The highly acclaimed, multi-award-winning documentary, Perfume War, asks the question: can perfume prevent war? One woman made it her mission to find out..
‘Perfume War is about two friends and their unstoppable fight for world peace. Captain Trevor Greene’s mission in Afghanistan ends violently with a Taliban axe in his head. Miraculously, he survives to see his best friend Barb Stegemann, a single mom, carry on his peace mission with a new strategy – perfume.
In an Art of War maneuver she takes what the enemy loves most, the poppy crop, by purchasing rose and orange blossom oils, which pay Afghan farmers twice the income over illegal poppy. Scientists marvel at Greene’s recovery as he rebuilds his brain, while Stegemann helps rebuild in Afghanistan and Rwanda.
Barb fights a retail war in stores while working to keep her company financially afloat. In a world that monetizes war, Barb needs a cavalry of business to take up her retail activist charge. A global beauty giant shows interest, but is her essential oil good enough? Will she run out of money? Will she win her perfume war?’
You can find out for yourself, as the full documentary film has now been made available to watch for FREE online!
Explaining why she wanted to make the film free free to watch during this period of #lockdown, Barb says ‘I was thinking about how I could send you all a gift. So here it is…’
Barb had previously used her go-getting attitude to build a socially-minded fragrance empire in the Canadian niche house of 7 Virtues, and it’s fitting the film of this incredible journey has now been made. She’d launched her brand after discovering an Afghan activist who was encouraging farmers to grow orange blossoms and roses, as an alternative to the poppy trade that was fuelling such unrest in the region.
Can perfume truly stop war? As Steggemann says, we spend a lot of money funding violence all over the world, so surely it’s worth trying to fund peace with perfume…?
Despite many recent technological and fascinating biological discoveries, our sense of smell remains the least explored and perhaps still most misunderstood of all our senses – despite being so important to our every day lives. And the sudden loss of smell, or having lived with no sense of smell at all, can be utterly devastating, and Fifth Sense have launched a film to explain…
Smell isn’t simply a pleasure, it makes up a huge percentage of how we taste, helps us navigate our understanding of the world we live in and form connections and relationships with those closest to us. So when people lose their sense of smell – through injury, illness or because of the medication they’re taking – it can be a life-changing and deeply disorientating time, and we refer to this as experiencing ‘anosmia’. And then there are those born without a sense of smell at all, or an impaired sense, who perhaps don’t realise at first, but come to feel left out, ignored, and as though their inability to smell doesn’t matter.
Fifth Sense is a UK charity specifically for people affected by smell and taste disorders, offering support, advice and conducting their own research, as well as running workshops, seminars and get-togethers for those who have hitherto felt abandoned by the medical profession, or misunderstood by well-meaning friends and family.
‘The smell of cut grass, freshly baked bread, childhood memories, lost loved ones. What happens when it’s all gone?’ This is the question asked in a new film launched on YouTube, highlighted by Fifth Sense, on the University of East Anglia’s channel, which you can watch below…
Fifth Sense was founded by Duncan Boak, who lost his sense of smell and taste following a head injury in 2005,and has worked so hard to make this condition at least more understood, and taken seriously.
We encounter people all the time who sadly tell us they can’t smell, or that their sense of smell has become impaired, and they feel so lost. If you are one of these people, please do get in touch with Fifth Sense, because there’s a whole community of people out there who totally understand what you’re going through. And there ARE ways to help. Indeed, Duncan himself attended one of our How to Improve Your Sense of Smell workshops (keep an eye on our Events page for when the next ones are due for 2020) and became quite emotional having blind-smelling a fragrance, realising he had written some of the same key words others (without impaired smell) had.
In those moments – and watching films like this – we realise quite how important our sense of smell is…
We urge you to take some time off to watch this glorious archive film from the 1950s on how perfume is made. Unintentionally hilarious in parts, it’s a fascinating watch, with many of the processes still relevant today – much of the perfume-making method not haven’t changed much in centuries.
We can only picture the male narrator of this short film smoking a pipe throughout, pointing it disapprovingly at the woman we see sitting at her dressing table applying makeup and then dabbing herself with perfume, as he launches such eyebrow-raising comments like these…
‘Throughout the ages, women the whole world over have sought to adorn themselves for the benefit of the male… And here we have a young girl preparing for an evening’s outing in what she thinks is the height of fashion. A mask of makeup and a deluge of scent. HEY, steady with that bottle!’
It’s enough to make us up-end an entire bottle of perfume over our heads this evening, just to annoy men like this narrator, but leaving that hilarity aside, do make yourself a cuppa and settle down for seriously great vintage viewing!
Another note of amusement comes toward the end (after a brusque makeup demonstration in the beauty department) when the perfumer, ‘Mr Collins’ gives a talk describing how women should only choose a perfume they really like, and that the right fragrance, the one you truly love, will bestow great confidence on the wearer. Sentiments we can certainly get behind.
But wait, because when the model is asked to choose her favourite – ‘Oh, I like this one!’ – Mr Collins snatches the bottle out of her hand as though it were on fire. ‘Well,’ he chuckles condescendingly, ‘I don’t think you’re going dancing… You should wear this light, floral one.’ Okay Mr Collins, thank you for your TED talk on confidence.
Although some of the practices, such as cruel methods of obtaining animal products for perfume, are completely outdated; sadly the practice of making condescending remarks to people about their choice of fragrance, or how much of it they should wear, can still be experienced. So to that we say: wear an extra large dose of your favourite ‘dancing’ perfume today – yes, in the daytime. Shocking! – and as you spritz, say ‘cheers!’ to Mr Collins…
Multi-media artist and perfume-house founder, Sarah Baker, has collaborated with none other than Donatella Versace and supermodel Helena Christensen as part of the most 80s-tastic spectacular campaign you’re likely to see this season.
Dripping with decadence, every aspect of the project exudes the kind of soft-focus glamour Baker’s artistic endeavours are known for – from the fashion and art magazine, a six-part Jackie Collins-esque romantic saga through to the drop-dead gorgeous photography.
We first met Sarah Baker through her innovative, often tongue in cheek (and always provocative) series of short films (scroll down), photography and performances that explore the seemingly luxurious worlds of celebrity, fashion and fragrance through a Vaseline-smeared filter that has long been inspired by her passion for romantic novels and soap opera storylines. Baker was so inspired by scent, in fact, that she went on to make her previously fictional fragrance brand a reality – launching a fascinating collection of fragrances she created in collaboration with niche perfumers.
Central to this new Versace project is Baroness– the second issue of the British fashion and art magazine, founded by art and creative director Matthew Holroyd and Dazed & Confused editor in chief Isabella Burley, with this issue written by Baker and guest edited by Donatella Versace. It’s available to order online (click the link) and at all Versace flagship boutiques.
Baker and Helena Christensen, lavishly dressed head-to-toe in Versace (obvs), then feature as the main protagonists of the six-part Versace’s Holiday Saga, a series of short films which veritably bristle with glitzy scandals and opulent intrigue, following protagonists Angelina and the Baroness (played respectively by Baker and Christensen), ‘as they navigate tumultuous affairs and overcome adversities.’ Sounds like the average festive family get-together, right? Well perhaps, but with added blackmail letters, a pop song called Spritz Me With Your Love, and the glamour turned up to eleven, dah-ling! Watch the glam-azing trailer below…
(Then head toversace.com, to read the story and binge-watch them all.)
Says Sarah: ‘It was incredibly rewarding for me to work with Donatella Versace and Baroness Magazine. I have so much creative inspiration for the future of Sarah Baker Perfumes and my own art practice — I’m eternally grateful to continue to work in both worlds.’
A while ago we interviewed Sarah at her studio to delve into her personal scent collection for our #ShareMyStash feature in The Scented Letter Magazine, and she told us many Top Secret projects were brewing – but we had no idea quite how thrilling they would be!
If your penchant for glamour evoked in a frivolous, fun way has been tickled, why not check out the trailer for the short film that began Baker’s love affair with fragrance, below?
And if your sybaritic nature really needs feeding, we suggest you head to Sarah Baker Perfumes to further indulge your senses…
Following on from their summer announcement of the first ever ‘Jo Malone London Gent’, Britain’s own movie star John Boyega, and from their intriguing teaser on Instagram, Jo Malone London just announced ‘…a very exciting Short Film launching with our Male Ambassador,’ which they finally unveiled at 1pm today, and you can see, below.
Simply entitled ‘A London Gent’, Jo Malone London say they sought to bring ‘the power of scent to life’ with the short film, featuring proudly London born-and-bred actor (and that brand-new brand ambassador who was carefully selected to be the aforementioned ‘Jo Malone London Gent’), the brilliant Boyega.
‘The story is a medley of real life, fond memories and the wildest of dreams,’ say Jo Malone London, (which perhaps explains the mix of bikes and Boyega astride a white stallion in the photo!) ‘all seen through the lens of his life and work. Shot close to John’s family home in Peckham, south London, the creative story has very real and relevant connections to his life…’
Starring John’s family and closest friends, and local talent hand-picked by him, it was filmed near John’s family home in Peckham, south London, and shows how ‘scent triggers powerful memories, the most potent of which always bring John home.’ And Jhn says that for him, ‘The story lies in the magic, the opportunity and the undeniable spirit found all over London. There is raw talent, energy and inspiration on every corner and it certainly affected me, my view of life and my approach to work. In London, anything is possible.’
We are loving fragrance houses who truly celebrate the individual characters and lives of their ambassadors, rather than simply replying on how great they look and calling them ‘faces’, don’t you?
For those of you wishing for smell-o-vision, meanwhile, you should grab yourselves some Bronze Wood & Leather Cologne Intense, which is one of Boyega’s scents of choice. Described as ‘Sultry leather encased in a medley of woods. At once smoky and warm, bronzed by the sun’s evening rays. Enlivened with vibrant juniper and fresh grapefruit. A mysterious twist of vetiver, left lingering in the air,’ – we feel that dousing yourself with a sultry spray while re-watching the film can only add to the sensorial thrills.
For research purposes. Yes.
Jo Malone London Bronze Wood & Leather Cologne Intense £78 for 50ml
Try it at jomalone.co.uk
Diptyque were inspired by an ancient Greek myth on the concept of metamorphosis for Eau de Minthé – a perfect starting point for this fragrant collaboration of the house’s director of marketing and product creation Myriam Badault alongside perfumer Fabrice Pellegrin, and a completely new twist on mint and the Fougère family.
Diptyque say the scent ‘…reinvents an emblematic perfumery accord, fougère, by drawing on the scent of mint. At the very heart of the composition, its aromatic freshness enhances the lively floral notes of geranium while the patchouli confers profound depth.’
In fact, completely forget everything you think you know about mint – we get the name from a Greek myth’s nymph – who Badault was inspired by, because ‘I like to tell stories and share my discoveries, mythology and ancient times are among our strong inspirations, and we found this very nice story about the nymph Minthé and her love affair with Hadès.’
Diptyque are known for their fabulously evocative visual style, often collaborating with artists to bring their fragrances alive, and for Eau de Minthé, Badult knew exactly who to choose. ‘I have a whole collection of comics based on myths,’ she explained, ‘the young author is Clotilde Bruneau. We asked her to write the storyboard of the film. It was a very enriching experience.’
Having watched the beautifully illustrated movie (above), we urge you to seek out this surprisingly complex take on mint, that we feel can be enjoyed whatever the weather. Herbaceously creamy swirls are stirred into the dappled shade of a traditional fougère structure and infused with a genderless, contemporary edge of thorny rose oxide. Cool as a long cold drink on a hot day, crisp as the first touch of frost on green leaves, the verdant notes swoon to skin-warmed whispers of soft muskiness that delight the whole day through.
Following in the footsteps of the ‘Jo Malone London Girls’ – Poppy Delevingne and Karen Elson – get ready to greet the new fragrant face and ‘Jo Malone London Gent‘: London born movie star, John Boyega.
Jean-Guillaume Trottier, Global President of Jo Malone London, explained they chose Boyega because, as a ‘…born and bred Londoner, John is intelligent, inclusive and witty. He shares our core values of generosity and creativity and is unafraid to speak his mind. His vivacity and whole-heartedness make him a wonderful fit with Jo Malone London and I am delighted to welcome him to the family.’
The boy from Peckham’s done well, that’s for sure: from recieving BAFTA’s 2016 Rising Star Award and the Chopard Trophy at Cannes, Boyega captured worldwide attention for his starring role as Finn, forst in Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens (which happens to be the highest-grossing US film of all time), and again in Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi (the highest grossing film, worldwide, of all time).
But it’s not just the big-hitters he’s known for, as Boyega has also graced indie smashhits such as Detroit and Attack the Block, now bringing his vibrancy, vigour and versatillity to the proudly homegrown brand, and along with redefining what it means to be a contempirary gent right now, Jo Malone London say he ‘mirrors our scents which always accentuate the surprising and the bold. Whilst known for being a huge presence and personality, Boyega himself values understatement and originality in scent.’
And we’re sure you’re going to want to know this gent better, so are delighted to share with you a Q&A, below, as well as a sneak peek at his first film for Jo Malone London…
What made you join the Jo Malone London Family?
John Boyega: ‘I love the creativity and storytelling element of Jo Malone London. It’s something I resonate with, it’s how I work best: with discussion, collaboration and down to earth honesty. Jo Malone London always delivers unexpected and unique ingredient choices and scents. It’s refined, but it’s surprising too. My life is the same, a subtle contradiction: my job, my profession, and then I still come home to this town, I still go to the supermarket late at night in my pyjamas. In some ways, everything’s changed, but then again nothing has.’
What is your relationship to scent?
‘Scent is part of my everyday style. My personal style is quite casual but I like to mix it up with interesting fits with Japanese influenced jackets, fitted trousers and chains. I like that I can change up my scent to suit my style. I’m guilty, I like to layer my fragrance. You can make some really interesting smells. If my life was a bottle of cologne it would be called: Conflicts and Success. A new Boyega line.’
What is your first memory of scent?
‘My first job was before school, I would deliver post, milk and sweets. And then I used to sell a bit at school. Sell a little bit of candies, Rockies, Haribo’s. So, my childhood smells like those old school sweets, those drumsticks, gobstoppers, spicy soup.’
What Jo Malone London products would you recommend?
‘Bronze Wood & Leather Cologne Intense is a solid favourite. It’s a really good scent. I like to wear it on a day-to-day basis. It doesn’t attract too much attention, but at the same time it gets people looking and smelling.
I also like a bit of oud; oud is a lovely smell.’
What do you look for in a script?
‘I look for a number of things in a script. But for me, the main thing is the character arc. I don’t want my character to begin and end the movie the same. I want a change, something different. Something that happens with the character, that means you have to go on an interesting journey with him.’
What’s your favourite part of being on set?
‘My favourite part about being on set is collaborating with the people. I’ve always watched films and never had clarity in my younger days on how the magic starts and is created. So, to be a part of that and witness it is the biggest rush.’
What is something you didn’t expect about being famous?
‘One thing I didn’t expect about being famous is the fact that some things don’t change. Sometimes you have to wait in the queue like everyone else and that’s fine. I mean, I guess I got told so many things about being famous I thought that everything was going to change for me. But I still go shopping late at night in my PJ’s. Nothing’s really changed.’
What wouldn’t you go a day without?
‘I won’t go a day without wearing a comfortable pair of socks. It doesn’t matter if they’re different socks because sometimes in the wash, things get confusing. But as long as they’re both comfortable. I’m cool. I also wear scent every day.’
What do you miss most about England when you’re not here?
‘Sometimes I miss the weather, because I want to put on a jacket. And not always be surrounded by blue skies and sun. I miss the moody faces, I can’t lie, there’s something about the reality and honesty that I like. I just miss London, I miss home.’
What’s the first thing you do when you get back to London?
‘The first thing I do is take a drive. I go back around South London, then drive around Crystal Palace, all the way around Dulwich, go down to Brixton. Just go for a drive, get the feel of the city, see what’s going on. Put the radio on. I just catch a vibe.’
So now, settle down, and get ready to see the Jo Malone Gent in action! (If you happen to have a bottle of Bronze Wood & Leather Cologne Intense nearby, you could always spray that all over for some multi-sensory cinema action, as now at least we know his current favourite fragrance…)
So for his latest – scented – starring role, expect to see Boyega further ‘navigate new territory, celebrating Britishness, storytelling and fragrance as he takes on a new kind of spotlight as the first Jo Malone London Gent.’
Many famous faces have graced the mini-films of fragrance adverts over the years – for some, their first acting role, for others a moment of evoking the ethos of the house at the very peak of their fame. But did you know several fragrance adverts over the years have also been directed by famous names?
Settle back in your velveteen seats, grab some popcorn and let’s go to the scented cinema…
Sofia Coppola (nominated for Best Director for Lost in Translation in 2003) directed this advert for Miss Dior Cherie, featuring Natalie Portman. Super-stylish, it confirms Coppola’s lifelong appreciation of haute couture, and perhaps evokes her visually stunning film Marie Antoinette in its old-world baroque splendour.
Wes Anderson and son of legendary director Francis Ford Coppola, Roman Coppola, had previously worked together on films like The Darjeeling Limited and Moonrise Kingdom. Here, they made three short adverts (comprising one longer film) for Prada Candy L’Eau fragrance. An homage to the French New Wave, the visual aesthetic is pure Wes Anderson, and were fully gripped by the classic ‘two men in love with one woman’ storyline
This Chanel short film for Coco Mademoiselle saw Keira Knightly and director Joe Wright teaming up for the fourth time – they’ve also worked together in Atonement, (for which, Wright was nominated in 2008 for Best Director), Pride & Prejudice, and Anna Karenina. Just so beautifully lit, the colours and cleverly composed shots look like poetry on the screen.
Renowned surrealist director David Lynch surprised the fragrance and film worlds alike by directing this advert for Yves Saint Laurent Opium in the early 90s. Spanish model Nastassia Urbano stars, with a striking resemblance to Ingrid Bergman (and her daughter, Isabella Rossellini, who was to star in his 1986 hot movie, Blue Velvet). All the hallmarks of sensuality are there, along with a visual deconstruction/seduction of a body on film.
Comic book writer turned film maker, Frank Miller, uses his iconic deliberately over-stylised look (very reminiscent of Sin City) to great effect in his advert for Gucci Guilty. Starring Evan Rachel Wood and Chris Evans, inky blackness and searing white light are juxtaposed to create a highly sophisticated homage to film noir.
Fragrance and film feature strongly in The Scented Letter‘s recent Perfume & Culture edition, too, in Lights, Camera, Aldehydes!, award-winning blogger and author Persolaise was inspired by his twin passions for film and fragrance – matching some of his favourite fragrances to the films he chose to watch. And in Perfuming a Part, I lift the velvet curtain on the actors and film directors who use fragrance as a tool to create a mood or get into a role…
‘Sexy gingers wanted!’ Redheads all around the world, we are looking for you! Mediamatic is looking for sexy gingers who let us extract their scent during Playhouse: Sex S(m)ells! Inspired by Patrick Süsskind’s ‘Perfume: The Story of a Murderer’ we will recreate the perfume from the book. Interested and not afraid of people inhaling your smell? E-mail to: email@example.com‘
Well now. In the novel (and resulting film adaptation) of Perfume, the protagonist, Jean-Baptiste Grenouille, is born with an extraordinary sense of smell. Those of you who have read the book or seen the film will be aware that his methods of capturing people’s scents are rather, um, murder-y, as the title may suggest. Lest potential volunteers are put off by this, the Institute for Art and Olfaction add a helpful footnote:
‘The redheads don’t actually need to be sexy, but exhibitionism is a must. We’re going to attempt Jean-Baptiste Grenouille’s experiments, minus the murder!’
So that’s reassuring!
Earlier this year, the Art and Olfaction team arrived in London for their annual Award ceremony, celebrating independent and artisanal perfumers and artists who work with the sense of smell. Prior to the awards, there were many workshops, talks and performances taking place in Los Angeles, where the IAO are based, culminating in an Experimental Scent Summit in London, which we were delighted to take part in. The next award ceremony (2019) will be in Amsterdam, and ahead of this the IAO team will be taking up residence for the next month. As they explain…
‘Mediamatic and the institute for Art and Olfaction Team up for a summer program exploring innovative topics around olfaction. Over the course of a month, the IAO Los Angeles team will be in residence at Mediamatic in the first part of an ongoing research and programme on open scent culture and olfactory art.
Join us in our Aroma Lab for perfume blending workshops, follow our live on-site podcast production, learn about sex smells and join our aromatic game show, or a range of other activities presented by the IAO’s Los Angeles-based team.’
We can’t wait to see what they produce. Would you be brave enough to volunteer to have your scent ‘extracted’? We’re thinking it would certainly make for a unique ‘What I Did On My Summer Holiday’ diary entry, if nothing else!
‘Take a chance on me / that’s all I ask of you honey’ sang ABBA, and many millions of perfume lovers have fallen for the charms of Chanel’s Chance since it was first launched in 2003. Created by Jaques Polge, this ‘unexpected floral’ is distinctive from the iconic, chunky bottles of previous fragrances, the round bottle representing a wheel of fortune, for ‘…to be lucky, you have to take a Chance.’
But did you know there are four differing versions to choose your own Chance?
Chanel have now revealed the new Chance campaign for 2018: a series of four delightfully playful mini-films, offering an invitation to ‘take your chance’, each film starring a vibrantly contemporary woman – highlighting the four differing facets of the fragrance, depending which version you plump for.
‘4 fragrances, 4 colours, 4 states of mind represented by 4 women’ say Chanel. So now, the only question remains: which Chance will you take…?
WITH ANGELA YUEN TAKE YOUR CHANCE
‘With CHANCE EAU TENDRE, a floral-fruity fragrance that blends the grapefruit-quince accord with the softness of jasmine and the smoothness of white musk notes, Angela Yuen is the epitome of delicateness. Originally from Hong Kong, the talented 23-year-old actress currently stars in the film The White Girl, directed by Jenny Suen.’
WITH SELAH MARLEY LIVE YOUR CHANCE
‘With CHANCE, this floral fragrance that blends pink pepper, jasmine and ambery patchouli, Selah Marley shines with optimism. Daughter of singer Lauryn Hill, the 19-year-old American model is a frequent figure at CHANEL events and walked the runway for the Paris-Cosmopolite Collection.’
WITH BELEN CHAVANNE FOLLOW YOUR CHANCE
‘With CHANCE EAU FRAÎCHE, this floral-sparkling fragrance that melds notes of citron, jasmine and teak wood, Belen Chavanne is bursting with freshness. The 28-year-old model and actress from Argentina is regularly seen at CHANEL events and is a loyal fan of the House.’
WITH LILY NEWMARK INVENT YOUR CHANCE
‘With CHANCE EAU VIVE, this floral-zesty fragrance stirred by the vivifying notes of grapefruit and blood orange, Lily Newmark’s vitality is contagious. The 22-year-old Anglo-American film and television actress currently stars in the film Pin Cushion, which competed at the Cannes Film Festival and was directed by Deborah Haywood. She can also be seen in the 2018 film Born a King directed by Agustí Villaronga.’
Shot in the stunning Italian city of Venice, the films were directed by award-winning Canadian director Eva Michon, and there’s even a dedicated CHANCE CHANEL channel (try saying that quickly ten times!) set up on Instagram @chancechanel , where you can join in the celebrations by following #TAKEYOURCHANCE and #CHANCECHANEL
Save your cart?
We save your email and cart so we can send you reminders - don't email me.
Join The Perfume Society mailing list and be the first to know about all things fragrant.
We take your privacy seriously. We will only use your details to keep you informed about The Perfume Society. We do not pass personal information to any other organisation. You can unsubscribe at any time.
By browsing our site or closing this message, you agree to store Cookies by us and third-party partners. Cookies enable certain functions on our site, let you access your account, place orders, allow us to analyse website traffic and usage, and personalise content. We also share certain information about your usage of our site with analytics partners. Find out more.