Saturday, May 16, 2009

The Birth of "Dirty Sexy Wilde"

"And so he would study Perfumes,and the secrets of their manufacture,distilling heavily scented oils,and burning odorous gums from the East. He saw that there was no mood of the mind that had not it's counterpart in the Sensuous life,and set himself to discover their true relations,wondering what there was in Frankincense that made one mystical,and in ambergris that stirred one's passions,and in violets that woke the memory of dead romances,and in musk
that troubled the brain,and in champak that stained the imagination;and seeking often to elaborate a real psychology of perfumes,and to estimate the several influences of sweet smelling roots,and scented pollen-laden flowers,or aromatic balms,and dark and fragrant woods,of spikenard that sickens,of hovina that makes men mad,and of aloes that are said
to be able to expel melancholy from the soul."
~ The Picture of Dorian Grey
Oscar Wilde

For our new class "Animalic Instincts", I will create a historically influenced scent inspired by Mr. Oscar Wilde. Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wills Wilde (16 October 1854 – 30 November 1900) Wilde was an eccentric Dandy (Per Wikipedia "A dandy[1] (also known as a beau, gallant or flamboyant person[2]) is a man who places particular importance upon physical appearance, refined language, and leisurely hobbies. Historically, especially in late 18Th- and early 19Th-century Britain, a dandy, who was self-made, often strove to imitate an aristocratic style of life despite coming from a middle-class background." )

So what would Mr Wilde have smelled like? ... My mind wanders through 19Th century cafes & Parlours in search of clues... I stumble upon the spirit of Mr Wilde,lingering at his favorite Cafe,sporting a Malmaison Carnation (Oscar Wilde is famous for having had a fetish for the bloom, which he liked to dye each day anew in green.) Clue #1 - Carnation.

Clue #2 -I will take from the words of Mr. Wilde himself (above): Frankincense, Ambergris, musk & Champak.

Clue #3 - (Fortunately),I have a book from 1892 with formulas for "Handkerchief Perfumes", the list of popular notes used at the time included : Orris, Rose, Bergamot, Cassie,Violet, Jasmin,Neroli, Tonka,Patchouli,Vetiver,Santal,Vanilla,and tinctures of Musk,Civet ,and Ambergris.

The Animalic aspect of this scent is obviously going to play a key part in this scent's makeup as the purpose for making this particular product is as a historic compliment to showcase in my new "Animalic Instincts" class. Originally I had planned to incorporate the "Dandiliscious" civet note, but the hunt for "Free Range Civet" paste was disappointing,to say the least. The closest I got was a certain Ethiopian farmer who said "We obtain civet paste from cats in captivity. On our own farm, Cages are modern and animals are not abused or slaughtered in any way. "... Unfortunately, this goes against my animal loving grain,and our idea of "no animal testing". Until we can find a civet source that pleases us, we will have the true civet version of the scent on hand at the Jitterbug Perfume Parlour as an historic example only. The same will be true for the musk note. Ambergris will be the one true animalic used in the commercial release, as I do have a good source for "beach found" Ambergris.

On a side note,this has set me to wondering... Why are there no free range civet farms?

TASTY TID-BIT: (From article by Franny Syufy)
"The civet is a mostly nocturnal animal, from the Viverridae family, found in Africa,and the East Indies. It is approximately 17-28 inches in length, excluding its long tail, and weighs about 3 to 10 pounds. Although classified within the Carnivera order, the palm civet of Southern Asia (named because it can be found in palms), is a fruit-eating mammal. Although the Viverridae family is distantly related to the Felidae family of which the common domestic cat is a member, the civet "cat" is not a cat. Indeed, it is more related to the mongoose than to any cat.

The civet is a cunning-looking little animal, with a catlike body, long legs, a long tail, and a masked face resembling a raccoon or weasel. In some areas of the world, it has become an endangered species, hunted for its fur or as a food source. The civet's taste for fruit has been its downfall in at least one area of southeast Asia; as early as the 18th century, the durian fruit was also called "civet fruit," because it was used as bait for catching civets.

The civet not only is fond of fruit, but has had a love-hate relationship with growers of a particular coffee bean in Viet Nam. Civets love this bean, and search out the tastiest examples with their long, foxlike nose. The hardiest beans survive the digestive process of the civet, and are prized in caphe cut chon, or fox-dung coffee (Vietnamese call the civet "fox.")

Unfortunately for the civets, their habitat has been razed for new coffee orchards, and their decline has furthered because of the Vietnamese appetite for barbequed civet meat. A restraunteur admitted that he was not troubled by the scarcity of Caphe cut chon, saying that he'd rather "eat the fox." Actually, the new scarcity of fox-dung coffee beans has been a boon for entrepreneurs who market fake caphe cut chon as the real thing. However, that doesn't help the fate of the civet cats who are killed for food.

Last, the civet has been the source of a highly-valued musk, used as a stablizing agent in perfumes. Although civets were at one time killed for their musk, they more recently have been "recycled" for this purpose. Also called "civet," excretions are scraped from the civet's perianeal glands, a painful process. Both male and female cats produce these strong-smelling excretions. At least one civet cat farmer in Ethiopia raises civets for their musk, although this practice is dying out as perfumers move toward using synthetic fixatives.

Maligned, abused, and beleageured, the civet cat has an unknown future on many fronts. But it is not a cat."

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