Scents have the ability to make memories come alive. Perfume is therefore, the art that makes memory speak.
The ingredients that we use to create our perfume compositions are often decided based on what feelings and emotions that we would like to evoke and what state of mind that we would like to be in when we smell it. Often times, we concoct and bottle our sweetest memories so we can revisit happy moments in our past.
Imagine watching your grandmother getting ready on her dressing table, and memories of playing dress-up with clothes from your mother’s closet, Lan Hua wraps you in a blanket of comfort and nostalgia with a fresh opening of galbanum and violet leaf, with heart notes of powdery purple flowers and orchid anchored by tonka bean, amber, sandalwood and musk.
I got the inspiration for Lán Huā after a night out at Suzy Wong with my friends visiting from Jakarta. Everyone were dressed to the nine and looked impeccable. The hostesses were tall and slender, decked in long cheongsams, with fans in their hands, smiles on their faces. Immediately, I was transported to another time, another place. I could have been in a jazz bar somewhere in Shanghai in the 1940s. I imagined my great grandmother in her prime years, would have loved this place.
I wanted to create a scent that evoke memories of my ancestors, a scent that signified their desire for a better life, the love they had for their family and the sacrifice they were willing to make to cross the ocean to a start a new life, and make a new beginning.
I chose Hyacinth to represent this, as it is a spring-blooming perennial, it flowers in the early spring and bloom throughout summer. Its sight signifies the beginning of spring season, when the earth celebrated with flashes of vivid colours.
Hyacinthus orientalis has a long history of cultivation as an ornamental plant, grown across the Mediterranean region, and later France, where it is used in perfumery. Its major centre of cultivation is the Netherlands.
What is fascinating about the hyacinth is that each of the many colors in which it appears in nature has its own fragrance. When hyacinth just starts blooming, it produces a light floral aroma, but when the flower stem opens up the scent becomes very strong and powerful.
Hyacinths have a powerful scent which can be described as floral green with vegetal aquatic accents and sweet and spicy notes.
The essential oil is extremely precious. It requires 6000kg of flowers to yield one single litre of the essential oil. It is mostly used in high class perfumery.
About the plant: Hyacinth is a small plant that grows to a height of 6–8 inches tall with thin slender green leaves with fragrant pink, purple, or white bell-shaped flowers that, when open fully, look like starfish.
Spiritual uses: Hyacinth is ideal for activating the energy field that connects you to the spirit realm, facilitating your connection with loved ones.
Mental uses: Hyacinth relieves stress and tension. Its sweet scent helps transform negative thought patterns to positive thoughtforms.
Emotional uses: Using hyacinth for comfort during the grieving process goes back as far as ancient Egypt. The Greeks described the fragrance of hyacinth as being refreshing and invigorating to a tired mind. It may also be used for stress-related conditions and in developing the creative right-hand side of the brain.
Physical uses: Hyacinth is primarily used in perfumery. Its health benefits are derived from the emotional release of potentially poisonous feelings such as resentment, anger, grief, and extreme sadness, thereby promoting overall well-being.
Therapeutic properties: antidepressant, antiseptic, aphrodisiac, hypnotic, sedative.
Another featured ingredient in Lan Hua is Sandalwood. I have been obsessed with Sandalwood since the beginning of my learning curve in 2002, on natural ingredients and the healing powers they possessed. I found a deeper sense of appreciation for Sandalwood learning about the various species of the sandalwood trees and the intricate and lengthy process of extracting the oil. Also known as Sacred sandalwood, Chandra (in Sanskrit) and Tan Xiang (in traditional Chinese medicine), Sandalwood oil is obtained from the steam distillation of chips and billets cut from the heartwood of various species of sandalwood trees, mainly Santalum album (Indian sandalwood) and Santalum spicatum (Australian sandalwood). Australian Sandalwood oil benefits include being prized for its anti-bacterial qualities.
Mysore Sandalwood Oil is a trademarked perfume oil extracted from the Santalum album variety of sandalwood tree (also known as a "royal tree") in the Mysore district of Karnataka, India. The tree species is said to be one of the best varieties in the world. The sandalwood oil produced in Mysore accounted for 70% of the world's sandalwood production in 1996.It is used as a "blender fixative" in the blending of many popular perfumes in the world. in 1942 it was assessed as having an assured minimum of 90% santalol, and of comparable standard to any sandalwood oil produced elsewhere.
According to Swami Vivekananda, Mysore was identified with Sandalwood, which was integral to the religious, social and ceremonial life of the east. Vivekananda said "the lingering perfume of this wood may be truly said to have made its conquest of the world".
To get to the heartwood, the log is left for the insects to chip through naturally. A process that is left to nature to do its bidding takes not only patience but a sense of deep respect for mother nature. The heartwood of the tree, which is not affected by insects, has also been used to fashion furniture and temple structures in India. Its oil has been considered an aphrodisiac, as its aroma has similarity with androsterone, a male hormone.
The oil is used as an ingredient in perfumes, cosmetics, soaps, and incense; it also has several uses in religious rites, skin and hair therapeutic treatments, and in pharmaceuticals.
A relaxing, grounding and calming essential oil, it also improves mental clarity and stills the mind, aids in sleeping and meditation. Due to these properties, Sandalwood oil is also frequently incorporated into religious ceremonies or spiritual practices. Buddhists believe that the scent of Sandalwood can help maintain alertness and focus during meditation.