Illuminated Perfume

Roxana: Complete Herstory

 

I am a devotee of nature, hand crafting PURE botanical perfumes by melding alchemy with modern artistic wisdom. Every single

natural perfume is handmade, I use authentic vital materials to create pure, perfume for you. ♻ Eco-luxe perfume!

 

1960's

 

I was born in the port city of Buenos Aires, Argentina, into a lineage of women with European roots and a rich culture in cooking,

knitting and home remedies. My grandmothers, aunts and mother all wore fine fragrances from Europe. For special occasions

the children of the family were all spritzed with a Neroli rich cologne, which I adored, called Colonia de Bebe. The cologne was

produced by my great grandfather’s pharmacy "Farmacia de la Estrella" in downtown Buenos Aires (now a museum) and is no

longer available. In 2008 I recreated it as the limited edition Blossom, featuring tinctured Jasmin sambac flowers from my garden.



My mother Martha (Back row 2nd from center) with her cousins and aunt vacationing in the Mar del Plata, Argentina.

 

In 1965, when I was three, my parents left the political chaos of Argentina for the greener pastures of the US. We settled in a

suburb of Los Angeles.

 

 

My introduction into perfume was through Colonia de Bebe, mentioned above, Avon and the beautiful perfumes my mother would

return with from her travels to Paris. Occasionally she would take me with her, if not I was brought back gifts like fresh camembert

gourmet treats from Fauchon and French perfume. L’air du Temps was one of my favorites.

 

1980's

 

I graduated from Otis Art Institute with a BFA in Communication Arts. On that fortuitous day I was asked to return to Otis as a

teacher and received a ballpoint pen from Ray Eames during our family celebratory dinner.

 

One year later I was living in Brooklyn Heights doing freelance editorial illustration for magazines and newspapers and teaching at

art schools. One of my regular monthly features was illustrating the fragrance column of Connoisseur Magazine; little did I know I

would soon find myself in that industry.

 

1990's


Before discovering aromatherapy, I worked as a freelance illustrator for the print  industry. At the time, most of the images I painted

highlighted the connection between humans and the plant world. While inhaling juniper essential oil at a sweat lodge I was

transported out of my current surroundings and dropped into a very fragrant forest of conifers. Among the tall evergreens I felt

grounded, renewed and deeply connected with the earth. That adventure expanded into the study of many topics from shamanism

to professional aromatherapy. That little bottle of Juniperus viriginiana at a sweat lodge shifted my path from creating purely visual

art to facilitating a complete sensory experience with nature. I witnessed firsthand the power of essential oils as agents that facilitate

mind body wellness in a very holistic framework. As I delved deeper into the professional world of aromatherapy (ultimately earning

my certification), I yearned to combine my two skill sets.

 

2000's

 

It was at an Artists Workshop in Austria titled Old Masters, New Visions where I witnessed the divine interconnection between the

visual arts and perfume. I finally made the decision to weave all my talents into a perfume business highlighted with the word "Illuminated"

referencing the15th century when the arts were united by the use of raw plant matter.

I feel very fortune to formulate and make natural perfumes the way they were made before synthetic aroma chemicals entered the

scene. My workspace and shop is in Agoura Hills with a secondary studio is in our 1950s ranch style home in Woodland Hills,

tucked away in the Santa Monica mountains of southern California. The native garden I planted and two hives of feral honey

bees are part of my constantly expanding work space.



In keeping with the spirit of the exquisite handmade artifact, the perfume compacts and flacons arrive in couture crocheted pouches

made by Martha of TwoKnit. Each fragrance is illuminated with an image by artist Greg Spalenka. All these aspects create an

intimate interaction with the inherent beauty of nature.

 

There are several steps in the process of creating perfume, the first begins with the spark of an idea, which for me might be an

environmental cause, a story, or a specific material like jasmine.

 

During the idea phase, I contemplate the color vibration for the perfume, related imagery, and tinctures/infusions that will be part of

the end product.

Formulation begins with a basic written outline of essences, which I study by sniffing and observing chemistry. This phase

determines which essences will be added or subtracted; intuition and serendipity often play a role here as well. Once the synergies

have aged and melded, it’s time to sniff and give the green light to move forward or head back to the drafting table. When I am

happy with one of the drafts, it’s time to put the synergy into a base. If I’m making a liquid perfume, the base is organic grain or

grape alcohol and tinctured materials. For solids, the base is organic jojoba oil, beeswax from my hives or from local bee keepers,

and plant infusions.

 


I create concept driven fragrances, many of which have a call to social action. Q, for Quercus agrifolia the California native oak, was

the first perfume I launched, although not the first to be formulated. The fragrance manifested due to a threat to seven oaks on the

empty lot next to our home. In an attempt to save the trees my husband and I organized all the neighbors to sign a petition and also

attend neighborhood council meetings. On the the Celtic high holiday of Beltane I went out and gathered leaves from the oaks.

Mindfully and with intention that the trees would be protected each leaf was washed, dried and then put into a jar with organic grape

alcohol. The intention was to extract the essence of the leaf for a perfume. The fragrance was constructed as a woody, green,

chypre.

The perfume industry is quite vast, dominated by the large corporate houses who, although they once used natural ingredients,

now create mass produced fragrances using synthetic chemicals. Within the emerging indie perfume crowd there is a spectrum of

fragrance creators, from those who work solely as art directors to those who grow and distill essential oils. As an indie perfumer,

botanical is the term that resonates with what I choose to create and what sets me apart, both visually and aromatically. I work with

essences that are whole, organic and of vital origin whenever possible. Historical animal ingredients and isolates contained in many

natural perfumes are not in the fragrances I formulate.


Like William Morris, I embrace the primacy of the handmade object and wish to bring that heritage and romance to my l
ine.

I am a member of the National Association of Holistic Aromatherapy, a Certified Natural Perfumer through The International Perfume

Foundation and follow the principals of the New Luxury Code.

Item photographs by Illuminated Perfume, opening portrait, Roxana bee guardian and studio photographs by Rebecca Fishman.

© ROXANA ILLUMINATED PERFUME

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