Sun day greetings with a combined blogging fest celebrating the “Scents of the Mediterranean the World Over.” This event has been organized by Ines of All I am – a redhead and Elena of Perfume Shrine. Links to all the participating blogs are located at the end of this post. Hearty gratitude to both Iris and Elena for inviting me.
When I think of scents from the Mediterranean my first thought is culinary herbals such as Thyme, Oregano, Basil, Chamomile, Sage, Bay Laurel, Rosemary and Lavender. As I continue to ponder a bit the horizon expands to include the fresh smells of the ocean and gourmand notes wafting from outdoor cafes.
Southern California, where I dwell, shares similar climatic conditions to the Mediterranean. This eco-system is termed the chaparral biome. The dominant characteristics are a warm temperatures, a long dry summer with the rainfall season occurring in the fall. This specific system is found along the west coast of the US and South America, the Cape of South Africa, the western tip of Australia and the coastal regions of the Mediterranean.1 In some areas of the world the chaparral biome is also referred to as the Mediterranean scrubland or sclerophyll forest. Some of the common plants found in this biome are oak, pine, eucalyptus and acacia. This is the reason so many Mediterranean plants thrive in southern California, so well that they are crowding out our own native plants. A good example is the eucalyptus from Australia.
This photo above by Rebecca Plotnick, a fellow etsy artist, looks out over the sea in Italy. The photo could have easily been taken from Malibu hills or a lookout point at the Getty Villa. The main difference in is the depth of history one finds in the Mediterranean, perfectly depicted in the architecture.
If I were to draft up a Mediterranean perfume sketch I begin with the idea of creating the fragrance as a liquid perfume in a base of Organic grape alcohol, since the area is known for fine wine. The predominant unifying scent for all four land regions bordering the Mediterranean are those of the sea. I also like the idea of orchestrating this as a Chypre, since this fragrance family is connected to the region.
From the paint box of the natural botanical perfume artist that raw material is seaweed absolute with a touch of oakmoss and a bit of choya (distilled sea shells.) To this base I add some labdanum, not only because it works well with those thus far selected but also because this deep resinous aromatic is native to the region. I also add cyprus wood, Cupressus sempervirens, from Crete or Spain. For the middle notes I choose rose and orange blossom as the two main florals in the accord of the heart, which while blending I invoke Aphrodite. For the top notes I add Bergamot from Italy to complete our Chypre orchestration, lemon verbena for little extra zing, a bit of a culinary herbal note like thyme and some middle eastern spice for an exotic twist. Once the initial sketch is finished I will analyze the different scents together and research more materials to weave in. I’d very much like to use a bit of my olive leaf absolute…or perhaps some of the absolutes that come from Europe like genet (broom), beeswax, helichrysum or black current. Then again, I might fall in love with one of these ingredient and start over again.
I Smell Therefore I Am
Notes From the Ledge
Eider Down Press
The Non Blonde
Waft By Carol
The Hortus Conclusus
A Rose Beyond the Thames
Ayala Smelly Blog
Katie Puckrik Smells
Sonoma Scent Studio