Liz Moores is one of the most exciting niche perfumers out there and we always love hearing about her creative process. Being curious about her experience designing the exquisite parfum extrait Hera, a wedding scent for her daughter, we had to reach out to learn more. From her home-base lab on the edge of a forest in the UK, here's what Liz had to say...
Q. How did you decide which ingredients/notes to highlight in Hera, given it was designed for your daughter Jasmine to wear on her wedding day? Also curious to know if you two collaborated on it or if it was more of a surprise...
A. Initially, Jasmine wanted to wear Anubis for her wedding day, but her groom wanted to wear the same perfume, so I offered to create a bespoke wedding fragrance just for her that her husband-to-be wouldn’t be able to steal!
Jasmine wasn’t quite sure which direction she wanted to take her fragrance, but she did ask me to include jasmine absolute, and as much of it as we could possibly use. Initially, we discussed creating a jasmine solifore but after smelling a few early mods I could sense that she hadn’t fallen in love with this style of fragrance, so I made the decision to create for her the fragrance that I felt she wanted but couldn’t express to me.
It is a challenge to articulate a fragrance brief, so after a bit of back and forth with Jasmine, I set to work on Hera on my own. I decided not to run any of the materials past her while I was creating her wedding perfume, solely because some of the materials that I knew would bring her fragrance to life may not smell especially enticing to her in isolation.
For example, the ambrette seed absolute and clary sage in Hera may not smell beautiful to some, but in a finished formula they have a magical effect. So, the finished formula was a complete surprise to Jasmine, and I felt honoured that she allowed me a free hand with Hera and trusted me to create it for her.
Q. Was designing a wedding fragrance for your daughter an emotional experience and if so, what stands out in that context?
A. Yes, it was an emotional experience. I knew that this perfume would always remind her of her wedding day, and that it would always remind me of it too. Hera would be the olfactory soundtrack to her wedding, and it was a unique gift that I could give her. Jasmine didn’t wear her wedding perfume until the big day because she wanted her memories of the fragrance to be indelibly linked with that special moment and nothing else.
Q. It's quite generous of Jasmine to suggest that you release Hera to the world at large. What prompted her to do so, and did you resist at first?
A. Hera is a perfume that I am inordinately proud of, and when it was finished, I told Jasmine that I felt it to be one of the best fragrances (from a technical perspective) that I had created. She asked if I was going to include it in the Papillon collection to which I replied “no, I made this for you”, but Jasmine told me that she wouldn’t talk to me again if I didn’t add it to the collection!
Part of me did want to resist, but another part of me felt that it would be the perfect way to honour my daughter and her wedding day by making Hera a permanent fragrance in the Papillon collection.
Q. We'd love to hear more from you about the natural floral ingredients you chose, what really stands out to you as the perfumer?
A. After taking a detour from the idea of a jasmine soliflore, I decided upon a rich, floral cascade as the central theme of Hera. I wanted the flowers to mimic the effect of her bridal bouquet, including abstract touches of greenery.
Hera contains many of the classic white florals: jasmine, orange blossom, ylang, and narcissus, but so as not to deviate down the path of the more traditional white floral fragrance, I included a touch of rose de mai to add a counterbalance to the white flowers and wrapped these materials in a veil of orris concrete.
The orris gives a soft-focus effect to the florals while also giving the finished formula a beautifully classy finish. Ambrette seed absolute offers a champagne-like quality to Hera, while the base notes are underpinned with labdanum, clary sage and clove.
Heliotrope, musk and vanilla give the fragrance a very subtle gourmand feel in the heart of Hera which gives the perfume a warm skin note that plays quietly in the background. For me, it was exciting to be able to use ambrette absolute for the first time and I feel that it is this material that adds a special magic to Hera.
Q. Theming the fragrance for the goddess Hera is a powerful statement. Does Hera have a specific significance for your daughter and/or how you wanted her to feel on her wedding day?
A. I chose to call the fragrance Hera as I felt it to be perfect name (and the perfect Goddess) for a woman starting her journey into married life. A powerful amulet for her wedding day and beyond.