Inspiration for perfume often comes from the materials used, these rare ingredients classically used in fragrance for many thousands of years become the starting point for many a scent brand. Sonia Constant, the founder of Ella K perfumes, created a collection of fragrances which echo her numerous travel but also reflect her inspiration from three astonishing female explorers Karen Blixen, Ella Maillart and Alexandra David-Neel. All these amazing women are from different generations inspiring women through the centuries.
Karen Blixen ( Isak Dinesen ) was an entrepreneur in Kenya and a Danish writer. Ahead of her time as from a young age, she had a need to be an independent and ambitious woman. Fascinated by many stories from travellers in Africa she decided to get married to Bror von Blixen-Finecke, also an explorer, and they created a coffee plantation in British East Africa. She went on to become a well-renowned explorer in Africa.
Blixen is best known for Out of Africa, an account of her life while living in Kenya, and for one of her stories, Babette’s Feast, both of which have been adapted into Academy Award-winning motion pictures. She is also noted, particularly in Denmark, for her Seven Gothic Tales.
Alexandra David-Néel, was an orientalist, Tibetologist, opera singer, feminist, journalist, writer and most of all an explorer. She was, in 1924, the first Western woman to reach Lhasa, the capital of Tibet, her life remained fascinating for explorers since she accomplished many journeys, in particular in Asia continents, such as India, Tibet, Japan, Korea and China. Alexandra went also to Tunisia in North Africa. She met many philosophers and Buddhists on her way. This forged her character as an extraordinary explorer. On her way back to France, as soon as she arrived in Le Havre, France, on May 10, 1925, after many years abroad, she was immediately claimed and praised for what she accomplished. She made the front page of the newspapers and her portrait was spread out in the magazines.
The story of her adventures is the subject of a book, “Voyage d’une Parisienne à Lhassa” “Journey of a Parisian in Lhassa”. Today she is internationally known and had inspired many women, including Sonia.
And finally, meet Sonia’s last inspiration, Ella Maillart, she was one of the female personalities who lulled Sonia into her research. Indeed, Ella was a Swiss traveller, writer and photographer. Attracted to sports from a young age, she was very enterprising and founded the first women’s floor field hockey club in Switzerland at the age of 16. But above all, she was an explorer, because of her love of travel. Beginning in Moscow where she was starting to report and write her first book: “Parmi la jeunesse russe.”(Among the Russian youth). Then, she continues her journey, travelling through Asia, from Beijing to Srinagar, the story of which was recounted in her book: “Oasis interdites” (Forbidden Oasis).
Always having a great love of sports, she practised cycling and skiing until the age of 80. Ella Maillart’s manuscripts and documents are kept at the library in Geneva. She defined this quote from the Chinese master Chuang Tzou as her driving force for exploration:
“If we approach things by their differences, even the liver and the spleen are as far apart as the cities of Ch’u and Yueh. If we approach them by their similarities the world is one“
In 2017, Sonia created Ella K in partnership with her husband, a researcher in fragrance ingredients. Ella K’s perfume collection scents take inspiration from the stories around her travels, in which she was able to be a visionary, around the world with different flowers, trees, fruit, and landscapes that surrounded her.
‘When I am looking at something which inspires me, my head goes into overdrive and assembles the formulae to create a perfume which echoes what I am seeing. ‘
Good smells have the power to seduce you and sometimes inspire you. Find them in your daily life, such as walking in gardens, or kitchens-going to a restaurant, groceries, florist, winegrower and much more. Elegant and original smells, made for the different and many chameleon souls of Sonia.
Here we explore the collection of 11 utterly beautiful fragrances, where colours embody the atmosphere, and landscape of Sonia’s scents.
First of all meet LETTRE DE PUSHKAR.
Lettre de Pushkar scent is inspired by Indian smells such as spices (saffron, nutmeg, cinnamon), flowers (rose, amber and vanilla) and woods (vetiver, patchouli, oud). It’s a sillage that’s shrouded in voluptuousness, the senses are teased with spice, intrigued with wood and aroused with an ambery floral composition in the base.
Rose de Pushkar launched in 2021, inspired by an Indian lakeside, composed of flowers such as roses, woods such as patchouli and oud, also, spices such as Black Pepper, Saffron and Olibanum, and finally. The multi-petalled rose is the main base.
Then Sonia brings us to Kyoto in Japan, with two perfumes. MÉMOIRE DE DAISEN IN, inspired by the mineral map of rocks, is found in a Japanese garden with gravel and wood. Composed of tangerine, lime, rose, tea, white musk, violet and vanilla, notes. Alongside, POÈME DE SAGANO, inspired by the smells of a bamboo forest found in northwest Kyoto, an uplifting combination of citrus fragrances and green notes of matcha tea, eucalyptus, mint, and bamboo.
Next Up, Sonia takes us to some desert with CRI DU KALAHARI fragrance. A bewitching invitation to sample the fascination of the largest sand desert in the world. Sonia brings the history of Africa with a truly luxurious flora scent- woody notes that incarnate the ribbed texture of the bark. Thanks to the meticulous assemblage of sandalwood, cedar and a touch of patchouli with a dusting of green pepper, this fragrance refers to the sands of the Kalahari. And to explore more about African heritage, Sonia creates HARMATTAN, reminiscent of North African tanneries. The scene reflects the combination of geranium with the freshness and vitality of the Texas cedar.
After Sonia started to combine scents from two different countries, a journey from Israel through Egypt she created KHAMSIN, inspired by her love of the freshness of orange blossoms and the scent of dates. And also meet MÉLODIE DE L’ALTAI,released in 2021. A powerful combination of animalic, woody and spicy nuances, includes amber, saffron, styrax, leather, patchouli, and vetiver. she went to The Altaï Mountains, Kazakhstan, a mountain between China and Mongolia, where she saw wild nature present, generating an intoxicating impression of freedom.
Amazed by the smell of water, she creates two perfumes, REFLET SUR L’OKAVANGO was launched in 2019. Is a punchy, creamy floral that uses a bedrock of papyrus, iris and acacia (more commonly known as mimosa) in its heart, on top of a honeyed, vanillic base. Refers to the river in Botswana, a river that never gets to the sea, the scent combines papyrus, acacia or sycamore mixing with an abundant flora exhume. Then, here, PLUIE SUR HA LONG, Sensuality of a tropical rain over Ha Long Bay.
The composition includes water flowers, lotuses, cyclamen and an accord of clear water, with a hint of pink pepper and rhubarb in the top note. Magnolia and neroli bloom in the heart. Soft musk is in the background. A smell inspired by the arrival of the monsoons in Vietnam, Ha Long Bay. The aromas of nature’s all-enveloping shroud.
And finally meet the last fragrance, GHIBLI. Inspired by Sonia’s trip to the Maghreb, in North Africa, a smell combines with the sweetness of nougat, based on a note of leather and accompanied by the scent of imperial jasmine.
Through the collection, she projects herself into her future creations like a painter about to reimagine his blank canvas.
“Everything I encounter can be an inspiration. when I find something which I think could work in a fragrance one day, I write it in a notebook.”
Sonia’s training in perfumery was in the prestigious schools of the ISIPCA and Givaudan. She was guided by world-renowned teachers through her learning.
Sonia talks of a phrase in writings from Baudelaire’s Fleurs du Mal which she states has remained with her
“Colours, fragrances and sounds answer each other.”
She believes these words are exactly what she feels. Taking the sounds, the colours and the shapes and transforming them into fragrance is something that is almost magical to her.
Find out about her latest release Ella K Lettre De Pushkar Hair Mist is a more oriental and sensual version of the iconic signature perfume Lettre de Pushkar of roses.
Find out more about Ella K on their website here.
If you enjoyed Echoes check out Hair care here
.Cent Magazine, London. Be Inspired; Get Involved.