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Handmade fragrances from Brooklyn, NY. www.mcmcfragrances.com

Posts from the learn Category

Lab2Screen Shot 2014-05-19 at 2.42.15 PMScreen Shot 2014-05-19 at 2.43.31 PMIt’s been a while but we’re back with another installment of the Perfumery Lesson series (here are lessons 1, 2 and 3). We’ve had so many requests for classes and we’re hoping to host some later this year. I think I may have found a venue! In the meantime, someone asked:

I am starting to build a “library” of perfumery materials. What do you recommend in terms of building a good base of natural raw materials?

A lot of perfumers can agree that natural materials are the starting point and inspiration behind a fragrance. Perfumes are always described in terms of their natural ingredients, and copywriters rarely romanticize synthetic ingredients (have you ever heard anyone wax poetic about calone or ethylene brassylate?).

Building your own library of materials is a hobby akin to collecting. I think it’s nice to gather materials a few at a time, smell them and live with them, and then purchase more and repeat this process. Each natural ingredient is so completely different and remember too, that the country of origin or species can be a huge factor (take as examples Haitian vetiver vs Indonesian vetiver, or cedarwood from Virginia, Texas and Morocco). It’s important to be able to distinguish the subtle nuances between each smell, as this familiarity with the raw materials is what starts you on the path to becoming a perfumer.

My advice would be to get your hands on as many natural ingredients as you can. Eventually you will have your own particular palette, culled from your favorites. But keep in mind too, that beyond the initial gut reaction of “I like” or “I don’t like,” that each ingredient is a tool, and can be used in your formulations to enhance, spike and change an overall impression.

Here are some raw materials to get your mind jogging: vanilla absolute from Madagascar, French basil, birch tar oil, Iranium galbanum, Indian jasmine, cinnamon from Ceylon, Brazilian pink pepper oil, ginger CO2, Australian sandalwood, lemongrass, lime essential oil, Bulgarian rose, American peppermint, Iris butter, Italian neroli, Egyptian geranium, coriander seed….

Top photo: MCMC Fragrances studio
Bottom two photos via Strange Invisible Perfumes

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123456789We are so excited to announce that the Humanity Fragrance Third Edition is under way! Each year I volunteer with a different organization, and based on my experience create a fragrance to reflect the people and place, and feelings encountered during the process. The Humanity Fragrance series was born out of the desire to create fragrances that mean more to the wearer and maker.

This year I am working with a community organization in my very own neighborhood of Brooklyn (last February I was in rural Cambodia, and the year before in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico). El Puente is a non-profit organization that services the south side of Williamsburg. I am working with their summer youth leadership program by offering a perfume apprenticeship to 15 young women in the program over the course of six weeks.

This past week, I worked with the girls to write a brief, or the inspiration for their fragrance. I asked them to think about a person, place or experience that’s been important in their life. From there, we will choose ingredients to represent the various aspects of their story.

In the end, I hope to find my own inspiration from who they are and create the next edition of the Humanity Fragrance. So far I’ve met Stephanie, whose name means Crowned in Victory; Leidy who wants to become a tattoo artist; and Alba, who wants to create a fragrance based on the flowers of her hometown of Santiago in the Dominican Republic.

Stay tuned…

Picture 1I’m honored to have an interview on The Raw Book blog. Alicia wrote me with questions and it’s really great sometimes to tell people what I’m all about and where my love for perfumery comes from. Also, this is the first time I’ve used my married name publicly! It’s been 2 1/2 years since José and I decided to go the hyphen route and I’m slowly integrating it in.