Janice Issitt                    Life and Style

travel, interiors, photography, home, crafts, personal style

4 Aug 2021

Inspired by Perfume with Ostens

Summer Breeze makes me feel fine, blowing through the Jasmine in my mind...... That beautiful atmospheric song by the Isley Brothers has long been a favourite of mine, often appearing on my summer playlists of perfectly evocative music for the season and like this song, I find that certain perfumes also bring back memories from throughout my life. It's a scientific fact that smell reaches the brain more directly, going straight to the area responsible for memory and I think it's a much neglected area of our mental wellbeing. 

Impossible to photograph or touch, aroma has to be the most magical of all our senses, it appears to exist only in our imaginations and minds, yet the alchemy of making a real perfume is still as authentic as it was when the silk road brought the exotic East to the rest of the world.

My photos this month are being influenced by fragrances, a project that has been sparked and fuelled by a collection of fine Eau de Parfum's from a company I haven't explored before called Ostens who have gifted me these products. I'm always looking for different things to inspire my photos and I've never done a series inspired by smell before. 

We begin with their Impression Jasmine Absolute as it's our prize on 'Song of Seasons'this month. I loved this fragrance immediately, and was pleasantly surprised to be honest. I say that because normally I would gravitate to anything with Patchouli, If I had only read the ingredients I probably would have opted for a different one,  but I'm glad I tried this as it's incredibly uplifting and it really has converted me to the fragrance of Jasmine. I expect the excellence of the perfumer responsible for such an interesting blend has had a lot to do with this sophisticated take on a well known flower. Not cloying or sickly, this has Pepper and Violet Leaves with a hint of Gardenia in the top notes.    

They use a light Egyptian Jasmine and I could detect the Ylang Ylang notes on first smell, with other elements like Peach and Sandalwood keeping it grounded and mellow, these lower notes developing over time.  I was immediately transported back to a Maharaja's palace in India where I stayed with my father on one of our Indian holidays. One evening we came down to dinner and the cooling evening air blew a breeze along the old corridors taking with it the scent of flowers that were in vases on the side tables. It was then I first discovered tuber rose and ylang ylang's heady scents, I could have stopped in my tracks standing still smelling that air for hours, a memory purely triggered by smell alone.  

More than any other sense, the authentic aromas of different countries will always be the most memorable things to recreate your first and lasting impressions of places visited. Have you ever noticed when the doors to the airplane open on the tarmac, the smell of a hot climate, the air so different from that you left behind. The aroma of a Moroccan market place with piles of spices, of an Egyptian Souk with it's perfume shops full of Gardenia and Amber oils. The ozone smell of a seashore, a French lavender field, a pine forest or a Spanish orange grove in blossom, just close your eyes and these scents can take you straight back.

I have a strong affiliation with Egypt as my father worked there for several years and would bring me back different souvenirs over the decades, little delicate perfume bottles still decorate my bathroom, collections of tribal jewellery set with semi precious stones and incense burners and intricately etched Persian silver vases and boxes on display around the house to remember him by.

The Egyptian Jasmine combined with the other notes in this Ostens blend, reminds me of happy times travelling with my father throughout my life.  It takes me to English gardens with fragrant archways, a shop with Sandalwood carved boxes and bottles of oils. 

Impression Jasmine Absolute really is a mood lifter, calming, fresh and exotic all at the same time. This is summer in a bottle, somewhere warm and relaxed, exciting and sensual. They have used a Jasminum Grandiflora from Egypt as it is known for its fresh, natural scent versus the Jasmine Sambac from India which is much headier. 

The collection from Ostens has a wide and complex range of fragrances combined with each base scent. 

Growing up in the sixties and seventies you couldn't get away from the smell of Patchouli.  Often dark and sticky, no self respecting hippie would be without it, permeating into your cheesecloth shirt and afghan coat. No other scent says my youth more than this. I love that Ostens have taken this as a base for two of their perfumes for those who like a heavier, heady aroma, with memories of incense filled rooms they have made this a sophisticated earthy scent, a very grown up version of a teenage favourite. There are two Impression Patchouli Heart blends, the second being reminiscent of churches and slightly darker in tone and spicier than the number one version which has more lavender floral notes. 

I couldn't really tell you what I thought Impression Cashmeran Velvet would smell like but my first reaction was a really good mellow Sandalwood, and as it develops an incredibly warm Vanilla. It's a restful but sexy little number, with wood notes that are perfect for men and women, although I can quite easily see my husband dipping into any of the Ostens range with glee, and with a slight patchouli undertone I think the old kaftan wearing hippie in him would really love this perfume. So I asked the good people at Ostens and learned that Cashmeran Velvet is a trademark fragrance from the raw materials supplier LMR Naturals /IFF (International Flavours and Fragrances)a fantasy ingredient that doesn't come from a tree or root but is a synthetic 'blonde wood' perfume combining musk, spice and powdery smells. The perfumer has taken these fantasy fragrances and combined with natural essences, yet despite the many different elements, one can still detect singular scents coming through.  

I soon started to realise that perfume is a science, there's an alchemy in the way that one smell expands and changes another and is probably a more complex art that one I can explain or understand but like any other product you may use, the quality of the ingredients is absolutely key to why it is so good. 

There's a few things to know about Ostens and in discovering how the company was formed you can also learn about the history of perfume making, the extraction of essences and the purity of products that are ethically sourced. With a starting point of using the IFF for sustainable raw ingredients and synthetic replacements of animal products like ambergris, the IFF company has over its long history of previous incarnations, investigated into mood, the distillation of essential oils and aroma science. The purity of the ingredients also means that these are smells that stay and develop even with the tiniest amount.

With each fragrance you get a small bottle of the 9ml Preparation oil of pure Egyptian Jasmine, and for clarity the perfumes don't have fancy names but literally do what they say on the bottle. The small bottle of single ingredient oil can be worn on it's own or under the Eau de Parfume and it explains the starting point that the perfumer worked on to develop the blend. This is such a great idea, it makes the whole process so much more interesting. 

Just when you think you've found your favourite Ostens scent, bang, suddenly you are in love with another, the Impression Cedarwood Heart was a total shock. Assuming from its name and woody contents, I thought this would be a man's classic, however, it has some really interesting top notes, and if I told you that Galbanum is a persian gum resin and Oris a fragrant Iris root, then you are getting close to where this can take you to. Maybe a cool room at Raffles hotel, with leather club chairs, polished wood and a faint smell of tobacco, stirred up by glamorous ladies with freshly powdered noses. I can see why Ostens describe it as nostalgic.  

Rose Oil Isparta should not be written off as an older ladies english garden, it's far from that. The rose is Turkish in nature, a middle-eastern interpretation is how it is described and definitely how it smells. Tunisian Rosemary mixes with blackcurrant and Ceylon Cardamon for a really interesting twist on a classic. If you know someone who loves rose scented products then this is for them, it's soapy and clean while warm and earthy and the scent develops on the skin in many interesting ways. I have many girlfriends who I would happily gift this to but then again, I might want to keep it for myself. 

These exquisite fragrances have got me thinking about the perfume industry in a way I hadn't considered before. Often thought of as a purely luxury item, it isn't until you fall in love with perfume that you see it as part of your identity, your heritage, your history. I for one have certainly neglected this area of late, my world being dominated with the smell of hospitals largely, my self care being consumed with more life threatening thoughts, I had forgotten how scent can lift your mood, build your confidence, remind you of yourself at other times. While we could probably live without it, smell is an important part of food and taste and creating our image as much as makeup and hair dye. It can make a home smell welcoming or hostile, it works with mood so intrinsically. 

The starting point for developing the Ostens range began exactly as it should have with a visit to Grasse in France - the world capital of perfume, and the company LMR Naturals, who responsibly source the best quality sustainable raw ingredients. 

I had previously learned of Grasse through two fictional books about Perfume both of which are favourites even if slightly sinister in story, both 'Perfume' and 'Jitterbug Perfume' place aroma in a life altering place of importance, these cult classics do not underestimate aroma as a life force. I wish Jitterbug was on audible, I must revisit that as I still have a few old copies of it lying around. 

Grasse in France is on my bucket list of places to visit, and in August, rather appropriately, there is a Jasmine festival, The Fete de Jasmin or La Jasminade is the 3-4th August and decorated floats drive through town with women throwing flowers into the crowd. Garlands of Jasmine decorate the town and even the fire department sprays the crowd with jasmine water. In May they have an international exhibition of Roses and this area of France, has the perfect climate for flower growing making it the centre of the perfume industry since the end of the 18th century. 

Jasmine is a key ingredient of many perfumes, and like many essential oils, it was brought to Southern France by the Moors in the 16th century. Today 27 tonnes of jasmine are now harvested in Grasse, so it stands to reason that one of the signature perfumes from Ostens is Impression Jasmine Absolute, designed for those of us yet to visit the town during the festival maybe.  

For the full range and all the information please go to https://ostens.com 
If you get the tester discovery set there is a discount on your final purchase and I thought it interesting to note that the prices vary on the full size bottles depending on the cost of the ingredients. I would recommend this tester set as I was quite surprised by the ones I preferred and the range is varied enough to lend itself to different occasions and times of day. 

At Song Of Seasons we are giving away a bottle of Impression Jasmine Absolute and all you have to do is follow us and Ostens on instagram and post your photos with our tag following the photography prompt of Summer Breeze ... There will also be two discovery kits as second prizes. 

Conditions of entry:

  1. You must follow @song_of_seasons and @ostens_official

  2. Tag a fragrance friend who might like to enter the competition in the comments below the instagram post.

  3. Post a photo to instagram before the end of August with a theme loosely based on the song ‘Summer Breeze’ or the phrase ‘Summer in a bottle’. Feel free to interpret the theme in any way you wish - the more creative the better! In order to enter the competition,the following three hashtags must be added to your post #songofseasons #ostens #forthecurious

(This month the winners must be UK based)

I'm so happy we have discovered this range and be reminded of how special a perfume can make you feel, it's a deeply personal experience, totally unique and a much needed indulgence. The natural scents connecting you to nature in a totally different way, close your eyes and be transported to the most beautiful places in your memory and imagination. 
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