Ayala, could you please tell us about your favorite perfumery genres. For instance, I admire leather scents. What are your passions? I have not tried all of your perfumes, but I guess that probably gourmet scents are one of your passions.
Ayala: Nice guess! Actually, leather and chypres are my personal passion, and these are what I wear the most.
What kind of ingredients and scents that are associated with your own happiness?
Ayala: Orange blossom is pure happiness emanating from each of its five petals, shining like a bright star. Anything that reminds me of spring makes my heart sing!
Do you have any ‘persona non-grata’ in the world of fragrances? No doubt that perfumer has to know how to work with all ingredients, just as an artist can’t simply dislike red color for example. But to be able to do something and love something isn’t always the same.
Ayala: I was never too excited about ylang ylang and vetiver (both of which were easily remedied once I found better quality essences of these botanicals). Similar thing happened with clary sage. Quality makes a big difference!
But also working out my differences with the challenging essences. For example: Angelica was one that I had the hardest time to love — I have an aversion to many sharply green notes, on their own. But I love how they can be incorporated into a formula, so I think I’ve even managed to overcome my struggle with angelica. The more I work with an essence and study it (reading about it as well as researching its olfactory properties on its own and when blended with others) — the more beauty I find in it. For example: I can now appreciate the musky notes in angelica, and not only experience it as a harsh, green, almost metallic sharpness.
I believe that every creator must familiarize himself with creations of his colleagues. I found it as a great pleasure to try and use parfums of other natural perfumers. Do you agree?
Ayala: Yes, of course. Creativity requires quiet and solitude, creating the danger of isolation. Connecting to other perfumer-creators and experiencing their creation is essential for keeping on top of things: new materials, trends, ideas.
It’s also very humbling: getting a peer’s perspective from time to time, either directly or through their creations can be awe-inspiring: Wow, you can do this with such and such combination, something I would have never thought of myself… This kind of keeps me on my toes, and forces me to define and discover my own identity as a perfumer.
It is a greatest pleasure for me to work on bespoke perfumes. My clients are my greatest inspiration. I have a collection of amazing inspirational stories from my clients. What do you like most in creating bespoke perfumes?
Ayala: What fascinates me the most about bespoke perfume is how revealing one’s scent preferences are, and how eager customers are to share their story through the scents that appeal to them, repel them, and capture their imagination.
What story concerning your clients do you remember most?
Ayala: A man called me up a few years ago to order Song of Songs perfume and solid perfume pendant in hopes that this will stop his wife from filing a divorce. I hope it worked!
What a touching story!
It’s not just the splendid perfumes but your house also produces delicious truffles, chocolates, pastries and teas scented with essential oils. Do you use essential oils for preparing of main dishes? As for me — I like to add a touch of yuzu or grapefruit in my hollandaise sauce for fish main dishes.
Ayala: Mostly in desserts, and far less if at all in cooking per se. Essential oils are very concentrated and to incorporate them safely into food, you need to have them in a fatty base. I find this much easier to achieve in bases such as chocolate, cream and butter as in my chocolate truffles, shortbread cookies and ice cream recipes.
When it comes to savoury food, I am far more attracted to rustic and ethnic cuisines, using whole spices and fresh herbs rather than high-tech or uber-fancy flavourings which are what essential oils bring to the table. I find that they can readily overpower a dish. I am, however, immensely enjoying fusion cuisines in my cooking, as well as using tea infusions in savoury dishes – i.e.: using tea instead of or in addition to broth in soups, and rice dishes – especially in risotto.
Ayala, your perfumes acquired a well-deserved recognition. What do you consider as the biggest achievement in your career? What are you proud of?
Ayala: Something tells me I haven’t reached that far yet… To date, it is perhaps my course book on the art of natural perfumery.
What are your professional dreams? What would you like to attain in your professional career?
Ayala: At this point, maintaining what I do is the priority. I have other ideas and directions for where I want to grow or improve the business; but fundamentally, it’s all about continuing to do what I do best and keep acquiring knowledge, build my skill, as well as my audience.
I learn a great deal just through teaching and through the research I do for Smelly blog.
Ayala, it was great pleasure for me to talk to you. Thank you for the interview and for your perfumes! I would like to wish you success, new bright impressions and well-being!