Matt Lukjanenko Interview about Olfaction and Personality Survey


Guest Post by Jordan River


Matt Lukjanenko Interview

Olfaction and Personality Survey

Sydney. Photo: Matt Lukjanenko

Sydney. Photo: Matt Lukjanenko

Tonight The Scented Salon is in Sydney. With us we have Matt Lukjanenko, an Australian student writing a thesis on Olfaction and Personality. Olfaction is the science of smell.

You can assist his research, if it suits you, by filling out the survey on the link below:

The study will provide useful information regarding the differences in how thoughts and emotions are processed and expressed between those with a keen interest in fragrances and those without.

The study takes approximately 15 minutes to complete. Further details about the survey are after the interview with Matt.

Now let’s find out more about Matt.

G’day Matt, welcome to The Scented Salon. Thank you for joining us. I know some people may like to know more about you before they fill in your research survey.

Matt Lukjanenko

Matt Lukjanenko

Thank you for your kind welcome.
A little bit about me – I was born in Sydney as were both my parents but both families are from Ukraine and Belarus. My parent’s first languages were Ukrainian and Russian and there was definitely an eastern European influence on my life growing up.

What was your first fragrance?

The first fragrance I bought for myself was Acqua di Gio by Armani. I liked the citrus and saltwater scents and its softness.

What did you waft in the 80′s and 90′s?

I am the youngest of 3 boys so whatever I wore was usually passed down from my brothers.

Do you buy for yourself?

I do buy for myself but I remember a while ago my partner at the time left for the UK. He gave me a bottle of what he used to wear as a parting gift which was Calvin Klein Crave. Whenever I wore it it would remind me of him. I thought that was a very smart and sweet gesture.

Or possibly completely debilitating. What are your perfume preferences or notes that you like?

Frangipani, Sandalwood and Lavender. I also love anything citrus or marine and natural.


My favourite at the moment is the Bulvgari Aqva – anything to remind me of the ocean when I’m not near it.

Matt's shelf

Perfume Collection – theres some Bulvgari, Paul Smith, Boss, Burberry and Natio which is a natural Australian brand.

What are you studying?

I am currently in my honours year of a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology at Macquarie University.

Which career will this lead to?

Following this year, I hope to get into a Masters program in Clinical Forensic Psychology either in Canada or here in Australia. I went on an exchange semester to Canada as part of my undergraduate degree and would love to spend some more time there. After Masters I hope to work for a government agency in correctional services or some other forensic setting.

What is your current research about?

The current study is about olfaction and personality. It builds on previous research looking into the effect that expertise in a particular field has on the brain. Expert musicians, athletes and even taxi drivers have shown functional and structural changes in the way their brains are organised when compared with novices and we are interested in how expertise in olfaction elicits similar changes in the brain and how this then relates to certain personality characteristics.

What about a fragrant experience?

Travelling is my absolute passion. I’ve been fortunate to rake up a number of stamps in my passport and the scents from each of the countries I have visited have always stayed with me long after I’ve left.

One of the most memorable pieces of information I learnt during my degree was that the pathway for the olfactory system has quicker connections with our memory when compared to any of the other senses. I experience that when I pass a person walking in the street who smells like someone else I know or somewhere I’ve been and all those memories come flooding back.

Just two of the highlights for me on my travels have been the smell of burning cigars in a Havana street in Cuba – it was exactly as how I had imagined it and it is one of my favourite cities. The decaying grand buildings, old cars and joyous people. We were fortunate to stay in a homestay with a great host and the lady upstairs would cook our meals and bring down roasted meats, rice and beans, cakes and fresh fruit. You would be intoxicated by the smells alone. But I remember the cigars most vividly.


Cuban flag draped from a building in Havana. Photo: Matt Lukjanenko

Also the smell of freshly baked bread from a Parisian boulangerie as you walk home from a club in the early hours of the morning and knock on the back door to buy a baguette fresh out of the oven and eat it on the way home. Simple things like that bring me a lot of joy.

Machu Picchu - I had always dreamt of visiting Peru and in particular Machu Picchu. We also climbed Huayna Picchu which is a bigger mountain next to Machu Picchu and it was probably the most physically challenging thing I had done. A steep vertical climb for almost an hour hugging onto the side of the mountain with a sheer drop if you put a foot wrong.

Machu Picchu – I had always dreamt of visiting Peru and in particular Machu Picchu. We also climbed Huayna Picchu which is a bigger mountain next to Machu Picchu and it was probably the most physically challenging thing I had done. A steep vertical climb for almost an hour hugging onto the side of the mountain with a sheer drop if you put a foot wrong.

What suits you for work?

I work alone most of the time so I could come in smelling like anything really and no one would notice but for everyday wear I prefer natural fragrant oils. Just taking a twig of lavender from a neighbour’s garden and rolling it between my fingers and dabbing it on my neck and wrists.

What do men smell like in Sydney?

Sydney is a summer city, it comes alive during summer and people, men and women in my area usually smell of the beach: saltwater, sunscreen and coconut oil. Having said that it does changes from season to season; in spring it’s more floral and in winter more cedar and spices.

Besides study and travel what occupies your time?

Surfing - at Bondi Beach near my home in Sydney. This photo was taken by the instructor on my first lesson. I've since had a few more and am keeping it up.

Surfing – at Bondi Beach near my home in Sydney. This photo was taken by the instructor on my first lesson. I’ve since had a few more and am keeping it up.

Aside from travelling, I love swimming, in the ocean or pool and going to the cinema. I go a few times a week and will watch pretty much anything; particularly films from Almodovar or Francois Ozon.

Matt snorkeling in Cartagena, Colombia.

Here I am snorkeling in Cartagena. I met many great people in Colombia and one who is very special. I have Colombian friends all over the world. They seem to travel as much as Australians.

The Gaining of Knowledge

my brother and I went to hear the Dalai Lama talk recently in Sydney and I like reading about his history and that of Tibetans and Buddhists. There's also a lot of travel guides and a few adult comics.

My brother and I went to hear the Dalai Lama talk recently in Sydney and I liked reading about his history and that of Tibetans and Buddhists. There’s also a lot of travel guides and a few adult comics.

Where and how did you gain perfume knowledge?

Online mostly, from websites like yours Portia and The Fragrant Man as well as from meeting people who then pass their knowledge onto me. I’m still very much a novice but I am enjoying the learning experience.

Do you think perfumery is art, artisanal, design and manufacturing, molecular architecture or something else?

All of the above, as someone you interviewed earlier noted it is both a science and an art but has different interpretations for different people.

What is the purpose of perfume?
Simply, to elicit an emotion in a person, whether it is arousal, calm, joy or sometimes disgust haha.

Vivid - Sydney has a lot of great festivals one being Vivid which is a light festival in May/June. There are installations and projections onto iconic sites like the Opera House (see top photo) and Harbour Bridge in this photo. Photo: Matt Lukjanenko

Vivid – Sydney has a lot of great festivals one being Vivid which is a light festival in May/June. There are installations and projections onto iconic sites like the Opera House (see top photo) and Harbour Bridge in this photo. Photo: Matt Lukjanenko

Thank you Matt. All the very best with your research and studies.

Further Information
Research Survey

My name is Matthew Lukjanenko and I am a Psychology Honours student under the supervision of Dr Mem Mahmut at Macquarie University in Sydney ( completing my thesis this year on Olfaction and Personality. I am interested in whether people who have a keen sense of smell, by profession or through interest, have differing scores of certain personality traits when compared with the general public. This is an online study and can be completed anonymously. The study should take no longer than 10-15 minutes and will involve completing online questionnaires. If you complete the study you can elect to enter into a draw to win one of three $20 iTunes cards which will be drawn in late October 2013.

Below is the link to the study

Please feel free to share the link with your colleagues or anyone you might think suitable to participate.

The study will provide useful information regarding the differences in how thoughts and emotions are processed and expressed between those with a keen interest in fragrances and those without.

I am hoping to recruit as many people as possible, there are no exemptions.

If people choose to participate, they will need to do so by Monday 22 July 2013.

Any questions please email:

Jordan River

Jordan River


The End of Oudh: Ensar Oud: Interview


Guest Post by Jordan River


Hello APJ Family,

Many of you will be familiar with the smell of synthetic Oud in modern perfumes. This is not what we are talking about. We are talking about oud from nature, from a tree. Most of you would not have come across this smell in daily life unless you have spent some time in an Islamic culture. We will explore this culture today through the prism of scent.

The End of Oudh: An Interview with Ensar Oud


Agarwood, Oud, Aloeswood, Gaharu, and Jinko are all names for the Aquilaria tree which grows in South East Asia. This tree can be invaded by tree eating insects. To self-inoculate the tree produces a fragrant resin to repel the invaders. Not every wild tree produces resin and the older the tree the better the resin. The best resin was found in trees that were 60 to 80 years old. These trees have been over harvested and it is now rare to find a wild resin producing tree. They have all but vanished.

The best agarwood is called sinking wood as the amount of resin causes the wood to sink in water instead of floating. This grade of wood is usually reserved for Japanese incense. Chinese carvers also use this grade of agarwood for making fragrant beads and statues.

Khai Yai Oud  wood chip Ensar Oud

Khao Yai Oud wood chip. Private Collection: Jordan River

Portia and I have often spoken about how intense a particular Oud Artisan is. So tonight let’s talk with him. His name is Ensar from Ensar Oud. Ensar Oud specializes in Artisanal Oud oils that are traceable to specific jungle locations. In April 2012 Ensar rang the bell on the end of wild harvested oud by traditional gaharu hunters. He then researched organic Oud sources and re-imagined his business into the 21st century.

Ensar Oud artisan Oud

Oud Artisan Ensar at work.

Let’s zoom over to Medina now for a chat with Ensar.

Welcome Ensar, Peace.
Peace to you too Jordan.


Outside al-Masjid al-Nabawi in Medina, after morning prayer. Photo: Americophile

What are the smells of Medina?
The copious smoke of Oud wood and burning bukhoor reaches you from all sides as you walk down the street. But to quote one vendor: “Oud is finished. There is no more wood these days. Back in 2004, you had Indian wood that was mumtaz (excellent). You had Malaysian as late as 2006 that used to boggle your mind. Real chips, solid. Now all you get is this stuff… (he points to a drawer of well polished Papuan gyrinops agarwood that feels as light as packing peanuts when you hold it) Nothing is real. Fabricated wood is all you get these days.”

This is known as Black Magic wood because it is impregnanted with synthetic scent and streaked with black paint to give the impression of Oud resin.
Indeed. As for the oils that you smell here, that’s an even bleaker story. I hate to say, none of the stuff you find is natural. Everything (literally) is a scent chemical, whether it be from the so-called ‘big houses’ or the small timers tending the corner shops. The French perfume industry is booming; that is certain; and Medina is one major outlet.

Al-Masjid an-Nabawi

Al-Masjid an-Nabawi, The Prophet’s Mosque

How do Muslim men think of fragrance?
As Muslim men, we are taught that to wear perfume is an act of charity towards others around you. Enabling others to smell something pleasant is equal to giving them a gift.

Why is incense burnt in the Middle East? Is this for fumigation or for spiritual reasons?
Incense burning for remembrance and invocation as well as personal scenting is woven into Arab and Muslim culture. Again, an innate love of anything that perfumes one is what drives Muslims to bukhoor and Oud wood. Fumigating the house, scenting clothing, and cleansing an area of evil spirits who abhor beautiful fragrance; spreading an unearthly scent to facilitate remembrance in circles of invocation;these are some of the uses of incense in the Middle East.

Do you scent your beard? Under your chin?
The way I apply Oud oil is by first taking a swipe on the inside of my left wrist. Then I rub the insides of both wrists. Then I apply that sheen to the left and right sides of my neck, right under the beard. I do not apply any Oud to the beard itself as the scent would be too overpowering.

Ensar oud

What terroir of Oud are you distilling next?
We have some logs of incense grade wood, of the quality that was offered by Baieido back in the day, going into the boilers this very week. They were harvested in Chanthaburi Province (in Thailand) a few years back, and are the last specimens of wild Thai oud wood of this calibre that I’ve seen in a very long time.

Ensar, thank you for your time and for sharing your fragrant thoughts. Let’s catch up with you soon in Amman. Khuda Hafiz.

The end of wild harvested Oud has become the beginning of organically farmed trees. All over South East Asia there are plantations, many of which need several more years to age the resin.

Organic Oud plantation

Ensar on an Organic and Sustainable Oud Plantation

See you soon,
Jordan River

(Ed: This is a much edited version of an incredibly interesting interview. If you’d like to learn how Ensar gets his oils, some of his best selling fragrances and a whole lot more go to TheFragrantMan<<<JUMP)

Dot by Annie Buzantian and Ann Gottlieb for Marc Jacobs 2012

Hello Christmas Shoppers,

Buying for tweens, teens and young adults can be hard. Perfume buying for same a NIGHTMARE! Not only because they are mainly so indoctrinated and brain washed to think that sweet, fruity, patchouli and clean musks are the only things that smell good but also because they are often so damn ungrateful about the time you’ve taken to get something that you feel is just right. In the end it’s easier to go with the flow.

Dot by Marc Jacobs 2012

Photo Stolen Fragrantica

Fragrantica gives these featured accords:
Top: Pitahaya (Dragon Fruit), red berries, honeysuckle
Heart: Coconut, orange blossom, jasmine
Base: Musk, vanilla, driftwood

When I first saw that Marc Jacobs was doing Dot with the super crazy bottle I was all, ” Oh Gawd! What a freakin’ SHOCKER! Why bother with that gimmicky CRAPOLA! He has insulted our intelligence with BLEAGH!” And then I read the note list and thought maybe this will be a little different. Still I only gave it a mini spritz as I was wandering the department store counters and smelled sweet fruits, went immediately to the bathroom and after that washed my hands, so the only impression I got of Marc Jacob’s Dot was the Gawd awful bottle and sweet fruit. Then I saw the below interview and read a bit about the 2 perfumers responsible for Dot who between them are responsible for some super great fragrances, Annie Buzantian, Pleasures & Puredistance 1 and Ann Gottlieb, CK Contradiction & SJP Covet. Maybe it’s time to revisit Dot with Christmas coming up because if I buy the young ones fragrance that I would wear then it will sit unused forever.

So it was with great trepidation I decided to go back to the mall. At this point I just finished reading PerfumePosseHATEList and guess what? Dot was #2 after Marc Jacobs Lola. Oh Dear!

OK. Dot was nice, but not amazing, and not something I could imagine myself wearing. I can see the youth market enjoying it and it lasted about 5 hours before I lost it completely. Opens big and bright and fruity, calms quickly and then pretty linear but the fruity sweetness becomes more vanilla towards the dry down. I did not hate it and can’t imagine anyone being offended by your wearing it.

Photo Stolen langhamherbs

If you want to read further NowSmellThis

FragranceShop has 50ml $71
MyPerfumeSamples starts at $3/ml but I got the $9/5ml deal

I hope this has been some help when searching for a more youthful fragrance and idea. It’s pretty and safe but will be an excellent gateway product for budding perfumistas, they will have a cut above their peer celebuscents but not be out of their league.
Good luck,
Portia xx

Marc Jacobs talks about Dot

Dot Ad

Mandy Aftel of Aftelier Perfumes: Interview

Hello APJ Family,

We are thrilled that one of the world’s leading and most loved niche perfumers, teachers and authors has agreed to chat to us. There are few in the industry whose perfumes and self are spoken about with such reverence and respect as our special guest today. We have given her a tweaked version of the APJ Questionnaire and edited the answers slightly.

Mandy Aftel

Photo Stolen anuessentials

1. Do you have any mentors/inspirations in the perfume world? The person who has most inspired me in my creative life has always been Bob Dylan. I admire his great genius at expressing the vagaries of the heart — he is able to capture rich emotional states and memories which is something I seek to do in my perfumes. I think the first way I have of understanding the world is through my feelings… so strong in me that the only place that I can capture them and put them down is in a perfume.
My other great inspiration is the beauty of the essences themselves: the complexity, beauty, range, texture, and shape of the natural essences. I happily spend large chunks of time sourcing materials from all over the world. When I get a new essence in my hands, I’m always thinking about how I can bring it to life in a perfume and find my way to understanding each essence from the inside…. I love the range from funky stinky to drop-dead gorgeous and everything in between. They intrigue, inspire, fascinate and thrill me. I love holding in my hand the essences that have been used since the beginning of time in every culture across the world.

2. What is your philosophy regarding the use of natural ingredients as opposed to synthetics? I don’t really have a philosophy about using natural ingredients. I, myself, am more interested in the talent of the perfumer rather than the palette that they use. Personally, I am deeply inspired by the natural essences, and synthetics hold no magic for me. There is a texture and shape to the naturals aromas that’s extremely beautiful to me, and I feel as though I’m able to enter them and see them from the inside. I also must confess that their history intertwined with the history of man around the planet is something that’s quite thrilling to me.

5. Did you have a formal education in perfume or are you self-taught and tell us about your school please? I am a self-taught perfumer — I have a collection of 200 turn-of-the-century perfume books which I have studied over the years but my biggest teacher was the essences themselves. My Level 1 Workbook gives you the necessary perfumery vocabulary, the basics of relative intensity, the very important aspects of construction, and a deep understanding of what makes a top note, a middle note, or a base note. You will learn about the textures, smells, and intensities that differentiate these notes. The exercises in this workbook introduce various families of scents, familiarize you with the blending capacities of similar essences, and refine your ability to distinguish between essences within each family.
After completing the Level 1 Workbook, you can come to work with me in person at the in-studio class. This level of instruction can’t be done remotely – I need to see how you interact with the materials, and spend some time one-on-one (the class size is very small). This is a key step in learning how to critique your perfume formulas. It is very important to understand what contributes to the essences burying or locking with each other; both effects can have either a positive or negative outcome in a perfume blend.

Essence & Alchemy $15.50 @ BookDepository delivered worldwide

6. Your book, Essence & Alchemy, A Natural History of Perfume is a go-to tome often the first that new perfumistas pick up, how did that come about? When I wrote essence and alchemy I felt I had discovered this useful lost world of natural aromatics and want to share. I could not believe all the treasures I found in the antique perfume books and in the essences themselves…. I had no idea that the book would go on to have such a life and be treasured by so many people. I am now working on a new book, which I see as the successor to essence and alchemy. That feels slightly intimidating and I’m hoping that this will pick up where essence and alchemy left off.

Photo Stolen perfumepharmer

7. Can you tell us a little about your new perfume release Wild Roses? Each of my perfumes is created around solving a design challenge and capturing emotional memory. I usually start with a pair of essences that I am interested in working with and from there I build the perfume. The foundation of Wild Roses was the relationship between apricot and rose, and I anchored it with a foundation of tarragon absolute. It was a difficult design challenge to have the rose aromas evolving all the way through the perfume from beginning to end, revealing the various facets and shades of roses.
Having grown roses in my garden for years, I was smitten with the unique beauty and great variety of rose aromas. I wanted to capture in perfume the experience of walking around my garden and smelling each rose, as their perfumes blended in my nose. This is the rose that exists in your mind after you have smelled so many garden roses — blush, ruby, canary, purple, crimson edged with brown, pure white, candy-cane striped — that you feel intoxicated.

Mandy Aftel’s store Aftelier Perfumes Shop
Aftelier also has an  Excellent Sample Program

I feel like we have been able to look a little into Mandy Aftel’s soul and now when I smell her fragrances I will understand them a bit more too. Very seriously considering doing the Perfume Course right now also.

This week we are dedicating to Mandy Aftel and Aftelier Perfumes. Wednesday we will look at some of the range and Thursday there will be a GIVEAWAY!! Don’t forget.

Till we see you tomorrow,
Take care of you and those in your orbit,
Portia xx

Sheila Eggenberger Interview

Hello fellow Perfume Junkies,

Many of you will be familiar with Sheila Eggenberger of TheAlembicatedGenie and her as yet unpublished novel Quantum Demonology that has become a seriously cult-style hit in the fragrance community. Some of you will be going, “Um, What?” and it is to you that I offer this rare insight into a blogger, author and general all round great girl of the scentbloggosphere. Sheila has been a mate and champion in the short time that APJ has been running and I am proud to count her among my yet to be met net friends. Her never say die attitude is a beacon we should all learn to follow.

Photo Stolen fanpop

In conjunction with this interview if you drop in at PerfumePosse today I have reviewed the Olympic Orchids Devilscent Project fragrances Lil#1 & Dev #2 so down the bottom there is a jump you can easily hit to trot across and read there too.

Sheila Eggenberger

Give us a brief history, who was young you, important you defining moments or early fragrant memories that may have herded you towards the ever moving now?

I grew up with a perfume-mad mother, so perfume was everywhere as I grew up, and living in South Florida – a very fragrant spot! – helped, too. Defining perfumista moment: (It ruined me for life!) A coming-of-age trip to Paris for a 14th birthday, when Maman took me to the Guerlain flagship store and told me to buy what I loved. I bought Jicky, since she didn’t wear it and I loved it. Today, I can’t believe I would choose something so …audacious! The next day, I bought (the original) Miss Dior. I was a great-smelling teenager.

What spurred you onto creating the Alembicated Genie?

It was my book, Quantum Demonology, believe it or not. By the time I neared the ending, I had had it with testosterone bombs and rock’n’roll. I wanted an outlet for my girlie sensibilities, so I created Scent Less Sensibilities which became The Alembicated Genie. I never in my wildest dreams expected to become a perfume writer. But life has been exciting ever since!

Do you have a favourite independent perfumer?

Too many to count! Andy Tauer, Vero Kern. Mandy Aftel, Dawn Spencer Hurwitz, Neil Morris, Ellen Covey, Kedra Hart, Maria McElroy of aroma M and Alexis Karl, Amanda Feeley – and a new discovery who has blown my mind – Juan M. Perez of Exotic Island Perfumes. A definite one to watch – and sniff!

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

Perfume as an art form in its own right. The trend towards indie perfumers pushing the boundaries of defining perfumes is redefining the industry as well as our own perceptions of it. That more and more people are turning to the artistry and dedication of indie perfumers. And I think it’s interesting that more and more, different art forms are coalescing into projects – books and movies to go with perfumes, for instance. And a far sadder trend – world-renowned brands killing the very heritage that made them what they are.

Do you have a signature scent?  If so, what is it and how did you find it? If not, why do you think that is?

In terms of perfume, I’m an utterly faithless slut. I’m fully capable of being virtuous to my favorite brands, but the idea of picking just one perfume gives me hives – and a massive case of indecision. I have complete perfume AHDH. Where would I start, when perfume to me is a case of “Who do I want to be today – tonight – this instant?” But the closest would be Chanel no. 19 eau de parfum, which I’ve worn for over 30 years with no end in sight. It was perfect for a punk and for the Goth that punk became. It’s perfect for this walking midlife crisis and writer wanna-be, even today.

Tell us about Quantum Demonology?

It began with a discography and a discussion in a Copenhagen record store. When I came across a certain inspiring image, it evolved into a short story I wrote one night out of boredom as a joke and posted on my soapbox blog. I never thought I would be asked to continue it, but I was. So I did. Nine months to the day (!), I had a finished first-draft novel. An ode to …music, madness, passion, redemption and perdition, among other things.

How did that translate into the Devilscent Project

I blame Andy Tauer. And Ellen Covey. Perfume was always woven into the storyline. Frankincense and labdanum – two of my favorite notes – are mentioned many times, as are several other perfumes. When I reviewed Andy Tauer’s Incense Extreme as a “Would this be the Devil’s Scent?”, Ellen commented that I nearly dared her to make …the Devil’s Scent and that was how it started. Since then, it’s grown to ten bloggers, eight US indie perfumers, and no less than 19 incarnations of mind-blowing, category-defying perfume, including an incense and a deviously delicious massage bar. 

If there’s anyone reading from the world of Literature Publishing, where can they taste your Quantum Demonology?

They can find some explanations as well as samples of the prologue and the first three chapters in draft form at the Quantum Demonology blog:, many more inspirations on both the book and the Devilscent Project at the Quantum Demonology fan page on Facebook:, and follow the Devilscent Project on Twitter through the hashtag #devilscent.

Photo Stolen Olympic Orchids

Olympic Orchids Devilscent Project fragrances are running a terrific sample program 5 x 3ml Devilscents for $30 delivered to the world.
Read Sheila Eggenberger at TheAlembicatedGenie
Go check PerfumePosse for my reviews of the Olympic Orchid Devilscent Project, go on!

I hope you enjoyed our Sheila Eggenberger interview and also hope to see you tomorrow but till then, love, love, love, from us at APJ.
Portia xx

Sheila Massetti of Perfume and Skincare Co. Interview

Hey APJ Family,

Part of what I and EvieC wanted to do when we started this blog was to ferret out and show the world our emerging perfumers down here in Australia. We are far away from much of the world but our fragrance makers are doing some pretty inspiring, wearable, boundary pushing, affordable scents in the true niche historical context. Going for product over marketing and price.

So when Director, Perfumer and Product Formulator for the Perfume and Skincare Co, Sheila Massetti, from Robertson NSW gets in touch and offers to send some samples to APJ to have a sniff around with I was ecstatic. When those samples arrive as bottles I am overwhelmed. So I sent a few decants around the world to some of my blogging buddies, shared a few with my friends and I have been wearing 3 of the 5 fragrances sent quite a bit too.

We’ve asked a slightly tweaked version of the APJ questions and here is Sheila…

Give us a brief history, who was young you, important you defining moments or early fragrant memories that may have herded you towards the ever moving now and how did you become interested in becoming a perfumer?

I started my career as a Journalist – something that is now incredibly useful as it taught me the art of research, research, research.  My early fragrant memories have guided me into the Perfumes I now formulate.  Gardenia for my Mother off to a ball wrapped in swathes of white chiffon and smelling of Gardenias.  Ginger Milk for my Grandmother who used to make me a “homesickness” remedy with warm milk, honey, ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg.  Fig & Olive from a trip to Tuscany etc etc.
I did as I think a lot of little girls did and collected Rose petals, put them in a jar of water and left them for a few days to create my own Rosewater.

How did you get your education as a perfumer?

I trained as an Aromatherapist and discovered my interest in Perfume through blending Essential Oils but they were never enough.  Meeting up with the owner of a company which specialised in the production of Aroma Accords and Synthetics brought my dream to life and he helped me with the basic tenets of Perfume formulation.
Working with Synthetics gives me a much broader base on which to draw and I find them more stable with the ability to steer a fragrance from the “norm” to spectacular.
Training as a Perfumer is impossible in Australia so I became an Artisan Perfumer using my intuition and love of fragrance to steer me in the right direction.  My trips to France lead me to meet Perfumers from Chanel, Issey Miyake and Jean Paul Gaultier and I had the opportunity to work with them, or should I say “play with them”.  This furthered my technical knowledge but I still work from intuition.

Robertson Photo stolen ideal-sydney-getaways

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

Being a Perfumer in Australia is somewhat limited as the general perception is that “all Perfumers come from France”, but if you can get people to think outside the square they realise that this is not the case.

Do you have any inspirations in the perfume world?

My inspiration in the world of Fragrance would have to be Jean-Claude Ellena.  How could you not be smitten with him.

Do you have a favourite mass-market perfume?

My favourite mass market Perfumes are Tom Ford’s Black Orchid and Tobacco Vanille – very opposite in type but equally beuatiful.

What about a favourite independent perfumer and how have they influenced you?

I don’t have a favourite independent Perfummer as yet but I’m sure that will change.

What does your immediate future at Perfume and Skincare Co hold?

The immediate future of the Perfume & Skincare Company is affected by the market.  It is incredibly difficult to convince Wholesale Buyers to try something new when Retail stores are finding it hard enough (under the global financial situation) to get their customers to spend anything.  This is a situation which will improve over time and I forsee Retailers going back to a time when they want something new to tempt customers.  In the meantime we have our own Retail stores in the Southern Highlands and our Web Site which offers the chance to sample all the different fragrances.

Carrington Falls Photo Stolen

I applaud Sheila for her push to bring the good juice to Australia. They ship worldwide and have a really terrific sample program, you won’t believe how reasonable their prices are for true niche extrait-plus strength fragrances. Do jump across and have a look at ThePerfumeAndSkincareCompany. Then come back tomorrow to have a look at our reviews for 5 of the fragrances they offer.

As always wishing you the best of everything till we see you tomorrow,
Portia xx

Neela Vermeire Talks To APJ

Hi Perfume Family,

You may have heard about Neela Vermeire Creations, if you have been anywhere on the scentbloggosphere then you’ve probably read about their line of fragrances too. If you are a perfumista then chances are you have smelled at least one of the magical fragrances, and maybe own a bottle, decant or sample set. I was lucky enough to win a sample set in a blog competition and have fallen deeply under the spell of these beautiful reminders of my times through India since 2000 with my last long term partner who is part of a hotel family over there. Loving the fragrances so much I wanted to understand the woman who has been the catalyst for their creation, the friendly, driven, intriguing and very pretty Neela Vermeire. Today she talks with us and I am thrilled that she has.

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Tell us about young Neela please, where you came from, family, siblings, poignant or helped create who you are moments?
Who am I? I guess I am a result of my life and travels. I am a global villager – restless, hopefully a mindful soul.
I was born in India and most of my family still live in India. I was educated in the eastern part of India in a city called Calcutta. I went to the US for my graduate studies. After completing my masters degree I moved to London, Aberdeen, Paris, London, Paris.
My earliest memories of perfumes were from the various ceremonies that took place in temples, my family who wore some form of perfumes – immediate and extended.  India is in general a phenomenal assault to ones senses – good and bad and ugly.
Family and school trips to various parts of India made me appreciate the vastness and variety of India and Indian culture. The smell of Indian flowers in markets, roadside food stalls – smell of Indian snacks like chaat, puris, parathas, wood stoves, roasted peanuts, tea stalls, fruit stalls – smell of mango ripe and unripe, guava, lychee, jack fruit (very strong smell), musty book stores, wet earth after monsoon, dry earth under the scorching sun, smell of freshly brewed Darjeeling tea, spices etc.

India (like most warm countries) can provide the most amazing natural smells and the most awful smells.

What were you doing before you became a perfumer?
I am a qualified solicitor in the UK, I started working on consulting projects, exhibiting emerging artists and creators in Paris and also doing Perfume Path Tours.

How did you become interested in fragrance?
Since my childhood days in India. Also each move to different countries made me deeply aware of cultural differences and preferences.

What qualifications do you have as a perfumer?
None because I am a creative director or a creator but not a “nose” or technical perfumer.A nose/perfumer must be a qualified and trained person. I worked with Bertrand Duchaufour who is a well known nose for the first India trio.

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Who were and are your mentors and inspirations?
Too many to mention. Some other niche perfume creators were and are my mentors.
My inspirations are my life and travels.
Friends and loved ones who enabled me to express with the help of Bertrand the perfumes as a tribute to India.

Who is your favourite perfumer, other than yourself, and why?
As I mentioned before I am a “creator” and not a “nose” or technical perfumer. Many people call themselves “perfumers” when they have “noses” working for them.
Do you mean creators?
Frederic Malle (Creator)
Serge Lutens (Creator)
Guerlain (Perfumer and creator)
Annick Goutal (Perfumer and creator)
Patricia di Nicolai (Perfumer and creator)
IUNX by Olivia Giacobetti (Perfumer and creator)

You know many others who are true creators and not trained perfumers..etc….
There are many other independent niche perfumers .

Synthetic, natural or mixture, why?
Mixing is good. Mixture is great – one is able to create exceptional creations with mixology.
Naturals can be heavy and aroma chemicals add the playfulness.

What do you have in development that you’d like to share with perfumistas everywhere?
A couple of fragrances – work in progress.

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Isn’t it nice to get a little insight into the lovely Neela, I hope you have enjoyed it. Please come back tomorrow, we will be looking at one of the Neela Vermeire Creations fragrances in depth,

NeelaVermeireCreations was where I bought my 10ml x 3 frags Discovery Set for only 90 euro delivered anywhere in the world or you can get 2ml x 3 frags Try My India Set only 22 euro delivered!
LuckyScent has 55ml bottles $250

Love to you all and hope for your good health, wealth and happiness,

Portia xx

Musette? Interviewing Anita Berlanga from Perfume Posse

Hey Hey Fragrance Lovers,

When I finally discovered you all it was a complete revelation. My own fragrance story was so introverted and self fulfilling that though I shopped online quite a lot I had not twigged that there would be other people who were already reading, writing, exploring, sharing, corresponding and generally enjoying the community that is the fragrance wormhole, for years!! Who knew there was a world of scent-ualists online?

I don’t know about you but I am often intrigued by the people who found the scentbloggosphere years before I did. They are now an elite crew whose knowledge, entrenchment and sophistication are world renowned, as are each of their personalities. They all took their baby fragrant steps together or helped the new kids on the block towards their own perfumista status, and still do.

Today we are talking to Anita Berlanga, you may know her from PerfumePosse as Musette, with the sharp and witty wisecracks. Anita has been unstintingly warm and generous to me and I’m sure many others of you so I thought it would be fun to get into her head a bit. She gets the APJ question but just tweaked a little….

Photo Stolen Musette’s Private Cache

Give us a brief history, who was young you, important you defining moments or early fragrant memories that may have herded you towards the ever moving now?
I was a typical Midwestern teenaged nerd with romantic literature leanings (windswept moors, dark, brooding heroes)…went well with my braces and zits.  Early scent?  Heaven Sent.  Vats of it.  My high school REEKED of the stuff.  That, and Love’s Baby Soft. Enough to bring up your lunch. Oooh!  and Coty Elan, which I liked because it smelled romantically windswept and had a cool bottle (I just scored a vintage bottle recently – it’s a greenery-yallery scent.  But such a fab bottle!
Then I found that greeny galbanum Norell on my mother’s dresser, which I thought smelled so…windswept, with heathery scarves and velvet cloaks (hey!  I was – what?  14?  15?  And I was totally on that moor, with the wind whipping my straight, shiny, Cathy-esque black hair and sooty black lashes fringing my violet eyes, with a young Laurence Olivier striding towards me.  Yah..  Except on me it smelled like I’d guzzled a bottle of Scotch.  Then it was Nina Ricci Bigarade (which was the beginning of my bitter orange love, though Bigarade is, in truth, an unassuming orange blossom – but that is for Another Day). To be honest, I have NO idea how I came upon that one. But that leads us into your next question…

What perfume started your journey?
Nina Ricci Bigarade.  Well, it didn’t actually start my journey.  It started my journey HERE.  Blame the Internet.  Blame NST.  Blame …?? 40 years later, I began to wonder about that perfume, which led to the Internet to revisit (I dunno how old you are but when you hit 50 you start looking for the weirdest things from your past.  Puppet Fairy Tale books from your childhood.
Hostess cupcake packaging from the early 60s.    Perfume is a biggie.  Google has a LOT to answer for, lemme tell you.   But in all honesty, it really was Google.  I Googled Nina Ricci Bigarade, which led me to Now Smell This, which led me to the Posse.  And the rest……..well, you know!Most embarrassing thing about my journey? I wasted SUCH an opportunity.  At 23 I was a card-carrying moron.  I didn’t know where I would be, 25 years later…… back when I worked as the Ad Mgr for Marshall Field & Company (only THE most elegant department store in Chicago -nay, the Midwest.  At one point it was one of the few department stores in the country to rival Bergdorf)  – managing advertising for COSMETICS AND FINE FRAGRANCES.  Morong.  I had access to Every. Single. House.  Guerlain.  Chanel.  Dior.  I met Karl Lagerfeld and Bill Blass and Calvin Klein – back when they were doing their own perfumes.  (remind me to tell you about Herr Karl and me …and our fans….) I had No Clue.   I took my first trip to Paris, without telling the Fragrance honcho I was going.  He was stunned!  What did I wear?  Only what everybody else did.  Chloe.  Anais Anais.  Though I did scent my sheets with  Patou Vacances – but to tell you the truth that was more because I loved the little emerald-green stopper.  I had scads of that stuff.  Scads!!  I wasted it.  On sheets!   30 years later I am in tears about it.  Who knew?


How did you get your perfume education and did you have any mentors?
I’m still a student and hope to always have a beginner’s mind. Otherwise this will become a bore.  This is going to sound like a cop-out but it’s true:  my mentors are the perfumistas who come on the blogs and the FB perfume pages.  I’m stunned at how much I’ve learned from them.  There is no ‘teacher’ – we are all amateurs, in the truest sense of that word, loving and learning as we spritz. And when it comes to parsing out notes?  Nobody can do it like the folks on the Posse.Speaking of notes, though, I will tell you one of my very first ‘note’ experiences.  I’d just started writing for the Posse and a friend sent me several samples to try – one being Anne Pliska.  So..I spritz on the AP and am immediately assailed by this…note.  Can’t for the life of me figure out WHY I KNOW THIS DAMN NOTE!  It teases me allll day but I don’t have time to research (aka Google) it.  So time ticks by, I’m working and this note is worrying my Very Last Nerve.  Finally, bedtime arrives.  El O and I go to bed, the boys just outside our bedroom door.  All is peaceful…suddenly, at 2am, I sit bolt upright in bed and shout ‘PLAY-DOH!!!’.  Used to my craziness, nobody in my house even turned over!   But that was my very first ‘note’ experience.  And yes, Anne Pliska smells persackly like Play-Doh.  Which is not a bad thing.

What is your current favourite mass market perfume house?
Guerlain.  Even when they miss, they do it spectacularly and they get huge points for keeping the classics in their line and even showcasing some of the lesser-known  perfumes of yesteryear (Neiman Marcus in Chicago had a breathtaking display of the Guerlain ‘oldies’, some in the original bottle design.  It made my heart sing!)  In my opinion, they are the embodiment of Western haute perfumery (non-niche).  Large niche house: tie between Amouage and Frederic Malle.  Both Houses are intriguing, unwilling to pander to focus groups and mass trends. And they consistently deliver stellar perfumes .  I wish they were better known.  I don’t understand the urge to smell ‘exclusive’ – as far as I’m concerned, a roomful of people wearing Carnal Flower or Epic is a GOOD THING!


Do you have a favourite independent perfumer and why, or if that is too politically loaded; what makes a good indie perfumer?
I have several but my  steadfast favorite is Liz Zorn – I think it’s because  so many of her scents touch my core, immediately and viscerally.  The first one, Historical Chypre, I thought might’ve been a fluke.  But we’re well into double digits now, so obviously there’s a connection there.  The first time I smelled Violets and Rainwater, I teared up!  I was back on Lexington Ave in NY, in front of a florist shop, after a pelting Spring rain.  Busted pot of violets on the sidewalk.  Nobody loved them.  Or me.  I was bereft.  Then I realized, if I just picked the damn violets up and put them back in the pot everything would be just fine.  And it was. By the way, none of that actually happened (though there was a florist on Lex that I loved)  But such is the power of Liz’s scents that the entire scenario leapt, unbidden, into my psyche and became part of my history.  In one spritz.

What do you see as the most important trend in perfumery currently?
I think all trends suck.  Truly.  The one ‘trend’ (in mass market) I would like to see is a return to ‘real’, structured perfumery, for adults, crafted with quality ingredients.  But I suspect that time has come and gone.  There’s too much money invested in the quick ROI, ingredients are astronomically expensive and the general public’s taste seems to be devolving, with the aspiration more for the marketing image rather than what stuff smells like.   Then again, I love the smell of Clinique Happy – so what do I know??

Isn’t she AH MAY ZING? Thank you Musette for taking the time out of your busy schedule to do this. I feel blessed that you’d come and chat so openly, honestly and interestingly for us.

Wishing you all painless, easy and harmless world domination,

See you tomorrow.

Portia xx

Clayton Ilolahia, Blogger, Writer, Fragrance Junkie. Interview

 Hey All,

Today I have for you Clayton Ilolahia, a man with a very successful blog (, who writes for the The Perfume Magazine and has been giving talks about perfume around the traps. He is also an Australiasian, YAY! and general good guy.  I have cajoled Clayton into answering some questions for us. He has been crazy busy so took the time to do it while flying to Bangkok! So read on and find out about this fascinating man who knows What Men Should Smell Like….

Tell us about young Clayton please, where you came from, family, siblings, poignant or helped create who you are moments?
I was raised in New Zealand and was bought up on a farm. I have a large extended family, somewhat expected if you have a Maori/Polynesian background, but my immediate family is quite small with just my sister and I. My upbringing was pretty standard for rural New Zealand. One of my first scented memories is the jonquils and jasmine that grew wild on the farm.

 How did you become interested in fragrance?
I want to say I have always been interested in fragrance, but then haven’t we all? It’s true, I only became conscious of this interest in the past 10 years, but I think if we all look back, we have memories of scent that trigger emotion. For me, the picture became clearer after I left New Zealand and moved to Melbourne, Australia in 2004. I had retail management experience and was offered a job managing a small perfumery opened by the Polakis brothers of Harrolds, luxury designer mens stores in Sydney and Melbourne, who’d noticed niche perfumeries opening in France and Italy so they wanted to replicate the idea in Melbourne. At that stage I had no interest in working in the perfume industry. In my spare time I was always mixing fragrant oils and reading about perfume, which lead to blogging.

Who were and are your mentors and inspirations?
I have always had a soft spot for perfumer, Jean-Claude Ellena, I really admire his work. I also think Jean-Paul Guerlain is one of the most extraordinary perfumers of his age. I would love to interview him.
In terms of writing about fragrance, I love the sharp wit of Luca Turin and Chandler Burr is also one of the best fragrance writers, a wonderful storyteller and his statements are always backed up by fact.

Do you still wear mass-market fragrances, if yes which and why?
Absolutely! I love the mass market. Sometimes the most luxurious brand that promises creativity and quality can disappoint me. And a small budget, mass-market perfume, made by a perfumer working with a cost-considered palette of materials is able to express the most memorable idea. Some of my recent under $100 buys are Narciso Rodriguez Essence Eau de Musc, Chanel Bleu and Marc Jacobs Bang.

Who is your favourite independant perfumer and why?
Serge Lutens (or Christpher Sheldrake if you are talking about the ‘Nose’). It is a range that stands on its own. If anything, Lutens references himself instead of others.

Synthetic, natural or mixture, why?
All my favourite perfumes combine both. Naturals are so complex and filled with personality; I love the tension they add to a composition. Synthetics are much more singular in their message and they can alter or colour a perfume story in ways naturals cannot. Synthetics and naturals work beautifully hand in hand.

How has your developed?
Great. Originally it was just a sounding board for me to write about my perfume collection. I wanted to dedicate more of my time to learning about perfume. Blogging became my way of keeping myself on track, so I was regularly thinking about perfume. I am fortunate to travel regularly for work. When I can, I like to write about my experiences in other cities whether it is a shopping guide or some personal experiences.

What qualifications do you have to write about perfume?
Lol- absolutely none. I think that is the clear distinction between bloggers and journalists- we are not professionals and I am very aware not to cross that line. As much as possible I ensure what I write is accurate as there is a lot of misinformation online. I try to read and research as much as possible before I commit to a post. In terms of working with raw materials I had my breakthrough moment when I did a course with Perfumers World, a training organisation in Bangkok, Thailand. Their programs are great for perfume enthusiasts that want an introduction to basic professional knowledge. In September I am doing a short course in Grasse.

Tell us about how you came to be working for The Perfume Magazine, and a bit about them for our readers who may not have come across it yet?
The Perfume Magazine was a serendipitous occurrence. Their Editor in Chief contacted me after she stumbled across my blog and asked if I would be interested in contributing. I submitted something for their summer edition and they asked me to join them permanently as their mens contributor. They are a lovely team to work with.

 What are the 5 most important things you have learned so far that could help budding perfumistas/bloggers?
1: Create an environment others want to be part of. Write about the things you love, forget the things you dislike and have no control over.
2: If you are expecting to be paid for your blog, don’t quit your day job.
3: Spend some time with a fragrance before writing about it. Get to know the fragrance intimately- the quality of your writing will be much better. Readers want to know your opinion and not just information that can be found on a press release. Make each post personal.
4: I never throw out a perfume brochure, I tear out magazine articles and I pdf any online perfume articles that interest me. They are a valuable resource for information, which often disappear over time.
5: Don’t be shy and approach others to get stories. Most people I have spoken with are really encouraging of bloggers, at the worst; you will only get a ‘no’.

WOW!! I hope you found that as interesting as I did. Thank you Clayton for taking the time out of your busy schedule to let us get inside your head, just a little bit.

Portia xx

SOIVOHLE by Liz Zorn Interview

Hiya Everyone,

Photo Stolen fragrantica

Today I am bringing you artist, photographer, perfumer and genuinely lovely person with biographies in both Who’s Who In America and Who’s Who of American Women; Liz Zorn. Liz Zorn, founder of and perfumer for SOIVOHLE, is an inspiration on many levels. I am always impressed people who can excel in more than one field, it also reminds me that it can be done. One of the things I am loving about writing perfume is that I have been able to interview some astonishing people who are also perfumers. We have previously done a story on SOIVOHLE << hit the jump and find a history and some reviews.

Straight up; I am completely addicted to the SOIVOHLE (pronounced See-Voh) range. It is an acronym Sending Out Inspired Vibrations Of Healthy Loving Energy and their mantra is “Passing on the happiness and good cheer one bottle at a time.” This resonates so strongly with my own beliefs and processes that I was predestined to love the range.

Liz is unafraid to push boundaries and buttons. Some of her fragrances have unsettling notes or bring on inspired memories. Never really challenging but sometimes confronting they are gateways to loveliness, art in a bottle.

1.Can you tell us about young Liz Zorn and some “Who I Am” making moments?
I can’t say that I have had any profound moments, at least none that come to mind. I think I have always been on this path.  I was born in a small southern US town, moved to a big city at the age of ten. Lived in the suburbs and spent my summers at the pool. Very typical American.
2.What were you doing before you became a perfumer?
I was a painter. I am still a painter, just not so active these days.
3.How did you become interested in perfume and becoming a perfumer?
My interest in perfumery goes back to my teens. At the time it was not an option to be a perfumer. As the years went on I took more interest in perfumery and the Olfactory Arts, until I decided one day to put the painting aside to see if I had a true feel for perfumery. It is an ongoing process.
4.How did you get your education as a perfumer?
I am self taught except for a summer when I was 12 years old. A couple of retired teachers opened a New Age shop near my parents home. I would go there everyday and hang out with them. They taught me how to make incense from natural herbs, oils and resins. They also taught me how to make altar oils and the basic blending of essential oils. From there I started collecting oils, and perfumery books.
5.You use both naturals and synthetics, what is your philosophyand what are the selling points of each?
They are all tools, I make no distinction between them. Sometimes I like to work with an all natural palette, sometimes not. I have no interest in the politics or philosophy (if there is such a thing) of perfume. My focus is on the art and how best to bring my vision to life.
6.Soivohle is undergoing some changes currently, what news?
Yes, I am in a sense cleaning house.  Fine tuning my aim.  Like anyone else I get distracted at times. I am upgrading our packaging and cleaning up the look. I do not like clutter, so I try to nip it in the bud.
7.Can you tell us some of the exciting stuff you have in development?
I am working on two new scents, the Tears of Ra and Anubis. Exploring through scent the power of myth.

I wanted to leave you with some of Liz Zorn’s art. I find it moves me in much the same way her fragrances do.

Photo Stolen lizzorn

Photo Stolen Tumbler

Photo Stolen cafleurebon

Tomorrow we look at a few of the luscious fragrances on offer at SOIVOHLE. Do come and sample with us. In case you are wondering, they are currently updating their site with a Grand Re-Opening tomorrow July 24. It promises to be spectacular with the launch of 2 brand new fragrances.

I hope this has found you happy and well. If not, it gets better, promise.

Portia xx