Interview with Charna Ethier of Providence Perfumes

    star quilt  Do you have a smell from childhood that you loved-anything from your Mom’s perfume to your cat’s paws-and what was it?

I grew up in rural New England on a farm in the woods.  My fondest childhood scent memories are of the smell of wood smoke, wet wool, hay and blackberry bushes. 

    Are you a synesthete, do you “visualize” odors, or “taste” colors, and does it affect your output?



     How do you see people using your perfumes, as accessories, personal signatures, or therapeutically?

  I would hope that my fragrances would be chosen because the wearer felt something when sniffing . . . whether an emotion, or memory or something as simple as the desire to wear a fresh green scent in hot weather.  People have a million scents to choose from, and if they choose to wear one of mine because it speaks to them in some way, I’m honored.

      If perfumes can be categorized as narrative (like Jean Patou’s 1000) or as abstractions (like No  or mood altering (like Eau Dynamisante) or evocative (like L’Heure Bleue) which are yours?

  I would say narrative, because I am telling a story on the skin.  I like to create perfumes that are redolent of a time, place, feeling or person.

      Do you have a particular material you prefer to work with or that you always return to?

JASMINE! I’m a big fan of orange blossom as well, but it’s not as versatile as jasmine.

      What is your current best seller?

 That can be a difficult question, as what sells best in our brick and mortar store is different than what sells well online.  Currently Branch & Vine and Hindu Honeysuckle in store.  Online Samarinda and Cocoa Tuberose.

  Which of your perfumes are you proudest of, and why? 

Samarinda-FINAL-VERSION_largeIt’s tough for me to not pick my most recent perfume SAMARINDA.  I worked on balancing this fragrance for a very long time and it was challenging to harmonize some of the rare essences used in the perfume such as choya nakh ( a smokey roasted seashell note) which is notoriously hard to work with.  If one were to look at the list of notes in Samarinda they would seem discordant but harmonize together to create a very wearable yet unique fragrance rich with heliotrope, vanilla, scotch, leather and carnation.

 Is there a classic perfume you particularly admire?

Niki De Saint Phalle.  I would have turned up my nose at it when I was younger but now marvel at its richness and complexity.  For me, vintage Niki de Saint Phalle is classic with an edge that I appreciate.

The artwork is a 19th century American star quilt.

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2 Responses to Interview with Charna Ethier of Providence Perfumes

  1. Lou Anne says:

    Blacknall, I really like Providence Perfumes – yesterday was a Hindu Honeysuckle day for me. But, I so enjoy learning a bit about Charna and the creative process involved in creating her perfumes. Thanks for sharing.

    • Blacknall Allen says:

      Hi Lou Anne, I enjoyed learning a bit about them myself and completely understand why you like Hindu Honeysuckle! HH was my second favorite from her batch of samples. Just loved Osmanthus Oolong myself. But most of her perfumes are wonderfully comfortable.

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