Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Soliflore Perfume Challenge

for the Summer of 2011

The contest AND the Results

Sponsored by Coeur d’Esprit Natural Perfumes in Coquitlam, British Columbia, Canada
Beginning on July 1, 2011 with an end-date of Aug 31, 2011
The Prize to be sent out by the end of September

What defines a Soliflore perfume? In this case, Natural Perfumers focus on the overall impression of the chosen flower; those ethereal notes that make up the whole. What are the subtle nuances being expressed? I’ve read that Rose oil has over 300 identifiable chemical components and many more that have not been identified. One could choose to zero in on the spiciness of it and juice that up by adding more spice notes to the blend. There are several ways to go. As well, the different natures of the scent can be explored. Is it shy and in the background? Self-assured, up front and centre? Complicated and convoluted? Delicate and wispy? What is the Perfumers’ Vision of the whole orchestra of smells that add up to the overall symphony of the flower?


o Please be fair to others and ensure that, when you sign up, you intend to follow through with this project as only the first ten (10) Registrants will be taken then the registering process will be closed.

Anyone who wishes to Register, please do so now and send an email to me with the following information:

your full name
mailing address
phone number
recent photo
Website URL
permission to post your entry on my
Blog at and
Website at

Please ensure you follow all the 'guidelines'. In the first challenge, people 'lost points' for not including a data tag, using an incorrect amount of ingredients, not sending a photo, and so on.

1. No matter if your perfume is based in alcohol or oil, the end product should be clear and free from imperfections. The way to do this is to refrigerate, filter, and/or use a pipette to suck up all but the floating/sunken bits into another container. If your perfume has had a chance to sit for a month or so, and you have shaken it periodically, the more dense particulates will have diluted themselves into the alcohol or oil. Leave it sit again for a few days then draw off the clear part and put it in your final bottle.

Imagine you are doing all of this for a high-end client and really want to impress him or her. This is very good practice for when this happens for you.

2. For the Soliflore, you are allowed to use up to 22 ingredients.

3. A Data Tag must be attached ie: name of the perfume, list of the ingredients, name the base, your company information (even if it's simply your name and contact information), the size of the end product ie: 5 ml; precautions, how to use, and the 'best before date'. (See last two challenges for an idea of what a Data Tag looks like).

4. Please follow these directions

Submit the perfume and the following to me by August 31st

o send two 1 ml sample vials of perfume for evaluation via the postal mail

o base can be clear alcohol or oil (these do not count as part of the 22)

o If you use a scented tincture or maceration as your base, that will count as an ingredient.

o write 5 sentences that tell the vision behind your new creation and submit via email

o write 5 sentences about who you are in relation to Natural Perfumery and submit via email

o email me the notes in your perfume

o email me your photo

We hope that perfumers from all over the world will participate in this challenge.

Each perfumer is graded 1-10 on the following categories: how well they followed the above instructions; their vision of the perfume’s creation; a short five-sentence bio; a recent photo; a Data Tag with pertinent information about their perfume; the balance, character, diffusion, tenacity, and structure of their creation.

A Natural Perfume has the following qualities:

o Balance – so that no single component can be detected, unless it is a Soliflore, as is the case this time.

o Character – The twists and turns of a perfume as it evolves on the skin. What kind of a perfume is this? Is it a raunchy riot? Is it soft and gentle? Where does it take you? What’s at the heart of it? Does it have personality? How do the layers unfold? Who would this perfume appeal to?

o Diffusion – does it surround the wearer with an aura of scent?

o Structure – Is there harmony in the mix? Have the base, heart, and head notes been properly addressed? Are the proportions correct for these ingredients so that there is balance, character, diffusion, and tenacity? Does it have dimension?

o Tenacity – staying power is the ability of a perfume to last on the wearer for more than just a couple of hours

And the Results Are In

We have a range of Soliflores – I’ve sniffed Linden Blossom, Rose, Wild Azalea, Carnation, Jasmine, and Ylang. There are six challengers from five countries. It has been a tough challenge for me as they all smell delicious. Ah, such is the life. What a job, eh; I get to smell perfume for a living.

I’ve had these six perfumes for a while now and have done sniff tests, skin tests and a blotter tests to help me give my evaluation. Keep in mind that this is only one perfume out of, perhaps, many from each of the perfumers, and what I say does not reflect who the perfumer is as a whole, and the scope of his or her range of perfumes. All evaluations are purely subjective. This time, I’m judging to see who made the closest replication of the flower he or she chose.

Everyone was very precise about following the directions to the tee and I was very pleased about that as now, it simply is about the perfume they entered. Here are the Challengers along with my review.

  1. Viveca GÖcke – KLÖVEDAL, Sweden

Bio: The older I get, the more I love to learn new things and I know I’m in a hurry. For 50 years I have been working with herbal skin therapy and today I have created skin products for skin therapists. Every other year I visit USA and Wheaton College to their herbal conference; it’s so much to learn and lots of wonderful people. Over two years ago I signed up for Lyn’s perfume course and I’m hooked. The perfume course has been a wonderful way to further educate me as an aromatheraput and a perfumer.

Vision: I woke up and know right away that I had found the perfect couple, to whom I would see married, the earthy Mr. Oakmoss and the soft, sweet Miss Linden blossom. There was love at first sight and the connection between them was sparkling and joining. The nice, lasting friend Ambrette was there at their wedding, together with fresh and hot Juniper berry, and beautiful Boise de rose and of course, good looking lavender abs, with her green dress. They had their wedding all the way till the next morning. I was there and I could feel between them the Sweet Contact.

Creation: “Sweet Contact” Linden Blossom Soliflore

Notes: Ambrette seed Co2, vintage Oak moss, Linden blossom, Lavender abs, Juniper berry, Bois de rose

Review: This blend is very grounding and centering. I get a short hit of Rosewood but it soon merges with the herby Juniper/Lavender accord, which is very pleasant. There is spiciness to the aroma at the 20 minute mark. At the half-hour mark, on the skin, it is warm and very subtle with Linden and Oakmoss are showing up now. Still very strong on the blotter. At the one-hour mark on the blotter, it has warm, honeyed notes but has completely gone from the skin. Four hours, still on the blotter.

  2. Rachel Owens – Madrid, Spain

Bio: A newcomer to the study of natural perfumery, Rachel has “jumped into the deep end” and decided to participate in the Soliflore challenge. She has been interested in herbs and aromatics since the age of 12, when she made her first attempts at creating perfumes. She has studied and used essential oils for years, as well as studying other healing modalities such as reflexology, Reiki and Bach flower remedies. The world of natural perfumery is a point where these various areas of interest converge, and it is especially satisfying for her to be able to make her own tinctures from plants and flowers in her garden and the surrounding countryside. She is currently studying perfumery with Lyn Ayre.

Vision: My goal was to create a rose perfume which gives the impression of a rose garden on an early summer’s day. I wanted to highlight the lemony, green and fresh scents. The term Al-Andalus refers to the areas of the Iberian Peninsula, which were governed by the Muslims in the Middle Ages and the inspiration for the perfume of the same name is the gardens of the Generalife, the Moorish summer pleasure palace in the Alhambra complex in Granada, Spain. In this near-paradise-like-retreat, roses grow in a long alleyway between green hedges and are interspersed with arching fountains that catch the light. Bright flowers and orange trees complement the scene, and the woodsy, balsamic scents of the surrounding hills waft down in the soft breeze.

Creation: “Al-Andalus” Rose Soliflore

Notes: Oakmoss absolute, Hay absolute, Wild-crafted Rock Rose tincture, Vetiver, Rose maroc, Rose otto, Rose de Mai, Neroli, Ginger Lily, Ylang Ylang, Rose Geranium, Wild-crafted Violet Flower tincture, Wild-crafted Lemon Thyme tincture, Lavender, Rosewood, Bergamot, in a base of Rose water, Vegetable, Glycerine, and Alcohol.

Review: Geranium, Lavender, and Lemon Thyme waft up to my nose and I remember Al-Andalus is covering my wrist, so I lean closer to have a little sniff. Herbal bliss – like sitting in the garden on a warm day after the rain. My next impressions are of a bright, lemony Rose full of sunshine; Yellow Roses climbing on the vine on the lattice outside a large veranda, which offers shade from the summer heat. A few hours later, it has settled down, on my skin, to a steady green rose with lemon accents. Four hours later on the blotter, it is still a lovely lemony green rose aroma. It stayed close to my skin for a few hours. Very refreshing.

  3. Anita Kalnay – Comox, BC, Canada

Flying Colours Natural Perfume at where you can purchase samples and full bottles of Anita’s inspired perfumed designs.

Bio: I love to design ‘concept’ perfumes – like Kokoro – to see if I can put the whole process ‘in a bottle’ for the wearer to experience. As an artist, perfuming allows me to cross-pollinate my skills and talents in a functional form that is both imaginative and restorative. As an Aromatherapist and Healer, much of my focus is using essential oils and massage to support the ‘soul alignment’ process. I am one of only a handful of graduates to have completed training in Spiritual Phyto-Essencing - the art of blending constitutional portraits in fragrance. Creating Botanical Perfumes seems like a natural offshoot and one that I hope will help us to rekindle our own rhythms with those of nature.

Vision: The highly fragrant rhododendron occidentale grows most prolifically along the Oregon/California border. I first encountered these Western Azaleas in the Stewart Mineral Springs area of Mount Shasta where we had gathered for a yoga retreat. I was very moved by our theme of ‘kokoro’ – heart in mind – mind in heart - and these wonderful fragrant azaleas added to the magic of the moment which I promised to capture in a perfume. The wild azaleas are pink in color and smell much like frangipani with an orange woody undertone and a delicate sweet heart note. The fine balance between too much and not enough required a delicate hand in blending Kokoro and its light scent is teaching me the gift of ‘dancing with the universe.’

Creation: “Kokoro” Wild Azalia Soliflore

Notes: Frangipani, Rhododendron, Blood Orange, Ylang Ylang extra, Neroli, Ylang Ylang absolute, Cassie, Orange Blossom flower water absolute, Himalayan Cedarwood, Orange Blossom absolute, Amyris, Benzoin, and additional oils used in the Kokoro orange flower accord including: Peru balsam, Oud in sandalwood, Tolu balsam, Honey absolute, Rosewood, Jasmine, Rose Geranium, Red Mandarin, Tagetes, and White Champaca.

Review: It’s interesting to judge a Soliflore whose flower I’ve not smelled for many years. I did some research on what it is supposed to smell like and read words like ‘intoxicating’, ‘heavenly’, ‘heavy sweet smell’, and ‘the scent carries a long way’. All of these words apply to this aroma. There is an ylang-note, a floral bouquet, and a sharp spicy note, which are expertly blended to evolve over time on the skin. It was the effect on my psyche that was most noticeable, though. I felt very moved by this perfume… like shifting into a state of love. It has a lovely diffusion that is subtle but there. I appreciate this perfume.

  4. Bruce Bolmes – Burlington, WI, USA

Bruce is in the process of launching his website so please stay tuned for this very talented perfumer: SMK Fragrance at For sales please email: sales at

Bio: My interest for scents started many years ago. During the 1960’s and early 1970’s, my fascination with scents exploded with the opening of the incense shops loaded with all kids of new aromas and limited essential oils of that era. Later, during my years as a Chef and the Owner of a European Cuisine Restaurant, I began to experiment with various essential oils and extracts in developing new and creative recipes. I also have produced various tinctures and extracts for the lure business. My Natural Perfuming interest is a way I can express my love for nature.

Vision: My passion for fragrant flowers was my inspiration for my entry. Years ago, the original owner of my first home had planted dozens of carnations around a clump birch planting, next to the garage. Every summer morning, I would stop and smell the carnations before I left for work. Sadly, when I moved, I forgot to dig up the carnations and I’ve not been able to find this type again. In this memory, I have created a Carnation Soliflore

Creation: “Garofano Nero” Carnation Soliflore

Notes: Carnation absolute, Carnation concrete, Wild Rose absolute, Black Pepper, Clove Bud extra, Clove Leaf, Cinnamon Leaf, Jasmine flexile, Pimento berry, Bay, Holy Basil, Benzoin tincture, Myrrh tincture, Vanilla tincture, Civet tincture, and Ambergris tincture.

Review: Bruce has created a beautiful perfume full of character and balance. The Carnations shine through very quickly and are surrounded by a lovely bouquet of earthiness and grass. Even though this perfume does contain some of the heavier perfume components, it smells very light and ethereal. It lasts quite a while on the skin and has good diffusion. On the blotter, it lasted from 8 am to 11 pm, likely due to the careful dosing of civet and ambergris – two of the best friends a natural perfumer could have.

Note: I did some research on the civet and found that no longer is the animal tortured as was the case in days gone by. The spray is now collected from the area in which the animal lives and the animal is not hurt or even bothered.

  5. Patsy Kuo – Baltimore, Maryland, USA

Patsy is in the process of creating her website: Stay tuned for more from this wonderful perfumer artist. For sales call: 410-363-8008

Bio: A native of the subtropical island of Taiwan, Patsy immigrated to the USA more than 20 years ago. She studied graphic design & arts in New York during the 1980’s and now devotes her life to natural healing arts, including yoga, herbs, and aromatherapy. Her natural perfume is the coming together of art and healing. She currently works as a yoga teacher, organic tea maker, and perfume artist in Baltimore, Maryland.


Imagine a light-filled, lush, natural environment, overflowing with the magic of the plant kingdom: woods, herbs, spices, flowers, and the hidden sweetness of ripe fruits. This sensuous soliflore natural perfume expresses the elegance of Arabian Jasmine, playfully enhanced with ten other natural essences. Let yourself be enchanted by these timeless Diva spirits, and let your soul soar with their art.

Creation: “Enchanted” Jasmine Soliflore

Notes: W. India Sandalwood, E. India Sandalwood, Australian Sandalwood, Vetiver, Oak Moss, Arabian Jasmine, Sweet Basil, Coriander, Rosemary, Nutmeg, Mandarin Orange, and Lemongrass.

Review: The opening refrains of Lemongrass and Mandarin Orange are ‘to live for’! I could smell this accord all day long. I imagine a warm tropical setting in which I’m being shamelessly pampered. All too quickly, it evolves to a sexy jasmine, which then shows up in the blend. An hour later, it settles down to the base accord of sandal, moss, and grass. A lovely perfume that wears close to the skin and makes one wish it would last longer. But alas, the dreams is over too quickly and I have to come back to my normal like.

  6. Karen Maniapoto – New Zealand

Karen’s website is: Karen is an experienced Professional Aromatherapist and Healing worker.

Bio: In the early nineties I became intrigued with the substances extracted from herbs and plants. This led me to study Aromatherapy. When asked why I wanted to study Aromatherapy, all I wrote was because “I loved the smell of the oils”. So a number of years later, with that fascination still there, I realised that Natural Perfume was the next step. The beautiful essences are just so wonderfully exciting to create with and share the passion with others.

Vision: This Soliflore is based around the beautiful sweet essence of Ylang Ylang Super Extra. While studying Aromatherapy I would always take a bath in Ylang Ylang each night (or early hours of the morning!). The Ylang Ylang enabled me to ‘switch the mind off’, creating a calm, relaxed, peaceful space before sleep and I would wake up refreshed for the next day. Hence Poised Elegance has evolved. It’s a little spicy awakening before the rich sweet Ylang Ylang brings in that softly focused balance to sustain the day with the soft lingering sweetness drifting into the fresh sweet pine needle and tarragon base.

Creation: “Poised Elegance” Ylang Ylang Soliflore

Notes: Encapsulating scents of (Top notes) Cardamom and Black Pepper soaked in Petitgrain and Cape Chamomile to awaken the senses in this perfume with a fresh, lively bounce before flowing into the sophisticated sweetness of (Middle Notes) Ylang Ylang Super Extra and Honey Absolute melted together with Pimento Berry and Palmarosa before mellowing out to a sweet oozing dry down of (Base notes) Absolutes of Pine Needle and Tarragon embedded in Owhyee, Vetiver and Africa Stone.

Review: This blend opens very spicy and warm. The Cape Chamomile is quite dominant all the way down to dry-down then allows the Pimento Berry to have a say. Honey absolute adds warmth and rounds off the sharper spicy notes of Black Pepper and Cardamom. Ylang makes a brief appearance at the fifteen minute mark and stays for around half an hour. The dry-down is quite bright and persistent lasting for about three hours on the blotter. Nicely done, Karen.

The Prize
A beautiful 5 ml atomizer of Coeur d'Esprit Natural Perfume surrounded by an elegant gold sleeve, suitable for wearing in the Fall; perfect to carry with you.

The Grand Prize Winner is Canadian Perfumer: Anita Kalnay

Close runners-up: Bruce Bolmes and Patsy Kuo, who were only a couple of points behind.

Honourable mention: Rachel Owens, Viveca Gocke, and Karen Maniapoto, who were a few points behind that; it was a very close contest.

You all did so well and I appreciated every one of your designs. It was an interesting and

in-depth journey into what makes a Soliflore live up to its name:

an orchestra of notes to create the song of one flower.

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