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About Wild Veil Enfleurage

In natural perfumery, enfleurage is a deep and profound way to commune with a fragrant flower, revealing intricate details in an aromatic sketch that surpasses any other extraction method. Literally, "in flower," enfleurage is a traditional, labor intensive, and pure method of extracting fragrance, utilizing only fat and plant material. Every day at Wild Veil fresh blossoms are culled and laid on a pommade of plant based fats and waxes, and spent blossoms are removed. As the method of perfume extraction that most perfectly replicates the odor profile of the original flower, enfleurage stores each flower's complex fragrant arc from bud to bloom in fat. The scent is true to the blossom, but subtle, requiring you to bend in close for a sniff.

     The advent of modern perfumery ushered in the ease and relative inexpense of commercial solvent-based extraction of natural materials along with mass production of synthetic compounds, making the art of enfleurage seem highly inefficient and costly in comparison. Cheaper mechanical techniques such as solvent extraction or supercritical fluid extraction using liquid carbon dioxide (CO2) have all but made enfleurage obsolete. Until the modern era, enfleurage had been the sole method of extracting the innumerable fragrant compounds from delicate flowers such as jasmine and tuberose, which can be destroyed or denatured by the high temperature of steam distillation. It is still believed by many perfumers that enfleurage remains the only way to capture and preserve the full aromatic range and complexity of certain flowers. These include gardenia, lilac, tuberose, jasmine, lily of the valley, hyacinth, coffee flower, natal plum, honeysuckle, peony, rose, narcissus, jonquil, daffodil, orange blossom, lemon blossom, calamondin blossom, daphne, champaca, magnolia, plumeria (frangipani), star jasmine (Trachelospermum jasminoides), Stephanotis floribunda, sweet violets, parma violets, carnation, osmanthus, tobacco flower, and dianthus. At Wild Veil, I enfleurage all of these flowers, although availability will vary from year to year, and season to season.

     I share the opinion that enfleurage creates a perfume that is closest to the scent of the live flower. More of an imprint than an extract, enfleurage is similar to photography in that it casts scent onto a medium like light onto celluloid (celluloid of course is the explosive bond of two plant components: nitrocellulose and camphor). The parallels are poetic: in enfleurage, a slab of fat and wax serves as the medium. This plant version of cellulite echoes photographic film's cellu-light. Repeated printing of flower after flower onto the same reel produces something beyond a realistic encounter with the scent source. A hyperreal outcome more saturated than a bouquet, and condensed in time. An enfleurage record plays day after day of a flower's fragrant story. Unlike absolutes, essential oils, and CO2 extracts, enfleurage is a moving perfume.


© 2022, Abby Hinsman for Wild Veil Perfume.