Tuesday, 8 September 2015

Could You Be Creative?

Nestled among the hills surrounding the French town of Grasse you find three parfumeries. Now you may be familiar with Fragonard and Molinard but what about Galimard? Founded in 1747 by Jean de Galimard, it is the third oldest perfumery in the world, after Farina Gegenuber and Floris of London, and offers the "Studio of Fragrances" where for €45 you have two hours and one hundred and twenty seven oils with which to create your very own Perfume. Possible? Let's find out.

You have a pencil, paper, glass beakers, smelling strips and find yourself staring at rows of bottles thinking, "Is the next Chanel No. 5 within my grasp?" Well, maybe not but at least it will be your own creation. A technician starts by explaining the basic structure of a perfume and the importance of the levels. She explains that the top note lasts around thirty minutes, the heart note disappears after about four hours and that just leaves the base note. Now this most glorious part of the perfume can last up to eight hours, depending on the ingredients. You're given a set of smelling bottles, asked whether you want to create a male or female perfume, and you choose your favourites; two for a male fragrance and four for a female fragrance. These choices merely determine the "olfactive" family, such as oriental or floral, and then the real fun begins!

This is a good time for a bit of technical talk about what is actually in the bottles. To make this fun it needs to be affordable so you cannot expect to use real tuberose, jasmine or iris for example. What you get are synthetic oils produced in France and chosen by the perfumer for their quality. There are also some oils that have been created by Galimard which give an effect or depth to your fragrance, but which don't exist in nature. Make sure you smell Concretal, a powdery amber note with a hint of heliotrope and butter! The oils are also already diluted to a 12% Eau de Parfum strength which means that you can use them straight from the bottle.

So, you're advised on a selection of base ingredients which relate to your favourites, but you're still free to choose outside of these. Remember, the guides are there to help you make a "pleasant" perfume, not a groundbreaking creation, so if you already have a little knowledge and a steady nerve then why not reach for the vetiver or the castoreum! You're asked to pick between three and six ingredients and then blending begins directly into your measuring cylinder. For ease you'll be asked to blend fifty millilitres, although you can chose anything between forty and sixty, and don't worry because they will help with quantities if you're unsure.

Choosing the next thirty millilitres of middle notes is much more personal. You are given suggestions but this is where you really come into your own. This is the heart of the perfume so you need to choose scents that you love. Don't shy away from a little violet here, it honestly supports and explodes the fragrance making it feel "complete".

Finally, it's time to add the last twenty millilitres of top note. This will be the first thing you'll smell so it needs to excite, but still blend with the middle and bottom notes. After deciding on a name for the creation you get the choice of a brown laboratory bottle, which is included in the price, or for a small extra charge you can choose a more luxurious one ... and they are beautiful. Your formula is given a reference number and kept on file so that you can reorder it in a choice of products, ranging from pure Parfum to shower-gel, via their website.

The whole experience is great fun from beginning to end, and with a tour of the factory afterwards you get to see the whole perfume-making process.

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