Shibori is an ancient Japanese method of dying and pleating. The beautiful pink pleated oblong Shibori scarf that I have simply tied around my mannequin’s waist as a sash reminds me of pink Japanese cherry blossoms.
It is cherry blossom time in Seattle where I live. The cherry trees are just beginning to bloom, but it has also been unseasonably cold and we have had several heavy periods of freezing hail and snow over the last few days! Temperatures have been in the low 30’s and accompanied by strong winds.
The University of Washington Campus has a well known large planting of Japanese cherry trees that burst into a flurry of extraordinarily beautiful lovely smelling pink blooms at the beginning of April every year. I make sure I go there every spring when they are in the height of bloom to walk under them and experience their color and enjoy their exquisite perfume. Nothing is more beautifully scented than the Japanese cherry blossom trees in full bloom. The exquisite perfume from these flowers lasts only one day, then the blossoms fall from the trees in swirls of pink snow petals and are blown away by the turbulent spring winds.
Getting caught in pelting rain and wind and a blizzard of the pink petals is all part of the memorable experience of walking under them and enjoying them. I am always a little upset by the fact that the weather is destroying them so quickly when they last such a short time anyway! I would like this transient experience to last as long as possible! So I do things to remind of it, to stretch it out a little and enjoy the memories of it longer. One thing I do is wear my pink Japanese Shibori scarf, either tied around my waist as a sash, as illustrated in the photo, or simply wrapped around my neck. It is an easy scarf to wear because it is a permanently pleated oblong. I wish I had a cherry blossom perfume to wear!
I love the scent. I’ve always fantasized about creating a perfume from Japanese cherry blossoms. Even to the point of experimenting with making it and, about 15 years ago, talking to a professional perfumer, called a Nose, from Italy, who creates perfumes for major European couture houses. He told me it cannot be done because the flowers are only at the height of their scent for less than 24 hours each year! It is then, and only then, that hundreds of thousands of pounds of the flowers would have to be collected and their essence extracted to create a perfume. From these thousands of pounds you might get an ounce of the essence necessary to make real cherry blossom perfume. It would take impossibly vast orchards of the trees to grow enough flowers. And that is not the only problem! The fact that the height of bloom and scent is such a short period that harvesting enough of them at exactly the right moment and processing them quickly enough to extract their pure essence is impossibly difficult.
The Italian Nose told me that many kings and emperors and professional perfumers have shared my dream. And that, over the centuries much experimenting has been done to extract the elusive essence of the pink Japanese cherry blossoms. No one has been able to succeed because it is logistically impossible and impossibly expensive. “What about a synthetic recreation of the scent?” I asked. Some of the world’s greatest perfumes, notably Channel #5 are synthetic creations. He said their have been many many attempts to do this but so far no one has succeeded. He gave me samples of several expensive perfumes that claim to have recreated the scent. They were pleasant but did not succeed.
Over the years I have tried out every perfume on the international market that claims to be the scent of Japanese cherry blossoms. I believe he is right. None of them manage to recreate the beauty of the original! Not even for a fleeting moment of delightful memorable scent. One of the great allures of perfume is its ability to recreate memories ~ memories of the person who wore it, or the place and time you wore it or an experience you had when wearing it. These supposed cherry blossom perfumes did none of that for me. I am quite a good Nose myself and know that many other perfumes are successful in that respect.
I have had to be satisfied with creating and collecting other things that remind me of the cherry blossoms when they are not blooming. To this end I have made the necklaces of pink beads in the picture. I call them my Cherry Blossom Collection. They consist of lamp work beads I have made myself and vintage and antique beads made of all kinds of different materials that happen to be the right color of pink or, when combined together suggest Japanese cherry blossoms to me. These beads come from all over the world and have taken me many years to collect. The necklaces are one of a kind art pieces ~ no two alike and unrepeatable. In that way, too, they are like the scent of the Japanese cherry blossoms ~ impossible to capture and reproduce ~ rare, elusive and special ~ totally unique.
I have also discovered, one night in a Japanese restaurant, that the taste of plum wine actually reminded me of the Japanese cherry blossom. Quite unexpectedly I tasted it and had a memory flash of walking under the pink trees in full bloom. I concentrated on the plum wine. I realized it has no scent, only a taste. But the taste reminds me of how the cherry blossoms smell! In that way it is very pleasurable. However, because it doesn’t have any scent at all there is no possibility of my using it as a perfume to trigger an association of the Japanese cherry blossoms scent in other people!
So far I have resigned myself to having to use the visual sense to trigger memories of cherry blossoms. Sometimes, when appropriate, I can also serve plum wine! I will continue to search for a rendition of cherry blossom perfume that satisfies me. In the meantime I will wear the Japanese cherry blossom pink accessories that I associate pleasurably with this experience ~ my pink Shibori scarf and the pretty pink necklaces and earrings I have designed.
I have some clothing designs inspired by Japanese cherry blossom forming in the back of my mind as well! And I feel that the two concert performance dresses I have made for Princess Wow! in myriad pinks are associated with this imagery. I have just finished these dresses and will be putting up final photos of them soon.
Isn’t it amazing to think about what image and association triggers an artist or designer’s imagination and leads to the creation of art in other forms? I know flowers have always stimulated fashion designers. A few posts back I quoted Christian Dior saying, “I have made flower women.” when interviewed about his New Look Collection after WW II. He also loved lilies of the valley and talked about their scent reminding him of his childhood and his mother because they were her favorite flowers. A perfect example of a perfume triggering memories! Of course he created a perfume featuring lily of the valley!
I am lucky, being Lady Violette de Courcy, that my personal flower is the violet and that both it’s flower and it’s leaf have distinct and lovely scents that are extractable for use in the making perfumes. I have several perfumes containing one, the other, or both that are very attractive and easily obtainable. I will write more about perfumes later!
Tags: Art & About, Beads, Fashion, Feminine Arts, Flowers, How To Make a Scarf, How to Tie a Scarf, How to Wear a Scarf, International Scarf Styling, Japanese Cherry Blossoms, Jewelry, Making Art, Making Scarves, Perfume, Personal Flowers, Princess WOW!, Scarf Style, Scarf Styling, Scarf Tying, Scarves, Style, Textiles, The Lady Violette Scarf Collection, Vintage, Violette