As you could notice from my previous update, last weekend I took a journey to Warsaw where I participated in another perfume workshop organized by Quality Missala. After waking very early in the morning and spending few hours in a train I arrived on time! All previous perfume meetings were always dedicated to a certain note or two. This time it was quite different as there wasn’t a perfume accord theme but the workshop was about magic in perfumery. It attracted many people to come.
The lights were turned off, all the windows were covered up with the curtains so the workshop proceeded in almost complete darkness. Only few candles standing here and there gave a little bit of warm light. This scenery created a magical mood. Then Madam Stanisława began the meeting by reading a tale about Kirke and how she used mandrakes. Then Ania continued the story…
Mandrake or mandragora – Mandragora officinarum is a plant native to Mediterranean region but currently it can be also found in some other locations as well. Its humanoid-shaped root was used as a remedy for different illnesses. Moreover it was believed that a specific part of mandragora’s body-root will cure the same part of human body. For example preparing a remedy from the leg-alike part of root will help with leg problems. In fact mandragora is a poisonous plant but cures can be made out of it.
There were legends saying that mandragora was a plant that decided to become a human, hence the shape of the root that looks a little bit like a small baby. They can be also incredibly dangerous – when you try to pull them out from the ground they started crying, and their cry was lethal. People managed to find a complicated ritual how to dig a mandragora out of the ground (but there was still a sacrifice of a dog.) Ania told us that the smell of mandrake can be recreated with essences of nutmeg, ginger and black pepper, we smelled all three of them and then tried Annick Goutal Mandragore and Mandragore Pourpre inspired by this magical creature.
The next note we explored was absinthe. Artemisia absinthium is a plant responsible for the smell known as absinthe. It has an herbal and pungent smell with anise note being the strongest accord possible to notice. It is usually met as a green-colored alcohol beverage. Absinthe was often accused of being addictive psychoactive drug. It contains thujone, a chemical compound that was blamed for this effect. Present-day studies showed it’s not more harmful than ordinary spirits.
In historical literature absinthe was given a name of la fée verte – the green fairy, as it was portrayed in a form of green-ghost-girl by many artists, who overused absinthe. From the perfumes we tried Nasomatto Absinth, L’Artisan Parfumeur Fou d’Absinthe, Profumum Roma Aquae Nobilis and A Taste of Heaven from By Kilian. I liked the last two the most, Kilian being slightly better to me but not because of absinthe but thanks to a lovely lavender it has.
Later on Ania told us a few words on sage. About how its leaves are used as a compress in some illnesses, that it has good antibacterial properties and that some people believe that a sage smoke can protect from evil spirits so it’s burned like an incense at the door, at the windows, even at people to give them protection. Fragrance with sage was L’Artisan Parfumeur Caligna.
Calamus or Sweet Flag was the next material we tried. At the workshop they had a small jar with calamus powder, everyone could smell it. I found it to be really dry and slightly like a curry. A friend accidentally got a little bit of the powder in her eye and she couldn’t stop crying! Calamus is also believed to prevent aging, to improve your health and boost your sexual appetite.
Calamus perfumes that we tried were Missala Qessence, a perfume created with the assistance of Stanisława Missala for 20th anniversary of their boutique and the newest Lapis Philosophorum from Olivier Durbano. I got much more sweet flag from the Lapis. Finally we discussed the topic of resins. There was Dracaena draco, also known as Dragon’s blood tree. Its resin has an intensive red (sometimes brown) color that could be a fossilized blood of a dragon.
It was available to smell at the workshop but as much as I tried I couldn’t smell anything having the red clod right in front of my nose. Then we discussed myrrh and olibanum and tried Olibanum by Profumum Roma and Etro Messe de Minuit. This ended the official part of the workshop.
Later came the time for tea, coffee and a repast. Madam Stanisława baked some cakes and delicious gingerbread cookies. There was also delicious nougat! Everyone was interested to smell some of the other essences and perfume that were not included in the official part because of the time limit. The Missala Family also decided to bring us some magic because it’s St. Andrew’s Night next weekend and it’s the time for magic, prophecies etc. Those who wanted, could hear “the wisdom of the cards” interpreted by our witch of the day, Miss Stanisława, who wore a black cape and a hat on that day. I spent some time talking with the owners, smelling some new, just arrived scents. The time flew by really quickly!
I also went to a fragrant meeting with friends, some of them were at the workshop, some could make it to the after party only. But we had a great time at the cafe table, sitting, eating, drinking and smelling fabulous. And there was tons of laughs. At 8 in the evening it was time to go and everyone went in their own direction. But we’ll meet again soon!
I had a great time at the workshop. None of the perfumes that we tried for the “magic in perfumery” blew my mind away but later I tried a couple of things that really piqued my interest, but about those I will tell… Not now. Some other day.