What does perfume mean to you? Which is your favourite natural scent from your childhood? Or the most recent olfactory memory? How about your favourite flower, colour or fruit? What kind of temperament do you have? These were just a few of the questions I had to answer during an incredible experience I recently had the pleasure to live. An atelier of creation for making personalised perfumes. A perfume created especially for you, imprinted on your own personality, taste and life. If it sounds luxurious, fascinating and unique, that’s because it was. Alina Ieva is a doctor by profession and she is also a perfume maker licensed in Grasse, France. Talking to her, it was easy to notice how passionate and devoted she is to her work, an enthusiasm she inevitably transmits to you, too. During the few hours our meeting lasted, it was very rewarding and a little overwhelming, too, to find out a few secrets from a true perfume maker.
Besides custom-made perfumes, Alina has also developed a ready-made range of essences and fragrances in limited editions that can be bought on the spot. All the Nature & Distinction creations are special, but designing your own signature scent remains an olfactory experience that can not be equalled. All the products are made of natural ingredients, so if you have any allergy that prevents you from using perfume, the problem is solved from the beginning. The package can also be personalised and can become an object of art in itself. I personally liked the simple apothecary jars and minimalist perfume bottles, because luxury and simplicity always go hand in hand for me.
Why personalised perfume?
In 2005, while attending a world Congress in Neurosciences held in Switzerland, I discovered a fascinating sensorial universe that has been left, too many times alas, for the medical and psychological pre-clinical stages. This event generated a natural course for a scientist: research, know and apply. The outcome was only one: sensorial unicity, unicity of being. A personalised perfume is the quintessence of olfactory sensorial knowledge.
You combine alchemy, medicine, orthomolecular osmology and art to create something truly unique. How does this process work? Where do you start from when creating an artisanal perfume?
In order to answer this question, I need to advise you about my professional development. I graduated from the Timisoara Medical and Pharmacy School. I worked as an allopathic physician in the national and international medical system, my medical activity being the most important thing for me for a while. The experience accumulated has generated new and new questions which led me to applied medical biophysics, quantum physics and neurosciences. Orthomolecular osmology is a branch of medical molecular biophysics, while sensorial art is a mélange with the following ingredients: neuroscience, futurology, anthropology and quantum psycho-sociology. As regards alchemy, for me, contemporary alchemy is psycho-information and quantum physics. The processing of this information operates as a uniform whole, it is a symphony in which the notes are olfactory, the orchestra is the client’s mind while I am the conductor. Initially, I represent a perfume as informational formulae and matrixes, then I materialize it into olfactory sensations via olfactory extracts.
Where do you make your perfumes?
The ingredients are made in France, in Grasse, in a laboratory with a long tradition, i.e. since 1747. I set the ingredient list, the processing lasts between 1 and 3 years, and my creations are made in this same laboratory. I have olfactory editions dated annually.
You don’t create for men and women separately, you only create unisex perfumes, for human archetypes. Why?
In an existential analysis, every being is unique and has no gender. The perfumes created are archetypal, conceptual and thematic and have a dialogue with every human being.
You have developed a few conceptual lines, Basic, Silver, Gold, the Thematic and the Diamond palette. Can you tell me a little bit about each one?
The Basic Palette has as source of inspiration the human archetypes described by numerology via the destiny figure; the date of birth is known to me and so I have fast access to information. These are perfumes for the beings who have come through a part of their self-knowledge road.
The Silver Palette includes personalized creations included in one of the known olfactory families. It is meant for the beings who define their olfactory desires and want a predictable choice.
The Gold Palette is conceptual, it includes perfumes that are meant for existential representations; it is a palette with an abstract character and needs olfactory initiation.
The thematic palette is a transposition of personal spiritual experiences, it includes perfumes created out of the wish to share the joy lived together with other beings.
The Diamond Palette is the phoenix bird of tarinology. It is where ideas and sensations meet, with a personal representation without frames, limits or predictabilities. It is an olfactory dance where creation unites two sensorial and cognitive worlds perfectly compatible.
Isn’t it difficult to create a perfume with natural ingredients?
A perfume with natural ingredients has personality and life in it. If you do not observe the bio-chemical, physical and biological laws, you have a difficult experience. If you want quick creations and predictable completions, by following complex analytical paths, you have an experience with a negative mark. But knowing and observing molecular principles guides you during the creative act, with grace, toward a completion that can only be lived.
How many natural extracts and active ingredients do you use in your perfumes? How do you choose your ingredients and which is their source?
Perfumes have multiple olfactory facets in the computerized spectrophotometric range; the perfumes I create have a variable number of olfactory facets, between 47 and 210. These olfactory dimensions can be obtained from 9 extracts, but from 27 extracts too. The 2014 edition has 170 ingredients, the raw materials come from the areas specific for each of them: lavender from the French Alps, green tea from China, the cherry flower from Japan, sandal wood from India. Each raw material has its specific journey from the plant to the olfactory extract. The end of the production process happens in France.
Which is the most special ingredient you use in your perfumes?
The edelweiss. It is a rare plant from the spontaneous flora. Cultivated, it needs similar conditions to the ones in its natural habitat, therefore an edelweiss culture mobilizes significant resources of professional devotion and, last but not least, financial resources. Moreover, the extraction procedure involves many processing stages with a high level of difficulty. The edelweiss flower extract has a priceless olfactory value for producers, as well as for the clients who want a rare, unique experience.
How long does the smell last?
The olfactory sensation lasts differently, function of the epidermis hydration and PH, the temperature and humidity of the environment, the status of the nasal mucous membrane and the cognitive potential to describe olfactory stimuli. The interval varies from 48 hours to some weeks, function of the part the perfume is sprayed: on the epidermis 24 hours, on the hair 48 hours, on natural fabric between 1 week and 2 months.
Do people order custom-made perfumes for the day-to-day life or for special occasions?
Mostly for special occasions, but there are some clients who love art and who have a remarkable sensorial experience and want to integrate the personalized perfume in their everyday life.
Should you wear perfume only for yourself or for others, too?
First of all for us, if you do not find yourself in what you wear, you live a sensorial discomfort that affects the quality of life. The others will feel the harmony between the personality and the perfume.
How do you try a new fragrance?
An olfactory experience starts with a drop in a champagne cup and is total when a drop of worn perfume represents you.
Why should one wear perfume?
Because we have desires that we experiment under various forms and quantify via sensations.
The experience of creating a personalised perfume is truly unique and it also implies a workshop where the customer takes an active part in the making of her/his perfume. Do you have a solution for foreign customers who can’t come to your studio in Bucharest?
During several periods of time I have meetings on olfactory creations in Grasse, and, in the near future, in London too (starting with September this year) and in Singapore (starting with February 2015).
How much perfume should one wear?
As much perfume as it is needed to become an olfactory attire that is perceived by another being only when he/she enters your intimate space. (Note: stretch out your arm in front of you at rights angle – the area delimited by your arm’s length represents your intimate space).
You also make perfume cream. When do you recommend using perfume cream instead of perfume?
During the warm season or at any time when you want to indulge your entire body.
Are you creating or planning to create other beauty products as well?
I intend to develop a line of dermo-cosmetics that shall answer the need to have a healthy and beautiful skin. I will organize also workshops on integrative Cosmetology for professionals but also for the clients who want to know more about cosmetics and about what skin normality actually means.
What is your beauty philosophy?
For me, beauty is expressed differently at different levels: external beauty, health, harmony and equilibrium, internal beauty via love, truth and authenticity. Actually, to be beautiful means to be yourself.
What does perfume represent for you?
Nature & Distinction address: 17, Dr. Victor Babes Street, Vila Trifoi, 1st floor, district 5, Bucharest
photos by me