Putting summer in a bottle

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New years are a time for new resolve, and in 2017 it feels important to resolve to do something nice, kind, beautiful. The Farmer’s Daughter is a brand new creative venture on Waiheke Island, where founder Mandy Mee finds artisans to host monthly workshops on a whole range of topics. The workshops are held at beautiful cottage and cafe, The Annex, and the goal of the project is to expand minds and widen networks, to learn new skills and make new friends. The first workshop of the year is coming up on the 2nd of February with Vanessa York, the natural perfumer behind boutique brand Fleurs du Mal. Unsurprisingly, it’s sold out, but Vanessa’s answers below offer a divine peek into her beautiful vocation.

photo credit: Studio One Toi Tu

How did you get into this line of work?
Six years ago, when I was still working in publishing, I was a children’s book editor, which meant lots of research and writing. I must have been doing that when I came across natural perfumery on the Internet. I discovered a whole new world of scents, it was tremendously exciting. Then I started to study perfumery in earnest for the next few years. Once I set up my own micro-perfumery, teaching workshops was a natural way to share my enthusiasm for these incredible aromatics and this art form.


What’s the ethos behind Fleurs du Mal?
I wanted to make perfume here in NZ that reflects our sensibilities, our culture, and our places. I also wanted to create a perfume brand that was natural, but without being folksy or hippy. The French name references the poet Baudelaire’s ‘Flowers of Evil’ of course, but it is also an in-joke for me, so many people said (and still say) that real perfume is only made in France…

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Tell us a little about your workshops.
Workshops are usually 2 or 3 hours. We talk about the history of perfume, and about how the perfume materials we’re using are made. We experience many different aromatics, including some that are rare and unusual, and learn the techniques to evaluate them. This leads to a basic understanding of base, middle and top notes, the building blocks of perfume composition. Then we explore blending accords. Everyone creates their own perfume to take home.

What’s unique about the workshop on Waiheke with The Farmer’s Daughter?
It’s being held in the gorgeous Annex, and we’re also going to focus on some NZ-specific scents, possibly even Waiheke scents. The Farmer’s Daughter has run a number of very successful workshops already, so we know it’s going to be a stylish, fun, and informative session.

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What are the 7 aromas that you feel encapsulate NZ summer?
Hot asphalt/magnolia trees/peaches/seaweed/honeysuckle/pine trees/dry grass/melted ice cream on skin

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What are your 7 favourite scents of all time
Chanel no. 19
Caleche (Hermes)
L’Air du Desert Marocain (Tauer)
Shangri La (Hiram Green)
Violet Moss (Fleurs du Mal)
Jasmine Sambac

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Find out what’s coming up next at The Farmer’s Daughter here.
Find out more about Fleurs du Mal here.