5 Minutes With: Parfumarija

Marija Aslimoska runs one of Dublins most unique perfume boutiques that resides in the Westbury Mall. Parfumarija stocks rare and special scents from some of the worlds finest perfumers and with Marijas expert knowledge, you’re sure to find something to suit your mind, body and personality. We caught up with her to hear more about the world of perfumery.

1. Where does your love of perfume come from?

When I was growing up we had no perfume at home. My father is very religious and believed if you were meant to smell like a flower then God would have made you a flower. My mother had studied chemistry and thought that any thing that wasn’t natural was evil – so perfumes were a big no in our house. My love of perfume then just came from the hunger of not having it. I used to go to my friends houses and see they had perfume and thought they were so lucky – it just became an obsession of mine.

2. What do you have to do to become a perfumer?

When I was 24 I decided to follow the dream and train to be a perfumer. It was really hard to find a way to become a perfumer because it’s not that well known about. There was only two colleges in France that you could do this, one outside Paris and another in the South in Grasse, which is historically where perfume comes from. In the one in Paris you had to have 4 years of chemistry and be a French citizen so it’s really hard to get in. In Grasse it was a little more liberal – they didn’t care where you came from or what you studied, they just wanted you to be creative, have a good nose, a good memory, and who are starving to be a perfumer. My background at the time however was nursing but I went and took the tests anyway and got my letter a few months later that I got in. The course was a year and you basically just disappear from the world and immerse yourself in perfume.

3. What should the perfect perfume be made up of?

I’m torn as to what answer to give you here. Sometimes I love well rounded perfumes where you can’t figure out which ingredients are inside – they’re so well crafted that it’s just like a round marble ball that’s just rolling and rolling in your imagination and in between it gives you pleasure. On the other side I have a perfumer here and he just uses one very over powering ingredient that’s the star of the show, and it’s so indulging. In terms of ingredients, there is a disillusion that only natural ingredients in perfumes are the best which isn’t the case as it’s the natural ingredients that are the allergens in perfume, not the synthetic ones. This is because natural ingredients behave differently in different environments, like the sun, fresh air, and they have 400 different molecules inside of them so we never know how they’ll behave. But with synthetic ingredients it’s just one molecule, we know exactly how it’s going to behave and it won’t be used if it is an allergen. Synthetic ingredients are over used in cheap perfumes which isn’t nice, so a good balance between the two would be perfect.

4. What’s the process of making a bespoke scent?

It’s a long process to make an original scent. I have to leave all the ingredients for about 3 days to macerate so the ingredients really mix together. Then you smell it again, see what could be wrong, then you change it, wait again, test it, so it’s a lot of making and waiting. When I make a formula it normally takes 4-6 weeks but it’s totally worth it when I’ve made something I’m really proud of.

5. What’s your favourite perfume in the shop right now?

Well for each brand of perfume I stock in here, and there’s about 20, there’s one perfume from each range that has made up my mind to sell them here. I have a soft spot for La Belle Helene from MDCI {pic 6}, Portrait Of A Lady by Frederic Malle to name two, it would be hard to pick a favourite.

6. Is there a trick to cleansing your nose like you do your pallet?

Well people often ask for coffee because that’s a good one, so I have coffee beans on the counters. But the best way is to just get out into the fresh air. What I often do with customers is take them outside with their favourite perfumes and they get a completely different impression of the perfume.

7. How important is packaging to perfume?

Well to some it’s the same thing that applies to how flowers need bright petals to attract bees to their scent, the bottles that are more special feel more luxurious to the owner. We have a brand here called Amouge; there bottles are crystal, the sign is gold plated, they have a Swarovski crystal on top {pic 8} so it’s beautiful to look at. However I also have a brand here with all the same labels, all the same packaging but they’re different perfumes from different perfumers. The brand philosophy is a customer shouldn’t concentrate on the bottle, they should really fall in love with the scent.

8. What’s next for Parfumarija?

Well there’s three things in the future I would like to do. One is to make my own brand of perfume, i’ve always loved the idea of doing that. The second is to move to a bigger premises, and the third is to possibly open another store in a different Irish city, so we’ll see which one eventually comes first.

Parfumarija is open from 10am-6pm Monday to Saturday. Find out more at parfumarija.com.

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