Yosh Han is a beautiful, bright, young perfumer from San Francisco who has perfume even in her name. The Chinese character for Yosh means fragrant.
She started her career in 1994 when she entered in a shop in Aspen and decided she had to work there, even not knowing at that time what they were really doing.
Today Yosh has her own brand offering 7 different fragrances, 2 limited editions and also signature scents for clients who wish to have their own personal perfume.
What has driven me to her was the fact that she believes, like me, that a fragrance can transform us. Her way to relate to fragrances goes beyond creating nice niche perfumes. Each of her fragrances can transport us to what she calls "aromascope".
We had a very nice chat about fragrances, the sense of smell etc... and I thought it was a good idea to share with you.
+ Q PERFUME: What I loved about your approach to fragrances is the fact that we both think that fragrances can change or set moods. This is why I cannot have just one perfume in my closet! Some times I have “cravings” for a fragrance like some people have cravings for sweets, coffee, etc… Do you have fragrance “cravings”
YOSH: Yes. I have cravings for earth smells – woody, mushroomy, oak moss, vetiver, etc. I have a fragrance I made called Sombre Negra, black shadow. This is my go-to smell when I want to touch the earth. When I crave heaven, I reach for ylang, neroli and rose. I do crave the smell of oud. There’s nothing else like it. I went to an incense ceremony in Tokyo and had the most magical experience with oud during the ceremony and that is the closest I think to olfactory heaven on earth. It really moved me.
+ Q Perfume: Aha! I am almost convinced that we should harmonize the fragrance to wear according to the meal we are about to savor, like we do with wines!
YOSH: Yes. There was an exhibition in NY at the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum that showcased the history of dining utensils and rituals a few years ago. I saw a very cool fork and spoon set that was designed to enhance the aroma of the food you were eating. The handle was an extended corkscrew shape and the intension was to twirl herbs on the handle depending on the food you were serving. I think olfaction and food are so closely tied but people tend to not be as creative as they could be. I also heard of a cool restaurant in Chicago that the waiter wafts certain scents in the air between courses to change the palette and ambiance. I think if people were to enjoy leisurely longer multi-course meals, this could be done. Or maybe you need a change in fragrance between burgers and fries, too!?
+ Q PERFUME: Do you think it is possible to make a perfume for both genders that will move them or touch both genders the same way? After all women are so different than men…
YOSH: I think it’s possible for both men and women to have a reaction to the same fragrance and experience similarities, but it ‘hits’ us in different ways. For example, my fragrance called U4EAHH, it’s a juicy smell and both men and women ‘get happy’ when they smell it. Big smiles and delicious thoughts. Are they thinking the same thing?
+ Q Perfume: It once did a game with my husband. I gave him perfumes to smell and he had to write down the color and the sensation he felt while smelling. I did the same and we compared notes. If I recall, sixty percent (app.) of the fragrances gave us the same sensation and also the same colors, but not all of them. I was a very nice experience to do together.
+ Q PERFUME: I lived almost 10 years in the Middle East and when I close my eyes I see an “olfactory picture” of rosemary, grapefruits and pines, also hot sand smell…sometimes coffee and cardamom. But most of the perfumes inspired in this region are about roses and spices. Do we have also a collective olfactory conscience?
YOSH: Yes – this is what I refer to as our “aromascape” or our inner landscape of aromas. Our cultural heritage shapes this as well as the many places we’ve lived. I have also noticed that certain patterns occur with types of personalities and/or ethnicities. It’s very interesting.
+ Q Perfume: I have a theory that I developed from personal experience and from long talks about perfumery that I wish to discuss with you. I notice that when a person comes to me and says, “I have been looking for a fragrance to buy, but somehow I never find one that I really feel connected to or wish to have”, in most of the times, the same person is in a phase where she/he cannot find his/her own self. Confused about what they want for their lives, or somehow in a middle of a crisis.
So, do you think there is a relation there or is t just coincidence and my theory has no logic at all?
+ Q PERFUME: Were you meant to be a perfumer? What does it take to be one?
YOSH: Good question. My name YOSH means ‘aroma’ so one could say, it was destiny. When I walked into the perfume shop in Aspen, I sort of felt likeI came Home. When I blend, there is definitely a non-verbal language and communication that occurs between me and the materials. That is the intuitive side of my artistry. The science aspect - mixing in the correct percentages, knowing the allergens, etc. That is rigorous and takes practice. There are so many opportunities now for perfuming. I say, if someone has the interest and curiosity, go for it!
+ Q PERFUME: When you design a personal fragrance, do you receive feedback on how these clients are feeling with their new personal scent? (Can you point some comments).
YOSH: I often get feedback about the different transformations that have occurred for my client. Many of my private clients create their signature perfumes when they are in a pivotal point in their lives. Whether it’s a birthday, wedding, or other special occasion. For many women, creating a custom fragrance is something they have dreamed about so when they manifest that desire, it’s very powerful. One of my favorite remarks was from a man from Chicago, he called and left me a message saying that the session was a ‘galactic journey.’
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