It was a cold and rainy day, but it was time to swing by Velvet and Sweet Pea's Purrfumery again to hang with Laurie Stern, a marvelous natural botanical perfumer. We spent the afternoon chatting about (what else?) perfume and some of the cruelty issues in the industry. But mostly it was just to hang out in her whimsical space and enjoy a feast of gruyère, truffle brie, fresh organic fruit, spinach quiche and Dutch apple cake. The view of San Francisco Bay didn't hurt either!
I got to play around with some of Laurie's perfumes as well as check out her awesome collection of decorating materials that she uses for custom perfumery. Many of her materials are vintage, like her awesome collection of ribbons. I spritzed one perfume on each wrist. On my left, I sampled Songbird, a gorgeous oriental-floral with tuberose, rare boronia and antique cinnamon. On my right, I sampled her newest perfume, Highway, a wonderful woody fragrance with a hint of sweet vanilla and fruity cassis. While they both smelled utterly divine upon application, three hours later when I remembered to smell each wrist again, I was simply blown away. The perfumes somehow smelled different than when I first applied them, yet it's hard to explain exactly how. The notes didn't necessarily smell different, but it's as though they literally bloomed on my skin; becoming deeper; fusing with one another somehow. If you have not tried her perfumes, you really must! Natural perfumery is a very different experience from mixed media or totally synthetic.
I have been wanting to dabble in natural perfumery for awhile myself. That's how I met Laurie in the first place--I took her class in Oakland. I wanted to smell pure orris butter. I have been thinking about ordering some from Eden Botanicals. As a clinical herbalist, I already have a lot of medicinal and perfume grade essential oils in my apothecary as well as organic grape alcohol and carrier oils that I can dabble with. My problem is a lack of fixative material to make a perfume last more than an hour or two. For those who don't know, orris butter is one of the finest, most expensive ingredients in perfumery.
Not a big surprise that Laurie had some orris butter to show me. I never expected it to be so dark. I have used orris powder in herbal preparations, and the powder is gray-ish and chalky, so I was expecting it to look more like gray Elmer's Paste. The butter looked and behaved exactly the same as apple butter. I put some on the back of my hand, very thin, and I let it melt into my skin. I was very surprised at how truly earthy it smelled, like dirt. If you said it was some type of patchouli, I would not know the difference. It smelled nothing like those "powdery, waxy makeup" perfumes we ladies often rave about, but I need to wear it more to truly observe. Laurie was kind enough to send me home with a teency bitmto experient with.
I was sorry to leave the Purrfumery, but it won't be my last visit. Laurie gave me such a sweet and thoughtful goodie bag to take home. I am always raving about her Honey perfume (I have one of her perfume lockets that contains a solid version of it, and I am totally addicted), and the bag contained a darling little EDP in Honey. She also included an unbelievably fragrant Rose Hydrasol as well as a jar of intoxicatingly aromatic Monkey Cat bath salts, which feature oils of basil and citrus. I must have done something good in my lifetime to be so spoiled! I am excited to discover Honey in a new concentration, and I would also like to try layering it with my solid perfume.
If you are reading this, Laurie, thank you times a million! Simply put--you are pure delight! Until our next visit....