Interview by Dimitris Nyktaris in News | Tommi Sooni.

A passion for labdnamun, collecting rare ingredients for perfumery.
by Tommi Sooni

Saturday 7th April 2012

Thank you Dimitris Nyktaris for answering the below questions and for agreeing to share your passion with Tommi Sooni news. Many readers would be unaware that small producers of rare perfume ingredients help to enrich the fine fragrance industry.

You have a love affair with chypre but more importantly with labdanum, namely growing and harvesting Cistus creticus. How did your interest in Cistus creticus begin?

The plant Cistus creticus (with the pink flower) is everywhere in the area of Sises, Crete where I live. It’s the only place in the world where labdanum is collected the ancient and natural way.

I decided to research this plant on the internet and suddenly I found myself collecting information about Cistus creticus and labdanum. I present this researched material on my website.  In my area of Crete labdanum has a strong tradition with the people in the villages and is used here in many different ways, such as traditional therapeutics.

Are there other ways to use parts of the plant, such as in soaps, medicines or tea?

Labdanum is a resin exuded by the plant Cistus creticus. In Crete traditionally its use was for illnesses of the skin and wounds. It has a sweetly balsamic perfume and can be used in perfumes, soaps and skincare. Apart from the perfume it also protects the skin. The plant Cistus creticus is a natural source of most Polyphenols. On the island of Crete the leaves are also used as a herbal tea.

Does this plant have an ancient history in Crete?

Cistus creticus has a very long history. It was recorded as being collected by the ancient cultures in various regions and was known in major ancient western and eastern cultures.  Labdanum is possibly the myrrh referred to in the Bible. Many of the ointments and oils reported in The Bible are attributed to labdanum or contained labdanum as a key ingredient, such as Balm of Gilead, Onycha oil (Exodus 30:34) and according to American botanist Moldenke, labdanum and myrrh were the myrrh refered to as one of the three gifts of the wise men to Christ in Bethlehem.

Historical reports describe two ways of collection:

a. After sending their goats to graze on pastures containing Cistus creticus the shepards would extract the labdanum collected on the hair of the goats chins by combing the hairs.

b. Flailing the plant itself with a ladanistirio, an ancient wooden and leather tool. This was the original harvesting technique used.

These methods are natural and are still used in my region. Both methods were described by Dioskurides and Herodotus.  The false beards of Pharaohs were taken from the hair of the goats!  The image of the ladanistirio was also a religious symbol, seen held up by the kings of Egypt in their hands.

Cyprus (Chypre in French): In Cyprus, the Cistus creticus plant grows naturally and in the summertime the sweet scent of laudanum drifts through the island.  The Romans made a perfume from laudanum and named it, Chypre. The Crusaders when they conquered Cyprus made a perfume from labdanum and they also gave it the name Chypre. The perfume ‘Chypre’ (Coty,1917) contained labdanum.

Crete: Because of the changing climatic conditions, the area around the abbey, including the small villages, in northern Crete is the epicentre for harvesting labdanum.

How is the resin from Cistus creticus collected today? Do you use modern harvesting methods?

The "modern" methods are industrial extraction and they do not have a long history.

They cut the plants of Cistus and they boil them in big cauldrons of water with chemicals.  The resulting product is not as pure and doesn’t have the same scent. By boiling the plants a lot of the volatile components are lost. The laborious method with the ladanistirio is the ancient method and gives pure labdanum (Holy Incense). Labdanum collected with this method is a genuine, natural product and its perfume is unique.

I am impressed by your passion for Cistus creticus. It is people like you who are often forgotten when we think of beautiful perfumes. Your harvesting of one of the raw ingredients required to make rare perfumes continues the relationship between nature and perfume that has continued for thousands of years.

My passion resulted from my family environment. My family has a long history with local products of the region and one of them is labdanum. We insist on allowing the plant Cistus creticus to grow everywhere in the region because it allows us to collect the resin the natural way.

The modern way of manufacturing labdanum is done with chemistry. It is achieved with the use of boiling.  Through this way of extracting all the volatile components are lost and the resin has no relationship with the natural resin extracted by hand!

Do you sell your products to mainly independent perfumers or to larger international companies?

Labdanum, exuded by the plant Cistus Creticus has a rare and unique perfume with no danger to the skin.

It constitutes as a very good stabilizer for perfumes. Whoever wants to discover and use labdanum in their perfumes can find details through my website. Natural products in perfumery are very infrequent materials. Personally I sell to independent perfumers.

Are there other farmers on Crete who also harvest this plant or are you unique?

The collection of labdanum resin from the plant Cistus Creticus is a very difficult and laborious job that is done during the day under the sun and in high temperatures. A lot of farmers go up in the mountains for this work. It is hard work and the farmers can’t gather large quantities in one day. The period of harvesting is only one and one half months, therefore we need a lot of workers.

Do you make your own perfumes?

I have worked only with labdanum from Cistus creticus, creating labdanum concrete and labdanum absolute.

The perfume of labdanum is very warm and rich, giving a very sweet odour that has a strong and sweet scent. It belongs in perfume base notes. It has a typically balsamic odour, rather flowery, herbaceous, amber-like and very tenacious. The absolute derived from the species growing in Crete is the finest, the most amber-like and the least coloured.

I have made perfumes for myself and in cooperation with other perfumers from around the world: with Anne Walsh from Brazil and Pierre Bénard from France. Also perfumers from the USA, Australia, India, Russia, Asia and Europe. I have made labdanum soaps and I would like to make other labdanum cosmetics because they are healthier than other products made with chemicals.

Where can people find out more about what you do and can they buy your products online?

My personal web page is: http://www.labdanum.gr

Nyktaris Dimitris

my Site    :http://www.labdanum.gr  or  http://www.ladanum.gr

my Shop  :Labdanum Shop

Face book profile: Dimitris Nyktaris

Footnote: thanks to Alex for his assistance with editing.


Armani Privé Ambre Orient Giorgio Armani for women and men.

Armani launches new perfumes of the Privé collection in November 2010. The collection is named "La Collection des Mille et une Nuits," inspired by the medieval Arabic tales from 1001 nights. These three new heute couture perfumes depict the exotic mystery of the Orient with its warm, spicy and woody notes on the subject of rose, oud and amber.
Armani Privé La Collection des Mille et une Nuits icludes three perfumes: Oud Royal, Ambre Orient and Rose d'Arabie. The fragrances are exclusively designed for the Middle East market and are made as imitations of their traditional perfumery and local ingredients.
Ambre Orient is a smoky scent of vanilla and dark wood aromas of sandalwood and patchouli with thyme, labdanum and amber, spicy cinnamon and pink pepper.
It is packed in a black glass bottle decorated with a golden stopper.


Featured Review: Tom Ford Private Blend Moss Breches.

Sali Oguri
NY Fragrance Examiner

It's been rumored Tom Ford Private Blend Moss Breches (2007) is being discontinued, a terrible shame if it's true considering Moss Breches, along with Tobacco Vanille, is among my very favorites in the designer's ultraniche line.  Among these, Moss Breches is far, far away from the mainstream scents of today.  It takes perfuminess to its highest level, played up by both Chypre and Oriental notes in a single composition, decadently retro in richly subdued earth tones.  It's not a fragrance I immediately liked, but it's grown on me in the same way Penhaligon's Bluebell has.  Both are what I'd refer to as "animalic", with the musky notes of labdanum and oakmoss being fairly pronounced in this dark, green Chypre blend, making it challenging to wear.  However, it also has a warm and sweet, spicy gourmand charm to it.  Serge Lutens Vetiver Oriental comes to mind, except Moss Breches is a Chypre, along the lines of Sisley Eau du Soir and Paloma Picasso, just greener, with more damp earth-and-wet leaves - the deep foresty scent attributed to oakmoss.  Shiseido Koto (1985), for those of you familiar with this hard-to-find fragrance, is probably closest to it in overall scent.  Another comparison might be the discontinued Deneuve (1986), with Moss Breches being drier, dirtier, heavier and sharper.  This is a strange, complex scent for those unfamiliar with the scent of Chypre, a classical perfume accord brimming with tradition and an antiquated past.

Moss Breches, of course, would not be without mossiness.  Oakmoss and tree moss are controlled ingredients in the perfume industry since it was declared by IFRA that these age-old ingredients turn into formaldehyde upon skin contact.  Today, most of what we call moss is synthesized, but many vintage perfumes and even certain upscale perfumes do in fact contain moss.  The scent, to my nose, is like that of damp autumn leaves, a bit dirty in an outdoorsy way.  Many perfumes from the 1960s and '1970s featured oakmoss, such as Chanel N°19, Estée Lauder Aliage and Ô de Lancome.  Actually, the use of oakmoss has been around since the birth of the Chypre fragrance family, long before the legendary Coty Chypre and Guerlain Mitsouko were born  Chypre is named as such because the accord was born in Cyprus during Greco-Roman rule (Read more about Cyprus here: Cyprus the Divided Country).

Another featured note in Moss Breches is labdanum.  Labdanum is a resin traditionally used in Chypre compositions.  It's a black resin taken from goat hair after the goats had grazed on the rock rose shrub and resins collected on their fleece.  Although I'm skeptical that most Chypre fragrances today contain real labdanum taken from goat hair, the scent has remained a staple in perfumery.  It has a heavy, resinous and almost woody, as well as animalic, scent, and acts as a fixative for perfume compositions (base note), making perfumes last longer.

Although Moss Breches smells like a traditional Chypre, I'm guessing the reason I like it so much is because it has a soft, almost vanillic aspect to it as well.  The sillage is absolutely gorgeous, a dazzling mossy green.  When I wear Moss Breches, I'm reminded of Japanese tea ceremony and its dark, refined green tea (which is a bitter taste/scent (and yet I love it)).  According to Chypre Perfumes blog: "The Japanese use labdanum in their Neriko mixtures, which are used during tea ceremony".  I guess I'm not far off at all in my perception of the scent!  On the same blog, the author writes that "Egyptians used it in their Kyphi mixtures and the Hebrews burned it in their temples".  Perhaps Moss Breches is the kind of scent that can bring all kinds of deeply spiritual associations to people the world over.


Dolce&Gabbana Light Blue Dreaming in Portofino and Light Blue Living Stromboli

Dolce & Gabbana launched the famous Light Blue fragrance in 2001, followed by the men's version Light Blue pour Homme six years later. In 2012, this house presented two new editions inspired by the fantastic Mediterranean locations—coastal village Portofino and the volcanic island of Stromboli. The new versions are named Light Blue Dreaming in Portofino (for women) and Light Blue Living Stromboli (for men).
Light Blue Dreaming in Portofino 

Top notes: lychee, ambrette seed
Heart: iris, osmanthus
Base: patchouli, amber, musk

Light Blue Living Stromboli 

Top notes: citrus, pink pepper
Heart: aquatic notes, geranium
Base: vetiver, patchouli, amber

The feminine fragrance is available as 50 ml EDT, while the male one comes in 75 ml EDT bottles.


Iceberg Burning Ice

Iceberg launches a new fragrance with the contradictory name Burning Ice in spring 2012. The fragrance is built around the concept of opposites and the game between ice and fire, shapes and shadows, of innocence and sensuality. The composition is built around an aquatic accord of sea cliff, surrounded by a refreshing top and warm and sensual bottom. It belongs to the family of fougere-am...
Read full article: Iceberg Burning Ice from Fragrantica Perfumes and Colognes Magazine.

Top notes: bergamot sorbet, frozen apple, cardamom
Heart: sea cliff accord, clary sage, patchouli
Base: amber, musk, vanilla


BOVET’s Llimited Edition Fragrance.

Swiss watchmaker Bovet presents a fragrance to celebrate its 190th anniversary. The perfume is produced as a 190-piece limited edition (60 ml). "For the past 190 years, the House of Bovet has been measuring the emotions of the moment, and is now choosing to diffuse these sweet memories... Just like its timepieces, BOVET’s perfume reveals a woman’s personality." "BOVET w...
Read full article: BOVET’s Llimited Edition Fragrance from Fragrantica Perfumes and Colognes Magazine.


top notes:
blackcurrant buds, spirit of magnolia,
soul of cassie, veil of Parma violets

heart notes:
Moroccan Rose petals, Turkish rose pearls, c
ream of Iris from Florence,  aura of ylang ylang,
smiles of Sambac jasmine, rosewood bark

background notes:
Amber stones, Madagascan vanilla pods.

Swiss watchmaker Bovet presents a fragrance to celebrate its 190th anniversary. The perfume is produced as a 190-piece limited edition (60 ml). "For the past 190 years, the House of Bovet has been measuring the emotions of the moment, and is now choosing to diffuse these sweet memories... Just like its timepieces, BOVET’s perfume reveals a woman’s personality." "BOVET w...
Read full article: BOVET’s Llimited Edition Fragrance from Fragrantica Perfumes and Colognes Magazine.


Acqua for Life 2012 - Giorgio Armani

The house of Giorgio Armani continues their program Acqua for Life in 2012, which assists UNICEF in procuring water for the areas lacking in drinkable water. Last year was marked by the same program launched by the company and fragrances Acqua di Gio for her and for him as limited editions. Part of the profit was reserved for charities. Read more in our article covering these editions—Acqua for Life 2011.

This year brings two new limited editions accompanying the campaign, which also ensure funds for donating drinkable water to areas without water resources. It is planned to collect 40 million liters of water by June 2012, which would assist the Smart Water for Green Schools project in Ghana, as well as the Green Cross Bolivia project.

Acqua di Gio
Limited edition 2012
Perfumer: Alberto Morillas

 Top notes: orange, lemon, bergamot, lime, kumquat, jasmine
Heart: cyclamen, nutmeg, reseda, coriander, violet, sea water, apricot, hyacinth, rose
Base: amber, patchouli, cedar, musk, moss

Acqua di Gioia
Limited edition 2012
Perfumers: Loc Dong, Anne Flipo and Dominique Ropion

Top notes: lemon, mint
Heart: pink pepper, jasmine, peony
Base: yellow sugar, labdanum, cedar

The above editions arrive in characteristic flacons with bluish waves. Sales of each bottle will ensure 100 liters of drinkable water for the needs of children in Ghana and Bolivia. The special limited editions are Acqua di Gio for men and Acqua di Gioia for women, which are both a part of the rich collection of fragrances by Giorgio Armani.


Givenchy Very Irresistible Givenchy Electric Rose

Givenchy presents Very Irresistible Givenchy Electric Rose in spring 2012 as the new edition of the original Very Irresistible Givenchy fragrance from 2003. The house of Givenchy has launched many variants of this perfume so far, and the last year's Very Irresistible Givenchy L'Intense was a great success.Very Irresistible Givenchy Electric Rose is announced as an aromatic-floral fragrance inspi... Read full article: Givenchy Very Irresistible Givenchy Electric Rose from Fragrantica Perfumes and Colognes Magazine.

Top notes: blueberry, lemon, basil, verbena 
Heart: rose, anise, violet 
Base: cedar, musk


Donna Karan DKNY Sweet Delicious

Donna Karan launches the limited DKNY Sweet Delicious collection of fragrances in the spring of 2012. The collection contains of three sweet scents: Pink Macaroon, Tart Key Lime and Creamy Meringue. The fragrances are inspired by recipes for creamy and delicious cupcakes.DKNY Sweet Delicious Pink Macaroon is a gourmand scent of yummy almond macaroons, refreshed with fruity flavors. It opens with... Read full article: Donna Karan DKNY Sweet Delicious from Fragrantica Perfumes and Colognes Magazine.


Hugo Boss Orange Charity Editions 2012!!

Hugo Boss launches two fragrances with unchanged compositions in new flacons intended for charities. One profit share from men's and women's limited editions for 2012 will be donated to UNICEF.

Read full article: Hugo Boss Orange Charity Editions 2012 from Fragrantica Perfumes and Colognes Magazine.


Esxence Milan 2012


Esxence is an annual exhibition of niche perfumery which takes place in Milan every spring. This year the exhibition will open its doors to industry specialists, sellers, buyers and press for the fourth time. Esxence is the right place to get fresh perfume news and meet perfumers and famous people from the industry. Along with dozens of fine Italian brands, Esxence attracts independent artists and distributors of their products from all over the world.
Read full article: Esxence Milan 2012 from Fragrantica Perfumes and Colognes Magazine. 

Global Art of Perfumery 2012 in Düsseldorf

For the fourth time, at the Maritim Hotel in Düsseldorf on
14 - 15 April 2012, all attention will be on fine fragrances and perfume trends from around the world. The Global Art of Perfumery – Cosmetic Innovations, which has established itself as a major industry gathering, expects around 60 international perfume suppliers for the upcoming event, who will present their
latest creations a... Read full article: Global Art of Perfumery 2012 in Dusseldorf from Fragrantica Perfumes and Colognes Magazine.

New Perfume Blogs