by Grant Osborne, 17 August 2006
My earliest fragrance experiences were the fragrances of nature in the Mediterranean countryside, where I grew up surrounded by labdanum, sage and wild broom. The three most powerful fragrance experiences for me were the scent of the earth after rain, carob blossoms, and the beautiful scent of lemon verbena. It was the lemon verbena harvest that inspired me more than anything else to explore the possibilities of becoming a “Nose”. As a young girl I dreamed of establishing a factory dedicated to lemon verbena scented products only; little did I know how much more complex my perfumes will be...
I was always aware of the power of scent in my life and how it affects mood and memory, but it wasn’t until about 6 years ago that I became deeply involved with aromatics in a creative way – studying building blocks and perfume classics and creating my own original perfumes.
Ayala Moriel Parfums is an artisan perfume house dedicated to the art of natural perfumery. We design and handcraft natural perfumes from pure and precious botanical essences. We offer bespoke services as well as a line of beautiful and original ready-to-wear perfumes.
Our new website, www.AyalaMoriel.com will be launching early this fall, and will feature the first Online Fragrance Consultant – an interactive tool to help our customers and visitors find the perfumes that best suit your personality and fragrance needs.
In winter 2000, I was studying ancient Egyptian culture and started to develop burning perfumes – aka incense. It all seemed to go amazingly well, until it was time to burn the incense – to my disappointment, they turned out to be more smoky than fragrant. I gradually acquired more and more essential oils and resins, to reduce the smoke in the incense, but soon decided to change direction altogether and start creating liquid perfumes – based in alcohol or jojoba oil. I got all the perfumery books I could get a hold of, both professional and hobby books. But I very quickly moved on to designing my own formulas, because I was never satisfied with the results I got from following the formulas. My first attempt included all of my favourite notes at the time – lemon verbena (of course!), rose, vanilla, amber, sandalwood, cinnamon and cloves – and I named it Ayala. It was an instant success and I haven’t stopped making perfumes ever since.
Of course, I love all my perfumes as they are all part of me in some way or the other. They all have their own personality, their own little world. There are some perfumes that I wear more than others, and there are some perfumes that even if I don’t wear them often - they invoke something very powerful – a memory or an emotion.
Espionage is my own Signature Perfume. I love it because it feels like my own skin. It’s very versatile. I also have my own Fragrance Wardrobe, which consists of different types of perfumes – Ayalitta (a green Chypre), White Potion (a white floral), Guilt (a chocolatey gourmand), Fetish (citrusy), Charisma (floriental), and Tamya (a woody, fruity-floral).
I have a particularly strong connection to the perfumes from my line that were inspired by people close to me, and invoke very special memories. It’s as if their personality is distilled into a perfume:
L’Herbe Rouge is dedicated to my partner, and is to me the ideal scent on a man; Tamya was inspired by the birth of my daughter and the glow of sunset; Indigo is a tribute to my mother and is very mysterious; Yasmin and Zohar are named after my two dearest friends, and are soliflores of jasmine and orange blossom respectively.
I particularly admire Edmund Roudniska, Jacques Guerlain and Ernest Daltroff. They made perfect perfumes. Mitsouko, Vol de Nuit, Shalimar, Nuit de Noel, Tabac Blond, Femme, Diorissimo, Miss Dior and Le Parfum de Therese – I can always find something new in them. That’s what makes them such classics.
The house of Guerlain has been particularly influential on me. I admire the structure, inspiration and high quality of ingredients in their pre-LVMH days. I also admire the dark, rich, vintage atmosphere of the Caron scents - they always make me feel as if I am traveling in time. Parfum Sacre is another perfect perfume, which Daltroff would have been proud of if he had lived long enough to smell it.
From the contemporary perfumers, I find myself mostly interested in the independent houses. It is in the niche houses that I find perfumes that truly transport me to another realm. That is what perfumes are all about. I love the exceptional boldness and innovation of the Serge Lutens scents; the neo-classicism and respect for the natural raw materials in the Miller Harris line; the classic and arabesque statements of the Montale line; and the elegant, playful creativity of l’Artisan Parfumeur. With the flourishing of independent perfume houses, we may live to smell the New Golden Age of Perfumery.
Although I loved the meaning of the original name, and it very much suited what I do and my vision for my perfume company, it prove to be not very practical. It was too hard to spell or pronounce, and after a while I noticed that most of my clients refer to my perfumes as “Ayala’s Perfumes”. I took the hint and decided to change the name. I was very reluctant to use my own name at first, but it just sounded better than anything else I could think of, and it also relates to how personal my perfumes are – both my ready-to-wear line as well as the bespoke. It’s all about the relationship between the perfumer, the perfumes and the wearer. Also, my last name, Moriel, includes in it the word “Mor”, which is Hebrew for Myrrh – one of the most valuable fragrant resins for perfumery since antiquity.
Creating bespoke perfumes can be likened to the distilling process; only that instead of distilling essences from a plant – I am trying to translate the essence of the person into perfume.
I meet with my client, ask them what they like and what they want the perfume to be. Together we develop the perfume’s “story” or “image” – what is known in the industry as “brief”. We will than take an olfactory tour through the building blocks of natural perfumery, and choose the essences that will play a key role in the perfume’s composition. This is a fun and interactive process, and the client is an active participant in the decision making and creative process, determining to which direction the perfume will go. My role is to help translate their vision and innermost feelings into a beautiful perfume.
For out-of-town customers, we do a fragrance consultation over the phone or via email – starting with the questionnaire on my website, and followed by receiving a sample pack of perfumes to try from my collection, that best suit the personality and fragrance needs of my customer (based on their answers). This way we both get introduced to each other in a more personal way– I get to know what you like and you get to know the style and quality of my perfumes. The next step will be developing the perfume, except for the “fragrance journey”. However, if there are particular notes that you are not familiar with and I think are particularly fitting for the bespoke perfume, I will send you samples of these as well.
After the consultations, I will develop up to three different samples of perfumes for you to try. After a maturing period of 2-4 weeks, you will be given enough time (and perfume!) to try them and be able to decide which is “The One”. At this point, if there are any adjustments to be made, I will tweak the formula and will let you try again. The final perfume will also need it’s own maturing process, which may take between 4-8 weeks, in order to let all the essences to marry and for the perfume to achieve its finesse.
Although I am planning for future growth and wider distribution for my perfumes - Ayala Moriel Parfums will always remain an artisanal perfume house, which offers a unique fragrance experience. The personal connection with my clients and the quality of handcrafted fragrances is something I would not want to change or replace. It is also important for me to work within the context of my community; and so I am hoping to open my own store front in the near future, and create an interactive olfactory environment, which beyond being an olfactory destination - will also serve as an educational centre for fragrance appreciation and the study of natural perfumery.
This morning I am wearing Razala – a new perfume I am working on, and my first one to include Ambergris (beach-harvested). It’s concoction of saffron crocus, pink pepper, orange blossoms, Turkish roses, tuberose, myrrh, oud and ambergris, and smells very Arabesque.
These days I often smell like Mitsouko, Le Parfum de Therese, Narciso Rodriguez or Agent Provocateur, which are now amongst my favourites from other houses.
Many thank to you for interviewing me!
Ayala's perfumes are available from her website (below).