Dec 122013
 

29 palms

I usually start my sketches out of the blue, in the moment. Sometimes it is a moment where I just need to get out of it, with “it” being many situations, like filling bottles or emailing. Usually, this does not lead me far, as there is no time really to see, but it helps slipping out of the moment, sometimes. The result might look like the procrastination sketch I did during a 1 minute break the other day.

procrastination

‏The [first] illustration done in 29 Palms, two weeks ago, took a bit longer, maybe 30 minutes. What we see is the view from Hotel Harmony in 29 Palms, sitting in front of room 5, looking over the more or less flat plain towards the hills, or mountains, that are already part of Joshua Tree National Park. In the front is a palisade made of panel sheets, that transforms into a rough fence made of dark, sun burnt wood. The hills are in flame and full of contrast, as it is later in the afternoon and the sun brings out all the contours of the rough, seemingly lunar hills. It is a big wall in the distance, waves of stone, kept away from what seems like a safe perimeter by the fence and panels. Inside this perimeter, there is organized nature, a pathway, a little rim marking it, a planted green, dark green bush, with silvery reflections there where the sun points to leaves in the right angle.

So you see: Sketching is seeing, too. I have seen these mountains many, many times as I travel to Joshua tree about every half year. I always stay a day or two at the hotel Harmony, looking down to 29 Palms, and to the right, where the rising planes grow into mountains. But I think I never watched them so closely. A nice side effect: A scenery really sticks in your mind, probably for the rest of your conscious life. Sketching is memorizing.

Somewhere in my brain sits this canvas and I can bring it back, while I write these lines, waiting in Zurich for the dough getting ready to be formed into little breads for dinner later tonight. There is snow outside.

When I started sketching this scene, I could feel the bigness of nature outside this little perimeter of civilization. A civilization that is overly present in the spread of things that is called Los Angeles, spreading out into what was fierce nature not long ago. Our civilization comes with a destructive force. It is loud, insane sometimes, colorful, splendid and exuberant. It eats itself through bushland into the desert. But the same forces allow me to sit there, with a cold drink, watching the waves of stone, exploring their beauty. The civilization brought me here by plane, by car, fueled by gas from another desert, or from below the sea. Watching them makes me realize how small and limited our efforts are. They will still be here, when the Harmony Motel is long gone and no perimeter is left to sit and muse about nature´s grandeur.

[Andy Tauer is the perfumer behind Tauer Perfumes and Tableau de Parfums, an ongoing collaboration with the films of Evelyn Avenue’s Woman’s Picture series. He keeps a blog where he talks about his creative process, and a sketchbook, where he documents the places he’s been and seen. Every month here on the blog he talks about something he’s sketched in his infamously scarce spare time.]

 

Dec 062013
 

advent

 

Thanks for participating everyone. The drawing is now closed. Winner announced tomorrow.

MYEvery year, perfumer Andy Tauer does an Advent calendar, with daily giveaways on different blogs. For perfume lovers, it’s a highly anticipated event – a chance to win soap, perfume, and other things Tauer – and each year is more exciting because Andy is pretty prolific, and there’s always something new to try.

ingrid still for ingrid dvd

Most of my friends have heard me talking about Andy, or know about our Evelyn Avenue collaboration, now three years running (my film series Woman’s Picture, his accompanying perfumes through Tableau de Parfums), but most of them aren’t acquainted firsthand with his work.

A few weeks ago, we released Ingrid, the third Tableau fragrance, which is now available through the Evelyn Avenue store and at various retailers, among them Luckyscent.com. Ingrid, like Miriam and Loretta before it, is pretty stunning, a meditation on the past from a decidedly contemporary perspective. Like Miriam and Loretta, Ingrid is a perfect fit for the character and story of the same name which inspired it. Ingrid the character has a lot going on under an impossibly poised surface, and for me the perfume captures the mood of the film (also available in our store) and of Calpernia Addams’ performance. It’s been a high point of my experience as a filmmaker collaborating with Andy, investigating together the ways scent and persona combine and influence each other, speaking across mediums through our work.

tauer_flacon_Ingrid_front_8bit-2(1)

Now that the next film in the Woman’s Picture series is finished and going out to festivals, Andy and I are talking about where to go next perfume wise in relation to that story and its characters (played by Grace Zabriskie, Amy LaVere, Lindsey Roberts, Angela Dee, and Savannah Bearden). If Dark Passage, the limited quantity scent we did for the film’s kickstarter campaign, is any indication, the collaboration will only get better as we move forward. You can see the trailer for Only Child on the Evelyn Avenue home page.

You have to smell Andy’s work to believe it, so I’m excited to participate in the Advent calendar this year; even more excited that he now has an Explorer Set, which includes three 15 ml atomizers, a great way to get to know the scents. To be eligible in the draw for a Tauer Explorer Set, please leave a comment on this post telling us what films you saw this year that really spoke to you. We’ll draw the winner through random.org the morning of Saturday, December 7.

(Pictured above: Calpernia Addams as Ingrid and Sally Stover as her mother in a still from the film “Ingrid”)

 

 

 Posted by on December 6, 2013
Jul 202013
 

gelati

Perfumer Andy Tauer makes incredible perfumes. Over the past year, traveling back and forth from Zurich to Italy (and Paris, and Russia, and LA) he’s sketched the various things he sees along the way into his virtual sketchbook, an i-Pad he bought a few years ago. Each month, starting now, Evelyn Avenue asks him to pick one of these sketches and to describe the circumstances behind drawing it:

It was a Friday in Rome, a hot and humid day. I was told that the weather in Rome this summer was odd: Lots of thunderstorms in the afternoon due to the humidity, very unusual for this time of the year. I had a hotel near the Stazione Termini, the main rail station, affordable but not super close to the historic center of town where I wanted to visit a perfumery. I walked from my hotel towards the historic center of Rome, had a cappuccino on my way, in a little side street, enjoying the good coffee and watching tourists trying to find their way through the labyrinth of medieval Rome. As often, I woke up early and I ended up being too early on my way, with the shops still being closed.

I ended up at the perfumery, but it was still closed. I know the area a bit, and being 10 minutes from the park of the Villa Borghese, I decided to walk up there. It was eleven in the morning, but already pretty hot, and thus I was looking for a place in the shadow. And I wanted to take a moment to sketch, and to think about Thursday. Thursday, I visited my future distribution partner for Italy. A family owned business. Nice and decent people. A very Italian enterprise, with nephews and mothers and nieces working in this family venture. We discussed my brand, my vision, my wishes and smelled my creations. For a lot of reasons I had to search a new partner who can help me bring my products to this great perfume market. It is one of the most advanced, most mature markets for “niche” perfumery, and Italians love artisanal products. Thus, it is important for me.

The discussions with the distribution partner were nice – on one hand, personal; on the other hand we had to find a deal: How to operate together. Who gets what share. Tough business stuff. I need a partner in Italy as I cannot simply ship perfumes there. Back then, on Friday noon in Rome, I had not decided with whom I want to collaborate and I did not have a full picture of whether the conditions discussed were viable for me and my products.

In a sense, I had a very important decision to make. For me, for my Italian perfume loving fans, for the potential partner, and – although not worried – I was in a state of insecurity. And I felt very sorry for my former distributor from whom I had to part. In a sense, it was a feeling of being cast adrift, the thrownness of a creative mind who has to deal with business, a prerequisite for continuing work as creator. It is this business framework that enables it all, my perfume creation fun time, my talking to perfume lovers worldwide, my salary at the end of the month, my freedom as creator. Yet, this perfume business comes with its obligations and rules that are not always easy to meet.

I had a lot to digest, and was imaging a future that was and still is very uncertain.

I was also very tired.

When entering the park I was looking for a moment of peace, and tranquility before talking to the perfumery owner hoping to learn more about the perfume market in these difficult days in southern Europe. I know this park with its uncounted pine trees pretty well as I go jogging there whenever possible when in Rome, and I wanted to hide somewhere in the middle. But then I got a bottle of water from one of the Gelati carts that offer all sorts of things, for a reasonable price. I sat next to it on a bench, on the left side of the cart, overlooking a good part of the park. To the left was the entry area with the busy street and the cars passing by, in bright sunlight, in front of me another bench on the other side of the alley, with an exhausted couple, tourists, like me enjoying the shadow and the ice cold water, with bits of ice dancing on the surface. Behind them was a little hill, still very green for the season, topped by a statue of a guy on a horse, like you see everywhere in Rome. On the right the Gelati outlet, and further down an area of pine trees, like dark arthritic old fingers pointing to the blue sky, hiding the villa Borghese.

Looking to my right, I observed the markings on the tree’s bark, cut there years ago by lovers or friends. The tree was hiding most of the Gelati cart, and I wondered whether those who left these marks still remember them. Probably the A’s and D’s will still be visible in the bark, attesting eternal love, when the lovers have left this world. Quite likely that the love will end before that. I was witnessing an argument between a French couple, jumping into a big fight, with loud French arguments, a back and forth, physically as well as vocally; both were tired by the heat, and the cause of their argument seemed much smaller than the dark universe that they were jumping into.

There were a lot of tourists strolling by, many watching me closely when I started sketching on my ipad what I saw to my right. Especially children, with their curiosity of minds that haven’t seen it all yet, were approaching me, shy but determined to get a glimpse of what I did there. I started with some contours, main lines of the cart, the line of cobblestones leading to it, bringing in the perspective, together with the shape of the tree. I loved the contrast between the straight, dark metal lantern bar, and the inclined, twisted trash bin behind it. When doing an illustration, I always look for elements that bring in an element of queerness. An asymmetry.  I wanted to bring the attention in the illustration there, by rendering it dark (as it was in reality). Then I started with some details on the cart: Potatoes chip packed tightly, flower decorations on the cart’s front, bottles neatly arranged on a board, the reflection in the cart’s side mirror. I added more details and a bit more perspective by another trash can in the background and two of the many pine trees. Leaving things off is important when drawing, and often, there is a moment when you have to end it, because adding more will not help but takes out the tension of an illustration. I guess this is true for many other crafts. For sure it is true for perfumery: Adding more lines might just lead to confusion. It is important to know when to stop.

I cannot really pinpoint why I chose to illustrate this particular view to my right, but I know what it did to me: I left  the worries and my thinking about the business and started to flow on a different wave. Seeing, observing, trying to find the contrasts in dark areas, looking for parallel lines, searching for patterns that repeat themselves. Sketching is also cutting reality into little pieces. Often, when looking at a scene somewhere, like in this park, there is so much that you think: I can never come up with an illustration. There is too much going on. I learned (or I am learning) to look behind the things I see. Sketching is surgical work: Cutting off, cutting into what you see. And it is a lesson in seeing: Things are not how we seem them, often. Our mind interprets and brings in things, shapes, contrasts, colors that aren’t there. Thus, in a sense, sketching is looking behind the surreality that is produced by our brain when interpreting the light collected in our eyes, transformed into electronic signal sent towards the brain. It is a meditation. A state of the mind that – although intensely focused – has a relaxing effect.

When I got up it was past 2, and I strolled down into the flow of people and cars again. And I realized that I had made up my mind.

Dec 072012
 

Andy Tauer and Evelyn Avenue present a drawing for Tauer’s Advent Calendar, your chance to win a handmade soap…

It’s that time of year again. Every day this month, as part of his annual Advent Calendar event, perfumer Andy Tauer offers surprise giveaways through a series of participating blogs. For the draw here on Evelyn Avenue, Tauer has prepared a special tuberose soap. Evelyn Avenue will draw the winner tomorrow night and close the comments by announcing the lucky reader.

It’s also “that time” of year for resolutions: renewals, revisions, reflections – whatever you call them when making your own list of things you didn’t do last year but told yourself you would, or things you see you need to start.

Andy and Evelyn Avenue have been working hard the last year on our two collaborative projects, the Tableau de Parfums fragrance line and its cinematic counterpart, the Woman’s Picture film series. We started in October of 2011 with the release of our first scent, Miriam, and its counterpart film of the same name. Ann Magnuson helped us picture what it means to look at the past with her portrayal of a longtime shopping channel hostess whose life is in crisis, not least because the failing health of her mother brings back memories of her childhood and the fragrance that emblematized their relationship. Last October, we released Loretta, the second Tableau fragrance, and its counterpart film Loretta. During our last draw, conducted to mark that occasion, we screened the first three segments of the Woman’s Picture series on our home page. These include Miriam, Loretta, and Ingrid (which will be released next October). For the Advent draw, we’re again screening the films for a limited time.

It’s been a challenge and a pleasure to explore this material and to share it in various ways. For 2013, Tauer and Evelyn have some new things in mind – combined screenings and perfume events in several US cities, where we’ll be in attendance and offer special take-aways to attendees. One of the most rewarding aspects of our collaboration has been meeting people at launch events, so we want to extend that opportunity to engage and connect. We’ll also continue working on the next film in the series, Only Child, which we filmed last April and expect to premiere later this year. Only Child resumes the story started in Loretta, with Grace Zabriskie playing that character’s compellingly odd mother.

The photo for this post was taken by Melissa Bridgman, a longtime friend to Evelyn Avenue. Melissa lives and works in Memphis, Tennessee making pretty wonderful ceramics out of her home studio. Her work is delicate and rustic, and the origami crane in the photo perfectly captures the spirit of what she does. In Japanese culture, the crane symbolizes good fortune and prosperity. It’s said that whoever makes a thousand origami cranes in a year can make the wish of her choice. That’s a tall order – and a lot of weight for folded pieces of paper to carry – but if anyone can do it, it’s Melissa. She’s decided to hang the cranes along a wooded bike path here in town, where cyclists will find them dangling from tree branches. Like us, she’s looking to connect.

In October, Memphis lost one of its prized treasures, a woman by the name of Papatya Curtis (see our November 6 eulogy on the blog). Bridgman, a close friend of Papatya’s, has seized the New Year, and her kiln, to commemorate our friend in a special, fragile but lasting way. When she first started making these cranes, Melissa wrote:

Three weeks ago today one of my closest friends died. It was sudden, tragic, unforseen, preventable. There has been so much blame and sorrow and support and anguish and for the first time I’m really understanding that you can’t just get up and move on. I’ve always known that death and loss is something you get used to, over time, but not over. After [Papatya] died, I began making these origami-esque cranes out of porcelain. I gave two to her mother and sister, one to her mother in law. I kept one. I folded dozens out of paper the first week after her death, and will fold more. We’ve all heard the story of the thousand cranes and how they represent hopes for peace. My cranes give me a bit of hope- hope to make more, hope to make them better, hope to make them a memorial somehow…

It seems like an apt way to look at moving forward, and it inspires us to think big in similarly small but meaningful ways.

What are your New Year resolutions? Leave us a comment to enter the Tauer advent drawing, telling us the one thing you keep thinking you’d most like to do or accomplish in 2013. For our part, we’ll throw in a DVD of the first three segments of Woman’s Picture.

This draw is now closed. The winner of the draw was Alica. Congratulations!

 Posted by on December 7, 2012
Oct 142012
 

On Friday, October 19, Andy Tauer and Evelyn Avenue will launch Loretta, the second fragrance in the Tableau de Parfums line, at Scent Bar in Los Angeles. To celebrate the occasion, we’re conducting a draw here at Evelyn Avenue, along with some reflections on the work we’ve done over the last year:

Most cynics are really crushed romantics: They’ve been hurt, they’re sensitive, and their cynicism is a shell that’s protecting this tiny, dear part in them that’s still alive  -Jeff Bridges

It’s easy to understand how anyone who loves perfume might be truly cynical at this point. There are more perfumes released each year than ever, and whereas in the past one could safely mark a line of division between niche/indie and mainstream perfumery and the sales tactics they employed, increasingly even niche and indie lines have started to market their fragrances with big, bold and piercingly loud bells and whistles. This would be fine, if the majority of these fragrances were as inventive as their marketing and buzz. More often, they aren’t. Worse, maybe, is the overall lack of regard for the preservation of classics people have grown to love. The commitment to the consumer of fragrance is pretty tenuous at this point, though the advertising says otherwise. Consumers know this, and respond with distrust. This makes things very difficult for those who want to create perfumes that don’t shortchange their wearers.

A year or so ago, Andy Tauer and I started a perfume line called Tableau de Parfums. We were excited about creating links between our creative fields; perfumery in Andy’s case, filmmaking in mine. We wanted to see what happens when the brief for a perfume isn’t a lofty, overblown paragraph of purple prose but something more complex, the world of a film. We wanted to see how a perfume might influence a film, as well. How would that work? What might happen if a filmmaker and a perfumer engaged in an ongoing conversation about their work and interests? We weren’t interested very much in creating perfumes which represented the characters in these movies, but something more complex; we wanted to use the films and characters as springboards thematically and philosophically. We’ve seen the perfumes in the same way.

The name of the film series these Tableau fragrances relate to is WOMAN’S PICTURE, and the stories in the series explore many things we’re interested in: through the stories and perfumes we remember some of the women in our lives and families, explore how perfume influences and infects memory, and in some way try to determine what a perfume is saying when it speaks to us. What does sadness and regret mean in a fragrance and a film? How is it expressed? What brings happiness, bittersweet or joyful? When you watch a film, or you smell a perfume, how is it speaking to you, and how is it that what one person hears or sees or smells is so different than the next?

In developing the fragrance for MIRIAM, the first short in the series, Andy and I asked ourselves what the story was about. MIRIAM dealt with loss and the simultaneously ephemeral and durable nature of memory and our connections with other people. The corresponding fragrance, also called Miriam, was less about the title character played by Ann Magnuson than it was an exploration of how the past influences the present. The resulting fragrance, launched last year, looked at the past from the present, revisiting older perfumes from a distinctly modern point of view.  I suppose we were interested in how those two perspectives, past and present, might intertwine or interfere with each other, and what’s changed in the time between them.

Tableau has no marketing team, no PR division, no bells and whistles department on staff. We’re an army of two. In packaging the films and perfumes together, Andy and I spend a lot of time experimenting and communicating what we might do, and what we maybe shouldn’t. For both of us, it was essential from the beginning, in an industry which often shortchanges its customer by presenting mediocrity as innovation, to make the presentation of these fragrances with as much integrity and ingenuity as possible. We wanted them to be gifts in every possible way for those who engaged with them. We take both sides of the collaboration seriously, and it’s been essential to us that they speak to each other. We package each perfume with its corresponding short film, both of which we regard, in this case, as forms of portraiture. We’re interested in what other people think these fragrances are saying, how they might be speaking to them.

It’s ironic but probably inevitable that one of the primary challenges in our collaboration has been the now nearly-chronic cynicism of the perfume lover. It’s particularly challenging because, as perfume lovers ourselves, we understand, and empathize with, that cynicism first hand. It’s inevitable, for instance, that some people will regard the films as promotional tools for the perfumes, sort of glorified advertisements. We never intended for the films to be advertisements, nor did we intend that the people who buy these fragrances should see these characters – and nothing else – in them. What we hoped, I think, was that in putting as much quality and imagination and care into the perfumes and films as we possibly could we would demonstrate the purity of our exercise. We never kidded ourselves about this: We knew it was a tall order in the present cultural climate. We also felt strongly that it was worth giving it a shot.

Having experienced this prevailing cynicism ourselves, we wanted to slow things down. So much is thrown out into the marketplace. All the bells and whistles shoot out first. Then it all dies down very quickly. Perfume hasn’t worked that way for either of us; nor for most of the people we know who love it as much as we do. Perfumes stay with you, and accrue meaning methodically over the course of time. We wanted to learn as we moved forward, to try as best we could to listen in between each fragrance – not just to what others were telling us but what we were trying to tell ourselves.

We’re excited about the release of Loretta, the next step in our creative learning process – excited to hear what people have to say about the scent and its related story. Where Miriam dealt with history and relationships to the past, Loretta is a meditation on very different themes: sexuality, a tension between experience and innocence, what darkness means when coupled with naivete, and much more – for us, at least. The story is a complicated one, and quite different from Miriam. Together, these stories, all so different from one another, speak to the complexity not just of perfume but of relationships and people themselves. We hope that in ten years, this body of work will constitute a testament to the complicated depths of film and fragrance.

We know that much has to be proven at this point to the discerning lover of fragrance. We don’t expect to do that overnight. We’ve watched others try to do that, and seen what happens the morning after. Trust takes time to build, and we’ve committed ourselves to that process. We know two people won’t turn anything around, won’t halt or reverse the prevailing trends of expediency and built-in obsolescence in the fragrance industry, but just as one good, honest fragrance can make a profound difference – reminding its wearer of all the wonderful things that brought him or her to fragrance in the first place, re-igniting some lost romance – we persist, slowly but surely, hoping to make exceptions of ourselves. With Loretta, we hope to put one more nail in the coffin of cynicism, which we believe, all things considered, has no place in the fragrance imagination.

The Drawing: Three winners will be randomly selected from those who comment on this post. To be eligible, we ask that you answer the following: Which of the three perfume spots for Loretta do you prefer, and why; as well as what makes you cynical about fragrance at this point, and what seems like cause for optimism?

Winners will be announced on Monday, October 22 and will receive a full bottle of fragrance from the extended Tauer line, including Tableau de Parfums, a DVD of the first three Woman’s Picture portraits (including INGRID, which will be released next Fall), and a vintage-inspired poster for Loretta.

During the course of this draw, we are offering a free viewing of MIRIAM, LORETTA, and INGRID, the Woman’s Picture films which inspired the Tableau fragrances (below). To view the trailer, visit our homepage and hit the Woman’s Picture tab on the menu bar.

– Brian Pera

 Posted by on October 14, 2012
Oct 022012
 

On October 19th, Andy Tauer launches Loretta, Tableau de Parfums’ second fragrance, at Luckyscent’s Scent Bar in Los Angeles…

The Tableau de Parfums line is a collaboration with the stories of the Woman’s Picture film series. Each fragrance relates to one of these stories in theme and mood. Last year, Tableau released its inaugural fragrance, Miriam, a vintage style scent which explored the power of nostalgia and the influence of the present on the past. Loretta is a more contemporary fragrance, exploring a thematic terrain of mystery, suspense, and sexual fantasy.

Last month, Tauer attended the Pitti Fragranze Fair in Florence, Italy. 213 brands exhibited at the event, many of them introducing new fragrances. Tauer introduced Loretta, and Basenotes.net interviewed the perfumer there, asking for his thoughts on the character and the fragrance (above).

The Scent Bar event is scheduled for Friday, October 19. Andy Tauer and filmmaker Brian Pera will be in attendance to discuss their collaboration. Check Luckyscent’s website for details as the date approaches. Scent Bar is located at 7405 Beverly Boulevard, LA, CA, 90036. (323)782-8300.

Photo credit: Fragrantica.com

 Posted by on October 2, 2012
Mar 122012
 

Zurich perfumer Andy Tauer talks about the upcoming fragrance Loretta ( October 2012), second in the Tableau de Parfums line…

Loretta, the second fragrance in the Tableau de Parfums line created by perfumer Andy Tauer, doesn’t officially launch until September of 2o12. Inspired by the character of the same name, played by Amy LaVere in the series, Loretta is a surprising take on tuberose, as full of mystery as its namesake.

There’s been a lot of advance interest in Loretta since we announced the Tableau line in 2011 with Miriam, our first fragrance.  This week, we’re adding the fragrance Loretta to the available incentives on our kickstarter page for Only Child, the next film in the WOMAN’S PICTURE series.

If you haven’t checked out our campaign, please do. It’s easy to make a donation and there are many new perfume packages for people who love fragrance. Your support will help us reach our goal and make the film. If we don’t reach our goal, we won’t be able to use any of the money raised and Kickstarter won’t allow any of our incentives to go out.

See the ONLY CHILD campaign and read more about the incentives we’ve added here.

We’re excited to provide this sneak peak of Loretta, because it’s a pretty fantastic scent, a uniquely moody take on tuberose, something of a departure for Andy, and we want to take this opportunity to share it a little early with our supporters.

Recently we talked to Andy about his thoughts on both the character and the fragrance…

EVELYN AVENUE: Can you give a few thoughts about the character of Loretta? When you started thinking about her fragrance, what were your initial impressions?

ANDY TAUER: Contrary to Ingrid’s fragrance, scheduled for 2013, and the fragrance Miriam, launched last year, Loretta was easy. Super easy. I watched the movie and by coincidence or not, I knew immediately how to create it. I knew that I wanted to create a fragrance that is as a dreamy as Loretta is.

Loretta is a dreamer, she is lost in her dreams and we cannot reach her. She is incredibly sensual and in my eyes she is also very sexy. And I felt a contradiction in her, a paradox …I am searching for the right word here… an incongruity: She seems very vulnerable, yet she is not, but in the end she might be.

In Loretta’s dream world there is this man who falls in love with her and wants to take her with him to save her and to start a life with her. Loretta’s dream world is quite romantic and I feel very close to her there.

That’s how I experience her, seeing Loretta on the screen. Now what do you do with these impressions when you create a fragrance? Maybe our readers want to dream their own perfume here, too. I dreamed it on the rich, sensual and dark side. It could be a fragrance from the eighties. Notes are ripe dark fruits, a velvet rose, a spicy and powdery tuberose, a note of sparkling orange blossom, all nicely arranged on a queen-size bed of dark patchouli and woody notes with vetiver, ambergris, a touch leather and sweetened orris root.

EA: Does the Loretta fragrance relate to Miriam in some way? What makes these Tableau fragrances different than the Tauer line?

AT: I am pretty sure that a creator is the wrong person to ask about his or her creations. I am actually convinced that others like you or perfume lovers out there can make more sense of my creations than I can. I can speak of lines and notes and language, but I am much too much linked into them.

Having said this: From an eagle perspective, looking at the aesthetics, the language of the scent, I do not think that Loretta and Miriam relate strongly. Miriam is referencing back 60 years; it is a modern fragrances but reaches out to the grand perfumes of the thirties and forties. Aldehydic, heady, floral it speaks a different language than Loretta.

Loretta references the fragrances of the eighties. Please do not get me wrong: the goal was not to copy/paste a perfume from the past. I am just pointing back to a time where I was making my steps into university and wore super large glasses and had these shirts that are so hilarious to look at today. But some of the fragrances created in this time period are great! Of course, Loretta and Miriam relate to each other in the sense that they are inspired by characters that you created. There are many forces that hold the WOMAN’S PICTURE universe together.

EA: How do you feel fragrance relates to film? Do you feel there’s a connection at all between the way a fragrance works on you and the way a movie does?

AT: Yes and no. I rarely smell fragrances that touch me so much that I get tears into my eyes. Movies do this quite often. That’s the no. The “yes”: Movies and perfumes have the magic of transporting me to another place where memories and emotions are at home, where I forget time and where I am at peace.

 

 Posted by on March 12, 2012
Mar 052012
 

In creating Dark Passage, the limited edition fragrance available at the kickstarter page for the next Evelyn Avenue production, ONLY CHILD, Andy Tauer and I thought a lot about how to remain playful and imaginative, and somewhat free, as we move forward together making films and perfume. Here Andy talks a little about that thought process, and about the Snapshot line of fragrances, our latest endeavor mixing film and fragrance.

EVELYN AVENUE: Dark Passage is what we’re calling a snapshot fragrance. It’s still within the Woman’s Picture universe but different than the portrait fragrances. What are the differences to you (not necessarily between the smells but between the concepts and practices of creating them)?

ANDY TAUER: The idea of coming up with some “snapshots” for the Woman’s Picture universe allowed me to come up with fragrances that fit this universe but are different from Miriam and Loretta and Ingrid, the first three portrait fragrances in the Tableau de Parfums line. These three are inspired by woman portraits in your film, Woman’s Picture. Snapshots are different in many ways. Allow me to dig into this question in some detail.

As some of your readers may know, I live from my hand’s and nose’s work since more than two years. In order to do so, to live my passion and continue my way and build my brand Tauer, I had to grow. Thus, you find my creations increasingly in more places, especially in Italy. This comes with a lot of obligations. It means a lot of registration and legal work, it means protecting the intellectual property, building complex supply chains and fighting with stock and a lot(!) of communication. Bringing products to the European Union, especially, becomes expensive and troublesome. Thus, whenever I launch a new scent I start an avalanche: labels, bottles, raw materials, paperwork, pictures. And there is a financial risk and this gets bigger, of course. Here come the snapshots.

The snapshots allow me to go back to where I was 6 years ago, playing with scents in all seriousness and sharing them with perfume lovers who care, without having to worry about logistics and supply chains. I do not have to make thousands, just 100 or 300 smaller bottles. And it is easy to get a liter or two of a scent done. Of course, without registering it in the European Union.

On a side note: I was thinking a lot about it, in fear of disappointing many perfume lovers who do not like the idea of limited editions or fragrances only available for once and then gone. But in the end, I thought, that 95% of all fragrances launched this year will be gone next year. And I would rather present 200 bottles of an interesting scent than none, because I cannot keep up with logistics.

Snapshots are also different from an aesthetic point of view. Let me be very honest with your readers here: I tried not to worry about a scent’s success when I launched it in the past. Yet, still I am convinced that the creative process is sublimely infested as soon as you start creating anything that addresses a larger public later and that will allow you to make a living. I’ve wandered with these questions for years: to what extent does the recipient of a creative endeavor influence its creation? The snapshots do not aim at being sold to a large crowd, nor will I make a living from them. We talked about this in conceiving them: They come wrapped in innocence :)

Finally, I hope that we will one day a project together where I make the snapshot and you make the film. That would be cool.

(editor’s note: Dark Passage is available only until the end of March, and only on our kickstarter page)

 

 Posted by on March 5, 2012
Mar 032012
 

For the ONLY CHILD Kickstarter campaign, perfumer Andy Tauer created a limited edition fragrance called Dark Passage. The fragrance is available only for the remaining days of the campaign (26 left now). After the campaign it will never be offered again. We asked Andy a series of questions about Dark Passage and will post them here over the next few weeks. Here are the first of his responses.

Evelyn Avenue: Where did the idea for Dark Passage come from?

Andy Tauer: In a sense, the idea of Dark Passage comes from the past. I went mentally back a few years. Back then I loved to work with dark and rich raw material: Birch tar is a good example. I moved on since these days where I created my first fragrances. I discovered the joy of working with aldehydes, of composing lighter, more airy scents.

One day, the day when I got my hands on two new raw materials, I realized that the time has come to reach back to these days. I got samples of a special patchouli and I got samples of a cocoa that is colorless and nevertheless keeps its richness of roasted aromas, this tobacco note, bitter and dark. I foundthe cocoa wonderful and wanted to compose a scent where it is allowed to play an important role.

On the other hand, the idea goes back to a discussion that the two of us had a while ago. We were talking about the rough, wild beauty of patchouli and vetiver and other naturals. We both agreed that often this wildness is tamed to a point where the beauty actually goes missing. Thus, I wanted to bring the two together, the patchouli and the cocoa, but not doing a typical sweet and nice gourmand patchouli cacao pudding, but by making a patchouli-centric fragrance that comes with a dirty, rooty, earthy, animalic line linked into it.

 Posted by on March 3, 2012
Jan 072012
 

JANUARY/FEBRUARY:

By January, I’d started submitting Woman’s Picture to film festivals, though there was still some sound work to do.  Eileen Meyer and I had been working on the edit for about a year, and had gotten to know each other pretty well.  Getting rejected by festivals is never fun, but inevitable, and it’s good to have someone as imaginative and supportive as Eileen on board.  I’d worked alongside her enough to know that I trusted her input, and she always helped create a bigger picture perspective for me during moments of disappointment.

It was Eileen who first mentioned the Creative Capital Foundation to me, sometime in early February.  She sent me a link to the online application, saying, “Let’s seriously consider this grant.”

Creative Capital, its website states, is:

“…a national nonprofit organization that provides integrated financial and advisory support to artists pursuing adventurous projects in all disciplines.  Our pioneering approach combines funding, counsel and career development services to enable a project’s success and foster sustainable practices for our grantees.”

The application, like all grant applications, looked like a nightmare to me.  I knew it would take me weeks to complete, so I put it out of my mind until March, closer to the deadline.  I had way too many things on my plate and figured something like Creative Capital, though it might mean much needed money and resources for the ongoing Woman’s Picture series, was a long shot.  I was too consumed with long shots as it was.

WHAT’S A MOVIE POSTER SUPPOSED TO LOOK LIKE?

Sometime around November 0f 2010, I’d started talking to Eileen’s partner, Jones, about posters for Woman’s Picture.  I wanted something that felt vintage, telegraphing the style and thematic conceits of the film.

Spending time around Eileen had meant getting to know Jones, too, mainly because we worked in their house during the edit.  Jones would come home during her lunch hour, at which point Eileen and I would take a break and chat, getting our heads out of the material a little.

(Jones making bread at home)

Jones and Eileen cook a lot so there was typically something good to eat; often home made bread, once or twice home made bagels.   I looked forward to the breaks not just to get away from the computer screen but because, when there was bread, Eileen always let me have three pieces, and I got to smother them in peanut butter.

(April Novak – Hardy, Arkansas, July 2010)

I’d spent a lot of time the year before with April Novak.  During June of 2010, she helped on a film in Hot Springs, and we just generally hung out a lot.  April is a substitute teacher so during the summer she had probably too much free time.  We exploited that by taking pictures, making the Hot Springs film, visiting her family in Henderson, Tennessee (where I bought a lot of perfume), and traveling to Hardy, Arkansas, where we stayed in a cabin called Never Inn, playing Go Fish.

I loved photographing April because she seemed like someone from a different era.  She studied old images and shopped in thrift stores to remake herself into something out of the fifties.  And she wore lipstick.  Her house was crammed full of estate sale finds and she had the most extensive record collection I’ve ever seen.  She seemed very much like her own person, and though she imitated and reassembled looks from the past belonging to other people, she made them into something inimitable.  Once school started, I rarely saw her.

(April Novak – Woman’s Picture poster prototype)

When Jones and I started working on the poster design for Woman’s Picture, I played around with an image I’d taken of April months before.  I’m not sure what appealed to me about the kaleidoscopic treatment I came up with, other than maybe the fact that it reminded me of the compartmentalized female faces on the cover of Haunted Houses, one of my favorite books.

Like Woman’s Picture, this novel by Lynne Tillman follows the stories of three women, none of whom ever meet.  I’d thought a lot about Haunted Houses during the Woman’s Picture edit because there was some pressure from people who saw early cuts to intercut the stories in a more traditional way, and though I resisted that pressure, I didn’t ultimately have any other response than to say I didn’t want the stories presented that way.  Haunted Houses was something I knew worked, and I kept revisiting the novel to remind myself that characters don’t have to intersect in order to feel thematically connected.

(Final Woman’s Picture poster, designed by Jessica Jones, with photography by Austin Young)

Austin Young had done photos of the lead actresses for Woman’s Picture‘s poster art back in May of 2010.  Figuring out how to use those images, once he’d done his magic to them, was a challenge.  I didn’t want to change the look of them.  I like Austin’s work and wanted the poster to reflect his style somehow.

Jones and I tried various iterations, trying to figure out how to group the women (Calpernia Addams, Amy LaVere, and Ann Magnuson) together while sort of emphasizing their separateness at the same time.  Ultimately we outlined their portraits, which gave them a curious one dimensional vs. three dimensional quality I liked.

(Jones and Eileen, out for drinks, February 2011)

I think what I liked most of all is that this reminded me of the paper dolls I played with as a kid at my grandmother’s house.  I’d always liked mixing and matching the doll clothes, making them different people.  I’d felt that way about the characters in Woman’s Picture – that they were personal and real but also total fabrications, fantasy projections.

Jones was a dream to work with.  She was patient and inventive, and she liked and understood Woman’s Picture, having watched it take shape in her own house.  I felt like she knew what was important to me and really respected the story and the characters.  Working with me requires a lot of patience I think because I come up with “bright” ideas constantly, always somewhat more ambitious than my present circumstances or resources will realistically allow.  It can make finishing one project a challenge for my collaborators because I’m jumping ahead simultaneously to six equally complicated and unlikely things.

WHAT’S A WEBSITE SUPPOSED TO LOOK LIKE?

I had a lot of ideas in January and February especially.  Really until about May of 2011 I was engaged in a lot of preliminary work, which can drive me crazy.  I like to get out and do things as soon after the idea hits as possible.  2011 brought a lot of planning and leg work, and all these projects weren’t set to launch until months later.

In addition to working on the posters, I was designing this site, Evelyn Avenue, trying to figure out what it should include and how I wanted it to work.  And what I should name it.  I ran many names by Eileen and Jones, the overwhelming majority of which were vetoed.

Before I’d even decided on a name, I started speaking with several web designers.  It was never really a match and I thought if I had to deal with these guys on a regular basis – and I knew I would – nothing much would get done, certainly not the way I wanted it.   Ultimately I was introduced to David Averbach, a designer out of San Francisco and a very good fit for me.  David ultimately built this site, working off my sketches.

I picked the name Evelyn Avenue because it’s the street I live on, and most of what I was doing was out of my house, or started there, or finished there.  I liked the idea of an online neighborhood.  I liked the idea that this online site, which is all over the place and visited from everywhere potentially, might represent a core group of collaborators who pass in and out of each other’s houses the way people link to interconnected stories and material online.  Eileen and Jones liked the name, so I went with it.

(Preliminary sketch for the Evelyn Avenue home page, March 2011)

MARCH:

The relationship with David was intense – there was a lot to work out properly – and the winter and spring of 2011 were full of these kinds of partnerships, some long distance, others closer to home.  At one point I said I felt like a polygamist, married to many different people, trying to make each tricky relationship work.  We always had a child together (a project) and were sharing the responsibility of raising it properly.  And usually we had different ideas about parenting.

BIG PLANS: CECIL B. DEMILLE OF THE DELTA…

Around this time, I had fantasies of making Evelyn Avenue a shared production company, though I didn’t know exactly what that might mean.

In the seventies, Robert Altman and Francis Ford Coppola had tried to create this kind of collaborative independence and failed.  I believed their failure had to do with thinking too expansively.  It was a time of freedom in film and they were given a lot of money.  They were ambitious and wanted to do fifty different things.  I related to that, and tried to remind myself, with everything on my plate, that doing a lot was only really great if you were doing it well, efficiently, and as economically as humanly possible.

I wanted to do what Altman and Coppola had tried to do, to create a repertory of actors, filmmakers, artists, and writers, a space, a neighborhood called Evelyn Avenue, in which all the people I knew could thrive.

But as plans for Evelyn Avenue progressed I knew that all the sacrifice and responsibility involved in making such an enterprise a success would be far too much to expect of anyone I knew.  If we failed, I’d be responsible.  I had no idea how or whether anyone could make a living off such a proposition.  I was barely handling the responsibilities myself, and I was just getting started.

I thrive on collaboration and hoped for a while to make what my collaborators and I were already doing more official, more equal, but ultimately I settled on the idea that Evelyn Avenue Inc. and related projects would be repertory in theory only for the time being, and possibly indefinitely.

THE GUY IN ZURICH:

Some of these collaborative relationships are more fruitful than others.  One of the most fruitful for me has been my collaboration with perfumer Andy Tauer, who lives in Zurich, but in March I was still really getting to know him.  I’d approached him in the fall of 2010, and since then we’d been working on a line of perfumes inspired by the stories inWoman’s Picture.

During January, February, and March, we exchanged ideas about packaging, not just the bottles but their boxes.  We worked on articulating for others exactly what we were doing, in the most common sense terms.  We tried to come up with a name for the line. It wasn’t until late March that we landed on Tableau de Parfums.  By then I was pretty sick of trying to come up with names.

We wanted the Tableau line to look like it came out of Evelyn Avenue, and the challenge in conceiving the packaging and publicity involved making Tableau, Woman’s Picture, and Evelyn Avenue feel cohesive but distinguishable as individual projects as well.  We knew that some people would discover Evelyn through Tableau or Woman’s Picture, and vice versa, so how these things related had to be clear to anyone who approached any one of them.

(Preliminary sketch for the Tableau de Parfums page on Evelyn Avenue.)

I wanted to respect and extend the design Jones had created for the posters, so for the graphics of the Tableau line and the Evelyn website we used wallpaper patterns she’d sourced months earlier.  It was important to me that Evelyn Avenue felt weirdly vintage the moment you landed on it, and I wanted it to be complex and full of ideas but easily navigable.  I also had to figure out what we’d be doing with Tableau for the next year, and really the next several years, and thinking that far ahead with such detail is a challenge for me sometimes.  It’s hard to know what will excite you a year from now, and I knew that Tableau and Evelyn, like Woman’s Picture, would need to keep me interested in order to keep doing them well.

(Brian Pera, thinking about Tableau, Evelyn Avenue, and Woman’s Picture during their formative stages)

Andy and I worked very well together, without ever meeting.  What started as a three perfume line morphed into a ten year project.  I knew Woman’s Picture was to be an ongoing series of related films about women and memory, and after realizing how smoothly the collaboration with Andy worked, it made sense to give ourselves the same time frame in which to grow and evolve.

DEADLINES:

The site needed to be up by May.  Tableau was set to release it’s first perfume, Miriam, in October.  Final decisions on the fragrance were important because it would take some time to produce.

In spring of 2011, I smelled several versions of Miriam for the first time, and it was amazing.  I had no idea whether people would like this slightly old fashioned, nostalgic fragrance, but I was pleased that Andy had come up with something that fit so perfectly with the character who inspired it.  I knew that many people – enough people – would consider a perfume tied into a film to be something of a gimmick, so the fragrance needed to be so good that it was unquestionably a work of art in its own right.

Andy doesn’t do anything half-assed, but still I worried.  And while the prospect of a perfume line was exciting it was also daunting.  I kept asking myself what the hell I thought I was doing, wondering whether I’d have the stamina to not only help realize the perfumes but to promote and package them effectively.  I was terrified of disappointing Andy, who had been doing this for years and had a trusted, highly devoted group of admirers.  At the same time, none of our work was yet public.  We hadn’t even announced the project yet.  So the pressure came without the embarrassment and rigor of failure.

In March, I completed the Creative Capital application.  As expected, it took several weeks.  I really don’t have time for this, I told myself, but with Eileen’s encouragement I kept at it.  You had to answer ten questions, each in under a hundred or so words.  Coming up with this kind of text is excruciating, and I was sick of it.  I’d written a press release for Woman’s Picture, all the text for Evelyn Avenue’s pages, content for a facebook page revolving around the film, text for Tableau’s packaging.  In addition to answering the questions I had to create a bibliography of my past work.  Eileen reviewed my answers and pushed me to clarify even further.  By the time I finished the application I told her I was glad THAT was over, and that I never intended to apply for another grant again.

I forgot about Creative Capital and got back to work on Tableau and Evelyn Avenue.  And I started entering Woman’s Picture into more festivals, bracing myself for rejection.

 

 Posted by on January 7, 2012