Sri Kudaravalli's Interview by Françoise Rapp
What inspired you to become a perfumer?
The joy of delightful smells and a good nose. To express myself in a different language. Speaking through perfumes as perfumes can replace words. When created from love with intention, attention and the right ingredients, perfumes have the power to impact a person in a positive way.
How did you start? What courses have you followed?
I started reading first - books, online. Then I talked to some Indian perfumers and gained more knowledge. Later I came across the Natural Perfumery Teacher’s Academy online courses for French style natural perfumery. I really like how the curriculum is structured. It is obvious that a lot of thought went into designing the courses. It’s a full spectrum curriculum that includes - gardening, oil extraction, perfumery, aromatherapy, perfume history, olfaction to marketing adhering to IPF’s New Luxury Code. They pack a lot of punch in the short format courses and the information is very practical and actionable. The courses broadened my horizons and I picked up a lot of knowledge in a short period of time and was able to design products and create my brand. For anyone wanting to learn natural perfumery, the ancillary information and is environmentally conscious, it's a good place to start. The faculty is friendly, kind, and knowledgeable.
What made you decide to create your brand?
Several factors. As you know, we all went through a very difficult pandemic, the past two years, and many people are still experiencing a deep sense of isolation, fear and uncertainty. I asked myself what would be the role of a perfumer? How can I contribute? How can one help restore some sense of well-being?
In this context, I would like to quote an ancient perfumer from India - Gangadhara, 1500 years ago, said:
“The final goal of perfumery is to infuse semi-divinity within us and elevate our mind by freeing it from the mundane worries of the world."
So, I feel as perfumers we have a certain responsibility to help people cope with everyday post-pandemic life, and it was in that spirit, Xila Apothic, was created.
To me a brand is not just about selling products. It's about what you stand for.
Xila Apothic is not just about perfumes - it introduces people to a way of life. Brand is a unique expression of you - your values, belief system, culture, a community of people with shared interests and rituals. It is a way of self-expression.
What made you participate in the New Luxury Awards competition?
I wanted to challenge myself. I think taking action is key to success. Entering a competition forces you think through things and paves way for smart and hard work. It stretches you and nudges you out of your comfort zone. In the process, you discover new facets of yourself and your strengths.
What was your feeling when you came to Paris and received the New Luxury Award?
It was very gratifying. A validation that belief in one-self and focused hard work pay off. I would like to thank Creezy Courtoy, IPF Chair, for creating this platform to showcase our talent and for encouraging natural perfumers. I would also like to thank the faculty at the Natural Perfumery Teacher's Academy for their guidance.
What has happened to you since this?
New opportunities are knocking on my doors, including investors and clients.
We are launching a new product line for the upcoming festive holiday season starting from September 2022, besides what is already available.
Social Media: @XilaApothic
By Creezy Courtoy, IPF Founder and Chair,
Anthropologist, Historian and Olfaction Trainer
No Sense is More Important than the Olfactory Sense!
I really want you to understand that a perfume is not only a smell, it is much more than that and everyone should really know this before learning to become an olfaction trainer, an aromatherapist or a perfumer.
When you smell a perfume:
-going through your brain, it creates memories and sensations.
-it has an action on your nervous system, regulating organs.
-it is also a gas and what we breathe has immediate access to our blood. While penetrating through the thin membranes of our lungs, fragrances and perfumes reach the bloodstream much more quickly than the absorption of matter by the digestive tracts.
-it influences your hormonal system
-it acts on your organs through your nervous system
-in the bloodstream, it participates to the irrigation of your organs
-it can also modify your DNA and your cell's organization
Digestion and the breaking down of solids, like medicinal pills, take much more time reaching the bloodstream, as the absorbed solids must be digested and pass through the thick intestinal wall.
These are the reasons making a perfume or blending essential oils has responsibilities.
When you teach olfaction training, when you train yourselves, when you create natural perfumes or when you blend essential oils, always study the particularity of the oils. Do not use products without knowing their origins.
Olfaction can be dangerous. With essential oils, you can always find data and talk to the person in front of you.
With synthetic substances you have no historical data like we have for flowers and plants. Natural Perfumes are more expensive but it is worth to consider !
Perfume, by simple olfaction, sends messages to the nervous system, especially, to the area called "the big sympathetic" which plays a very important role in the maintenance of the health balance of humans.
The nervous system is the supreme organizer of matter, where life emanates. Its actions spread to all the organs where it regulates the different functions to achieve this harmonious whole that is the human body.
Besides, it assures the defense of the organism in protecting the body from external attacks.
”The big sympathetic” is made of a double chain of joint ganglia, situated at each side of the backbone. From these ganglia emerge many nerve connections terminating at the vegetative life organs: liver, spleen, lungs, heart, blood vessels, etc.
In some regions of the body nerves also form real networks, and insure the communication of the big sympathetic with the central nervous system.
The nervous system presides in exchanges, warns of failings, provides the various organ needs and rescues those that are threatened.
It directs the natural defenders: the white blood cells or leukocytes, also called phagocytes.
The stronger the microbial attack the stronger the defense.
Different conditions, by their suddenness or duration, can cause an abrupt disruption in the balance of the nervous system and also on the entire organism. A failing nervous system can occur in different ways: tiredness, insomnia, unaccustomed emotional stress, sudden weight loss, or an uncharacteristic tendency to exaggerate or discourage. If, at this moment, a bacterial attack occurs, the nervous system would not have the necessary strength to fight it.
Within the nervous system is the autonomic nervous system, which then contains the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems.
These two systems are involuntarily, meaning our body does not have control over what it is being performed.
The sympathetic nervous system is known as “fight-or-flight”, while parasympathetic is known as “rest and digest”.
Even though they are different, these systems still work hand in hand with one another to help control the way our body works.
Sympathetic is almost like an alarm clock, as it arouses the body and stimulates the nerves to start working. On the other hand, parasympathetic helps calm the body down, as it brings the body back to its normal state.
Natural essential oils can rebalance your nervous system, therefore it is important to learn aromatherapy and olfaction training before learning natural perfumery.
If you want to learn more about the importance of your olfactory sense, if you want to learn how to train, preserve or restore your olfactory sense, enrol for Creezy Courtoy's 8 weeks Olfaction Course.
By Creezy Courtoy, World Perfume History Expert and Teacher
Located in Uttar Pradesh, Kannauj is a small, dusty town spreading along the banks of river Ganga.
It is one such amazing place that has a centuries - old legacy of producing long-lasting perfumes and is often compared to Grasse, France. The perfumes that made Grasse popular are Jasmine, Centifolia Rose, Lavender, Orange blossom and wild Mimosa, a very different palette compared to the Sandalwood, Cedar, Heena, Jasmine, Attar Mitti, Kewda Marigold and Damascena Rose of Kannauj.
The process of making perfume has been mentioned in the scriptures of Ayurveda since ancient times.
In some Vedas, prescriptions of 3500 years old, mention fumigation of aromatic woods. It is written in the Vedas that when Yajnas were performed a lot of things went into it as a sacrifice. A foul smell used to emulate when meat was sacrificed, so in order to eliminate the smell aromatic ingredients were offered into the fire. Thus, the art of extracting scents from different substances began. Legend ascribes the invention of distillation to an Indian Princess named Nùr Djihân. In 1568, on the morning of her wedding with Akbar, the Mongol Emperor, Nur noticed foam vapors floating to the surface of a rosewater fountain. From then on, she understood the process of distillation, the most common way to extract essential oil from a plant.
In Kannauj perfumes are prepared with the help of the hydro-distillation process. Nickel plated copper vessels are used as they do not rust.
1. Flowers are soaked in water and heated in containers
2. Condensers are filled with oil.
3. On boiling, the vapour of the flowers passes through the hollow bamboo pipes into a condenser.
4. The oil present in the condenser absorbs the vapour’s fragrance.
5. This process continues for around five hours and excess water is separated from oil after the condenser completely cools down.
6. As per the quality of perfume, the process is continued on the same oil for 30 days.
Can you ever think of using the smell of rain to make perfume?
When you set your foot into the perfume capital of India and try amazing perfumes there, it feels ‘time just stops’. Kannauj will sweep you away in an era of attars. From ancient emperors like Shah Jahan to modern Kings of the Middle East, attar, the Indian perfume is largely preferred to most high-end branded fragrances.
How many fragrances can you think of when talking about attars and perfumes?
Just the basic ones like a rose, sandalwood, jasmine oil and other common fragrance. Can you ever think of using the smell of rain to make perfume? Villagers at Kannauj can make this possible by reproducing the aromatic fragrance of rain.
Have you ever heard of Attar Mitti ?
Attar Mitti, also known as itr–e–khaki is one of the unique attars found in Kannauj The redolence of this attar has a sweet blend of woody note of the Sandalwood and an earthy smell of clay.
Attar Mitti is a co distillation of earthen clay pots with the steam bearing the scent of the soil, the clay is infused over sandalwood oil. Over several rounds of distillation / infusion the base oil is imbibed with the smell of the clay till it starts smelling of petrichor. The attar known as Attar Mitti is fancied by end consumers trying to get as close to the olfactory sense of the rain. It also is used by the perfumers to inculcate an earthy note in their perfume compositions.
Are you looking for more knowledge about India Perfume History ?
Enrol for Creezy Courtoy's World Perfume History Master Class
PERFUME IN ANCIENT EGYPT
NEFERTUM, God of Perfumers and Aromatherapists
by Creezy Courtoy
Nefertum (Nefertem, Nefertemu) was an ancient god, the God of Perfumers and Aromatherapists ( at this time perfumers were all aromatherapists ) mentioned in the Pyramid Texts (c. 2350 BC), but became more prominent during the New Kingdom (1539 - c. 1075 BC) and later.
Nefertum was the son of Ptah and Sekhmet.
Ptah, his father, was the creator God and the Patron of artisans.
His mother, Sekhmet, was the Goddess with a dragon head who protected Egypt from its enemies but she was also the Goddess of plants and herbs and the Patron of medical and alchemist distillation. Nefertum ruled over ointments and perfumed oils.
In Ancient Egypt, fragrances were considered as the essence of materialization of all things. Nefertum was thus considered the spirit of life.
He represented beauty in its perfection and was associated with purification and youthfulness. His symbol and representation was the blue lotus flower, the sacred flower of Egypt through which the sun rose.
Nefertum was the god of the lotus blossom who emerged from the primeaval waters at the beginning of time, and a god of perfume and aromatherapy.
Nefertum was the god of healing, medicine and beauty and strongly associated with the lotus and often depicted in Egyptian art with a large lotus blossom forming his crown. The lotus was the only flowering plant in Egypt that bloomed nonstop throughout the year. Held by gods and goddesses near the nose of royal kings, queens and pharaohs as its scent, this flower was believed to be restorative and protective.
Nefertum was seen as the sun god and the grandson of the sun god.
He was not originally worshipped in temples, but was an important aspect of the sun god, who was later discovered as the grandson of the sun god.
For the people in Egypt, he was their protector and their healer.
Nefertum was linked both to the pleasant scent of the lotus flower and to its medical properties which were well known to the ancient Egyptians.
He was also associated with a number of the Egyptians favorite flowers, such as rose, geranium and cornflower. In fact, he could be described as the archetypal aromatherapist.
According to one legend, he brought a bouquet of beautiful lotuses to the aging Ra to ease his suffering. As a result, he was described in the Pyramid Texts as "the lotus blossom which is before the nose of Ra". He may have originally been considered to be an aspect of Atum. According to one version of the creation story of the Ennead in Heliopolis, Nefertum (translated as beautiful Atum, or perfect Atum) was born from a blue lotus bud which emerged from the waters of Nun at the beginning of creation.
Atum represented the sun and so Nefertum represented the sunrise. He cried because he was alone and his tears created humanity. It was thought that he was born with every sunrise, matured into Atum during the day before passing into the world of the dead every sunset. The cycle of birth in the morning and death every evening (as the sun travelled through the underworld) represented the daily struggle between Chaos and Order (Ma´at). When Atum was absorbed by Ra (Atum-Ra), Nefertum came to be considered as a seperate deity, still closely associated with the newborn sun. Then Ptah was promoted to the chief national god and proclaimed the ultimate creator, and Nefertum was described as his son by either Sekhmet or Bast (both "Daughters of Ra"). However, as the son of Ptah, he also became patron of the perfume and healing arts derived from flowers. Thus, Nefertum was seen as both an aspect of the sun god, and also his grandson. He was also linked to rebirth, both as a personification of the newborn sun and as the patron of many of the necessary ingredients of the mummification process. A passage of the Book of the Dead says the blessed dead will
"Rise like Nefertum from the lotus, to the nostrils of Ra, and come forth upon the horizon each day".
The Egyptian pantheon is particularly huge and fluid, with a wide variety of deities entering and exiting each other's myths.
Nefertum used to be depicted as a beautiful young man wearing a lotus headdress, sometimes standing on the back of a lion.
Occasionally he wears a headdress with two feathers and two necklace weights that were fertility symbols associated with Hathor (who in turn was closely associated with the two goddesses described as his mother, Sekhmet and Bast).
He was sometimes depicted as a man with the head of a lion or as a reclining lion or cat. In this form, he was associated with the lion god Maahes, who may have been his brother, but may also have been an aspect of Nefertum. Like the newborn sun, he was generally depicted as a beautiful baby sitting on a lotus bud. Sometimes his body was shown wrapped like a mummy, with his arms and face unbound. He also had a lion or cat shape, attributed to his mother. He was also depicted as a human head emerging from a large water lily.
For the ancient Egyptians, however, with their holistic understanding of the universe, fragrances and perfumes were not only beautiful, but were also spiritual and therapeutic.
The Blue Lotus
The lotus flower flourishes on the banks of the Nile. It opens its large petals with the rising of the sun. To the ancient Egyptians it represented the sun because it banished darkness. Blue Lotus played a unique and important role in Ancient Egyptian culture. The plant was widely popular for its mood enhancing and mild psychedelic properties. Used both recreational and for spiritual effects, they often made a concoction out of Blue Lotus and wine.
This flower has even been placed alongside the deceased in ancient tombs. The plant is often depicted on walls and paintings as well, often depicted together with wine.
The Blue Lotus was even the symbol for the union of Upper and Lower Egypt. Commonly used in art as a symbol of Upper Egypt. It was often shown with its long stems intertwined with papyrus reeds (a symbol of Lower Egypt) as a representation of the unification of the two lands.
For the Ancient Egyptians, The Blue Lotus represented how the sky greeted the sun. Just as the sun rises above the horizon to start the day, the flower opens in the morning. Then just when the sun is setting, the flower closes itself at dusk. And because of this, the Egyptians coined the Blue Lotus the sacred flower of the sun and sun gods.
As this symbol means also the creation and rebirth, the lotus is a fixed part of tomb and coffin decoration, often in combination with the scarab, which has similar symbolic meaning.
If you want to learn more about national flowers visit my blog
Aromatic Journal of an Olfaction Trainer
by Maria Rodriguez Genna
One of the exercises during Creezy Courtoy’s olfactory training course was to be fully conscious of our sense of smell and to note our progression everyday. It was an interesting experience being purposely smelling everything to train my nose.
First day: What I recognized is the smell of skin. Clean skin, dirty skin, also my little daughter received a vaccine so I smelled her arm and I noticed a change in her natural scent, not long afterwards, but it was more noticeable the next day. On the street I smelled the salty air, the fresh green aroma of the trees, the gasoline obnoxious scents from the traffic.
Second day: I tried smelling ice, although it just smells like water, practically inodorous, the cool feeling has an effect on the nose. This cold scent is difficult to describe. It’s fresh, cold, sharp, almost metallic or even gassy like smelling nitrogen or helium. I didn’t go out for many days because my daughter became ill with fever for days due to the vaccine and I had to stay home to take care of her. So I did experiments with what I had around me at home, like laundry, cleaning items, medicines, etc.
Third day: I did a different exercise, I used imagery to recall or remember how a scent smelled. Like the sea and the beach, or for example amber notes, how a cake would smell,etc.
I also used images like paintings and tried to imagine how colors would relate to scents, for examples amber notes, the color already tells us of possibly resinous, heavy notes or even honeyed, white can be powdery, heady aromas, narcotic. So it was like trying to smell a painting.
Fourth day: I tried imagining what notes would have a perfume I’d like to create, and if they would harmonize. When I imagined the notes, the scents came to mind, like a faint sketch of a drawing, with colors and scents. I would need materia prima for experimenting with these notes and to corroborate if my imagination was correct and they are harmonious or not.
Fifth day: I quickly went to pick a package to the post office but with masks it’s difficult to smell much, only this cottony artificial scent it has, very unpleasant. They smell a lot like hospital sanitizer. It’s an interesting observation, how if we are very distracted with chores or if we go out but are thinking about something while we walk, we tend to lose the scents, because our attention is overpowered by thoughts and our other senses. This is something I’m trying to train myself to, because very easily my other senses overpower my nose, unless of course I close my eyes or try to consciously smell, with intention and full attention.
Last day: Noses can get accustomed to some smells, that is an observation.
I need to focus on something different for a few minutes, then I can revisit certain smells to be able to analyze them. My dry allergic nose doesn’t help either. So much pollen in the air, it can be smelled and it makes the throat and nose powdery and itchy. I will keep training because I’m very used to daily scents, that they disappear into the background. Usually opening a window helps, I notice it moves scents around and that makes my brain perceive them better.
I’m trying to train my nose to human skin odor. Just like I can recognize my little daughter’s natural skin scent, I’m trying to consciously remember or discreetly smell people close to me,to see if I can learn their unique aroma. It would be like taking an aromatic photograph to remember them. So far, I’m being successful with people that are very close to me.
The challenge is to smell different people and without them noticing -hahaha- but it’s an interesting anthropologic experiment. There’s someone I know, a really good friend, that smells incredibly good and it’s not perfume but natural scent. So all this research made by Creezy Courtoy about gorillas is starting to make sense, how they can recognize each other by scent, chose healthy future partners, etc. For someone in this field it is normal musings, but for the rest of the world it is politically incorrect so I have to be cautious if I will be training with human species. Gorillas would appreciate me getting to know them by scent much more!
Lancement du livre et conférence le 26 Mai 2018