Perfume Corner: 40 Notes

I'm exhausted from a long day of writing on other projects, and so I thought I'd post something from a while back. This is the review I wrote for my personalized experience with the lovely Miriam of 40 Notes Perfume. Enjoy!

It’s such a pleasure for me to relive the sessions I had with Miriam, in her elegant atelier, when crafting a custom scent for my wedding day. I honestly can’t imagine a more sensuous, indulgent experience! During the first session, Miriam encouraged me to list the qualities I wanted my wedding scent to convey. From these initial ideas, a lush and three-dimensional creation was born, and it was fascinating to watch how a little bit of inspiration was transformed into a complex, finished product over the months we worked together. The first time we met, Miriam had me sample a number of notes from her impressive collection of essences. I think the most enjoyable part of this session was knowing that Miriam was having absolutely as much fun as I was, nosing around in these gorgeous florals and heady botanicals. I was, literally, astounded, when Miriam showed me an essence of Palo Santo, a wood sacred to Peruvian shamans and an important part of my spiritual practice with my husband – we burn it often as incense. No other note could so uniquely capture the bond I have with my husband, and I think the fact that Miriam produced this exotic essence, on a whim, is a testament to her keen, intuitive sense of her client’s vision. We quickly decided to make Palo Santo the keynote of my custom scent, and to this rather intense base, Miriam added soft musks and mellowing cedar wood. I also wanted my perfume to be sexy and round, and so for the mid-notes we selected juicy mango leaf and the luscious spice of white ginger flowers.


Palo Santo Wood

In follow-up sessions, Miriam shared her alchemical process with me, and had me provide input on several blends so we could get the final product just right. The top-notes came as a bit of a surprise – sharp, green kumquat expressed the bracing feel of the first day of Spring (the day we selected for the wedding), while white grapefruit gave the blend the lightness and lift of a sophisticated fragrance. When I tried on my wedding scent for the first time, I immediately dubbed it “Serpentine” because of the sinuous way the natural essences developed on my skin, and because its bright, green notes reminded me of the green stone, serpentine – a perfect complement to my non-traditional wedding dress – also green!


I couldn’t be happier with the finished product, or with the memorable hours I spent in Miriam’s studio, an experience that was relaxing and vivifying all at once. Serpentine was everything I’d dreamed it could be – a scent appropriate to the solemnity of our ceremony, but also soft and feminine and befitting a bride. Playing in Miriam’s atelier was akin to taking a scented trip around the world – I felt like we searched the four corners of the globe to discover the far-flung ingredients that best expressed my unique “scentual” desires. Scents are famously hard to describe in words, and I was impressed with how Miriam was able to translate my feelings, wishes, and subtle reactions into a holistic vision which meshed with my own. I would recommend Miriam to anyone looking to craft a custom scent for any occasion. Miriam brings her expertise and artistic, intuitive sense to such a collaboration, but the emphasis is firmly on the client’s individual vision. The process of creating a personalized perfume enhanced the magic of my wedding day tenfold. I was walking on air – and clothed in an aromatic cloud of exotic woods, sexy florals, and the piquant promise of a bright, green day.