Queen Pomare IV
Pomare IV was the last Queen of Tahiti and when I was little my mother told all sorts of stories about how France stole Tahiti from us. In my family we never let the truth get in the way of a good story and in one of my favorite tales she got sent out to sea with her lover just before a storm hit. The French had sabotaged her boat in an effort to assassinate her knowing their son was easier to control due to his weakness for cognac.
While this is likely pure fiction, it was one of those family legends that I took very seriously and imagined over and over. The truth as I now understand it is far from that tale. We do know that Pomare fought against the French intervention of Tahiti whole heartedly and exiled herself to Raiatea in protest.
The name “Pomare’s Stolen Perfume” represents the French ‘stealing’ of Tahiti and the surrounding islands, but it also speaks to all that can never be stolen. There are flowers and plants that grow in Raiatea that no matter how botanists try, can not grow anywhere else. The name came to represent to me all that became stolen during colonization for Tahitians and for all first nation peoples.
The history of perfume is irrevocably intertwined with our human history and that of this earth. Often when I think of the plants, resins, and flowers that make up beautiful scents, I think of how these things travelled around the world and changed our natural landscapes. Eucalyptus, which will always remind me of coastal Santa Barbara, is actually an Australian native. Frangipani which so many associate with different islands is native to Mexico.
As a natural perfumer I like to explore the origins of where we came from, including a sensorial exploration of cultures, peoples and plants.