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Layers: Pushing Through Art Towards Perfume

This article was written at the request of Dave at the American Perfumer. He said he would be interested in hearing how my 3 professions overlap. ART, ARCHITECTURE and PERFUME. This is the result of that focused inquiry.

"There is a rule in perfume, that a perfume is constructed of top notes, middle notes and base notes. Top notes fly away quickly, middle or heart notes define the fragrance, and the base notes anchor and ground the perfume. This helped my initial understanding of the individual ingredients but proved problematic when I started to blend. Most of the middle notes are floral, and while I love flowers* I didn’t want to smell like one. I tried eliminating the floral hearts focusing on the top and base notes only; but the fragrance wouldn’t hold. It flipped and presented “ass first,” base notes forward and top notes after. The timing was wrong. It needed the same ties back to the foundation that are required in architecture. I was trying to build a skylight without walls. After spending decades studying the importance of layering: light (from above and within), color (hues and their complements), visual densities and texture, material weight and molecular bonds in other art forms I realized this knowledge was exactly what I needed in order to paint with scent. Scent however added another layer, that of time. Understanding the timeline of a note became as important as its texture and color. The first rule about top, middle, and base notes was really about density and its connection to time, not to the categories of the source materials."

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