THE ANCIENT ART OF BOTANICAL PERFUMERY
..carries the alchemy of scent and of plant magic into today’s world of busy-ness and disconnection. With roots deep in the realm of spirituality and ritual, of sacred rites and daily healing, of seduction and sensuality, botanical aromatics stir a primal part of ourselves. Scent awakens our instincts, strengthens our spirits, confirms our identity, and opens our imagination.
While aromatherapy blends offer simple therapeutic combinations of essential oils to aid in health and well being, natural perfume expands beyond this purpose. Natural perfumery utilizes a much larger span of aromatic materials and composes accords using both traditional and modern methods of blending that involve alchemy, synergy, sensory intuition and focus, artistic vision, and skill.
Natural perfume is a slow art, like fine wine, needing time to age so the molecules can bond, creating a result that is greater than the sum of its parts. Often, several accords (harmonized blends) and mods (prototypes) are created first, and these initial blends need to age for some time before their true nature is revealed. After this, adjustments and new mods can be made, and this process can go on until the final perfume achieves what is desired, or something even better than anticipated.
Conceptual notes that are not possible to render from nature such as lilac, lily of the valley, and peony, are created using accords of natural materials in order to mimic the aroma of these unattainable flowers.
With today’s capacities for obtaining natural aromatics, we as botanical perfumers have access to a vast palette of gorgeous scent profiles, offering the artist, and the market, an incredible array of sophisticated, complex, and elegant possibilities.
Historically, perfumes were always derived from nature. Synthetics are a relatively new advent, created initially as adulteration in order to cut costs and drive up profits, and then found market admiration with the release of Houbigant's Fougère Royale (1882) which featured synthetic coumarin. Real perfume however, is a nature derived art that can be traced back thousands of years - in fact perfumery was practically indistinguishable from medicine and healing. We see this bond highlighted through ritual kyphi from Egypt, healing aromatic unguents, massage, and wedding rituals in Ayurveda, and the practice of smudging in Native American culture. In tantric practice, botanical fragrance is included in the art of seduction and arousal. Flowers such as jasmine and rose are revered, and spices (once used as monetary value across nations) in Asia were included to entice the object of desire. Perfumery is part and parcel of our human heritage, and Gather perfume's process bows to this knowledge, using traditional methods of blending and of fragrance families along with new, modern techniques of measuring and extracting.
Botanical fragrances are personal and intimate; they are not meant to enter the room before you; they are meant to walk with you, as your second skin, as your je ne sais quoi. Natural perfumes will vary widely in their wearing time and sillage, depending on the ingredients and the concentration of the perfume, but in general will not have the overwhelm or “stick” that synthetics do. For today's conscious market, this is highly desirable.
For a little more on the botanicals gathered, see "the ingredients"