back in june, i started work on sb’s new fall collection – working title idiomatic. it was a collection of scents inspired by linguistic idioms. i’ve been a grammar and word nerd since sophomore year in high school and sb has had a tradition of wordplay since day one. i had the collection roughly sketched out and had completed 2 of the 5 scents. i met with matthew, our genius illustrator, to come up with some fabulous art. by the time august rolled around, i was confident i could get everything done before my summer vacation up to alaska. i work best under pressure anyway.
the alaska trip was kind of a coup. i had really wanted to go a couple years back after watching too many episodes of northern exposure. but when my mom suggested i join her and her boyfriend on their summer vacation, i said yes immediately. i had only been in alaska about 2 hours when i decided to scrap idiomatic and start over.
we were standing in a little hut and a man was carving a totem pole. it was a very touristy moment, but the tradition and artistry were clear. what struck me more than the photo op was the smell of western red cedar. i had bought some western red essential oil a couple years ago and had always found the aroma a little overwhelming. it’s sweet and musty and very particular. having no reference apart from my little bottle, i found it challenging to work into a composition. standing there, i knew immediately what kind of tree this man was carving. the smell was intoxicating and i decided then and there what needed to be done.
totem eclipse is the aromatic translation of that experience. it’s a blend of the forest smells that surrounded that hut. it’s the shaving of the totem pole and the fresh western red cedar. it’s the skunk cabbage that lines the Alaskan forest floor and the earth we tracked back with us. it’s the moment i found inspiration for north by northwest.
the first thing i did when i got home, i pulled out that western red and got to work. it was finished that first morning back. you never know when the muse will strike or the wind will change. totem is all about surrendering to the moment and recognizing it when it shows up. happy smelling kiddies,