An IM Chat with Liz Moores, perfumer and founder of Papillon Artisan Perfumes


05th January, 2016

Liz Moores is the perfumer and founder of Papillon Artisan Perfumes, and her most recent fragrance, Salome hit many of 2015's Best of the Year lists.

Papillon launched in 2014 with a trio of three fragrances: Angelique, Anubis and Tobacco Rose, which not only impressed fragrance fans, but were also nominated for a Fragrance Foundation Award.

We caught up with Liz on Facebook Messenger, using 4G on her iPhone as her broadband is apparently 'crappy'...

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Basenotes has connected.

Liz Moores has connected.



Basenotes
Hello!


Liz Moores
Hey Grant!


Basenotes
I'm not used to Facebook Messenger, so this may be ropey!


Liz Moores
I'm pretty useless too but my typos are wonderful.


Basenotes
I'll fix them in the edit. Unless they're funny ones. How was Xmas / New Year?


Liz Moores
It was chaotic but lots of fun was had by the kids while I spent the day cooking and walking around with a bin-bag collecting wrapping paper.
Did you have a good one?


Basenotes
Yeah, mine wasn't too bad.


Liz Moores
Hang on, Daisy is making me a drink....


Basenotes
Brandy?


Liz Moores
I need one this morning.


Liz Moores
It seems to be a cup of air but I'm pretending it's orange juice.


Basenotes
A cup of air isn't going to do much. I'm on thick black coffee at the moment. Getting up to get the kids to school today was a nightmare. My youngest (8) proclaimed that she hated mornings and didn't want to get up. I hate to tell her it doesn't get any better!


Liz Moores
Hahaha! Ro was the same this morning. None of us in this house are morning people.😬 


Basenotes
So, perfume then...


Liz Moores
Ok


Basenotes
Or we could just talk crap for 20 minutes? Up to you? 😀


Liz Moores
We can talk crap too. 💩💩💩


Liz Moores
I usually talk crap 💩💩💩


Basenotes
Me too! It's my calling!💩


Liz Moores
Lol


Basenotes
So, Salome hit a few Best of the Year lists!


Liz Moores
I know! Salome certainly put herself about a bit. I was quite stunned actually because I really didn't think anyone would like it.


Basenotes
Why not?


Liz Moores
The household focus group (Simon, kids and cats) hated it. A lot of friends really dislike it too and I think they all thought I'd lost the plot when I said it was to be the next perfume.


Liz Moores
The kids still hate it, Simon now thinks it's my way of giving him the olfactory equivalent of a come on.😉 


Basenotes
Ha! So are you no longer going to trust the household focus group?


Liz Moores
They are now my benchmark as to whether a perfume is any good. If they hate it then I know I've nailed it!


Liz Moores
But they are useless. 😉 


Basenotes
I take it that it's also selling well, and it's not one of those that's loved by the bloggers, but no-one in real life likes it?


Liz Moores
It's selling really well which is great. Tobacco Rose still sells the best in Les Senteurs but through the Papillon website it's Salome that sells the best.


Basenotes
How is it doing in the US, you're at Lucky Scent, Twisted Lily and Indigo, yes?


Liz Moores
Yes, and TigerLily in San Francisco. The perfumes have been really well received in the US. The American market has been very good to us and sales there are going very well.


Basenotes
So, how did Salome come to be?


Liz Moores
Salome started life based around an accord I created 8 years ago which was centred around the smell of my horses sweaty saddle. I think it's a beautiful smell so wanted to take the idea further so I did. I'd also been asked whether a 'proper' perfume could still be created with the IFRA and EU restrictions so I wanted to push this a little, just to see if it was possible.


Liz Moores
Salome was an accidental experiment in a way but moved forward when I knew that I could form it into a cohesive finished product.


Basenotes
When did you first start working on it?


Liz Moores
The saddle accord was created 8 years ago but the real work started on Salome 4 years ago. This wasn't 4 years solid as I picked the mods up and put them down quite a bit over that time. It took 9 months to completely finish the perfume.


Basenotes
Did you want it to be part of the initial launch line-up?


Liz Moores
No, I wasn't brave enough then. The household focus group thought Anubis was a step too far so I held Salome back and thought it would probably just be a perfume I wore for myself.


Liz Moores
I'm happy to report that the household now love Anubis but they thought it was awful when I first created it.


Basenotes
Maybe they'll come round to Salome?


Liz Moores
Poppy quite likes parts of it, Daisy likes it but then she's only 2 years old, Rowan says it's lovely, Lily thinks it smells of BO and Jasmine says it's smells like hot wee. Simon loves it but it took him a while to come around to the idea.


Basenotes
'Hot wee' made me spit coffee!


Liz Moores
Hahaha!!
Jaz said 'why mummy? Just why??? You can make such nice perfumes but why would you make this???'
Nothing wrong with hot wee, I say.


Basenotes
Do you want to make 'nice perfumes'?


Liz Moores
No. I don't do nice.


Liz Moores
I'm not very good at 'pretty' either.


Basenotes
So no pink fruity florals from Papillon then?



Liz Moores
Gahhhh!! I'd rather boil my head



Liz Moores
If I want pink and fruity then I'll go and buy it but I have no desire to make one.


Basenotes
Going back in time, when did you first decide 'I want to make perfume?'


Liz Moores
It was about 12 years ago when I had a go at mixing some essential oils with vodka. It was a hideous mess but from this mess I was intrigued to know how a perfume was made. I wanted to make a perfume just to see if I could, it was merely to satisfy my own curiosity and there was no plan to create a business.


Basenotes
So after you wasted vodka by putting essential oils in it, when did you decide to do it properly, and how did you go about it?


Liz Moores
I read Mandy Aftel's brilliant book [Essence & Alchemy] which helped to give me a greater understanding of how complex the natural materials are. I didn't have access to perfumers alcohol at this stage so I spent a long time smelling lots of different natural materials to widen my knowledge.


Liz Moores
I then attended a 5 day natural perfume making course with the late Alec Lawless who I then bought my perfume alcohol from. It was on this course that I met my friend, Karen Gilbert.


Basenotes
Alec was wonderful wasn't he?


Liz Moores
He was an incredible man; kind, generous and his knowledge of naturals was unsurpassed. I learnt so much from him and he's still greatly missed.


Basenotes
Karen's very knowledgeable too. Have you done one of her courses?


Liz Moores
Karen is brilliant! I haven't done any of her courses but I'd love to!


Basenotes
For other budding perfumers, would you recommend doing some sort of course to get started?


Basenotes
[if you need to go and do real life things at any point, let me know]


Liz Moores
Absolutely, you learn so much and meet people with the same interest as you. I know that Karen covers the more complicated side of perfume making such as regulations which is invaluable if you want to build a business.


Liz Moores
No it's ok! I'm making a hot chocolate now!


Basenotes
I'm still drinking thick black coffee (I'm sitting in Wetherspoons, eating their breakfasts and taking advantage of free coffee refills)


Liz Moores
Good boy.


Basenotes
😉
Did you take Alec's course with the idea that you wanted to be a perfumer, and make perfumes to sell, or did that idea come later?


Liz Moores
It came to me mid-way through the course but I wasn't sure at that stage how I could logistically achieve it. I came back from the course expecting to bash out a few perfumes but it didn't work like that. There was one failure after another so I decided to concentrate on creating one perfume, for my personal use. When I finished Anubis I was happy with what I'd created but still didn't think I could get people to pay for it but friends started buying the odd bottle, then their friends did so it snowball from there.


Basenotes
As an indie perfumer, how do you get noticed, without the marketing clout of a multinational brand behind you? (Unless you were secretly bought by Estee Lauder and we didn't realise...)


Liz Moores
Hahaha! No I haven't been.  Social media did all of the work and without it I don't have a clue how I could have given Papillon a voice. I was also very, very lucky. There was this rather handsome chap who I was following on Twitter who I sent some perfume samples to in the very early days. I didn't realise that he was the manager of Les Senteurs and he took the perfumes to the owner and the rest as they say is history. Thank you Callum!!


Liz Moores
I also was lucky enough to make some very good friends within the industry who helped so much. Nick Gilbert helped me understand margins and co efficient's....actually, I don't really understand them but Simon does. Karen has always been there when I didn't really have a clue what I was doing and when I started to get wobbly knees she kept cheering me on.


Basenotes
Hurrah for the Gilbert's and Callum's. Is the internet an important tool for an indie perfumer?


Liz Moores
I don't know how it could be done without it.....


Basenotes
It's a useful slingshot in the David and Goliath world of perfumery.


Liz Moores
It's the biggest one, for sure.


Basenotes
What is on the cards for 2016, anything fun?


Liz Moores
I'm going to be doing some more work on White Moth as this perfume is quickly becoming my nemesis at the moment. I'd like a holiday as I haven't had one for 8 years, so that would be nice!


Basenotes
What's White Moth about? Does it smell of bashing your head on a lightbulb?


Liz Moores
I feel a bit like that about the mods right now so maybe I should take White Moth in a different direction.  White Moth is textural more than literal, although I did try to sniff a moth once. I want to create an idea of how the dust on a moths wings would smell in a textural form. Does that make any sense at all??????


Liz Moores
I'm thinking that lightbulb and head bashing might be a bit easier to achieve.


Basenotes
That makes sense. Not the head-bashing, but the idea of the smell. Do you have a thing for butterflies and moths?


Liz Moores
Yes I do. I'm slightly obsessed with all kinds of creatures and even though I'm scared of spiders I can see the beauty in them.


Basenotes
They do make nice houses


Liz Moores
They're amazing but slightly scary.


Basenotes
Well, less of a house, more of an evil trapping machine


Liz Moores
Snakes don't bother me at all.


Liz Moores
I walked through a web in my bedroom the other day. I think it's a sign I need to do some cleaning.


Basenotes
Is there a correlation with the amount of legs a creature has? No legs = fine. More than 6 legs = messed up


Liz Moores
Hahaha! You're on to something here....


Basenotes
How about I let you get on with cleaning spider webs, last question...


Basenotes
Have you broken any new years resolutions yet?


Liz Moores
I didn't make any!
I'm embracing my weaknesses this year.


Basenotes
Thank you for your time Liz! I've enjoyed chatting!


Liz Moores
Thank you Grant, I've enjoyed it too! I'm off to sweep away the cobwebs. Not really. I'm going to eat some cake. xxxxx


Liz Moores
What are you doing for the rest of the day? Xxx


Basenotes
Finishing off all the mince pies, trying to get my life in order while the kids are at school. The usual...


Liz Moores
Same xxx


Basenotes
Good Luck!

 

Basenotes has disconnected.

Liz Moores has disconnected.

 

 

You can find Salome, and all the other Papillon fragrances online at Lucky Scent, Indigo Perfumery, Twisted Lily, Tigerlily, The Perfume Shoppe [Canada], Les Senteurs [UK] and the Papillon Perfumes website.

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About the author: Grant Osborne

Grant Osborne is the founder and editor of Basenotes. Grant has two children, and a dependence on tea, haribo and bacon.

Website: http://www.grantosborne.com

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    Comments

      • Chypre 33 | 6th January 2016 16:43

        Great Chat Grant :-) and Thanks Liz Moores for introducing to us a great house- Papillion. I own Tobacco Rose from this house , tried Salome- little animalistic( which I like time to time ;-)) for me but will definitely try again and see how it works with my skin. Thanks again.

      • Persolaise | 7th January 2016 10:52

        I am SO stealing this idea.

        Another great read. Thank you :-D

      • rum | 7th January 2016 11:37

        An interesting interview - thanks, Grant (and Liz!).

        Papillon has had an astonishing year and I am looking forward to 2016. Meanwhile, Tobacco Rose may well be my next purchase!

      • hednic | 7th January 2016 14:39

        That was a very interesting exchange. What a down to earth individual to take the time. Also love the format.

      • La Flâneuse | 8th January 2016 11:59

        Illuminating interview, Thank you Grant!

        I love Liz Moores, there I said it! she's got such a great attitude towards perfumery, and I love Anubis and Salome...I hope she keeps on making such fabulous and non 'pretty' scents, the White Moth sounds intriguing, good to see another woman who loves creepy crawlies

      • SysOp | 14th January 2016 13:34

        Couldn't be bothered reading past the children talk. Should be on mumsnet.

      • Dorje123 | 14th January 2016 16:45

        [QUOTE]Do you want to make 'nice perfumes'?

        Liz Moores

        No. I don't do nice.

        Liz Moores

        I'm not very good at 'pretty' either.[/QUOTE]

        Hmm, I thought Tobacco Rose was very pretty. I was expecting something a bit more dark and robust after trying Anubis but didn't recognize any tobacco whatsoever, although a tobacco like accord forms as it drys down. The rose in Tobacco Rose is really well done and very pretty, reminded me of MFK's A la Rose a bit...