Enfleurage and Hyperreality: Flower Bombs and Celluloid
I believe 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. The enfleurage record plays day after day of a flower's odorous story. Unlike absolutes, essential oils, and CO2 extracts, enfleurage is a moving perfume.
Literally, "in flower," enfleurage is a traditional, labor intensive, and pure method of extracting fragrance, utilizing only fat and plant material. Patient where other techniques are rushed, enfleurage demands attending to each individual blossom rather than piling them collectively in a vessel and removing them en masse. It is this individualization of the flower that enables enfleurage to build an aromatic portrait so saturated, chromatic, realistic, vivid, yet nuanced, that it eclipses all other available recording technologies in natural perfumery. Each flower's complex fragrance history from bud to bloom imprints in fat, where it is stored. The palimpsest of olfactory media, enfleurage's perfume is true to blossom but subtle, requiring you to bend in close for a sniff.
Photo: Gardenia jasminoides in the Wild Veil perfume gardens 2021.
© 2022, Abby Hinsman for Wild Veil Perfume.