The secret of scent: What happens at the Experimental Perfume Club?

On a drizzly day in January, we went to a fragrant haven nestled in Dalston, called The Experimental Perfume Club, to have a try a blending our own scent.

When we first found out about the EPC, we were very intrigued as their aim is to ‘educate, inspire and create all things perfume’ – which, at the Perfume Society, we’re great fans of. Educating and inspiring people with scent are two main goals at the very core of the Perfume Society. So, of course, we had to try it out for ourselves.

Trained at the perfumery school of ISPICA, Emmanuelle Moeglin worked as a Scent Design Manager for global fragrance brands, alongside some of the biggest perfumers in the world, and now works as an independent perfumer in London. In 2015, wanting to open fragrance up to the consumer and demistify the world of perfumery, she started the Experimental Perfume Club.

Choosing some of the most enjoyable elements of her training, she developed workshops to help people understand scent better. Exploring the smells of individual ingredients, harmonious combinations, understanding both the magic and the science of fusing scents.

Her passion for perfumery shines through, throughout the short course. It’s clear she enjoys what she does so much, sharing the wonders of fragrance with the public.

At the beginning Emmanuelle disclaims that you will not produce a perfume that is IFRA regulated (this would take A LOT longer to do and be a far more expensive process), but that the formula will be your own intellectual property, free to wear and refill with the EPC anytime.

You get to experiment with 25 different ingredients (the Advanced Course is 40) – which ranges families without getting too complex. Making your way through smelling each of the ingredients, citruses, florals, woods, you’re prompted to write the first things that come into your head, without trying to identify what the actual smell is (a task we often use in our own How To Improve Your Sense of Smell workshops). Lemon; bright, clinical, sparkly, sharp. Cashmeran; soft, downy, comforting, enveloping.

Then you’ll think about what you want your fragrance to convey, the inspiration, the name. After selecting ingredients you want to use, Emmanuelle guides you in creating a formula, and then you get to work, measuring and weighing, and sniffing as you go.

We came away with a scent we named, ‘My Girl’, an ethereal, dream-like floral with green tinges and sparkling citruses. A blend of cassis, neroli, rose and sandalwood that encapsulates the childish memories of running through woodlands, picking flowers – clean clothes getting dirty. And we love it.

Another great thing about the workshop? You get to ask all the other guests about their ideas, what they aim to capture through their scents, and smell their end creations, which is utterly fascinating.

And fingers crossed you’ll come away with a scent you’ll adore (Emmanuelle says nobody has left unhappy so far). Albeit it may not be the most complex scent – simply through not having the vast range of ingredients (and knowledge) most perfumers do – it’ll be your very own creation, which has never felt cooler.

A tiny window into the world of perfumery, that so few know. And we have to say, coming away from it, we’ve never had more respect for the perfumers who blend and create so masterfully, just two and a half hours of sniffing away and we’re, quite frankly, knackered!

Written by Carson Parkin-Fairley 

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