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Harrods’ fragrance hero shares his five favourite smells

Vesa Kalho‘s success story would inspire just about anyone.

15 years ago, this charming Finn began working on the shop floor at Harrods – where he’s risen to the role of Perfumery & Cosmetics Buyer. Today Vesa Kalho is the all-powerful man who decides the destiny of rising star brands, niche names – and fights for the right to exclusives on all the latest blockbusters, which have perfumistas beating a path to the Black Hall, White Hall and, on the Sixth Floor, the Salon de Parfums.

As a result, Harrods has scooped Best Retailer in the Fragrance Foundation Awards for the past two years – and recently, the Salon de Parfums been extended, with new boutiques for Penhaligon’s and Burberry, and more excitement to come.

During his tenure, we’ve had our nostrils delighted by countless exciting perfumes that Vesa has sleuthed out for the Knightsbridge department store. We’re always delighted to bump into him at launches (he gets around almost as much as we did) – and not long ago cornered Vesa as the latest interview in our revealing ‘Five Favourite Smells’ series.

Here’s what pushes his buttons…

1. A mixture of cinnamon and cardamom – those are the spices my mum always used when baking traditional Scandinavian buns. I’m a kid again when I smell those.

2. A sea breeze – living in Helsinki, the sea air is part of life. When I smell the sea, I always think of home – and that first ozonic blast after I land in Helsinki tells me I’ve really arrived. I love how clean it is, at the same time – a sea breeze washes away everything.

3. Freshly-cut lawn – again, this brings back summers spent in the countryside in Finland, outside Helsinki. Another very nostalgic smell. I am starting to sound homesick, which most of the time I’m not – I love living in London!

4. Orris/iris – definitely my favourite perfume ingredient, although I don’t like it on my own skin; it somehow doesn’t work on me, although I might burn an iris candle. But it’s still my No. 1 perfume note and I’m drawn to it very strongly.

5. New leather – I love the smell of leather; when you buy a new bag and open it up, and get that sweet but animals scent. Just wonderful.

Harrods Salon de Parfums, Sixth Floor, Harrods, Knightsbridge, London SW1X 7XL

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