Friday, January 1, 2016

Igniting Smell and Tell in 2016

Glass Petal Smoke began as a flavor and fragrance blog in 2007 and has blossomed into so much more. Evangelizing the art+science connection in perfumery and gastronomy is what the blog does best, but a twist has evolved that transforms the virtual work of Glass Petal Smoke into real life experiences where multisensory learning, led by olfaction, can flourish.

The Smell and Tell series of lectures began in 2012 with the support of the Ann Arbor District Library. A loyal following has ensued and 10 lectures will be offered in 2016. Attendees have requested encore presentations of favorite events, so Baking with Flavor is scheduled for January 20, 2016. A newsletter, which was also requested by Smell and Tell fans, has been created, and the first round of these newsletters (which will arrive via MailChimp) will go out next week. Newsletter registration opportunities will be available at all Smell and Tell event in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Smell and Tell events are deeply enriching due to the support of those who believe in the mission of Glass Petal Smoke as it relates to these multisensory events. DreamAir has supplied aromatic materials since Smell and Tell's inception in 2012. In October 2015 International Flavors and Fragrances (IFF) supplied aroma materials for Norell: The First American Designer Perfume (the event was so successful it will be repeated at the University of Michigan in 2016).

The generosity of Serge Lutens also deserves acknowledgement as the brand supplied several perfumes for Serge Lutens: Collaboration in Luxury Fragrance Design last spring. Last, but not least, an anonymous donor provided funds for the purchase of vintage fragrances for three Smell and Tell events which added dimension to Enflowering the Carnal: The Scent of Fracas and other lectures in 2015.

Having historic olfactory reference points is invaluable to those who want to understand the art of perfumery as it relates to memory and emotion. This is something those of us with industry experience are fortunate enough to have exposure to, but it is unarticulated and assumptive when we are simply talking about the things we know to those who are curious about the art+science connection in perfumery.

What is it about Smell and Tell that ignites so much interest? The city of Ann Arbor is situated in a university community that is deeply curious across all ages and stages of life. Rigor is expected at lectures, but so is relational narrative, which is not easy to deliver across disciplines. My training in perfumery, as well as professional experience in marketing and communications, allow me to transcend challenges of this kind, but I would be remiss if I didn't acknowledge the value of having access to some of the finest libraries in the country (AADL is a five-star library and the University of Michigan library system is a unbeatable when it comes to research).

I'd like to close this New Year's Day post with a comment from Victoria Neff, a Smell and Tell attendee who has written about many of her experiences at Smell and Tell lectures on I Need Orange. Neff felt like she was on "a mini vacation to an exotic place" she never knew existed after experiencing Exotic Woods and Ethereal Exudates on May 20, 2015. What she had to say about Enflowering the Carnal: The Scent of Fracas illustrates the direction that Smell and Tell is taking:
There was more history and culture in this presentation than there has been in previous Smell and Tell [lectures] I've attended. As you might predict, if you thought about it, life was very difficult for women in science (Cellier was a chemist), in the first half of the 20th century, and even worse for women perfumers.  
It was interesting to hear how Germaine Cellier persisted in the face of obstacles, and made large marks on the face of perfumery. Michelle is determined to learn everything she can about the women who have made significant contributions to the art and science of perfume, and to make sure they become better known rather than being forgotten.  
We got to smell Fracas, which is based largely on tuberose, and a lot of its components, including tuberose and orange blossom. A very interesting presentation, as always. Michelle is enthusiastic and interesting. Her knowledge and skill set are unique in my experience. I always enjoy the Smell and Tells.

Ignition, the video that accompanies this post, was directed by Tetsuka Nilyama. Sound design by Yoshiteru Yamada. Rights remain with the owner.

Image of Smell and Tell regulars at the Ann Arbor District Library by Michelle Krell Kydd.

Image of students at the August 2015 MSTEM Academies Smell and Tell at the University of Michigan courtesy of MSTEM Academies.

Image of chalk flower mural taken at Astro Coffee by Michelle Krell Kydd. The cafe is located in the Corktown neighborhood of Detroit, Michigan.

Decants of vintage fragrances from reputable sellers can be found on the internet. The quality of vintage decants varies based on age and storage conditions (heat, light, exposure to mold in basements, etc.). ebay and Etsy are also a terrific resources. One of the hallmarks of a quality vintage fragrance offering is a statement on where the product comes from and how it was stored. Ratings on product quality and customer service on ebay and Etsy are also helpful.