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Inside A Perfumer’s Fragrant Cape Schanck Studio


Like many people, Sondrine Kehoe remembers glad childhood reminiscences mixing up ‘perfumes’ in her household backyard with petals and water. 

But somewhat than leaving her ‘fairy potion’ mixing days behind, Sondrine as a substitute swapped petals for important oils and water for Spritus Vini (a pure grape alcohol), to develop into a self-taught perfumer and formulator. 

From her transformed backyard shed studio on Boon Wurrung land in Cape Schanck, Sondrine runs Cygnet Perfumery; a small, thought-about fragrance and skincare enterprise that focuses on pure substances and hand-made strategies. 

‘My perfume style comes from merging contemporary insights and ingredients with 16th – 18th century French perfume techniques,’ Sondrine explains. ‘Many of the books I learned from were archived copies of perfume-making books from this era, which detail all the traditional methods.’

It can take over a yr to create certainly one of her fastidiously thought-about fragrances – and that is after formulation (which might additionally take as much as a yr!). 

First, she weighs out the botanical aromatics on a high-precision scale and blends them collectively. Then, the mix undergoes a two-step ageing course of for as much as six months. Once prepared, the fragrance is taken by a filtering course of to get rid of haze and particles, after which it’s ultimately bottled. 

This excruciatingly sluggish course of means Sondrine doesn’t know whether or not a perfume has labored till after it’s sat and aged for months. ‘I have hundreds of little vials full of formulation tweaks, some of which just didn’t work,’ she says. ‘But mistakes are the best way to learn which combination of scents smell like old socks, and which do not.’ 

Thankfully, her nostril is so effectively skilled now, these errors are few and much between. 

‘I can easily smell a high-quality aromatic from an adulterated one,’ she says. ‘Or a fresh herb from an old one.’

Sondrine has at all times most popular to work with pure substances over artificial ones. ‘I find them more dynamic,’ she says. ‘For example, most botanical aromatics will smell completely different depending on the origin, producer or even the season it was grown or extracted.’

Her present favorite scent is conifer; ‘it transports me to an old growth pine forest, a favourite to wear in Autumn.’ 

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