Lucy Akhurst, founder of British niche fragrance house La Maison Hédonique, says she’s ‘long catalogued the scents in my life’, viewing them as ‘the essential elements in my own personal time machine.’ Now, wonderfully, she bottles them for us as stories told through scent…
Imagine being able to capture scented memories that have shaped your life – not simply to enjoy whenever you wish, but to share and communicate with others, forever. Always fascinated by how different smells could transport her to different worlds – ‘the smell of my father’s workshop, his new car, the flowers in my mother’s garden’ – The Perfume Society knew from the moment we first met Lucy that she was a woman driven as she is by an understanding of the true power that fragrance holds.
‘I know of no other sense that has the power to transport you than smell,’ she says. ‘It never ceases to astonish me that something on the air can arrest you and instantly take you to such a vivid place in your memory.’
Yearning to wear something that talked directly to her own memories, Lucy began her fragrant journey with La Maison Hédonique while searching for something that spoke to her heart. After all, she explains, ‘your nose remembers more than your head; it jogs the memories of your soul. A scent caught on the breeze can make your heart expand with happiness or contract with sudden sorrow.’
Having already established herself as a distinguished actress, director, producer and voiceover artist, Lucy was constantly looking for perfumes that didn’t merely smell pleasant – but something that connected more deeply, that moment when a scent goes beyond ‘nice’ to feeling like a bell has been rung within your soul. And for that, Lucy realised, there was nothing else for it but to learn how to create them herself.
With only with a simple kit from Olfactik, in March 2016 Lucy set about creating a fragrance for her husband. ‘I felt I had a story to tell through scent,’ she says, describing how she wanted, specifically, to recreate the feeling of an anniversary weekend they’d spent together at their romantically bijou apartment in Paris.
The process took a while, but she knew she’d rung that bell when she saw ‘the look on his face when he smelled it for the first time.’ That look, that deep connection made through fragrance, she recalls, ‘suddenly made all the hard work worthwhile. In his mind, he was back sitting in bed with a coffee and a croissant looking out of the window at the warm spring sunshine in our favourite city. He had finished the journey I had begun.’
We can now share in that perfect memory ourselves, for that fragrance is Samedi À Paris. Think: crisp cotton sheets, warm, just-showered skin and roasted coffee beans sit atop a snuggle of warm amber and the sexy hay-like muskiness of the base.
Emboldened by this success, and investing in ‘the best raw materials money could buy, from Hermitage Oils’, Lucy went on to create further fragrances with tales to tell. So Cerf Blanc is ‘a very long evening (that turned into a morning) in Soho with an international rock band’ – all wood-panelled gentlemen’s club with whisky, leather and smoke – while Comme Un Loup veritably snarls with animalistic seduction amidst lusciously spiced roses.
Apēro, meanwhile, conjures sipping a Negroni in the Golden Age of the Côte d’Azur – bitter orange, an herbaceous heart and soft tobacco as a dark-eyed Italian, Lucy imagines, ‘looks straight at you and lights a cigarette.’ But these stories aren’t finished. They, need you to complete the circle. ‘Each scent I create is deeply personal. I view them, however, as merely he beginning of a journey. It is for the wearer to complete it and join me in my world in whichever way they want.
So: think of the stories written here simply as points of departure. Because, believes Lucy: ‘It’s up to you to continue them and write your own tales of love, desire and fantasy. Open the bottle, breathe in the scent and embark on your adventure.’
Now the only question is, which particular scented story do you want to explore for yourself, today…?