Saturday, July 12, 2008

Tribute to the Indies

I'd like to express my gratitude for the indie perfumers. I’m focusing on the indies, not the niche perfumers, who seem to be an entirely separate category. Niche perfumers are usually well-funded and spend much of their production budget on sexy packaging, designs and bottle labels. The true indies, are usually one-woman/one-man acts, who are seriously passionate about fragrance. Most indie perfumers, to me, seem more adventurous than any large perfume house. They might have little financial backing but they are willing to take risks, because the juxtaposition of scents intrigues them. I love that indie perfumers aren’t necessarily concerned with what’s trendy, what the “it” note is that year (pink pepper!). I imagine indie perfumers to create what they think will be interesting.
To illustrate this point, an article in the New York Times from a few years back quotes Beth Terry responding to a question about the livelihood of an indie perfumer:
“….it’s not an empress's ransom, exactly, but enough to fuel a perfumer's creative vision.
I don't want to rule the world; I just want to keep experimenting.'' Recently, balmy spring days made her think of sangría. ''Don't you love that smell? Wouldn't you like to bottle it?'' Ms. Terry asked. '' I think I will,'' she said.
Being able to create and bottle up whatever they please, is what allows many indie perfumers to make some unusual and stunning fragrances. Take, for example, Midnight Violet by Ava Luxe. Until I smelled Midnight Violet, I didn’t like violet scents. Ava Luxe (Ms. Serena Franco) took violets, and removed all the syrupy sweet powdery-ness and placed those delicate blue & purple flowers in a dense forest of damp earth, balsam, hemlocks, cedar and the dark of night. It’s as if she combined yin and yang, masculine and feminine, day and night into one fragrance. Violet is almost exclusively associated with uber-feminine girly perfumes. And earthy, balsam, cedar scents are most often associated with traditionally masculine fragrances. Ava Luxe has married the two and it works like a Shakespearian sonnet. I don’t mean to focus solely on Ava Luxe, I have a whole slew of indie perfumers that I’d to honor by listing them here but Midnight Violet sticks out for me because this is the perfume that allowed me to finally appreciate violet.
Here are the indie perfumes that I’m familiar with, I’m sure there are others, but let’s give a big round of applause for:
Aroma M
Ava Luxe
Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab (memorable website)
Creative Universe by Beth Terry
Dawn Spencer Hurwitz
Keiko Mecheri
Mandrake Apothecary
Michael Storer
Neil Morris (just discovered this week, where have I been?)
Possets Perfume
Sonoma Scent Studio
Soivohle' by Liz Zorn (adding on 7/15/08, Gail pointed this out to me in her comment and I knew I had forgotten someone!)
Strange Invisible Perfumes (SIP is now being carried at Barneys, is SIP still indie?)
Tauer Perfumes (Andy Tauer has hit it big time, Aedes de Venustas is now carrying his line, so can we still consider him an indie?!)
I’d love to know of more indies, I know this is a short list. I have questions next to some because they’re now being carried at exclusive shops and I wonder if this will take away their indie status and potentially impact their creativity?


Natural Perfumers Guild said...

Hi Brian and Abigail

Thanks so much for showcasing indie perfumers! I'm glad to see you have the IndiePerfumes blog on your blog roll - Lucy is the greatest. She's a member of the Natural Perfumers Guild and if you visit that site, you'll find links to lots of indie perfumers. I'll be updating the list in the next week as we have about six new perfumers to add to the members list.

If I can be of any assistance, let me know

Abigail said...

Hi Anya,
I have never tried YOUR perfumes. You should be on this list. I'll definitely visit the Guild to get an updated list. I'm always on the look-out for new (or new to me) indie perfumers...
Thanks for the comment!

Telesilla said...

Thank you for this post, it's nice to see the indies get some love too. In addition to the things you mentioned here, I think one of the best things about the indie companies is their low overhead, which in many cases leads to very reasonable prices compared to the niche or mainstream houses. It makes it easy and fun for someone on a very low fixed income, like me, to get that great, and rather luxurious, feeling that comes from knowing that you smell fabulous.

Gail S said...

One of my favorites is Liz Zorn of Soivohle. Her fragrances have a distinct point of view, many have become favorites of mine :)

Abigail said...

oh my goodness, Gail, you just pointed out one of my favorites that I completely missed. major oversight on my part. I just knew I was missing someone because I had that nagging feeling! thanks. (I'm going to update the site, I can't skip Liz Zorn, I love Soivohle' Domino Viole' and Underworld..)