Smelly concert?

Concert invitation

Don't you just want to touch that CUTE nose?

Lush Korea are about to have an ambitious event – they will magic up a kind of fantasy Carnaby Street-cum-Lush festival in Seoul – with live music, stalls and the full Gorilla perfume gallery experience to boot. They’ve entitled the event a ‘Smelly Concert’ which, of course, will induce no end of titters in any native English speaker, but will probably exceed all of our expectations of a truly modern day out.

I’m going there as the guest from our perfume department and really can’t wait to see what it will be like! If you happen to be anywhere near Seoul on the 29th and 30th of April, join us!

Pia

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Sea Breeze

The words ‘be careful what you wish for’ sprung to mind today. I have been back in the labs sporadically since the beginning of the year, mostly creating product perfumes (yes it’s already time to make xmas products again!). However, I have had one burning desire to create a fragrance inspired by the sea. Not one of these ‘aqua’ or ‘marine’ style mens’ sports deodorants but an authentic smell of the sea. If you couple this with too much time reading Heston Blumenthal recipes you quickly get to a chemical called dimethyl sulfide. I read somewhere on the internet (uhoh!) that this is the material most commonly associated with the sea. It’s a chemical produced in digestion by plankton. Its also the smell of rotting death. When the sample turned up Agnes had to wrap it in a plastic bag, inside a black pot just to keep it in the same room.

I hadn’t realized quite how poky a scent it could be. In concentration its like decomposing onions cooking in cabbage. I actually recognized the gagging stench as that of durian fruit, the south east asian fruit synonmymous with love hate reactions. Apparently elephants can smell it from half a mile away, I’m not surprised. Anyway, I decided to dilute it and put the remaining concentrated stuff in the loo, by an open window, inside several sealed containers. The final joke was on Rowena who opened it this morning thinking it was handcream, her nose is the most sensitive of anyone I have ever met and so she stormed into the lab furious and repulsed having had a nose full of it. Smell of the sea is on the back burner for now : )

Simon

Grasse

trainers

Our trainers in training with one of the Lush founders and the global training manager.

We’ve had a busy couple of months with the Dirty launch and other projects! Mark and Simon are back in the lab and we’re all hoping for something new and exciting for later this year. Meanwhile, Lush as a whole has been redesigning its training system and a handful of strong candidates from different parts of the business have been appointed to the new role of a trainer-in-training. (Yes, that’s a mouthful. A whole bunch of us have been saying train-the-trainers over and over again for a while now so we’re used to it).

The training course they’re still in the middle of is pretty intense – nine weeks of first-hand practical experience, time with our founder-inventors, and their support staff, as well as some pretty tough exams – and very exciting trips! Below is Simon’s account of his trip to Grasse with our new trainers. Agnes is our essential oils buyer and Simon’s travel companion on many trips to visit our suppliers.

Train the trainers trip

I first visited Grasse in February, 2004. It was my first trip to the heart of French perfumery and the first trip I ever made with Agnes, our essential oils buyer. It lay the foundations for almost every other trip that I have been on with Agnes. She brought too much luggage, she talked the whole time and she wore the wrong shoes!

Our visit was the first step on a road to educate ourselves on perfumery and the world of essential oils and aromatic ingredients. It’s quite surreal to think that in these seven years we have literally scoured the globe visiting tribesmen on remote pacific islands, smugglers in south India (and more besides) to understand as much as we could about ‘the trade’.

Being back in Grasse was fantastic, much more so than I expected. We were accompanied by trainers from around the Lush world, all of whom were eager to learn as much about perfumery as we could teach them. And so what better place to start than the south of France? Blooms of bright yellow mimosa flowers stretched up into the hills as we arrived in the small town of Grasse. Our first stop was the International Museum for Perfumery (Museé International de la Parfumerie). They have made a great effort to make perfumery and ingredients the centre of the museum, complete with provençal and tropical gardens with ylang, vetivert, orange flower and lavender plants to see and touch. As an ingredients ‘freak’ , as one of our suppliers phrased it, I loved it!

The next day Agnes had arranged for us to make a trip to visit Jean Françoise. Jean Françoise is considered one of the best distillers in the industry. He, and his family have grown and distilled oils in the region for generations and he is the man entrusted to grow and distil Chanel’s Rose de Mai, a fine quality rose oil only grown in Grasse.

Here all the trainers were given a lesson in how the distillation process works both for essential oils and then on to the solvent extraction of absolutes. To me these are vital processes but very difficult to describe, so being fortunate enough to have one of the worlds finest talk us through it was the ultimate classroom experience! In fact he was just in the process of extracting some vanilla absolute for us to use in our products.

It was a real pleasure to re-visit where it all began and to have the opportunity to enthuse others with a passion for perfumery and ingredients that we have.

Simon

Check back tomorrow for Simon’s sea air experiment…

Guest blogger: Persolaise

This month we welcome our first guest blogger, Persolaise, to tell us about his evening at the  Gorilla Perfume event in Lush Portsmouth.

Team PortsmouthI Love The Smell Of Primate In The Evening

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: some of the most original, affordable and downright weird perfumes currently on the mainstream UK market are in unassuming, squat black bottles bearing an image of a half-peeled banana. Even their names are unusual. I mean, how many companies can you think of that would dare release a fragrance called Breath Of God? So when my local Lush store decided to organise a party to showcase not just the ‘regular’ Gorilla range but also the online-only scents (the so-called B-Sides, which some of you will remember from BNTBTBB), I admit I was intrigued to discover what the evening would be like. After all, Portsmouth isn’t exactly the first place people associate with discerning perfume aficionados.

Deciding whether to attend a party is made so much easier when someone asks you to write about it… and I was lucky enough to receive just such a proposal from Gorilla Perfume’s own web editor, Pia Long.
“I’d love to be your journalist,” I said, “as long as you know that I’m not into self-censorship.”

“That’s absolutely fine,” she said. “Go ahead and write whatever you like.”
Well, I’m pleased to report that I needn’t have worried about being placed in a difficult position, because the event turned out to be a genuinely (dare I even say, surprisingly?) enjoyable meeting of like-minded people.

Full credit for this must go to Tom The Manager and his snazzily-attired team. (Think: Downton Abbey meets Camden Market.) They decorated the shop with tulips and long-stem lilies. They provided a plentiful supply of chocolates, peanuts and nachos. And they even put together a menu of perfume-inspired cocktails. Caught up in the excitement, I suggested that some of the staff should juggle bath bombs whilst dancing on the counter tops, but this was met with a look of decidedly un-Lush-like derision.

As Tom dashed around the place, making sure all was in order, the guests were entertained by Ash, the shop’s resident Gorilla guru. Spraying any scrap of bare skin on which he could lay his hands, he rattled off engaging stories about the birth of some of the fragrances, from the moving tale of Dear John to the mystical influence behind Inhale and Exhale. Before long, everyone was sniffing everyone else’s wrists, elbows and necks… and when we ran out of flesh, someone had the bright idea of using handkerchiefs and brown paper bags as blotters.

My chats with the guests revealed that almost all of them had been drawn to the event by the presence of the B-Sides. One woman told me that as she’d nearly finished her original supply of BNTBTBB’s Cocktail – which she’d bought at the old Covent Garden shop – she was thrilled to be able to stock up again. I spied three brand new bottles in her basket! Another customer – who’d made the journey from Chichester – explained how she’s always relied on Lush to bring a devilish touch of drama to the high street, which was why she was eager to try the perfumes. And another punter was beside herself with glee each time she smelt Ladyboy. She said it reminded her of the lollipops that taste unbearably sweet at the start and then reveal a blob of bubble gum in the centre.

“And that’s a good thing?” I asked.

She nodded with almost uncontrollable exuberance.
Regrettably, the evening ended without anyone throwing themselves onto the soaps and doing the cancan, although Ash did start blowing bubbles at one point, which is probably about as much anarchy as a deserted shopping mall can take in one night. But even though propriety was maintained, I was fascinated to learn that one of the event’s most popular perfumes – in terms of sales of the 2ml sample vials – was none other than the aforementioned Ladyboy! So Portsmouth does have a naughty streak after all… or maybe it’s just plain old good taste, because as every self-respecting Gorilla-lover knows, this particular scent radiates earthy, labdanum-based sophistication after its initial chuckle-inducing burst of synthetic fireworks.

So there you have it. I hesitate to type the words ‘A fragrant time was had by all’ but it’s true: we went back home radiating everything from orris to orange blossom, with rose otto and oud in between. And if you like the idea of a perfume party taking place at your own Lush, then you may be interested to learn that a rep from the White City branch was in attendance, watching the Pompey crew show her how it’s done. So it might not be long before the idea spreads… and Lush-ophiles up and down the country are balancing a Sicilian on the tips of their noses whilst regaling the crowds with impressive high kicks.

About the author
Persolaise is a Jasmine Award shortlisted writer and amateur perfumer who has had a strong interest in the world of fine fragrance for over 25 years. For more information about his work, please visit www.persolaise.com or contact him at persolaise at gmail dot com