When asked to choose one material to talk about, really, there was no hesitation for me. Although I have a profound love and appreciation for so many materials in my palette, my first true love remains a constant in my own fragrances. As common as it may seem, vanilla continues to enchant, seduce and surprise me.
My first encounter with vanilla in any form is much the same as many others, I imagine—my mother’s baking. When she would bake cookies or cakes and the vanilla extract came out, I could feel my mouth water but it is far more than that, it was the feeling that it evoked. Warmth, safety, love—all of that wrapped up in one of my first fragrant memories.
When I began my baby steps into the world of perfumery, vanilla fragrance oil was the first material I encountered (along with patchouli which is another love I could spend pages on). I am not a classically trained perfumer, I came to perfumery on a very unorthodox path. My passion was first sparked at a little blending bar in Boston, blending fragrance and essential oils when I was 18 years old. I fell in love then with the fragrance of vanilla and it became my signature. Very typical perhaps, but it was the gateway for me into a larger world, one that I had no idea would change my life from that point on.
When I first encountered the true vanilla absolute from Madagascar, that was it. The depth, the warmth, and the complexity of the natural opened before me, and led me into a whole new appreciation and application of vanilla.
To explore the entire article, visit Perfumer & Flavorist+’s May issue.