The Backstory: This is a re-post of something I wrote awhile ago. In my current studies to earn my certification in Beauty Industry Basics from F.I.T., my most recent assignment was to convey the emotion of a fragrance through words in an ad; however, the assignment also required that color and shape be part of the mix. That’s quite a task for someone who is not a graphic designer! But I gave it my best shot with the color and the roses forming a heart. I would’ve preferred a more mysterious look, and when the assignment called for “color” and “shape,” I knew I was in trouble. Still, the assignment reminded me of one of my artisan perfume creations and the inspiration behind it, so I thought I’d repost for new readers these many years later. I hope you enjoy it. If you’re not familiar with the term “saudade,” you will be now. And isn’t the song at the end lovely? It is haunting — but in a good way. Here’s the post:
The inspiration for saudade, (pronounced so-daj), my most recent artisan perfume, comes from the sea. "Saudade" is a Portuguese word used to express nostalgia and longing. This is the first new fragrance--a floral scent--that I've created in more than a year.
During the summer months, I am humbled to often be invited for weekend visits to the summer home of friends who have a beautiful place along the Connecticut shoreline. During these visits, I am lulled to sleep by the waves. On clear nights, especially when the moon holds full court, a beautiful stream of light dances through a door that leads to a balcony overlooking the Sound.
One night this summer, the scene was especially dramatic. The confluence of natural wonders--the waves, the moon, the stars--evoked a sense of longing and nostalgia, saudade, if you will, for sweeter, happier times--in the past and those yet to come. You probably know this feeling, too; the sea seems to have the ability to make us all more contemplative.
Sweet, floral scents have not been especially popular the past few years. However, as the New York Times' Chandler Burr recently wrote in the Times' Style Magazine, "Maybe what we need now is a seriously happy fruit salad." He points out that, "Historically, this is the precedent. Jean Patou created the classic fragrance Joy in 1930 at the start of the Depression--it was allegedly the most expensive perfume in the world--and I swear I smelled it on Fifth Avenue a few weeks ago. In plush times, it came off as an outdated French floral, a 100-carat diamond. Too much. In the summer of 2009, it smelled resolute, determined and weirdly appropriate."
Saudade is composed with nine all-natural botanical essences, including the magnificent florals of magnolia, rose, jasmine, orange flower blossoms, orchid, and hibiscus. The rare boronia absolute from Tasmania is considered by many perfumers to be the most beautiful floral fragrance in all the world, and it is used as an accessory note in this artisan perfume.
This particular perfume is blended in a base of jojoba oil instead of perfumer's alcohol. So it is truly an all-natural perfume--a perfume oil--in every sense of the word: it's not just the botanical essences themselves that are completely natural, but also the base in which they are blended. Oil-based perfumes typically adhere to the skin better and longer than do scents that are alcohol based.
An important lesson I have learned through my work as an artisan perfumer is that blending a beautiful fragrance is a metaphor for everything worthwhile that we undertake: it requires faith and patience. Faith that the outcome will justify the effort involved--and patience for the process itself. All of my newly-blended perfumes are set aside in a dark cabinet for several weeks and left completely untouched--a necessary step to ensure that the essential oils coalesce and marry.
Meanwhile, while we wait and ponder perfume and other matters, here is the profoundly sad, but infinitely lovely Cancao do Mar (Song of the Sea). If saudade had it's own musical interpretation, it would likely be this Fado song. Fado, as explained by a friend who knows about such things, is Portuguese folk music. Often, they are songs about the sea. "It is the most beautiful and exquisite of folk music," he told me. "Fado conveys hurt, tragedy, longing, sadness, and aloneness. It is the sense of loss that haunts the great Fado songs and singers. But, withal, it is beautiful."
Indeed. It was such nostalgic thoughts that inspired saudade on one summer's night.