Published on July 20th, 2011 | by Charu Suri18
Hosting My First Travel Event: Travel Scents with Sue Phillips
I've hosted several dinner parties before, but coming up with the idea and executing my first travel event was both exciting and nerve wracking at the same time. It was exciting because I genuinely wanted to share the idea of a "Scentsory Journey" through travel and fragrance with my blogger buddies, and nerve wracking because — well, I'm a perfectionist.
I need not have worried. I tapped into gracious Sue Phillips, who runs her own custom fragrance outfit called Scenterprises, to lead the bloggers through a travel journey on Bastille Day. I had attended one of Sue's events a few years ago and loved the complete immersion into the world of sight and smell. Sue imparts her deep, impartial knowledge about the history of tonka beans, saffron, and sweet-smelling tuberose. Since France is the birthplace of perfume, July 14th was a no brainer.
On the day of the event, I was running like a mad hatter to get everything in place, but I was blown away at the response: almost everyone I invited wanted to, and could attend. What more could one ask for? There was also, a surprise guest who came to the party: Susan Miller, the world renowned astrologer. She really knew her fragrance too!
So, apart from the round table setting that somewhat resembled King Arthur's "Knights of the Round Table" setting, here's what we ending up learning from our evening of sniffing, and custom blending our own scents:
Composition: A perfume is composed of three distinct notes: the top notes (first impact notes that quickly dissipate); middle notes, and base notes (also referred to as dry down).
Musk: A very common ingredient in perfumery, this commons from glandular secretions of animals including the musk deer and the distinctly aromatic civet cat. As Sue was detailing the origin of this particular ingredient, I simply had to wonder if fragrance aficionados will leave no stone unturned when it comes to discovering a new note.
Sandalwood: By far one of my most favorite notes in fragrance, truly aromatic sandalwood originates from the heart of Indian forests, and now there are several other kinds used in perfumery including sandalwood from Australia. I grew up using sandalwood for practically everything in India, from soap to face creams.
Saffron: This particularly brownish orange colored spice is used in perfumes and derived from the flower of the saffron crocus. I love the distinctly piquant aroma! When used in a fragrance, this note is outstanding.
Lavender: This note is incredibly calming, and has soothing properties. I always have a bottle of Lavender essential oils on my nightstand and when I travel. One whiff of the pure essential oils will have your nerves calm in a jiffy! With over 39 species of lavender found around the world, it is not hard to come by fields of lavender in countries including Africa, the Mediterranean, South-West Asia, Arabia, Western Iran and South-East India.
Bergamot: A very popular ingredient in fragrance, bergamot looks like a tiny orange but is inedible. A very fragrant fruit, it is almost all grown in Calabria, southern Italy, and also southern France.
The event unfolded beautifully, with Sue giving us stories of popular fragrances and notes (one of the most beloved fragrance notes is vanilla, product of the ergonomic and beautifully-shaped tonka bean), and the guests sniffing the various notes to decide which ones they would use to custom blend their own fragrance. Some loved the unmistakeably powdery yet sharp note of aldehydic, the note behind Chanel No. 5 and commonly referred to as "the most popular mistake in the fragrance world." Yet others settled for just 2-3 notes for their custom blend.
Floral notes were popular among the group, and I do have to say that Shakespeare was completely accurate when he wrote, "A Rose by any other name would smell as sweet." Here are some of the pictures from my first travel event, with a warm thanks to those who came!
The expert, Sue Phillips, Kirsten and I:
Kirsten Alana, Sue Phillips and I
It's almost like school: the round table:
Guests took a questionnaire so Sue could find out their scent "personality":
Cocktails, champagne, cheese and fruit tided us through the journey:
The essential oils stood like gleaming icons on the table, with their blotting strips next to them, ready to be dipped and sniffed:
There was mood lighting:
Guests sniffed and savored the notes:
Matthew Stabile from The Expeditioner, sniffing his creation, "Matt No. 5"
Some ingredients on the table
Guests took home goody bags:
Bloggers caught up with their friends:
It was a lovely and enchanting evening, along the lines of a Proust novel (after all, that novelist was the first man to link fragrance to powerful memories). I had a wonderful time and sniffed some pretty creative creations!
Photographer: Matthew Minucci
Event, Goody Bag and sponsor: Hypnotiq Harmonie
- Charu Suri