Australian Perfumers: Howard Jarvis of Bud Parfums

By Evie C.

Portia recently discovered the wonderful Bud Parfums, based in the Australian state of Victoria.  Howard Jarvis, Bud Parfums’ founder, was kind enough to let us add him to our series on Australian perfumers.  Enjoy!

Howard Jarvis developed his love of fragrance early – at the age of three he was found eating jasmine flowers in his grandmother’s garden.  Despite his early interest, however, he lived several different lives before finally deciding to seriously pursue his love of perfume.  He was variously a bricklayer, builder, photographer, naturopath, homeopath and herbalist.   He even consulted to the Sultan Brunei on medicinal uses for Brunei’s rainforest plants.  By the time he decided to focus on fragrance, he had 15 years experience as a naturopath and a long-held fascination with the oils of Australian native plants on which to base his company, Bud Parfums.

Jarvis says he is self-taught as a perfumer but names Jonathan Midgley of Brisbane-based fragrance laboratory Damask Perfumes as an important mentor.  “My mentors and inspiration come from the genius of Jonathon Midgley and avant-garde perfumers who buck the trends like Jean-Claude Ellena and Christopher Brosius. These three are changing perfumery as we know it into something finer.”  Jarvis also cites independent perfumers Andy Tauer and Neil Morris as favourites.  “I do admire the boldness and the perfumes of Tauer and Morris. They’re both introducing people to new experiences.”

Jarvis is not a huge fan of mainstream perfumes. “Mass market perfumes seem to be a little boring at present. I see the same things rehashed with a new ad campaign. I was impressed by the difference of Angel when it first arrived.”  His personal signature scents are constantly changing, he says, “I have a brief ‘fling’ with each new perfume I create. I’ve had a long ‘affair’ with Shalimar ever since I was knee-high. Our perfume Sophia is a tribute to the beauty of Shalimar.”

As to the business of making it as a perfumer in Australia, Jarvis says, “Australian perfumers can make a living, however it takes years to build a reputation or become known by the rest of the world. Blog sites are fast changing this situation – the world is now as small as the click of a mouse.”  Bud Parfums is presently primarily an online business.  Jarvis says he will continue to run online for another two years until his customer base is large enough to support opening a shop.  “My plan is to have a 19thcentury apothecary where tourists can come to Warburton and watch me making perfumes.”

Bud Parfums’ devotees include all types and range in age from 8 to 90 years old.  “We sell slightly more perfumes internationally than in Australia,” says Jarvis. “The Europeans love rich, deep, dark perfumes, while Brazilians love fruits. Our Asian customers enjoy light, airy, soft scents. I think climate and cultures influence perfume buyers.”

Jarvis has a line of perfumes for men and women with names ranging from the strident – ‘Ugly Bastard’ – to the delicate – ‘Elysium’.  His latest scents, ‘Scarlet’ and ‘El Diablo’ were the result of a long Warburton winter.  “Each day here it either rained or snowed. I was craving spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, clove etc. Scarlet is a gypsy dancer and El Diablo is her torrid partner. It took a long time to fine-tune both and I only just managed to have them ready for the cold European Christmas. Our German friends at www.parfumo.net loved them both.”

Jarvis says he can still be found nibbling on jasmine flowers from time to time and no doubt they’ll continue to aid his inspiration as he brings more Australian scents to life.

Howard Jarvis of Bud Parfums

 

Australian Perfumers: Steven Broadhurst of Tommi Sooni

By Evie C.

Regular readers of this blog may remember reading Portia’s March review of EdTS II from Australian perfume house Tommi Sooni.  Portia was so impressed that we sought out the creator of the Tommi Sooni brand – Steven Broadhurst.  Steven is another one of Australia’s ‘perfumers-to-watch’ and he was kind enough to share his thoughts with us about his perfume journey.

Could you tell us a little about the catalyst for your creation of a perfume brand in Australia? What were you doing at the time you decided to launch Tommi Sooni and how long did it take you to get Tommi Sooni off the ground?

I was in Paris in 2004 and experiencing the wonderful perfumes of this great city. It struck me that Australia did not have a perfume of the same artistry and quality. I then became determined to fill the Australian perfume void. At the time I was working as a photographer but looking for a new career direction.  Our first perfume, Tarantella took 4 years of banging my head against the wall, plus a few breaks until it was released in 2008.

Could you tell me a little more about your life before perfume and why you decided to pursue a different path?

As a photographer I had worked in New York as an assistant on Vogue shoots and then for Andy Warhol’s ‘Interview’ magazine. In Australia some of my clients included: Australian Ballet, Opera Australia, Penguin Books and various fashion labels. I still do the images for Tommi Sooni and love creative the freedom I have. Why the career change? The perfume bug bit hard!

Did you have a formal education in perfume or are you self-taught?

Completely self-taught. Basically I pushed my way in but I was passionate (and I think I have a natural talent for inspiring talent in others) so doors opened for me.

Could you tell us a little about the process by which you work with Brett Schlitter to create Tommi Sooni fragrances?

A perfume brief takes at least a year for me to create. I spend serious research time developing the character of the perfume I can smell in my head but then I need to inspire others to formulate the perfume.

The brief is then presented to Brett and his team and we discuss possible directions for Brett to take. Available ingredients, budget and a time line all come into the discussions. A creative director needs to allow for change and flexibility while focusing on the end product. A lot of juggling goes on over the months and it is my responsibility to manage the direction of the fragrance.

Why did you decide to launch a perfume brand in Australia where the culture of ‘perfume’ is somewhat limited?

‘Why not!’ is the simple answer. As I live in Australia I wanted to have a perfume brand with ‘made in Australia’ on the bottle, something we could all be proud of.

How do you think the culture of perfume in Australia has changed since you launched your brand in 2004?

Certainly niche perfume has come into focus since 2004 but there are still very few retailers who are willing to take on brands that are not household names. The lack of visionary retailers here has forced us to focus on the overseas market. We would love to have a higher profile here at home but without the support of journalists and retailers the choice of Australian perfumes will remain limited.

Do you have any mentors/inspirations in the perfume world?

Certainly I admire Joe Garces of Robert Piguet. He brought the brand back from the dead and remained honest to the brilliant work of Germaine Cellier. His new perfumes are also to be admired.

Do you have a favourite mass-market perfume?

Joy – its brilliance is beyond its imitators.

Do you have a favourite independent perfumer?

Andy Tauer is a non-stop rocket of energy and he is a lovely guy to boot. He has done a lot to bring attention to indie perfumers. He has broken into the mainstream through a combination of talent, luck and intelligence – a pioneer.

Do you have a signature scent?

My signature scent is the scent I am working on. I wear it to bed, the office, dinner parties and the gym. Today I am wearing Eau de Tommi Sooni 111

What is your philosophy regarding the use of natural ingredients as opposed to synthetics?

For me the ideal perfume is a combination of both. Naturals alone can often seem a little flat and I’ve yet to smell a totally synthetic perfume I’ve liked. I have no problem with including synthetics in Tommi Sooni fragrances. We only use safe ingredients in our perfumes. We also use a very high percentage of naturals. Our perfumes are very expensive to produce because of our insistence in using only top quality ingredients.

What do you see as the most important trend in perfume currently?

A trend towards vintage. Better quality perfumes with quality ingredients. I’m not talking about smelling like our grandparents but echoing the qualities of the great perfumes and giving them a contemporary twist.

Do you think it’s financially viable to be a perfumer in Australia?

Yes, but do your homework and don’t just concentrate on the domestic market.

Could you describe a typical Tommi Sooni customer?

Generally female, someone who insists on quality and artistry in perfume and is not afraid to stand out from the crowd. Our male customers also have strong characters and are happy to wear a fragrance that reflects their individual personality.

How significant is the international side of your business?

It is very important to us and we are concentrating on markets that appreciate an Australian perfume brand that is every bit as good as those from Europe or the USA.

How significant is the online side of your business and do you think it is viable to run a perfume business entirely online?

Online is both good for sales and for presenting the personality of your brand. I would recommend a combination of retail and online for selling perfume.

Could you tell us a little about your upcoming release Passarelle?

This Australian-inspired eau de parfum was a tough project but the results are very beautiful and I am extremely proud we were able to reflect an aspect of Australia without having to fall back on the clichés we all know. Passerelle is a bouquet of Australian native florals and woods surrounded by a scattering of exotic golden flora.

When you wear Passerelle close your eyes. An elegant armful of beautiful flowers with freshly cut green stems will engulf you. Passerelle is a very feminine perfume with a distinctive Australian character. Inspired by the French explorers who came to Australia in the early 19th century who took back native flora and fauna to France, Passerelle translated means bridge or catwalk and is the fragrant bridge between the cultures of Australia and France.

Are you able to tell us anything about your tentative 2013 release?

All I can say is the eau de parfum you refer to is our longest project to date and is inspired by an Armenian artist. The results so far are outstanding and I can’t wait to try Brett’s next submission.

Steven’s fragrances are available online at Tommisooni.com

 

 

“A woman who doesn’t wear perfume has no future” Coco Chanel

By Evie C.

A woman’s perfume tells more about her than her handwriting.
Christian Dior

A woman who doesn’t wear perfume has no future.
Coco Chanel

My perfume adventure is not going well.  I have discovered that I have neither the taste of Turin nor the omnivoric appetites of those perfumistas who post such regular and explicit reviews.  It seems my nose is tone deaf.  I should not be writing about perfume at all.

I googled perfume quotes in an attempt to find inspiration for this blog and the first two that appeared are above.   Coco Chanel’s seemed particularly ominous.

I started a new job today.   Before she left for the day one of my new colleagues sprayed herself with Paul Smith’s ‘Rose’.  Several people commented and it was indeed a lovely counterpoint to a long day but not something I would have wanted to be surrounded by all day.  I envied her that signature scent though, as it clearly had meaning for her and seemed a fabulous pick-me-up at the end of the day.

I don’t know how you all do it.  ‘Best-of’ lists and trying to settle on a favourite genre/note are clearly not the way forward.  I see now that one cannot be scientific about trying to identify a favourite.  Perhaps someone out there has broken a similar olfactory block?  Or perhaps some of us just don’t get it? Discuss . . .

Australian Perfumers: An interview with Liz Cook of One Seed

By Evie C.

Photo Stolen from One Seed

 

Here at australianperfumejunkies one of our aims is to explore what’s going on in Australian perfumery and to celebrate our own wonderfully talented perfumers.  One of our favourite discoveries has been Liz Cook of natural perfume house One Seed.

Liz has a long-standing interest in natural ingredients and brings a wealth of experience to her range.  She was kind enough to share some insights with us in to the origins and evolution of One Seed.  We hope you enjoy the following interview.

How did you become interested in becoming a perfumer?

 I’ve had an interest in natural health and cosmetics since I was a young teen and I experimented with DIY natural skincare and aromatherapy in my early 20s. Then in 2001 – when I was 25 – I opened an organic beauty and lifestyle store in Adelaide, Out of Eden, and the journey continued. During the next seven years I spent a lot of time researching and practicing, and created thousands of blends for clients and for the store with customised skincare, aromatherapy blends and the occasional perfume. My passion for natural scent developed during that time, and I had a lot of success with the blends I created in that business. When I sold the business in 2008, I kept only the perfume formulae, seeing a gap in the market for natural perfumery that I might fill at a later date. Three months later I began working on the first fragrances for One Seed.

What were you doing before you became a perfumer?

I have had many ‘careers’ in my short life, from starting off in retail (don’t we all?!), then studying a Bachelor of Nursing (which I quit half way through), and photography which saw me through several years of uni and has proved to be a great fall-back choice for me; I also studied Social Science, Community Development, and then Small Business Management prior to opening Out of Eden in 2001. But my passion has always been business. I’ve been entrepreneurial all my life – I can’t help myself!!  By the way, I also have two kids (9 and 5), so that has also kept me busy!

How did you get your education as a perfumer?

I am a passionate researcher and self-trained in aromatherapy and perfumery. I’ve been researching this field for well over a decade, read reams and reams of articles and books, and watch and analyse what some of my favourite indie perfumers are doing. And LOTS of trial and error!!

Why did you want to be a perfumer in Australia where the culture of ‘perfume’ is somewhat limited?

I never accept limitations. Perhaps naively, I’ve always preferred to make my own path, and I don’t feel restricted by what is or is not considered possible or plausible. Sometimes this has been my downfall, and it often means pushing those hard yards for a long time without success or recognition, but it’s just the way it is with me. I feel proud to be an indie perfumer in Australia where very few exist (in fact, there are only two other natural perfumers offering a product at a retail level in Australia). And I like the idea that I might be somewhat of a trailblazer!

Do you have any mentors/inspirations in the perfume world?

Mandy Aftel is just amazing! She is an inspiration for a lot of indie perfumers because she has incredible skills and has made an amazing success of her natural perfumery brand, as well as being one of the main reasons natural perfumery has begun to get mainstream attention. She is definitely a trail-blazer!

Do you have a favourite mass-market perfume?

 I don’t wear them at all myself, but my mum wears Escada Sentiment, and I love how it smells on her. It’s like rose and sherbet. I actually made her something similar using naturals (hoping she’d ditch the synthetics), but she still prefers her Escada! If I was into mass-market perfumes, I’d probably be a Chanel girl because I love originators – and I’m a total sucker for amazing marketing!

Do you have a favourite independent perfumer?

Apart from Mandy Aftel, I also like what Olivia Giacobetti. She’s worked with some big names, but I love what she has done with Honore des Pres (I really want a bottle of Les Carrotes). Annick Goutal also has my attention.

Do you have a signature scent? If so, what is it and how did you find it?

Personally, I don’t have a signature scent; I go with whatever I feel on the day, and I’m always wearing my latest experiment! But “Freedom” has become somewhat of One Seed’s signature scent. It’s an easy-to-wear combination of classics with a unique twist, and has a delicate yet mature femininity, which probably represents our brand pretty well.

Like many perfumers, I also have a set of signature essences which I always go back to by default. They include rose otto, ambrette, amber and magnolia and a few others. I have to make a conscious effort not to use them in everything!

Do you consider One Seed to be bucking the ‘clean scent’ trend?

Absolutely. I understand the trend toward clean scents, as people really want to go back to basics, and that seems to mean the simple pleasure of the smell of clean, fresh fabric. I think it’s about going back to simple pleasures, which is a good thing. But in order to get that type of fragrance you either have to use a bunch of synthetics to mimic to scent, or keep your nose in your linen closet! We don’t use synthetics, and we really don’t follow trends at all. Not that we intentionally buck trends, but each fragrance I create has its own unique story or theme. My focus is always getting the most out of a beautiful natural palette of aromas to create a unique fragrance experience.

Why is it important to you to use natural ingredients rather than synthetics?

(I could talk about this subject for hours!) There is a lot of information out there for anyone who’s interested in finding out exactly what is in their bottle of perfume, but one of the best articles I’ve found is called Not So Sexy. Basically, most perfumes (including the big names) are a combination of lab-produced synthetic fragrances, UV filter, artificial colours, and phthalates for increased silage or longevity, many of which are hormone-disruptors, potentially carcinogenic, and can commonly cause nausea, headache and allergic reactions. Reading the ingredients list is only moderately helpful as up to 50% of ingredients won’t even be listed on the package due to ‘trade secret’ loopholes.

Of course, there are also some natural which can cause allergic reactions, or should not be used by pregnant women for example, but I completely believe in the beauty of natural perfumery, and a skilful perfumer knows how to create a fragrance masterpiece using only a palette of naturals. I am a firm believer in avoiding exposure to unnecessary chemicals, and there are enough natural fragrance options out there these days that I think it’s entirely possible to avoid synthetic perfumes completely if you want to.

What do you see as the most important trend in perfume currently?

There is a definite leaning toward naturals. Most perfume houses have started to include some naturals in their formulae. I think more and more consumers are demanding it, so the market is slowly (very slowly!) turning. But I think the most important trend is toward niche or indie perfumers. That’s very exciting for perfumers like me as it means it is actually a commercial viability to be a small perfumer. Ten years ago, that was definitely not the case. Consumers are definitely becoming more discerning, wanting something unique, and willing to try something different.

Do you think it’s financially viable to be a perfumer in Australia?

It is difficult to make a good income as an independent perfumer anywhere, especially in Australia. But it is viable if you are a good perfumer and understand your market well. And the value of blogs and independent perfume reviewers (like Australian Perfume Junkies) cannot be underestimated.

Could you describe a typical One Seed customer? Are your customers entirely local or do you have customers internationally?

Our customers are about 60% local and 40% international (mainly US). A typical One Seed customer is a 30-40-something woman with a leaning toward organics or natural living, someone who has a broad world view, values family and community and loves finding unique and independent artisans of all types! She is a woman of style, but not overly influenced by trendiness or high fashion, or mass-market.

How significant is the online side of your business and do you think it could be viable to run a perfume business entirely online?

Our online store has become an integral part of our business over the past 12 months as we have had a lot of interest from blogs and online perfume reviewers. Prior to that, we didn’t sell a lot online, but now our online sales are really what help keep the business afloat in tough retailing times. As far as running on online-only perfume business, I think it can be difficult, especially for a small perfume house that isn’t in the mainstream. It is vital to get yourself out there, become known to magazine editors, bloggers and other reviewers whose opinion is valued by consumers. But, ultimately, I think perfume is an experience, not just a product, and it needs to be smelt and seen to be understood.

Can you tell us a little about the genesis of your newer fragrances ‘Frangipani’ and ‘Sweet Water’? (Also, when will they be available?)

 Both are available in our online store, and soon to be available in stores. Frangipani was actually created for my friend Kate as a birthday gift, and I had such good feedback every time people smelled the leftover vial, I just had to release it. We describe it as “A quintessential frangipani fragrance capturing the sweet nectar of frangipani blossoms, delicately supported by melodious fruit, floral & musk tones”, and it’s really pretty. In fact, it’s my husband’s favourite fragrance to wear so it’s not that pretty! On him, is smells a touch more earthly and completely divine!!

Sweet Water was developed as part of a Natural Perfumers Guild Project in 2011, with the theme of “Brave New World”. The idea was to develop a scent using natural only available since 2000. I created Sweet Water inspired by the smell of grass after rain in summer. It’s a sweet green chypre with a sweet heart of honey, mint and summer blossoms enveloped by a watery aromatic top note and dewy base of amber and sweet grasses. It’s one I’m most proud of, but it’s one you’ll either love or avoid.

 

 

 

 

Scent Stories: No. 5 and bulshie biker parents

Chanel No. 5

Since starting a quest to find a ‘signature’ scent, I’ve been probing those close to me about the perfumes they wear and why they wear them, trying to get at what it is that connects someone with a particular scent so decisively.

While I’ve been desperately trying to find some systematic way of finding ‘the one’ – looking to ‘best-of’ lists from the doyennes of perfume criticism, casting around for a ‘genre’ that might gel, trying to nut out which ‘notes’ offend or enchant – I’ve realised that for many (most?) all these things are immaterial and the connection is much more visceral.

Take my sister for example.  She has been a committed Chanel No. 5 wearer for some years now.  Chanel No. 5 is the scent my mother used to wear when we were kids but my mother and my sister are by no means cut of the same cloth and so I was intrigued as to why she had connected with this perfume. Surely there wasn’t a sentimental attachment?

My sister quickly set me straight.  She explained that Chanel No. 5 was a buffer against the daily slings and arrows she encountered in her work as a teacher and some-time security guard.  She described how she kept her No. 5 in her glove box and would spritz herself before going in to school. A whiff of No. 5 helped her get through parent-teacher conversations such as the one with the Bandido biker-gang parent who called to complain about his 13-year-old daughter’s classroom tiffs.  “Mr. F,” she said elegantly “if you can’t stop yelling expletives, I’m going to have to hang up on you.” With her wrist to her nose and Chanel No. 5 wafting upwards her feet were in Tempe but her head was firmly in Paris.  The same technique helped her brave all manner of insults from drunken Saturday-night crowds determined to get past her as she worked security at busy Sydney pubs.  It was a little touch of class, she explained, in an otherwise brash and bumpy world.

My sister-in-law, conversely, had a more traditionally sentimental attachment to a scent.  On the eve of her mother’s funeral, a friend had called to talk and asked about the perfumes her mother had worn regularly.  On the day of the funeral, the friend turned up with a large bottle of Marc Jacobs’ Lola, one of her mother’s favourites, so that my sister-in-law could always have a little sense of her mother close by. Similarly, Portia has a very strong connection to Shalimar, his mother’s favourite. Even as he aims to sample and love every perfume ever released, he will no doubt always come back to Shalimar.

And so, as I continue to work on the world’s most anally-retentive method of finding a signature scent, I live in hope that some defining moment may one day choose it for me.  Here’s hoping you all have suitably lovely and distinctive moments in your perfume closets. I would love to hear about them if you feel inclined.  Evie C.

Perfume for the musk-averse?

Hello – I’m the laggardly half of Australianperfumejunkies.  I’m the yin to Portia’s gorgeously positive and vivacious yang.  Where Portia describes herself as a perfume ‘slut’, I’m determined to find ‘the one’.  I’ll fill my cupboards with a million decants before I invest in a full bottle that doesn’t speak to me fully and completely.  I’m not a perfumista.  I’m just a somewhat anally-retentive civilian who wants to find a great scent, is overwhelmed by the sheer volume of possibilities out there and needs a systematic way to reach the holy grail of a signature scent.  And I don’t like musk.

This caveat would seem to narrow the field substantially as musk is apparently found in 90% of fine fragrances (according to perfumes-world.com).  I don’t think I’m alone in this aversion, however.  My hypothesis is that all those people who claim to wretch when they pass a perfume counter are musk-averse.  There’s even a celebrated perfumer (Christopher Brosius) who claims to hate musk and leaves it out of most of his perfumes.  You might say I’m in search of a signature scent for people who claim not to like perfume.  I’m convinced it can be found.   I hope there’ll be more than one but I’ll be happy with one.

Adventure One – The Quiet Perfumes

Lists, lists, lists – perfumistas love lists. What better place to start than with a pre-culled selection from those who know better.  Portia popped my perfume-cherry with Luca and Tania’s Little Book of Perfumes so I’m going to start with one of their lists.   Since musk is typically a bold, animalistic scent, I thought Luca and Tania’s favourite ‘quiet’ perfumes would be the place to start.  Surely ‘quiet’ is something of an antonym to ‘musk’ in the perfume world?

A pre-screening of the candidates for evidence of musk on Fragrantica.com proved this to be not necessarily the case and I have had to reject half of the original ten for offences against the musk-averse.

Here are the remainders – Turin and Sanchez’s favourite ‘quiet’ perfumes sans musk:

  • Bois d’Encens (Armani Prive)
  • Commes des Garcons 3 (Commes des Garcons)
  • Lime, Basil & Mandarin (Jo Malone)
  • Hermessence Osmanthe Yunnan (Hermes)
  • Timbuktu (L’Artisan Parfumeur)

I’m going to wallow in these perfumes for the next two weeks and my favourite amongst them will be the beginning of my next adventure.  If there’s anyone out there who thinks they’re musk averse and has found a favourite I would love to hear from you.  Evie C.