When we heard brilliant chef and cookbook author James Peterson had launched a line of perfumes, we went looking for samples to experience what our old friend found so compelling. We spent several illuminating hours exploring the website of Twisted Lily, a fragrance boutique in Brooklyn that features over 100 artisanal perfumers, including Jim. There you can buy $4 sample sizes of most of their 600+ offerings, an exciting, affordable way to learn about the vast world of fragrances.
Twisted Lily appeals to novice and aficionado alike. Whether you’re partial to certain fragrances or looking to start exploring the vast realm of scents, check out its 32 Fragrance Groups, from Aromatic Fruity Green, to Floral Woody, to Citrus Aromatic ……
…search its astonishing list of 385 Fragrance Notes to hone in on personal preferences or interests: Old Growth, Ocean Water, Smoke, Satin, Roast Coffee, Turkish Rose Absolut, Tree Bark, Wine Must, Algae, Amber, Bergamot, Beeswax, Blonde Woods, Linden, Bull’s Blood, Dry Raisins, Firewood, Gingerbread, Hay, Heliotrope…to name a few…
They are indicators of the myriad scents human beings hunger for, for one reason or another. Reading them took us through the natural world into one of sensory poetry.
Selecting “Lily of the Valley (Muguet)”, we found 51 perfumes containing notes of the ephemeral flower that appeared in our garden each spring when we were young.
Each one was accompanied by a detailed description. Here’s Oriza L. Legrand’s Muguet Fleuri:
A Smokey Fougere featuring Green Leaves, Wild Grass, Wild Muguet, Galbanum, Angelica, Violet Leaves, Muguet Des Bois, Lily Of The Valley, OakmossFragrance Notes: Green Leaves, Wild Grass, Wild Muguet, Galbanum, Angelica, Violet Leaves, Muguet Des Bois, Lily Of The Valley, Oakmoss
As with wines, well-considered descriptors help you to “listen” deeply to the perfume and find your way in it. Who wouldn’t be intrigued by Euphorium Bileworks eau de parfum:
Bold notes and fugitive accords shape-shift yet remain rich. Animal-friendly accords reproduce 19th century perfumery materials such as ambergris, castoreum and civet.
We chose four Lily-of-the-Valley-noted samples, along with Jim’s Brooklyn Perfume Company Sample Pack. The eight samples (plus 2 freebies based on our choices) came to under $40 with shipping.
When they arrived, we realized what we’d found: ACCESS into the vast world of perfumes without the commitment of buying a pricey bottle.
We sampled the fragrances side-by-side like wines, using the method Two Notes perfumers devised for their display at Remodelista’s wonderful artisan Market at Canvas last February . They fashioned “testers” by spraying a scent onto cotton and stuffing it into a tall narrow glass.
When turned upside down, the glass contained the perfume’s scent within its walls. When held to the nose, it provided a focused experience.
We made our own, one for each scent. The strategy allowed us to sample them over time; we’d simply turn the glass upside-down to seal it when we needed a break.
The .7ml samples proved to hold a good amount of the potent perfumes. We wore each of the fragrances numerous times to see how they interacted with our body — each person has a unique chemistry with a fragrance —and still have a lot left. It occurs to us that we could try blending some of the samples ourselves to experiment and create our own unique blends.
A sampler of scents would make a lovely gift, as would a gift certificate to Twisted Lily, for exploring the vast universe of artisan perfumes.