I was a scent hound as a kid (mostly collected samples and bottles from varying stores, affixed certain moods or colors to each scent or derivative), and could tell I had a remarkably sensitive nose. Down the line, this first took shape somewhat-professionally, but more as a hobby when I was bee-keeping in Baltimore over a decade ago and would take-in the scent from the hive and then the honey, trying to (for fun) determine where the bees had gone to collect nectar and pollen. At the same time, I began playing with plants, grew an herbal medicine garden, and started mixing tinctures and bitters, etc. Similarly, but less nuanced — these formulas shift beautifully and rapidly depending on what is added. I began realizing, as I also started to distill essential oils around the time I moved to Marfa, that the plant and the scent was drawing more interest than the consumable medicinal element of it. William: What does the name Fray Ardens mean to you? Why was it selected as the name of your collection? Ash: Fray is like a witch who lives in the woods. The antidote to the desert. I grew up in the woods, so did not want to forget those roots while toiling in the high desert. Fray is clever and crone-like. The words also evoke alchemy as in ‘frayed’ and ‘ardent’ are both rooted in fire or breakdown, and in alchemy things must burn or break apart to then rejoin and fuse. William: Do you have a style or approach to creating fragrances? Ash: I combine my design and psychological training. I start with a concept or inspiration, and this truly can be anything from a word to a plant to a person to an archetype to a pattern on a table cloth — then I practice, over time, what I call reverie which can be a mix of Jungian or archetypal practices to create meaning behind the inspiration — this takes varying forms that include art, nature walks, writing, et al. I intuitively blend from that place, then the mathematical portion begins wherein the blends are recalculated, recorded, and tested; rinse and repeat. William: All creative projects have their challenges. What was the biggest challenge working on the Fray Ardens collection?
Ash: Selection. As a polymath, I can get excited about a scent before its ready, and / or want to release several others before one scent has gotten enough attention. William: Tell us about your favorite in the collection? Ash:This moves around. Right now, especially in this transitional seasonal time, Anima is my go-to. I believe it’s seeped into my skin enough to be a part of my cellular structure. In love! I find myself wearing a lot of wool and walking a lot outside, and this scent sings on the skin next to natural fabrics and some wintersweat. But Nouveau Ranch was my summer into fall scent — it’s melon and grass notes tinge toward late summer and yet I smelled it on a friend last week, and it felt equally perfect for this time of year. At a point in my life, I wore only one scent for eight years, but I am now much more of a ‘a person needs eight scents’ type of woman. In that, I allow myself to move around here, even within a day. Mythopoesis, Fray Arden’s signature line, is designed with this in mind. Each is a little bit of a trickster. You believe you have it pinned, and it shifts. They’re great for seasonal transitions because of this. Nouveau Ranch smells remarkably different on every person - kind of wild. The shadow side of the line will release in winter 2019 and I am excited for these extreme, dark, and more self-knowing scents. Every line needs a trickster or two, but it also needs a sturdy lover. These will balance the entire line well. William: In my opinion, scent often evokes certain desires that speak differently to everyone. What is the language of scent in the world of Ash Compton? Ash: Yes, desire is a great word. I think of personality structure a whole lot. And of the process of individuation (in short: becoming more of yourself). If we’re all always in a process of becoming more deeply ourselves, scent is a way to honor and hold that, even nudge it along. Often, I wear as an amplifier, a way to push myself more into what I’m feeling how I need to interact with the day. I’m going out but don’t quite have the energy, I might put on something super top-note heavy to give an extra push. Or my mind is racing but I’m about to hike, I might need a heavily-based deep scent that wears all day to slow the pace. JANUARY / FEBRUARY 2019
The InFluential Family is Dedicated to the Art of Living Well.