When I was approached by Robertet to speak at the recent Elements Showcase in New York on utilizing rose in perfumery, I was thrilled. We natural perfumers love to talk about beautiful essences; how to source them, how to use them, how their unique scent profile inspires. I am particularly drawn to new exotic ingredients that expand our natural perfumery palette. Robertet's new rose petal distillation does all of the above and I welcomed the chance to wax poetic on it's virtues.
Robertet held two workshops titled "Celebrating 160 Years of Roses." The first day the panel included Mandy Aftel from Aftelier and Olivia Jan, a Senior Perfumer from Robertet. I attended the workshop and was impressed by the audience participation. Samples of Rose Absolute, Rose Essential Oil and the new Rose Petal Essential Oil were passed on blotters to audience members. Afterwards blotters of each of the natural perfumes created with the rose petal distillation were sampled.
One of the highlights of the first day workshop was listening to the perfumers describe their creation process and how they utilize rose in their fragrances. After the workshop I met Mandy Aftel and her husband Foster. I found them funny and down to earth and I enjoyed speaking with them. My husband Dan snapped a picture of us. You can tell Mandy and I were laughing in the photo. Did I mention I found her charming and down to earth?
Arnaud Adrian and Jennifer Powderly from Robertet led the workshops both days, and their presentation outlined the commitment Robertet has to ecological farming of the Turkish damask rose. Despite the rose harvest lasting just a few weeks from May to June, Robertet employs 60 families year round in Turkey to tend the farmlands. All the water used for distillation is reused and the petals are composted post distillation.
The actual description of Robertet's Rose Petal Essential Oil is as follows: The Rose Petal Essential Oil utilizes all the natural extraction methods developed by Robertet are used in this natural extract in order to capture the genuine scent of the flower itself: hydrodistillation, molecular distillation, fractionation... Odour: Cosmetic, modern, quintessence of the Rosa Damascena flower at a lower price than the essential oil. Floral, spicy, peony odor.
The essential oil is clear colored, powerful and full bodied. I was impressed with it's clean, precise rose aroma and sheer strength. When using the rose petal essence I was able to use a much smaller quantity to obtain the crystalline rose note I was seeking. The distillation of the rose petal oil was described in detail which was complex. The result is a rose that smells quite different (and quite beautiful) than any other rose essential oil I've experienced. Arnaud mentioned that the price of rose absolute and essential oil will increase 25% this year. Yes, you read that correctly. Sigh. One of the selling points of the rose petal oil was it's price point--placed just between rose absolute and rose otto.
The second workshop included myself, Anne McClain from MCMC Fragrances and Jerome Epinette, a Robertet Senior Perfumer. Being the only natural perfumer on the panel made me all the more determined to convey my passion for naturals to the audience. I spoke on the power of natural essences, their unduplicated beauty, their primal ability to transport the wearer. I discussed my Rose Boheme perfume, and the challenges of I encountered with getting the rose to pop in a base note heavy composition. I described the rose petal essential oil as possessing the qualities I associate with both Turkish and Bulgarian rose. I described a childhood memory of hiding in a thicket of wild rose bushes next to our home. How I found a cool dark spot underneath the tangle of thorns and roses. I would go to this spot when I wanted to be alone, and smell the dark fertile earth and rustle the boughs of miniature roses above my head as I lay on the ground. The pale petals would fall on my face and I would pretend it was "snowing" in June. This memory is fond and the inspiration for my perfume Rose Bohème.
All in all, it was an opportunity to introduce the audience to the power and beauty of natural perfumes and the incredible natural raw materials available to the perfumer. While many in attendance may have never smelled a natural perfume, they have now! I enjoyed getting to meet the other perfumers, and hearing how each perfumer composes his or her creation. It was interesting to note that many of the perfumers on the panel (mainstream, niche and natural) were inspired by particularly evocative materials.
If you would like to receive a sample of the new Rose Petal Essential Oil I worked with, please leave a comment or question. I'll choose two winners. Trust me, it's gorgeous!