The perfume we choose to wear can become our strongest identifier.
The world of perfume is imaginative and creative. We take a look at some of our local, small-batch, natural scent makers.
Alanna Quin and Madeleine Whitter launched The Ayu after being inspired by perfume-making processes in India. “We have a shared passion for Ayurveda – we both studied the ancient Indian healing system,” says Quinn. “We've always been into making up our perfume blends from oils, and the two combined in a conversation we had in India.”
The Ayu’s perfumes are all hand-blended in small batches in Sydney. A mix of natural oils act as fixatives and emollients. They retain scents for longer periods of time. The concentration of scent is so high you only need to apply the tiniest drop on your pulse point.
They have developed three signature scents so far. Souq is light and floral with rose, jasmine and sandalwood. Ode is spicy with amber and saffron. Black Musk is a darker blend with wooden notes. Each perfume is inspired by traditional Indian attars and contains a mix of natural essential oils, herbs and plant extracts, such as jojoba oil and wheatgerm.
This label has perfumes that are 100 per cent natural and Australian made. Founder Liz Cook previously owned organic beauty stores in South Australia. She noticed more customers looking for perfumes free of synthetics. “So I began researching and formulating,” says Cook. Seeker is One Seed’s most-popular scent, an unusual combination of coriander, coconut, vanilla, roasted basmati rice, oakmoss and ambrette seed with a touch of sea salt. One Seed offers a range of eau de parfums and custom fragrance consultations and workshops for those who want to develop their own personal scent.
Cook likes to work with scents that have a common emotional relevance. “Smell is the most primal sense we have; it is thought that our sense of smell may be the first sense we develop in the womb,” says Cook. “We recognise so much by scent our whole lives, more than we realise, and that recognition is something I’ve tried to keep at the core of my perfumes.”
The Aesop scent is an unmistakable one. The brand launched its small, unisex perfume range in 2005 with Marrakech, a Moroccan-inspired fragrance with notes of clove, neroli and bay. In 2012 the team revisited the original formula, and enlisted French perfumier Barnabé Fillion to create Marrakech Intense. It has re-structured notes and improved longevity on the skin.
A second signature scent, Tacit, was launched late last year. Inspired by the Mediterranean coast, it is fresh and rich with notes of citrus and Basil Grand Vert from France.
Sally Woodward-Hawes has a background in design and art direction, but has always been drawn to the world of scent. For her, the craft of making perfume is the perfect marriage of creativity and discipline. “After my mother passed away when I was 17, I inherited an old vanity case that belonged to her and inside were a few of her perfumes. They were the classics: Chanel No. 5, Opium and also Joy,” she says. “As soon as I smelled them, I was immediately transported through time and it was as though my mum were right beside me again; smelling something accessed a part of my subconscious almost instantaneously.”
The range consists of seven signature fragrances, each containing a complex scent sequence of other-worldly aromas. Cabinet of Curiosities is made with organic vetiver oil from Haiti. Strangers In Blood combines Italian blood orange with roasted coffee. Woodward-Hawes wears Merchant of Menace, a musk perfume that took her years to develop because of the difficulties in sourcing the natural ingredients.