Stylist

“Every fragrance has a unique formula. In my three years’ training I committed the smell of over 1,000 ingredients to memory. From patchouli to indole – a foul smelling scent which we use to balance and base perfumes – I know how to build a perfume from three ingredients: a top, a middle and base. Top notes are things like citrus oils which evaporate quickly, within about 15 minutes from the skin; middle notes are floral and herbal, like jasmine or lavender which could last for an hour; and base notes are woody, like amber or vanilla which you can smell for hours after you first apply them.”

“I spend a couple of hours every morning in my lab. I’ve got 500 ingredients in my garage. I bring out a tray of little glass oils and essences and set to work with my scales and hot plate which I use for melting crystals or solid substances. I scribble notes as I go and keep the final fragrance formula on a piece of card, along with notes on how I got there. Like a maths exam, it’s crucial to show your working.”

“Perfume is like ikebana, the Japanese tradition of flower arranging which starts with three stems: once you find a solid base it only takes two more touches to make something beautiful.”

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