Paper Trail: why we love paper’s smell (& perfumes evoking it)

Paper is something we have increasingly infrequent contact with in this relentlessly digitised world, and perhaps nearly as importantly, smell far less frequently in our every day lives. Could this be why perfumers are seeking to evoke the scent in the fragrances we wear?

There’s a functional sterility to the burgeoning ‘metaverse’ that’s abhorrent to sensorialists – those of us who revel in our senses, welcoming the smell and comforting caress of books and paper (and you know, food, fabrics, the infinitesimal layering of textures that IRL [In Real Life] offers us), as we might a lover’s touch.

For book (and printed paper) lovers, particularly; while E-Reader devices and scrolling on phone screens certainly have huge benefits – instantaneous access to literature is not to be, pardon the pun, sniffed at – but they lack the tangibility of literally burying your nose in a book, or feeling a piece of paper as you write on it (in pen! How very old school). Indeed, research shows that, while levels of comprehension are similar no matter how you read a text; people struggle to accurately recall events or timelines of a long story on a screen, as opposed to reading on paper.

The report concludes that it’s the ‘kinaesthetic feedback’ of holding paper in your hand that connects us to the perception of what we’re reading; that is, using our sensory organs to better locate and store vital information. I’ve previously written about the concept of vellichor – what makes the smell of old books so special – so want to widen that thought, here, to the more literal smell of paper itself.

Explains scienceabc.com:

‘…over a period of time, the compounds within paper [break down to] produce the smell. Paper consists of cellulose and small amounts of lignin(a complex polymer of aromatic alcohols). Paper that is even more fine contains less lignin than cheaper materials, like the paper used in newspapers.’

 

 

I would argue the smell of paper – old and mysterious or newly seductive – is also a huge part of our emotional intelligence, our interconnectivity, scent and memory combined.

In those ancient library type fragrances (which I still absolutely adore) it’s often the combined smell of crumbling leather bindings, dust and polished wooden tables that conjure a feeling of being in a particular space. But the smell of paper itself needn’t always be musty.

We might be in a shiny new bookshop, or have just cracked the spine of a sensorially satisfying weighty magazine. The paper might be that of an artist, awaiting the stroke of a brush, or of a writer’s virgin sheet, greedily thirsting for the first drop of ink…

 

 

Paper does have a unique smell. In those dusty old tomes it’s the breaking down of paper compounds that releases lignin (similar to vanillin, the primary component of vanilla, which has been proven to be a remarkably calming smell). In new paper, explains perfumer Geza Schoen, who once created a limited edition Paper Passion fragrance, in collaboration with Wallpaper* magazine; recreating the scent ‘was hard’ he admits. ‘The smell of printed paper is dry and fatty; they are not notes you often work with.’

Difficult though it may be to replicate, the smell of paper is something we yearn for, a comfort we crave in our hyper-digitally-connected yet progressively solitary lives. Comically satirising a future in which we’ve become so disconnected with paper’s scent that it repels us, author Gary Shteyngart’s novel, Super Sad True Love Story, imagines a time ‘Books are regarded as a distasteful, papery-smelling anachronism by young people who know only how to text-scan for data…’ as The New York Times review puts it.

Well, I’m very glad to say, we bibliosmatics are not there yet. The yearning to smell paper is still real, and these perfumes prove it…

 

 

 

Diptique L’Eau Papier

Rice steam accord melded with white musk cleverly evokes the paper’s creamy grain; drifts of mimosa tracing the outline of torn edges while deeper notes appear fleetingly, like freckled ink drops in water, punctuating the clarity with sheer shadows before the paper comfortingly subsumes.

£90 for 50ml eau de toilette diptyqueparis.com

 

 

Rook Perfumes RSX/03 School

A limited edition project in which participants imagined the smell of school, this pleasingly avoids boiled cabbage, instead exploring the heady rush of opening new books, cold air, pencil shavings and the textural thrill of fingers tracing wooden desks scarred with names, love hearts, learning.

£99 for 30ml eau de parfum rookperfumes.co.uk

 

 

Commodity Paper (Personal)

Achingly soft, especially in the ‘Personal’ (most hushed) version, this suggestively whispers of stationery, passing a letter to someone, your fingertips barely brushing, but a gesture that says so much. The molecular wonder of ISO E Super sighs to skin’s warmth, an amber trail beckons.

From £22 for 10ml eau de parfum commodityfragrances.co.uk

 

 

 

 

 

 

Carner RIMA XI

Inspired by Spanish poet Gustavo Adolfo Becquer’s passionate poem, Rhyme 11, the paper of this perfume feels fresh with possibilities at first. Then, the cool kiss of mint is seduced by spices and Indian jasmine petals, a discovery of crumpled, tear-stained, love letters slipped under a mattress.

£100 for 50ml eau de parfum bloomperfume.co.uk

 

 

 

Gri Gri Tara Mantra

Playing with the power of words, monastic incense curls beguilingly, a trail of promise leading to the temple you seek. It could be a church, might be a library, but let us say instead we are in a bookshop, gleefully thumbing piles of temptations, a woody path of patchouli and potent escapism.

£95 for 100ml eau de parfum shymimosa.co.uk

 

Written by Suzy Nightingale

Sarah McCartney: Celebrating Shakespeare’s flowers in fragrant form

Shakespeare and his love of flowers are eternally entwined in our imaginations, and now we have hot-off-the-press news of a specially commissioned fragrance inspired by the bard…

 

Though much of what we know of Shakespeare’s life is supposition, and hotly debated by historians to this day; what we can surmise is that he loved flowers – including references to over fifty types of them within his writing, using them to highlight the emotional tone of scenes, reflect character’s thoughts or send messages his audiences would have readily understood in the ‘language of flowers.’ Artists, writers and musicians still find much inspiration in these floral allusions, and little wonder, given the veritable bouquet of creative suggestion Shakespeare proffers.

 

Botanical Shakespeare: An Illustrated Compendium, £20 (Royal Shakespeare Company shop)

 

Many of the flowers Shakespeare alluded to in his work have led to well-known phrases we still use, such as ‘a rose by any other name’ and ‘gilding the lily’, but it’s worth pointing out, lovely as they are, these are slight misquotations. In Romeo and Juliet, the rose is used to there to garland Juliet’s complaint about their families refusing to let them marry because of an ongoing feud, saying:

What’s in a name? that which we call a rose

By any other name would smell as sweet. [Act II Scene II Line 43]

As for the lily, that pops up when painted, in King John, with a courtier commenting

To gild refined gold, to paint the lily

To throw perfume on the violet …

Is wasteful and ridiculous excess [Act 4 Scene 4 Line 11]

I respectfully arch an eyebrow at the slightly scathing mention of perfume, and though of course it’s a literary way of saying that natural beauty need not be embellished, would point out that many fine fragrances have been created to evoke the violet (it being one of the flowers unable to have its scent naturally extracted); but shall forgive the courtier (and, therefore, Shakespeare) for not being privy to such scent chemistry knowledge.

 

Shakespeare’s Flowers cards, £3.99 for 5 x A5 pack, DaysEyeCards

In any case, April 23rd is National Shakespeare Day, the anniversary of the bard’s death, and though the exact day of his birth is unknown, also the day his birthday is traditionally celebrated (his baptism being recorded as taking place on April 26.) So, this would have been excuse enough for me to celebrate his gorgeous floral allusions by showcasing some fragrances I feel are particularly pertinent to Shakespeare’s love of flowers. However, Fate intervened to reveal an even more intriguing story…

While thinking about writing a general Shakespeare and fragrance type article, a little bird (in fact, fellow fragrance writer and friend Amanda Carr, co-founder of We Wear Perfume, and currently organising the inaugural Barnes Fragrance Fair) happened to mention to me that 4160 Tuesdays founder and perfumer, Sarah McCartney had recently received a rather fabulous private commission to create a Shakespearean-inspired fragrance for none other than Gyles Brandreth. A noted Shakespeare expert, broadcaster, author and language-lover.

 

 

Currently named Sonnet No.1, the fragrance is actually for both Gyles and his beloved wife, the writer Michèle Brown, in celebration of their forthcoming wedding anniversary. Describing the ingredients she used for the composition, Sarah chose: ‘Rose, violet, lavender, lily, narcissus absolute, musks and hay absolute,’ with two versions having been made, one including beeswax absolute.

Before you ask if we can all get our hands (and noses) on it, Sarah explains, ‘I only made it on Monday, so at the moment just 30mls exist, but it’s gorgeous! (Though I say it myself.) I’d like to launch it, but it would have to go through its stability tests and all the official processes before it can go public.’ Well, it probably does seem only fair to let Gyles and Michèle enjoy the fragrance first, but golly it does indeed sound gorgeous, so fingers-crossed. In the meantime, fragrance and Shakespeare lovers should consider another beautiful 4160 Tuesday’s scent. Says Sarah:

Ealing Green was originally made for a fundraising event on Midsummer Night in Ealing, and I used herbs and flowers mentioned in the play… wild rose, thyme, grassy banks, violets and oakmoss feature.’

 

 

 

We were invited to make a midsummer scent for a 2013 charity evening in Ealing, West London, using plants and flowers named in Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, so we imagined the scenes taking place by Pitzhanger Manor on Ealing Green, and created the aroma of a magical summer evening. Its perfect for wearing in the heat.
It starts with a wander through the herb and flower gardens of Walpole Park, takes in a picnic on the grass and ends up lying on the lawn by the pond, staring at the clouds floating by, smelling the warm earth.

4160 Tuesdays Ealing Green £65 for 50ml eau de parfum

What better time to purchase a bottle and immerse yourself in the floral imagery of Shakespeare?

So synonymous with flowers is Shakespeare, in fact, that seed boxes of Shakespeare’s Flowers are now available from Shakespeare’s Globe shop, where you can choose from ‘…the Shakespearean Growbar, containing the seeds of three Shakespearean flowers: heartsease, marigold and columbine. Or the Tudor Herbs Growbar, containing the seeds of three herbs familiar to the Tudors: fennel, lemon balm and winter savory.’

 

Shakespearean Flowers Growbar £12

[Just don’t spray the flowers with the perfume, is all I’m saying. We know how he’d have felt about that.]

 

Written by Suzy Nightingale

 

How to Find Yourself With Fragrance

The theme of our latest issue of The Scented Letter magazine is ‘Fragrance For a New You’, chosen because, we truly believe, perfume allows us to choose who we want to be that day.

It does so invisibly – so you don’t need to don a superhero costume or dye your hair magenta (unless you want to, which we highly encourage!) Instead, perfume seems to work on our psyche, with the ability to both outwardly project our innermost personalities, or to bolster bravado, energy or playfulness we might otherwise struggle to don the mantle of amidst the ongoing daily chaos of our lives.

 

 

 

 

The truth is, since the start of the pandemic we feel, there’s been a seismic shift in the scent world. Many reported wearing more fragrance than ever during lockdown, to travel with their nose, spark scent memories or play with their perfume collection as though it were a dressing-up box. Which, we are here to tell you. it most definitely can be!) And, with many of us still working from home – something our parents would probably never have imagined – so too have we filled those dual-purpose spaces with scented candles and diffusers, as the boom in home fragrance sales proves.

Concurrently, there’s been a more gradual change in the way we wear it: a realisation that the once standard ‘Signature Scent’ was no longer up to the job of reflecting every facet of our characters (or helping mask the more tender bits of our souls on a difficult day). With the wider cultural encouragement to explore what it means to be – uniquely – ourselves, others became more familiar with the concept of layering scents to create their own ‘bespoke’ blends.

So, with the world as your olfactory oyster (though smelling rather more appealing), and with such a plethora of perfumes to choose from; where does one begin the journey to ‘find yourself through fragrance’?

Firstly, you need to get to know what you like, and more than that: how particular perfumes make you feel. Sounds simple, doesn’t it? But so many of us become stuck in a bit of a scented rut, or just don’t know where to start with widening our fragrant horizons. Follow these tips to start your own ‘new you’ scent journey, here…

 

 

Where to Start?

Use our simple Find a Fragrance tool – just type the name of a fragrance you already know and love, and the so-clever algorithm suggests six new scents with similar characters to try, with prices to suit all budgets!

 

 

How to Test?

Your taste in fragrance changes over the years – just as in food preference – and depends on weather, what you’ve eaten recently, your mood and hormones. So, take your time to explore a new scent out of your comfort range.

Spray on a blotter first and come back to it at hourly intervals. Write down your initial thoughts, then re-try a few days (and weeks) later.

Many perfumers trained for more years than a heart surgeon, memorising ingredients by connecting their smell to personal scent memories and images that immediately spring to mind, unbidden.

Smell has no distinct language. If you’re struggling to describe a scent, try likening it to fabric (is it velvety, suede-like, cotton fresh, silken or fluffy?) Perhaps it reminds you of music (played on which instruments? Fast or slow?) Or you might picture a place – imagine the air temperature and scenery it evokes…

Your nose gets used to smelling the same things, so avoid wearing the same thing daily. Try layering to re-awaken your senses or branch out with exciting new discoveries!

Like all artists, perfumers tend to have a certain style. If you fall in love with one (we’re predicting several) of these, research them online: we bet you’ll fall for others.

Scent molecules are volatile and evaporate at differing rates. Citruses are lightest, often found in top notes and disappearing rapidly; florals tend to be in the heart while base notes are heavier, woody or resinous. Make these stages last FAR longer by using matching or unscented body lotion, spray into your hair or on clothes (after testing on tissue!)

Undecided? Spray on a scarf rather than skin: you can take it off and sniff again, later! Spraying on fabric (or your hair) also helps make it last far longer as the molecules don’t warm up so quickly (or evaporate) as on skin. As does…

Use an unscented (or matching) body lotion or oil. Fragrance doesn’t last long on dry skin (or in hot climates). It clings far longer to moisturised skin – so slather up, then spray.

Fragrance samples are THE best way to try new things, dive nose-first into a whole new house you’ve never tried or perhaps a differing perfume family than you’d normally go for.

 

 

 

 

Where to Get Samples?

The best idea is to get a Discovery Box of fabulous mini sizes and samples from a wide range of luxury, niche and top-end designer fragrance houses. That way you can start exploring and trying them all in the comfort of your own home, before you splash out on a full size. This way, you also get to try things you may never have picked up to try in store (indeed, may never have heard of previously!) and have proper time to try on your skin.

 

 

Want to Explore More…?

Brand Boxes are the way forward. You may know you like one scent from a particular house, and are ready to be a bit braver and see what else they do. It’s a fantastic leaping-off point, actually, as many houses offer differing styles of scents while still retaining a kind of olfactory handwriting – the same way an artist will have a certain look to their work you can recognise, or a clothing designer tends to work with shapes or tones that suit you. So, when you’ve found one you love, do explore the rest in their collection (and obvs samples are the best way to do this without breaking the bank).

 

 

Our Biggest Tip?

Give fragrance TIME. Let it settle. Try it several times (in the morning and /or evening, and when you’re in differing moods, if possible). How we’re feeling, the weather, our hormones and even the food we ate recently all have a huge effect on how scents smell on our skin. Plus, being braver can take time, too. Allow yourself the pleasure of exploration, take notes, compare with friends: have FUN finding yourself with fragrance, while finding a new fragrance for you.

You may surprise yourself with what you end up falling madly for. You know, the one that goes beyond merely smelling nice to that eyes rolling back in your head moment, emitting guttural noises of pleasure at, which people stop you in the street and beg to know the name of.

Oh. You don’t know that one? Well, you’ve just not found it yet! It’s out there. Waiting for you… whomever you feel like being today, tomorrow, and next week.

 

Written by Suzy Nightingale

Are Scents Really ‘Seasonal’?

What are the right scents to wear for each season – and do they actually change on your skin during the year, or is it only how you perceive them…?

Well, have you noticed your favourite fragrance can smell different sometimes?

The fact is, all aromatic molecules need an amount of heat (usually from your skin) to work. The temperature of your skin and the air dramatically alter the rate at which the molecules evaporate and dissipate, and this then changes the way the perfume smells – to you, and others around you.

Because of this, many of us prefer to wear lighter, brighter fragrances in warmer months and swap for something cosier as the temperature drops, but is it really true you should only wear (for example) citrus / fresh fragrances in summer?

One of the things to consider when choosing a fragrance is the weather – both when you’re trying it, and when you want to actually be wearing it, because it DOES change how you perceive a perfume, and how it performs on your skin.

Hot weather intensifies the fragrance notes and makes them ‘bloom’ on the skin more quickly – when molecules heat up, they evaporate more quickly.

Colder weather slows down the evaporation rate (so top and heart notes last much longer) and you might find your scent doesn’t project as much in the winter.

But sometimes it’s not even about how they last on your skin – it’s the feeling particular fragrances evoke. So, just as you wouldn’t wear a heavy jumper in the summer, wearing a fragrance that makes you think of cashmere or velvet and roaring log fires on a sweltering day can just feel… wrong.

Having said all that – there are many cultures and people who actively prefer to ‘lean into the heat’, and wear perfumes which swathe the skin in billowing woods, sizzling spices and sticky resins at the height of summer, or perhaps choose cooler, Cologne style scents in winter; and that’s fine, too. It all comes down to personal taste, of course, but it’s true that because of temperature and humidity, scents can certainly feel right for one season and completely wrong for another.

We know it can be confusing, so with the weather in mind, we put together a specially curated selection of fragrances in a Seasonal Scents Subscription Box

How it works:

Pick your Quarterly or Yearly plan

Seasonal Scents Subscription choose plan

Discover new launches and bestsellers from well-loved brands, curated with the seasons in mind.

 

Arrives at your door for the new Season

Seasonal Scents Subscription delivery

Receive your seasonal box every 3 months and start smelling fabulous.

Get exclusive access to the online smelling notes and unboxing video.

 

Containing hand-picked fabulous fragrances, mainly female and unisex scents, from globally adored leading brands (sometimes also including the most adorable miniatures) will land at your door each passing season (approximately every three months) – so you will always have a new scent to try that’s just right for the time of year!

Seasonal Scents Subscription is

Quarterly Subscription £18 for a single box, super flexible rolling contract.

You will be charged every three months, but the subscription can be cancelled at any time up to 48 hours before the launch dates for future boxes (see below). OR you can opt for £68 for a Yearly Subscription – a great saving on all four boxes.

Only available in the UK. Postal charges are usually free but may be incurred at checkout depending on your postcode. We are currently unable to offer this subscription to Northern Ireland, the Scottish Highlands, or any offshore islands of the UK. If in doubt please contact us for advice at The Perfume Society  before ordering.

Launch dates 2023:

Spring – March 2023
Summer – June 2023
Autumn – September 2023
Winter –  December 2023

Read below to discover all the fabulous things this subscription includes…

We’re currently welcoming Spring with scents that echo the joyful sight of buds and blossom, while Summer is a chance to revel in the bliss of bright, luminescent fragrances. For Autumn, we sashay forth in fashion-forward, more sensual scents and in Winter we get our cosy on with scents you’ll want to snuggle into.

 

 

Each Seasonal Scents Box Includes:

Seasonal Fragrances  – A collection of fragrances from 1ml – 7ml, these will be kept secret until each Seasonal Scents Box is launched, we just love the element of surprise!

Online Smelling Notes – accessible via a QR code within your box, guiding you through the fragrances and how to start smelling.

Unboxing Video –  also via the QR code, for every box our Head Fragrance Writer Suzy Nightingale will guide you when opening your new box.

Hints & Tips – to ensure you get the most out of your fragrances and have fun!

So now, why not consider changing up your seasonal scent wardrobe and getting a perfumed treat delivered to your door?

Perfume Bottles Auction 2023: The world’s most fabulous flaçons… could be yours!

Set your alarms right now, because on Friday April 28, starting at 4pm Eastern Time in America, the 35th annual Perfume Bottles Auction will conduct its live online auction – with bidders around the world logging in to try their luck at owning some of the world’s most exceptional perfume bottles.

Here, we take a sneak peek at the fabulous catalogue ahead of the sale, to show you some of our favourites, and we’ll be catching up with how the sale went in the next issue of The Scented Letter magazine, so stay tuned…

Since 1979, organiser and founder of The Perfume Bottles Auction, Ken Leach, has been working ‘to create public and corporate awareness of the artistry to be found in vintage perfume presentation.’ His antique shop’s show-stopping merchandise ‘has served as a source of inspiration for glass companies, package designers, and celebrity perfumers, before ultimately entering the collections of perfume bottle enthusiasts around the globe.’

With unparalleled access to private collections and never before seen pieces, the yearly auction garners huge excitement in the fragrance world. Some truly rare and exquisite items will doubtless only be in the reach of serious collectors, but other pieces can be obtainable prices – it all depends how many other people are lusting after the same bottle, of course!

Each year, we look forward to our friends at the Perfume Bottles Auction  their catalogue with us (which is a feast for the eyes in itself, as well as encompassing a huge amount of important history behind the bottles and fragrances); and we swear each year’s collection is even better than the last!

So, what does the 2023 Perfume Bottles Auction stash have in store for us? Let’s take a look at just some of our personal highlights…

 

This ‘Extraordinary 1934 Parfums de Burmann Pleine Lune sur le Nil (Full Moon on the Nile) black crystal Egyptian Revival perfume bottle’, was presented ‘in conjunction with the launching of the newly established Burmann perfume company and shop on the Champs Elysees. However, both the perfume and the bottle proved to be too expensive to produce, and this ambitious project was not pursued.’ Estimated to achieve $30,000$40,000, and being so rare; no wonder it’s the catalogue’s cover-star.

 

 

This dazzling piece is a 1946 Salvador Dali design, produced by Baccarat (no 798) for Elsa Schiaparelli Le Roy Soleil (The Sun King), and ‘The Duchess of Windsor having been one of the first to receive one, wrote to Schiaparelli: “It is really the most beautiful bottle ever made, and the Roy Soleil is a very lasting and sweet gentleman. I cannot tell you how I appreciate your giving me such a handsome present which has displaced the Duke’s photograph on the coiffeuse!” Schiaparelli wrote in her autobiography that it was “…too expensive and too sophisticated for the general public, but…not destined to die.”‘ (Estimate $10,000$12,000)

 

 

We’ve seen photos of this extraordinary bottle circulating online previously, those versions often in less than pristine condition, while this piece is immaculate and has so much for information to go with it. It’s a ‘1925 De Marcy L’Orange trompe l’oeil presentation, simulates a halved orange, glazed ceramic bowl holding eight orange segments in a metal frame, blown glass perfume bottles in perfect condition.’ Which of the fragrances would you have loved to smell first? Each segment held one Chypre, Ambre, Rose, Héliotrope, Jasmin, Muguet, Mimosa and Violette. (Personally, we’d have been at the Chypre and Ambre.) Estimate $800$1,000, it’s sure to prove a-peeling [sorry!]

 

 

We’re loving the side-eye this cheeky minx is serving in the ‘1925 Favoly’s La Poupee Parisienne presentation for Chypre hand painted blown glass perfume bottle, metallic thread bow.’ Estimated $200$400, she could be coming home to party with your perfume collection if you’re lucky. (And obvs she was a Chypre gal – with that expression, what else?)

 

 

This French ‘1920s Hetra for Elesbe Le Papillon Embaume butterfly‘ bottle was made for a  presentation of Oeillet (Carnation) scent. Completely darling, and we don’t know if we’d rather display it or run around giddily playing with while whooping with joy [don’t worry Perfume Bottles Auction pals, we wouldn’t really play with it. Much.] Estimated $600$800, enthusiasts should get their nets at the ready.

 

 

The work on this ‘Sea Weeds’ model bottle is quite breathtaking, and it’s a ‘1925 Andre Jollivet design, produced by La Verrerie de la Nesle Normandeuse for Volnay Yapana clear glass perfume bottle, deeply molded front and reverse, blue patina, inner stopper, silvered metal cap, embossed label on side. Some of the bottles truly are art pieces in their own right, and this one certainly belongs in that category. $2,000$4,000

 

 

Well now, this is irresistible, isn’t it? A ‘1944 Elizabeth Arden music box presentation for On dit (They say) clear/ frost glass bottle and cover, with inner stopper, sealed with perfume, as two ladies, their heads touching, one whispering a secret to the other…’ And what is the gossip, we wonder?! With panels of the box showing various high society social scenes, where no doubt the cause of the chin-wagging occurred, this is a delightful, whimsical piece we could stare at for hours.

 

There are SO many more we love, but to show them all would be to basically reproduce the entire catalogue, so why not go and have a browse (and gasp) for yourself? If something particularly takes your fancy, you can register for the 2023 Perfume Bottles Auction online: the instructions for bidding are all there, and if you have questions you can ask those via their website, too. Now then, which one(s) would you most like to own…?

[Our feature image for this article is the ‘1924 Julien Viard design, manufactured by Depinoix Glassworks for Bonwit Teller & Co, Paris Venez avec Moi (Come with Me). Estimated $4,000$6,000. Utterly beguiling, non?]

 

Written by Suzy Nightingale

Map of the Heart – an Abundance of Creativity

In the recent Esxence fragrance fair in Milan, one of the highlights was smelling the aptly-named Abundance – a new fragrance by Australian perfume house, Map of the Heart.

We’ve long been huge fans of this always-artistic fragrance house, and love the way their scents imbue a sense of the landscapes they are inspired by. Indeed, many of the ingredients are indigenous to Australia and brilliant perfumer Jacques Huclier collaborated with Amelie Jacquin for this latest launch.

For V.8 Abundance, the verdancy and freshness billows forth from the first spritz – it was composed during Lockdown in Australia, so co-founder Sarah explained to us, and was borne of a sense of longing for nature and wildness that we all seemed to experience, no matter where we were based in the world.

 

 

Bitter orange fizzes with pops of pink pepper, a mellow drift of incense on the breeze suggesting adventure, exploration. The intriguing note of Christmas Tree or ‘Flame Tree’ is in the heart, but cast aside thoughts of yuletide celebrations and instead think of wide open vistas clustered by vast forests, shady places, an ancient place of sanctuary. As with all Map of the Heart fragrances, seams of Australian Sandalwood ripple throughout, here, joined by White Sandalwood, deep rivulets of Akigalawood and resinous benzoin, adding to the sacred nature of the scent as it warms on your skin.

This is a sneak-peek, because Abundance isn’t yet available on their website, but you may be sure when it is, there will be a rush of fragrant fans clamouring to own it – either in the heart bottles which made them so famous (and look for all the world as though they belong in an art gallery); or the more conventional bottles they now also produce.

Intrigued? You should be! We are thrilled to say the Map of the Heart Discovery Sets are now back in stock in our shop, and there you may try the rest of the collection to date. The only questions is where will you begin your Map of the Heart journey…?

Clear Heart v.1 – Australian summer: surfing, swimming, hot days, cool breezes and the salt that hangs in the air promising more.

Black Heart v.2 – Smoky. Impolite. Dangerous. It’s smoky heart of mysterious spices is shot through with shards of fresh eucalyptus and citrus to create an impolite mix of opposites.

Red Heart v.3 – Explosive. Seductive. Addictive. A composition of feijoa, tuberose and spices with sensual notes of musk and vanilla.

Gold Heart v.4 – Nurturing. Precious. Ancient. An exotic warm breeze that wraps around to protect and nurture.

Purple Heart v.5 – Brave. Instinctive. Triumphant. Inverying the olfactory pyramid by opening darker and then brightening

Pink Heart v.6 – Mingles on the skin with the spiciness of the sumac accord and cistus absolute for a mesmerising ride.

White Heart v.7 – The ethereal and sharp opening of French lavender, aldehyde and cardamom coolly invite us into the vast landscape of love.

Map of the Heart Discovery Set £35 for 7 x 1ml samples eau de parfum

Written by Suzy Nightingale

Chocolate Fragrances for Every Taste

Chocolate fragrances tend to garner two responses if you mention them: untrammelled delight bordering on lust, or shudders of utter disgust.

Love or loathe this niche section of gourmand ‘foodie’ inspired fragrances, we can assure you that not all scents with chocolate as a note are overtly sweet (indeed some are dark, mysterious compositions you might not recognise the note in unless you were told). Don’t believe us? Here we present a selection box of chocolate perfumes with truly something for every taste…

 

 

 

 

Tempting as it is to eat an entire batch of artisan chocolates, here’s a way to inhale them for longer. Made for a friend of the perfumer and founder, Sarah McCartney, who actually lived above a chocolate shop, melt into a tempting melange of ‘…cocoa butter, 100% cacao, a dash of coffee, hazelnut extract and a drop of vanilla absolute form this most realistic of posh chocolate scents that sits gently on a soft carpet of musks.’ Divine!

4160 Tuesdays Over the Chocolate Shop £100 for 50ml eau de parfum
In our Shop

 

 

 

 

Inspired by Mugler‘s childhood memories of fairground smells, this dark chocolate, candy floss, caramel concoction was groundbreaking when first launched in 1992 – often cited as the first true ‘gourmand’ – and retains that power to this very day. Once sniffed, never forgotten, it’s the much copied mixture of berries and patchouli that cuts through the sweetness and swaggers onwards for hours, years, miles…

Thierry Mugler Angel £65 for 25ml eau de parfum
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‘Why be a star when you can be a legend?’ asks the always artistic, eternally glamorous Sarah Baker, introducing perfumer Chris Maurice’s enticing composition for her house. Balancing bergamot’s brightness with the honeyed headiness of orange blossom, petitgrain pierces through the sweet swirl of butterscotch and dusting of sinfully dark chocolate. Cradled in Laos oudh, Suyufi agarwood and amber, it’s the ’24 Karat glow’ of celebrity’s golden age, made manifest.

Sarah Baker Gold Spot £145 for 50ml extrait de parfum
In our Shop

 

 

 

 

If you have ever experienced lifting the gilded lid of a beautifully packaged box of Charbonnel et Walker‘s Sea Salt Caramel Truffles, you’ll recognise perfumer Julie Massé photo-realistic longer-lasting fragrant interpretation of the addictive cocoa confection. Caramel and bourbon vanilla rock on the precipice of sweetness before being dashed through with a hint of freshly-hewn sandalwood and an ultra-intriguing definite note of the salt crystals to set your taste buds salivating.

Shay & Blue Salt Caramel £25 for 10ml eau de parfum
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Here is Dior perfumer-creator François Demachy’s ‘ode to vanilla’, which from the initial sparkle of orange to the swoon of that sticky, dark pod’s scent, does not disappoint. Like wearing an amber cloak of silk velvet, texturally cosy with a glamorous, golden sheen, with undulating seams of rum, dark chocolate and patchouli throughout. Apparently inspired by an off-menu dessert created for Demachy by Parisian restaurant Maxim’s, we’re going to need a bigger spoon…

Dior La Collection Privée Vanilla Diorama £99 for 40ml eau de parfum
dior.com

Written by Suzy Nightingale

The first gourmand: Brillat-Savarin – an 18th Century chemist who knew you are what you eat (and smell!)

Long before ‘gourmand’ foodie-inspired fragrances were even dreamed of and while smell was still perceived as the poor cousin of our other senses; one 18th Century polymath was championing the exquisite pleasures that taste and smell bring to everyday life. And more than mere pleasure alone: in fact, he heralded the proper appreciation and scientific study of these so-neglected senses…

‘Tell me what you eat and I will tell you what you are.’ So said Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, 1755-1826, a French lawyer and politician whom, apart from law, studied chemistry and medicine, and eventually gained fame as an epicure and gastronome.

His seminal work Physiologie du goût (The Physiology of Taste), contains Savarin’s philosophies and observations on the pleasures of the food, which he very much considered a science – long before the birth of molecular gastronomy and serious studies of taste and smell had begun.

And smell was very much at the forefront of the gastronomique experience, Savarin had worked out; exclaiming: ‘Smell and taste are in fact but a single composite sense, whose laboratory is the mouth and its chimney the nose.’

 

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Previously considered the least important of the senses – indeed, smell remains the least scientifically explored, though technology is making huge leaps in our understanding – Savarin proclaimed that, ’The sense of smell, like a faithful counsellor, foretells its character.’

Published only two months before his death, the book has never been out of print and still proves inspirational to chefs and food-lovers to this day. Indeed, he understood that taste and smell must work together in harmony for full satisfaction of the senses, Savarin observed that ‘Smell and taste are in fact but a single composite sense, whose laboratory is the mouth and its chimney the nose.’

 

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Preceding the remarkable leaps in knowledge high-tech equipment has allowed and revealing how entwined our sense of smell is to the taste and enjoyment of food, Savarin also observed how our noses protect us from eating potentially harmful substances, explaining ‘…for unknown foods, the nose acts always as a sentinal and cries: “Who goes there?”‘ while coming to the conclusion that a person’s character may be foretold in their taste and smell preferences… ‘Tell me what you eat and I will tell you what you are.’

 

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We once devoted an entire issue of our award-winning magazine The Scented Letter to taste and smell – as of course we are gourmand fans in ALL the senses. And so it is heartening to know that Brillat was on our side here, with this extremely useful advice we selflessly pledge to carry through life:

‘Those who have been too long at their labor, who have drunk too long at the cup of voluptuousness, who feel they have become temporarily inhumane, who are tormented by their families, who find life sad and love ephemeral… they should all eat chocolate and they will be comforted.’

 

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Wise words, indeed. We plan to enjoy all the sweet temptations that come our way, in scent form and in chocolate. Talk about having your cake and wearing it, too!

Written by Suzy Nightingale

Easter Egg Hunt to WIN Atelier Materi Cacao Porcelana, worth £210!

We’ve set a fragrantly themed trail of clues to lead you around our website – simply follow your noses, find the hidden easter eggs and in our fragrant prize draw, one lucky person will WIN a bottle of Atelier Materi Cacao Porcelana, worth £210!

 

 

 

 

Cacao Porcelana is an incredible, ultra-chic gourmand scent – it’s chocolate, but NOT as your nose thinks it knows it. If you don’t think you’re one for gourmand creations, be prepared to have everything you think you know about chocolate turned on its head when Cacao Porcelana reveals the bitterness of the beans, rippled with rum and swathed in rings of tobacco…

White cacao beans are a rare ancestral variety of cacao also known as the ‘Nectar of the Gods’. The beans are removed from the pods, fermented, then sun-dried and roasted. White cacao yields sensuous notes of walnut and milk with hints of tonka bean.

After opening on sweet, syrupy top notes, Atelier Materi’s Cacao Porcelana unpacks its bitterness, sustained by powdery and woody notes. Light tobacco, patchouli and sandalwood scents give Cacao Porcelana a sensual, even fleshy signature.

 

We are sure you’ll fall hard for this delicious scent – surely the chicest way to enjoy chocolate, ever?! Here’s how you could be in with a chance of smelling delectable this Easter…

How to hunt: Simply read the scent-themed clues and set off in search for all the colourful eggs pictured below (FIVE in total) scattered across our website, then enter your details and answers telling us the location of each egg below. We will only contact you by phone if you are a winner.

One winner will be chosen –  due to postal restrictions, only entries from U.K. residents, sorry!

Closing date: Sunday 9th April 2023 at midnight.

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Fragrant clues to egg hiding places around our website:

1 – Brush up on your history to this ‘sweetest smelling king of all’…

2 – This Working Nose‘s first scent memory is of cakes that ‘…smelled like Anis and Vanilla, made by the Carmelite nuns in my town.’ (He’s famous for creating some of the world’s most-known scents, and now has his own house, Mizensir).

3 – This ingredient is found in Cacao Porcelana – an unexpected soft smokiness adding to its sensuality?

4 – This Fragrance Family is the most recent, including the note of chocolate, these ‘foodie’ fragrances smell almost edible!

5 – Reading this book (originally developed for people who’ve lost their sense of smell / taste due to Covid) will have you drooling…

We wish you all a very happy Easter, and good luck!

Terms & Conditions: No cash alternative to the prize will be offered. The prize is not transferable. Only entries accepted from U.K. residents, prize cannot be posted elsewhere. Closing date for entry is midnight 09/04/2023. After this date no further entries to the prize draw will be accepted.

 

April Fool’s Scents? Actually… these are all REAL!

Sometimes we receive news of fragrance launches that makes us ask if it’s April Fool’s Day – but did you know that many companies have actually created fragrances inspired by anything and everything from fast-food brands and Stilton cheese to Captain Birds Eye fish fingers? (Yes, really!)

Fragrance is such an individual choice, don’t you think? We all have completely differing reactions to certain notes or combinations – what’s one person’s yum is another’s yuck, and that can be based on anything from childhood memories and cultural or long-buried associations to the simple fact of personal preference. What’s more, there are scents that may remind us of favourite foods or sweet treats we enjoy – hence the Gourmand family of fragrances have held sway since the 90s.

It would take the concept of ‘niche’ to a whole new level, however, for fragrance fans to actively seek out scents that smell of fried chicken, pizzas and sprouts – no matter how much we might love munching them. Well… you’d think so, wouldn’t you? But increasingly, brands are latching on to the power of perfume to promote their products. Though these might be novelty scents, they did actually sell!

Have YOU tried any of these, or purchased one as a joke gift for a friend…?

 

 

Birds Eye recently offered consumers the chance to win a limited edition eau de toilette inspired by Captain Birdseye himself – played by Italian-born actor and seafarer Riccardo Acerbi, who was unveiled at the start of 2018 as part of an £8m marketing campaign for the brand. ‘We know the British public have a soft spot for our captain,’ explained Birds Eye spokeswoman Annalisa Fanali, and so they gave him his own signature scent, ‘inspired by the hypnotic and evocative power of the high seas.’

Named Ahoy! the fragrance promises top notes of grapefruit and mandarin with patchouli, thankfully nothing fishy to smell here. Fifty bottles of the scent were up for grabs in the competition, which ran on Birds Eye’s Facebook page in the run-up to Christmas. If you weren’t a lucky winner, one imagines you wont be able to pop down the shops and pick yourself up a bottle in the immediate future, which is a shame because it sounded rather appealing. Unlike some of the previous novelty fragrances, below…

 

 

In 2012, having revolutionised the pizza world with stuffed crusts, the fragrance world was perhaps not ready for Pizza Hut Perfume. What began as a joke on their Facebook page escalated to an actual scent being created, which they temptingly described as ‘boasting top notes of freshly baked, hand-tossed dough.’ The limited edition perfume was designed to commemorate Pizza Hut Canada, and only 110 bottles were produced and shared with fans. ‘Will we be seeing Pizza Hut perfume in department stores any time soon?’ their press release asked. ‘Only time will tell.’ Spoilers: nope.

 

 

Currently showcasing their vegan-friendly range, those missing their whiff of something meatier were recently offered a unique opportunity to ‘fill your home with the scent of Gravy’ in a KFC Candle. Another limited edition (no, really?) candles were limited to only 230 editions and again, used as a competition prize on social media. We cannot comment on the authenticity of the gravy scent, sadly, but certainly the wax colour looks… somewhat disturbingly… realistic.

 

 

Now this will raise eyebrows (or twitch nostrils), but I don’t think this next one’s as crazy as it perhaps sounds. Eau de Stilton was launched to promote the cheese as part of a marketing campaign all the way back in 2006, and apart from genuinely loving the bottle design, while the sound of a blue cheese-inspired scent might seem off-putting, I think certain undiluted jasmine oils smell like strong cheese – due to the huge amounts of ‘indoles’ found in the aromatic molecules, which to some noses even smells sightly fecal. It goes to show, it depends how something is described before we actually smell it. I’d have given this one a go!

 

 

Those fast-food chains really love their fragrances, it seems, because in 2015 we saw Japan promoting a Whopper-scented Burger King Perfume. Alas only available for one day, reportedly, it’s another meaty scent I cannot report first hand (or nose) on, and I will have to try and get over the huge disappointment of that, somehow. And, championing the love of the great gastronomic institution that is the Full English Breakfast, one fragrance garnered headlines around the world when they launched a perfume based on the aroma. Meatier still, popular meat-based snack company, Peperami, once released a spray ‘Puperami’ that, it claimed, would unite lost dogs with their owners. A case of ‘we’ll meat again’, maybe?

 

 

But it’s not only food products that are the inspiration behind novelty scents: In 2021, Richard Branson launched not only a new cruise-liner, but a scent to go with it, called No.1 Ship (and with the tagline, ‘It smells like ship!’ showing his tongue was firmly in his cheek. Perhaps we might place our final novelty fragrance example in the same bracket _ a whole set of scents based on… condoms. Yes. Just when you think you’ve seen (and smelled) it all.

 

 

While the majority (if not all) of these are novelty items – released in strictly limited editions to create a media buzz around the brand – it’s an interesting concept that engages us in a different way, and the fragrances will still have been created by a perfumer working to a brief (albeit rather more bizarre than they are used to!) Of course those highlighted above are to be taken with a pinch of salt (and vinegar, as far as the captain’s concerned), but it will be fascinating to see if any other brands pick up on the perfume buzz and create their own ‘scent of’.

What would you like to see (and smell) next…?

Written by Suzy Nightingale