In a previous article I wrote in French I said: "Un parfum est une figure d'ordre et d'harmonie qui porte en lui l'idée tourbillonnaire et le principe d'antagonisme en résumant de cette manière la complexité de la nature dans un contraste harmonisé."
"The fragrance is a figure of order and harmony which contains a swirling idea and a principle of antagonism, it resumes the complexity of nature in a harmonized contrast."
This concept translates a principle from art history I apply to fragrance design in a very condensed form, without entering all the details of The Apollonian and Dionysian dichotomy as it was explained by F. Nietzsche in The Birth of Tragedy.
A new perfume is born from "order" and "madness", from the Respect of the Rule, the tradition or its masters, and an Irreverent Attitude.
Once a great perfume is a perfect construction it becomes an Ingredient and should be treated without any form of worship in the creative process, but with the full knowledge and understanding of its mechanism. That's how Jacques Guerlain did with the past - a shock provoked by the overdose of a new ingredient brought inside an old creation like an asteroid, followed by a careful rebalance in order to reach a new harmony.
In other words, don't be afraid to mix 5 parts of a classic perfume with 10 parts of a new molecule or any type of ingredients, to use vintage La Rose Jacqueminot or Vera Violetta not as a magnificent perfume, but as any other ingredient, once you are able to reproduce its formula. However, the purpose of combining the purest form of perfection with the most mundane ingredients is only to seek new ideas and a way of transformation which cannot be seized by the mind inside a rational and rigid system. After the "miracle" was performed provoking the apparition of a new and delicious note, it is compulsory to find its origin and to extract from the "perfect" perfume used as an ingredient only the part which gave birth to something new. However, not all perfumes can be used for this exercise.
The purity or complexity of a perfume formula has no value, what matters is only the result. 300 ingredients can make a glorious perfume but it is important to know if they are all necessary and if the idea cannot be expressed in a more concise way.
Perfumes from the past created by great artists are models of perfection that should be studied, but once the study of their composition has ended, they can be used to challenge the creator. Can a modern perfumer compose better than a master he secretly worshiped in his youth? That's actually the purpose of being a true perfumer.
There is a less known perfume from Jean Carles that I absolutely adore. One day, I found the 2 very molecules which are able to transform the masterpiece in the lily I dreamt many years giving a new life to the past according to the principles I exposed in Basic Fragrance Design. A scent becomes the heart of a new scent like a thousand petals flower unfolding its mysteries under the nose, the essential kernel of a myth, the minimal unit that is always found shared with other.
The Nature is in a perpetual oscillation between constraint (la contrainte) and randomness (le hasard). In fragrance design, randomness usually means what is not supposed to be there or what is brought by accident. Things are usually combined after a logic, but the logic of Nature, or what gives shape to Beauty, is hardly known by the man. "Trial and error method", once dismissed because it meant more a lack of thinking for the perfumer, is actually a way to the Unknown. If you mix only what you know that can be mixed and predicted, you'll always do similar versions of what you knew. These ideas can be explored in several Guerlain, Coty and Caron perfumes created between 1905 and 1925, still a model of innovation and originality.
Randomness and Accident bring inside the bottle the Unknown which will be tamed with Method. A good occasion to read "The taming of the shrew" and the scented words of William Shakespeare.
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Fragrance is the 8th Art - Octavian Coifan - Le Parfum est le 8ème Art