Happy Monday, friends!! Coming in hot with part 3 of my France diaries.
This past week I was in Grasse for most of my time, visiting different perfumers, workshopping different fragrances.
Day 1 of Grasse was spent at Fragonard studios, crafting an Eau de Cologne. (Okay so quick lesson on fragrances: The type of fragrance depends on the amount of essential oils in the product. Eau de Cologne is the lowest, bringing in 2-4% of essential oil. The next is Eau de Toilette with 3-8%, Eau de Parfum with 7-14%, and lastly, Perfume, with 20-40% essential oil concentrate. If you look on any fragrance you own, it will tell you what type it is.)
Now that we all know some fragrance ground work, you can understand a bit more about what types of fragrances I crafted this week. The first workshop was constructing an Eau de Cologne, which traditionally is full of top notes consisting of a variety of citrus smells. (Okay, another side note: When people hear the word cologne, they automatically think of a mens fragrance. This is not how perfumers apply the word. Like I said, a true Eau de Cologne means that there is a small amount of essential oil in the concentrate, and will traditionally smell very fresh, sweet, and citrusy. It’s actually quite interesting that we call all men’s fragrance cologne, because when you look on you or your boyfriend’s or dad’s cologne bottle, it will tell you what it actually is, which most of the time, is not cologne.)
ANYWAY, the first workshop we worked with many ingredients, mostly sweet and citrus, to craft an Eau de Cologne.
Some of the ingredients we worked with included sweet orange, lemon, bergamot, mandarin orange, neroli, petitgrain, lemon verbena, rosemary, and lavender. Making an Eau de Cologne is a little different than making any of the other types of fragrances in that you are working mostly with top and heart notes (those sweet and tangy smells you experience in the first couple of minutes you spray a fragrance on your body). With that being said, most of those ingredients are not base notes, calling for a sweet, citrusy product.
International Perfume Museum
The second day in Grasse started off at the International Perfume Museum. We walked through various rooms highlighting how fragrance came to be, starting in ancient Egypt, making our way through the middle ages, up to present day. It was wild seeing how people first used fragrance, how it has evolved, and how it has stayed the same over centuries.
After the museum visit, we had time to explore the city and pick up some lunch before our next workshop. Here is an adorable picture I took of my cutie friends eating amazing sandwiches:
Bird in my Hair
P.s. While we were eating those delicious sandwiches, a street pigeon flew into my hair, and I didn’t even move because I was so enthralled in my food. It was that good. Like, hey, this gross bird is flopping in my hair, but this mozzarella, tomato and baguette is so delicious I’m honestly okay with it.
The second part of day 2 in Grasse was very exciting, in that we had the opportunity to workshop our fragrance concept we had been designing up to that point. If you follow me on Instagram you have read a little bit about my concept. For those of you who did not read my bio, my concept is based on two things: Ella Fitzgerald, and a quote I read introducing the word farouche to my vocabulary. On the plane ride to Europe I read a book (gifted by my wonderful sister-in-law) called The Secret of Scent by Luca Turin. Within the first chapter, Turin explains his experience with a scent named Nombre Noir. He describes, “It brought to mind a purple ink to write love letters with, and that wonderful French word farouche, which can mean either shy or fierce or a bit of both.”
I underlined the quote, wrote it in the notes of my phone, and re-read it about 10 times. I didn’t know why this stuck out to me so much, and at this point, had no idea I would use it for something. All I knew is that the concept of being both reserved and fierce resonated with my soul, especially in a time where I am stepping out of my comfort zone so much.
Flash forward to the first day of class and we are assigned to come up with a concept for a fragrance. My professor encouraged us to choose a topic/subject that we are passionate about, that stirs our creativity.
I have had a continuous love affair with jazz music since I was a teenager, and this was the first idea that came to my mind. How deep and dynamic and lovely is the feeling of listening to a jazz band? What if I translated that feeling into another sense? Into a scent? I started to think about all of the jazz singers I listen to, and discovered that most of my jazz playlist on Spotify is Ella Fitzgerald.
Oh Ella, what a woman. She has such a fierce voice, full of depth and confidence, but as I read more about her, she was actually quite shy off the stage. She was farouche, much like myself, much like many modern women.
That’s when my concept was born. Farouche Paris, a fragrance inspired by Ella Fitzgerald and the romance of the jazz age, inspiring the modern woman to embrace her farouche personality.
The first week of class I worked to lay down the foundation for this fragrance concept, workshopping various scent trials, developing a scent direction I wanted my fragrance to take.
What you see above is the perfumers organ I sat in front of to develop my fragrance. All of those bottles are filled with different essential oils, the bottom shelf making up base notes, the middle holding the heart notes, and the top displaying the peak notes. I worked for about 3 hours to develop what I envisioned Farouche Paris to smell like, with the help of a professional guiding me in certain directions and giving me advice on what notes would blend well.
After those hours working and smelling and crafting my fragrance, Farouche Paris was made official by Galimard. When the perfumer brought out my bottle with the printed label of my fragrance name, it felt like I had created a masterpiece. I was so proud.
Workshop #3 in the International Perfume Museum
Day three started with another workshop, this time crafting an Eau de Toilette. We sat at a table will fragrance bottles and pipets like we had done twice before, and listened to the expressive French instructor speak about the ingredients we were smelling. We all went through the ingredients, jotting down notes of thoughts that came to mind when we smelled the certain scent. I had a star student moment in the workshop when I jotted down the words musky and amber for one of the bottled scents. The instructor glanced over my shoulder, read my notes, started pointing aggressively, and spoke a mile a minute in French. I looked up at this cartoon-like man, with his tall, lean body and rapid arm movements and asked him, “what?”
Once he caught his breath, he explained to me how delightful it is to encounter a mature nose like mine, especially on a Wednesday morning. (Do the talented noses usually come in on the weekends?)
Through all my nose ~expertise~ I created an Eau de Toilette named Merci, Suivant (Thank you, next). If you haven’t listened to that song, we honestly can’t be friends.
Later that day, we ventured our way into Canne, which is probably the bougiest city I’ve ever been to. Next to the French Rivera, this city dripped with designer. The weather was perfectly mild, the sun reflecting off of the Chanel and Dior window displays, playing with the palm trees lining the streets.
When we arrived to Canne, we ate at a restaurant called La Petite Paris, in which I indulged in the most amazing Penne dish, and an extravagant chocolate lava cake. (Sorry, no pictures of the food, I was to excited to eat it) We dined like we owned the restaurant for about two hours before leaving to walk the streets.
The rest of the afternoon was spent shopping and site seeing. This is Sarah about to spend $350 on an outfit:
Canne was a great experience and I would definitely go back.
Train to Paris
The rest of the week was spent wrapping up our fragrance projects, with a celebration on Saturday night in Apt with a light show. As I am writing you this, I am on a train on the way to Paris. Again, I envisioned myself as Serena Van Der Woodsen, looking fabulous and effortlessly boarding a train to Paris. Wrong. I was hauling my over-sized suitcases through the train station, hair fully in my face, breaking out in a sweat, then panicking trying to find a place to store my luggage in the train. All of us American kids were smooshed together with our giant bags trying to find seats and available space. We 100% caused a scene. Oh well, if I’ve learned anything on this trip, it’s to just go with the flow, and don’t take yourself too seriously.
Stay tuned for some Paris stories next Monday!