Designing Edition *03 - A Perfumer's Path
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Designing Edition *03 - A Perfumer's Path

Stefanie Grant-Cassel

Greetings, friends! I'd like to talk to you about perfume again. (Sorry, I know you'd rather hear all about skincare but please humor me for a sec?!) 

I released The Asterisk Collection Edition *03 yesterday - 5 months after releasing edition *02 (which I don't think anyone ever actually bought even though it's FANTABULOUS and literally brings me to tears when I smell it) but that's ok - I'm SO fine with the fact that natural perfumery is basically a very expensive hobby for me at this point. I'm going to keep doing it always, because I absolutely love designing new fragrances, and I think that when you create something beautiful, (or beautiful/weird) you should share it by any means possible.  

One of the things that I love about perfume is that it is so subjective. What one person loves, another hates. So I can keep going along, making all of the ideas that pop into my head, without ever worrying about trying to please everyone. (I'm freeee!)

Another thing I love about perfume is that it's basically pointless. It's not something that anyone needs. By creating fine fragrances, I'm not solving any problems or filling a void. It's not at all useful. It's just... creative. It's an art. It's my art. (Yes, I literally just woke up one day and decided to become a perfumer, so here I am. That's how I roll.)  

With my signature fragrance collection, there's usually a story or an idea I'm trying to evoke - Pétiller is based on the smell of the candles that were burning at the hotel I stayed at when I visited Paris. Mulholland is the smell of my old Los Angeles neighborhood in the spring. Nasty Woman is the aromatherapy blend I created for myself so I didn't lose my sh*t watching the 2016 presidential debates. (At least something good came out of that year.) 

But for the asterisk collection, I'm trying to avoid putting any kind of branding or story on them. It's just about making good, interesting smells. 

Or at least that's my goal... 

Okay, what the heck, I'm going to tell you the story anyway.

To preface: I have about 50 million ideas for fragrances floating around in my head, and I'm just trying to make them come to life, in no particular order. It all depends on what ingredients I have on hand, how much time I have to play, and what works out first. Right now I'm working on a couple of custom fragrances for some clients that I'm suuuuper excited to collaborate with, but working on their scents has made me even more eager to get my own ideas fleshed out too - so I decided it was finally time to take one of the ideas I've been toying with for a couple of months - creating an earthy, sensual jasmine + cannabis fragrance - and turn it into edition 03.   

The idea first came to me one morning in May while I was walking to work. It was kind of unseasonably cool and cloudy, and I was wearing my be loved aromatherapy blend just feeling super content. (Living my dream of walking to my adorable shop around the corner - it really is the simple things sometimes.) I've gotten in the habit of wearing my single note cannabis roll on when I meditate in the morning, and even though I'd washed it off in the shower and applied my jasmine + patchouli + black pepper + basil blend before I left the house, I was noticing all of the trees and plants on my way to work in downtown OKC and thinking about how giving they are - and this is a much longer conversation for another time - but have you ever stopped to think about everything that plants do for us? They give unconditionally and they always do their best. They are life in its most pure state. We should all be more like plants.  

Anyway, that moment, combined with the fact that I had been layering Dope Queen with jasmine all spring made me realize that it was time to develop the idea into something more substantial. Of course I thought about it and immediately got busy and had to put it on the back burner for a month or so...  

But eventually I found a free moment to start working on it, and once I start something, I don't stop until it's finished. 

I knew that jasmine and cannabis were a must for this one, and I selfishly wanted to include patchouli because I a) love that combo in my be loved aromatherapy perfume, and b) wanted a decidedly earthy fragrance - but not forest-y like edition 01. My one rule with the asterisk collection is no repeats! (Of course I reserve the right to break that rule at some point.) Other than that I had no idea what else to include. Then, I happened to meet orris root butter. OMG. Probably my favorite smell ever - right up there with sandalwood - and I immediately knew I needed to mix it in with the jasmine. 

So I still needed some top notes. I tried a lot of different things - lemon, black spruce, basil, frankincense, bitter almond... and none of it was right. Eventually I decided to break out the verbena I had been saving for another idea, and POW. I knew I needed something crisp and earthy (but not forest-y!) to mix with it, and the black pepper that I already knew worked with the jasmine and patchouli in my be loved blend turned out to be just right. 

But the overall scent wasn't coming together. I had the verbena, black pepper, jasmine, orris root (which is from the iris flower, by the way,) cannabis, and patchouli, but it was all coming out awful my first couple of tries. Waaaay to pot-y and dirty, and I had intended to make something sensual and pretty and maybe even sweet. After a lot of frustrating fails and pulling out every one of the materials in my cabinet to find the missing link, it finally occurred to me that I was simply arranging the notes incorrectly. I was using cannabis as a base note with the patchouli (not as great as a combo as one would assume given patchouli's reputation with stoners) and I was using the orris root as a middle note with the jasmine (because, idk, they're both flowers?) But it turns out that cannabis is a middle-top note, and orris root is actually a base note. So I re-worked my accords, (duh!) and was back on track. The orris root and patchouli were soooo much prettier together, as were the middle notes of jasmine, cannabis, and clary sage (which was a random addition that I liked and decided to keep!) 

At this point I had a pretty scent combination, but the whole idea had become fuzzy to me - what was I trying to make, exactly? Was it too similar to edition 01? I don't want to be the crazy jasmine lady! (Even though I totally am the crazy jasmine lady.) What was I even doing? And why?

I kept going back and smelling edition 01 and edition 02. Were all of my ideas this meh? Were these other scents not as great as I originally thought they were? But every time I smelled them and put them on, I grew more and more appreciative of their beauty. I realized that what they are is a part of me, and a part of my story. Edition 01 is embarking on a journey into the unknown - the deep dark woods of my shadow self. Edition 02 is a nostalgic, comforting reprieve from the cold winter. With that perspective, edition 03 became about where I am today - walking out on my own into the warm night, rooting deeply into the earth, stretching my arms up to the moon and blossoming.

All of that being said, it's not important to me that you pick up on my story when you smell this perfume. That would be kind of weird, actually. I hope that you smell something sexy, rich, complex, and unique, and I hope that it becomes a part of your story. Which I hope is the most romantic story ever.

To me, this is a grown up sexy lady perfume. It's definitely what I'll wear the next time I go out at night - and I will probably over do it, but it's exactly the kind of scent that SHOULD be over done. It's the kind of scent to wear when you want someone to remember you - so you can leave a trail they'll never be able to forget.  

It goes on so bright and warm and fresh, but quickly turns into something, rich, mysterious, and sweet. You get a hint of that musky herbal cannabis at the beginning - just enough to know that this is the real deal - but it's almost overtaken by some serious florals. (Almost but not quite - it stays balanced quite nicely.) The base is unapologetic powder with just a little bit of dirt. There's something about it that smells a bit old fashioned to me, like what a vintage 1930s perfume bottle might have smelled like when it was new and fresh. 

You all know that I'm not about trying to nail down one signature fragrance to spend the rest of my life with - I require an entire wardrobe of perfumes to match every mood and outfit - but if I were going to stick with just one scent, this might be it for me.

For now I mean... 

And I'd love for you to give it a try - I've decided to lower the price of my asterisk collection samples to $10 in the hopes that you'll make the leap and give them a shot. They won't solve any of your problems, but they will make your life a little bit more full and sensual.  

I can't wait to hear what you think.

-XO-

Stefanie  

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