As human beings, we yearn for connection and the pull of scent connects us on a deep level. It’s probably the reason you’re here, reading this now. Our sense of smell is one of the most primal, yet mysterious of all the senses. Much as the science of scent is advancing, we don’t quite understand the subtleties of our olfactive receptor cells (do they work by vibration, recognition, both?) There is no doubt though that a beautiful scent can spark joy by bringing us into the moment; creating and re-connecting us to good times; giving us a lift when we need it most. We all have our own fragrance blueprint – an intertwined, complex and personal stream of subconscious emotional memories which shape our preferences. I can pinpoint my first scent wearing memory back to around 1978 when I was 13/14 years old. I was an avid reader of Honey magazine, enticed by the Charlie fragrance ads featuring Shelley Hack, 70s super model of the day, beaming smile, glossy hair, striding confidently in masculine/feminine trouser suit and heels. Soundtrack: Le Freak by Chic. This was the era of the green Chypre – which then led me to Chanel 19 – and, most recently, to the surprising Frederic Malle Synthetic Jungle. Of course, there have been many in between including Prescriptives Calyx; a 90’s delve into musks of Donna Karan Cashmere Mist; Keihl’s Musk Oil and the natural rose and sandalwood of Aveda Love Oil. And, in the past couple of decades: Francis Kurkdjian Acqua Universalis, Byredo Gypsy Water, Hermes Poivre Samarcande, Chanel 28 La Pausa. They all remain in my cupboard for those Proustian moments to just take a whiff and take me back.
Throughout 20 years plus as a beauty and health director on glossy magazines, there came a point where I needed to slow down. I fell deeply into meditation and yoga, and as I did so, my mind began to clear and it felt natural to take a scent sabbatical. My travels took me on a path of self-discovery, to silent retreats, hours of yoga in the Himalayas, a sojourn in Bali immersing in meditation. Once I began sharing the teachings I’d learned, something surprising happened – I found less of a need for new all the time, and I simplified my beauty routine. Pre-pandemic, it felt that we had reached a nadir in the industry. That the number of launches had become overwhelming. Things are different now. There’s a move towards the more sustainable, the natural, creative craftsmanship and quality over quantity. It’s time to fully appreciate the luxury of wearing fragrance in the way we want, whatever the label or the price tag. In this regular column, I’ll focus on mindful/mood news and innovation in the world of aroma. Join me every fortnight as we enjoy deepening our love of perfume together…
* Read my feature Aroma, Ritual and Peace of Mind in the latest issue of Scented Letter (here)
* Join me on YouTube for some meditative stillness and scent (here)
* Look out for the next Scent Seeking column Scents of Stillness online