Los Angeles Part II: Blunda and Yosh


Los Angeles Report Part II brings us to my enchanted evening at Blunda where Yosh, Persephenie, and many botanical gems were discovered. Before I get to Yosh though, let me tell you about the benzoin! I had never smelled benzoin until this past weekend and could hardly pull my nose out of the jar that held this intoxicating substance which is made from the bark of the Styrax tree via cuts to release the resin. Above all, enticing vanilla wafted from the glass jar. Soft and supple, yet dirty and earthy as if you’d just pulled a piece of wood out of the soil. And the labdanum! I finally got to smell labdanum, another resin, utterly rich and musty. It also struck me as quite leathery with great depth and amazingly animalic for a botanical.

Hundreds of individual essences within Persephenie’s perfumer’s palette remained to be sniffed, but time was short and there was much to smell. Blunda is filled with a delicious array of natural fragrance offerings from Aftelier, Velvet and Sweet Pea, DSH, Artemesia, and Persephenie’s own bodycare line. I could have spent all evening poring over the gorgeous selection. And when one of my favorite perfumers, Roxana Villa walked through the door, I was thrilled not only to have the chance to chat with Roxana, but to experience the fragrances and essences with her was truly special.


Of course we were all gathered to learn more about Yosh Han’s fragrance Winter Rose and the two fragrance installations, Dew and Sombra Negra, she created especially for the evening. Winter Rose is a 100% botanical fragrance that was inspired by Yosh’s travels through Turkey. Four rose attars along with cardamom are in Winter Rose, making for an inspired, authentic and slightly spicy rose fragrance. But it was the evening’s installations that really got my attention. Sombra Negra with its vetiver, patchouli, oak moss, and tobacco went into deep and dark territory that smoldered in LA’s summer heat. A little too much actually. I had to fan myself as I thought how Sombra Negra would be more appropriate in front of the fireplace upon autumn’s first chill. But Dew….Dew was perfection on that hot night. Why don’t more perfumers use fennel? It’s sheer genius with its crisp and refreshing bite. Yosh added honey absolute, citrus notes with lime, petitgrain and neroli and then a hint of sweet floral in ylang ylang. She created Dew in a gel base, which enhanced the cooling effect of the fragrance and heightened the sparkling anise quality of fennel. For those of you interested in purchasing Sombra Negra or Dew, there still might be some available through Blunda if you contact Persephenie.

If you do call the boutique, consider calling in an order for Persephenie’s Linden Blossom Dry Body Oil or the Nanu Lei Fizzy Wonders. I haven’t actually tried the bath fizzies yet because it has been outrageously hot since I’ve been home, but they smell heavenly! A luscious blend of coconut, cocoa butter, citrus, and tropical flowers. I can’t wait for the weather to cool down so I can enjoy an evening’s bath with one of my Nanu Lei Fizzies. I can attest to how wonderful the Linden Blossom Dry Body Oil is, as I have used it several times and it hydrates beautifully and smells like you’ve stepped out of a Maui spa. The linden blossom is warm and citrusy, almost honey-like, and I’m sure Persephenie has enhanced the oil with other citrus elements as well as tropical white florals and a spot of cocount. It lasts many hours on the skin and you can put it in your hair as well where I’m sure the scent would waft sublimely.

Persephenie and Yosh

Persephenie and Yosh

Blunda is truly an olfactory wonderland. Twice monthly visits (if not more) would certainly be the norm if I lived in Los Angeles. But more than the perfumes, body products and jars of botanical scents…it was the people of these natural perfume enclaves that made my trip exceptional. Persephenie was warm and welcoming; funny and kind. Yosh’s killer smile, along with her sharp intellect and charm-for-days left me giddy in her wake. Roxanna Villa was a joy to finally meet. Her caring, astute, and vibrant nature put me at ease the moment I saw her. And if you read Part I, you know my experiences at Strange Invisible Perfumes and Le Labo were also remarkable. My friend in life and in scent (not to mention fabulous Los Angelean host), duVergne, might be getting another visit from me sooner than she realizes!

Posted by ~Trish


Los Angeles Sniffing: Part I

The reason for my Los Angelean journey was two-fold; to visit dear friends and attend Yosh’s perfume exhibit at the natural perfume studio, Blunda. Persephenie Schnyder, the owner of Blunda, has been hosting these events which allow perfumers to showcase their natural perfumes, discuss them, and most importantly, engage with us essence loving scent hounds.

SIP Boutique

But my Southern California adventure did not begin there. When my partner-in-sniffing-crime, duVergne, (who wrote about Ayala’s Blunda event here) picked me up from the airport, we headed straight for Venice. As some of you may know… this meant our destination was Strange Invisible Perfumes. I had never been to the SIP boutique, but immediately felt at home in the shop’s environment and plunked myself down at the bar which beautifully displays their Eau de Parfums and Pure Parfums. I knew duVergne and I would be there a while, and indeed we were. This was in large part due to Nic, one of the best, if not the best sales associate I have ever had the pleasure to meet. She was well versed regarding every scent and had intelligent and thoughtful comments about the fragrances whether they were on the test strips or on our skin. So yeah, we hung out with our new BFF for quite a while.

I finally got to experience SIP’s Black Rosette, an incredibly dry and resinous, leathery rose. Very unique and beautiful, but not quite what I wanted in the summer heat. (Come winter time, I could imagine wanting to cozy up to that one). Prima Ballerina is another rose offering from SIP, but entirely different from Black Rosette. It’s a pretty, rosy floral, with some sage and the subtlest of botanical musk making it an original rose, yet familiar and comforting at the same time. I’m in love with it and was this close to buying a bottle. What finally won the full bottle contest was Magazine Street, that perfect blend of vanilla and vetiver, with just a smidge of patchouli to really bring out vetiver’s herbal quality. I wrote about how much I adore Magazine Street here, so it’s no surprise that’s what I chose. Not to mention that in the Los Angeles summer heat, Magazine Street’s soft vanilla blossomed so elegantly. Yes…the deal was done.


We begrudgingly said our goodbyes to Nic and looked forward to the next day which started on the late side at The Little Next Door. (Many thanks to Ayala for that recommendation!) As fate would have it, Le Labo was unknowingly just a few blocks away. I had no idea I’d glean so much sniffing pleasure from a visit there. Again, a fabulous sales associate, Ellie, made all the difference. She was delightful to work with and allowed me to experience everything in the store at my own pace. Even though Le Labo does use synthetics, this is not always a deal breaker for me if I really love a fragrance and I am pleased to report that they do not use phthalates in their products. While most of the fragrances were interesting and unique, Iris 39 had me in its grip from the moment I sniffed it on the scent strip. So on the skin it went via their dry body oil. Le Labo’s Iris 39 brings forth the violet facet of iris that I love, but it’s not sweet or too precious. It’s also not powdery or soapy, but gently crisp without being woody. I need to spend more time with it, as well as the Oud 29 sample I received.

Le Labo was like a candy store as they have single essences, dried roots and herbs, as well as their Olfactionary for customers to explore. The Olfactionary contains vials of 40 essences, many of which I had never smelled. Tonka bean was probably my favorite single raw material. Alone, it smelled of tobacco, almond and vanilla. It was sweet and intoxicating. Ambrette oil had a beautiful contrast of sweet florals and boozy earthiness. Apart from the Olfactionary were jars of dried ambrette seeds which compared to the oil was much more tannic, similar to that of Hibiscus tea.


Galbanum is not a part of the Olfactionary, but is available behind the counter to smell as well as at least 50 other raw materials. I was particularly enthusiastic about having the chance to partake in this cherished resin which blew me away with its grassy, bitter, herbal woodiness. It packs a mighty punch and I loved every inhalation! Smelling Le Labo’s iris root (orris) was also an extraordinary experience as I was stunned by its warm, mushroom-like quality and its simultaneous tang. It was not overly floral like the iris oil, and just the sight of these dried gems will take your imagination to an enchanted forest.

In the interest of keeping this post a reasonable length, I’ll continue it in a couple of days with more essence discoveries at Blunda as well as the details on Yosh’s exhibit!

Posted by ~Trish

SIP Boutique image from Citysearch
Iris image from http://www.herbarium.com/images/oldflowers/
Galbanum image from I Smell Therefore I Am