REEK founder Molly reveals her five favourite smells…

With an attention-grabbing name like Damn Rebel Bitches – a scented homage of blood orange, hazelnut, pink peppercorn, clary sage and malt, to the fearsome females of the Jacobite uprisings who were given this nickname – it’s obvious that REEK Perfume were bursting with passion to portray inspiring women in fragrant form. A proudly Scottish niche fragrance house, Molly Sheridan describes starting the brand so she could ‘…memorialise heroic, unapologetic women through scent. We want to celebrate our heroines.’ Damn right, and here at The Perfume Society, so do we!

Following hot on the fragrant heels of the Bitch, the equally flagrant Damn Rebel Witches celebrated those women who dared to be different, and were punished for it. You can read a full review in our guide to bewitching Halloween scents, but truly this is a fragrance suitable for any time of year, and whenver you feel like asserting your strangeness.

Molly says wearing REEK scents should be ‘…an everyday rebellion, a reminder of female achievement, much of which has been forgotten.’

Using unconventionally honest images (completely un-photoshopped images of women that celebrate beauty in all forms, including some of Molly herself) and deliberately provocative names to make people think a little more deeply about how women have been classified  – often by their scent and the things a ‘virtuous women’ is supposed to smell of – throughout the centuries, we were already intrigued by their Instagram account, and so were thrilled to meet up with Molly and get to know her by asking for her five favourite smells…

1 – Chanel No 5: ‘The reason I’m picking this is because at every stage of my life, a lady of significance to me has worn it. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t have an older relative, or teacher, for example, who hasn’t worn it! It’s one of those absolute staples, a smell that everyone knows. It’s a classic – I wouldn’t wear it myself, but I love the smell of it on other people. Especially when they wear too much – I love that!’

2 – Elnett Hairspray: ‘It always reminds you of somebody or a particular time in your life when you used it. One whiff and you’re straight back there! And it’s just got this really distinctive smell – something that I can’t quite put my finger on or even describe – but it’s so evocative…’

3 – Petrol: ‘I love the smell of petrol, and I find that a lot of perfumes I like to wear has something like that in the scent for a split second – I’m not sure what it is, exactly, but something that reminds me of it and draws me to it. I want to keep smelling it to get more, more to get the petrol smell back. Weirdly I find that with both fragrances and food – the things I like most have something that reminds me of petrol.’

4 – 4160 Tuesdays Maxed Out: ‘Ohhh… it smells like chocolate limes to me. For ages this was the only perfume I wore, and I wouldn’t wear it during the day, but for some reason I like wearing it at night. Even if I’m just staying in.

5 – Bread: ‘It’s one of those smells that’s the same everywhere in the world. You can be in India or Paris and it all smells the same. Bread is one of those habitual smells that’s so comforting, and makes you hungry to smell it, even if you’re weren’t beforehand. I really like the fact that bread has such a social history, too – it’s a staple of life, we talking about “breaking bread” with people or say something’s “the best thing since sliced bread”. I went to Italy with my little sister and asked her what her favourite thing about the holiday and she said ‘The bread and butter!’ which just about sums it up for me.

Can I just say, I think these are absolutely brilliant questions to throw at someone! It’s so psychological… and I really like not having time to ruminate on the answers, otherwise you’d come up with some perfectly balanced list of things you’re supposed to say. Not like me – petrol and Elnett, haha!’

Molly interviewed by Suzy Nightingale

Feminista: the first political perfume?

Can perfumes be political? A new indie fragrance – Feminista – with the help of a world-famous perfumer and creative-project funding campaign – certainly think so…

For some time, now, fragrance houses have been slowly bringing in the idea that – shock horror! – we might want to choose scents based on what we like, not whatever gender someone in marketing assigned to them. This is something niche houses realised on long ago, but the bigger, mass-market houses have taken a little longer to catch on to.

The Idea:

‘Feminista is the first political perfume designed for all genders, building a platform to create visibility and funding for all those fighting inequality,’ they say. going on to describe how ‘A Perfume is one of the most powerful emotional products in the world. It delivers a sense of who we want to be in life or at a particular moment in time.’ We couldn’t agree more, and here’s another reason to get excited: Feminista say they are ‘…committed to spending a percentage of the sales on developing innovative, new and exiting content and education formats, support good causes and develop and fund those people that carry an all-inclusive feminism into the world.’

The Perfumer:

When Feminista had the idea of the fragrance, wanting to ‘capture the smell of intersectional feminism’, they knew they couldn’t just turn to any old perfumer. Step forward the Escentric Molecules and Heavenly Mind Series nose who’s long been described as a ‘rebel’ and ‘maverick’: Geza Schön

He saw a potential that was hidden even to us when we came up with the idea. Schön said: “It has been years since someone has come up with a truly unique concept for perfume in the industry. All the perfumes that are new on the market year after year, bore me. The idea of Feminista was as much promising as challenging, because never in history has a perfume been created as a political statement, with a strong backstory and a clear mission to become a Change Agent.”  Every ingredient that went into the scent speaks of feminist history and future, ensuring that it is as polarizing as it is comforting at times.

The Perfume:

Deliberately contradicting notes were chosen for this exciting scent, so we have violets and leather, pink peppers and cedar, juniper berry and styrax that Feminista say ‘form an extraordinary harmony that could hardly be more individual.’

Available in The Experiment (sample) form (€22 for 4x2ml eau de parfum), The Seducer (€64 for 30ml) and The Persuader (€132 for 100ml)

The Project:

For one of their first projects to highlight, Feminista reached out to Veteran producer Anne Marie Mackay, promoting the funding for her new film, The Hammer of Witches.

Anne Marie says: ‘This project is close to my heart because the persecution of all innocents is a story that must be told again and again. Though we as humans have advanced in so many ways, cruelty on a mass basis has not abated. It has been a lifetime objective for me to teach tolerance and the telling of this tale is another deeply powerful way to allow history to once again inform us of our humanity.

Its impact should be a reminder to search our own conscience, the part in all of us that remains hidden and seek out where we add to current day atrocities. By that I mean treating others with kindness and compassion should be a daily practice. By ignoring our own internal negativity we lend credence to the bigger acts committed in our name as a society.’

We love the idea of using proceeds from perfume to fund fascinating and creatively engaging projects, and really look forward to seeing who they collaborate with next.

Can perfume change the world? We’ve long thought so, and wanted to explore how Fashion, Fragrance & Feminism have always been entwined – why, historically, women were forbidden from scenting their bodies in polite society and how contemporary fragrance houses are appealing to strong, corageous young women right now. In fact, we dedicated the latest issue of our award-winning magazine The Scented Letter to this subject, and you can buy your copy here – or become a VIP Club Member to receive your downloadable copies FREE!

International Subcriptions are also now available, for only £20 annually – the perfect gift for your perfume-loving pals overseas.

Written by Suzy Nightingale