Lipstick scents: the alluring history of the perfume pout

Lipstick scents have always been a huge part of cosmetics’ glamorous allure – from the boudoir to the boardroom and beyond – but now you can also wear va-va-voom versions of the pucker-up in perfumed form…

With so many of us masked-up to the eyballs (literally), unless you find your perfect bullet-proof formula, an actual lip colour sadly seems more unneccessary for the time being. Fear not: fragrances that smell exactly like the most glamorous kind of vintage lipsticks are out there, and there’s something about that so-distinctive smell that really does give the same feeling of a vixenish vermillion or scarlet slick of courage.

 

 

I got that red lip classic thing that you like,’ Taylor Swift sings. But have you ever wondered exactly why so many classic lipsticks smell the same? ‘In France, until the Revolution, people of the court would spritz their wigs with a blend of crushed iris roots and rice powder. This “iris-y” sillage remained,’ Juliet Has a Gun tells us – diving deep into the history of scented lipsticks to celebrate the launch of their Lipstick Fever fragrance (read on for our review…)

‘Violet made its appearance later, at the end of the 19th century, in the first solid sticks, but became the norm in the 1920s when lipsticks were flavored with a violet candy aroma, which was fashionable at the time. As lipsticks came in contact with the mouth, the beauty houses tended to perfume them with comestible ingredients. And the harmonies of iris, violet and raspberry have the advantage of being rather lovely when you run your tongue over your lips…’

 

 

There’s no doubt about it – the lipstick is a powerful symbol of self expression, celebrating the strength of femininity – and the scent of a lipstick only adds to its charms. We’re reminded of special occasions, of borrowing our mother’s lipsticks as a child, and reaching into a handbag to swipe on a bit of spirit-lifting colour when you’re feeling anxious. So if you’re missing a slick of courage, why not dress yourself in these fabulously lipstick-inspired scents…?

 

 

Juliet Has a Gun Lipstick Fever Oh this is joyous! ‘Iris, Violet absolute and Raspberry. Enhanced with woody notes (Patchouli, Cedarwood) to give it a little refinement and to echo the leather of the handbag so often inseparable from it,’ they say. We say: contemporary gourmands just got all the more desirable. Its wonderfully frivolous to wear, a scented accessory to twirl through the streets in!
£85 for 50ml eau de parfum harveynichols.com

 

 

Cartier Basier Fou ‘Mischievous and feminine soliflor whose delicious accents evoke the aroma of kisses with lipstick,’ Baiser Fou is developed by the in-house perfumer Mathilde Laurent, who chose the flower of orchid as the main ingredient. Playfully charming but exuding a gamine chicness nonetheless, this one’s a kiss-chase in a bottle.
£76 for 50ml eau de parfum theperfumeshop.com

 

 

Guerlain French Kiss We’re invited to succumb, with this scent, to ‘the charms of French Kiss, a glossy floral that celebrates the French art of kissing with a sexy rose, litchi and raspberry accord.’ The boudoir-inspired bottle echoes the scent itself – the kind of ultra refined va-va-voom only the French can do. Find yourself a chaise lounge, don your prettiest peignoir!
£185 for 75ml eau de parfum guerlain.com

 

 

Histoire de Parfums 1889 Inspired by the luscious red lips of Moulin Rouge dancers, this shamelessly naughty scent evokes layers of frilly petticoats and a Carmine smile. Swirls of sugar melt in Absinthe, a sprinkle of cinnamon amidst a plumptious booziness calms to a warm-skin snuggle of soft musk and something vaguely pain-au-chocolat-ish in the base.
From €38 for 15ml eau de parfum histoiredeparfums.com

 

 

Frederic Malle Lipstick Rose Ralf Schwieger’s Hollywood glamor, ‘Lipstick Rose smiles at you, like a dash of lipstick with its rose and violet-flavoured candy scent.’ Grapefruit sparkles up the fragrance’s central rose note, while musk and vanilla, with a hint of vetiver and amber, smoothly drapes the base. Flirtatiously fabulous, it feels grown up yet prone to giggles.
£180 for 100ml eau de parfum libertylondon.com

 

 

Estée Lauder Modern Muse Le Rouge A pout-laden provocative contrast of distinctively different accords – rich roses drizzled by ripe fruits, with a seductive velvet creme. Its an intriguing kiss of a scent to seduce every day, described as ‘a true innovation in fragrance design, as complex and fascinating as the woman who inspires it.’
From £52 for 30ml eau de parfum esteelauder.co.uk

 

By Suzy Nightingale

Merchant of Venice: your NEW online personal shopper!

Have you ever wanted your own personal perfume shopper? Well now, The Merchant of Venice is offering you the experience from the comfort of your own home…

While we’d dearly love to be sauntering through the heart-stoppingly beautiful streets of Venice and sniffing the perfume wares in person – as we did on our magnicent trip to the birthplace of fine perfumery – The merchant of Venice has come up with a cunning way to bring us the luxury of a one-to-one expert scent consultation, but all without having to leave your own sofa.

 

 

During these strange days, it can be difficult to know where to begin when searching for a new scent, and so The Merchant of Venice want to offer ‘…a new type of sensory experience’ with which to ‘re-establish a human contact’ with customers, thanks to its highly professional consultants being made available via a virtual online personal shopping experience.

For those of you who have yet to try the sumptuous, historically inspred (yet thoroughly contemporary) scents, you can have a gander at our page dedicated to the history of The Merchant of Venice perfumes; but what you really need to know is this:

When the princess Teodora Ducas – daughter of the Emperor of Byzantium – married the Doge Domenico Selvo in 1060, it can be said the grand Venetian tradition of perfumery (and the accompanying products with which the royal court liked to adorn themselves) truly began. So when you experience a fragrance from The Merchant of Venice – it’s a nod to the very history of perfumery itself…

During your navigation of The Merchant of Venice website, they tell us, you will be able to ‘interact with specialists in a sophisticated presentation of the collections’ that will guide you in your choice of the perfect perfumes for you to try. So, from your home, you can ‘take advantage of a private, tailor-made and highly professional service as in The Merchant of Venice boutiques.’

We have had the great privilege of visiting The Merchant of Venice boutiques, and they are beyond expectations – each unique in character and stunningly presented (as are the perfumes, themselves).

During your online personal shopper consultation, you will have each fragrance thoroughly described, using its olfactory notes. But much more than that, your personal shopper will listen to your exact requirements, and give personalised advice ‘…to find the essence that best suits the personality of each person. A dynamic that has been refined over the years also thanks to the experience at the Perfume Museum at Palazzo Mocenigo in Venice’

 

 

And oh, when we can travel again, we urge you to visit the Palazzo Mocenigo – it’s the most incredible collection of perfume history we’ve ever seen – from the thousands of historic perfume bottles, to the imaculate reconstruction of a 16th Century perfumer’s workshop.

Back to the present day, meanwhile, the traditions continue. ‘The ability to describe the history and origin of raw materials is the basis and the starting point for communicating the great passion and history that lies behind each creation,’ The Merchant of Venice explains, and the first personal shopper to assist you will be Christian Waas.

‘He comes from a family of perfumers and has collaborated with several international perfumery houses’ they continue, and apart from his fluency in English and German, Christian was chosen for ‘his ability to combine in-depth knowledge of perfume with sales expertise, together with his passion for history and culture,’ and his inate ability to present this to you in an exciting, engaging way.

The service will be active from mid-October through an online booking at themerchantofvenice.com

What on earth would princess Teodora Ducas have made of the fact that, 960 years since her marriage, future fragrance lovers around the world would be booking personal perfume consultations via a little magic screen they can keep in their pockets? It would surely have blown her mind. But the fact we still hanker after the magnificent scents made in Venice? We have a hunch she wouldn’t have been very surprised…

By Suzy Nightingale

Comfort & Strength: scenting your mood with whispers and shouts

Comfort & Strength are feelings we’re all needing more of these days, and oh goodness, wearing the right fragrance really does help. But should you reach for something loud and proud or softly soothing…?

‘…Smell is a language of airborne shouts and whispers that travels across rooms. Smell is suggestive.’ – Sarah Knott, Mother: An Unconventional History (Penguin, 2019)

 

In the just-published Beyond Fashion & Fragrance edition of The Scented Letter magazine, I focus on the post-pandemic perfume landscape – reporting how fragrance sales actually grew during the first #lockdown, as people swathed themselves in familiar scents to comfort themselves; or tried a whole host of new fragrances to feel more alert and avoid associating their usual favourite with negative emotions. Similarly, the worldwide taste in perfumes seems to now vacillate between the big-hitter room-fillers and the altogether softer, more contemplative scents that remain closer to one’s own skin.

So which do you prefer? I know some days I crave the quietude of something gentle – an olfactory caress akin to wrapping myself in a cashmere blanket. At other times, I’ve desperately sought out scents to wear as a kind of fragrant armour against *gestures at everything* – some scented ‘backbone in a bottle’.

Whether its whispers or shouts you’re seeking, here’s a very small selection of fragrances I have been reaching for to scent my mood…

 

 

KAYALI VANILLA | 28
Creamy jasmine swirled through a cloud of vanilla is sheer bliss on the skin, a sensation of intimacy elegantly rendered in addictive tonka, musk and amber-rich patchouli sprinkled with brown sugar.
£67 for 50ml eau de parfum

Try it at: cultbeauty.co.uk

 

 

Olfactive O Skin
A soothing hush of ambrette seed, orris and magnolia unfurl from the sensation of cool, cotton sheets to a sweeter nuzzle of sun-warmed skin via beeswax absolute and sandalwood. An incredibly long-lasting hug – something we could all do with right now.
£100 for 30ml extrait de parfum

Try it at: olfactiveo.com

(You can also try Skin, along with all their other fragrances, in the Olfactive O Discovery Set: £30)

 

 

L’Orchestre Parfums Pianao Santal
A lullaby of languorous warm skin wraped in silky sheets, the sandalwood, cedar and ethereal white musks feel milky, mystical and dream-like; finally caressed by caraway, carried like motes of dust.
£129 for 100ml eau de parfum

Try it at: harveynichols.com

 

 

 

Kierin NYC Nitro Noir

A powerhouse contemporary Chypre/floral that positively swings its hips, with ripe pink berries swirled through rich patchouli and dusted with powdery orris for a hypnotic, individualistic hurrah.
£65 for 50ml eau de parfum

Try it at: theperfumeshop.com

Available in the Kierin NYC Discovery Set (all four fragrances to sample at home) for £15

 

 

 

THOO Live in Colours

Punchy grapefruit and lemon are paired with juicy red fruits before the heart fizzes pink pepper and ginger: exhilaration guaranteed. Hinoki wood and musk in the dry down help ground you, confidently.
£190 for 75ml eau de parfum

Try it at: jovoyparis.co.uk

 

Tom Daxon Iridium 71%

Proof that cashmere can be worn as armour, the original scent’s intensified to over three and half times the strength. Piquant juniper’s enfolded in layers of powery iris: silkiness draping the steely scaffolding.
£245 for 50ml extrait de parfum

Try it at: tomdaxon.com

Quite apart from using scent to smell nice, trying a variety of fragrances also helps to deleniate the days, don’t you think? At a time when travelling is almost non-existant, we’re pining for new experiences. Trying an unfamilar scent can genuinely jolt you out of feeling quite so… trapped – opening the world as your olfactory oyster, if you like, to explore.

With that in mind, we have a wonderful selection of Discovery Boxes of samples and ‘try me’ sizes we’ve specially curated for you to try at home, as well as fabulous Brand Discovery Sets where you can sample the entire offerings of niche houses.

Comfort and Strength: why not have both?

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

Forgotten flowers: lily of the valley _ a fascinating history + why perfumers love it, now!

We’ve been focussing on those ‘forgotten flowers’ in perfumery, perhaps seen as a little old fashioned once, but which are re-blooming once again…

Last time we looked at freesia, and in the most recent edition of The Scented Letter Magazine, we invited you to Step Into the Garden with the main feature dedicated to re-exploring roses, magolias, violets, peonies and osmanthus. But today, we’d like to tempt you to try: lily of the valley.

Regarded as a lucky charm ever since its first introduction from Japan to Europe in the Middle Ages, lily of the valley has become synonymous with the month of May and ‘the return of happiness’. For the French, May 1st traditionally represents the start of gifting bouquets of “muguet” to loved ones to signify the regard in which they’re held and as a token of prosperity for the year ahead. A tradition supposedly begun when King Charles IX was presented with a bunch of the delicate blooms, and decided to gift the ladies of his court, too.

In Europe, ‘bals de muguet’ were historically held – lily of the valley themed dances that offered the tantalising prospect for young singletons to meet without their parents’ permission.

An iconic (and ultra-chic) lily of valley fragrance was the original Dior Diorissimo, designed in 1956 by Edmond Roudnitska. Composed in homage to Christian Dior’s favorite flowe, the lily of the valley was to be found on his personal stationary, jacklet lapels, printed on his fashion designs, and, on one occasion, inspired his entire 1954 spring collection.

A more recent icon is Penhaligon’s Lily of the Valley, which was launched in 1976 – tapping into the fashion trend for romantic nostalgia – and which is wonderfully described as ‘Lacey leaves. Dappled light. Green, clean, wholesome. Lily of the Valley is as fresh and optimistic as the morning dew, grounded by notes of bergamot and sandalwood.’

With the young gals dressed in white gowns and the dapper chaps at those historic bals wearing lily of the valley as a buttonhole, we’re sure there was many a ‘return to happiness’ on such evenings… Now the custom is tied in with France’s Labour Day public holiday, and the tradition of giving lily of the valley to loved ones during May still holds strong.

But perfumers love using this elusive scent all-year ’round, and we’ve seen an increasing number of fragrances using lily of the valley once again.

lily of the valley Victorian card

Lily of the valley has also made its way into countless bridal bouquets (including that of Kate Middleton for her wedding to Prince Willliam);  in many countries, it’s linked to this day with tenderness, love, faith, happiness and purity.

No wonder we chose this delightful, flower-filled date in the calendar to launch The Perfume Society – running hither and thither all over London handing sprigs of lily of the valley to fragrant friends!

So what does lily of the valley smell like?

Almost spicy, so green and sweet, with crisp hints of lemon: that’s lily of the valley. The flowers themselves are really mean with their oil, though, and synthetics are more often used to recreate lily of the valley’s magic:  Lilial, Lyral and hydroxycitronellal are among them.

lily of the valley poem

Far from reserving this magical note for May, or thinking that it has to be ‘old-fashioned’ smelling in a scent, we love the way perfumers use lily of the valley to ‘open up’ and freshen the other floral notes in a blend. It can smell like a woodland walk just after a rainshower (so very apropos for our weather right now, in the U.K.) or add some gentle sparkles of sunlight amid more verdant or deeper, shady phases as a scent unfurls on your skin.

Try these five fragrances in which lily of the valley is resplendent, and discover why we love this note so much…

lily of the valley perfumes Imperial Emerald

Perfumer Jordi Fernandez’s exquisite layering of iris, lily of the valley and Egyptian jasmine over a hazy layer of musks, is designed to conjure up the scent of an Italian stately garden, the sun setting and the hedgerows scenting the alleyways.
Merchant of Venice Imperial Emerald £250 for 100ml eau de parfum
harrods.com

Oh, this is a crisp stroll, bottled. Pears, bergamots and black currants drip onto aqueous blooms, sunlit lily of the valley and dewy roses, with musks softening a woody trail. Close your eyes and dream of spring already.
Maison Margiela Springtime In a Park £98 for 100ml eaux de toilette
harveynichols.com

Lily of the valley adds a weightless airiness that manages to be discreet, mysterious and sexy all at the same time. Infused with the signature musk, it sighs to a heart of roses, the dry-down a vibrant hum of black cedar, white cedar and tonka bean.
Narciso Rodriguez Eau de Toilette Rouge From £41 for 30ml eau de toilette
debenhams.com

This gauzy tapestry of petals feels like wearing a tulle gown sprinkled with sequins. Jasmine and rose are laced through with bright violet leaf and a shivering flurry of lily of the valley; while ribbons of white musk and ambergris weave through succulent papaya.
Goldea Blossom Delight £74 for 100ml eau de parfum
harrods.com

Cast off any grey clouds with this delightful zing of a scent – the lily of the valley’s so crisp in here it practically makes your mouth water. Twisting with tendrils of honekysuckle and grounded on a base of akigalawood and transparent patchouli, it’s a winner no matter the weather.
Miu Miu L’Eau Bleue from £50 for 30ml eau de parfum
johnlewis.com

By Suzy Nightingale

Penhaligon’s Language of Flowers

Love’s language may be talked with these
To work out choicest sentences,
No blossoms can be meeter
And, such being used in Eastern bowers
Young maids may wonder if the flowers
Or meanings be the sweeter.

ELIZABETH BARRETT BROWNING, 1806 – 1861 

 

With our ‘Step in to the Gardenissue of The Scented Letter Magazine hot off the press, and more of us craving the colours, textures and (of course) scents of flowers more than ever in these uncertain times… floral inspiration is springing up all over!

Penhaligon’s have published a fascinating guide to the ancient ‘Language of Flowers‘ – the hidden meanings attached to seemingly innocent blooms, and how these could be used to send secret messages that bypassed stringent social ettiquette in the past…

What’s more, Penhaligon’s are inviting you to construct your own virtual bouquet to send to someone special, and when you sign up to their Penhaligon’s Times newsletter, both you and your friend will receive a £10 gift voucher to enjoy.

 

 

The newsletter is always packed full of interesting scented snippets, and here is their explantion of that secret scented Language of Flowers, first printed in the Penhaligon’s Times:

‘What could be more pleasurable than receiving an unexpected bunch of flowers! A bunch of bluebells to brighten a day. Lily of the Valley to celebrate a lover’s return, or a simple rose to nurture a budding romance. How much more pleasurable may be if the flowers themselves carry a hidden meaning. From ancient times flowers have been symbolic. The Romans honoured their heroes with laurel wreaths and Greek mythology tells how many flowers were created.

Poets have always extolled the virtues of flowers, and since Elizabethan times have written on their meanings. But it was the Victorians who turned flower-giving into an art. Inspired by a book entitled Le Langage de Fleurs by Madame de la Tour, the Victorians practised the new floral code with the same dedication with which they built their cities and furnished their homes.

The choice of flower was all important, but so too was the manner of presentation. If the flowers were upside down the opposite meaning was intended. Thus tulips presented with their stems uppermost meant blatant rejection from a lover. If the ribbon was tied to the left, the meaning referred to the giver, if tied to the right, to the recipient. On the other hand, one could always respond by wearing the flower in different ways – on her heart of course meant love, but worn in the hair implied caution. Both are acceptable locations for a light mist of scent.’

 

 

So now, what will your virtual bouquet say in this secret Language of Flowers, we wonder…?

Written by Suzy Nightingale

Mary Celestia – 150 year old scent discovered on a ship wreck (and remade!)

A team of divers and archaeologists discovered a 19th-century fragrance in a shipwreck off the coast of Bermuda, and the scent has now been painstakingly researched and reconstructed for you to smell for yourself…

Bermuda is perhaps most associated with the infamous ‘Bermuda Triangle’ – an area in the western part of the North Atlantic Ocean where a surprising number of ships and aircraft have gone missing (often said to be under mysterious circumstances) over the years. In fact, Bermuda has over 300 known shipwrecks lying dormant on the sea bed, and in one of them – The Mary Celestia – whose hull was spotted by Philippe Max Rouja, the island’s custodian of historic wrecks, following a huge storm in 2011; the search team came across this rare and intriguing fragrant find…

 

 

In the news story, Atlas Obscura reported that ‘After a week of examining the wreck, a team of divers and archaeologists found a number of artifacts, including shoes, wine, and two small bottles of perfume. The items were packed together, leading the team to think they may have been gifts. Save for some mineral deposits that had formed on them, the bottles appeared to be intact. One still contained a small air bubble inside, which otherwise would have been forced out by seawater. Etched on the glass were the names “Piesse and Lubin London.”

Rouja brought the bottles to Isabelle Ramsay-Brackstone, the owner of a local boutique perfume store called Lili Bermuda. Ramsay-Brackstone immediately knew they were a rare find. “In the 1800s, London was a center of the perfume industry and Piesse and Lubin was the name of a prominent perfume house on Bond Street,” she says.’

 

 

Indeed, I know that name well, having recently researched and written an article about perfumer G.W. Septimus Piesse for our Music & Perfume issue of The Scented Letter magazine!

In 1857, Piesse (who was a perfumer and chemist) published a popular olfactory guide called The Art of Perfumery and the Methods of Obtaining the Odours of Plants. This guide went on to shape the history of perfumery, and if you’ve ever referred to perfumes having ‘notes’ or being ‘composed’, it’s Piesse’s ‘Gamut of Odors’ you have to thank – a comparative scale of different aromas based on a musical scale.

But what, you may wonder, did this perfume sunk for so many years smell like?

‘After carefully scraping the mineral deposits off the bottles and opening them,’ Atlas Obscura reports, Ramsay-Brackstone and fellow perfumer Jean Claude Delville from Drom, took a tentative sniff…

‘One bottle gave of a whiff of a rotten smell. Unfortunately, some seawater had seeped in and spoiled the fragrance. But the other specimen survived intact after 150 years underwater. According to the duo, it smelled of orange, bergamot, and grapefruit with a faint aroma of flowers and sandalwood. There were also some musky “animal notes,” such as civet or ambergris…’

Using gas chromatography (a process similar to unravelling DNA, where fragrant ingredients are captured and their chemical structure analysed to show the exact mixture) didn’t reveal all – Delville admits that after some detective work to discover what ingredients Piesse used in his fragrances, they also had to rely on ‘…my nose to do the reconstitution.’

 

 

It was important for them to try and achieve the perfume’s exact aroma, he continued, because ‘We didn’t want to recreate just a modern version of the fragrance. We wanted to stay true to the original scent.’ So during several months of trials and over 110 differing combinations, the pair decided to use orange flower, roses, sandalwood, and vanilla in addition to the gas chromatography findings.

Naming the final creation Mary Celestia, the initial launch was limited to 1,854 bottles (refrencing the fateful year the ship sunk), because they weren’t sure how popular a shipwrecked scent would be. But it proved to be such a success that the fragrance is now stocked again in Isabelle’s shop.

It sounds utterly beautiful, looking at the list of notes and description, so although I may have been swept away by the romance of the story, I’d certainly give it go. Would you like to wear the scent of a shipwreck…?

 

Mary Celestia $130 for 100ml eau de parfum (samples and smaller sizes also available)
lilibermuda.com

Written by Suzy Nightingale

Lancôme Trésor: Isabella Rossellini reveals the iconic scent’s secrets

Isabella Rossellini spoke revealingly about Lancôme Trésor – her all-time signature scent – to makeup artist Lisa Eldridge, and we were utterly gripped!

Read on to learn more and watch the wonderful interview, and find out why Isabella was much, much more than just the ‘face’ of this fragrance…

In an idyllic farmhouse ‘in the wine region’ of France, the iconic actress, model and spokesperson for Lancôme, Isabella Rossellini, spoke so movingly about her fragrant memories of another icon being launched: the magical Trésor. While showing us around the stunning building and outdoors, she holds up just-hatched chickens (yes really) while waxing lyrical about her incredible career and personal memories.

 

 

Originally launched in 1952, Trésor (meaning ‘Treasure’ in French) was completely re-worked by brilliant perfumer Sophia Grosjman (known as ‘the Picasso of perfume’ for her brilliant techniques.)

Unusually for 1990, Lancôme were keen to let their ‘face’ of the fragrance have a hands-on role. ‘No more were we “silent beauties”,’ Isabella recalls, ‘I had a voice, an opinion. And if I was going to talk about this perfume, I wanted to know everything, from the composition to how the bottle was made.’

Talking about how she was involved with the process of choosing the final version of the fragrance, Isabella reveals that she had a definite front-runner when blind-smelling the lab samples.

‘I smelled this one that was my absolute favourite, so original, so magical. It got down to the final submissions. But of course in market research you have to please a lot of people…’ Isabella explains. ‘I thought please GOD… and well, it WON!’ she exclaims. And Isabella was so thrilled she asked to meet this ‘nose.’

 

 

‘She looked like a sorceress, sitting there with this black hair…’ Isabella laughs, ‘and she said in this thick Russian accent, “you know, Bella, a few years ago I saw this film, Casablanca, and I was inspired by the romance, the adventure, the mystery, and that night I worked on a fragrance, which became Trésor.”’ And the star of that film? Isabella’s mother, actress Ingrid Bergman! Even more extraordinary when you find out this was two years before Isabella even became involved with Lancôme.

Was Fate calling Isabella to this fragrance, perhaps…? Well certainly it has become her scented calling card. ‘I spray it everywhere, in my home, in hotel rooms… my children always say they know where I am as they can follow my scent trail…’

The fragrance has been a huge success ever since it launched, truly becoming a modern classic in the hallowed halls of perfume legend. So much so, that when Chandler Burr curated his exhibition on perfumes at the Museum of Art & Design, in New York, the central installation allowed visitors to smell Trésor at different stages during its olfactory development.

To find out more, watch the interview for yourself, in full, below, and then read our review to see why you need to try Trésor at least once in your life (or once a day, if you’re still smitten as Isabella clearly is!)

 

 

For those of you haven’t yet tried Trésor (or any of its other iterations), now is a great time to discover – or to re-discover its beauty if you’d worn and loved it, then, and we also have an entire page dedicated to the history of Lancôme and their fragrances for you to explore.

Top Notes: Rose Petals, Apricot Blossoms, Peach Tree Flowers
Middle Notes: Lilly of the Valley, Vanilla, Heliotrope, Iris
Base Notes: Sandalwood, Musk

One of those scents that just seem to sing on the skin, Trésor is a love letter to seemingly effortless sophistication. The rose shimmers with light, dancing across the fuzzy velvet of soft apricot skins and succulent peach to a luminous heart of white flowers dusted with powder and a smooth, long-lasting trail of creamy musk. For those seeking even more luminescence, the Trésor eau de toilette radiates freshness atop a wonderfully milky leather base; and the La Nuit Trésor smoulders with black rose, ripe raspberry and smoky frankincense.

Each one has a delightful story to tell on the skin, but we have so loved hearing Isabella’s own story of the fragrance, first-hand…

Lancome Trésor £54.50 for 30ml eau de parfum
Try it at lancome.co.uk

Written by Suzy Nightingale

ODORBET: a growing vocabularly for your nose…

The ODORBET is a brand new, open resource for all odophiles – and they want YOUR help…

Conceived by artist and author Catherine Haley Epstein and art and olfactory historian Caro Verbeek, the ODORBET is an online place to collect (and delight in) smell descriptions, with a larger aim ‘…to re-narrate history from a sensory perspective by reconstructing and presenting historical scents and tactile poetry in museums and beyond.’

Thanks to those who have already submitted, they’ve gathered 240 words and phrases so far, from controubutors all over the world, and these are being gradually shared at random, in three-word installations.

So why does it matter? Why can’t we just make do with the same old words we normally use?

Well, as we know all too well at The Perfume Society, describing a smell is actually really challenging. There are very few commonly used words that don ‘t fall back on likening a scent to something else – saying it’s fruity, for example, or likening it to a well-known texture such as velvet. By limiting our vocabulary, we’re restricting the ways in which we can accurately communicate and share our feelings about what we’re smelling, and ultimately, how we connect to those smells emotionally and intellectually.

‘We are compiling this Odorbet to provide more springboards for broader thinking around the landscape of the nose and scent,’ they explain, because we know that ‘…how we think is deeply affected by the words we use. For example, “climate change study” has a vastly different connotation than “imminent disaster planning.” We know there is passive, neutral and aggressive ways of stating things that will inspire correlating behavior.’

What’s more, the descriptions reveal fascinating historical and cultural scent snippets you’ve perhaops never heard of, and will want to nose around finding out more about, as we certainly did!

Let’s have a peek at a few submitted so far, and think about which others we might want to add, ourselves…

Want to join in? Submit your lesser-known smell descriptors to ODORBET, and read their blog posts to find out more. We can’t wait for the next set of scent words to be released for us all to share!

By Suzy Nightingale

Mayfair perfume walk – get a whiff of history!

If you’re a perfume lover (and we suppose you are, since you’re here!) then we know you’re going to love an historical Perfume Walk through London’s vibrant, heritage-rich Mayfair…

On March 21st, Perfumedaze are going to be sauntering through the world of scent, taking in the sights and smells of London’s historic fragrance houses, led by the very knowledgable Olga (who we often see at out own Perfume Society events, as she’s a long-time and very enthusiastic member!) So although we’re not organising the walk, we very much wanted to flag it up for fellow fragrance addicts.

 

 

Says Olga: ‘The perfume walk is an invite to have a glimpse of London history through perfumes, their creators and people who wore them. The tour takes about three hours during which walk we will visit heritage perfume shops and find out the exciting history of old English brands like Floris, Atkinson’s, Penhaligon’s and Grossmith. We will have access to places usually closed to public, like the Museum at Floris and the Georgian Suite at Atkinsons.

 

Floris offers an opportunity for a real time travel. The shop has been occupying the same premises for 290 years and is still run by the same family. Among his clients there are royals, famous people, actors and even literary characters. The visit to Floris also gives a chance to discuss what a unisex fragrance mean.

 

Atkinsons, meanwhile, is a real phoenix of the perfume industry connected to the king of English fashion Beau Brummell as well as Russian Royal Family, Queen Victoria and Sarah Bernard. We will also be walking on the street once famous for Turkish baths where William Penhaligon created his first fragrance. And the tour will finish in the mecca of modern perfumery, Jovoy Mayfair, where we will discover secrets of main perfume ingredients and discuss pros and cons of naturals and synthetics.’

 

 

All the details you need to know are on the Eventbrite ticket page, but the basics are that the walk is March 21st, 11am–2pm, and tickets cost £20 (non-refundable).

Traversing from the oldest houses still proudly proferring perfumes in the Captial, right through to exploring some of the most modern fragrances around – think of this as a way to time travel with your nose.

By Suzy Nightingale