In a Station of the Metro
The apparition of these faces in the crowd;
Petals on a wet, black bough.
It’s hard to say what most appeals to me about this poem – the tactile and photographic impression it leaves in me; the rhythm of the words, regardless of the meaning they possess (or not); or the emotions hidden between the words.
The moody, aloof yet sensitive feel is something I can immediately relate to. It is in the small details we notice about life where our most accurate feelings are defined.
It is difficult not to attach images and past experiences… Hot pavement in the humid New York; The liberating sense of anonymity in Montreal’s Metro… The cherry boulevard above Burrard SkyTrain station, in full bloom washed out by the persistent Vancouver rain… Almond blossoms going to waste in an abrupt Mediterranean thunder storm, losing their vitality like repeatedly-touched butterfly wings... Pink petals set against the dark boughs, indeed.
I want this perfume to be subtle and urban, floral but also dirty. Not from earth, but from dust and pollution… An urban dirt, so to speak. The kind of dirt you wash from your hair after commuting back from work in the Metro, your clothes and skin contaminated with the lives of strangers and passers by. And for a moment you give away a part of yourself just so that you can return back home…
When I was a little girl, I would walk the streets holding hands with my parents of course, and holding air in my cheeks, in hopes that passersby will retain this image of my face and think of me as the girl with the puffy cheeks (you see, I adored babies’ cheeks and wanted quite badly to look like them)… I want this perfume to randomly create an ever-changing, estranged impression on the beings that weave in and out of its presence…
The selection of notes I chose will create a perfume that is woody and wet, dusty yet clean and with a light air of floralcy and a hint of bitterness, reminiscent of cherry blossoms:
Top notes: Cabreuva, Frangipani, Mimosa, Rosewood
Heart notes: Pink Lotus, Magnolia, Tuberose, Violet Leaf, Oleander
Base notes: Haitian Vetiver, Tonka Bean, Cassie, Siamwood, Vanilla CO2, Copaiba Balsam, Bakul Attar
The way I anticipate the fragrance’s evolution to perform is as follows: The perfume will begin watery-woody and slightly floral from the top notes, leading to the fleeting sensuality of bittersweet florals with a hint of powderiness, suggestive of cherry blossom petals – fluffy, airy and pink. The base is woody-clean yet warm and with a hint of bittersweetness of tonka absolute to further support the same theme in the heart, and a hint of cassie for additional wetness. Musty vetiver creates a pulsation of urban dust set against the overall sweet cleanliness from the other woody notes.
Ayala Moriel Parfums
I was a fan of Ayala Sender's Smellyblog for months before I had the opportunity to try her handmade natural perfumes. A learned and eloquent writer on the subject of scents, she explores not only botanical perfumery (which is her specialty), but also the classic and contemporary perfumes which have moved her. It was in her excellent series "Decoding Obscure Notes: A Series About the Building Blocks of Natural Perfumery" that I finally came to understand the elusive chypre accord. And when I began to realize that I loved leather fragrances, her article on leather notes in this same series was the first to help me understand why.
The creator and "nose" behind Ayala Moriel Parfums, Ayala has been crafting scents for over seven years. Through her website, she currently offers over fifty distinct all-natural fragrances spanning many olfactory categories. For those who find it difficult to choose from among the many alluring options, the website contains a "Fragrance Questionnaire" consultation page, which one can copy, answer, and email to Ayala for a personal recommendation. Based on my answers, she suggested selections from several fragrance families, but especially her more ambery scents. I ordered a set of six sample vials (samples can be purchased individually or in sets of up to 15), and waited to see whether her recommendations would strike a chord with me.
Like individual washes in a beautifully composed watercolor, it is almost impossible to pick out a favorite from among these finely nuanced
perfumes. Song of Songs is based on the passionate Biblical poem of the same name, and includes fragrant notes from "all the Biblical plants and aromatics
that were used to cleanse, purify and seduce in that magnificent poem." Indigo is enchanting with its mischievous licorice top note and mysterious, ambery base. Razala is an exquisitely understated blend which relies on beach-harvested ambergris, precious agarwood, saffron, myrrh, and pink pepper for its magic. And Espionage, the fragrance I enjoy most often from Ayala Moriel Parfums (and one of her own signature scents) is a seductive leather perfume with a dark ambery vanilla base. My husband claims that Espionage diffuses uniquely from a distance, and is among the sexiest scents I own.
And then there is Immortelle L'Amour, an absolutely mouth-watering blend of vanilla, immortelle flower, sweet orange, cinnamon, and wheat. It smells so good I wish I could bathe in it. And not only is Immortelle L'Amour available as a confection for the skin, Ayala has also released it as the first in her line of perfumed teas. (And I've also noticed that she's led workshops in the art of truffle confectionary - a seminar I'd love to take!) Each Ayala Moriel fragrance I have tried from the line has been as lovely and complete as the next, and though I am no closer to actually declaring a favorite, I am delighted that all six of the vials that arrived were winners: an unusual feat for any fragrance line.
Ayala's business concept is not only about the product itself but about making a contribution to the world through perfumery. This is clear in her dedication to excellence in her blog, as well as her commitment to the values of self expression, quality, education, sustainability and fair trade, giving back to the community, and opposition to animal cruelty. For anyone wishing to see further into the creative process of an outstanding perfume artist, she includes detailed notes about the development of her fragrances on Smellyblog, and contributes regularly to perfume forums such as Perfume of Life and Basenotes.
Perfume in a Poem in a Perfume:
Not only is Ayala's "Perfume in a Poem" project here for you to read, she has begun work on the fragrance (as yet unnamed) that was born from her contribution, and will offer a sample of that very exclusive creation to the winner, selected from the commenters on all the posts in this series, of our March 31 giveaway. Stay tuned to her blog for developments regarding the fragrance created especially from the inspiration of Ezra Pound's poem.
"Petals on a wet, black bough" photo by Ayala Sender. Photos of Ayala courtesy of the artist and used with her permission. Photo of Ayala with roses taken in the "Nahalat Shiva" neighborhood of Jerusalem by Zohar Porat. Bottom photo by David Griffith. All photos copyright Ayala Moriel Parfums.
Comments are encouraged! Please read the initial post in this series for the details on our extraordinary giveaway which will take place on March 31.