We’ve found the most relaxing, flower-filled films ever…

You can practically feel your blood-pressure drop as you watch these short but so-exquisite flower-filled films on Instagram – but can looking at pretty pictures of nature ACTUALLY (scientifically, not merely anecdotally) lower your stress levels? Apparently so…

A dear friend of mine recently posted on Facebook to say she’d been suffering panic attacks, but that watching these films had really helped her relax, to focus on something lovely for a while and just help her to breathe out again.

I’d been feeling similarly wobbly, to tell the truth, so immediately clicked and scrolled, and actually found myself sighing out-loud with how beautiful they are.

 

 

Available to watch on Li Ziqi’s Instagram, the IGTV films follow her adventures as she strolles 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. A Chinese food and country-life vlogger from Pingwu in Mianyang, Sichuan, Li has become something of an Internet celebrity within China, and is fast gaining popularity around the world as stressed-out viewers tune in to drop out for a while.

 

 

And oh! That garden! Filled with rambling roses, herbs and vegetables of all description, kittens and puppies frolic and her grandmother chuckles in what are almost overwhelmingly charming and bucolic scenes, as Li Ziqi wanders further into the forest and welcomes spring by picking magnolia flowers, celebrates ‘peach blossom day’ and makes all manner of utterly delicious (and sometimes bewildering, if you don’t happen to be familiar with them) floral-themed dishes.

 

 

Satisfyingly, every single part of the plants seems to be used, in meals, for homemade fabric dyes or in glorious floral arrangements in huge vases. There’s something very ASMR about it all – Auto Sensory Meridian Response: a tingling, relaxing sensation some people feel while watching or listening to pleasing audio – with the wind rustling the rose bushes as she meticulously chops and prepares the food, windchimes tinkling in the background.

 

 

If you’re stuck indoors and feel trapped, as I do (self-isolating while looking after two elderly, at-risk parents) watching these short films feels almost as good as running through the forests in gauzy gowns yourself… And you know, the calm that washes over you isn’t just make-believe. Scientists have proved that even just looking at pictures of trees and greenery for a few minutes a day can actually help reduce stress and depression.

 

 

Dubious? Have a read of this fascinating article in Psychology Today, which asserts that ‘the sight of trees allows the parasympathetic nervous system to gain an edge, calming the entire body and making us more relaxed. That’s a good thing given how many of us live in concrete, urban environments. A recent NIH study [2] found that in urban surroundings, “contact with real or simulated green settings as opposed to [manmade] settings has positive effects on mood, self-esteem and self-reported feelings of stress and depression.” The Japanese have longed practiced Shirin-yoku, taking in the forest atmosphere or “forest bathing,” to alleviate stress, aggression, fatigue, and feelings of depression.’

 

 

So there you have it: if we can’t find freedom for now, or if you don’t have access to a garden of your own (let alone a flower-filled forest to frolic in), you can at least tune in and switch down your stress levels awhile.

Wishing you safe and well, until we meet again fragrant friends…

By Suzy Nightingale

Make your home a fragrant haven

What with the continuing global pandemic and all, we’re spending so much extra time at home, now, trying to find little nooks to transform into sudden workplaces, and perhaps even somewhere to relax and wind-down awhile (wouldn’t that be nice?) We’re here to help, with ideas of how to use fragrance to make your home a fragrant haven…

You may not be aware of it, but scent plays an important, subliminal part in how we define a space. On a large scale, you’ll have noticed that supermarkets pump out fresh baking smells to entice you to the back of the shop, and spas smell gloriously relaxing the moment you step inside; but you can use the same principles to shape your own home into individually fragranced areas.

Have a look at some of these ideas to keep you alert, refreshed, comforted and soothed….

 

 

Tip: Use uplifting scents in your designated work-space – be that the spare room, a corner of the siting room with a fold-out table or even with your laptop balanced on your knees (which is less than ideal, we know!) Keep them fresh, invigorating and aromatically stimulating to keep you alert.

Try: Diffusing rosemary oil in an aromatherapy oil burner, or soaking a ceramic disc (or cotton wool, inside a pomander) and tying with a ribbon to your radiator, or near where you’re working. Far from being ‘an old wive’s tale’, rosemary has now been scientifically proven to aid memory retention and clarity of mind. Something we could all do with right now, eh?

Buy: La Montaña First Light Candle, £36
An immediately mood-altering scent gently welcomes you to a new day, while herbaceous mountain breezes get to work on un-beffudling (is that a word? It is now) your brain. Much needed at Nightingale Towers, I can tell you! Plus £5 from every sale will be donated to the National Emergencies Trust Coronavirus Appeal.

La Montaña founder, Cassandra Hall, explains why she chose rosemary as inspiration for their first candle:  ‘On our mountain, at first light, there’s a heavenly fragrance in the air. Before anyone starts an engine, or lights a fire, the air is clear, and still, and silent. The first breath of the day carries the perfume of wild mountain herbs: fennel, rosemary, mountain pepper and intoxicating rock rose. The alchemy of the fragrances, blended naturally on the breeze, weaves a magical spell.’

 

 

Tip: Transform your kitchen into a more intimate setting – if you’re lucky enough to have room for a table, or are finding yourself in there far more these days (cooking up a storm with leftovers, maybe whipping up a cocktail or three…), banish the clincal cleaning-product smells or foodie wafts, and pretend you’re in a romantic restaurant. (Do take the bins out, though.)

Try: Growing fragrant herbs in pretty pots on the windowsill, or bringing in some fresh flowers to enjoy their scent while you toil over the stove. Do make sure they’re strongly scented enough to smell over the competing scent of cooking, though. Or simply cook a cake with vanilla and spices to ensure hours of ‘Mmmm!’ (Added bonus: cake.)

 

Buy: Miller Harris Rendezvous Tabac Candle, £45
You might not think of a ‘tobacco’ scented candle as an obvious choice for the kitchen, but bear with me. This one’s inspired by the romantic brasseries of Saint-Germain, and makes your kitchen (or anywhere!) feel cosy, welcoming, somewhere to willingly linger, not *have* to be.

The Cuban cascarilla oil and pimento berries tingle their way to a heart of velvety sage and cool drifts of pine against the cosiest background of creamy tonka bean and Malay patchouli. Even if it’s once a week, treat yourself to a proper tablecloth, linen napkins, ‘the best’ china or glasses and polished silverware. It feels extra fancy, so maybe even consider wearing your best pyjamas while planning your next meal out-out.

 

 

Tip: Turn your living room into a place of scented sanctuary with opulent florals – somewhere to chill out in style while binge-watching your favourite shows, to browse your favourite magazines (including The Scented Letter, obvs) or catch-up with friends on a phone call.

Try: Find local flower deliveries at flowersfromthefarm.co.uk and fill a vase with deeply-scented flowers to cheer you (and anyone who walks past your house) up every time you see and smell them, or using a vintage jug for a fragrant display, surrounded by candles, in the fireplace.

 

 

Buy: Sana Jardin Jaipur Chant candle, £48
Opulent with real Indian tuberose essential oil, Moroccan jasmine and French narcisse with a twist of Italian lemon, this exquisite scent is redolent of exotic climes and will absolutely fill your space with floral beauty (even if you can’t get any flowers delivered, or want something longer-lasting).

Sana Jardin founder, founder Amy Christiansen Si-Ahmed, was inspired to create this scent after taking part in a Hindu devotional ceremony, where tuberose flower garlands are exchanged and play a symbolic role, connoting love, deep emotion and sensitivity. In this fragrance, the flower is given added vibrancy with Morroccan jasmine, narcisse and musk, resulting in a stunning sunshine-filled scent that will enhance your home at any time of year (and whatever the weather is doing outside).

 

 

Tip: Taking a candlelit bath with a fragrant oil while listening to soothing music is self-care you deserve. It’s difficult enough to unwind at the end of the day, when your muscles are knotted with tension from, you know, worrying about the global pandemic on top of everything else…

Try: Using a muscle-relaxing bath essence that also scents your entire house with gorgeously aromatic wafts. Aromatherapy Associates Deep Relax Bath & Shower Oil is a best-seller for a reason: it works. Soothing sandalwood, camomile and grounding vetivert will sort you out.

Buy: diptyque Paris En Fleur small candle, £30
Petite enough to be placed bath-side while you soak, this is an evocative scent to carry you away with dreams of being impossibly Parisian chic. The first Chypre for the house, a flurry of fruity rose petals merge with deeply resinous patchouli – relaxing and quite a lot sexy, all at once…

For this celebration of Paris, diptyque drew its creative inspiration from the rose and its thousand scents, such as the roses of the Bagatelle gardens or the Marché aux fleurs. To adorn the scent, they worked with the artist and friend of diptyque, Pierre Marie. Together, they created a decoration inspired by Art Nouveau, like a lattice bedecked with flowers on which roses intertwine with metallised foliage.

 

 

Tip: If you’re likely to nod off, a lit candle’s not ideal for the bedroom, but there’s a fabulous range of fragranced reed-diffusers available now. Why not change up your sleeping space with a luxurious scent and pretend you’re in a hotel (maybe change the sheets, too…)

Try: Not everyone loves lavender (yes it’s beautifully soothing, but only if you like the smell!) so surround yourself in bed with scents you adore – something that makes you stop a moment to breathe in and appreciate it better. You’ll actually feel your shoulders drop as you close your eyes.

Buy: Ruth Mastenbroek Firedance Diffuser, £30
We absolutely love this for the bedroom (or boudoir) because it feels like a 5-star scent even if your space doesn’t quite live up. It’s incredibly long-lasting (so excellent value – we’re talking months of scented contentment, here) and smells utterly unique. Divinely smoky rose smoulders beguilingly on the rich, woody base, and if your bedtime routine’s not exactly petal-scattered sheets and romance, you can dare to dream!

Rejoicing in a moment of true contentment was perfumer Ruth Mastenbroek’s muse for this so-sultry modern interpretation of the classic rose perfume, as exotic leather dances in surprise harmony with the main character – smouldering Damask rose. Set against a warming backdrop of oudh and patchouli, a shining amber note radiates in this scent which is perfect for anywhere in the home (especially anywhere you’d like to smoulder, yourself…)

However you’re coping (or otherwise) with re-arranging your house/routine/life in this current climate of uncertainty, while filling your home with designated scented spaces might not magically make everything better – I absolutely guarantee that it WILL help.

If you don’t happen to live in a mansion with a wing for every member of the household, or spare rooms that can be converted into handy separate office spaces – it’s essential to divide up what space you do have into areas that feel like passing from one phase of the day into another, that split up the many roles you may be juggling – for your own sanity, not merely a pleasant perfume to smell. And home fragrance is the easiest way of doing that, subliminally. It genuinely can change an atmosphere instantly, and, therefore, your mood/how your day rolls out.

We’re living through times we’d never imagined, that nobody knows how ‘best’ to deal with. So treating yourself to a little scented luxury is important – perhaps more now than ever before. You’re worth looking after, too, you know…

By Suzy Nightingale

Experimental Perfume Club launch online perfumery course

One of the most frequently asked questions we get, is: ‘how can I learn to become a perfumer?’ And now, Experimental Perfume Club is launching a learn-at-home perfumery course, with all the equipment, materials and step by step instructions in online video tutorials! And there’s a FREE mini-course of three lessons – scroll down to find out more…

Emmanuelle Moeglin is a classically-trained (ISIPCA) French perfumer who moved to London and opened a workshop in order help people have access to materials and tuition that would either be incredibly expensive, or impossible to gather on your own. These workshops were so popular, it allowed Emmanuelle to create and launch her own signature fragrances – innovatively presented as perfume ‘Layers that could be worn alone or mixed at home to achieve unique results.

But the Covid-19 pandemic has hit independent fragrance houses hard, so they’re having to innovate and try new things to survive. Explains Emmanuelle: ‘Like so many other brands, we’ve been impacted pretty badly by the crisis as 90% of our business was client facing and almost nothing online.’

Now, those workshops have been put online, so you can have the kit sent to you and learn at your own pace, from the comfort of your own home! With all the mateirals and tuition you need, this is a unique opportunity to take your love of fragrance and interest in perfumery further – perhaps even something that might make you consider a change of career when all this over…?

 

Available as a two-week / 12 lessons Fundamentals of Perfumery begginer’s course, you’ll have access to a series of how to and tutorial videos and a workbook that will help you awaken your sense of smell and develop an in-depth understanding of the most commonly used ingredients in perfumery. You’ll start by learning proper smelling techniques and how to accurately describe and categorize perfumery ingredients by family, volatility and type. You’ll then learn to compare and contrast these ingredients to deepen your understanding of the scented world around you. You will receive the ingredients you need to follow this course including a selection of 30 of the most commonly used perfumery ingredients and laboratory materials including scent strips, pipettes and bottles.

 

Or, you can choose to study a more advanced six-weeks / 36 lessons Fundamentals of Perfume Creation course. ‘During this 6-week course, you’ll be getting a series of videos and a workbook that will help you to understand the fundamentals of perfume creation and gain the knowledge to start creating fragrances. From the ingredients to the formula, you’ll be taken on a step-by-step learning journey that will give you the necessary information to get started in perfume creation – whether it is for a hobby or professional purpose.

Each week, you’ll receive a set of how-to videos, practical demos and theory courses to help you gain a broad understanding of the fundamentals of perfumery. You will start by awakening your sense of smell by learning to recognise, describe and organise a large selection of the most commonly used perfumery ingredients. You’ll then explore the fundamentals of professional perfumery practice including the basic equipment of perfumery and setting up your own laboratory at home. You will end the course by learning the creative process behind a fragrance brief and developing an in-depth knowledge of fragrance creation across a variety of applications by composing both simple and complex fragrance formulas.

You will receive all of the materials you need to follow this course including a wide selection of perfumery ingredients and the necessary lab equipment, including scent strips, a scale, pipettes, empty bottles, and solvent.’

Intrigued? We certainly are. And you’ll be glad to hear there’s a FREE mini taster session of THREE free classes online, so you can get a sense of what you’d be learning, and how it would work.

 

 

Whatever level you want to start at, you’ll come away with a new appreciation for the art of perfumery, for each fragrant ingredient you smell, and for the skill of the perfumers whose creations you spray every day. So why not take this as an opportunity to learn a new creative skill, and to distract yourself in the most pleasant was possible while adding another scented string to your bow…?

By Suzy Nightingale

Anima Vinci perfume masterclass – live-streaming sniff-along

Anima Vinci, the niche house with perfumes that are ‘feel-good potions’ – are live-streaming perfume masterclasses online, for free! Read about how to join in and connect with your sense of smell…

What with staying home being the new going out, we’re loving the inventive and engaging ways fragrance houses are finding to bring the perfume community together – and these weekly sniff-along scent classes with Anima Vinci are just the ticket to learn something new while having fun.

Anima Vinci say: ‘Treat yourself with some time out of the daily confined routine and have fun with us discovering the world of perfume, the raw materials, the creative process and much more. The live event is open to all to follow but it’s much more fun with the @home kit!’

So, how does it work?

The live masterclass will last for approximately one hour, and while everyone is free to watch, of course it’s much more fun if you sniff-along for the session. They have made special Anima Vinci @home Masterclass Kits, £45 which you can purchase on their website, and which will contain ‘7 mystery raw materials to smell, an Anima vinci discovery set with 8 samples, perfume strips and a quiz card.’

If you want to jump straight into discovering their scents, however, without the raw materials and card – we are thrilled to stock the full Anima Vinci Discovery Set, £20 in our shop, for you to explore and fall in love with, whenever you wish.

If you already have a kit, or discovery set – or simply want to tune in to see what it’s all about, here’s the link you’ll need:

NEXT LIVE MASTER CLASS : THURSDAY 9th APRIL 2020 at 7pm (LONDON GMT) – don’t forget to head to the Anima Vinci Facebook page to take part! And check back on their website for news of the next masterclass

 

By Suzy Nightingale

AbScent – Lost your sense of smell? They can help…

Chrissi Kelly lost her sense of smell in 2012. She had no idea how seriously this would impact on her life – and how many people struggle with this on a daily basis. Since then, she’s launched AbScent and devoted her life to finding out more about the loss of smell, and developed Snif: a smell training app that’s a personal coach to re-building or enhancing the sense of smell…

Since the devastating loss of smell caused by a virus, Chrissi Kelly has been busy founding the charity AbScent, and supporting thousands of other people with smell loss through smell training. Having taken courses with Professor Thomas Hummel, the author of the first research paper on smell training at the University of Dresden, Germany; Chrissi used his tried and trusted techniques alongside specially devised ‘smell training kits’, which have significantly helped people to reconnect with their recovering sense of smell. Chrissi also speaks at conferences, runs workshops, online events and private sessions to support people with the condition. She’s a busy woman, indeed, and we were thrilled to join her at Jo Malone London‘s flagship Regent Street Store, recently, where they were kindly playing host to the official launch of AbScent.

 

 

Chrissi explained ‘the three pillars of smell training’ approach AbScent use to aid those with a loss of smell – be that from a head injury, illness, medication or even those who were born with what they perceive as no sense of smell at all. The message is, there is help out there, and there are active ways you can learn more, connect with others and improve your sense of smell with time.

Step 1:Find out where your sense of smell is today. Use the AbScent self-assessment form, here. You won’t know if you are improving if you don’t know where you’ve started.’

Step 2: Smell Train. There are full instructions for making your own Smell Training Kit, here. Or, if you prefer, you can purchase a pre-assembled Smell Training Kit.

Step 3: Take note of your experiences. AbScent provide a guide for keeping notes and a downloadable diary.

You can also now use the online Snif App – to ‘guide and instruct users so that each smell training session is consistent and productive. Snif becomes a personal coach that takes the guesswork out of practicing, presenting a mindful and focussed way of tracking your development. Currently web-based, a native app is in the works.

 

 

Think of it as physiotherapy for your nose,’ AbScent explain. ‘The brain can rewire itself, but this is a slow process. Smell training is a commitment and it takes time. You will need to train for a minimum of four months, twice a day.’ That may seem like quite an undertaking, but when you realise how earth-shattering a loss of smell can be, it’s definitely worthwhile. ‘I’d say that pretty much everyone who has suffered loss of smell goes on to develop depression in varying forms,’ Chrissi told us.

Imagine not being able to smell your own child, your partner – yourself. Or wondering is a phantom burning smell is actually your house burning down – a loss of smell isn’t simply not being able to smell things as well/at all: it can come with a whole host of disturbing side-effects, such as all food and drink suddenly tasting foul (leading to eating disorders or malnutrition).

It can feel incredibly difficult to go to your doctor if you’re not sure how to describe your symptoms, or what they need to know. Be assured that the medical profession are now – thank goodness – taking smell loss seriously. And AbScent have made a guide to talking to your doctor, so you know exactly what to say. They even have a list of clinics to go for further help.

 

 

AbScent have also launched a Sense of Smell Project. ‘We are trying to learn more about what it is like to live with this condition and how people’s lives change as a result.’ By taking part in their survey and telling your story, you can help them get a clear overview of subjects that may have not been considered, in order to ‘develop healing strategies and better ways to support patients.’

We cannot applaud enough, the work that Chrissi and her AbScent team have done so far, and their aims of helping even more people who may well have been ignored – or not even taken their own loss of smell seriously – for so long. We also hope that other fragrance houses will join in the support. Smell loss can strike any one of us at any time, and if we all work together, what a world of sensorial discoveries we could uncover…

By Suzy Nightingale

Fragrance (but make it fashion!) – Scents inspired by fabrics

The trend-fuelled worlds of fashion and fragrance have been hand-in-glove for centuries – quite literally by 1656, when the perfumery and leather industry had become intrinsically linked, the fashion for exquisitely crafted gloves, popularised at court by Catherine de Medici, somewhat at odds with the disgustingly pungent reality of curing leather in urine. So, the Corporation of Glove-makers and Perfumers – the ‘maître-gantiers’ – (master glove-makers/perfumers) was formed in France, importing ingredients from all over the world to scent the gloves; with acres later given to growing and distilling them, such was Queen Catherine’s passion for perfume, and an entire industry was born in Grasse.

Since then, where fashion has led, so fragrance has followed – and just as hemlines go and up down, and silhouettes dramatically alter from era to era, so too do scented ‘shapes’ change with time. And perumers have long been inspired by fabric in their creations – a peculiar thing, you may think, as most fabrics don’t have their own distinct smell. Yet as we imagine a white sheet drying in sunshine, or the plush eroticism of velvet stroked beneath our fingers, we can also imagine the scent these textures might have. Such is the alchemical magic that fragrance can create – an overlapping of the senses, and in this first of two parts looking at fragrances inspired by fabrics, we pay homage to scents evoking satin, cashmere, leather and cotton…

Satin drapes. It clings to the body. It moves in the most sensuous way… And you definitely need to try draping yourself in this from prolific and gifted ‘nose’ Francis Kurkdjian. We’d call this an after-dark fragrance, one for oudh-lovers, for sure – but busting any prejudices against that ultra-woody material, for in Francis’s hands it never, ever overwhelms. We’re getting Turkish delight – a sugar-dusted rosiness that blends Bulgarian rose essence with Turkish rose absolute, while genuine Laotian oudh melts into benzoin from Siam, and the sweetness owes much to a soft, powdery accord of violet and vanilla in the heart. There’s almost a chocolate-y element swirling seductively around the patchouli, while the oudh underpins everything with its animalic smokiness. Mesmerising.

Maison Francis Kurkdjian Oud Satin Mood £200 for 70ml eau de parfum
harveynichols.com

 

 

Tom describes Iridium as ‘the fragrance equivalent of charcoal coloured cashmere.’ We always enjoy a description that makes you imagine a smell from a texture and colour, don’t you? And this really is a cool-toned cashmere, exuding effortless chic with all the powdery sophistication of precious iris concrète, but granted a strong silvery spine. The iris is dosed with carrot seed to amplify the dry, root-y yet so-refined character, and the synthetic note of Iso E Super wafts forth a deliciously grown-up gourmand ‘your skin but better’ dry-down – the kind that has people asking ‘what’s that delicious smell?’ and a secret smile is stifled when you know it’s you… Now also available as an extrait formula, poured at 71% strength, for even longer lasting enswathement.

Tom Daxon Iridium £105for 50ml eau de parfum
tomdaxon.com

 

 

Reminding us of our beloved leather jacket, a stack of books or the wood-panelled, boozily infused surroundings of a members’ only club, leather fragrances evoke a particularly voracious and luxurious sensuality, favouring deep base notes that linger the whole day long. Russian leather fragrances have a long heritage, the intense smokiness of birch the vital scent ingredient giving ‘Russian’ leather it’s characteristic smell. Here, Molton Brown curl swirls of smoke through a Siberian pine forest, infusing leather-bound books with a campfire’s glowing ember scent. Magnificently done, it’s an especial pleasure in colder weather, though I love layering it at times with a rose that needs some extra oomph.

Molton Brown Russian Leather £60 for 50ml eau de toilette
Buy it at moltonbrown.co.uk

 

 

Like burying one’s nose in sunny-day line-dried linen, a gust of pure, clean ozonic notes greets us at this fragrance’s first spritz, only made more refreshing by a rush of watery notes and pinch of ginger. Mint and green accords carry this clean and fresh feeling into the fragrance’s heart accord, which then softens into florals, cushioned by skin-like musk and vetiver. Magically capturing the comforting sensation of crispness, and featuring elegant white lilies, floral cotton accords and a vanilla-speckled, benzoin-infused amber glow in the mix: this is one to spray when you need to be reminded of home, of lazy sundays and lie-ins and snuggling up in bliss. (See below to get a luxury try-me size!)

CLEAN Reserve Warm Cotton [Reserve Blend] £82 for 100ml eau de parfum
spacenk.com

 

 

Warm Cotton was the perfect addition to the Luxury Layering Discovery Box – featuring THIRTEEN layerable scents and three fragrant body treats to try at home for £19 (£15 for VIPs) – use it to freshen up a perfume without resorting to the usual citrus, to soften a scent you feel is too harsh or simply to luxuriate in the sebsation of that clean, soft white fabric dried in the sunshine.

Whether vintage or modern – evoking an era or an archetypal fabric – the fingers of fashion are still firmly within those fragrant gloves, and together they work their alchemical magic to embolden us: seducing several senses while enhancing our own sense of who we are – or whomever we want to be that day…

By Suzy Nightingale

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

 

Romantic panic? How to buy fragrance he’ll actually love

Valentines Day – love it or loathe it – is just around the corner, and it’s still the day that generates the most fragrance sales, peaking at 42% of all prestige beauty products sold. So if you’re thinking of splashing out on a scent for your significant other, follow our guide to ensuring success…

If you already know what he loves

Have a look at matching products available, such as a gorgeously decadent grooming products like body/beard oils and shower gels or body lotions. It’s often possible to find travel-size versions of fragrances (which are always useful and well-recieved).

If you don’t want to get them the same old thing, then take a look at our genius Fragrance Finder – simply input the name of a scent they already like, and it’ll give you SIX suggestions of new fragrances to try with similar notes, themes or ‘feel’ about them, all in differing price ranges.

Plus, we now have a dedicated Men’s fragrance section, full of detailed descriptions we’ve sourced directly from the fragrance houses and perfumers themselves. And, because we know so many of us wear fragrances with no regard to gendering (yet so many houses still categorise them as ‘male’ or ‘female’), we’ve given you the option of choosing ‘shared‘ in your scented searches.

If you have no idea what he likes

A selection box of scents showcasing a range of fragrances with differing styles is your saviour. They can try them all at home, taking time to choose their favourites, and most likely discovering scents they had never heard of or perhaps would have walked past were they not temptingly waggled beneath their noses…

Amouage Men’s Discovery Set £50
Amouage are a luxury niche house that can never be accused of ‘following the flock’ – this stunning collection will wow whomever is lucky enough to recieve it with incredibly impactful, long-lasting and utterly unique fragrances. With this beautifully-composed collection we invite you to discover the many characters of these accomplished fragrances – a dozen ways to wear and enjoy Amouage, encompassing all the masculine fragrance families.

With its roots in the Sultanate of Oman, the very ‘cradle’ of perfumery, this is a luxury perfume house with its finger on the pulse-point of what modern fragrance-wearers want. So we are proud to introduce this truly decadent collection featuring TWELVE MEN’S AMOUAGE FRAGRANCES, allowing you to explore and delight in these creations at your leisure.

Mr. Scentastic Discovery Box £19 / £15 for VIP Club Members
For those wanting to begin (or expand) their fragrance wardrobe, we’ve put together a thrilling collection of simply the finest men’s fragrances out there. Where do we start..? Certainly with the so-modern 6ml MUGLER ALIEN MAN as well as a 30ml DEAR BARBER WITH CONFIDENCE fragrance for those who like traditional scents. But we’ve also added incredible niche fragrances from perfume houses such as Maison Francis Kurkdjian, Prosody, Hugo Boss, BulgariLalique and more.

So whether you are planning cliff-top walks, a trip away, cosy nights in or some dress-to-impress evenings, there is a fragrance for every occasion in this collection. We have also included two GROOMING EXTRAS – because Mr. Scentastic wants to look as good as you smell. Check out the fantastic travel size Jack Black Double Duty Moisturiser SPF20 and Pre & After-Shave Balm from the divine Atkinsons Grooming Collection.

Escentric Molecules Discovery Set £25
Revolutionising the fragrance industry with their now cult-favourite scents, these EIGHT fragrances take a man-made molecule that smells fantastic in its own right, and then combines them with naturals that help enhance the incredible depth found in that single molecule. These are duos to explore and fall in love with – especially good gifts for the scientifically inclined, or those who yearn to know more about the world of fragrance (and to smell utterly unique).

In each duo, the Molecule and Escentric companion allow you to experience the wonders of science and art in harmony – truly a treat for the senses, and we think you’ll be blown away by how long these last on the skin (and, of course, how fabulous he’ll smell…) For rebels, artists and scientists everywhere, why run with the pack when you can smell so delightfully different?

Vouchers to spend or fancy a change? How to find your new favourite fragrance…

If you have vouchers or Christmas cash gifts burning a hole in your pocket, or perhaps have been thinking about stepping outside your comfort zone and changing up your scent game for 2020, we have three simple steps to follow to find your perfect new fragrance.

With literally thousands of new launches every year, even we can’t get our noses around all of them! So, where to begin…?

At The Perfume Society, we’re here to make finding your next ‘new favourite’ fragrance a complete doddle. Just follow these simple steps, and you’ll be off on a fragrant journey of discovery…

1: Start with what you love
Instead of plunging wildly into the dark and trying every random fragrance you see, it’s a good idea to base your sniff list on something you already know you love. Our Fragrance Finder is completely genius at this, and has recently been recommended by fragrance experts and Fume Chat podcast hosts Nick Gilbert and Thomas Dunkley as the best place to start when looking for a new fragrance to suit you.

All you need do is type in the name of a scent you already adore (or one you know your beloved currntly wears) and you’ll be given an immediate list of six scents to seek out, all at various price points and with characteristics you’re extremely like to swoon for. Honestly, try it – they’re quite spookily accurate!

2: Give yourself time
Now clutching your shopping list of scents to try, we cannot urge you strongly enough to allow yourself the time to live with them on your skin a while before making a snap decision either way. First sniff? That’s the top notes – generally something citrus-y and ephemeral – which can disappear within the first few minutes of spraying because the ingredients evaporate more quickly.

We find an hour is enough to give you a proper sense of what the perfume smells like on you. And if you don’t want to douse yourself head-to-toe (why on earth not? But each to their own) then spray on a blotter or ‘spill’ (long paper strip) to get an idea. But remember – it will only be an idea of the final scent. They were made to be warmed and worn on your skin, not paper, so will often smell very different (and better) on you. And your mood/the weather/food can all drastically alter how a scent smells on you, so ideally, come back and try each one a couple of times.

 

3: Make note(s)
It’s incredible where your mind can take you when sniffing something gorgeous. Perfumes are created to carry us away to somewhere, so where are your six scents taking you? Close your eyes, inhale deeply and then ask yourself questions such as:

  • If this scent were a fabric, would it be velvet, suede, leather or linen?
  • What colour does the fragrance remind you of?
  • If the fragrance were a piece of music, what instrument would be playing?
  • How does it make you feel? Happy, excited, relaxed, romantic…?

These are all questions we ask people at our How to Improve Your Sense of Smell workshops (keep an eye on these, we shall be adding new workshops for 2020 as soon as we can), and are based on techniques shared with us by the world’s top perfumers; but the more you make yourself think along these lines, the greater connection you’ll have to any fragrance you try.

Of course we’re aware that not everyone happens to live near a perfumery with a wide selection of names available, and sometimes it’s good to go for something entirely new – a fragrance you might have walked on by and never sniffed, believing it ‘just wasn’t your type of thing.’ We cannot tell you how many fabulous new fragrances we’ve found this way. And that’s why we offer The Perfume Society Discovery Boxes – curated collections of try-at-home samples and mini/travel sizes, along with some other gorgeous scented treats – all with links to instructive descriptions of the fragrances to help you follow the trail of each one you’re smelling. What’s more, we dedicate pages to each fragrance house, detailing their history, the faces behind the fragrances and their inspirations, so you can choose to explore more from them if you wish.

A great place to start is with our Launches we Love Discovery Box. We’re always asked: ‘Which new fragrances are you most excited about, and where can I go to smell them?’ We’ve put in the nose-work for you, gathering together the latest Launches We Love – with OVER A DOZEN FRAGRANCES to discover, there is truly something for everyone to fall for…

As well as our hand-picked selections, we also offer an ever-expanding range of Brand Boxes – try-me sets of samples that some of our favourite houses have put together, so that you can explore and experience several (or sometimes all!) the fragrances they produce. This gives you a great idea of their house style, and along with all of these tips, will give you a place to start narrowing down your search for that new scent – a perfume that’s truly perfect for you

Written by Suzy Nightingale