June 18, 2014
House of Matriarch’s perfumer, Christi Meshell, is “the Nose” behind some of the most compelling fragrances hitting the niche fragrance scene. In August 2013 Christi received Top Artisan Perfumer at the International Fragrance Awards and, in December, Cafleurebon named Matriarch the Top Indie Fragrance House of 2013. Her work has been praised in Men’s Journal, Hint, Sunset, and Seattle Magazine. Her versatility as both Creative Director and Fragrance Composer allow her to develop a concept from inspiration through final display.
Consenses Interview with Sally Taylor:
What made you want to participate in this project?
I heard about the project from Marlene Harrison (the Perfume Critic) and was interested immediately: I really enjoy creating conceptual fragrances, so I jumped right in.
What was your first reaction to seeing this image? What memories, scents, objects, words, etc came to you?
The first thing I noticed was that it was a mixed media piece: I saw colored pencil, pastel, paint, Crayola and ink. Right away I knew the fragrance needed to be a mixed media perfume (a blend of natural aromatics and synthetic aroma chemicals).
What part/color/shape of the painting informed you’re interpretation the most?
Over and over, I was drawn into the center of the piece: (the white portion) and the tiny (geometric) diamond formed by the brushstrokes in the center, the sacred geometry reminded me of a gardenia flower. It was a visual oasis in a sea of mad color and texture and was a break to my mind after studying the other portions of the piece. The juxtaposition of the flower’s beauty overlaying the chaos (and suggestion of smeared blood in the lower right quadrant) created a looping effect. I was drawn back to this “calm center” after focusing on each portion of the piece for “a break”, and upon focusing there, it would erase whatever tension had just been generated by focusing on other parts of the picture.
I kept being drawn into the center of this painting, which to me was an oasis in a sea of mad color and texture. This “calm center” erased tension for me built up after focusing on the other parts of the picture. It brought me peace, tranquility and hope. In my mind, this white center was a gardenia flower so that is the essence I built my fragrance around…
What did you see in this abstract painting? Did it call up a certain story?
A certain person, place or thing?There was sense of the collective unconscious and of healing. I was also diggin’ on my little friend, the smiling “punk rock bumble bee/spider guy” with the red Mohawk on the far right side of the painting.
What part of the scent came to you first and how?
The gardenia. Most everyone has smelled a real gardenia flower; it is a fragrance that perfume makers have been trying to recreate since the beginnings of perfume making. The concentrated essence of the flower itself however (being practically unattainable) has not been experienced by many, and so there is no way to possess that fragrance and carry it with you: no way to “bottle it”, like rose or jasmine. Genuine gardenia essence is almost impossible to find, and wildly expensive when it can be sourced. All mass market perfumes that list gardenia among the notes are synthetic recreations. For the core of the composition, I chose the rare and precious 100% natural Gardenia Fragrans from Colombia.
What was your creative process? How did you make the painting into a scent?
Once I decided to focus on the gardenia, the rest was clear. Since this was to be a mixed media perfume, and the gardenia oil is natural, I decided to incorporate the other colors in the piece as the synthetic components. I added traces of the aroma chemicals that I felt corresponded with each color.
How do you normally create? How was this experience different?
It varies, depending on the project. Normally perfumers work from a “brief” which gives a clear direction for the fragrance. This was different, as I was able to interpret it in my own way.
What fragrances did you use to express you’re interpretation and why?
Whoops, I guess I already answered that above in my other responses!
Extra credit: Did you enjoy this project?
YES!!! And THANK YOU!!!!! Cant wait to see the other pieces of the puzzle, this is a phenomenal concept!