June 18, 2014
Photo Credit: Robert Bielk
Geraldine O’Keefe was a perfumer for International Flavor and Fragrances, Givaudan and Takasago, here in the United States, Europe and Japan for over 20 years. She started her consulting company in 1987. As a perfumer, she speaks the same language and works closely with them to create successful, best-selling fragrances. O’Keefe also works to modify top-selling fragrances for IFRA compliancy in all product categories. She has a great deal of experience in micro-encapsulation sampling for fine fragrances as well. Geraldine is a Certified Herbalist and brings unique and healing benefits to her products.
Consenses Interview with Sally Taylor:
What made you want to participate in this project?
First to help Craig, second I was excited about the concept of promoting art/fragrance and to meet you. I had visions of being in a significant place with artists about. I knew it was a big idea.
What was your first reaction to the painting? (thoughts, images, emotions, memories, tastes, sounds etc?)
Haunting was the first word that came to my mind and indeed, she did haunt me. I wondered why she was so serious and where she was going in this strange, other-worldly scene. The pathway indicated she was heading somewhere. I liked the sheerness of her dress with flowers, (almost Oscar de La Renta) which evoked fragrance and femininity. The touch of red was significant and I felt that color jumped out and meant something to the artist and this had to be portrayed in the scent. The shades of the delicate pink and blue surreal “plants” also sent messages of delicacy but did not really ground the painting. The strange color of the sky with very faint stars is depicted with grounding woody notes in the scent. However, the overall transparency, delicateness is persistent and catchy. You have to ‘fly’ to get where she is. Maybe when she smells the fragrance she will wake up. When I saw an old movie called Over the Moon with Merle Oberon, I decided Merle was Kristen. Then, I had visions of old pictures of Merle being shown.
What was this painting about for you? Who was she? Where? When? What was her story?
She is in a dream, just being in the moment. She is neither serious nor happy. She just is. She is light and airy like a Vata dosha would be. Not really grounded with no cares.
What part of the painting informed you’re interpretation the most (ex. colors, shapes, textures, object)?
The overall feeling of dreaminess and mystery seemed like it could easily be a fragrance a drift away. I liked the sheerness and the sense of mystery, the simplicity while still being intriguing and mentally complicated.
What part of your scent came to you first?
The sheer floralcy. It had to be a big, light, sheer floral that needed to be grounded. It had to be feminine, tenacious and haunting. The first things you smell are the green leafy violet notes with some of the woody notes showing through like the sky. Secondly you should be smelling the heart of the fragrance, which is as know, is made up of an airy floral bouquet of a Peony, Iris, Boronia and Jasmin. This fragrance is very tenacious, haunting and lingering as the painting depicts to me. The soft sandalwood, woody, amber-y notes will cling to you and your clothing for some time. Northern England may be the reason for that sky.
What was your process? How did you take your original reaction and turn it into this fragrance?
Based on the sheerness of the dress, the fragrance demanded a light floral bouquet of violet, peony and boronia (the persistent little red flower). I saw White Iris from the dress, which goes great with Violet. I added mimosa and jasmine to give it some pinkness, sweetness and to round out the green of the violet. The fragrance needed to be grounded with sandalwood, amber and sheer musk. The ingredients are rich and also represent the sky.
How do you normally create? How was this experience different?
This is much better than receiving a piece of paper with the direction being inspired by some existing fragrance or some verbiage saying what type of woman, what age, what county, etc. . Normally, I can create a picture in my mind or a feeling, but the picture was there already and all I had to do was translate the feeling and colors. It is much more direct. It is similar to creating for a designer. You can see the style and the preferred colors. This gives one a bigger opportunity to be unique.
What techniques/tools did you use to help you express you’re interpretation?
As normal, I had to depend on the perfumer’s palette; ingredients to create a beautiful floral. The fragrance had to contain naturals and smell inviting yet a tiny bit disturbing at first glance/smell. It has to make the wearer feel beautiful, feminine, light yet grounded.
Are there certain choices you made which mean something specific to you that the observer might not know?
That the fragrance had to be considered sophisticated, quiet, yet bold in its own way. It had to smell of quality. Also, the part about being disturbing is key. Sheer elegance are key words.
Extra credit: Did you enjoy this project? More you want to say about your experience?
Yes, immensely. Credit has to be given to Constance Georges-Picot, perfumer at Cosmo International Fragrances for working closely on this creation with me.