The NYT has an article about several American natural perfumers and the passion that drives them to source ingredients from their gardens, leave more lucrative jobs and believe that there can be a craft of natural perfumery which runs parallel to the big perfume industry. The feature also explains where to take online classes and how to make your own tinctures at home.
One of the insights derived from the piece is that more and more people are put off by the codes of (semi-) synthetic perfumery and want to find the authenticity that perhaps they experience more thanks to the growth of the organic produce market. It's very true that going from one field of perfumery to the other is not easy as natural-artisanal and chemical-industrial perfumeries rely on different codes. If you are used to one, you will wrinkle your nose at the other in many cases. Having said that, the fragrance industry is turning more and more their attention to natural perfumery, a phenomenon which is especially apparent to me in France. One shouldn't therefore assimilate artisanal perfumery to natural perfumery as a number of artisan perfumers actually use synthetics...
"Synthetic perfumes do a poor job of awakening that connection to green things, according to some natural perfumers. They argue that commercial perfumes can have all the subtlety of the men's room at Yankee Stadium. And that synthetic fragrances cling indelibly to the body for 12 hours or more, like a one-night stand who demands brunch the next morning.
Jeanne Rose, 73, a natural perfumer and aromatherapy practitioner in San Francisco who has written on the subject since 1969, puts it this way: "People are walking around in our Chinatown who smell like fermented watermelons."
Ms. Rose, who teaches classes nationally, and out of her four-story Edwardian home, said the students who enroll do so because "they think people stink."
Read more in Making Flowers into Perfume...
You can also read a series of interviews in 4 parts that we did on the blog on natural perfumery entitled North-American Originals.