Ode to Musk

Having contributed to the Mystery of Musk Project put on by the Natural Perfumers Guild, I was inspired to dig up this poem written a decade ago. I think it speaks to the power of natural fragrance and the allure of musk. There is no other perfume that speaks more powerfully to our sensuality or that connects us more strongly to our ancient beginnings. It is without wonder how important it is for artisans to endeavor the replication of this alluring scent while doing no harm to the lower animal kingdoms.


You Moroccan spirit

Tying your frankincense

And myrrh scented scarf

Upon my head

I could feel my spirit tiptoeing,

Peering down into the gauze

Fashioned into the shirt

Covering your supple, sun-burnt skin

Wrapped sensuously upon your collar-bone

Speaking out to be touched,

Caressed by my hands

Black, silken hair meticulously drawn to your chest

I could smell faintly your musk

Rising to meet my every breath

And before I could breathe you in completely,

I trembled, damn!

Rodney F. Hughes, Bespoke Perfumer

TAPROBAINE et L’Automne (Fall 2010)

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Just a few weeks ago I received three vials of cedar perfume from the Zurich based perfumer Rashunda Tramble.

The first variation is a blend of cedar, tobacco, ginger, grapefruit and black pepper it is so very masculine and heroic. It enters the nasal passage, traveling up into the upper and back lobes of the head, then settles full bodied into my heart. It is a delightful fragrance that has a saturated earthiness about it. At the same time it’s deeply green, lush and manly. I envision myself wearing this fragrance day to evening in fall when the air is cool and crisp.

No. 2 is a combination of cedar, rose and ylang-ylang, this one is smooth and very gourmand. It has a sweet sensual quality and it’s all about having my nose close to skin, traversing ones neck, pelvis and inner thighs. This fragrance travels up through the top lobe of the head, down into the heart, the solar plexus and settles into the sacral. It’s divinely hypnotic and rather intoxicating.

As I was writing a funny thing came to me; the lyrics of this song filled my head.

Generations of love, generations of love

Generations of love, have done you wrong

I don’t know much, but I know what I feel

There’s too many people fighting, tied to the wheel

I don’t know much, but I know what I see

There’s too many people crying

Washed out to sea and there’s much more we can say

And there’s much more we can do

And there’s much more we can learn

Generations of love…….


Boy George, the Martyr Mantras

 I have always loved Boy George and Culture Club, while reviewing the cedars I was inspired to put on the album “Jesus Loves You.” The Boy’s music has always moved me, making me dance and think of the life through crystal lenses. This kind of innocence rarely shows itself any longer. Tramble’s experiment in cedar has taken me to a place of innocence that is as ethereal as Miles horn on Générique.

The final cedar in this triptych symphony is just as beautiful. Similar to No. 2, it too has rose sitting at the core traveling up and down the composition, but it’s bright on the top and middle. Cognac is the reason for this multiplication, vanilla and black pepper gives the rose depth. This perfume is divinely feminine and screams the power of a woman.

Tramble’s quality as a perfumer is most definitely the E. Butler brand of Octavianism. It has the sensibility of an artisan who lives across the centuries.

Three Swiss Cedars

Rodney F. Hughes, Bespoke Perfumer

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Ascent to Rememberance

My dad Roy L. Hughes, I – passed away when I was two and a half, so there were virtually no scent memories of him that I could recall. Unlike two of the scenes from the short time we spent together, the most vivid being picked up by Uncle so I could see my dad laying still, all dressed up and quiet.

Colour of Rememberance

The other time was him walking down the hallway on a winter night as I walked to the bathroom. This image stayed so strongly with me because he had already passed away.

I remember him and the blue flames from the open space heater vividly. Remembering things through scent is very awakening for me being a visual person, but since becoming a perfumer all kinds of memories have rushed into my head.

One day while in the West Village, I happened into Fresh to experience their fragrances and came across Patchouli Pure. Smelling this fragrance brought back memories of every influential man that had been a part of my life.

A Scent to Remember

It’s the kind of fragrance that wraps up the spirit of the ‘70’s and ‘80’s; it took me back to those times when I use to drift away on the wave of a day dream.

Suddenly, I could smell my dad as if he were standing very near to me. I was a kid all over again and could clearly smell him. That safety and contentment that a father can sometimes bring came rushing back for a brief moment.

Rodney F. Hughes, Bespoke Perfumer

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SNIFF: Highlights of a Fragrant Walk

Last Sunday I had an opportunity to join other fragrant heads for Sniffapalooza’s Spring Fling a two-day event that starts in Midtown at Bergdorf Goodman with a banging breakfast and introduction. It then journeys to such venues as Takayshimaya which I must add is about to close its doors in NYC, so If you haven’t had an opportunity to experience this wonderful store I suggest you do it soon.

Takashimaya is known for its Zen approach to the high-end the shopping experience not to mention its gorgeous botanical considerations and some of the top niche brands known to fragrance lovers.

I wasn’t able to join the uptown portion of this walk, but I do on occasion get to shop those stores and enjoy what they have to offer particularly when it comes eyeing a new purchase of smell good.

The tour took fragrance enthusiast to Henri Bendel where I am sure they got to experience all full array of goodies after all Bendel’s carries Aftelier Perfumes the line so masterfully created by the Goddess of Green herself, Mandy Aftel. Since Mother’s Day will soon be upon us, I would highly recommend Lumiere, Parfum Prive and Cepes & Tuberose.

I recently reviewed her New Testament fragrance: Trévert. If you are interested you may find this review on CaFleurebon.com, although in my opinion it is a divergence from her more neo-classic take on fragrance, but it has great healing appeal.

So the second day started at 10am with continental breakfast at Bond No. 9 on Bond and of course they did not fall short of expectations, they offered all the subtle downtown drama, glitz and glamour that have come to be expected from this fragrance house. I just adore all of their whimsical bling and light hearted approach to fragrance. Their newest selection is “Highline”, a very green heady perfume that is all about spring and New York cities hip new destination.

Then it was on to Le Labo, now this fragrance house is more than a destination, you have really arrived when you understand and love what they are doing with the future of fragrance. Don’t let its simple appointments fool you, there are some amazing things going on behind this ode to the industrial era. For me they are everything I think a fragrance line should be, simple clean packaging and absolutely alluring fragrances. A few of my favorites are Bergamote 22 (Don’t forget Father’s Day) and Jasmin 17.

From Le Labo we went onto LAFCO NY most you might be familiar with the amazing House and Home Candle Collection this Italian Apothecary offers. It is a fragrant journey in and of itself. This great find is located on Lafayette St. near Houston which I have visited again and again since discovering it on one of my afternoon strolls in the city.

Keeping Father’s Day in mind, I would additionally recommend Yerba Mate by Lorenzo Villoresi and Acqua di ColoniaOpoponox by Santa Maria Novella both of which can be acquired at Lafcony. These two fragrances are very masculine and sexy and meant to enhance the appeal of our everyday heroes.

My overall fantasy pick from the Sniff was discovered at MiN on Crosby St. Perfumer Chistopher Brosius of CB I Hate Perfume really have upper echelon brilliance to his artistry.  The fragrance “I am a Dandelion” is pure sun power in a bottle, it has the ability to make the sun come out on a rainy New York City day. It really took me back to a cherished week spent on Salt Aire last summer.

This really intrigued me while all along illuminating my solar plexus. It’s sweet and warm without being over bearing. I would add it’s certainly unisex! Even if you wouldn’t actually wear this fragrance, it would recommend just carrying a bottle of it every where you go, it a very happy scent. (i.e. it’s a great way to brighten your subway commute.)

While at MiN I meet Dawn Hurwitz of Parfums des Beaux Arts she was sitting around the table partaking in Christopher’s Collection. I can tell you what an honor it was to finally meet this artist. I don’t use the word artist lightly she is in my opinion a Historian Royal when it comes to fragrance. Her recreation of “Acqua Admirabilis” aka Eau de Cologne is sheer genius and it is rendered only as painter and art historian can do. I love that the smoke of this fragrance can instantly travel me to seas of the Arctic and Mediterranean all at once.

I have heard talk of other “heroic fragrances”, but this is a huge thing to live up to and I think Dawn has done it with this one. I also enjoyed experiencing “BANCHA” a refreshing green tea fragrance that is crisp and energizing.

“Overall the nicest thing about Sniffapalooza’s Spring Fling had to be all the wonderful people I meet who really share the love of this artform.”

Lunch at Barolo gave us an opportunity to rest our weary feet, grab a bite to eat and to be introduced to a number of up and coming niche perfumeries. It was a very impressive showing and would be a great way to introduce Therapeutate Parfums in the fall. I’ll keep you posted!

The brands that stood out among the crowd were Libby Patterson Organics; highly spiritual and aromatic, 1000 Flowers; layered masterful and Lord’s Jester; “natural” and thoughtful artistry. Additionally, I would include the product line by Duchess Marden their rose infused body oil is heavenly. Remember men can wear rose fragrances especially when they are composed of plant botanicals; the rose will interact very differently on us as opposed to woman’s chemistry.

After this most exhilarating showing and our three course lunch, we were off to Aedes de Venustas on Christopher St. This great little perfumery house and boutique has become a West Village institution. It is everything great about perfumery and not to mention a magnificent feast for the eyes and the soul. They have many of the finest and most sought after fragrances in one location; what more can an enthusiast desire?

This is where many of us perfume lovers go to escape and be apart of a rarified dream. Simply precious! The proprietors of this shop are very warm, knowledgeable and generous with sampling any of its fragrances. Sampling is very important when considering a new fragrance it allows you to be with a fragrance for a while to see if you will really love it in the long run. All fragrances have a life span and you should love each stage of its unfolding before you decide on living with it.

Finally, we were all to meet up at Pure Dark on Bleeker Street to compare notes and grab something really delicious, but when we got their, they were in the process of closing. There was a mix-up in scheduling , they had expected us much earlier……..lunch ran way over schedule, so we were a bit behind the mark.

Too bad, the staff had prepared a presentation, however they were gracious enough to give us gift bags of their chocolates and product information. I thoroughly enjoyed the chocolates especially the spicy ones, they gave a whole new name to “hot chocolate”.

It’s been almost two weeks now; I am still recovering from all the excitement of this experience. I hope to see many of you join us later this year for the fall version of this walk and until later have a fragrant life.

Rodney Hughes, Bespoke Perfumer

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HAUTE PARFUM: Rare and custom

custom (bespoke) & rare

".....taste born out of ones travel to the far reaches of the world."

Let’s get 2010 started off fresh for you fragranistas. Admit it 2009 was one hell of a year! Buying those beautifully packaged leisure creations in a bottle was all we could do to ease the discomfort of an ailing economy. Understandably so, especially since fragrance has the ability to alter our moods and send us on fantastic journeys in space and time.

Well, I have decided to journey back in time when buying and wearing a fragrance was a prized affair in and of itself.  A time when one would go to the perfumer’s shop in the cities of Paris, Rome, London, Vienna and New York to have their own personal fragrance created. It was revoltingly frowned upon to be caught dressed in a garment resembling that of another. Personal style ruled even down to the scent worn next to their skin.

With this concept of individual style in mind, I embarked upon this very intrigue and asked Perfumer Anu Prestonia to custom blend two new fragrances for me. This is what she came up with to challenge and delight my olfactory. “Netchem” a delightful deep hearted fragrance that is leathery with fruity undertones. Each time I smell this fragrance it simply draws a smile to my face.

Netchem is a sexy, forbidden-fruit delight, definitely meant to be worn on all the sensitive parts of the body. It reminds me of clenching my teeth while my mouth waters to bite down into flesh. This rather intriguing sensation, in my opinion, should be enjoyed by all, if only once in a life time.  It has the ability to create an indelible imprint on ones being.

One fragrance was not enough, I had to have two and Anu was more than happy to oblige. The second deadly sin is “Kush” a dark earthy scent billowing with smoke and floral undertones. Experiencing this note worthy concoction is akin to being dressed in the finest Asian silks and Venetian velvets, then being sequestered away in a mahogany paneled temple full of antiques gathered along the Silk Roads. In this mythic place ones only guests are the hundreds of volumes of leather-bound books, the clarifying chant of Miles’ horn, a glass of Private Reserve and a Sal Torpedo to get you through the night and into the dawn.

I have to admit these fragrances are not for everyone, especially those who have not over time acquired a highly tuned sense of taste and smell. It may even help if this level of taste has been born out of ones travel to the far reaches of the world. Be warned, Netchem and Kush are single malt and bursting with the elements of earth, fire and air, but I think the true connoisseur will get them. They are a must have for any serious nose.

Both picks are in keeping with my personal fragrance philosophy which I hope will resonate with many of you “be natural, raise the bar and have uncompromising genius.” So with that, Therapeutate Parfums introduces its newest fragrance “Royal Water” to premier this month.  This eau de parfum is an opening to Archipelago and the wonders experienced on the isles of Mykonos and Santorini.

It is my hope these three fragrance possibilities will start this year of exploration and fragrance adventure off with an eye up for the rare and custom. I further extend an invitation for you to join us each month for more picks that will take you on a magic carpet ride of scent discovery.

Rodney Hughes, Perfumer – Reiki Master

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For many of us our home is sacred, it is where the heart lives and gains security from the outer environment; a place where we can let go after a long day, enjoy a quiet moment of reflection or simply commune with our family.

On the other hand, when you are around the house or busy with chores, do you sometimes get the sense that the energy seems a bit unbalanced or stale?  Maybe it lacks that familiar comfort you have become accustom to enjoying?

Well, you just might be onto something! Especially if you keep your windows closed for long periods of time, the curtains are always drawn and you have not had the time to give your home a thorough cleaning. If any of these descriptions fit the general being of your home, maybe its time to pull back the drapes, open the windows, turn on your favorite music and clean, clean, clean.

Chasing way all the dust and cob webs, so the light can shine. These small steps will set your house well on the road to regaining its balance and proper flow of energy.

Start by asking the Divine Universe to bless and bestow protection upon your home by allowing the light to shine freely through it. You may then follow-up by burning the sacred resins of Frankincense (Olibanum) and Myrrh to complete the cleaning and clearing process.

If you have never burned the resins of frankincense and myrrh before and are wondering where to purchase such items, you should inquire at your neighborhood health food establishments or any religious book store.

In case you have trouble locating a resource near home, go online and Google suppliers of incense and resins. You should find scores of suppliers near and far. When purchasing your resins, be sure to include a censer to burn the resins in; the censer can also be used to spread the fragrant smoke all around the home. It is important to remember when fumigating, the smoke needs to get into every nook and cranny.

An alternative to Fumigation is Smudging. Both methods of energy cleansing have been used across cultural and religious boundaries since ancient times. All you need is a tightly wound bundle of White Sage (salvia“to heal”). Light one end of the smudging stick, until it catches fire. Let it burn before blowing it out, then began wafting and blowing the smoke all over your place. Pay special attention around windows, door ways and high up corners. Walk from room to room to make sure the smoke finds its way into every nook.

What ever cleansing method you choose, make sure all the windows and doors are closed. Only after the purification process is complete should they be opened allowing the smoke to carry away all old energy.

If all this seems like too much effort on your part, I suggest buying or preparing a liquid cleanser. Therapeutate Pure Essene Oil Therapy manufactures a “Purifying Myst” made from organic, wild-crafted, therapeutic grade essential oils combined with distilled water. This product is made primarily of white sage with rose, geranium and verbena; it is perfectly suited for spiritual cleansing.

Purifying Myst & Jet-Set; anti-biotic/anti-viral spray

Purifying Myst & Jet-Set; anti-biotic/anti-viral spray

You can also prepare you own blend. Start by purchasing the essential oils of Frankincense and Myrrh or White Sage. Again you can obtain these items at any health food store or online. Combine 60-108 drops of the essential oil with 4 ounces of distilled water in a sprayer.  Simply shake and spray where ever clearing is required.

If you prefer effortless fumigation, I recommend using Fred Soll’s resins-on-a-stick or Nature Nature Pure Resin Incense; they are two of the best incense on the market. FS  is made by hand and dried in the Arizona sun while NN is an offering through Royal Incense. Try the Frankincense and Myrrh Ancient Blend or the Sacred Sage.

No matter the method you choose to apply in your home the end result will be a home that is clean, balanced and full of life.

info: http://therapeutate.com, therapeutate@gmail.com


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Mercedes-Benz Spring 2010 Fashion Week: Nanette Lepore

I am probably the most anti-fashionista lover of cloth art you’ll come across. The beauty of this art expressed through fabric, finishes and embellishments was the very reason I studied design in the first place. It has kept me an active creative force in the industry of “beauty” for more than 20 years.

On the other hand, I must admit it is probably one the most neurotic energy depleting environments I have ever encountered. I suppose where there is immense beauty and creativity there has to be vampirism.

So when my dear friend Stephany called me from Washington D.C. last week asking if I would accompany her to a show or two during this Spring 2010 fashion week. Naturally I hesitated, often when I’ve attended related events I’d leave feeling very drained and tense. Even so, we’ve been friends and colleagues since our days at Pratt Institute and have worked on many projects together throughout the years. So a compromise was certainly in order.

Joining us would be another class-mate of ours that actually sweetened the compromise even more.  Déjà vu, I remembered the three of us attending a Tommy Hilfiger show together about a decade ago. All in our forties now which I might add is the new thirties. Barring that we have all taken really good care of ourselves and maintaining our youthfulness quite well. Karen is now a beautiful mother of two teen age boys and running her own holistic health counseling service. I hadn’t seen her even longer than Stephany. Karen and I are both in the business of healing, so we have an endless exchange of chatter about ancient wisdom for modern living.

Funny thing, it seems to rain ever time during the Mercedes-Benz Fashion week and this Wednesday morning the weather wasn’t much different. The glooming clouds hanging over the city were threatening to burst through at any moment, but they held their peace.

For this reason and the time it takes to commute into Manhattan from Brooklyn, I was a little anxious, but I made it their ten minutes to call. Good for me these things rarely start on time anyway. A bit frazzled, I got their and there were my girls on the steps of the Bryant Park 41st Street entrance. Quickly, we shared hellos, hugs, and smiles and entered into the tents through a barrage of security measures.

I thought in my head, so this is what fashion week as become. Not so long ago, you could just walk into the pavilion, even if you didn’t have an invitation to any particular show and just mingle in their with all the other fashionista.  Not anymore, it seemed a bit of a cattle call. This would normally be our time to see all the interesting takes on personal style and have an ear up on tasty little tidbits falling from lips of the devotees awaiting this religious ceremony a kin to a church revival below the Mason Dixon.

So much for the art of meandering, we were rush into the line leading to our respective show, quickly seated or in Karen and my case ushered to the VIP standing room. I just had to smirk to myself, enjoy all the hoopla and await the house lights going down to start the show.

In the mean time, Karen and I passed the time talking about our lives and what had happen in the last four or five years since we’ve seen each other. Catching-up in this surrounding wouldn’t be complete without commenting on how boring and uninteresting fashion has become. She was telling me about shows Stephany had attended earlier and how amazingly amateur and “school project” looking many of the collections had been.

I think we all pretty much agreed that we are living the death of fashion. On the other hand, we also agreed it might just be us. Partly, it’s that our lives have taking so far away for the epi-center of what’s currently going on in the industry. But if seasonal layouts that I used to so anxiously await from Bergdorf and Barneys were any indication or rod of measure, it’s a sad state of affairs. A few seasons ago it was this whole Euro-Trash street inspiration. Now, there is too much bad reproduction of vintage. It makes me wonder who’s being referenced; it’s certainly not the master’s. It seems more akin to the sensibilities of untrained home sewers creating throw-backs to a dull and uninteresting existence.  This middle-American and UK East-ender approach is killing the magic once generated. Right now, most of the ready-to-wear lines look cheap and deeply steep in mediocrity.

Where is the Carolina , Oscar, Ralph, Bill, Zoran and Donna of generation X and Y? I have to wonder, if we have done our service in training the future or has technology and greed taken the heart and soul of the art of making beautiful objects of desire. The accessories market is currently light years ahead, but what’s with the rest of fashion view-point?

What the industry so desperately needs is a new, clear, super creative bolt of energy. I am left wondering, who can deliver this fashion ascension. I am not sure generation Y has the point of reference to pull it off. Looking around, one gets the notion that their minds are filled by artificial intelligence, the hunger for rewards and a sexual openness which crosses party lines. In all which is by itself non-quantifiable, it seems the heart is missing and that’s the substance of great artistic expression. I would suppose the jury is still out.

But honestly, I find that currently all forms of visual art is in need to a spiritual revolution. In my opinion, this holds true with fine arts and well as more commercial avenues. Pondering these thoughts the time arises for all of us gathered to meet the wizard.

The tension wells, the house lights dimmed and up went the music. A twilight blue bias cut silk dress with lots of rouching and ruffles, balanced in smooth plains kicks off the cat walk. It was totally a subtle wow factor, the Nanette Lepore show had begun on a high note.

This delicious start kept us from beginning to end with simply wearable separates, silk tops of more ruffles and rouching in bold solid colors and fantastic dresses splashed in Pan-African influenced stripes and prints. The genius of Nanette Lepore’s color explosion was its body conscious shaping, perfectly realized draping and the use of white and taupe to balance it all out. Her show was a delight to the senses; her magic immediately reminded me of Modern Patchouli by Therapeutate Parfums.  It was citrus bold and beaming with the seventh chakra energy. It’s a heady, but very feminine collection bursting in hot pink, electric azure, sunshine yellow, leaf green and energetic violet. Like the fragrance Mandala, her use of these colors and their numerological value made this spring 2010 collection a hit.

I noticed directly across from me, two of the Real House Wife’s of New York City and the subtle turn up of their lips said it all. They looked pretty pleased! Stephany, Karen and I also agreed that Nanette Lepore was very spot on with this collection. You could tell she has the recall of a seasoned fashion veteran. Having gotten a full portion, we left feeling there is still a ray of hope in this dying Trojan of an industry.

So with all the other fashion soldiers, we march our way out of the promenade pleased to have been apart of this parade, indulged in a few quick photo ops and then on to the steps of the park to meet the press.

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