Did you know that Monday 21st March 2016 is National Fragrance Day…?
We’re celebrating in several ways – look for our #Smellfie campaign, kicking off tomorrow – but we also wanted to share with you a rather wonderful initiative from The Fragrance Foundation. #ScentMemories invites anyone to share their most poignant scent stories – either Facebook, Tweet, or Instagram us your scent using the hashtag #scentmemories and join the conversation.
There’s also a web micro-site where anyone can share longer scent memories – find it here – which is an ongoing project. To support The Fragrance Foundation‘s campaign, we thought we’d kick off by sharing The Perfume Society team’s own #ScentMemories
Jo Fairley, Co-Founder
‘I am two years old. I am looking up at my beloved grandmother (known as ‘Lally’), in her greenhouse. She takes my tiny hand and rubs it on a leaf of rose geranium, encouraging me to smell my fingers. I’m sure my eyes widened, and a smile broke out on my little face as I fell head over heels in love with smells, right there and then. Even now, when I squeeze a geranium leaf, the memory’s so vivid I can actually see the pattern on Lally’s dress. Ditto a whiff of tomato leaves, which she introduced me to on that same sniffing session – little knowing the path it would lead me down.
That greenhouse was a damp, cracked-paned, mossy space attached to the side of her kitchen, from which other glorious smells wafted almost constantly: a massive roast to feed 16 cousins, round-the-clock rock cakes (no sooner baked than eaten), crumble and vanilla-rich custard. I’m pretty sure I have my grandmother to thank for my love of aromas, though strangely I haven’t a clue what perfume she wore.
Later, my father – a globe-trotting journalist who liked to assuage any guilt at ‘abandoning’ his family by bringing home generous gifts from Duty Free – propelled me further down the path to becoming a perfumista, via gifts of Calèche, Calandre, Miss Dior, Dior Eau Fraîche and Chanel No.19: ridiculously sophisticated, for a 13-year-old, but the beginning of a wardrobe I’m still building today. I smell one of those, even now, and I can see my Dad smiling as he hands over his airport swag – always remembering to bring us a Toblerone, too.
And really, who needs a time machine, when you’ve scent in your life…?’
Lorna McKay, Co-Founder
‘Daring , exciting, wild and controversial: yes, the launch of Opium caused international scandal in 1977 but it also epitomised how I felt about coming from a tiny village in Scotland to the city of opportunities and excitement… London.
My mother probably thought when I started wearing this “drug” perfume there was no hope for me. I, on the other hand, felt grown-up, daring and full of expectation of my new life working in Harrods – the most glamorous shop I’d ever been in. And I was lucky enough to work there everyday.
Opium packaging was exotic and different, the ad campaign was ground- breaking (and in fact received over 700 complaints, which only made it even more exciting). I LOVED it! The warm, spicy, woody, powdery and smell was so sexy. A spritz of Opium made me feel a lot more grown-up than I really was – and even tody when I smell it I am 22, “living dangerously” in the clubs and of the London scene in the 70s. The memories of fun, dancing and a whole lot more just come flooding back – fabulous and feel-good factor!
My Opium journey was made even more exciting when I met Yves St Laurent as the Harrods Buyer when we launched a loyalty card – I was the first to sign up… Sweet fragrance memories, indeed.’
Suzy Nightingale, Senior Writer
‘My childhood holidays were mainly spent on boats – in France or the Norfolk Broads – and redolent of boat-y smells: my mother’s Ambre Solaire suntan-oil, swampy water, diesel and an all-pervading hint of damp – a heady combination that just spells ‘summer’, for me! Along with the smell of my dad’s ale, baskets of lavender, grassy shores and one memorable occasion of cow’s breath (stuck its head through the boat window and licked my face while I slept).
The strongest memory I have is of the first perfume I ever sniffed on one such holiday – a fragrance marketed at children (quite usual in France) that I’ve long since forgotten the name of. The juice was green, I think it had a plastic leaf top, and it smelled divine. Thinking of it after all these years, I can smell it right now… such is the power of #ScentMemories.
After the lady in the shop sold it to me (all of my pocket money, but she wrapped it very carefully in brown paper and string), I sat with it on the scratchy blanket of my bed, smelling tomato leaves, blackcurrants, shady woods, wet grass and sky – my mind utterly blown by how someone had managed to cram a whole garden – a whole world! – in a small glass bottle that fitted (just) into the palm of my hand. It still blows my mind, to be honest, and led to a lifetime fascination with fragrance I’ve been lucky enough to make a career of.’
‘Damp earth. I spent most of childhood holidays in campsites around the country in the pouring rain. Of course it doesn’t matter at that age; no amount of torrential rain would ever dampen the thrill of meeting new friends and starting a thousand secret societies.
A memory I hold dear is from all those nights in my bunk-bed. We had a VW camper van, Mr. Jones, and the roof would push up with and small bunk-beds would pull out from the sides. Lying there in my sleeping bag, all tucked up and warm, and looking out on the rain at night through the cloudy old plastic window, the smell of damp earth – always present in Mr. Jones, filled my nostrils – and I don’t think I’ve ever felt more content.
Now when I camp I feel satisfied, smelling the earth, hearing the rain patter down, whilst being all wrapped up and warm.’
‘Santa has always left an orange behind for us to wake up to on December 25th, so for as long as I can remember the mouthwateringly citrus scent has spelled Christmas to me, whatever the time of year.
If I close my eyes and inhale its fresh aroma, tasting a tang of peel at the back of my throat, I’m aged six wearing festive pyjamas with the unwrapped contents of that year’s stocking strewn across my bed. My sister is next to me; having already finished a handful of chocolate coins she’s moving on to mine. Entire days of watching classic films with stomachs full of roast meat and trifle flash before me in the most comforting of ways.
All that, from an orange…’