I love botanicals.
It’s true that there is an aura to natural perfume that is mysterious and permeating and this quality makes these fragrances alluring to the thousands of people who choose them over the designer fragrances available on the common market.
There is an undeniable magical quality to creating and bottling botanicals – the entire home fills with the smell, and I capture parts of the scent that I haven’t found elsewhere.
Extracting oils from a plant – like orange peel – is time-consuming, yes, but the sparkle and twinkle that the fragrance provides is not mimicked in shop purchased essential oils. Much the same, making mixtures from cardamom allows one to enjoy the spice in a richer way – it has far more nuance than an essential oil could hold.
Non-botanical substances, on the other hand, need to be considered in different ways as they can be very flat when the complementary scent is not found. And when a composition is almost complete – the few perfect elements help to round out and heighten the keynotes, rather than having a fear that the complexity of a new addition will destroy the song. (Over-mixing with essential oils is easy and unfortunate).
But isolates – single isolated tones (arguably synthetic yet still naturally derived), they’re not deep, they’re not sophisticated, but they have the most amazing way of whisking you off to a place you’d forgotten since childhood. Both natural isolates and aroma compounds seem to do that miraculously.
When making 100% botanical fragrances it’s a different game – it’s like painting with different paint or a limited palette, and has a lot of rewards. The components are already rounded out and tend to be more harmonious as they blend (if you don’t overdo it).
I’ve started to use separate palettes, separate ingredients for each perfume direction- botanical and mixed – rather than choose only one route.
It lets me understand the breadth of what perfumery has to offer and where different compositions could possibly go.
With Broome & Kenmare, I only bottle and sell botanical perfumes created from infusions, extractions, or essential oils.
Though I believe some synthetic ingredients can be used in healthy and intelligent ways – the essence, the life of the fragrance is altered. It is something I find challenging to describe but I have certainly felt it through experience.
There is also beauty in the fleeting nature of many botanicals. They open and show themselves in a fragrance for a few hours, and then gently close, requiring either re-application or the chance to experience another journey through scent.
I always pause before application and use the moment to feel gratitude for the experience and allow myself to contemplate my immediate place – both in the physical sense (where I am standing) as well as in the otherworldy sense (my relationship to nature and spiritual self).
That’s just something that doesn’t quite feel right with synthetics.