Shelley Waddington

Interview with Envoyage Perfumes Shelley Waddington about her new upcoming perfume


Shelley Waddington

American perfumer Shelley Waddington of Envoyage Perfumes will release a new fragrance on the weekend of May 14. I recently I interviewed Shelley Waddington about her upcoming perfume.

What  was your inspiration for your new fragrance? 

Eight months ago I moved to a new state and relocated my home to the Pacific Northwestern part of the US. The culture here is deeply influenced by its Native Americans beginnings. It is also known for being a rainy part of the country, and for having millions of acres of pristine forests of cedar, fir, redwood and pine. I was immediately inspired to make a new fragrance and I’ve been developing it ever since.

I read you made a fragrance using native natural materials while living before in Carmel. How come you are so interested in working with native natural materials and how do you know which materials were used in Portland. Is it well documented? Are these materials easy to find?

I learned perfuming using only natural materials and these materials are my first love. They are responsible for imparting vibrancy and life to my perfumes. Naturals are sadly lacking in commercial perfumes and that’s partly why artisanal fragrances have risen so much in popularity.

The natural materials I select for each are integral to the story being told. For me it’s a small leap from naturals to the realm of local materials, their history of use in spirit and medicine, their ethnobotanical uses. It often takes a fair amount of research. It’s part of my passion and my artistic journey.

Shelley Waddington
You moved from Carmel, California to Portland, Oregon. Could you tell us why? 

For several years I’ve been eyeing Portland as the place that is cleaner, greener, less commercial and more like the simple California that I grew up in. The arrival of my new grandson clinched the deal!

How did you prepare for your new fragrance?

A big move like this demands a willingness for reinvention and for seeing the world with fresh vision. In that state of mind, I’ve been exploring, meeting people, learning about and enjoying the new culture and surroundings.

How long has it taken you to make your new fragrance?

I’ve been in the Pacific Northwest since September. I started working on this as soon as I arrived 8 months ago.

In what way did the new city where your are living influence your new fragrance? 

It’s strongly influenced by my new home in Portland Oregon, which is also known as The Rose City; its Native American origins, its native plants, its misty, rainy weather, and its clean environment that is so supportive of health and creativity.

As you are living in such a different place with such a different climate as well much colder. Is your new fragrance very different from what you have made before?

I believe so. The exhilaration of being in a new location where everything is crisp and clean, I like to think some of this is conveyed.

Shelley Waddington organ

And a more personal question do your fragrances contain a message?  It feels like they do. 

You’re right, each of my fragrances tells a meaningful story. Knowing that is important to fully understanding my work.
We’ve talked a little about the things that motivated this new fragrance, but the story it tells is an equally important part of the inspiration. When it launches I will be able to fully disclose.

What is your personal goal by making fragrances?

At the most obvious level, to bring beauty and enjoyment. But there is always the story that will touch in a different way. Not everything is so obvious.

What notes do you like personally? 

I’ve always liked styrax and cedar leaves and vanilla. Another of my favorites is Cyperus scariosis, known in English as cypriol and in Hindi as nagarmotha. It’s a beautiful woody, earthy note that was called for in this fragrance.

I think of perfume notes as much in terms of their cultural traditions as of what other perfumers have used them for, but cyperus is a note that is sometimes used in high quality perfumes such as Amouage Library Opus VI and by Agonist in Black Amber.

Lastly, although I can’t yet disclose the name, or the full story, I can say that this new eau de parfum is a bright mossy chypre for men and women, and that the notes include:

Rose Leaf
Incense, Patchouli, Iris, Rhododendron*
Mossy Rain Forest

Shelley Waddington

My last questions are more general about your perfumes and becoming a perfumer. When did you start making perfumes? And what was the reason for it? And how did you start? Are your perfumes sold in Europe?

I began my journey in perfumemaking in 1998. I was in love with the natural oils that were just becoming available to people outside of the closed world of professional perfumers. I began my study with a few other perfumers that were experienced and willing to share and mentor me.

My fragrances are purchased widely by individuals all across Europe (and other parts of the world). I formulate according to US standards, thus I don’t distribute to any resellers outside of the US.

Thank you very much for this interview, Shelley. I very much look forward to scent your new fragrance. The new Envoyage Perfumes fragrance will be released on the weekend of May 14, 2016.

Photographs provided by Shelley Waddington. Photograph 1: famous waterfall of Portland,OR

  • my own addition: the introduction of the note rhododendron is a new note which Shelley Waddington just made public.  I found this very interesting as I have not seen it used very much as a perfume note. If you are interested in scented rhododendrons and want to read more about the so called smellies click here. Most fragrant rhododendrons seem to have a palette of whites and soft pastels. Its fragrance helps to attract insect pollinators. Other rhododendrons seem to attract the insects with their color. There are only 18 other perfumes listed on the fragantica website with a rhododendron note including Estee Lauder Intuition and Stella McCartney Sheer, 2 by Olympic Orchids and 3 fragrances made y JoAnne Bassett.

Perfume Secrets: DIY Enfleurage

Enfleurage or How the scent of flowers and scented leaves is captured in fat and transferred to alcohol

Enfleurage DIY Esperessence

Last summer I took a short online Facebook course, given by Dabney Rose, on how to do your own enfleurage. Dabney Rose promotes real fragrance from real flowers and makes her life growing a perfume garden, employing gentle methods of extraction and teaching about this to others.

The enfleurage course was one which you could easily do at your own pace and ask for help if you needed to through a special Facebook group. My aim was to learn more about this ancient and  gentile way of extraction in perfumery.

Enfleurage DIY Esperessence

As I did not have any scented flowers I used scented tomato leaves, as I had a few tomato plants. My idea was inspired by Hilde Soliani Stecca, a fragrance which to me smells exactly like tomato leaves. Others from the course did use scented flowers like roses, tuberoses, violets or jonquils.

Enfleurage Dabney Rose

The course was very inspiring. We had to put scented flowers or leaves into a Pyrex tray of coconut fat and change them every x hours depending on the flowers or leaves. The coconut fat remained the same so it could absorb the fragrance of the leaves during a longer period of time.

I learned enfleurage takes a lot of patience, although I did not change the leaves as much as I should have. At times it was too warm so the fat melted and sometimes small parts of the leaves remained in the fat as you can see on one photograph.

Enfleurage Dabney Rose

Another thing I learned was that every kind of tomato plant smells differently and thus I connected on a deeper level to plants as well. I had three different kinds of tomato plants to use. It was quite meditative in a way to do this and magical, slowly at your own pace, leaf by leaf.

After the process of changing the leaves or flowers for a period of time you had to scrape the coconut fat, put it in a jar and add some alcohol. Then you had to leave it and shake it from time to time. After a while the alcohol absorbs the scent from the fat.

Enfleurage DIY Esperessence

My tomato leaf coconut fat is still in a jar, waiting to be used. I made it more for the experience than for its fragrance but we shall see how it turns out and what I will use it for.

I asked Dabney Rose if she wanted to explain more about enfleurage in a short interview. This interview will be published very soon on this website. Dabney Rose will be offering her online course in a few months.

If you want to experience the process of enfleurage I could recommend this course to you. It was fun, magical and interesting to do.


Special thanks go to Shelley Waddington for helping with finding more information about enfleurage and Dabney Rose for all her help with the process of enfleurage as well.

Disclaimer: the course was paid by me, I did not get any compensation to write about this course

All photographs: made by me