Noele Lusano

— An appreciation for scents

"Most people that work in perfumery seem to want to keep it for themselves and retain the so-called mystique..." A look at Noele Lusano's first home perfume 'lab'.

A few months ago, I was reminiscing about the first time I stepped into a perfumery. I smelled scents I hadn't ever smelled, and the experience activated my brain in ways that left me tingly in the head.

I decided to order some sample packs of perfumes from Bloom, the perfumery I'd visited. With my husband, we tried out Labdanum, Coniferous Bliss and Cashmeran. Each pack had at least six different perfumes to try.

The first release of the scent differs from how it smells after it's put on. Overtime, with the chemistry of the body, the scent evolves into something different. The scent may become entirely distinct from the initial application. Eventually you get used to the scent and no longer notice, but for a much longer period, people around will experience the smell.

The world of scent is all new to me. When I went on a hike last week, I realized how wonderful the scents in the forest were, especially when there is enough moisture for needles to emit scent. What sets a place apart is often the scent, a visceral attribute that hardly gets described.

"I recall scents from my life without a trigger - can hold them in my mind and feel/analyze them"

"on Treasure Island, a strange landfill island that connects San Francisco with Oakland."

"at Shelldance Nursery in my hometown, Pacifica, CA. I've always been drawn to orchids..."

Noele Lusano is a photographer I admire. Her uncluttered compositions get straight to the point in evoking a channel of feeling (nostalgic wanderlust). While browsing Noele's travel photos, I was excited to discover her interest in scent. In addition to her work, Noele posts articles about the perfume world along with accounts of her own perfume development.

"I've always been a photographer, and have long had an affinity for olfaction and scent"

"Coffee with a friend in Paris...looking at this photograph makes me feel a lot, missing past lives and my wild and wooly days in Europe."

The one thing that strongly defines one place over another is the scent. I can understand what a place may smell like, the scent of the cigarette and perhaps the space of an old European cafe, however, the emphasis of a well-envisioned photo is on the visual.

When I found Noele's post on the scents she found in the forest along with a textural photo of damp moss, I found my imagination heightened when words were combined with the visual. There was more of an olfactory transmission.

From the Smell of Green

Imagine experiencing the following nature destinations via scent...

Butano State Park: "full of coastal redwoods, banana slugs, and the damp smell of vetiver, redwood and soil"

Thornewood Preserve: "padded by soft fallen branches and brush, and both bay and redwood trees line the walk"

Montgomery Woods State Reserve: "proximity to healing geothermal waters" "several miles down a bumpy, gravelly road off the main highway"

Just from the description, I can imagine the smell of the drive to the forest, the gravel before a hint of geothermal water.

My imagined experience of how geothermal waters smell may be entirely different from Noele's or anyone else's, but it utilizes another dimension of my imagination to understand the unique qualities of a place.

"Last year I went to Bangkok to study with an English perfumer there, and the year before went to Grasse, France, to take a summer school course at Grasse Institute of Perfumery."

"I was in Nice, France after spending a couple of weeks studying perfume in a nearby city (Grasse, the home of classical perfumery)"

Noele has even traveled to understand scent further. This is something I'd love to do one day.

"At home, I have my own materials and work station and I've been working on several different perfumes over the past years."

"My goal is to create scents that can be presented as art in tandem with a visual installation somewhere." One of Noele's works, which seems to be a visual representation of the aura of scents 'emitting' through bottles.

Olfactory art is an entirely new field that hasn't been explored much. While my eyes and ears are overwhelmed with a constant bombardment of images, video, and sounds, I think it's time to feel something different, and allow my nose to get a bit of the excitement.

"As I've gotten older I think my passions have become more articulated, and I've realized that there's little standing in the way of acting on and embracing my dreams apart from my own rationale -- so a few years ago I started researching scent a lot more intensely and in doing so realized that although there's a lot of romance and fluff surrounding the subject (it is a relatively unexplored and misunderstood sense after all) it was a subject that could be undertaken as much as any other, so long as I had the desire and commitment."

View more of Noele Lusano's photos at @noele, Flickr and her blog.



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