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sábado, 2 de abril de 2016

All Things Start in Nature: An Interview with Rodney Hughes of Therapeutate Parfums and Giveaway!

All Things Start in Nature: An Interview with Rodney Hughes of Therapeutate Parfums and Giveaway!

by: Jodi Battershell

At the recent Elements event, I finally got a chance to meet in person a writer and perfumer whose work I've admired for some time. I was not aware until I arrived at the event that Therapeutate Parfums would be exhibiting at the showcase. It was a wonderful surprise and I was so pleased to finally meet its founder and perfumer,Rodney Hughes, in person.
If you've read his writing or interacted with him in the online fragrance world, you know already that Rodney is a kind, contemplative and positive person. He has traveled the world and been succesful in a variety of interesting careers. He's a poet, a perfumer and a healer. There were such good vibes radiating from his exhibit at the showcase (not to mention beautiful fragrances) that I went back to visit him twice!
As Rodney introduced his fragrances, he explained a bit about the name of his brand. Therapeutate Parfums takes its name from Theraputae, a sect of ancient Egyptian healing priests. The name is a nod to history, to spirituality and to healing, all of which find expression in Rodney's perfumes. "Personally, I believe that everything humans are involved in can potentially be a path to spirituality and enlightenment. So I certainly approach this art with a reverence for nature and the divine within me and beyond."
Originally from Shreveport, Louisiana, Rodney moved to New York to attend the Pratt Institute, earning a BFA in Fashion/Apparel Design. He arrived in New York as a young man in the late 1980s—the end of an illustrious era still filled with glamorous fashion, good nightlife and affordable apartments in the city. It was an exciting time that sparked an entrepreneurial spirit in Rodney which has endured and evolved just as New York has over the nearly 30 years he's been there.
"I worked as a designer and product developer for many years in fashion and home products. In 2007, I left fashion to start a community-based retail business with my partner. And later on in 2010, we decided to open Liquid Oz Cafe and Wine Bar in our community as well," says Rodney. "In both ventures, our idea was, how do we take something as simple as hardware and home and coffee and turn them into viable businesses with sex appeal within our developing community?" [Rodney lives and works in Brooklyn's diverse and rapidly evolving Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood—jb] "We met this challenge in the hardware store by introducing our community to a well-designed boutique store with bright colors, great lighting, easy laid-out floor plan, products you would typically find in a home and garden store and the best in green products. Our retail establishments quickly became a beacon of light for the level of service, product assortment and general idea of the type of business a developing community such as ours needed to spark revitalization."
Perfumery has been a longtime interest of Rodney's, but as he turned his focus to the development of Therapeutate Parfums back in 2007, his experience in the fashion and design worlds shaped his work in unexpected ways.

"I would have to say that my background in the arts and design certainly informs me as a perfumer. I see perfumery much like painting a scene in nature or the urban environment. Its like taking a walk in Manhattan at the end of winter in the crisp, slightly warm air and far away in the background being able to faintly smell spring flowers beginning to bloom," says Rodney. (This experience actually inspired a fragrance, a 2010 release called PRINTEMPS, which is not part of the current lineup but will be reintroduced soon.) "However, the most intense passion behind what I create as a perfumer really comes out of problem-solving, healing and relating those ideas to others."
It is surprising to hear of perfumery evolving from such pragmatic concerns, but Rodney explains further. "While working in fashion, I became increasingly sensitive to recycled air in buildings, while traveling on planes and cigarette smoke, to the point I had to have an air purifier on my desk running at all times. When I traveled on planes, I would often get really ill afterwards, so I starting traveling with a ionic air purifier. These experiences led to the study of Reiki arts and exploration of the benefits of Aromatherapy. I found over the years that both helped me to better tolerate the stresses of working in fashion. So I would have to say what goes into the bottle for me is the antithesis of fashion and that experience."

The creative aspects of fashion, however, find expression in Therapeutate. "Art and design define my approach to the refinement of how Therapeutate Parfums is presented to the world. In that manner it's a marriage of my most important life-shaping experiences."

The experiences above also shaped the focus of Therapeutate Parfums. Rodney works exclusively with natural, botanical perfume ingredients, both as an aesthetic choice and from a more practical standpoint. "Really, I have worn many fine commercial and niche fragrances for as long as I can remember. For this reason I see the art and value in all approaches to the art of perfumery," he says. "I choose to work exclusively in botanicals because of the intolerance both myself and partner have developed  against inorganic, chemical and animal by-products found in many fragrances. They caused us to have an allergic reaction and discomfort in both the nasal and abdominal passages. Still there are many fragrances I love that combine the many elements of perfumery, but I simply cannot wear them."

Having the opportunity to enjoy fragrances again has been a source of delight for Rodney. "I believe the merit of 'Natural' perfumery lies in its ability to bring back lovers of this art who have previously stopped wearing fragrance because of intolerance. I was a fragrance consumer before being a perfumer," says Rodney. His optimism, coupled with that propensity for problem-solving he articulated before, casts the natural vs. synthetics debate in a different light. "It gives me great joy to be a part of the forward-thinking solution makers for this industry. It just makes sense. If we are moving towards being more conscious consumers where our food consumption is concerned, in my opinion being concerned about what you goes on your skin is equally important as what goes into your body."
Each Therapeutate fragrance is available as a 50 ml EDP and 100 ML EDT, packaged in heavy round bell-shaped bottles. At Elements, Rodney's beautiful fragrances were presented via scent-laden cards placed in sparkling glass bell jars that echoed the bottles' shape. (Sniffing the scented air in the lid of a bell jar is an amazing way to experience perfume!) We talked about the rise of natural perfumes within the perfume market and how natural perfumes are coming into their own. Having had the chance to smell many natural perfumes, I can personally attest that they are just as beautiful, complex and indicative of the unique stamp of each perfumer as more commercial perfumes that incorporate synthetic ingredients.
"I don't find working exclusively in botanicals challenging at all. Maybe if I had begun making perfumery the conventional way, I might have found it confining," notes Rodney. "Since I really began as a Natural Perfumery, I find that i can create any smell necessary to shape and define my voice as a perfumer. All things start in nature, even if its only a memory or a desire to recreate a smell not normally associated with plants. The earth creates it all and is the master palette for anything humans can imagine."
The seven fragrances currently in the Therapeutate Parfums collection bear names from the literal (Cardamom Rose, Exotic Flower) to the spiritual (Taosi, Osirius) to the fanciful (Royal Water), all in keeping with Rodney's vast range of experiences and wide variety of interests. "I am naturally a history buff, particularly when it comes to religion, iconography and the global African experience. So the titles of many of the fragrances I have designed pull upon these references," explains Rodney.
Taosi, a classic barbershop aromatic fougère to my nose, and Osirius, a floriental with strong green tones, are pleasant reminders that American natural perfumery remains one of the last venues for smelling true oakmoss in a detectable dose. Chrys 14 is a beautiful chypre floral that brings to mind some of my favorite powerhouse chypre scents of the 70s and 80s. Exotic Flower, with its jasmine and champaca, reminds me of my trip to India. If you love patchouli, Rodney's Modern Patchouli and Royal Water are must-try fragrances. Modern Patchouli tames the classic hippie patchouli aroma with strong aromatics, capped with a dose of orange and sweetened with a dollop of vanilla.
Royal Water is a different spin on patchouli, which is a note I wouldn't necessarily associate with water. The fragrance also features a pronounced lavender note. Travel is another source of inspiration for Rodney and it all comes together as he describes the experience that inspired this fragrance. "Royal Water is how I would describe my experience in Greece, particularly Mykonos and Santorini. The lavender note that is in this fragrance is my attempt to capture what my eyes experienced while laying in the bed in mornings. The bright sun would stream though the shuttered windows, casting light on the lavender painted walls. The basil and geranium notes that figure into its layers are about walking down into the town of Mykonos in the evening to have dinner at the local restaurants," he explains. "So sometimes its about the recreation of an indelible experience and others it's about revisiting ideas or historical artifacts."
Red blossoms and blue sky on Mykonos
And sometimes it's about a special person. Therapeutate Parfums' Cardamom Rosein particular made a big impression on me. It's a rose fragrance, to be sure, but the rose is almost in the shadow of the spicy cardamom, orange and vanilla (which are kept from veering into foody/gourmand territory by the pine and sandalwood). It's a beautifully balanced blend and one of the most unique-smelling natural perfumes I've encountered in some time. "Cardamon Rose is a tribute to a dear friend and someone who has really been an angel to my artistic endeavors. It speaks of my deep appreciation for her belief in me as an a creative being," says Rodney. "I really love the way cardamom smells, so in this perfume it's a representation of my love. I designed that fragrance while she visited me in my lab. We talked that day for hours about the beauty of living, life's challenges and how it all works itself out in the end. Its my gift to her beauty."
Therapeutate Parfums are currently available on the official website and the brand's Etsy site. We're just three months into the year, but Rodney has kept busy with exhibits at the Las Vegas and NYC Elements at Capsule showcases and putting the finishing touches on packaging design. "2016 is all about growing the Therapeutate Parfums brand," he says. Other scents are planned for launch, and "we will probably introduce L'Huille de Parfum in a smaller, more affordable presentation than the fragrances, along with some of my favorite aromatherapy creations. On a personal note, I am looking to have more of a connection with my home of Louisiana, possibly living and working part of the year from New Orleans." Fragrantica will keep you informed of new releases and news from Therapeutate Parfums.

The lucky winners of the sample packs from Therapeutate Parfums are:
Winners, I will contact you via PM. Thanks to everyone for the wonderful comments!

A special thank you to Rodney Hughes for sharing your story and your beautiful fragrances with us!
All Images except Mykonos:  Rodney Hughes/Therapeutate Parfums

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