EnVoyage at CARMEL PERFUMERY: INTEGRITY + HISTORY+ “TACTILITY”
Meet Shelley Waddington, founder of Carmel Perfumery in Carmel, California. Carmel Perfumery, an independent perfume house providing innovative fragrances, has officially launched its EnVoyage Perfumes platform providing hand blended artisanal fragrances and global perfume education to consumers and perfume professionals.
“Our goal is to establish the perfume industry’s most trusted source of easily accessible fine perfumes and perfume education,” says ShelleyWaddington, CEO of parent company Beau Soleil and head perfumer of Carmel Perfumery. “Developed in response to increasing global customer demand, the EnVoyage platform is a unique and distinctive solution – it is an easy to use, robust International platform that allows us the ability to better serve our global clients while expanding our artistic
reach and retaining our core values as an artisan perfume house with
hand blended fragrance as in the days of old.”
DLB: Shelley, tell us a little about your work…
SW: I grew up in the little village of Carmel-by-the-Sea, a small artist colony on the coast of northern California, and went to school in a one room little red school house on the beach with nine other kids. Carmel is of course filled with tourists every summer, but my world was mainly peopled by teachers, artists, secret gardens, and many dogs (which are part of the culture there and allowed to go everywhere).
That was a nice beginning for a creative life. When making perfume I find my inspiration mostly from art, artists, literature, and history, and then I interpret them through perfumed stories.
To illustrate, each fragrance from my Carmel Collection is a scented postcard that depicts an fragrance glimpse into four special aspects of Carmel. Each fragrance allows the wearer to express a unique facet of his or her own personality.
For example, Carmel Bohéme is about the earliest turn-of-the-century Carmelites, the Bohemian artists. I wanted to create a perfume that would deliver the tension of the exuberance as well as the darkness of their lives in a way that felt very tactile and that would connect the wearer with his or her personal muse. It’s something one can wear to express sexual freedom, and unrestrained playful rebellion.
Poéte de Carmel, on the other hand, expresses the aspirational and less frivolous aspect of our nature – more serious and dedicated to accomplishment – such as when Carmel artists were producing the works that made them into cultural celebrities. I took my inspiration from the accomplished Carmelites, poet Robinson Jeffers, photographers Ansel Adams and Edward Weston, writers Mary Austin, John Steinbeck, and Robert Louis Stevenson.
Poéte is singular and focused, nearly Gothic. I wanted to create the texture of granite, like the beautiful Tor House that Jeffers built for his wife, Una.When I wear this perfume it is to express uncompromised success and achievement.
The central theme of the Odyssey Collection is the quest for the eternal object of desire, as expressed in Shakespeare’s sonnets. Each fragrance expresses seduction, passion and issues a distinctive siren call.
For example, my inspiration for Havâne pour Homme was the tango, that ultimate flirtation and so intimately defiant. My inspiration for Péche Noir was simply the erogenous zone at the nape of the neck.
And Makeda captures a little known secret to the regal love story of King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba.
One aspect of stories is that they often impart healing, and my studio space and methodology both reflect that underlying value. I think a joyful and meditative state of mind is very important to the process of blending.
DLB: What is turning you on today in the world of perfumery?
SW: I’m an interested but dispassionate observer of trends. That may perhaps have a subliminal influence on my new ideas, but it’s never the primary motivation. That comes from an entirely different set of ideas and values.
As a small illustration, one perfume that I’m currently working on is based on an incredibly spectacular rose otto – it’s a privilege to just being in the same room with it. This perfume reflects a true, sensual, and very meaningful story that I look forward to sharing with the world.
Souvenir de Malmaison from my garden
DLB: What in modern perfumery is leaving you cold?
SW: Misleading or incomplete or faulty information is always a turnoff.
I’m a tenacious geek for learning. I was the kid who read a lot. I played several musical instruments including the auto harp and the accordion, and did things like stone carving, lost wax casting, and copper enameling. I sewed and embroidered,, made linoleum block prints, painted in oils. One year I even built a cedar chest in woodshop. But I couldn’t find books in the Carmel Library that could tell me anything about making perfume. And of course this was before the internet. Now my library contains countless books and journal articles that I read and re-read.
So I’m a bit of an activist by holding occasional courses and colloquia. I’m moved to action when something is widely misunderstood, like musks were a few years back. My effort to educate on this topic back in 2007 was the first of its kind.
New breakthroughs in science that have great potential for the perfume community are another very exciting reason to take action by learning and teaching. That’s what led to my current series of seminars about natural isolates for perfumers, which was another first.
To receive a thank you note from a bright upcoming new perfumer ,or from impressively trained, successful professional , saying that they had experienced a new door having been opened for them makes me so happy. What more could an instructor ask for?
DLB: Have you some indelible scent memories from your childhood… Pleasant (or even unpleasant) scent associations deeply rooted in your childhood?
SW: I like this “Perfume Whisperer” question , David (smiling). It’s so Proustian, and a question that can lead to very central truths about ourselves.
The answer is that both my mother & grandmother wore Tabu by Dana. That mysterious floral-resin-spicy sweetness is always at the heart of my memories of them, deeply emotional, the fragrance of love. In retrospect I realize how this memory has influenced my preferences in perfume, and my passion for tonka, vanilla, amber, resin, tobacco, spices, exotic woods and animal notes.
DLB: Shelley, what are your most costly fragrance favorites, and do you have any inexpensive “guilty pleasures”?
SW: On the materials side, I believe that having and using top shelf items such as orris, rose otto and oud, is a must in the making of fine natural and mixed media perfumes, as are the expensive damascenes, ionones, musks and ambers.
The piano has 88 keys, each with a bell-like quality, each like a window. It’s important to be able to use them all , to be tonally complete and resolved. Making perfume is like that for me, a delicate thematic interweaving ofbeautiful materials guided by knowledge of perfume chemistry and composition. I feel that it’s important to be able to use all 88 keys.
Regarding my perfume wardrobe, Clive Christian promoted his No. 1 as “the world’s most expensive perfume” (yes, another oriental woody fragrance!) and that is one of my constantly evolving constellation of favorites.
Cheapie scent fragrance favorites? Aside from smelling my honeysuckle and gardenias?
You also asked about secret guilty pleasures and I had to think really hard about how to answer this, but here goes: I’ve always been wild about sensuous tactile elements like fur and satin and feathers, and strive to conjure a primal feeling of touching something luxurious into each perfume. After all, when I make perfume I’m making love. It’s allowed.
I also like to insert a bit of fun and wit and even a little wicked naughtiness into in my perfumes, such as this image that inspired “Havane pour Homme”. (And yes, I do have a secret desire to tango like this.)
THE SPRAY CHEST gratefully thanks this lovely, richly talented and diverse woman for her scented thoughts, and wishes her continued great success at EnVoyage Perfumes.