Manos Gerakinis – the first Greek luxury niche perfume house

Manos Gerakinis is, quite incredibly, the first Greek luxury niche perfume house. With fragrances inspired by the history, art and mythology of the country, and radiating the poetry and passion of their founder – we think you’re going to love getting to know them…

Manos had an extremely prestigious career, managing the Harrods luxury department and working with designers such as Valentino, Alexander McQueen and Dolce & Gabbana. His job took him around the world, seeing (and staying in) some of the most opulent places and experiencing the best of the best. A dream come true, right? But something else was pulling at the strings of his heart. From an early age, Manos says he knew that fragrance was important, that ‘…every bottle is more than a mere perfume; it is a living olfactory experience, unique and mysterious.’

Growing up in Kavala, Greece, Manos’ childhood was already infused with the tales and traditions passed down through the generations of his family, who originated from Istanbul. He speaks of being surrounded by ‘the cultivation of saffron, tobacco, labdanum and honey’ and in an interview with the Greek City Times, divulged that his maternal grandmother played a huge role in his life. ‘She was a woman of high standards and aesthetics,’ he says. ‘She introduced me to the French “Savoir-Faire”, classical music and fine arts. I am blessed in a family that provided us with the stimulus to reach our full potential.’ This potential was further encouraged to develop through art – ‘a natural talent for painting together with history, philosophy and culture’.

 

 

Imbued with those fragrant memories and a respect for the ingredients grown and harvested in Greece, and the mythology surrounding many of them, Manos took a perfumed path by learning how to create fragrances – the very first being a signature scent for himself…

‘Creating my own fragrance was always in the back of my mind,’ he explains, ‘and once I was given the opportunity, I grabbed it.’  Delving further into researching and learning the technical side of the fragrance world, ‘My initial goal was to create a powerful scent that was able to captivate anyone in the room. I wanted an alluring scent, mysterious and poetic.’

He began curating a collection of exquisite essential oils and ingredients from around the world, and it took nine months to complete the first fragrance, Sillage Royal – a warm, woody, immediately evocative scent that, perhaps understandably, is the most personally resonant for Manos, being inspired by the picturesque city of Kavala he grew up in. Part of the Egyptian-Otoman Empire for hundreds of years, it became powerful through the production of tobacco, and the rose, saffron and spices further reflect his olfactory heritage, captured in a scented snapshot. Says Manos: ‘During this process I came to realise that I had a talent for creating beautiful scents,’ and buoyed by his success, the collection inevitably grew.

Rose Poetique is the first Manos Gerakinis fragrance I had the pleasure of experiencing myself. It’s a stunning evocation of the Damask rose, which the Greek poet Sappho described as ‘the pride of plants, and queen of flowers.’ This is a rose that drapes the skin as velvet does, relecting the texture of the petals themselves. It billows from the tart, fruitier aspect of the flower with rhubarb up top, to the resinous, romantic depths of the base – beautifully balanced with smooth labdanum, cashmere wood and vanilla. One for all rose-lovers to add their collection, for sure.

 

 

There are currently seven fragrances to explore in the collection – which you can read about on our new page dedicated to Manos Gerakinis Parfums – from delicate sophistication to swaggering sensuality, simplicity to extravagance. At every stage your senses will be enthralled, and as you explore, you’ll feel Manos’ ethos reverberating in each scent. Man’s greatest heritage is the pictures he collects and his memories,’ he says. ‘That doesn’t necessarily mean he has to travel, it means that he has to be open to collect beauty and then compose it into his own palette.’ And wearing a Manos Gerakinis fragrance, we’re sure you’ll agree, …allows the true beauty of the individual to emerge.’

By Suzy Nightingale

OlfactoStroll – artist creates guided ‘smell walk’ (with accompanying podcast)

Artist Jan Uprichard has created a unique ‘smell walk’ called OlfactoStroll, with an accompanying podcast to gently guide your senses and help shape your usual daily walk, into something hopefully not only interesting but a valuable moment of serenity…

Devised in collaboration with the Centre for Contemporary Art (CCA) in Derry – it doesn’t matter if you’re not in Northern Ireland: the walk can be taken wherever you live. There’s a specially-created podcast of that name, which you can download and listen to no matter where you are in the world. The prompts Jan gives during her so-soothing narration are not dictated by place, but rather suggest things to look out for during your walk, how to navigate your local landscape using the sense of smell.

OlfactoStroll was an idea Jan came up with as part of PhD research, for which she’s developing a method of Deep Smelling. Using smell, walking, archives, mapping, food, sound, film, bookmaking, botany, and interventions as practical, participatory tools for her art, the idea is to offer differing ways to experience familiar surroundings. Says Jan:

‘Deep Smelling is a meditative, experiential and process-based art practice, which brings our attention to our sense of smell. The smell walk has been configured with Derry city in mind, however you can apply the principles of the walk to anywhere in the world, including your own home.’

The podcast/guided walk is an incredibly relaxing listen – Jan has a naturally soothing voice and instead of talking all the time, you’re offered suggestions several minutes apart, for how to control your breathing, things to look out for and special circumstances to take note of (such as air temperature) which make this an experience that would be interesting to repeat several times during the next few months, to see if you notice any changes.

You can download the podcast from Anchor, Spotify and iTunes, or listen to it by clicking below…

 

If you do happen to live in Derry, the walk is apparently ‘accompanied by a series of Deep Smelling protocols, visible through the gallery windows and at various spots around the city.’ But as Jan says – this is a walk you can take absolutely anywhere, whether you’re in an urban environment, going for a hike through the woods or walking beside the seashore.

 

 

Besides being an anxiety-busting method of slowing down and taking notice of nature around you – and a way to improve your sense of smell simply by learning to focus on it and being mindful of what you sense – it’s also an important exercise in the current climate. As a spokesperson for the CCA commented on the joint project:

‘Both walking and smell have taken on added importance during the pandemic. Jan’s hope, as we try to figure out what a ‘new normal’ could be, is that we take the opportunity to maintain a slower pace. That we will reflect on our experiences with a quiet activism, that utilises taking time to do nothing but wander around, and in this case, notice what we can smell and sense around us.’

Indeed, Jan drives this point home on her blog, saying that ‘Smell has taken on special significance in the past year,’ and so ‘If you have experienced a loss of change in your sense of smell AbScent.org is a UK charity that offers support and advice to people with smell disorders.’

We’ve written several features on smell-loss being an early syptom of Covid-19, and something scientists are currently exploring further; and we hope our sense of smell will be taken far more seriously in the future. In the meantime, what a wonderful way to change-up your daily walk into a scented stroll…

By Suzy Nightingale

 

More perfume podcasts…? Eau yes!

We’re so excited to see more dedicated perfume podcasts (and fragrantly themed episodes of other series) starting to blossom, and here’s our pick of the current bunch…

 

The SniffNicola Thomis is a fragrance-obsessed reviewer who, in previous episodes, has looked at soothing scents for troubled times, spoke with language translator, (and sometime Perfume Society fellow contributor) Marta Dziurosz, about the language of smell, and interviewed some of the hottest names in niche perfumery. The lastest episode is a vox-pop of perfumes people have been reaching for, and we love listening!

 

Molecast – The brilliant perfumer Geza Schoen and writer, Susan Irvine, are the hosts of this Escentric Molecules podcast, with Geza taking a deep dive in to the way he creates fragrances and Susan exploring the wider world of fragrance terms and techniques. This episodes looks at notes ‘from the stinky to sublime‘…

 

 

Outspoken Beauty – Host, Nicola Bonn, dedicates this episode to her ‘favourite fragrance of all time’: the iconic Frédéric Malle Portrait of a Lady. Hearing from the perfumer, Dominique Ropion, himself, plus a plethora of celebrity fans, like Val Garland and Nicola Chapman, say why they’re similarly obsessed. Our fragrant friend Odette Toilette also adds her knowledge, and this beautifully produced documentary is an absolute treat of an olfactory ode.

 

Fume Chat – We’ve been fans of this down-to-earth and chatty ppodcast since it began, and now we’re up to Season 3 if you can believe it! Co-hosts,fFragrance expert & consultant, Nick Gilbert and blogger & writer, Thomas Dunckley (aka The Candy Perfume Boy) use this latest episoide to take the lid off Playful Perfumery using ‘novel accords’. It’s always such a pleasure to tune in – they’re great friends as well as colleagues, and it really shows.

 

Dressed: The History of Fashion – Though they normally focus on fashion, obvs, in this special episoide, the historiuan and museum curator hosts, Cassidy Zachary and April Calahan, invite author and illustrator Jessica Roux ‘to discuss how the Victorians used the symbolism of flowers as a means of communication.’ Fascinating stuff, and of course we immediately pre-ordered a copy of Jessica’s stunning looking book, Floriography: An Illustrated Guide to the Victorian Language of Flowers (which we’ll review for our ever-growing Fragrant Reads section, never fear!)

 

 

Want to add even more perfume-related listening to your podcast list? Here’s the previous five fragrance podcasts we listened to, and then even more to peruse when you’ve finished those…

By Suzy Nightingale

Vintage perfume posters (to purchase & swoon over…)

Vintage perfume posters are currently making us consider papering entire rooms with them, and these are particularly swoon-worthy versions…

In these uncertain times, sales of classic fragrances are, appparently soaring.

And no wonder. We’re crying out for a bit of soothing scented nostalgia to wallow in, and so although actual vintage versions of these fragrances would set you back a pretty penny (well-preserved bottles and rare examples can go for anything from a couple of hundred quid to several hundred thousand!) it’s rather tempting to purchase several of these gorgeous advertising poster prints, non?

 

Ahoy! Recognise the shape of the bottle this sailor’s snuggling up to in the Schiaparelli Perfumes1945 ‘Shocking Sailor’ image by artist Marcel Vertès?

 

The HP Prints website we came across has THOUSANDS to choose from when you type ‘perfume’ as a key-word search (which we spend most of the day doing online, tbh…)

But where to begin?!

 

Bourjois 1944 Mais Oui, Leonard. ‘Frankly flirtatious’? We’ll take the largest bottle you have, thank you.

 

Well, we’ve picked some favourites for you – each of which can be purchased as a print (if in stock) or, for a fee, downloaded as a high quality image file to use as you please, sans the watermarks of course.

 

Guerlain (Perfumes) 1959 J. Charnotet, Mitsouko. Would v much like a cutting from this tree, please.

 

We’re thinking ahead to (shhh!) Christmas, and birthday presents, or perhaps just to send to fragrance-loving friends we can’t meet up with right now. As well as, you know, papering every wall we can find…

 

Nina Ricci (Perfumes) 1971 L’Air du Temps (Version B). Such a classic – and a first scent love for so many.

 

Le Galion (Perfumes) 1959 Lily of the Valley, Lovers, Maurel. Stunning, and slightly sinister fairytale-esque: we approve.

 

Elizabeth Arden (Perfumes) 1941 It’s You. (We wish it was – say yes to that dress!)

 

By Suzy Nightingale

Floral Instagrammers we love to follow…

Floral Instagrammers are on the rise – and no wonder, with all of us desperately seeking solace in gardens (if we’re lucky enough to have them) and open spaces, of late. Scroll down for some of the *most* exquisite flower-filled feeds we love to follow, and think you will, too…

Once upon a time, Instagram seemed full of pictures of avocado toast and cats, but it’s the floral Instagrammers really making it their own, right now. If you search for the hashtag #garden, it currently has over 56.4m posts attributed to it, while #flowers has 190m. And there are so many more, similarly floral-themed hashtags, each with several million posts (and counting).

So why are we seeing such a floral show on Instagram (and oither social media) right now? Well, it’s been proven that even looking at pictures of nature and open spaces can dramatically lower your blood pressure and improve your mental health. But more than that, we think people are just craving nice things to focus on for a while each day. We certainly are!

 

 

That’s why we devoted our latest issue of The Scented Letter magazine to all things bright and beautiful, inviting you to Step In To the Garden and explore with us, which you can do for free online if you’re a VIP, or in print if you want a glossy, gorgeous magazine to sit in your own garden with.

Meanwhile, here are just a handful of the brilliant floral Instagrammers we follow, and if you scroll through their feeds you’ll see exactly why we’re so in love…

 

@cultivatedbychristin
Christin Geall is enormously talented and here shares her beguiling ideas on design, nature, culture, horticulture. The kind of floral feed that makes you want to immediately dance barefoot into a meadow and turns floral arrangements into a pure art form.

 

@cnliziqi
These stunning (and so relaxing) IGTV films follow Li Ziqi’s adventures as she strolls through flower-filled meadows, picking blossoms to cook with, to arrange into stunning, so-simple floral arrangements, and even make her own floral hydrolates with a copper still in her garden.

 

@honeysuckle_and_hilda
A florist, writer and brilliant teacher based in Oxfordshire, Claire Victoria Bowen taught our own Co-Founder, Jo Fairley, how to create the most beautiful (yet seemingly effortless) bouquets. Truly inspirational, you’ll never look at your plants in the same way: here, everything in the garden is beautiful.

 

@goldfinchelson
Looking for all the world as though you’ve stumbled across some undiscovered Vermeer paintings, the work of artist and photographer Tracy Goldfinch Elson is filled with ethereal light, love and touches of great humour. We’re regularly stopped in our tracks by their other-worldly beauty.

 

@kristengvy
Head judge on the Netflix series, The Big Flower Fight (which we’ve binge-watched with joy), named one of the world’s top florists by Harpers Bazzar; Kristen Griffith VanderYacht’s feed is filled with the exuberance and artistry he’s become (rightly) famed for.

 

@swallowsanddamsons
A patchwork quilt of quintessence, Sheffield-based florist Anna Potter’s account is a glory of colour and style, featuring just the kind of artfully rumpled and ‘undone’ arrangements we favour, and providing a wealth of inspiration to brighten up your every day. How we revel in it.

 


@her_dark_materials
Cotswold-based Ros is one of those photographers who conjures magic from every subject she turns her camera to. From gorgeously swooning bouquets to simply capturing the cracking of an egg or pasta drying, draped nonchalantly over the back of a chair: flowers seem to glow in the gloom for her.

 

@tangleandthyme
A floral design studio, eco-florist (with gift subscriptions available) and cutting garden in North Essex, we marvel at the skill of show here – and how much fun they seem to be having! Also, absolutely any feed showing donkeys (and humans) wearing floral crowns gets our vote. Instantly smile-inducing!

 

@jamjar_flowers
A riot of colour and creativity, Jam Jar Flowers create the most jaw-dropping floral instillations, seasonal floral arran gements and dress gorgeously glam events. We dream of re-creating their coloured glass bottle-filled window (though kind of dread the dusting, so might just gaze in wonder, instead…)

 

@my_botanical_heart
Dianna Jazwinski is a professional garden photographer based in Sussex, and oh my gosh, her work is laden with the kind of imagery that makes our faces turn into the heart-eyed emoji. Ravishingly laid out and perfectly captured, flowers look so perfect in her hands you’d swear they were crafted by angels.

 

@everdandysilverfox
Alex Musgrave combines two of our favourite things – lovely reviews of fragrances, often thoughtfully themed around poetry and art, and simply beautiful pictures of flowers in various settings. Our favouites are those captured as they become blowsily over-bloomed. Always a treat to read and see.

 

@commonfarmflowers
Delivering across the U.K. – ‘Our dream is that everybody should assume that they can buy exceptional quality, British grown flowers year round, that ‘grown not flown flowers’ should be the norm,’ say husband and wife team, flower farmer and author Georgie Newbery, and artist Fabrizio Bocca. Bravo!

Written by Suzy Nightingale

Rook ‘Moments’ – the niche house encouraging creative togetherness

ROOK PERFUMES are the perfect meeting place between art and science – with more than a little rock ‘n roll in their DNA. Launched by a frontline doctor/actor (yes, really), Nadeem Crowe, who became enraptured with the world of perfumery,he’s now reaching out to other creatives and asking YOU to share your talents with the world…

‘No one could have expected coronavirus, nor could anyone expect the impact it would have on businesses worldwide,’ says Nadeem, ‘The creative industry is struggling, with projects put on hold and freelance designers, artists and creatives scampering for remaining work. The government support for the self employed has been a slow-burn leaving artists in a creative limbo with financial uncertainty.’

Nadeem has a unique position with insight in the medical and creative worlds, explaining that ‘I feel lucky to be a doctor in a time where people are isolated and struggling financially. I have a job and wonderful colleagues around me. Even if I do feel exposed, I realise I am in a very fortunate position as I watch friends I have shared the West End stage with lose their jobs and struggle to support themselves and their families.’

 

 

After a long discussion with famed British photographjer, Rankin, ‘who as a creative can relate to this situation as much as anyone, it was clear that what we could do was use this time of conflict to create a piece of art. A social statement.’ Nadeem and Rankin wanted to start an online movement – ‘a conversation to get these creatives talking’.

And so Rook Moments was born, ‘asking fellow creatives and people of the community to discuss who they are, what they are missing out on and the limitations corona is putting on their creativity and in some cases livelihood.’ From actors, to photographers, designers, and directors – they say that ‘these are stories that need to be heard…’ Asking fellow creatives to upload short videos of themselves, Nadeem urges, ‘Show us you talent or skill. Sing, dance, recite a monologue, play an instrument – do whatever drives you creatively!’

This isn’t a competition with some reality show judging panel – this is real life, a snapshot of creative people, inspired by fragrance or simply sharing whatever talent you have in a Rook Moment of your own, and for the love of art itself.

Some further suggestions, and instructions how to submit your videos, are available on the Rook Moments section of their website, but if you’re really seeking creative inspo, can we recommend you immerse yourself in the delights of the Rook Perfumes Discovery Set?

 

Rook Perfumes Discovery Set £15

Created by Nadeem to transport you via textural, intriguingly overlapping scent memories of verdant forests, drifts of incense, leathery birch-tar; fascinatingly visceral sensations of herb gardens and wet earth – we wonder where you’ll be taken, and urge you to share your own creative journey…

By Suzy Nightingale

Too good to throw away! Reusing & upcycling perfume bottles & packaging

We’ve all come to realise how important it is to carefully consider what we do with packaging these days, before simply chucking it in the nearest bin – and with so many stunning bottles (and boxes) around, it’s never been a better time to reuse and upcycle your perfume collection. Watch some of the super-easy crafting videos below, or browse for fragrant inspiration…

What to do when you’ve come to the end of a favourite fragrance (other than pop out immediately to re-purchase)? Craft Corner have come up with a brilliant way of creating an illusion that flowers grow from the flaçon itself, using clear resin to resemble water and faux flowers (though we think you could use dried if you prefer). So clever, and a great gift that would be cheap to make, too!

 

 

If you prefer written instructions and a step-by-step guide, the DIY Decorator blog has a great post explaining in easy to understand terms how to create a vase out of just about any perfume bottle – including how to remove the sprayer and top safely – which, they say, will only take you ten minutes. Which of your perfumes would you choose to turn into a unique vase?

 

Those of us who’d like to adorn our necks with perfume in more ways than one can find inspiration for upcyling mini bottles into the most gorgeous necklaces on the Quiet Lions blog. There aren’t precise instructions, it’s more of a visual feast of ideas, so you might need some jewellery-making know-how already before accomplishing these. But for a far easier version – why not loop some pretty ribbon around the neck of a miniature and turn it into a necklace that way?

Sometimes the boxes are just as fabulous as the fragrances, and it’s such a shame t get rid of them. We use ours to store precious letters and cards, buttons and various bits and bobs – so good for organising your kitchen drawers for all those random keys, or makeup drawers to prevent an overspill! And for larger boxes – why not use to store all of your perfume samples? If you have as many as we do, you may want to collect quite a number of boxes to keep… For another idea, we loved watching this realxing video by Eversea Design, on how to turn perfume packaging into a gift box to pass on the love to someone else.

 

Pinterest is full of ideas for how to reuse and upcycle pretty much anything you care to name – be prepared to fall down the proverbial rabbit hole once you start exploring – but how darling is this little pin cushion made from an old bottle of perfume? Another lovely gift idea to give to friends who sew, or to display on your own shelves.

 

 

And really, how could resist another Pinterest idea of turning perfume bottles into place-holders for a dinner party? Add a stick with a card attached to show their name, if you don’t want to have scrolls inside. If you had enough, you could do a whole hall full of tables for a special occasion like a wedding or birthday, with themed tables based on the fragrance bottles, perhaps…? If you don’t have wide-necked bottles like these vintage style ones, simply use the technique to remove the pump mechanism explained in the first video and blog, above.

 

Whichever way you choose to reuse, we’re sure you’ll think of even more ways to keep these beautiful objects forever – how much more rewarding (and better for us all) than to discard and forget. Display your fragrant love proudly around your home!

By Suzy Nightingale

 

Fragrant reads we recommend: Nose Dive by Catherine Haley Epstein

This week we’re diving in nose-first to Catherine Haley Epstein‘s Nose Dive – a brilliant book for adventurous noses. We have a whole scented bookshelf of Fragrant Reads we recommend, so do please feel free to browse at your leisure, from literary to scientific and everything in-between.

Meanwhile, let’s get up close and personal with our sense of smell, and re-connect our sense of wonder as we read…

On the back of the book, author, artist and scent-maker, Catherine Haley Epstein, introduces her book in a way that intrigued and delighted us immediately. Describing it as a handbook for taking ‘…Adventures for your nose in art, anthropology, and science, the book Nose Dive is a broad introduction to olfactory culture meant for artists or anyone curious about the power of scent.’ Well that’s pretty much a checklist of our intersts, so we were eager to learn more, and Epstein contnues: ‘Something is in the air with respect to our most powerful and least regarded sense. This book demystifies the world of scent, provides springboards for further study, and presents exercises for shifting gears with your nose. A must-read for anyone intrigued by the superpower right under our noses.’ Consider us sold!

Epstein was lovely enough to send us a first-edition copy of her book with a letter, saying further that she wrote it because she wanted ‘…to invite dialogue from the different aspects of the scent arena.’ And also explaining the cover of the book is ‘Tiffany blue… not for the reason you might think – it’s actually the colour of my favourite smell, a pool toy.’

You know what they say about finding kindred spirits? We think she’s definitely one of us

Reading Nose Dive is an absolute must for anyone of us who’s wanted to dive deeper than merely smelling nice by spraying something beautiful, deeper still than having a particular memory connected to smell – Epstein manages to express both a childish glee at this super-power right under (and in) our noses, while explaining some complex theories and inviting the reader to explore. There are short, easily digestible chapters on Art, the science of smelling, things to consider when making a perfume and on extolling the utter joy that our sense of smell can bring. On that first thorny issue of art, and in answer to the on-going debate as to whether perfume ‘deserves’ to be classed as such, Epstein puts it perfectly by saying, simply, that ‘Art is translation. Art is a human-specific activity for translating our experiences, using whatever mediums we can.’

Along with theoretical discussions, pondering on her own years of research and development, Epstein also offers some practical exercises for those interested in making their own fragrances, or things to think about, study and and enjoy in your own time. Half the joy of Nose Dive, in fact, is that it doesn’t pretend to have all the answers or place itself on a pedestal to preach about perfume to the already converted. Neither does it simply re-hash historical references and methods of making fragrance or only focus on new, exciting niche houses. This is a well-considered work that manages to pack in some powerful topics and truly thoughtful themes into such a slim volume, you can practically feel the waves of excitement about perfume and smell pulsating from every page. Not only to read and enjoy for yourself, we suggest this is one to press into the hands of everyone who’s ever asked you why you’re so obsessed with scent… Spread the love!

Nose Dive by Catherine Haley Epstein, $25 catherinehaleyepstein.com

By Suzy Nightingale

We adore this A-Z of Perfume print – how many have *you* tried?

We fell in love with artist Mary Darch’s designs on Instagram, and when we saw she was working on an A-Z of Perfume print, we just had to alert our fellow perfume-lovers immediately!

Mary is clearly a lady after our own hearts, describing her greatest loves as ‘books, gin and perfume,’ and having previously been successful with her A-Z of Gin poster, the fragrance one seemed a natural next theme because, says Mary, ‘I love a little tot of Mother’s ruin, and a good read, and am perfume lover myself. Coming from a fashion/textile design background, I just adore the bottles and all the design detail that goes into to the packaging of perfume, and I love the alchemy involved in creating all the different scents.’

Although the perfume print was far trickier to finish (as the bottles as such hugely varying shapes and sizes), Mary says that she rather relished the challenge, even though it proved so fiddly, taking ‘at least 200 hours to complete,’ Mary explained, because ‘each perfume is drawn individually in mostly A4 size. I had some input from a fellow perfume lover who is a chemist to finalise the list and what should go in for each letter.’

A–Z of Perfume print by Marcy Darch

The final list was necessarily ‘determined by shape of bottle and colour, to create the most pleasing composition. Fortuitously Kenzo’s Flowers was just the right shape to slip in on the second line as 26 perfumes and 5 lines don’t mathematically compute!’ And Mary had some extra support from her son, who ‘helped out with the tech part of reducing all my images, and getting them just so! He deserves a medal for his patience as it was a trial and error exercise to finalise it to my satisfaction.’

All that work was so worthwhile, we think you’ll agree, and as soon as we received our print it took pride of place on The Perfume Society office wall (see below!)

 

For perfumistas with a particular favourite – fear not, Mary has you covered, too. Individual bottle prints are also available, and if your all-time love isn’t represented, you’ll be happy to hear that Mary also accepts personal commissions.

So what, we wondered, would Mary’s own choice be? ‘My favourite perfume is Angel,’ she revealed,’ I wear it every day and it feels like my secret armour I spray on each morning to face the world!’

We all know that feeling (hopefully. Read my previous feature on how to find your fragrant armour if you’ve not yet discovered yours).

We can see this print gracing many people’s Christmas gift wish lists – and perfume boutiques and all fragrance lover’s walls – can’t you? And in the meantime, if you haven’t read our own Scented Alphabet edition of The Scented Letter Magazine (for which we were thrilled to win a Jasmine Award for journalism, earlier this year), be prepared to for a whistle-stop tour of all things fragrantly fascinating, from A – Z…

By Suzy Nightingale

Leonardo da Vinci’s secret scented formula

Art experts use x-rays and scientific tests to help determine the authenticity of a masterpiece painting, but soon they could well be using their noses, too…

While researching a painting called Donna Nuda – believed to be by a contemporary follower of Leonardo da Vinci rather than the artist himself, but conducted under his close supervision – experts were greeted with a unique smell of the materials used within the painting, described as ‘…the fresh smell of a forest after the rain.’

The technique used is, necessarily, non-invasive, and Martin Kemp – a leading authority on da Vinci, based at Trinity College, Oxford, has excitedly commented that this method of scented investigation, when used as a prototype to test the authenticity of other paitings, could hold enormous potential for the future of art attribution.

Gleb Zilberstein and his co-authors had previously used the technique to discover traces of morphine on the manuscript of Mikhail Bulgakov’s novel, The Master and Margarita, as well as analysing Anthony Chekhov’s blood-stained shirt, and finding evidence of tuberculosis. The team will publish their full findings in the Journal of Proteomics, but for those of us not quite up to the technical language, a more basic explanation of the way it works is this:

Acetate film embedded with charged particles is placed on sections of the painting. The film is analysed by gas and liquid spectrometry and chromatography – run through a computer which can separate and identify every component the object is composed of, allowing researchers to pick out particular areas of interest and actually smell them, individually.

The same technology is used to analyse traces of vintage fragrances, or to capture the smell of a thunderstorm, for example, and allow a perfumer to recreate it. But this is the first time it’s been used to analyse and identify the materials of a painting. This way, the tem discovered a unique mixture of egg yolk, linseed and rosemary oil had been used by Leonardo’s Protégé, and as they were learning his exact techniques, they would have used the same paint mixtures – perhaps even mixed by the hand of da Vinci himself.

Researchers concluded that rosemary oil had been used in some sections to ‘enhance the sense of depth’ by blurring a background – just like the Portrait mode on a modern iPhone – and that they hope to use the technology to create a ‘decay curve’, so as to further help pinpoint the date of a painting by studying the smell and decomposition of organic materials.

Zilberstein commented that it was a ‘magical moment’ to smell odours that had been trapped beneath the surface of the painting for over 400 years, and explained that now, ‘for the first time the deciphering of the recipes used by Leonardo was possible…’

By Suzy Nightingale