Snapshot #7, Yosh Han, YOSH olfactory sense
(VV) Where were you born? Is this where you grew up?
(Yosh) I was born in Taiwan and spent the first few years of my life in Japan but I consider myself an Angeleno – I’ve spent about 2/3’s of my life in California.
(VV) Is there an olfactive experience that resonates and stays with you?
(Yosh) My family took a holiday in Hawaii when I was a young adult. I remember being in a shop and finding a Shisedo perfume that I fell in love with. I still have the bottle. It has iris and violets in it. It made an indelible impression on me.
(VV) Do you have any daily rituals that you can share with us?
(Yosh) Incense and tea (not necessarily together) are daily rituals that keep me grounded and connected.
(VV) How has being a perfumer changed your everyday life?
(Yosh) When people find out I’m a perfumer, they somehow feel the need to stick their necks in my face. It’s an occupational hazard. Please, if you meet me for the first time, a handshake will suffice.
(VV) If you could make a fragrance for anyone either living or dead who would it be and why, and what accords might you play with for that person?
(Yosh) Good question. I have always wanted to meet Mozart. I don’t think I could create something befitting his genius . What a charming precocious child he must have been. I think it would be great to create that scent – Mozart as a child.
(VV) What raw material is on your mind at the moment? What about it fascinates you?
(Yosh) I recently fell in love with a toasted oak from Biolands. They took toasted oak barrels that had been used to age wine and extracted the scent from them. It was a missing element in a new fragrance that I have been working on. When I smelled it – my brain blew up.
(VV) Can you explain your signature fragrance process? What is your favorite part of the process?
(Yosh) I offer a few different signature perfume experiences. I teach a fragrance workshop for 4-6 students at a time. They learn about top, middle and base notes – from a classical perfumery approach as well as my own personal spiritual approach to learning about the energy of essences. At the end of the class the client takes home a fragrance that they made with my guidance. At the other end of the spectrum is a haute experience, called the “Connoisseur Signature Scent.” I meet with a client over several months and work with the highest quality materials to co-create their signature fragrance. There are several mods that are created and tailored specifically to their personal story, preferences and energy. In this experience, the structure of the fragrance is more complex and full – much like a five course meal in a fine dining restaurant.
My favorite part of this process – whether it’s a workshop or private custom appointment is the smelling and editing portions. In the beginning of the session, we smell raw materials from different families together, and as I get their reactions, we put them into different categories: love it, hate it, like it and another category I call the “X factor.” This is the wild card, a scent that one is both attracted to but slightly resistant to. It causes a visceral reaction. This “X factor is subconscious – most have a hard time articulating how one feels about it. From there, we begin the composition process – editing out the hates and honing in on the harmony of the “love it” and “X factor” selections. We keep editing until the fragrance resonates with the client.
(VV) Can you explain how and why you started doing Aura Readings? What is your biggest takeaway from doing these readings? And how do you link them to choosing a fragrance for someone, if you do at all?
(Yosh) The inspiration for the Aura Portraits, came after a meet-up with a Nars stylist; they left me with a makeup portrait of myself, a kind of tool on how to apply makeup. I found the portrait easy to use; it was directive and just plain helpful, and I instantly thought that a similar tool might be a creative way of pairing my intuitive gifts with my fragrances, and at the same time it could be a tool and guide for my clients. I worked with a designer to make the template immediately. The biggest takeaway is that no single reading and Aura Portrait are EVER the same. While I read the client’s aura, the client colors what I’m seeing and communicating. Each layer of the layer signifies different themes. My ready-to-wear fragrances have always been tied to chakras and numerology, and I saw the Aura Portraits as an extension. Once the reading is complete I make a suggestion for a fragrance from my portfolio that resonates with the client’s energy.
(VV) On your next trip, what book will you travel with?
(Yosh) I’m on a Patricia Highsmith tear. She wrote the Ripley series but I’ve lately gotten into her other crime fiction novels.
(VV) How does writing and olfaction connect for you?
(Yosh) My writing and smelling brain are very closely linked. I’ve recently started teaching a Vocabulary of Scent workshop because most people don’t actually understand what they’re smelling and even more people can’t articulate what they’re experiencing so I hope to educate people in this regard and give them more tools to express themselves from an olfactory point of view.
(VV) Anything that you can’t leave home without when you travel?
(Yosh) I travel with my own tea bags now. Life is too short to drink bad tea.
(VV) Have you ever been to Grasse?
(Yosh) I went to Grasse when I attended the World Perfumery Congress in 2004. It was absolutely incredible. It changed my world – I couldn’t believe how insanely beautiful it was and how many farms, distilleries and perfumeries there were.
(VV) What’s it like to be bi-coastal?
(Yosh) I feel fortunate to be able to go back and forth between SF and NY. Both places fill me up in different ways. NY is super stimulating but sometimes it depletes me whereas I always feel replenished in SF but sometimes a bit bored. I’m a Pisces so I’m constantly swimming in many directions so I feel very much at home when I’m on the move.
(VV) Can you share your new years resolutions?
(Yosh) 2013 mantra: Mas por favor
(VV) Can you share what fragrance you are wearing today?
(Yosh) Today, I have on König – it’s my newest fragrance to be released later this spring. It’s inspired by the Bavarian forest. I think many perfumers tend to wear whatever they’re working on.