Interview no.1:

MEET MARIJA ASLIMOSKA

of Parfumarija

 

 

Interview location: The Westbury Hotel Dublin, Grafton St, Dublin 2, Ireland

Time: 6.30pm

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I first visited Parfumarija a year ago, and the publishing of this interview may well have taken just as long. Now, when I first heard that a new perfume store had opened in town, I was imagining something similar to The Perfume Shop. Thankfully I was so far off the mark, and having surpassed all expectations (well in reality I had none to begin with), I should like to state that Parfumarija is quite simply, effortless to love. Nestled at the Clarendon St entrance of the Westbury Mall in the heart of Dublin city, rests a honey pot to any perfume addict. It can either smell like spiced hot chocolate made by Nun’s in one of Mexico City’s ancient convents (Anima Dulcis by Arquiste), jasmine & rum divinity (Hedonist by Viktoria Minya), even so far as the air we breathe (any number of NU_BE perfumes should suffice) at any one time. Unassuming with it’s studio vibe, it is a peaceful little hideaway from the crammed beauty departments of Grafton Street. Offset by Hiroshige’s Wave, Parfumarija is Dublin’s first niche boutique perfume store, opened by perfumer and entrepreneur Marija Aslimoska a year ago.

If there are a few things you should know before you read on, it is this: Marija, aside from being extremely elegant, has struck gold. By opening the first niche perfume boutique in Dublin (I would say Ireland, but I must admit to not knowing), Marija has ennobled the  streets of Dublin with a more refined scent, bringing the liked of Arquiste, Ys-Uzac and Agonist along with her.  For anyone such as myself who had only known of certain scents by name, Parfumarija has given us the gift of familiarity. Not only are the perfumes unobtainable on the Emerald Isle, but she is practical in her choosing with a simple rule: The Airport Test. Quite simply, if it can be found in the airport, then it won’t be in her store. Secondly, she has deliberately chosen to make her store as un-store like as possible- you won’t find a cashiers till cluttering her desk; in its place, she’s opted for a variety of books and an informal seating area. Whilst I could easily promote anyone in the perfume world to demi-god status purely for the fact that they are in the industry, Marija is a class act. She is smart, funny and her presence fills Parfumarija with more character than other perfumistas I’ve talked to. As the interview stretched to almost two hours, I’ve chosen to split it into two parts; firstly about Marija herself and her career and approached to being a perfumer, and secondly about her beautiful store, Parfumarija. With that said, and accompanied by two pots of tea at The Westbury, we started the interview.

 

 

 

 Part 1

MARIJA: AS A PERFUMER

 

Your life as a perfumer…

I would call it a perfume lover, rather than perfumer. Because to become a perfumer, even now that I’m trained, I still have a little reservation when I describe myself as a perfumer. I say I’m a trained perfumer. But to be a trained perfumer is someone that takes years and years or creating- creating experience and building a portfolio- this is how you become a perfumer. So currently before I went to the school I was a perfume lover, and now that I have been trained, I am a trained perfumer, but I think to be a real perfumer is something that if you asked me what I aspire to be, then […] 20 years, it would be to be a master perfumer.

 

What is your earliest memory of fragrance? And what was your favourite fragrance? Or did you make your first fragrance?

My earliest memory of fragrance would be […] I had a friend, who had a father that used to work abroad. And this man would always, from all his travels, would bring his wife these soaps. They were not just ordinary soaps, like I remember, it would be a soap in the shape of a heart, and then you could open it and there was another colour […] soaps looking like butterflies. They were kind of like collectable soaps. So in her house, they have this drawer with this drawer, a big drawer. So as a kid, it would have been the nicest thing when they would let us go upstairs and pull (because we were kids and weren’t handling it properly- for sure), but this was my earliest memory. And so just sitting there with this drawers and the soaps and opening them and smelling them- this is the first memory that I have.

Also sweet honeysuckle, like you know the honeysuckle when you pull it out there is little drop of honey? The smell of honeysuckle is something that I would actually connect with the smell of childhood.

My third memory, so I’m giving you three, is the smell of my piano […] and this is something that I was sitting in front of for hours and hours, and not always willingly– it was because my mother would make me- but [ahh] it was something that was maybe more my imagination, but if you asked me a scent from childhood I will say piano.

It has woody, the wax, the polish and the dustiness as well, for me I tried once to recreate this smell and I actually managed, and um, it required a touch of cinnamon- so it’s like a wood but there is a certain sweetness you have to add to it. But also the dustiness yes.

 

Signature scent?

I’m not a fan of this. I think [errr] as a perfume lover, you have this constant […] it’s like a monster if I can describe it. Something that needs to be fed; and I have to say not once but many times it’s happened when, that until I got a certain perfume, I would be obsessed with it, till I get it. And then when I get it, it’s safe, it’s with me, I use it, and then I find the next obsession. So it’s always been like that, so my collection is now, it’s- it’s not small. So I have a lot of perfumes, and up till this day when somebody asks, ‘Do you have a favourite?’ then no I don’t, I can’t. There are so many perfumes that I love because of their smell, I respect because of their history […] so many perfumes, yes memory, so many perfumes that I would have liked to have done them myself so I envy them. It’s really like that, so you connect with different smells on a different level.

 

Which perfume would you have wanted to have made?

Umm… yes, I love- this is trivial, I bought at the time- this was one of the most beautiful perfumes that I’d smelled […] it is Emporio Armani ‘White’. It’s discontinued, it’s not something you can find, and […] just maybe because I have some of the most beautiful memories when I was 17 and in, the first time in love, and this was the perfume I was wearing. Currently I’m obsessed with finding a bottle of it. In fact, I had a customer who the other day I told this to and she showed up with a small 30ml bottle of it. So, it’s not perhaps the most extraordinary composition I’ve ever felt, but it means to me, and the fact that you can’t find it anymore just makes me wish I had made it, so I have the formula.

 

When your composing a fragrance, where is your starting point? Is it an idea?  Something you’ve smelled? Or a story?

So for the fragrances that I’ve made so far, it has definitely been a story… For the latest fragrance I designed for a Macedonian designer [Kokev], it was called Actress, she just gave me a few points of what she would like the perfume to be like. But it was me who kind of sat down and tried to think of, ok, what does an actress smell like? And then I was thinking ok, actresses, first thing you think of is [the] red carpet with a beautiful gown and the most beautiful smile, or diamonds. So they have this warm charisma- they’re beautiful.

But then I know as well, just like a rose they have thorns. So they can be a diva, over sensitive, they can throw tantrums. So I knew all of these components is what makes an actress. So the outside beauty, but the thorns as well. So just to explain, the process was ok, I’m going to take rose as the main note, but when I was creating the fragrance I made sure I was getting the green note to represent the thorns because I didn’t want it to be too pretty but a little bit with an edge to tell a little bit of a different story.

Actress Kokev perfume
 
 
Is there anywhere that really inspires you?

It’s not so much a place, music inspires me. Mornings- I like mornings […] I think [it’s] the most times I’ve been happy in my life is the morning. And this is again, connected again with perfume. Because the last thing when you’re leaving the house- and it’s not a morning in the house with coffee, it’s when you shut the door, but you have a perfume and you have your music on, and god knows. many times I’ve felt, “God I’m so happy!”. And [umm] this is the time when your brain kind of wanders, and relaxes, and inspiration comes. I’ve also had inspiration come to be on a bus, when I’m driving, and I have to write it all down in my phone, so its really incredible. But I like mornings, I like music.

[Umm] France is a beautiful country; this is where if any other place will inspire me. Travels, travelling, and I know it’s been said and done and used, but travelling really inspires me. […] You have to mention the sun. The sun really inspires me. The sun, it gives me a lot of energy.

 

With the fragrance your making yourself, what are you trying to capture in each fragrance?

I think the quest is always to make something unique. To capture something my nose has never smelt before. Sometimes I find that even if I felt something was very unique, you know in a week I smell it by chance. But this is the thing, your using a lot of the same ingredients, so, [err] a lot of compositions on the market, you can see that they smell like each other. So for me the primary one thought is to create something unique, something that I haven’t smelled before. And perhaps something nobody has ever smelt before.

 

I mention Jean Claude Ellena’s nose-in-plum moment at a market he mentions in his book, ‘Diary of a Nose’. Have you ever had one of those moments?

Yes. Its true, I really get stopped by smells. One, I don’t know if I have the picture probably my friend has it, we were passing by a truck and it was full of melons [cantelope]. And I was just like, I buried my head. It was a small truck, but full of melons. But I stop to smell grass, I stop to smell plants I don’t even know the name, but it looks interesting or smells interesting from far away. I like smelling objects, umm, and one other thing which I have, which is the weirdest thing of all, is I like smelling paintings in museums; so I come really close which is not always advisable if you don’t want to get the alarm off. But I don’t know [umm], if I’ve convinced myself but sometimes if you can come close enough, for me, I can smell if [err] the painter has been smoking a cigar, a cigarette while he was doing it, because the paint is still there mixed with the tobacco. So I just like to come close when looking at the painting, but also try to smell it. So it’s something that I do, and my husband looks at me like…?

Any particular painting that has smelled  fine?  

[Umm] I have one painting at home where I can smell so much the tobacco and I can just see, instantly see how he painted it. But in the museums I usually get just close enough to get a little glance.

 

If you were to change one thing about the perfume industry, what would it be?

Do we really need all of these celebrity brands? Do we really need all of these car brands to have perfumes? One thing I would change is: do we really need to let perfumery to be taken up so lightly? I feel currently like it’s a joke. So I would actually like, my wish and my dream, is to go back to 30 perfumes a year […] 30 very good perfumes, rather than the 1200 we had last year- of which 1197 were not good. So I would like to be able to take perfumery more seriously, big stars not to abuse it with their status and money. And so you can collect all of them, you can collect all 30 perfumes in one year and then you stop them!

 

In the next 30 years, where do you see the perfume industry going?

I think it’s going to go towards niche, towards what we’re doing. Because, I think even the regular customer who is not so educated about the pros and cons of commercial and niche perfume, they’re fed up- and even they want something special that doesn’t smell like everybody else. [Umm] we can see these changes in the big brands.

 

 

The Different Company NU_BE Olfactive Studio Frederic Malle 1

 

The ghost perfume? Osmanthus by The Different Company.

Perfume for every day?Still Life’ by Olfactive Studio (spring summer everyday- not so much winter)

Night? Definitely ‘Portrait of a Lady’ by Frederic Malle

Weather dependant? On a rainy day, Iris, defiantly. Something like Iris, powdery, warm.

Winter: morning and evening? In the winter I would wear ‘Musc Ravageur’ by Frederic Malle again. Also Helium by Nu-Be.

What are these perfumes like? For Musc Ravageur its warm, musky, sweet. And for Nu-Be it is spicey, cinnamon, almost like an opiatic.

Hot days?  Hydrogen by Nu-Be. Because on a very hot day, you don’t want to be bothered by woody notes,by sweet notes, ambery notes, fruity notes. You just want something- you know hydrogen is the atom of energy? You just want something to give you energy. And it has notes of grapefruit, melony and cucumber notes. Its like very watery, just something very refreshing. You want something that hops and skips with you rather than sticks to you.

The Different Company NU_BE Olfactive Studio Frederic Malle 2

#click here to read Part 2 of the interview#