Sultan Pasha and Sr. Editor Robert Herrmann (Photo by Robert©)
Originally Published On http://www.cafleurebon.com 27 April, 2018
During an over-the-top week spent at Esxence in Milan, I was fortunate enough to grab a quiet hour in our hotel lobby with Sultan Pasha, perfumer extraordinaire and online e-tailer of some of the finest attars and oils you are likely to find. We were joined by Arts & Olfaction nominated (and prior winner) Indie perfumer Amber Jobin of Aether Arts Perfumes.
Sultan Pasha and Sr. Editor Robert Herrmann with Amber Jobin (photo Robert Herrmann)©
What started out as a classic interview, quickly morphed into something deeper and more personal. Laughing and talking with cappuccinos and such firmly in hand, we pretty much ditched the interview format. In his own words, Amber and I learned Sultan (pronounced sool-TAWN) Pasha, a kind, humble, and self-effacing man who just happens to create amazing fragrances. But first some backstory: Sultan Pasha’s trajectory as a perfumer is a true-life fairy tale. Raised in London by a single mom, Sultan Pasha was headed for an education and career in Organic Chemistry, but bowing to family and financial pressures found himself working in a bank a job “I absolutely detested” in his own words. Using part of his salary to buy very small amounts of essential oils, Sultan discovered that wearing the oils was uplifting, mood-altering, and mentally removed him from the daily white-collar hell.
After a misdiagnosed medical condition and a year of immunosuppressive drugs and antibiotics, during which he lost all sense of smell, coming off the drugs was an olfactive revelation. “All of a sudden I could smell EVERYTHING, I remember I was wearing some Amouage Tribute Attar and I could distinguish the different roses used, the benzoin and vetiver….” Pasha explains “It was an extraordinary wake-up call.” Soon thereafter compositions starting taking form; his first was Incense Royal followed quickly by Shadee (‘wedding’ in ancient Sanskrit), a fragrance based on the scent of his wife’s wedding trousseau; a wedding bed covered with tuberose, gardenia, precious oils and spices used for cleansing, all over a bed of the scent of human skin, fragrantly oiled and sweaty. Sultan Pasha Shadee is a textbook example of sensuality personified and one of my personal favorites of Sultan’s creations. One of his personal credo’s is simple “I never want to be called a master perfumer because that implies that I’ve stopped learning, and there is ALWAYS so much more to know, new ingredients to discover, discovering new facets of ingredients you thought you knew all about. That is just so exciting to me! For me I am personally a huge fan of the pre-‘50’s perfumery. There is something so poetic about those early compositions, scented storytelling if you will.”
Sultan Pasha with Irisoir (photo Robert Herrmann)©
Sultan’s oils come in tiny plastic “imps” and he suggests using a paper clip to apply just one drop of oil on your skin. Each imp contains only a few drops of oil which is sufficient for a few days of testing. These oils are potent and super-concentrated. One of Sultan Pasha’s most popular and beloved attars is the limited edition Sultan Pasha Irisoir, a tribute to the original Jacques Fath Iris Gris which he was able to smell in the Osmothéque collection in Versailles. He carries around a small vintage Baccarat bottle full of this magical perfume, using it as a personal touchstone. He shared a drop or two with both Amber and I, and we were immediately transported by its beauty and unplumbable depth. Conversation turned to the new L’Iris de Fath, Jacques Fath’s 2018 re-interpretation of Iris Gris. Sultan was so moved by the new Iris de Fath, and the quality of the re-interpretation that he gifted a full bottle of the much sought after original Fath Iris Gris to Raina Naim of Jacques Fath Parfums “This bottle clearly needs to be in their trust. It is the right thing to do, and I was happy to do so.”
Dash, the ambergris-sniffing dog hard at work on the beaches of Ireland. Photo via Patrick Lillis.
His latest endeavor is the creation of a company called Coronation Ambergris. Partnering with Patrick Lillis (François Hénin, founder and owner of Jovoy Perfumes in Paris and London, will sell) their aim is to introduce the highest quality ambergris tinctures to the perfume loving public. Having just returned from the beaches of Ireland on an ambergris-hunting expedition with ambergris broker Patrick Lillis and his ambergris-sniffing dog named Dash, Sultan is on fire talking about this project. “I’ve been obsessed with ambergris forever, so this project is very close to my heart.” He explains, “Ambergris is a very subtle material and the scent panel can change from piece to piece. The magic of the material is not so much the scent, but how it supports and exalts the other notes in a composition. So for example, you could wear some modern Shalimarby Guerlain on each arm, but add just one drop of natural ambergris to one arm and suddenly that Shalimar takes off into the stratosphere and becomes so much more, that the other Shalimar arm smells flat by comparison. And THAT is the true beauty of ambergris.” I asked him how the Sultan Pasha Coronation Ambergris project will manifest for the public and Sultan explains ““We’ll ultimately be creating what we call an ‘Elixir’ from a single-sourced piece of ambergris that has not only a salty aquatic note, but also notes of violet and cucumber.” By the end of the hour both Amber and I felt like we had developed a new and wonderful friendship.
Sultan Pasha and beach found ambergris photo Sultan Pasha©
In the coming weeks I will be reviewing the new Coronation Ambergris that was so generously gifted to me. With Sultan Pasha as the nose, Coronation Ambergris Elixir, you can believe that it is an unforgettable olfactory experience.
Note: Within the next week or so Sultan Pasha attars and oils are leaving Ebay and will be available exclusively via his brand new website: sultanpashaattars.com(you (click and you can sign for a notification when they will be available)..
–Robert Herrmann, Senior Editor