Perfume really speaks to my inner witch, so on this sunny summer solstice Saturday, I'm headed to FRAGments, a pop-up organized by an underground perfume collective that taking over MorYork Gallery in Highland Park for a day of panels, talks and spritzing.
Much like artisanal baking, cheese-making and vinoculture, the indie perfume movement seeks a return to perfume's roots. The idea is to offer small batch, well-crafted fragrances that provide an alternative to the mass-market, highly chemical perfumes made by giant conglomerates that line the counters of your local mall.
And LA is a hub of this scented world.
When I first fell down the rabbit hole of perfume obsession, I sought out the newest, most esoteric brands at Scent Bar on Beverly Boulevard, the temple of indie niche perfumery. Then I haunted estate sales and antique swap meets hunting down vintage Carons, Guerlains and Chanel perfumes.
Eventually, I stumbled across the vibrant West Coast perfume scene. Its dozens of practitioners include botanical perfumers like Roxana Villa who distills in the oak-tree shade of her Agoura Hills cottage; Ayala Moriel, whose inspirations derive from the pine forests, windswept coasts and lush foliage of Vancouver and Yosh Han of San Francisco, a former florist whose intoxicating olfactory holograms conjure up tea rose gardens at dawn.
These perfumers, and 20 others, showcase their wares today at FRAGments from 11-5 pm. It's a rare opportunity to find so much talent under one roof. And as a writer, it's always fascinating for me to hear other artists discuss their creative process.
With the longest days of the year upon us, the timing's perfect to celebrate this ancient art. There's something eldritch and haunting about Midsummer, and coupled with a full moon, it feels like I'm walking into A Midsummer Night's Dream. But while the sun still shines, I'll get myself to Highland Park and anoint my wrists and temples with bergamot and vetiver, sandalwood, incense, coriander and jasmine. It's all the pagan ritual I need.