I love the name of the Strange Invisible perfume line, because unlike so many of the perfumes we are used to, which are strong and cloying, a great perfume should waft past you, invisible, yet leaving an exotic and wonderful scent behind – a scent that you can’t quite put your finger on, but that you know you want more of.
As you know, I’m obsessed with non-toxic beauty/skincare, and perfume very much comes under this same umbrella. Actually, perfumes contain some of the most toxic chemicals including neurotoxins, allergens and endocrine disrupting compounds. Because of this, I have only used “natural” perfume for a decade, and when I walk into the kind of store that spritzes perfume everywhere, I really do feel completely nauseous – much like walking into an elevator with a woman who has sprayed herself head-to-toe with a strong commercial perfume. As a teen, I used to love to wear Dior, Chanel, Clinque etc, but the chemicals eventually got the better of me, and now I can’t stand them. Many of us develop chemical sensitivity as we get older, probably due to toxic chemical overload!
I’ve been on the look out for some really beautiful natural perfumes and was lucky enough to stumble open Alexandra Balahouits, who is the perfumer and founder of Strange Invisible perfumes. I sampled almost all of her scents and fell in love. I managed to interview Alexandra, as I’m quite fascinated with the whole process. Hope you enjoy her answers as much as I did:
SU. What gave you a passion for perfume?
A.B. That remains a mystery. I love scent and consider it to be a dialect of emotion. I have always been drawn to the idea of perfume and essence, but why I find it as fascinating as I do, I’ll never know.
S.U. What encouraged you to decide to use natural botanicals to create your perfumes, rather than synthetics?
A.B. Natural essences were far more challenging and compelling to work with. I am into the real thing. It would be like asking a jewelry designer why they use precious natural stones rather than synthetic or created ones.
S.U. I’ve never been a lover of “synthetic” perfume blends, mainly because of the negative health effects of the chemicals used. Can you speak to this?
A.B.They are unhealthy and less beautiful. I find it to be a lose/lose situation. The main reason they are used has to do with money, although there are other reasons as well.
S.U. Many complain that “natural” perfumes don’t last very long. Is this because a chemical “fixative” isn’t used? How do you create your perfumes so that they linger?
A.B. There are natural fixatives. There are also combinations of essences that work well together to create this. Making a stable, persistent natural perfume is absolutely possible, but you have to really know how to do it. You can’t just put oak moss in everything. Each composition requires different tactics. Natural perfumes are less powerful and persistent than many synthetics and I consider that to be an esthetic benefit. I find the alternative overpowering.
S.U.Do you use organic ingredients?
A.B. Oh yes. Our ingredients are organic and even surpass organic standards. They are often biodynamic and wildcrafted as well.
S.U. Where do your source your oils?
A.B.We have a master distiller on staff. We distill some of them ourselves and have others custom distilled all over the world. We only buy from distillers we know and favor hydro-distillation. Our sourcing is a major point of difference.
S.U.Can you take us briefly through the process (of course without revealing any secrets,) of creating a perfume.
A.B.It is a complex one. I can say that it begins with inspiration. It is a lot like cooking. I blend essential oils in a particular order, usually from base to top notes. I let the formula age and then add organic alcohol. That is the very short version.
S.U.Why the name, “Strange Invisible?
A.B. “From the barge a strange invisible perfume hits the sense of the adjacent wharfs” from Anthony and Cleopatra, William Shakespeare. These three words distill the elusive experience of smelling something that captures the imagination perfectly.
S.U. What is the difference between your Parfum, and your Eaux de Parfum.
A.B. The pure perfume is more concentrated and some of the extraction methods of the essences we use in them are different.
S.U. What are your two favorite blends, and why?
A. It changes. Right now, I am a diehard Aries wearer, even though I’m a Virgo. I love it because it is bold and unapologetic, yet full of lighthearted charm. I love its leathery amber note and infusion of hydro-distilled cinnamon.
So, my personal favorite is L’Invisible, and check out my Open Sky store as there will be a special offer on this perfume on Thursday March 1st.