The inspiration for the perfume Her Purse is just that; exploring a woman's purse. I always adored the feature at the back of Marie Claire magazine where they photographed the contents of a celebrity's purse, including a little blurb about each item. I don't know if they still do it, but wow! Easily the best part of the magazine. For me, going through someone else's purse is a fascinating exercise in psychology, though I realize not everyone feels this way.
I don't think it's reaching to say that the purses symbolize the yonic unknown that not everyone is comfortable literally or even metaphorically diving into. For this reason, I love the scene in The Breakfast Club where Ally Sheedy (as Allison Reynolds) dumps out her purse, daring the men to look at the small mountain of junk and way too many tampons that were previously kept politely tucked away in her large purse. It gives all women permission to relax and literally let it all hang out, without any care for offending men's delicate sensibilities.
I'm also a large purse kind of gal, likely due to the anxiety that forever rides around on my back. As Allison says, "Yeah, I always carry THIS MUCH SHIT in my bag. You never know when you might need to jam". So, without further ado, I give you the contents of my purse.
1. Frye 'Cameron' - This purse is almost 20 years old and has held up like a dream. I condition it regularly with a nice leather cream and it's like meditation for me.
2. Vinnie's Tampon Case - This guy gets it
3. Business cards in case anyone tells me I smell good
4. A hagstone. I find these when I'm hiking and have at least one on me at all times
5. A pen that lights up in 3 different colors
6. EO Organic Lavender Hand Sanitizer - Sanitizes hands and freshens up fabric
7. A paper planner. I find writing things down to be more polite than screwing around on my phone when someone's telling me something important
8. My wallet is the chicest thing I own. It totally wears me, but I love it
9. Japanese oil blotting papers. These work better than all the rest
10. Lip balm with SPF. You really need this stuff in Texas
11. An unscratched scratch-off ticket
12. Guerlain Rouge G #28 - I always gravitate towards orangey reds and this is the Rolls Royce of lipstick packaging and formulae
13. A wee spray of my fragrance The Well. It's very refreshing in the hot, humid weather that is now upon us
14. By Terry Hyaluronic Pressed Powder - I love mini anything, and I actually really happen to like this powder
15. Dry shampoo for my bangs that get all Professor Snape-y in hot weather
16. A witchy necklace
17. A tortoiseshell hair pick for a quick updo
18. A really nice, functional mini brush
19. Bluetooth earbuds
20. Enfleurage headache remedy (peppermint, black pepper, lavender)
21. Anxiety medication for the odd panic attack
22. Tortoiseshell glasses. Tortoiseshell goes with everything.
Thanks for looking! What's in your purse?
Image by user Thander, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
Are these fragrances natural? Yes and no. Surely a great fragrance has space for both natural and synthetic ingredients. Natural materials are exquisite, familiar yet unpredictable, and some are nearly finished perfumes on their own. If I thought I could provide affordable, consistent, and environmentally sustainable products with the effects I need just from natural materials, I’d use them in greater quantities. Even so, I see no need to limit the palette from which I work by arbitrarily avoiding lab-created materials. Aromachemicals allow for spectacular effects, defying the conventions of perfumery as an art, while holding up their natural counterparts like a good bra.
We’ve become increasingly preoccupied with “natural” and “clean” beauty and personal care products, suspicious of anything created or manipulated by chemistry. “Chemicals” are viewed as unclean and unnatural, despite everything in the natural world being comprised of them. To a reader seduced by the idea of naturalness and pronounceable ingredients, citronellol, geraniol, nerol, beta-damascenone, beta-ionone, linalool, and phenylethyl alcohol sound like poisons, but they’re the main chemical constituents of natural rose otto. Rose otto is breathtakingly beautiful. It also runs about $1000 per ounce. I can source those constituents individually for pennies on the dollar and reconstitute my own rose, turning up or down its characteristics as I see fit. It can be made anywhere, any season, and never has a bad year.
Mysore sandalwood has been exploited to the point of near extinction, and the tightly regulated, slow-growing trees are farmed on a continent that is extremely vulnerable to climate change. They’re cut down and sent through the wood chipper as soon as the oil can be extracted, never reaching their full potential as trees. As with rosewood and atlas cedar, demand for this natural ingredient outstrips supply in the natural world. There just isn’t enough nature to go around. Synthetic sandalwood materials have gotten very, very good. So good, in fact, that most people would smell real sandalwood oil and prefer one or a blend of its lab-created counterparts, all of which are completely sustainable.
And yet I can’t imagine regularly working without natural fragrance materials. Their individuality, imperfections, and variance are moving in a way that can’t ever be truly duplicated, as aromachemicals have no story or terroir. They’re a bit like the Hebrew mythological Golem, blindly following their creator’s directions without nuance or understanding, ever a reminder that we aren’t gods. Of course, the happy medium lies in the use of both. Whether it’s using aromachemicals to support, enhance, and prolong natural materials, or using each for completely different effects, Symbolist Perfumes seeks to create fragrances that are supernatural.