We discovered Imaginary Authors several months ago when we were looking into the world of perfume for our "Let's Be Civilized" theme. But because these perfumes have such a strong literary component to them, we wanted to save our passion for Imaginary Authors for our "Bookish" theme. We are smitten with the stories perfumer Josh Meyer creates for each scent, developing an "imaginary" author, birth and death dates and even writing a likely quote from each fictitious novel. We are thrilled to be interviewing him him and yes, he has graciously offered a giveaway to our readers!
Enter our giveaway at the bottom of the interview!
Little Yellow Couch: You know we're huge fans, Josh! We're so happy to be able to get to know you better. Let's start with your origin story. How did you get started in perfume?
Josh Meyer: Somehow I got into the straight-edge shaving culture. You know where you shave the old-fashioned way... I'm one of those people who has to try everything to the nth degree so I have 50 different shaving soaps, 45 kinds of afershave... and I was sending my razors to be sharpened by this guy I found online and he started sending me little perfume samples along with the razors he was returning. Now, I'm not a perfume guy. Or I didn't think I was. I didn't like super strong scents, but I'm figuring this guy is cool so maybe these perfumes are cool and I gave them a try. I had never smelled anything like them before and I got hooked.
LYC: We love that you develop an author's persona and one of his/her "novels" for each perfume you create. It's an entire world to step into for every scent. What made you want to do this?
JM: The stories are a way to talk about the perfume. In the niche perfume world, a lot of houses come out with beautiful or sleek designs for the bottles and maybe a single number or word for the name of a perfume. I do love that the idea behind Imaginary Authors is to help people understand what perfume can do. It can transport you or give you an attitude toward something. The smell moves you to action.
LYC: Every perfume comes with a bookmark that shows how you imagine the author to look, a quote from his or fictitious book and a collage and color scheme. We understand you partner with someone on the packaging. Can you tell us about that?
JM: It's funny because when I started thinking about running my own business, I wanted it to be all mine. But right out of the gate, my very close friend, Ashod Simonian has been invaluable. He does all of the artwork and is part of everything from the beginning. We put the storyboard together, work on the color scheme together... it couldn't be more fun!
LYC: What comes first in your process, the scent or the story?
JM: Almost always the scent. Before I start mixing I usually have a combination of things I want to try and see how they work together.
LYC: We also love that each perfume has a "fantasy" note. So when you look at the list of ingredients on the bookmarks, you see one that isn't actually there, although we swear we can smell some of these scents! For example, there's Satin in L'Orchidee Terrible and Mountain Fog in Cape Heartache. What is that about and why do you include them?
JM: When you put two scents together, they are more than the sum of their parts. You may know what lemon smells like and maybe you know what a certain flower smells like. But you won't know what lemon + the flower smell like together. That new scent is the fantasy note. It's what you smell or think you're smelling after everything's been blended.
LYC: You've worked with the very cool sounding Institute for Art and Olfaction. Can you give us an example of a project?
JM: Oh, they are a terrific organization. One time they did this performance art piece about a cult. They asked me to create a scent that would be used during the piece. I had a hard time with it until I realized I didn't have to create a pleasant smell...so I made a fresh linen scent mixed with three day old body odor. Yes! That was it.
* Exciting side note: Josh's new perfume, "Mosaic" has just been announced as a finalist for the 2014 IAO awards.
LYC: Ok, so since our theme is bookish this month, we'd love to know what some of your favorite authors and titles are.
JM: I love David Foster Wallace. And John Barthes. Oh, and Thomas Pynchon and C. S. Lewis.
In case you're wondering, Karen June's favorite is Cape Heartache and Zandra's is Violet Disguise. But our choices are subject to change depending on our moods. All of these perfumes have such a strong story behind them, it's hard to choose just one! Luckily, with the sample set, you can smell for yourself which one you like best. Good luck!
xoxo Zandra & Karen June