Thursday 10 March 2016

Carnal Lust at 4160Tuesdays

When I was invited last July to spend a day with Sarah McCartney of 4160Tuesdays you would have thought that I would jump at the chance. Unfortunately I could never get the dates of her perfume courses to work for me. So imagine my delight when I heard that there was space on one in January, and that I could finally go. Perfume creation is not something that is new to me, but workshops have always been a fairly formal affair with structures and briefs so I was curious what format Sarah's would take. As she is also known for being wonderfully entertaining I knew that anything could happen and probably would.

Now, I don't live in London anymore so it's got to be something good to get me back into the smoke, and I had big expectations. Sarah McCartney has, single handed, created some of my favourite perfumes of the past few years. One of them, Dark Heart of Old Havana, is now a daily staple and I have such belief in her abilities that I will buy any fragrance that she creates without smelling it. I guess that makes me a fan. This is why I travelled an hour and a half to spend the day at her studio in Acton.

The day started with the whole group chatting over coffee and biscuits about what their interest was in perfume and why they were there. It ranged from complete beginners to experienced professionals and everyone in between. It was exactly this mix of people which kept the day interesting, and sometimes the most basic question made you remember things that you had completely forgotten. The rest of the morning was spent discovering the ingredients which make up particular fragrances. I was part of an Oriental workshop so vanilla, iris, bergamot and amber were heavy in the air.

After lunch we all got our hands dirty. Sarah had prepared the raw ingredients by diluting them in alcohol, and this meant that once blended you would leave with a fragrance that was the equivalent of an eau de parfum in strength. Ingredients at the ready, blending bottles by the box load, an orderly queue for the scales ... and we're off! With Sarah on hand to advise when needed and tweak what looked like going astray, the group all began their projects. Our only instruction was to have some sort of idea or concept, and not just randomly mix.

A lady asked what my concept was and, slightly embarrassed, I said, "sex in a stable after a rain shower with a warmth to the hay, an electricity in the air, and an almost equestrian heat". Well, she did ask! I got what I wanted, the perfume that is, and had the most enjoyable day. It was all rounded off with a glass of fizz and a choice of one of Sarah's fragrances to take home, along with your own.

Entertaining, informative and yes, ever so slightly crazy, I would heartily advise you to book for the next available course at, if there are any spaces left.

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