1. Ah yes, the Old Lady Perfume tag. So what is that?
TotalBeauty.com: Review of Aromatics Elixir: ‘while this is “a classic ‘Old Lady in a Bottle’ scent,” some readers say the fragrance is “something even my grandmother would have snubbed.” – Review of YSL’s Parisienne “Readers say this perfume “screams old lady,” is “not youthful at all,” and has a “dated fragrance.” The “musky” and “woody” scent also has a touch of “floral” to it, which reminded one reader of a combination of her “grandmother and trees.” and White Diamonds – “granny perfume that has been sitting on the dresser for 40 years.” Another reader who worked at Macy’s says the salespeople called it “the old lady scent.” “If you needed a gift for a much older woman, we sold you this!”
The derogatory ‘old lady perfume’ comment creates the impression that ‘old ladies’ were never quite as glamorous, as hip, as sexy or as beautiful as the current crop of pretty young things. This naive (and let’s face it, fairly arrogant) assumption astounds me. Old ladies know some stuff about fashion, about seduction, about love and life…. believe me.
‘In fact, a study published in the Archives of Sexual Behaviour suggests millennials (1982-2004) are the least promiscuous generation since the 1920s, with an average of eight sexual partners in their lifetimes. The prize for the most promiscuous generation unsurprisingly goes to the baby boomers (1946-1964) with an average of 11 sexual partners, followed closely by Gen X (1965-1984) with an average of 10.’ (Hard, K, 2016)
So what does ‘old lady perfume’ smell like? Well, not usually so much like bubble gum, vanilla pudding and fruit salad, and usually a lot more like the sophisticated classic perfumes such as Chanel’s monster – the endlessly successful No 5, like Guerlain’s Shalimar, like Dior’s Diorissimo and Dioressence et al, like Patou’s Joy, Lauder’s Private Collection, YSL’s Opium and Ysatis, and the list goes on.
As economic rationalism clawed its fiscal agenda to the top of all our priorities, commercial perfumes and their precious ingredients became degraded, down-sized, diluted and just about all natural ingredients substituted with synthetic chemicals. It was no longer the inspired ‘noses’ designing our fragrances, it was the accounts departments boosting their bottom lines.
So…Old Lady Perfume? it’s merely marketing hype to snare the next generation of consumers into believing they need a fragrance that speaks to the here and now – so fast, so glitzy, so snap!. Sadly it’s usually a cheaper, nastier and more hazardous chemical concoction that, when whiffed, makes old ladies smile to themselves through the steam of their own hot-bod memories, with the elegance and humour of earned wisdom and maturity.
Personally, I want old lady perfume to live on…. provocatively, stylishly, seductively, naturally, and, …by golly, I think I need a little nap. – TR November 2016 ©
When the dog bites…. when the bee stings… when I’m feeling sad,… I simply remember my favourite things… (Hammerstein II, Rodgers 1965)
Over the years I have composed many fragrances and some have become true loves – exactly how I want to smell. Usually I start with a small batch (1 or 2 bottles) and test drive them until I really know how they behave. If they behaved very well, I made them in slightly larger batches and gave some away and even sold a few.
But there was always new scent landscapes to conquer and new harvests of exotic flowers to tempt me on in search of new horizons…. and my favourites would always be there waiting patiently… wouldn’t they?
A tiny bit of anxiety started to set in when I noticed the small batches of my absolute faves had begun to dwindle, and I wondered how I could live without them… some of their ingredients are very difficult to come by, and some recipes – over time – have become a little bit hazy (I hand-write all my recipes on Kadhi (hand made paper) and sometimes I spill perfume over the writing by accident and the writing gets a little bit blurry…oops!
My recent Spring Sale helped me raise the finance to source enough of the precious ingredients to re-make my all-time favourite fragrances. (Now available in the Signature Scents section of this website).
Tea Rose Mimosa is a perfect floral for days when you just want to smell like an angel. Dragonboat is an Oriental Floral with Green Tea absolute, Osmanthus absolute and Honeysuckle. Stunning. Kafka is moody, sexy and earthy – an Oriental Amber featuring the finest grade of Indonesian Patchouli, with Mysore Sandalwood, Amyris, Jasmine Grandiflorum and Neroli. Pema is named for Pema Chodron – a traveling Buddhist nun to whom I dedicate this profoundly spiritual fragrance – Pink Lotus flower, Mysore Sandalwood and Rose Damascena. Sublime.
Om Shanti – Oct 2016 © TR
The wonder of life-in-nature inspires me to compose perfumes:- like a kind of fluid Haiku, I am compelled by creative challenges to sketch the pivotal point in a love affair when the anxiety of secret inner desires is transformed forever by a first kiss. I am transfixed by the solitude of heart-broken loneliness that teaches inner reflection and tender new growth. I am awed with child-like joy at our festivals, moved by human adventures and misadventures. Our memories are so powerfully highlighted by the seasons, by landscape, by climate, colours, scents and sounds… by each other.
My perfumes are snatches of these precious life moments. TR Sept 2016 ©
Making a brand new batch of vanilla tincture as the base for my amber perfumes – Blue Lotus, Embers, Mokaya, Quintessence, Hanky Panky etc.
I use 1kg of Vanilla Planifolia beans from PNG, 5 litres of ethanol, the trusty thermomix and a very large funnel.
The tincture must now rest and mature for 6 months after which a gorgeous black vanilla tincture is ready to be filtered and bottled ready for perfume blending.
You can see how shiny and plump the beans and the paste is. This makes an unbelievably intense vanilla fragrance.
Here is the tincture after one month of resting. Each month it rests it darkens and becomes more potent.
…btw it says NOT for consumption on the bottle, but the ‘NOT’ is ’round the bend.
Endless thanks to my dear friend Wolfgang who sourced these spectacular quality beans and sent them to me.
When reading through a number of perfume forum discussions I often see negative attitudes towards solid perfumes and how they unfavourably compare with spray perfumes. I’d like to weigh in on this topic.
Solid perfumes have been around a very long time. The Ancient Egyptian perfumers crafted luxurious unguents from precious aromatics imported from all over the Mediterranean and Africa and blended these in goose-fat. These unguents were then stored in beautiful alabaster jars and bottles and sold to the wealthy and elite who could afford such cherished cosmetic items. The Ancient Egyptians also wore cones of scented wax on top of their wigs at official gatherings which, over the course of the event, gradually melted and ran down their bodies creating a sheen to their skin as well as creating a wondrous scent trail.
These days many people believe that solid perfumes just aren’t as strong as eau de parfums or that the fragrance is not as durable. I have a couple of things to say about that: –
1. my solid perfumes are blended in pure jojoba and organic beeswax which means that they are wonderfully healthy, moisturising and emollient for your skin. Alcohol-based perfumes are drying to the skin. In dry weather this is a horrible feeling of having more moisture taken from your skin.
2. The application of solid perfumes should be generous, in that you scoop out a portion of the unguent, warm it on your finger tips and gently massage it right into the skin of your forearms and hands as you would a cream lotion. I also warm it between my palms and then apply to my neck and décolletage. The fragrance does not project like eau de parfums but it radiates and swirls around. Many people just sort of smear their finger across the surface of the unguent and wipe it on their wrist but this is not the way to use them.
3. When blending these, I use an enormous amount of pure and natural fragrance in each pot to ensure that the perfume is very rich and strong and when I use my unguents, I reapply every few hours. It takes a moment to reapply to hands and forearms and it greatly relieves daily stress to massage the hands whilst relishing the wonderful aroma as it warms on the skin. The moisturising refreshment is like taking a drink on a hot day.
4. I am more and more enraptured with the ancient tradition of anointing the body with natural oils and buttery beeswax – it reminds me to reconnect with the sensations of the body – to get out of the mind – return from the brink of ‘digitopia’ and take just a moment to drink in the loveliness of the perfume knowing that it is wholesome for my body (not toxic, non drying) and a practice that has been around for thousands of years.
5. The final word I would have on this topic is that – for many practical reasons – unguents are just terrific – they can be shipped everywhere so easily without presenting any flammable hazard, they are very pocket-portable, they layer so very well with each other and/or with corresponding eau de parfums/pure parfums, and they are a really affordable way to try a variety of natural fragrances. Think of your unguent as a glass of pure water, a fresh juice or a wonderful tea and reapply whenever your skin says ‘I’m thirsty’.
PS In case you’re wondering I never use goose-fat
A large number of people from all over the world have written to me asking for free samples of my perfumes. I understand it’s difficult to ‘blind-buy’ fragrances, it can be hit or miss. However natural perfumes are very costly to make and international postage is also very expensive.
So I have 2 solutions:-
1. A recipe for people to blend their own natural fragrance
2. I offer 3ml testers for $15. These are a great and inexpensive way to find out if what sounds good – smells right for you.
So here’s my recipe for new perfumers: Choose your base – either 40mls of perfumer’s alcohol or oil (can also be lotion, water or solid perfume but let’s keep it simple for now).
Fractionated coconut oil is fabulous – it’s very stable, easily found online and absolutely affordable. Jojoba oil is also great it’s a liquid wax not an oil so it is also very, very stable (long shelf-life). Perfumer’s alcohol is a complex discussion about pure ethanol and denatured ethanol – so I suggest that you sweet talk a compounding chemist/pharmacist into selling you 40mls of pure ethanol – explain that it’s for perfume making.
Alternatively use oil – it’s better for your skin and lasts a long time. To make 50mls of Eau de parfum (20% dilution) you’ll need 10mls of your own natural fragrance. So… let’s make a fairly straightforward and simple floral oriental. I’m thinking of essential oils/absolutes that are easily sourced, relatively inexpensive and smell great when blended together.
2mls of ylang ylang
2mls of mandarin
2mls of vetiver
1ml of jasmine grandiflorum absolute
2mls of geranium
1ml of rosewood
This blend avoids the obvious use of patchouli which overburdens too many natural fragrances and instead creates a cool, sweet earthiness by the use of vetiver and rosewood.
Add your fragrance blend to your carrier (oil or alcohol) in a glass bottle (preferably a dark glass 50ml bottle) and shake well. Allow it to mature for a few days – even a month is great. Test it, and if you want more sweetness add a little more ylang ylang and/or jasmine. If you want more of a kick, add a drop or more vetiver and play around with it. More citrus warmth – more mandarin.
As you’ll probably have enough raw materials to make a litre of this blend – well…. Christmas is at the door
All photographs on this website were taken by, and are the sole property of Teone Reinthal ©2016