South African artisanal perfumery Saint d’Ici collaborated with the The Trenery Guild this month to release a limited-edition candle in time for Mother’s Day.
The Johannesburg-based perfumery is the latest in the foundation’s collaborations with local artisans to create special collections you wouldn’t normally find at Trenery stores.
We caught up with Marie Aoun, founder of Saint d’Ici, to get to the heart of their partnership, and to learn more about the perfume candle that she designed to evoke the distinct mood of cashmere – an ode to the mothers in our lives.
how did you work out what cashmere smells like for the The Trenery Guild candle?
The idea for the candle is centred around the soft, animalic notes of cashmere as well as the feeling that it evokes. I looked towards warm woods, earthy notes and subtle botanicals to create the feeling of being cocooned in a woollen cashmere wrap beside a toasty fire in winter.
why is natural perfume different to the sort one buys at a cosmetics counter?
Although some commercial perfumes have a natural ‘aura’ about them, you will find that the perfumes at cosmetics counters are largely, if not entirely, composed of synthetic aroma-chemicals. On the other hand, natural perfumes are entirely composed of botanical extracts. Where synthetic aroma-chemicals are manufactured in large-scale laboratories, natural ingredients are mostly sown, grown, harvested and extracted, often in remote parts of the world. The process of obtaining natural ingredients is far more expensive and less predictable/consistent, as they are subject to geo-political factors.
From a sensorial perspective, natural perfumes are vastly different. Flowers blooming in the wild serve as a good comparison; you pick the scent up only to have it disappear the next instant before it comes back again and overwhelms your senses. Natural perfumes are not linear, they don’t assault you with one particular scent, they come and go and, when you’re least aware of it, someone will remark upon it. Admittedly, if you’re the type of perfume wearer that likes to dominate a space with your scent, natural perfume may not be the right option for you. If, on the other hand, you prefer perfume that will blend with your own scent and that will leave those around you intrigued, then natural perfume would be the perfect option for you. Natural ingredients have a depth, complexity and beauty that is impossible to replicate in a lab.
how did you get into perfume development?
I truly meandered into perfumery. A good friend of mine is a perfumer for a large flavours and fragrance company. Through her I got a glimpse into the world of commercial perfume development. At the time, I didn’t really distinguish between synthetic and natural perfumery. A few years down the line, I came to find out more about natural perfume and it was like a revelation. I immediately knew that I wanted to make natural perfumes. What followed was a submersion into the world of natural perfumery. I read as much as I could on the subject and I studied with a celebrated natural perfumer in Italy.
Saint d’Ici was built by seemingly haphazard events and choices in my life. My education and work in fashion, my love of gardening and nature and my desire to craft something truly beautiful all conspired to get me to this point. I have no doubt that this is what I was meant to do all along, but the other pieces needed to fall into place first.
your collaboration is being created specially for Mother’s Day. When you think of your own mother, what smell comes to mind?
Chanel No. 19 (before all the reformulations) blended with her own soft, musky ‘mum’ smell.
what is the best advice your mother gave you?
Shortly after the birth of my son, I was having a really hard time balancing being a mother and running my own business. My mum’s advice was simple. She said, ‘You know, we are the stronger sex’. It helped me tap into the incredible strength that comes with being a mother and I channelled it into all aspects of my life.