated. I take that as a sign that I am not asking him the same questions as everyone else. Or he’s such a pro, he answers them like it’s the first time he’s been asked that question.

Shall we talk about your fragrances…

I’m not a chemist. I’m not a perfumer. I kind of understand the process, but I’m not the one signing the fragrance. What I give is a tremendous amount of information when I sit down with the perfumer.

Antonio Banderas Her Secret Temptation

Something very interesting happened when I first started doing this. They gave me as a gift a briefcase with a bunch of different scents inside, with no names on the front. They told me to open them, smell them and tell us what it is. I opened one and said, “My God, I know this. What is this?” And then I turned the bottle around and it said “Sunday morning”. Wow! They can synthesise Sunday morning, or they can synthesise recently washed sheets in a 19th-century closet. They play with all of these things and this is way, way, way more sophisticated than I thought. I didn’t know the combinations they could use to have this effect on your brain.

Antonio Banderas The Secret Temptation

When I arrive in Malaga, I know I am at home. You don’t have to tell me. If it’s springtime, it’s the smell of the flower of the orange tree, the ocean. And if it’s Holy Week, the smell of the incense. Together that is a package that makes me back to being seven years old and phew… [he laughs].

“When I arrive in Malaga, I know I am at home.  It’s the smell of the flower of the orange tree, the ocean, the incense.”

Antonio Banderas The Secret Temptation

That’s the power of fragrance. It’s an art and a science. You think you have forgotten something, yet a particular smell can trigger something from your childhood. What’s your earliest scent memory?

Oh yes, you don’t smell with your nose. You smell with your brain and your memories. My mother! Her scent of woman. The kind of feeling you want to throw it here [he laughs like a naughty boy]. That and my home town, with the strong smell of the ocean from the apartment terrace.

Antonio Banderas

You’ve been in the fragrance biz for 20 years and launched with Diavolo in 1997. What was your original motivation when your first started?

The motivation wasn’t mine. A lawyer friend Paco said to me, “Why don’t you diversify everything you do. We create a little company, you work with them and get a percentage of the sales.” For me, business at the time was something cold, dry, things I didn’t like. Paco taught me that you can be very creative with business.

Antonio Banderas Queen Of Seduction

At the beginning it wasn’t easy. Paco, me and the company Puig said we have to sacrifice time, slow-cook this thing – that’s how you do things that are successful. The third or fourth year our head came out of the water and my obligations became bigger and bigger. Now we travel all around the world and sell in 83 countries. And then it’s your baby and love what you are doing!

You didn’t expect such longevity…

No. The maximum they gave us was five years. Now we represent 7% of the whole company that has Paco Rabanne, Jean Paul Gaultier, Carolina Herrera, Nina Ricci.

“Now we represent 7% of the whole company that has Paco Rabanne, Jean Paul Gaultier, Carolina Herrera, Nina Ricci.”

Marc Puig

THE FAMILY WAY: Marc Puig, the CEO of Puig.

Congratulations! A lot of celeb scents come and go.

We’ve put a lot of work into it and they believe this company is a part of my life now. I go to Barcelona and see the CEO, Marc Puig. We are received like we are part of the family. And it is literally a family, the Puig family [founded in 1914, Puig is a third-generation family-owned, Barcelona-based business]. Next year we will celebrate the 20th year with special limited editions. I use all of them. This is the truth. Since 1997 I have not used other perfumes.

So what are you wearing today?

The first one, Diavolo. Tonight I will wear Temptation. But in the morning I need Diavolo, because it’s still my younger me [laughs]. It’s more lemon-ish, it’s more fruity, it’s almost like an eau de cologne. You feel very fresh. The afternoon you need something more complex.

 

“In the morning I need Diavolo, because
it’s still my younger me.”

 

I am wearing a combination of the King and Queen of Seduction to test you, to see if you will notice your own fragrances.

[Huge laughter] That’s an interesting mix!

Antonio Banderas King Of Seduction

One of my favourite characters that you’ve played, well, it was more the voice, was Puss in Boots. Which fragrance of yours would he wear?

Diavolo, for the name. He is a little devil. And, of course, King of Seduction. Because that’s the way he can conquer women! Oh yeah, PUSS IN BOOTS!

Antonio Banderas Puss In Boots

Antonio Banderas The Secret Temptation EDT, R455 for 50ml and R570 for 100ml. Antonio Banderas Her Secret Temptation EDT, R455 for 50ml and R570 for 80ml.        

 

 

Dermalogica Overnight Retinol Repair To The Rescue

Anti-Ageing - Dermalogica Overnight Retinol Repair

A month ago I posted about my pigmentation blues (http://fragroom.com/2017/09/29/how-to-treat-pigmentation/). At that stage I had already started using a variety of products and treatments. There was a degree of containment (not eradication), shall we say. Since then I have been using Dermalogica Overnight Retinol Repair.

Dermalogica

GIMMICK FREE: I’m a big fan of Dermalogica’s science-first approach to skincare.

Firstly, because I am a big fan of Dermalogica’s gimmick-free, science-first approach to skincare. Secondly, because retinol is a particularly crafty weapon in the fight against the signs of ageing skin, including pesky pigmentation.

“As a retinol rookie, I decided to use Dermalogica Overnight Retinol Repair, with its 0.5% concentration of this powerful active ingredient.”

Dermalogica recently launched their clinical-strength Overnight Retinol Repair 1%. But as a retinol rookie, I decided to use Dermalogica Overnight Retinol Repair, with its 0.5% concentration of this powerful active ingredient. I am definitely going to use the more potent version in the future. I am impressed with the results of Dermalogica Overnight Retinol Repair.

Dermalogica Overnight Retinol Repair 1%

SUPER-RETINOL: Dermalogica Overnight Retinol Repair 1% is on the must-try list.

There have been no miracles with Dermalogica Overnight Retinol Repair. Thankfully, the American skincare company makes no such promises with its products. What I have noticed, though, is a general improvement in the condition of my skin over the last month. (Of course, it also helps that I have been wearing a hat and SPF way more frequently than I used to.) The pigmentation has not been substantially reduced. That’s a medium-term goal which requires longer use of the product. But people have commented on how good my skin is looking in general. I have been telling them, “Big thank you, it’s the Dermalogica retinol product I have been using.”

If you’re planning on going the retinol route, there’s stuff you need to know. Dermalogica were most helpful in providing the essential facts below.

What is retinol?

Retinol is a pure form of vitamin A and is used to treat skin ageing and acne. Our skin converts topically applied retinol into retinoic acid.

“Retinol is a pure form of vitamin A and is used to treat skin ageing and acne.” 

What are the benefits of using retinol?

Where do we start? It improves skin texture, wrinkles, thinning of the underlying dermis and loss of skin elasticity caused by photo-ageing and normal ageing. It also stimulates new collagen synthesis and the formation of hyaluronic acid, which keeps the skin tissue plump and hydrated. Good news for those with pigmentation: retinol stimulates cell turnover and renewal.

Anti-Ageing - Dermalogica Overnight Retinol Repair
What about the side effects of retinol?

Due to the potency of the highly active molecule, the skin may react to retinol treatment in the early stages of use. Some of these reactions include itching, burning and peeling. It’s advisable to build your skin’s tolerance to retinol when you first start using it by applying it on alternate nights for the first week or so.

Dermalogica Buffer Cream

Dermalogica Overnight Retinol Repair also comes with a Buffer Cream. I mixed it with the retinol product to further dilute its strength until my skin had adapted to it. Pregnant and lactating women and those on prescription medication for acne should not use retinol.

Dermalogica Overnight Retinol Repair

What about the sun?

It’s even more important than usual to wear a sunscreen (SPF30+) during the day when using retinol. Skin is extra sensitive to UV exposure when using it. This doesn’t mean you can’t use a retinol product when the sun is out. But if you’re expecting to spend long periods in the direct sun (for example, an outdoor concert or beach holiday), it’s wise to temporarily stop using it before and after prolonged sun exposure.

Sun Protection - BioNike

Dermalogica Overnight Retinol Repair, R1 480 for 30ml.

Summer Fragrances Reviews: Dolce & Gabbana Light Blue Eau Intense, CK All, Mugler Alien Eau Sublime, Salvatore Ferragamo Uomo Casual Life

Summer Fragrances - Dolce & Gabbana Light Blue Eau Intense Pour Homme

Things are getting hot here in Johannesburg, with the mercury starting to push the upper 20s and early 30s. Hot and bothered, I will add. I remain a goth at heart, so I can do without the relentless heat. On the plus side, the heat is the perfect excuse to indulge in a selection of new summer fragrances.

Summer Fragrances - Mugler Alien Eau Sublime

I am very flexi in my approach to the fragrances I use during different seasons. But I do enjoy the cologne/aquatic/citrus/fruity/floral spectrums more in summer. They go well with Johannesburg’s summer heat. The best summer fragrances are often an olfactory ticket to somewhere exotic/ glamorous/ unconnected. This is vital when I am spending way too much time banging away at the keyboard.

CITRUS CHOICE: L’Artisan Parfumeur Au Bord de L’Eau is an ideal summer scent.

So how do some of the newer summer fragrances feature on the Fragroom-o-meter?

ELIE SAAB RESORT COLLECTION LIMITED EDITION EDT

The smell of an exclusive villa vacation. Notes of red mandarin, frangipani, pomegranate nectar, jasmine sambac, orange blossom and patchouli waft through the air. Well done, Francis Kurkdjian! Elie Saab Resort Collection Limited Edition EDT, R1 110 for 50ml and R1 535 for 90ml.

Summer Fragrances - Elie Saab Resort Collection Limited Edition

CK ALL EDT

What a happy fragrance! Created by master perfumers Alberto Morillas and Harry Fremont, it features citrus, jasmine, freesia, lily, musk and amber notes. This EDT speaks to me: “Spray often, you grumpy bastard!” cK All EDT, R605 for 50ml, R875 for 100ml and R1 230 for 200ml.

Summer Fragrances - CK All

SALVATORE FERRAGAMO UOMO CASUAL LIFE EDT

A cool cucumber opening (the listed notes say otherwise). Then there’s coffee, ambroxan and musk notes on the menu. Not as special as the tiramisu treat Salvatore Ferragamo Uomo, but still a reasonable casuale option. Salvatore Ferragamo Casual Life EDT, R1 000 for 50ml and R1 380 for 100ml.

Summer Fragrances - Salvatore Ferragamo Casual Life

MUGLER ALIEN EAU SUBLIME EDT

Mugler’s original creator, Dominique Ropion, brings a new sunnier dimension to this flanker. Jasmine, tiare flower, lemon, orange blossom and cashmeran take prominence. Typically Mugler, it’s bold and unapologetically maximalist. Mugler Alien Eau Sublime EDT, R855 for 100ml.

Summer Fragrances - Mugler Alien Eau Sublime

ISSEY MIYAKE L’EAU MAJEURE D’ISSEY EDT

Imagine a wind-swept walk on a deserted beach littered with driftwood. That’s the feeling I get from this one. Must be the aquatic, sea salt, grapefruit, bergamot, woody and cashmeran notes. A sombre scent. In a good way. Issey Miyake L’Eau Majeure d’Issey EDT, R965 for 50ml and R1 175 for 100ml.

Summer Fragrances - Issey Miyake L’Eau Majeure d’Issey

COACH FOR MEN EDT

The first time I have tried a Coach fragrance. Featuring nashi pear, bergamot, cardamom, vetiver, suede, geranium and coriander notes, this versatile, easy-going fragrance is what I could call “nice”. Nothing wrong with that. Coach For Men EDT, R695 for 60ml and R995 for 100ml.

Summer Fragrances - Coach For Men

DOLCE & GABBANA LIGHT BLUE EAU INTENSE POUR HOMME

I didn’t detect much at first, but like waves on a Capri beach, the compliments came rolling in (stay with me). The more I wear it, the more I love Alberto Morillas’ cocktail of sea water, mandarin, frozen grapefruit, juniper, amberwood and musk notes. Dolce & Gabbana Light Blue Eau Intense Pour Homme, R 655 for 50ml, R1 330 for 100ml and R1 925 for 200ml.

Summer Fragrances - Dolce & Gabbana Light Blue Eau Intense Pour Homme

LACOSTE L’HOMME EDT

A stand-out rhubarb opening to this woody spicy spent that also features ginger, black pepper, dry amber and musk notes. It brings much-needed elegance to my typically interchangeable PJs/tracksuit gym ensemble. Lacoste L’Homme EDT, R950 for 50ml, R1260.00 for 100ml and R1 320 for 150ml.

L’ARTISAN PARFUMEUR AU BORD DE L’EAU EDC

Taking inspiration from the Renoir masterpiece of the same name, Fabrice Pellegrin’s creation is the olfactory equivalent of an Impressionist palette of citrus-aromatic notes. Simplicity at its best, it features nuances of bergamot, lemon, violet, orange blossom, musk and rosemary. On my skin, I need to apply it fairly regularly. But when a fragrance is this good, I do so with absolute pleasure. L’Artisan Parfumeur Au Bord de L’Eau, R2 120 for 100ml, www.skins.co.za

 

Alberto Morillas: A Lifetime Of Creativity

Fragroom Interview - Alberto Morillas

I usually go easy on the hyperbole. But I reckon it’s safe to say that Alberto Morillas is one of the hardest-working and most revered noses in the perfume biz. In his 45 years as a nose, the Spaniard has created many of the most successful fragrances of the last few decades.

Fragroom Interview - Alberto Morillas

LIVING LEGEND: There’s a good chance you’ve owned at least one Alberto Morillas fragrance. Pic courtesy of Firmenich.

How’s this for a roll call of achievement…. Panthere de Cartier (1986). Estee Lauder Pleasures (1995). Tommy Hilfiger Tommy (1995). Giorgio Armani Acqua di Gio (1996). Lanvin L’Homme (1997). Kenzo Flower (2000). Mugler Cologne (2001). YSL M7 (2002). Marc Jacobs Daisy (2007). Versace Pour Homme (2008). Bulgari Man (2010). No wonder, Alberto Morillas was recognised by the Fragrance Foundation with the Perfumer of the Year Lifetime Achievement award in 2013.

Alberto Morillas Fragrances - CH 212 Men Aqua Limited Edition

PROLIFIC CREATOR: CH 212 Men Aqua Limited Edition, one of Alberto Morillas’ 2017 fragrances.

My first Alberto Morillas creation was the vanilla-laden Givenchy Pi (1998). To this day, it’s one of my favourite fragrances. Driven by his love for his work, Alberto Morillas continues to be a prolific creator. This year alone I have come across several of his creations. These include cK All, CH 212 Men Aqua, Bulgari Goldea The Roman Night, Gucci Bloom and D&G Light Blue Eau Intense Pour Homme, among others.

Alberto Morillas Fragrances - Gucci Guilty Absolute

LEATHER REPORT: Alberto Morillas created the superb Gucci Guilty Absolute.

The master perfumer has not lost his touch. His unusual treatment of leather for Gucci Guilty Absolute proves that he has also not the ability to surprise and confound.

Alberto Morillas is the nose behind Issey Miyake L’Eau d’Issey Summer 2017 and Issey Miyake L’Eau d’Issey Pour Homme Summer 2017. When they were recently launched in South Africa, I thought I would try again to get an interview with Alberto Morillas. I was thrilled when the South African distributor got the go-ahead to send him some questions by email. I asked him about his fragrances for Issey Miyake, his creative process and what excites him most about modern perfumery. This is what he had to say….

It’s not the first time you have created an Issey Miyake fragrance. What attracted you most to this particular project?

In 2007 Issey Miyake first invited me to bring my own vision to the iconic signature I admired from my dear friend Jacques Cavallier [who created the original L’Eau d’Issey and L’Eau d’Issey Pour Homme]. This was for the limited edition Une Goutte sur un Petal. At that time I could impart a fresh new vegetal touch as delicate as a dewy drop on a fresh petal.

Each time I work on a new L’Eau d’Issey fragrance I pay homage to the Japanese designer and his amazing work. More specifically on this project, I translated his unique vision into a pure, modern freshness for the summer editions.

Alberto Morillas and Issey Miyake Fragrances

PAYING HOMAGE: Visionary designer Issey Miyake.

How do you bring something new to L’Eau d’Issey while staying true to such a modern classic?

Both the masculine and the feminine Eau d’Issey personalities remain so distinctive I can play with new modern freshness by inviting novel ingredients into the composition, while staying true to their unique signatures. Pineapple and kiwi bring the new exotic twist to the masculine scent. Summer is also played by exotic fruits for the feminine version. I introduced a new invigorating brightness throughout the colourful cocktail of dragon fruit, mango and guava.

Alberto Morillas Fragrances - Issey Miyake L'Eau d'Issey Summer 2017 Pour Homme

NOVEL NOTE: The pineapple note in Issey Miyake L’Eau d’Issey Summer 2017 Pour Homme adds an exotic new twist.

Were there any challenges when creating these new Issey Miyake fragrances?

Since 1997 Issey Miyake first innovated on the market by offering summer fragrances as new fresh interpretations of the Eaux d’Issey Miyake. Always providing an abundance of joy, the seasonal creations have been regularly renewed and are supported by different original graphics and concepts. As a Mediterranean man I like to explore new sophisticated fresh universes inspired by my vivid summer memories. I am very attached, for example, to the citruses, sea notes and sunny flowers I married in these two opuses with joyful exotic fruits.

“As a Mediterranean man I like to explore new sophisticated fresh universes inspired by my vivid summer memories.”

Alberto Morillas Fragrances - Issey Miyake L'Eau D'Issey Summer 2017

What’s always the most important element in your creative process?

Looking for inspiration and new ideas when I work on a new perfume project is the most exciting part of my job. Behind every fragrance is a unique story emerging from a lot of sources, but above all from a direct dialogue with the people. As a perfumer, my inspiration comes from meeting with the brand. Their words are very important. Proximity makes all the difference when creating a perfume.

I confess I can hardly stop working and almost all my formulas are written by hand. My handwriting is my emotion. When I write the formula, I can smell the perfume. Like a craftsman, I have an indestructible passion for creation. All my fragrances come from this devotion to creation and have consumed all my days and nights for the past 45 years. I can easily imagine the fragrance without smelling it. For me, perfumery is an emotion. The technique is intellectual, but every perfume has to have a soul, a story and be an emotion.

Fragroom Interview - Alberto Morillas

WINNING FORMULA: Alberto Morillas says almost all his fragrance formulas are written by hand.

How long on average does it take you to create a fragrance?

It really depends on projects. Some only last a few months and others may continue for a few years.

“Creation is all about intuitive inspirations. Fragrances call for our deepest instincts and emotions.”

How important is intuition when creating a fragrance?

Creation is all about intuitive inspirations. Perfumers create abstract pieces from moments, emotions, sensations, people, places. Fragrances call for our deepest instincts and emotions.

With over four decades in the fragrance business, what advice would you give to aspiring perfumers?

If you want to become a perfumer, it is very important to be passionate, sensitive, enthusiastic, determined and extremely conscientious. You need an inquiring mind and a creative streak. You should be able to marvel at things as you did as a child. And of course, you should love the job of creating perfumes.

Alberto Morillas Fragrances - Issey Miyake L'Eau d'Issey Pour Homme Summer 2017

What trend in modern perfumery excites you the most?

Fragrance is the mirror of society; it has evolved a lot throughout the years. Today we have entered a time of high perfumery. Traditional perfumery codes are more and more revisited with a modern twist. But there’s also a strong focus on high-quality, statutory ingredients, texture and sophistication.

Alberto Morillas Fragrances - Issey Miyake L'Eau d'Issey Summer 2017

Do you do anything to protect your gift of smell?

I don’t even think about it.

Issey Miyake L’Eau d’Issey Summer 2017 EDT, R995 for 100ml.  Issey Miyake L’Eau d’Issey Pour Homme Summer 2017, R965 for 125ml.

 

Seduction Scents: Gentleman Givenchy, Bulgari Goldea The Roman Night, CH 212 VIP Black, Boss The Scent Intense For Her Reviews

Seduction Scents - Bulgari Goldea The Roman Night EDP

If I am to believe all the b-r-e-a-t-h-y advertising, there’s a whole lot of seduction going on down at fragrance counters. Keeping up with this steady procession of new seduction scents is a job in itself. Here’s my round-up of the new arrivals that range from the come-closer-compelling to the oh-dear-trying-too-hard!

Gentleman Givenchy EDTSeduction Scents - Gentleman Givenchy EDT

The complex and highly regarded Givenchy Gentleman (from the 1970s) is reworked for a modern market. Sweet and floral-y, Gentleman Givenchy features a wilted take on iris (an increasingly popular note in men’s fragrances).

I really wanted to like this new EDT, but some classics are best left well alone.

Gentleman Givenchy EDT, R1 010 for 50ml and R1 400 for 100ml.

Yves Saint Laurent La Nuit de L’Homme Eau Electrique EDT

The latest addition to the L’Homme range is not the best in the line, but still has enough sensual oomph to warrant a spray or three. Make sure, though, to sniff out the classic seduction scents: Yves Saint Laurent L’Homme and Yves Saint Laurent La Nuit de L’Homme.

YSL La Nuit de L’Homme Eau Electrique EDT, R1 177 for 100ml.

Seduction Scents - Yves Saint Laurent La Nuit de L’Homme Eau Electrique EDT
Bulgari Goldea The Roman Night EDP

Alberto Morillas delivers a well-executed dose of glamour and mystery with Bulgari Goldea The Roman Night. Featuring notes of black mulberry, black peony, night-blooming jasmine, tuberose, black musk, patchouli and vetiver, it’s one of the year’s better seduction scents.

Bulgari Goldea The Roman Night EDP, R925 for 30ml, R1 380 for 50ml and R1 655 for 75ml. 

Seduction Scents - Bulgari Goldea The Roman Night EDP

Carolina Herrera 212 VIP Black EDP

The shot of top notes (absinthe, anise, fennel) is intriguing (a vital element of seduction). But then makes way all too quickly for notes of lavender, musk and black vanilla husk. Not bad (another round of absinthe please!) and the solid glass bottle is pure eye-candy.

Carolina Herrera 212 VIP Men Black EDP, R955 for 50ml and R1 200 for 100ml.

Seduction Scents - Carolina Herrera 212 VIP Black EDP

Jacques Bogart Club 75 EDT

Sure, this cocktail of fruits, lavender and woods is not the most original of seduction scents. But Jacques Bogart Club 75 more than compensates with a potency and quality that puts many big-name designer fragrances to shame. And the value for money can’t be beat!

Jacques Bogart Club 75 EDT, R695 for 100ml.

Montblanc Emblem Absolu EDT

Are men’s designer fragrances getting sweeter? Montblanc Emblem Absolu, a fruity woody oriental, is another sweetie. Not particularly distinctive on my skin, but I did hear two women at a fragrance counter proclaim they would give their husbands “a second child if he wore this”. Va-va-voom!

Montblanc Emblem Absolu EDT, R1 295 for 100ml.

Seduction Scents - Montblanc Emblem Absolu EDT

Boss The Scent Intense For Her EDP

Boss The Scent For Her gets the intense treatment, with peach, honey, osmanthus, cacao and vanilla notes in the mix. The initial peach opening is quite overpowering. So best give it time to settle before deciding if this is going to be added to your repertoire of seduction scents.

Boss The Scent Intense For Her EDP, R1 010 for 30ml and R1 360 for 50ml.

Seduction Scents - Boss The Scent Intense For Her EDP

Out, Damned Spot! The Pigmentation Blues

Lady Macbeth was lamenting something very different when she uttered this famous line in Shakespeare’s Macbeth. I have been muttering, “Out, damned spot!” a lot in the last six months. 2017 has been the year that pigmentation has paid me an unwelcome visit. Mostly, on my forehead and a scattering on my cheeks. In the space of six months, it has gathered pace on my face.

Pigmentation Face

DARK (SPOTS) MOOD: I got the pigmentation blues.

Pigmentation is ageing and I am vain enough to care about such things. So I have been educating myself over the last three months or so about pigmentation.

“I have been educating myself over the last three months about pigmentation.”

WHAT IS PIGMENTATION?

Very basically, pigmentation is the uneven colouring or darkening of the skin and manifests as spots or blotches on the face, the hands and the rest of the body. It’s easily confused with its altogether cuter cousin, freckles.

Pigmentation spots and blotches

PIGMENTATION OF MY IMAGINATION: An oh-so-artistic interpretation of those pesky spots and blotches.

HOW IS PIGMENTATION CAUSED?

Pigmentation occurs when the skin’s pigment-producing cells (melanocytes) go into overdrive as a result of damage to the skin. This produces an excess of melanin and dark spots appear on the skin’s surface. It’s caused by a variety of factors, including hormonal fluctuations during pregnancy, inflammation and some medications. The biggest cause of pigmentation, however, is over-exposure to the sun’s harmful rays. The bad news is that this sun-induced damage may have been caused a few decades ago and those sun sins are only making their appearance now.

Pigmentation protection

SEEING THE LIGHT: Even in the shade, the sun’s harmful rays can do their wicked work.

SO WHAT CAN YOU DO ABOUT PIGMENTATION?

It seems pigmentation can be treated in various ways, including skin-bleaching products. From my research, this is highly risky, so I have given it a miss. Some people swear by home remedies such as raw potato, apple cider vinegar and cucumber, which I have yet to try.  But I might make a salad while I am at it. So what have I tried so far to treat my pigmentation?

“Some people swear by home remedies such as raw potato, apple cider vinegar and cucumber, which I have yet to try.”

Pigmentation products

PIGMENTATION ARSENAL: Fighting back against the dark arts.

Blemish Control Laser And Biomagnetic Facial (R375 for 60 minutes)

I recently discovered that Dis-Chem, one of SA’s largest pharmacy chains, has ventured into the beauty salon biz with Skin Strategy (https://dischem.co.za/dis-chem-beauty-salons). The Blemish Control Laser and Biomagnetic Facial features on its menu of treatments. This facial uses “light peeling to reduce uneven skin tone and scarring by dispersing the clumping of pigment in the melanin-bearing cells”. My therapist Puleng was very knowledgeable and gave me a good talking-to about the importance of daily sun protection to prevent further pigmentation. Yes, m’am!

Pigmentation products - BioNike Defence Sun 50+ Pro-Repair Complex Melting Cream

I also noticed she used BioNike skincare products. So I have been using a selection of treatments from this well-established Italian brand that’s exclusive to Dis-Chem Skin Strategy beauty salons.

BioNike Defence B-Lucent Day Peel Brightening Cream Cleanser (R149.95 for 150ml)

This gentle cleanser and exfoliator is rich in polyhydroxy acids to treat photo-aged skin by encouraging cell turnover.

BioNike Defence B-Lucent Anti-Dark Spots Protective Cream SPF50 (R225 for 40ml)

An easily absorbed cream that’s packed with active ingredients and sun protection to reduce the appearance of current and future signs of pigmentation.

Pigmentation products - BioNike Defence B-Lucent Anti-Dark Spots Protective Cream SPF50

BioNike Defence Sun 50+ Pro-Repair Complex Melting Cream (R149.95 for 50ml)

A high-protection sun cream that defends the skin against UVA/UVB rays, free radicals and long-term damage.

I have also been using Eau Thermale Avène D-Pigment Light Dark Spot Corrector (R359.95 for 30ml). This cream contains soothing Avène thermal spring water and a trio of powerful active ingredients (melanyde, retinaldehyde and pre-tocopheryl) to combat current and future pigmentation.

Pigmentation products - Eau Thermale Avène D-Pigment Light Dark Spot Corrector

While none of the above-mentioned treatments have obliterated my pigmentation for good, in combination they are slowly starting to make a difference to my complexion.

OH, SUN BEHAVE! 

The biggest change in my behaviour has been to use sun protection on a daily basis. I wouldn’t classify myself as a sun bunny but, up until recently, I used sun protection very haphazardly.

When I am being particularly virtuous, I apply the stuff up to three times a day. When I let this regimen slide, I am sure I can almost see the pigmentation multiply on my face. Me paranoid?

Pigmentation products - BioNike Defence Sun 50+ Pro-Repair Complex Melting Cream

SPOT THE DIFFERENCE: Don’t forget the very high protection.

I have also taken to regularly wearing a hat à la Madonna. The pop icon doesn’t just do this for incognito purposes. She knows that it’s a particularly simple, yet effective weapon against ageing pigmentation.

“I have also taken to regularly wearing a hat à la Madonna. It’s a particularly simple, yet effective weapon against ageing pigmentation. “ 

RETINOL TO THE PIGMENTATION RESCUE

Next up for yours truly is a course of retinol. This vitamin A derivative is another essential in the fight against uneven skin tone. I have been hearing great things about Dermalogica Overnight Retinol Repair. And have just started using it this week. I will update you on the results in the near-ish future.

Pigmentation products - Dermalogica Overnight Retinol Repair

 

Gabrielle Chanel Fragrance Review

Gabrielle Chanel Fragrance Review

Did the world move for you on 1 September 2017? More precisely, did you feel the perfume world move? After all, the most important perfume event of 2017 happened on this day. No, I’m not talking about the launch of Tom Ford Fucking Fabulous, although that was a close second. I’m talking about the worldwide launch of Gabrielle Chanel EDP.  The fragrance industry has perfected the art of hype. And as far as hype goes, the first brand-new Chanel fragrance launch in 15 years (since the highly regarded Chanel Chance EDP in 2002) was fraught with expectation, hubris and debate.

Gabrielle Chanel Fragrance Review

In the month leading up to the worldwide launch and for the past three weeks, I deliberately avoided reading all reviews about Gabrielle Chanel. So apologies to all those fragrance bloggers whose notification mails I deleted. I didn’t want my thoughts on this fragrance to be influenced in any way by other opinions.

The Eastern Orange Free State

FREE STATE OF MIND: A family road-trip to escape the buzz and hype.

I decided instead to bring Gabrielle Chanel on a family road trip to the eastern Free State. To spend some time with it, on its own terms. I thought the Free State would be a fitting environment to do this, as this province of South Africa captures some of the qualities Chanel herself is renowned for. A pioneering and resilient spirit and an uncompromising style that can only come from suffering and endurance. Although the Chanel aesthetic is often associated with pearls and black dresses, Coco was never a prissy missy.

Gabrielle Chanel Fragrance Review - Portrait Of Coco Chanel

PIONEERING SPIRIT: A Man Ray portrait of Coco Chanel. Pic courtesy of Chanel.

So what did I learn about Gabrielle Chanel the fragrance from my relatively secluded time with it? Well, it’s clearly aimed at a new generation of younger women, who might find Chanel No5 “overpowering”, “old-fashioned” and “one of my mother’s favourites”. No doubt about it, this is Chanel’s big push for the “millennial” market.

Gabrielle Chanel Fragrance Review

The result is a modern scent that has a dominant heart of white florals (jasmine, ylang-ylang, tuberose, orange blossoms). The listed top notes include mandarin, black currant and grapefruit, but I only picked up grapefruit from those. The floral heart is fresh and contemporary, albeit not particularly original, and eventually makes way for a more traditional base of sandalwood and musk notes. I enjoyed this more subdued element after the initial spark of white florals had subsided.

The Eastern Free State

TREE OF LIFE: Gabrielle Chanel’s road trip included this vivid landscape.

While I am both male and 40-something (ahem, clearly not the target market), Gabrielle Chanel is very easy to wear, accessible and undeniably appealing. It will probably appeal to many other non-millennials too. And now for the big question…

IS GABRIELLE CHANEL A CLASSIC IN THE MAKING?

Mais non! And it doesn’t have to be. If the brief for Chanel’s in-house perfumer, Olivier Polge, was to create a modern, elegant and luxurious scent, he has succeeded admirably.

Gabrielle Chanel Fragrance Review

I had no “classic” expectations of Gabrielle Chanel. After all, is it realistic to expect another iconic scent like Chanel No5? I was going to title this post “Keep Calm & Gabrielle Chanel” and perhaps that’s the best way to approach this EDP. If you have unrealistic expectations of it, you’ll probably be disappointed. If you can appreciate it for what it is, then it’s a very pleasurable, well-executed scent.

Gabrielle Chanel Fragrance Review

Either way, do expect a roll-out of Gabrielle Chanel flankers over the next five years, as Chanel has invested heavily in this new pillar fragrance and left no details to chance. The luxe packaging and fine-glass bottle alone will tell you that.

Gabrielle Chanel EDP, R1 745 for 50ml and R2 465 for 100ml.

Gabrielle Chanel Fragrance Review - A Portrait of Coco Chanel

VISIONARY: A portrait of a young Coco Chanel, taken in 1909. Pic courtesy of Chanel.

  

 

 

The South African Beauty Connection

South African Beauty Connection - Boss The Scent Intense

Some people collect cars, watches, handbags and art. My fragrance and vintage glass fetish aside, I can’t resist collecting ideas for a theme. As a Johannesburg-based blogger, this theme started out with a focus on top South African beauty/grooming products. It gradually morphed into something more fluid and fascinating the more research I did. I am hoping this round-up – the South African beauty connection – will intrigue and inform you too. Please let me know if I have left anything off this admittedly edited list.

The South African Beauty Connection

Olay 

Graham Wulff’s anti-ageing product has come a long way from its origins in the 1950s. The Durban-based, ex-Unilever chemist created Oil of Olay Beauty Fluid, using lanolin as one of its main ingredients. Such was its popularity that it found its place on vanity chests worldwide, back in the days when our mothers sat and groomed themselves.

“Olay found its place on vanity chests worldwide, back in the days when our mothers sat and groomed themselves.”

Fast-forward through changes in ownership, a change of name to Olay in 1999 and the brand is now one of American giant Procter & Gamble’s billion-dollar businesses. Mum’s little helper now includes everything from body and eye products to cleansers and moisturisers.

South African Beauty Connection - Olay

Maninka Fruit

I’d never heard of the maninka fruit before Boss The Scent was launched in 2015. I was reminded about this fruit, the heart of the fragrance, when Boss The Scent Intense was recently launched in South Africa. How could I forget with the wall-to-wall advertising that has accompanied this seduction EDP?

South African Beauty Connection - Maninka Fruit

NOT THE USUAL: Maninka fruit, a key ingredient in Boss The Scent and Boss The Scent Intense. Pic courtesy of P&G Prestige.

Anyway, what counts is that maninka comes from South Africa. And apparently Boss The Scent was the first time it had been used in a fragrance. According to a Basenotes interview with Will Andrews, scientist and senior evaluator at P&G Prestige,  maninka fruit (long used by the locals) was discovered by a team looking for unusual ingredients in the Western Cape’s fynbos region. The fruit itself comes from the Oncoba spinosa tree and was chosen for its “dried fruit” and “strawberries and chocolate” qualities.

South African Beauty Connection - Boss The Scent Intense EDP

While I can’t vouch for maninka’s supposed aphrodisiac qualities, I do appreciate a good back-story. The Scent itself? Maninka has been pumped to the max in Boss The Scent Intense. Leather, ginger, vanilla, lavender and cardamom notes all do their best to lend their notice-me-baby support.

Bio-Oil

German-born chemist, South-Africa-based Dieter Beier launched Bio-Oil in 1987. Little did he know that his cult product would become an international best-seller. Bio-Oil’s new owners, Justin and David Letschert, re-branded Beier’s dry-skin product as a treatment for scars, stretch marks and uneven skin tone in the early 2000s.

South African Beauty Connection - Bio-Oil

Their big investment in marketing and international distribution has paid handsome dividends. The product is a skincare success across the globe. Bio-Oil celebrates 30 years in the beauty biz in September 2017, with new and sleeker packaging. But the formulation – PurCellin oil, vitamins A and E, calendula, rosemary, lavender and camomile oils – remains the same. Proof than even in our high-tech-obsessed world, you can’t beat simplicity.

“Even in our high-tech-obsessed world, you can’t beat simplicity.”

Mark Eisen

What do Dunhill Icon, Montblanc Emblem, Montblanc Lady Emblem and Shanghai Tang have in common? Their flacons (“bottle” sounds too common for these visual beauties) were designed by South Africa’s Mark Eisen.

South African Beauty Connection - Mark Eisen For Montblanc Lady Emblem

MARKSMANSHIP: Mark Eisen’s design for Montblanc Lady Emblem.

The Capetonian had a successful international career as a fashion designer from the late 1980s. He then turned his talents to industrial design, in particular fragrance bottle and wine bottle design.

I shamelessly used the South African connection to attempt to wangle an interview with Mr Eisen for this post, but he politely declined. So I will let his South African Beauty Connection - Mark Eisen flacon design work for Richemont’s luxury fragrance brands speak for itself.

(While I am on the South African beauty connection thing, Dunhill, Montblanc and Shanghai Tang are just some of the luxury brands owned by Richemont, the company founded by South Africa’s Rupert family.)

Exhibit A: Eisen’s cylindrical bottle, metal-encased design for Dunhill Icon. A powerfully functional and stylish statement for this scent that’s sure to become a modern classic. Dunhill Icon bagged the prestigious Fragrance Foundation Award for Best New Male Design & Packaging in 2016.

South African Beauty Connection - Mark Eisen For Dunhill Icon

Pelargoniums

Better known as South African/African geraniums, pelargoniums are mostly indigenous to South Africa. They are from the same family as geraniums but they are, in fact, very different plants. The scented varieties are an important part of the perfumer’s toolkit.

South African Beauty Connection - Pelargoniums

PERFUMER’S TOOLKIT: Pelargoniums are found in a variety of fragrances. Pic courtesy of www.perfect-pelargoniums.com.

I asked Cape Town-based natural perfumer Agata Karolina (House of Gozdawa) for some info on scented pelargoniums. This is what she had to say: “Pelargoniums are commercially farmed, but still in small amounts at this time. We source our pelargonium oil in the Western Cape from farmers we work closely with developing their crops especially for oil harvest. They hold all of the knowledge about the plants and their best conditions for growth. I bring my nose and knowledge of scent combination and complementary attributes of each plant’s characters.

South African Beauty Connection - Pelargoniums

PELARGONIUM PARFUM: House of Gozdawa Marta contains pelargonium oil.

“Pelargonium is less ‘rosy’ and has a far more green character to its scent. It smells like freshly cut lemongrass, lemon flesh, boiled candy sweets, rose leaves and earth.”

I spotted South African geranium as a key ingredient in Atelier Cologne Sanguine Orange. Superbly summery and uplifting, it’s the debut fragrance from the Paris-based niche fragrance company.

South African Beauty Connection - Atelier Cologne Orange Sanguine

Perfluorodecalin

I was a dismal chemistry pupil, so I will keep this one as reader-friendly as possible. South African company Pelchem is the only Southern Hemisphere producer of perfluorodecalin, an active ingredient found in a wide variety of anti-ageing products.

South African Beauty Connection - Perfluorodecalin

ANTI-AGEING ACTIVE: A 3-D representation of the chemical compound perfluorodecalin. Pic courtesy of Wikipedia.

An article in the Pharmaceutical & Cosmetic Review yielded more insights. “The active ingredient is a fluorocarbon and derivative of decalin, which is used in cosmetics formulations to dissolve and deliver oxygen to the skin. Due to the ability of perfluorodecalin to dissolve oxygen and other gases, it revitalises skin and reduces wrinkles…” I love a good success story, so I’ll wave my small South African flag in recognition of Pelchem’s innovative and patented work.

PS: I have not included South Africa-born Etienne de Swardt, the founder of niche fragrance company Etat Libre d’Orange, in this round-up. You can read my interview with the maverick here: http://fragroom.com/2017/04/20/etat-libre-doranges-etienne-de-swardt/