Listening to: Radiohead
Reading: Jane Jackson, Heart of Stone (enjoying this very much so far – Jane’s books are always a treat and her characterisation is superb – more on this later)
The ‘design your own perfume’ session yesterday was utterly brilliant. Dale Evans was so nice and gave me lots of information that will be very useful in certain scenes. It was an amazing experience.
I had eighteen blends to sniff (via little card sticks dipped into the scents), and the idea was to put them into three piles – ones I really liked, ones I wasn't sure about, and ones I absolutely didn't like.
We started with the middle notes – these give an idea of the type of perfume you’ll eventually end up with, as they’re the notes that last for a few hours. Knowing what kind of perfume I always buy (florientals with a vanilla base), I asked if she’d tell me the numbers rather than the names, so I wouldn’t be biased by the names... But I still ended up with the florals!
Then we did the top notes – these are the ones you smell first and which vanish after an hour or so. I absolutely LOVED the amber. (Was my second-favourite out of the eighteen.)
Then we did the base notes – the one you can still smell on your skin at the end of the day or the next morning. Out of the four, I didn’t like the mossy one at all; I didn’t mind the musk and woody (sandalwood) ones; but one was utterly glorious and made me say, ‘Oooh, yes, I LOVE this one!’ Its official name was ‘balsamic’ - and the major component was gorgeous French vanilla.
The next stage was to do the initial blend. My top note was amber, the base note was balsamic, and we added a couple of the middle notes I’d liked. This time, I had to wave them past my nose really quickly, so that I’d pick up all the scents together. It was a matter of adding in some to bring out the notes in others, and taking out ones that didn’t work for me. And then, when I thought I was happy, tried them outside (where they smelled different again, and I took out the aldehyde because it felt wrong – ummed and ahhed a long while about the sandalwood, too).
So in the end:
- the base was a double dose of balsamic (vanilla, bergamot, tonka and jasmine), woody (sandalwood) and musk (angelia root and coriander)
- the middle was ‘floral floral’ (night blooming jasmine, mandarin, violet leaf and blackcurrant - described as ‘narcotic’) and ‘gentle floral’ (bergamot and sage - described as ‘very easygoing and gentle’)
- the top was citrus (yet more bergamot, with mandarin, lemon and grapefruit – described as ‘easygoing and fresh’) and amber (even more bergamot (!), cardamom, geranium and clary sage – described as ‘warm, sensual and sexy’).
And this is what it looked like once bottled.
The ostrich feather has been spritzed with my perfume and smells gorgeous. (Oh, and the name? I did think about calling it after my heroine, but then had a very narcissistic moment and called it ‘Pamela’. Well, hey. It’s my blend. And it’s quite sophisticated so I thought it deserved the full first name rather than the diminutive everyone uses.)
It was a really enjoyable, fascinating experience and I’d definitely recommend it. A whole hour of me-time. (Actually, it wasn’t strictly me-time – in this case it was work, because it’s all background stuff to the book. But you can see why I love my job. Especially the research side.)
And the verdict of ma famille? Son said it smelled very nice. Daughter tried to waltz off with the feather and then begged a spritz. And the twinkle in DH's eye told me he liked it, too…