Scenting the airwaves – perfume themed podcasts we recommend

Fragrance is filling the air(waves) right now, with a plethora of perfumed podcasts to catch up with – some fairly recently released episodes, and some other (for us) just-discovered gems.
At The Perfume Society, we’ve long held that the topic of fragrance and our sense of smell is perhaps at the point food and wine were not all that long ago: something the general public are waking up to as a valid subject to explore, enjoy and discuss in depth.

Perfect to download and enjoy while commuting, these will ease you gently from wearing pyjamas past midday while mainly eating a cheese and chocolate-based diet; or perhaps to to catch up with while chilling this weekend…

Fume Chat: The Filth Battle
Fellow ‘fumehead Katie Puckrik joins regular hosts, Thomas and Nick, to judge a battle of their perfume picks that smell nothing short of downright dirty. Our very favourite kind! You’ll come for the fragrances and stay for the banter.

The Conversation: Perfume Makers
How do you capture and bottle a scent? Two perfume makers from France and Malaysia talk to Kim Chakanetsa about how they’ve trained their noses to smell over 1,000 different raw ingredients.

What’s the Tee?
RuPaul and co-host Michelle Visage spend much of this episode discussing their love of perfume, with Michelle in particular proving to be well-up on her niche houses and with seemingly quite a collection. Such a pleasure to hear people be passionate about things they love, don’t you think?

Two Sense: Perfumer & Flavorist Podcast
Flavour and fragrance are inextricably linked, and indeed many perfume companies create for both sectors. Perfumer & Flavorist sit down with Ewan Morgan, national director of Diageo, to discuss what goes into crafting a quality whisky.

The Why Factor: Perfume
For centuries perfume has been used to show status and wealth and the global business is worth now worth tens of billions of dollars, so clearly fragrance is more popular than ever. Here the BBc’s Mike Williams talks to an historian and archaeologist about why we use perfume and what, exactly, it says about us.

Histories of the Unexpected: Perfume
Presenters Dr Sam Willis and Professor James Daybell ‘argue’ that everything has a history (well, yes) here delving in to our favourite topic (obvs).

Making Scents: The Story of Perfume
Bridget Kendall and guests explore the modern history of perfume, including its flowering in France and the explosive chemical discoveries that helped to make fine fragrance what it is today.

The Pool: Perfume: A Century of Scents
Lizzie Ostrum (aka Odette Toilette) discusses her brilliant book, beginning with the story of CK One and how it came to epitomise the 1990s.

Stuff You Should Know: How Perfume Works
Josh and Chuck are the very laid-back and affable hosts who plunge into topics they previously knew little or nothing about, sharing their research with listeners. There are hundreds of episodes covering everything from corsets to cults, but of course we zoomed in on the perfume episode…

Do let us know if there are any more you’ve heard – we’re always on the lookout for further fragrant recommendations!

Written by Suzy Nightingale

 

 

The scented secrets of the Queen’s coronation anointing oil…

The fascinating recent BBC documentary delving behind-the-scenes of the Queen’s Coronation on June 2, 1953, held a scented secret for sharp-eyed fragrance fans… did you spot it?

While discussing the ancient rituals of the act of anointing the monarch, our eyes were drawn to the oil itself – rather incongruously kept nestled in a battered old box and bottle of Guerlain‘s Mitsouko!

May we admit experiencing a momentary thrill that the BBC had uncovered our Queen as a secret perfumista, who’d insisted on being anointed with a fabulous Chypre? We’d definitely consider being baptised in Mitsouko, but it turned out it was just the bottle and box. Oh well. No matter, for the story of the oil’s recipe was rather deliciously revealed…

The oil was made from a secret mixture in sesame and olive oil, containing ambergris, civet, orange flowers, roses, jasmine, cinnamon, musk and benzoin– actually sounding rather Oriental in its composition – and must surely have smelled glorious.

The anointing ritual is always hidden from view – a private moment for the monarch to reflect on their duties and the significance of being touched by that oil – and so a canopy was held over the Queen by four Knights of the Garter, and the televison cameras turned respectfully away, as the Archbishop anointed her with the fragrant holy oil on her hands, breast and head.

Quite a scent memory.

In fact, the phial containing the original oil had been destroyed in a bombing raid on the Deanery in May 1941. The firm of chemists who’d mixed the last known anointing oil had gone bust, so a new company, Savory and Moore Ltd, was asked by the Surgeon-Apothecary to mix a new supply, based on the ancient recipe, for the Coronation. We’d quite like them to whip up a batch for us, too.

During the ritual, the highly scented oil was poured from Charles II’s Ampulla (the eagle-shaped vessel shown above) into a 12th-century spoon. One imagines the Archbishop’s hands must have shook just a little during this procedure – thank goodness for that canopy. Meanwhile, the choir sang one of the most thrillingly dramatic songs in history: “Zadok the Priest”. The words are taken from the first Book of Kings, and have been sung at every coronation since King Edgar’s in 973, but the anointment ritual is even older, going back to King Solomon supposedly being anointed by Zadok himself in the 10th century BC.

Of course the rest of the Coronation was an extraordinary display of magnificent jewels and robes and the peculiarities of historical traditions played out ‘like a ballet’, as the programme described, but our minds kept returning to the mysteries of the anointing oil, what the Queen must have thought as she smelled it (was it the first time she’d smelled the oil?) and how it’s still, charmingly, kept in that tatty old bottle and box of Mitsouko.

Now then, to whom did that bottle once belong? For whomever they were, we congratulate them on their taste…

Those of you who missed the documentary can watch it while it’s still on BBC iPlayer.

Written by Suzy Nightingale