Carlos Benaïm – one of the most charming ‘noses’ we’ve ever met – talks scents…

When Carlos Benaïm landed from New York on a flying visit, we settled down into a pair of leather chairs and asked him to share his scent memories.

One of the perfumers we’ve been most charmed by in all our years of hanging out with ‘noses’, Carlos is a veteran of the industry, with so many fragrances to his name: the blockbuster Viktor & Rolf Flowerbomb (with Olivier Polge and Domitille Bertier), Boucheron Jaipur Bracelet, Bulgari Jasmin Noir, Calvin Klein Eupohoria and Ralph Lauren Polo – among many others we’ve worn, loved or admired. More recently, he’s created for Frederic Malle, including the airily fresh and so-wearable Eau de Magnolia, as well as the sublime modern classic Icon for Dunhill.

His appreciation of scents and smells started early. ‘As a young boy I would often accompany my grandfather to the marketplace in Tangier and I remember the smells of the spices and fruits, oranges, peaches, melons and apricots – they are engraved in my memory…’

When summing up his career, we also love these words from Carlos: ‘There’s an old Arab saying: whatever is not given, is lost. That’s how I’ve tried to live my life and my career.’

What is your first ‘scent memory’?
The scent of my grandmother’s kitchen, cinnamon, mixed with sugar and other sweet smells. She’s someone I was very close to growing up in Tangiers, in Morocco; I was raised there, although my background is Spanish. I left Morocco at 17 to study chemical engineering and then at 23 went to Paris and New York, studying to be a nose alongside head perfumers Bernard Chant and Ernest Shiftan at International Flavors & Fragrances – I never went to a ‘classical’ perfumery school and for me, it was more like an apprenticeship.

What are your five favourite smells in the world?

  • Orris (iris) – an elegant smell; there’s something so cool (temperature-wise) about it that I really like.
  • Sweets and baking smells and chocolate – because I have a sweet tooth, and I’m often caught with something sweet!
  • Smells that remind me of my mother: Femme and Mitsouko – I always recognise both of those smells right away, which brings back wonderful memories.
  • Fruits. I love the smell of fruits, particularly raspberries and peaches, pineapple, cassis, blackberry, blackcurrant. There is nothing like the smell of a fresh-picked French raspberry; they taste and smell completely different to the ones you can buy in New York – so much more perfumed…
  • Tobacco. This is the smell of my grandfather; he used to have snuff tobacco, and my father who was a pharmacist used to perfume it, either with a violet perfume or a geranium aroma. It was a very rough tobacco from Morocco and that combination was very haunting, blended with those sweet notes. I use it a lot in fragrance as a note; I used to smoke when I was young and fortunately I stopped, but I do like a little ‘hit’ from using tobacco.

And your least favourite?
I hate the smell of garbage – but that’s an obvious one. Actually, I don’t like the smell of cats and dogs. We don’t have animals because my wife is very allergic to them – but I don’t like their scent, either.

What is the fragrance you wish you’d created?
The great Guerlains: the Mitsoukos, the Shalimars… My grandmother used to wear Shalimar. Those are magnificent, absolutely wonderful, with their mossiness – not just oakmoss, but the other mosses, which we’re restricted from using so much these days.

Is creating a fragrance ‘visual’ for you, as well as something that happens in the nose/brain? Is a mood-board helpful?
Everything is helpful for me. A fragrance is a mood, it’s colour, it’s form – and so it’s definitely visual as well; I build up a picture in my mind, and start trying to bring it to life. It’s a process that takes several months.

Do you have a favourite bottle, from those which have been used for your creations?
I’m very fond of the Ralph Lauren Polo bottle, which is also very significant for me because it was my first success. I also love the bottle for Flowerbomb.

Does your nose ever switch off!
As a perfumer, you can switch off being in ‘work mode’, to a ‘not actively searching’ mode. When my nose is ‘on’, I’m sensing the environment, I’m interested in the smells around me, I’m trying to put my effort into understanding what’s going on in, say, that particular flower. But I like to relax, too, and my nose relaxes at the same time.

What is your best tip for improving a person’s sense of smell?
Be interested; that’s really the key. Pay attention and try to ‘fix’ smells in your mind by putting words to them. That’s how a perfumer starts; you smell everything, and you can’t remember abstract smells so you have to label them – I would smell something and think, ‘ah, that’s the wood in my grandmother’s house’ – and that’s how I’d be able to remember it…

 

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

Retro romance: perfume ads to raise a smile

If you’ve had it with all the mawkishness that can accompany V-day, we feel ya, and present instead a plethora of retro fragragrance adverts that instead of promising you a bevy of admirers and a hot dating tips, will at least make you chuckle…

Big hair don’t care? She certainly doesn’t when wearing Tigress! Watch in amazement as this ‘do gets bigger with every passing second of this advert from 1969, and do be sure to shuffle up to someone you want to catch the eye of in this manner. It will definitely get their attention.

Couples in perfume commercials just can’t keep still, can they? Perhaps this pair from 1967 ate some dodgy oysters, and are living up to the name of the scent as they madly dash through airports and dodge traffic on mopeds to prove how On the Wind they are? We hope they made it in time.

We women like nothing better than hanging around in windows while spraying ourselves with perfume, and here’s another 1969 gem that proves it’s a worthwhile occupation. How else to catch the eye of some random dude and then make him run up and down endless flights of stairs that’d make M.C. Escher dizzy? It’s how we stay Elusive, innit?

What to do when you’re Young ‘N Free? Well this 1970 advert ticks a lot of perfume tropes. Bingo cards at the ready, fragrance fans, as you spot a couple running in slow-motion, horse riding, laughing while peddling bicycles, twirling while holding hands, and running through fields in a while dress. Hang on a minute. Is that a WHEAT field? Could the young Theresa have been caught on camera…?

Ever wondered what advice Tinkerbell from Peter Pan would give you for meeting boys at parties? This 1967 ad for the excitingly named Body Mist Deodorant (shall we workshop this, marketing team?) reveals all. Breathlessly cheerful, Tink tells us her top tips while spraying cartoon snowflakes and stars from the bottle. Don’t drink the punch she’s been sipping.

By Suzy Nightingale

Isn’t it time to ‘treat yourself?’

Listen, the signs and suggestions for V-Day have been in the shops the moment they cleared the tinsel and trees away, but if you’re not in a conventional romantic relationship – through choice or otherwise – we know you can start to feel sick of it all well before the box of half-price chocolates are opened.

So we say: don’t wait – why not treat yourself to some scented goodies this year? We have no doubt there are all sorts of reasons you should be kind to yourself, and things you deserve to celebrate. Managed to get through January without murdering anyone? That’s a win!

Here’s our edit of some fabulously fragrant ways to indulge

 

 

The Anima Vinci Discovery Set invites you to take a breath and re-connect, with scents showcasing ingredients designed to help you seek inner strength, peace and joyfulness – literally a monent to stop and smell the roses (or jasmine, ylang ylang, sesame, palo santo…). The creative expression of founder and industry expert, Nathalie Vinciguerra‘s strong belief in the power of fragrance and the positive effect it can have on your heart, mind and spirit, these perfumes have been created in collaboration with the world’s top ‘noses’. Think: Fanny BalThomas Fontaine, Michel Roudnitska, Christian Provenzano, Beverley Bayne and Randa Hammami – true experts and alchemists in the world of fragrance. Which one will you connect with first…?

Lime Spirit — Lime acts as a stimulating tonic for the mind and body. Lime pacifies your mood and boost brain power. It is a powerful ancient remedy for cleansing the aura and restoring self-confidence

Rose Prana — It benefits the heart chakra that is responsible for love, spiritual wisdom and mental clarity. Influences the central nervous system, boosts self-confidence, self – esteem and positive feeling. Strengthens the aura and stimulate the body

Jasmine Yang — Tonic and relaxant, it generates a positive reaction in the mind, enhances self-confidence, helps to change the mood and increase spiritual well being

Wood of Life — This elevating, soft, uplifting and sweet woody scent has been used for thousands of years for attaining illumination of mind, awaking self-love

Oud Delight — Illuminates the mind and fortifies the power of thinking. Increase the sense of strength, bringing in tranquillity, increasing cerebral functioning and strengthening the nervous system.

Tudo Azul — The potion to put a smile on your face.

Neroli Wisdom — A relaxing potion.

Sesame Chān — A potion to provide a zen state of mind.

Anima Vinci Discovery Set £20

Perfumer Emmanuelle Moeglin first developed workshops for frag heads to create their own fragrances in her open-source lab – then went on to conjure the Experimental Perfume Club Discovery Set, so scent lovers can now mix, layer or personalise their own bespoke blends at home . Genius! If you have ever wanted to ‘tweak’ a scent or are intrigued by making something unique to you – this is the perfect starting point. Each fragrance can be worn alone, or layered (with guidance) to get something completely new for you. Featuring SIX NICHE FRAGRANCES to layer, explore and learn, what a great gift to yourself to emark on an exciting fragrant journey…

Bergamot / Incense – Top Layer – citrus and exotic spices are brought together in this bright fragrance with Eastern influence.

Fig / Neroli – Top Layer  – the crunch of fresh herbs in a Mediterranean garden in bloom.

Jasmine / Osmanthus – Mid Layer – a tribute to white flowers growing on hot sand. Radiant, floral and exotic.

Rose / Rhubarb – Mid Layer – imagine rose bushes growing from a rhubarb patch.

Amber / Iris – Base Layer – an amber wrapped in powdery notes; dark yet soft.

Sandalwood / Musk – Base Layer – mineral sandalwood met with leather and musks. Mineral, woody and addictive.

Experimental Perfume Club Discovery Set £25

 

 

Founder Amy Christiansen Si-Ahmed created a stunning portfolio of perfumes reflecting her life-long love of fragrance – nurtured on travels through the Middle East with her inspirational grandmother. Created by renowned perfumer Carlos Benaïm, Amy’s collection – the Sana Jardin Discovery Set – offers sensuous, strong women-led scents with sustainability (currently a ‘buzzword’ in perfumery) at the heart of everything they do. We now invite you to delight your senses with the SEVEN very special fragrances in the line-up:

Savage Jasmine Night-blooming jasmine, wrapped around intoxicating musk. 

Sandalwood Temple Moroccan neroli oil, enveloped it in Atlas cedarwood, Haitian vetiver, creamy vanilla and East Indian sandalwood.

Tiger By Her Side Showcases Moroccan rose alongside Somalian incense and Indonesian patchouli.

Berber Blonde Filled with the light of Sana Jardin’s signature orange blossom, alongside Moroccan neroli oil and musk.

Celestial Patchouli Exotic aromas of patchouli, leather, cinnamon bark and Australian Sandalwood give way to the abundant warmth of rose, jasmine, osmanthus and Moroccan orris.

Nubian Musk A sensuously inviting blend of musk and vanilla, rose, jasmine, Moroccan grapefruit flower, Haitian vetiver and Australian sandalwood.

Revolution de la Fleur This is a sultry, sun-filled melody of Madagascan ylang ylang, Moroccan jasmine, frangipani, rose, vanilla and sandalwood.

Jaipur Chant Heady & Seductive Tuberose. Indian tuberose, the goddess of flowers, blooms in the still of night.

Sana Jardin Discovery Set £30

Gwyneth Paltrow’s scent sensation

Never exactly bashful about courting controversy, Gwyneth Paltrow‘s, um, uniquely named candle has recently been stirring up quite the scented sensation…

Unless you have been hiding under a rock (or, perhaps, hiding the rocks inside of you), you have doubtless caught a whiff of something approaching hysteria (appropriate, given the etymology of the word), regarding a particular scented candle, supposedly inspired by a particular body part.

The renowned beauty and cosmetic world expert and commentator, George Ledes, perhaps put it the most diplomatically when he said he had to take his hat off to Gwyneth and her ‘er…unique candle, with a move right out of the Tom Ford “F***ing Fabulous” playbook’, whose Goop brand of lifestyle and wellness products has just been accepted in to the block-busting U.S. chain of Sephora stores. ‘Say what you will,’ says Ledes, ‘but to me it smells like money!’

Now, whatever your thoughts as to the current trend for ‘shocking’ naming conventions of fragranced products, you do, indeed, have to hand it to Paltrow and her £58 ‘This Smells Like My V****a’ [starred to protect those easily offended – Ed.] candle, because it sold out in record time. Those disappointed not to catch a whiff can be put on a waiting list.

 

 

 

So come on then, no more beating around the bush (um, so to speak), what does this notorious candle actually smell like? Well, I’ve not had my nose on it, either, but in case you were wondering, the Goop website proclaims it to be ‘a funny, gorgeous, sexy, and beautifully unexpected scent,’ featuring ‘geranium, citrusy bergamot, and cedar absolutes juxtaposed with Damask rose and ambrette seed,’ which we are told puts them in mind of ‘fantasy, seduction, and a sophisticated warmth.’

So now you know.

It’s not the first time Gwyneth and her downstairs lady parts have caused a media sensation, and doubtless wont be the last, for it seems that inspirational well has not yet run dry. And as Harpers Bazaar comment, ‘Regardless of what you think about Paltrow, she and her products are a talking point again, and her candle is a sell-out hit.’

Written by Suzy Nightingale

 

Fragrant reads we recommend: The Essence

Our bookshelf at The Perfume Society is ever-growing, and we couldn’t be more delighted to share some of our favourite Fragrant Reads with you. What could be more delightful on a cold, dreary winter’s day than curling up with a cuppa and a good book? From scholarly works to scent-inspired novels, books tracing the spice routes or dedicated to just one ingredient –  there’s a plethora of perfume-related books we recommend.

But this week we have our noses buried in…

The Essence: Discovering the World of Scent, Perfume & Fragrance, by gestalten

I must begin by declaring an interest, in that I was asked by the publishers to write all of the Fragrance Families pieces for this book. That doesn’t prevent me gasping in delight at the rest of the book, however (and there’s a lot of it to love – 288 pages in full color hardback, making this a coffee-table book to admire and dip in to many times).

Delving into ‘the history, culture, and science that have shaped the multi-billion dollar perfume industry into what it is today,’ The Essence has at its core a curiousity to discover why ‘fragrance has captivated us as humans for centuries.’ Not simply another book of historical facts and well-worn stories, this is a tome for those who want to go beyond the surface and explore the people behind the perfume industry. Yes we have the inevitable picking of lavender in the fields of Provence and the laboratories, but also those lesser-told stories (in mainstream publishing certainly) of incense producers in India and innovative, indie perfumers like Mandy Aftel and Lyn Harris (Perfumer H).

Written by a number of distinguished fragrance writers from around the world, you are invited to ‘Meet the trailblazers shaping the future of perfumery as we explore the vital role that technology and scented products will play in the 21st century.’ And when history is invoked, it’s done so in fascinating ways. One of my favourite sections was a double-page timeline tracing significant political and cultural events and showing the iconic fragrances that were launched against this backdrop. For novices, scholars, noses – anyone interested in fragrance, this is a book that manages to be both beautiful and brainy.

Publisher: gestalten

ISBN: 978-3-89955-255-3

At WHSmith

By Suzy Nightingale

Smell your way to wellness with Anima Vinci

Anima Vinci are a niche fragrance house with wellness at their core – not paying mere lip-service to a current trend, but building their scents around a central ethos of literally allowing yourself time to stop and smell the roses (and jasmine, Palo Santo, citrus, sesame seeds…)

With a background at the very first ‘niche’ perfumery house – and years at the creative helm of one of the UK’s most historic fragrance names – Nathalie Vinciguerra brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the table. But it’s her passion for authenticity and sustainability within the world of fragrance that finally drove her to create Anima Vinci. Starting her illustrious career in Paris at L’Oréal, over seven years, she ‘…acquired in-depth expertise in fragrance development and international launches.’

From 2006 until 2015, Nathalie was the Head of Fragrance Development for Penhaligon’s and L’Artisan Parfumeur – creating briefs and working directly with perfumers to create award-winning fragrances you’ll definitely have worn, including absolute classics like Penhaligon’s Juniper Sling. And it was Nathalie’s excellent working relationship with some of the best noses in the world that further prepared her for the massive leap in founding her own fragrance house, with a very particular aim in mind.

 

 

Nathalie genuinely believes in perfume’s power to uplift our senses, and to enhance our own ability to emotionally connect to our surroundings. ‘Anima Vinci is the creative expression of my strong belief in the power of fragrance,’ she says, ‘and the positive effect it can have on your heart, mind and spirit. I believe that scents have the power to immerse us in the universe’s energy and nature’s beauty.’

A devotee of yoga and meditation for over thirty years, Nathalie’s exuberantly expressed and enlightened concept can instantaneously be understood when actually smelling the beautiful bounty – with Rose Prana, for instance, you will find yourself fully immersed in the rose fields of Grasse, smelling the earth below the bushes abundant with fresh, almost raspberry-scented Rose de Mai blooms, and a sense of the sky above. Jasmine Ylang, meanwhile, is an altogether more exotic journey – symbolic of divine hope in India – opulence tempered with lucidity, sandalwood and frangipani, a holiday for the soul.

‘Scent is the most sensational of senses,’ Nathalie explains. ‘The world opens up before me. I’m taken back to my past and propelled towards my future. Timelessly I return to a specific place. Memories take me to my Eden. I enjoy every breath of the world and look forward defiantly. I create fragrances that encourage you to embrace life. All you have to do is breathe.’

 

 

For me, personally, the most immediately transportive fragrance in their collection is Wood of Life. Built around the remarkably calming ingredient palo santo (a wood prized for its cleansing and spiritual properties, and burned in many religious and meditative practices), I genuinely feel my shoulders drop an inch when I spray it. And it’s one of those fragrances that just makes you smile and breathe deeply – just as Nathalie describes. It’s so soothing, like wearing an invisible cloak of perfumed protection, and incredibly useful on days you just feel overwhelmed, at work, on the tube, in a stressful situation at home – wherever you are. A notorious insomniac for pretty much all my life, I sometimes wear this to bed. I’m not going to pretend it zonks me out immediately, but smelling it while breathing deeply has definitely helped slow my overactive mind a while – it brings stillness: a perfume to hit the pause button with.

I cannot recommend the Anima Vinci fragrances highly enough – each one has been carefully composed in a collaboration between Nathalie and some of the world’s foremost perfumers, names like Thomas Fontaine, Christian Provenzano, Randa Hammami, Fanny Bal, Beverley Bayne and Michel Roudnitska. Basically a who’s-who of the fragrance world, and an indication of Nathalie’s prowess for connecting and working with these noses she’s spent her entire career communicating with.

But which of the scents will communicate most deeply with you, I wonder? Perhaps it will depend what mood you’re in and how you want to address it on that day – and now, wonderfully, you are able to try the entire collection at home with the Anima Vinci Discovery Set. Try EIGHT fragrances for only £20, and get ready for some self-care with scents. How are you feeling…?

 

 

Lime Spirit — Lime acts as a stimulating tonic for the mind and body. Lime pacifies your mood and boost brain power. It is a powerful ancient remedy for cleansing the aura and restoring self-confidence

Rose Prana — It benefits the heart chakra that is responsible for love, spiritual wisdom and mental clarity. Influences the central nervous system, boosts self-confidence, self – esteem and positive feeling. Strengthens the aura and stimulate the body

Jasmine Yang — Tonic and relaxant, it generates a positive reaction in the mind, enhances self-confidence, helps to change the mood and increase spiritual well being

Wood of Life — This elevating, soft, uplifting and sweet woody scent has been used for thousands of years for attaining illumination of mind, awaking self-love

Oud Delight — Illuminates the mind and fortifies the power of thinking. Increase the sense of strength, bringing in tranquillity, increasing cerebral functioning and strengthening the nervous system.

Tudo Azul — The potion to put a smile on your face.

Neroli Wisdom — A relaxing potion.

Sesame Chān — A potion to provide a zen state of mind.

We may be in the depths of winter still, but soon the seasons will change, the green bugs will burst open again, the sunshine will return – and in the meantime, why not treat yourself to some moments of scented reflection and calm, to revive and uplift or simply put a smile on your face? Whichever Anima Vinci fragrance you choose to wear, they’ll really help carry you through.

Written by Suzy Nightingale

Powder to the people: the many moods of iris

A rather unprepossessing looking root with a heavenly, suede-like aroma, iris is one of the most costly of fragrance ingredients – adored by perfumers for generations, but shaking off the unfair ‘grandma’s talcum powder’ reputation it perhaps once was cloaked by, now being championed by ultra-cool niche brands for a new era of purple passion.

Curiosity combined with ingenuity altered the history of perfume forever. Who exactly was the first person rootling around in the earth beneath the gloriously flowering iris, discovering the fleshy, creeping rootstocks (known as rhizomes) that look for all the world like the key ingredient in a fairytale’s curse, and pondering, “what if…?” Taking those roots, putting them in a cave to age further (the older iris rhizomes get, the more pungent they become), and grinding, distilling and extracting the essence, only then does it transform into the uniquely powdery, skin-like, sometimes almost bread dough-esque scent that lingers and clings low to the skin for hours.

Lauded for centuries as a symbol of majestic power, dedicated to the goddess Juno and revered by Egyptians who placed the flowers on the brows of the Sphinx and scepters of kings – the three petals of the blossom supposedly representing faith, wisdom and valor. In both ancient Greece and Rome, orris root was already highly valued in perfumery, with fragrant unguents of iris widely used in Macedonia, Elis and Corinth, for which they became famous.

Iris fragrances can smell as sweetly innocent as freshly laundered linen, or hint at the siren call of the boudoir – lipstick, powdered skin and silken underthings that gradually take on the body scent of the wearer. This is an ingredient you’ll long to snuggle in the bosom of, and once truly appreciated you’ll never want to be without – a new religion, a way of life… Okay, I’ll go and lie on the chaise lounge for a bit (iris always makes me want to drape myself on plush furnishings, anyway).

I could wax lyrical about its myriad charms all day (and often do, to the delight of my friends), but I want you to go out and allow yourself to be enraptured by some of these suggestions. Join my iris cult  swathe yourself in one of these scents, showcasing the many moods of Iris

 

 

Refined Iris:

Acqua di Parma Iris Nobile eau de parfum – High society swanker subtly wearing amber necklace and oakmoss Chypre fur coat (with silk knickers).

Ormonde Jayne Vanille d’Iris eau de parfum – A rope of creamy pearls knotted over see-through silk blouse, delicately skin-warm from décolleté’s touch.

Prada Infusion d’Iris eau de parfum – Immaculate white shirt line-dried in Spring, crisp sheets on bare skin: the allure of clean linen waiting to be sullied.

Xerjoff Irisss eau de parfum Warm bread roll joyously ripped asunder and secretly slathered with butter; face re-powdered, pink pout re-applied.

Serge Lutens Bas de Soie – Chaste kiss from cool blonde of the Hitchcock ilk, wearing lipstick too expensive to smudge on plebs and silk stockings you’ll never see.

 

 

Romantic Iris:

4160 Tuesdays Paradox eau de parfum – Thunderously moody walk in a storm; wrapped in cashmere stole sucking violet pastilles on a comfy sofa, temper’s becalmed.

E Coudray Iris Rose eau de toilette – A silk wedding dress on a velvet hanger, lovingly stroked by thoughtful bride-to-be at a vintage fair. Loved again.

Huitieme Art Parfums Naiviris eau de parfum – Searingly hot love letters liberally dusted with rice powder, sealed with red wax, smuggled in the spicy cargo of a ship’s belly.

Penhalligon’s Iris Prima eau de parfum – Ballerina’s farewell performance, a lithe curtsey as the curtain drops, feathers scatter the stage, tears of joy mingled with makeup.

Aerin Iris Meadow eau de parfum – Expensive bouquet tied with silk ribbons, nestled in a jam-jar on a bedroom window-sill, the handwritten card beckoning smiles.

 

 

Bohemian Iris:

Atelier Cologne Silver Iris Cologne absolue – A purple velvet gypsy-style skirt’s hem dampened by dew, pale wrists loaded with bangles, reaching for blackberries on a misty morning.

L’artisan Parfumeur Dzongkha eau de parfum – Temple stones cool beneath bare feet, chai tea sipped on a verdant mountain’s terrace, distant bells deeply resonating.

Maître Parfumeur et Gantier Iris Bleu Gris eau de parfum – Freshly laundered sheets cannot hide the masculine scent of a Dandy’s midnight visit, still lingering in the sunlit room.

Sentifique Dangereuse eau de parfum – Chanteuse shuns cold weather, languidly stretching golden limbs on tropical sun-lounger, coconut ice cream drips on hot skin.

Vancleef & Arpels Bois d’Iris eau de parfum – Free spirits chasing rainbows, lovers of lemon sorbets, cashmere stoles & black tea sipped from vintage china cups.

 

 

Bad-gal Iris:

Etat Libre d’Orange Bendelirious eau de parfum – Wild child starlet swigging Champagne while chewing cherry-flavoured gum, emerging chaotically from rock gig’s dry ice.

Parfumerie Générale Private Collection Cuir d’Iris eau de parfum – Leather-bound prayer book stolen from church, smeared with face powder fingerprints. Chocolate-covered illicit kisses confessed.

Juliette Has a Gun Citizen Queen eau de parfum – Ms. Capulet rescues herself from tragedy by ignoring poison, a flirty heroine in floral basque and leather jeans.

Miller Harris Terre d’Iris eau de parfum – Hidden doorway leads to secret library, furtive fumblings among dusty tomes, her husband’s brother a better lover.

Frederic Malle Iris Poudre eau de parfum – Smiling seductress imbued with moral turpitude, impatiently tapping manicured fingernails on glass-topped cocktail cabinet.

Written by Suzy Nightingale

This fragrance is the bee’s knees – literally!

Scientists have discovered that certain types of bees actually create their own ‘perfumes’ in order to attract a mate. And what’s more, a niche brand has just launched a Bee fragrance that’s already creating a buzz…

A new article in Science Daily reveals that scientists at the University of California have discovered male orchid bees don’t sipmply flit among the flowers collecting pollen to make honey back at the hive – they’re also using their wings ‘…to disperse a bouquet of perfumes into the air.’ And their studies have concluded that ‘the aromatic efforts are all for the sake of attracting a mate.’

Associate Professor Santiago Ramirez, UC Davis Department of Evolution and Ecology, explained that while they already knew many animals produce pheremones, the unique factor for the orchid bee is that ‘the majority of their pheromones are actually collected from plants and other sources like fungi.’ Science Daily suggests that ‘Orchid bees are master perfumers,’ and goes on to explain that the scientists reserach suggests that ‘the perfumes males concoct are unique to their specific species’.

Ramirez,and recent Ph.D. graduate student Philipp Brand, from the Population Biology Graduate Group, have been studying the mating habits of orchid bees for some years, in the course of their studies, ‘unraveling the complex chemicals responsible for successful procreation.’ What they didn’t expext to find, though, was a brand new discovery that possibly explains the evolutionary divergence of bee species: environmental perfumes (and we’re not talking ‘clean’ or ‘green’ beauty claims here, folks!)

In the study, which was first published in Nature Communications, Brand, Ramirez and their colleagues set out their case to suggest that the evolution of sexual signaling in orchid bees can directly be linked to ‘a gene that’s been shaped by each species’ perfume preferences.’

Brand commented that, ‘Our study supports the hypothesis that in the orchid bee perfume communication system, the male perfume chemistry and the female preference for the perfume chemistry can simultaneously evolve via changes in a single receptor gene.’ And this could explain why a single species split into two distinct species that we knew were linked, but had no idea why they had diverged. Ah yes, the power of that scent sillage is strong, it seems, even for bees. But how did one bee’s perfume-making prowess suddenly woo more of the female bees to his partiular, er, honeypot?

 

Green Orchid Bee

 

Explains Ramirez: ‘Imagine you have an ancestral species that uses certain compounds to communicate with each other,” said Ramirez. “If you have a chemical communication channel and then that chemical communication channel splits into two separate channels, then you have the opportunity for the formation of two separate species.’

Do make time to read the full article in Science Daily – it’s a fascingating read, and yet another notch in our understanding of the power of smell. But let’s not only focus on fragrances that makes bees feel like getting busy (buzzy?) with it; we perfume-loving humans have a brand new sweet-smelling scent to explore that’s perfectly themed – and although not inspired by the reasearch, as far as we know, happens to be perfectly timed, too. The Canadian-based niche house of Zoologist have just launched the latest in their animal-centric scents: behold Bee

Perfumer Cristiano Canali has created a perfume that showcases luxurious amounts of labdanum, dollops of honey, a leathery orange blossom dusted with powdery mimosa, delciously rounded by nutty tonka and heady heliotrope.

Zoologist Bee, £195 for 65ml extrait de parfum (1ml samples £3)
Try it at Bloom Perfumery

So which honey-based fragrances are likely to get you buzzing? Read our page all about the history and use of honey as a fragrant ingredient, and discover other perfumes to try, for the scent perfumer Christine Nagel describes as ‘half devil, half angel…’

Written by Suzy Nightingale