Friday, July 6, 2018

Starting a new perfume

    How do you start a new perfume? There are, no doubt, many ways but a very solid technique is to start with an idea of what you want. By idea I mean a theme that guides the development of the smell, creates a story, and inspires a visual marketing presentation.

    Two days ago I started work on the "smell" for a new fragrance from an idea, a theme, that had impressed itself in my memory in February.

    The idea -- the theme -- arose while I was on a train to New York City. My travels to the city on this train are infrequent. Usually I pass the 90 minute trip reading a book. But on this particular day there was a snow storm and I had been slipping around a bit on the drive to the station. Aboard the train, feeling tired, I found myself simply watching the snow and woods as we traveled along. Snow and woods. A theme. A possible fragrance? Men's? Woman's? Unisex? I'm still not sure but the snow and the woods theme stuck in my mind. Two days ago I started work on the smell.

    The woods, the snow, the season all provide a story and visual theme. Is it a theme that can sell perfume? That I don't yet know. But, when I finally sat down to put the smell together, the visual image -- woods, snow, seen from train in February -- was very clear in my mind. As I began to sketch out the smell, that image guided me.

    Thus this was not to be floral scent. This was not to be a woody scent either because there was no woody smell in my warm seat on the train. The smell that I imagined was simply snow and the look of the trees, conifers for the most part. So, as I chose my first three aroma materials, my starting point, it was my mental interpretation of the smell of this imagery that guided me; it was a fantasy smell I was seeking to create.

    The first ingredients worked and gave me a foundation on which to build the smell I wanted to create. Now the hard part has begun: taking that foundation and building on it, enhancing it, closing in on the idea.

    Here's where you take risks. You get experimental. You test various materials to see if they might bring you closer to the idea, or if they take you farther away. It is not beauty I am striving for, nor is it originality or brilliance. I am striving to make my fragrance-in-progress conform to the idea that inspired me.

    The clearer, stronger the idea fixed in your head, the greater your guidance will be in selecting aroma materials for your project. In this particular case, the idea was very strong for me, perhaps because there were some personal issued involved in that train ride. The strength of the idea made it easier to say "yes" or "no" to additional materials I tried to add and to substitutions I tried to make. My opening sketch quickly evolved into a crude version of the smell I was seeking.

    Sure, now there are the endless adjustments. "How much of this is right?" "Should I substitute this for (a similar) that?" "What should the final balance be?" "How does what I have mixed evolve from day to day as the ingredients blend with each other, enriching themselves and the ingredients they are blending with?"

    Now is a time for patience and persistence, for fine tuning so that no single ingredient is conspicuous but rather one smell alone stands out -- the smell that represents my idea.

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