You read correctly, it is not
a typo; the "purr" in Purrfumery comes from Laurie Sternâ€™s beloved cats, Velvet
and Sweet Pea. They snuggle and purr on the white damask love seat in her small, comfortable
studio. Here she meets her clients, creates her scents, or studies in her most
precious possession, Eugene Rimmelâ€™s 1865 Book of Perfumes. The antique armoire with the eyelet
lace-covered shelves houses her treasures. They consist of organic blends of
perfumes and are packaged in jewel boxes
and French crystal bottles. All the items are
displayed in clear cellophane bags, ready to be sold and delivered.
Daylight filters through the white lace
curtains, giving you even more of the impression of being a world apart.
Only one window is uncovered. Glass shelves are fit into the frame; they
carry Laurie's antique perfume bottle collection.
About 25 years ago Laurie started to buy these bottles at flea markets, and
she would imagine the scents they contained and the ladies enveloped in
At that time she had no clue where life eventually would lead her.
flowers always astounded me; the glory of springtime, the rich autumn colors,
rose and lavender jam, aromatherapy," Laurie stated. To satisfy her love for
flowers she became a flower designer. Her beautiful, lush, fragrant bouquets and
decorations were in high demand.
Then, there was that trip to
France; the visit to the famous perfumery, Fragonard in Grasse, which inspired
her to immerse herself deeper into the mysterious, closed world of fragrances.
Looking back it seemed a natural progression from creating bouquets that attract
the eye, to creating natural perfumes that excite the sense of smell. She took
one weekend class and then decided to study on her own. Her deep connection to nature helped
her to go on a discovery tour through centuries of ancient knowledge. She
learned about the main plant energies, which are either calming, invigorating,
or sensuous and about hydrosols which contain micro drops of essential oils that
are healing to the soul.
To find out how important
they are for our well-being, Laurie tested her two nephews, and had them pick
their favorite scents. The one with allergies preferred the respiratory oils, a
combination of blue spruce and frankincense, helping him to breath easier; the
one with hypertension picked the oils with calming effects.
At the time of our meeting
Laurie had just returned from a class in Arizona; the topic: Plant Healing. It
highlighted the esoteric branch of flower therapy showing connections between
herbalism, homeopathy, and aromatherapy. "Scent goes to the brain and regulates
the hormones. A good perfume maker must be a good alchemist," Laurie told me.
All oils have a different volatility, a different rate of evaporation. A great
perfume will unfold like a flower on your skin. Each scent has top notes, heart notes, and
soul notes. The first 15 minutes you smell the top note, the citrus and herbal
flavors. The heart notes unfold next; they are the rich fragrant flowers like
jasmine, roses, and carnations. Last are the soul notes, ancient woods, tree
sap, sandalwood, frankincense, and myrrh. Aphrodisiac oils are mood enhancing
and make you feel delicious. "I feel blessed to work with the earthâ€™s most
precious treasures," she comments.
Laurie orders her mostly organic
oils and absolutes from all over the world. This gave her the idea to create the
lecture Purrfumery Adventure. She leads her listeners to discover that
lotus flowers are collected in a tiny pond of rural India, the best vanilla is
grown in Madagascar and Tahiti, and the high altitude of Kashmir puts the most energy into
the lavender flowers. Laurie invited me to such a trip, which I will share with
you later in the year.
In the meantime enjoy her