Founder of Experimental Perfume Club (EPC), Emmanuelle, is welcoming and French, which, when you envisage a Perfumer you have an expectation that they should be French, so luckily Em doesn’t disappoint. After graduating 12 years ago in Paris from ISIPCA, the best perfume school in the world, she worked with perfume factories all over the world creating bespoke scents. For the last year she has been living in London, running the Experimental Perfume Club workshops from her bright, white, and intimate space a short walk from Dalston Junction.
Are you the type of person who has a signature scent? One that you always wear, a scent that you adore, that perhaps evokes strong memories, and that you know suits you? Or perhaps, like me, you are not quite sure what you like or why you like it, then the 1 hour taster course at EPC which I took, is a great starting point.
Under Em’s guidance you are encouraged to use your instincts when smelling nine blends – talk about what you can detect, how does it make you feel, what words would you use to describe what you are experiencing. Is it fresh, fruity, woody, sweet or herbaceous? Does it transport you to a gentleman’s club or an earthy potting shed? Does it remind you of Christmas time, a classic old car, your childhood, your grandma? Is it soapy, spicy, citrusy or sharp?
We rated each scent from 1 (dislike) to 9 (love) before talking about the structure of creating a perfume. Top notes like citrus, are the gateway, i.e. your nose’s pathway into the scent, this makes up 30% of your perfume recipe and last ten minutes or so on the skin. The heart, makes up 40% – these are your floral, spicy and fruity notes – and last 2-3 hours on the skin. Finally, you are left with 30% of base notes – those woody and oriental scents – these, in a good quality perfume can last post shower.
Working instinctively the alchemy begins making your unique scent, discussing with Em and tweaking the 30/40/30 recipe to your own preferences.
The class was very fun, giggly and collaborative with everyone checking each other’s creations, using our new perfume vocabulary and offering advice when someone in particular (that would be me) had gone too fruity. Once the blends were perfect and had the nod from Em, we had the particularly tricky task of naming and labelling our scents. They ranged from Black Tomato, Woodland Arches and Orchard – but then we all translated them to French because, let’s face it, EVERYTHING sounds better in French!
The time passes quickly as we pack up our signature scents, along with a mini meringue or two and say a very reluctant ‘au revoir’ to our incredible teacher.
The taster course costs £125 and includes your 50ml perfume creation. Emmanuelle also offers longer, more in depth courses. If you are looking for an extra special Mothers Day gift, they have a workshop on the 26th March you can take your mum along to together! Find all the details on the website: www.experimentalperfumeclub.com
Words & Images by Catherine Frawley