Tell us a bit about the fragrance and how it came together.
"My friend Elizabeth Gaynes met the Bornean royals through friends in Europe 15 years ago. The daughter of the family, Marinah Embiricos, was put in charge of saving 5,000 hectares in Sabah, Borneo, and she approached Elizabeth to help raise awareness. Embiricos' father, Datuk Harris, decided to intercrop those fields and plant teak, agarwood, herbal teas, and crops for essential oils.
Oud isn't exactly a new note in the fragrance world — what makes this oud special?
"Normally, harvesters of the agarwood tree go deep into the forest looking for the one tree in hundreds in the rain forest and chop down and distill it there. This oil is very valuable, so there is incentive from a lot of the local people to harvest the rain forest. Some trees can be worth upwards of $100,000. It is illegal to take down rain-forest trees, and the agarwood tree is a protected tree.
Can you talk a bit about the price? Why are these so expensive?
"The whole process of how it's derived is interesting. The tree needs to get attacked by a certain fungus in order to produce the actual liquid that is the oud oil. It's very rare that you can even find a tree that has this happening. You can almost say it's the truffle of the perfume world.
What's your fragrance style? Do you mix your own?
"I don't mix them so much as I create them. I like mixing oils — all the scents I have are all oils because you always find a combination that surprises you. I like that element of surprise in a scent.
What do you think is the biggest mistake most women make with scent?
"I think the only time you notice that something could have been done differently is when you pass a woman or man and the scent that follows them is just so heavy. We have a lot of other scents on us — the face cream, the body lotion, the shampoo — it's a lot of scent.
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