Viva Magenta is the Pantone Colour of the Year 2023 and, given the many links between colour, mood and smell, I thought it was only right to find some scents that vividly help express this vibrant colour in fragrant form…
Each year, the influential Pantone Colour Institute chooses a ‘colour of the year’ which guides fashion, interior design and all manner of micro trends for the coming seasons. For this year’s choice of ‘Viva Magenta’, Pantone explains their thinking, and what the colour represents emotionally…
An unconventional shade for an unconventional time
Pantone’s Colour of The Year, Viva Magenta 18-750, vibrates with vim and vigour. It is a shade rooted in nature descending from the red family and expressive of a new signal of strength. Viva Magenta is brave and fearless, a pulsating colour whose exuberance promotes a joyous and optimistic celebration, writing a new narrative.
This year’s Colour of The Year is powerful and empowering. It is an animated red that revels in pure joy, encouraging experimentation and self-expression without restraint, an electrifying, and a boundless shade that is manifesting as a stand-out statement. PANTONE 18-1750 Viva Magenta welcomes anyone and everyone with the same verve for life and rebellious spirit. It is a colour that is audacious, full of wit and inclusive of all.
As a nuanced crimson red tone that presents a balance between warm and cool, PANTONE 18-1750 Viva Magenta is also a hybrid colour, one that comfortably straddles the physical and virtual in our multi-dimensional world. It is assertive, but not aggressive, a carmine red that does not boldly dominate but instead takes a “fist in a velvet glove” approach. Exuding dynamism, PANTONE 18-1750 Viva Magenta is a transformative red tone capable of driving design to create a more positive future.
Reading about their inspirations for Viva Magenta, it struck me the language used in the Pantone report was very similar to how fragrance houses describe the emotional resonance of their scents – and little wonder, given the myriad threads that connect colour, perfume and mood.
‘The evidence from numerous studies demonstrates that simply changing the colour of a fragrance can change the way it smells to us’ –– Professor Charles Spence, Head of Oxford University Crossmodal Research Laboratory
‘Seeing red’, ‘feeling blue’, going ‘green with envy’ – we’ve linked colours with emotions for centuries. But there is science behind the pairing of certain hues with sentiment and sensation. And fascinatingly, some of your favourite fragrances are packaged in tones designed to suit the mood the scent is trying to evoke; indeed, they may even have deliberately dyed the ‘juice’ a particular shade on the colour spectrum to evoke specific feelings, provoke memories and metaphorically ‘colour’ the way you smell them.
‘Our perfumers can type the name of colour in our database and it will pull up a list of ingredients proven to stimulate certain emotions and responses in people.’ –– Céline Manetta, PHD, CSI Global Innovation Senior Manager IFF
We could all do with some extra bravery, joy and exuberance in our lives right now, so given these crossmodal (overlapping of senses) connections, I’ve chosen some fragrances that use magenta as a touchstone to bring this powerful, bright and uncompromising colour to the fore as we wear them on our skin….
Armani Prive Magenta Tanzanite
Composed as a tribute to the spectacular colours of Africa’s landscape, a cool breeze of cardamom is warmed by furling plumes of honeyed tobacco smoke, spicy ginger and the energising scent of coffee. A lively dance of contrasts, this sizzles pleasingly. £260 for 100ml eau de parfum armanibeauty.co.uk
Juliette Has a Gun Mmmm
Even the name was designed to be onomatopoeically pleasing, and the delicious melange of ripe raspberry, geranium and bright neroli conjure forbidden fruits, while orange blossom and tuberose hypnotise the senses to a deliciously drenched creamy musk trail. £90 for 50ml eau de parfum selfridges.com
Mugler Angel Nova
This iteration twists ripe raspberry and succulent lychee with damask rose atop a darker base of Akigalawood and resinous benzoin. Definitely one to try if you clutched your pearls and backed away from the original. This is pretty, fresh but with a burst of petal power. £77 for 50ml eau de parfum theperfumeshop.com
Parfums de Marly Oriana
Plush, velvety fruitiness conjures an 18th century French mistress idly sucking pastilles while sighing on a chaise lounge. Pale flowers tremble, a sudden decision is made to give in to passion, and the soft, skin-like scent of ambrette billows beguilingly for hours. £120 for 30ml eau de parfum harrods.com
Goutal Rose Pompom
Exuding playfulness a sparkle of blackcurrant and raspberry are swirled with armfuls of dewy roses, a flurry of petals and joyful pops of pink pepper reminding you of love, light, laughter with friends. Happy memories meld with the scent to create a wearable smile. £76 for 50ml eau de toilette houseoffraser.co.uk
Jusbox Sirens & Sailors
Paying homage to the unforgettable British soul singer Amy Winehouse via a kiss of peachy osmanthus, the smoky swagger of booziness in the heart softens to suede-like whispers and a smooth patchouli base resonates thrillingly until way past your bedtime. £168 for 78ml eau de parfum selfridges.com
Lancôme La Vie est Belle Intensément
Affirming ‘happiness as the ambition, as a way to live life to the fullest and without making any sacrifices’ if ever a scent invited positivity, it’s LVEB’s euphoric burst of pink pepper, bergamot and raspberry, with a floral, velvety heart and a pulsing baseline of vanilla and iris. From £87 for 50ml eau de parfum lancome.co.uk
The BBC’s new Marie Antoinette series is making lovers of historical costume dramas rejoice, and in a continuation of our character and scent-matching sessions, we’re powdering our wigs, unfurling our fans and and wafting forth with the following fragrant suggestions…
‘An innocent teenage queen drawn into a dark, manipulative court of Versailles. Her duty is to bear an heir. Her fate will set a country on fire.’
From the brilliant writer Deborah Davis (who also gave us the award-winning film, The Favourite), this is a drama that’s not afraid to lean into the opulence – so of course it calls for some seriously fabulous olfactory counterparts to the characters. For more information on the show, do read The Guardian’s review in full (which is suitably glowing), and give the trailer a watch before you begin your scent exploration of some of the main characters.
‘…it is sometimes strange, funny, grotesque in places, with a gorgeous if occasionally oppressive score. Historians and purists in France, where the series launched at the end of October, have unsurprisingly called it “obscene” and full of “historical aberrations”, including the supposed rebrand of Marie Antoinette as a feminist icon. But the trend for reappraising historical and maligned female figures with a contemporary viewpoint is unstoppable and, anyway, this is not the first revision of the last queen of France before the revolution.’ – The Guardian
Marie Antoinette (played by Emilia Schüle) – Parfums de Marly Delina
Encased in its sugared-almond pink bottle as it is, the silk tassel befits such a regal scent, as does the beautifully powdery rose within; but this isn’t as ‘girly’ as you’d imagine. Just as Antoinette blooms as her confidence grows, so too does Delina blossom on the skin. As it warms, the powder becomes more bare skin-like, a hint of pink thigh flashed above a white stocking, the sense of feminine power that comes with learning the art of flirtation.
Louis XVI (Louis Cunningham) – Matiere Premiere Falcon Leather
Given his preference for birds of the feathered variety (at first meeting his bride-to-be, anyway) and generally wandering free among the grounds rather than the stilted, terrifying confines of polite society; Louis XVI should plump for this. Smoky as a distant bonfire on the breeze, redolent of the leather gloves falcon trainers use, it’s got hint of that huntin’ ‘n fishin’ outdoors-y attitude but it’s scrubbed up and refined, far sexier than it realises. One to wonder at, then fall for. Hard.
Madame du Barry (Gaia Weiss) – Etat Libre d’Orange Putain des Palaces
Prettily powdered she may be, but this is a fragrance that means business. Evoking passionate encounters and smudged lipstick, beneath the make-up strewn dressing table top notes there’s a writhing of hot bodies entangled in sheets and an evocation of dirty linen very much being aired in the public gaze. Du Barry doesn’t mean to allow her grasp on the throne to be weakened, and if you’re not in her court, you’re done for. Why not simply submit to the sensuality within?
King Louis XV (James Purefoy) – Etat Libre d’Orange Exit the King
Amidst the bitchy court of Versailles, King Louis (‘Papa Roi‘ as Antoinette comes to call him) is a welcome friendly face (though do watch out for his wandering hands). This pleasingly soapy scent is classy all day long, with a hint of traditional Cologne among the French Savon and a dandyish air that isn’t afraid to wear its more feminine side on its frilled white shirt cuff. Luminous musks beam forth from the foam, sunlit jasmine and lily of the valley resting on light woods. Lovely (but dangerous in the wrong hands).
Princesse de Lamballe (Jasmine Backborow) – Lancôme Trésor
Beloved since its launch in 1990, this softly peachy hug swathes its wearer in an embrace of fluffy muskiness, pillowy sandalwood and vanilla encircling the lilac blossoms in the heart. Lamballe was (sometimes) Antoinette’s closest confidant; known for her kindness and likability, she surely deserves to be as treasured as this scent. To be worn when you need to be kind to yourself, perhaps, this perfume should be sought out anew by those who once loved it and discovered afresh for those yet to be blessed.
Quite frankly ‘a bit much’ and just not giving a damn, these mesdames might be the unmarried daughters of the King, but they co-rule the court with iron fists inside their couture gloves. In the BBC series they are magnificently snarky, their plum lipsticks and bruise coloured gowns a fabulous contrast to pastel froth and youthful folly. Deep, bold and unapologetic, the original Poison still swaggers, while the Pure version is more translucent, and though not as powerful can deliver a slap to the unworthy. So: bow down.
£54 for 30ml eau de parfum / £63 for 30ml eau de parfumdior.com
For edeniste, ‘the link between scent and mood has long been known and talked about, but never been scientifically proven when it comes to perfume. Now for the first time, the worlds of cutting-edge olfactory neuroscience and classic fine fragrance are brought together’ – discover your own perfumed possibilities… now welcoming FULL-SIZE edeniste fragrances for you to try in our shop!
Do you need to sleep better, boost your energy levels and want to feel happier (all while being beautifully scented, of course)? Well, we’ve never seen our Co-Founder Lorna McKay more excited than when she returned from the launch of edentiste.
Literally bouncing up and down as she recounted her meeting with the visionary founder, Audrey Semeraro, in the words of the brand, they are ‘Blending the science of emotion and the art of perfumery,’ while for Audrey, it’s about ‘redefining the mission of the perfume industry with the first generation of active wellbeing fine fragrances…’
Each edeniste fragrance has been ‘charged with active molecules clinically proven to boost our mood and elevate our emotions.’ And when they say proven, they mean it. The wellbeing effects of these fragrances haven’t been left to hearsay, as with so many other aromatherapeutic type perfumes, oils and unguents available – the edensite scents have been tested by neuroscientists, literally showing which parts of our brains light up when we positively respond to the perfumes.
But it’s been a long journey to get to this place of perfumed possibilities, and it involved challenging the entire fragrance industry itself. You can read all about the birth of this fascinating fragrance house, in our page dedicated to the edeniste story; but now that we have the full-size bottles available, let’s dive in to the scents themselves…
The edeniste collection encompasses the most divine eaux de parfum and Lifeboost® essences – think of these as olfactive wellness juices to boost energy levels, happiness or even allowing you to drift off to sleep surrounded by the most gloriously soothing scent – the edentiste collection contains ‘the highest-level olfactive neuroscience, combined with the highest level in fine fragrance.’ You can choose to layer the eau de parfum with a Lifeboost® or wear them alone – let your feelings and needs guide you to the right fragrances for each day…
‘A soothing aromatic herbal musk. The warm-skin facets of Spanish labdanum essence, wrapped in an overdose of feather-soft white musks, fosters peaceful dreams. Open yourself up to a pure, soothing vision of the world that surrounds you and let go.’
‘A reviving musky woody citrus. A refreshing splash of citruses from Italy, infused with the energizing essences of peppery bergamot and regenerative grapefruit, boosted with zingy ginger absolute from Ethiopia. As bright and empowering as a tall dewy glass of freshly squeezed juice. Get up and glow.’
‘A joyful woody fruity floral. A sparkling essence built around an exotic mango accord spiked with juicy, colorful notes of raspberry and watermelon, on a base of pure Virginian cedarwood essence. Surrender to the exhilarating beat of its fizzy tropical delight. Feel the bliss.’
‘A mellow solar white floral. A solar Madagascan ylang-ylang essence matched with a creamy monoi note – the name means “sacred oil” in Tahiti –, wrapped in pure jasmine sambac absolute from India and relaxing Madagascan vanilla absolute. Relax, feel the sun shining up above, let yourself be rocked by the sound of the waves and trees swaying in the breeze… You’re in Eden.’
‘A sensual amber floral musk. Free your mind with the essence of seduction in a timeless floral elixir enriched with addictive musky notes. A hyper-sensual aldehydic blend with a glamorous vintage vibe and hint of animal magnetism that will mellow your mood and ignite your sensual power. Let yourself glow.’
‘An uplifting spicy green floral. A confidence booster with zingy Ethiopian ginger absolute and crisp pink peppercorn absolute from La Réunion. The quintessence of easygoing wellbeing, captured in a luminous accord of fresh spices and green notes enhanced by two of the most precious ingredients in perfumery: Indian jasmine absolute and iris concrete from China. Dive deep into your inner self, feel its uplifting sense of comfort. You’re golden.’
‘A caressing solar white floral. We call it cruel, but that’s just because once you wrap yourself in its radiant creaminess, you’ll find it hard to do without it. This is an exuberant bouquet of white flowers at their most sensuous. Indian jasmine absolute is the star here, but Aurélien Guichard brings out its lushness with a glamorous, luscious, coconutty tuberose, underlined with milky sandalwood. Honeyed Tunisian orange blossom absolute infuses the blend with solar energy. Pair with any Lifeboost active and bask in the light.’
‘A tender white floral. It’s the name given to the essential oil drawn from orange blossom (here, a glorious extract from Tunisia). It’s also the tender heart of the colognes so beloved by the French from early childhood… Neroli is a uniquely luminous floral essence, capturing the sun-kissed scent-scape of the Mediterranean in its pure white petals. Aurélien Guichard underlines it with zesty green petitgrain, fleshes out its cologne-like vibe with tender notes of crystalline pear and juicy white peach and wraps it in a clean musky aura. Pair with any Lifeboost active and be radiant.’
‘A delightful fruity floral. This is rose, with a smile. Vibrant, colourful, flirtatious, the Queen of Flowers is showcased here with two rich natural extracts. Bulgarian rose essence brings its glorious radiance, refreshed by a sun-kissed splash of sparkling mandarin from Italy. French May rose absolute from Grasse – the rarest and most precious – adds its opulent sensuality. Notes of red berries, naturally present in some varieties of roses, tinge the vivid bouquet with playfulness. A velvety drydown of vanilla and musk wed scent to skin… Pair with any Lifeboost active and feel the delight.’
‘A regal ambery woody rose. Rose and oud may well be the most iconic accord in Arabic perfumery: a match made in scented Eden. Aurélien Guichard retells their mystical tales with a French touch, pairing rich, carnal, almost jammy rose essence from Bulgaria with a quality of oud distilled to brings out the precious resin’s most elegant facets. Another favorite partner of rose, patchouli essence from Indonesia, spiked with cool nutmeg, bolsters the blend’s rich texture. The skin-soft leather facets of Spanish cistus labdanum absolute shed their ambery light. It’s the ultimate in self-care. Pair with any Lifeboost active and let your feelings rule.’
‘An addictive vanilla. If we called it comfort food for the nose, we’d be remiss. This luminous and addictive duo of sweet and gourmand vanillas from Madagascar is so much more sophisticated… The secret to its radiance is a superb vanilla CO2 extract – one that preserves the most delicate facets of the precious pod. A lash of rum deepens its tones, introducing a second, darker quality of vanilla absolute. Aurélien Guichard underlines Its leather-like accents with a woody accord of mystical Somalian olibanum and smoky Haitian vetiver essences. Pair with any Lifeboost active and give in to your senses.’
‘An invigorating woody spicy citrus. With natural nuances of citrus, flint, wood, smoke, and earth, vetiver is a compelling fragrance all by itself. A primal, rooting scent that is also a classic of masculine perfumery (of course, it can be enjoyed by all genders). Here, Aurélien Guichard draws out the most sparkling facets of Haitian vetiver essence with a sunny cocktail of Italian fruit: bracingly bitter grapefruit and juicy mandarin, a delicate essence chosen.’
‘Along the shores of the sea, plunge into the childhood memories of Yves Coueslant, one of the Maison’s founders. From this small seaside pagoda, the fragrance of tuberoses brought back by his mother from the flower market electrifies the senses and transports heart and mind.’
And what a fragrance Do Son is. Even previous tuberose naysayers (like me!) have fallen for it, this tender portrait of scent memories bottled in perfume form. Inviting us to ‘plunge into the childhood memories’ of Coueslant, the animated film takes us away from gloom and doom, straight to the sea shore in Vietnam, where balmy air and intoxicating scents lap at our senses. Really, the timing of this Do Son resurgence couldn’t be better.
So, what does Do Son smell like? Here’s my review, on smelling it again at their beautifully bijou Brook Street store:
Do Son feels lusciously fresh with a rising humidity, like walking into a hot house filled with just-watered exotic blooms, early in the morning before their headiness erupts. There’s a salted breeziness to it that’s all waft-y silk kaftan walks on the beach before breakfast, bare toes on warm sand, then ankle deep in the sea and staring at the horizon, blissfully.
If you have a bottle to hand, why not spritz some on as you watch the short film and prepare to escape for a while, within this tender and emotionally resonant portrayal…?
Encompassing a full range of fragranced treats in the limited edition Do So collection – including eau de parfum, eau de toilette, so-covetable (and refillable) Solid Perfume and Body Mist versions of the scent – you can further immerse yourself in the fragrance by incorporating the softly nourishing Cleansing Hand & Body Gel or Shower Oil; individual or beautifully boxed sets of scented soaps, a luxurious hand cream (so needed for the bitter winds and driving rain of the U.K. currently), Hair Mist, and even a Do Son Perfumed Bracelet.
If you’re yearning to get away and already dreaming of holidays, you’re certainly not alone. If you’ve yet to experience the scent of Do Son for yourself, now is a great time to seek it out for olfactory escapism. Or if, like us, you’ve already fallen for it – liberally layer the Do Son scent, and hit repeat on that short film until you can feel the sunshine flooding in…
Right now we all need a bit of help to uplift and empower our spirits, and fragrance is an instantaneous way to enable that. Apart from the lovely fragrances themselves, focusing on your sense of smellhelps control your breathing and forces your mind to concentrate on something beautiful for a change.
Our sense of smell is directly linked to our limbic system, which stores memories and emotions, so using scent to uplift, unwind or soothe is a brilliant way of dealing with anxiety.Taking time to care for yourself should not be a luxury – it helps you face the day feeling revived and ready to go.
Here’s how to ward off an anxiety attack or lift your spirits with scent:
Take a few minutes to spray a fragrance on a blotter or thick piece of paper.
Close your eyes while smelling it and see where it takes you. Don’t try to guess all the notes (it’s almost impossible unless you’re a trained perfumer!) instead, let your imagination run wild…
If this fragrance was a place, where would it be? Allow your mind to take you there.
Or, if this scent were a person, who would they be? Imagine yourself as that confident character.
Learn which fragrances help you feel stronger – you can ‘borrow’ strength from scent any time you need it, just like a dressing-up box of perfumed empowerment!
You can try this with any fragrance you own, but here’s some new scents to try whenever you need to uplift and empower your day…
BDK Villa Néroli
Founder David Benedek enlisted Alexandra Carlin to conjure up the rocky, sun-drenched Mediterranean playground of Capri for the newest in BDK’s line-up – ‘an invitation to live the dolce vita,’ and one that’s certainly welcome as the days shorten and the thermometer plummets. Bring summer back in a spritz via Verdelli lemon, neroli, petitgrain and orange blossom, with vetiver, patchouli, labdanum resin and vanilla drifting in as the sun sets on this imaginary villa. £155 for 100ml eau de parfum fenwick.co.uk
NANCY MEILAND Sofia
Continuing Sussex-based perfumer Nancy Meiland’s mindful ‘Awaken’ blends, this latest fragrant attar ‘is a shimmering lilac addition’, and ‘beams with higher frequency naturals that evoke purest, white light, a return to the eternal spring of all life.’ A gentle sparkle from mandarin and mint freshens rose, osmanthus and jasmine, while rare shamama oil (herbaceous yet woody) grounds. Like starlight on water – coolly clearing, calming and centring in the madness of life. £50 for 30ml attar nancymeiland.com
Fragrance’s spiritual mood is expressed in this ‘mantra-centric’ creation within Initio’s Hedonist Collection, drawing on ‘sacred woods and plants’, notably powerfully purifying and protective sage and Palo Santo wood. Close your eyes and meditate on how those notes drift through bergamot, lavender, black pepper, delivering on Paragon’s promise to bestow an ‘aura around the physical, emotional and spiritual bodies.’ Olfactory enlightenment. £240 for 90ml extrait de parfum selfridges.com
LA PERLA Luminous
If you have the olfactory equivalent of Seasonal Affective Disorder, veil yourself in the scent equivalent of a radiant shaft of sunlight, bottled for our enjoyment on gloomy winter days (and nights). As luminous as the name promises, this woody-floral blend showcases ambrette seed, reminiscent of ‘tropical bliss’, delivering not only warmth but a hint of fruity wine; it is entwined with jasmine, the sparkling whole tethered by a note of steam-distilled cedar. From £57 for 30ml eau de parfum beautybylaperla.com
COSMOSS Sacred Mist
So, Miss Kate Moss has tapped into her spiritual side, embracing meditation and mindfulness with her signature gusto. And we couldn’t be happier with that metamorphosis, expressed via her Cocomoss skincare collection, also offering us an astonishingly accomplished Chypre creation in which subtle jasmine and tuberose fuse with geranium and bergamot. It’s the sense-soothing, calming notes of oakmoss, cedarwood and tonka that we’re spritzing and re-spritzing – on and off the yoga mat. £120 for 100ml eau de parfum harrods.com
How to buy a new scent can tricky at the best of times, but when sales season hits it can be even more bewildering. Should you only go for brands you know, or plump for a new perfume at a bargain price? We’ve all the tips and tricks toward finding a fragrance that will really work for you and your pocket.
Want to try something new that’s on sale, but don’t know what to look for?
We’ve done all the leg-work for you! Simply type the name of that scent into our genius Find-A-Fragrance, and the clever algorithm – based on information we source directly from the fragrance houses and perfumers themselves – will suggest six new fragrances that, while different from the original you typed, share a similar mood, character or key ingredients. It really works! Note down the names it suggests and see if any are available in the sales…
Consider the vast array of matching products available for favourite fragrances you already have, such as a gorgeously decadent bath oil, rich body cream or even a fragranced hair mist. It’s often possible to find travel-size versions of perfumes and discounted gift-boxes containing smaller size scents and matching scented body products for bargain prices in the sales!
Be brave – BUT, be careful of an olfactory ‘oops!’
This is the perfect time of year to blow away the cobwebs and try some new scents – from brands you’ve never heard of, or from fragrance families you’d perhaps never considered might suit you.
The best idea is to get a Discovery Box of fabulous mini sizes and samples from a wide range of luxury, niche and top-end designer fragrance houses. That way you can start exploring and trying them all in the comfort of your own home, then you’re able to pick a new perfume from that house if they’re on sale, knowing you already like their style.
Each box is carefully curated to include something for all tastes, and once you’ve found ‘the one’ (or perhaps several!) you can then buy a full size in the sale, safe in the knowledge you’ve already tried it on your skin. We know SO many people who’ve discovered their all-time scent loves this way!
Maya Njie (pronounced ‘Maia N-Jai’) has diverse familial and artistic roots, having been born in Västerås Sweden, with a West African heritage, and moving to London in her teens where she went in to study at the University of the Arts. Weaving together these threads via the medium of the senses, Maya began experimenting with smell alongside the the visual mediums of colour and photography.
Indeed, so Maya told us when we first met her, the studio often gained visitors of passers-by who’d been attracted first by the wonderful scents wafting from the doors.
‘Some would ask if they could buy whatever fragrance it was, and I had to explain they weren’t for sale. But it got me thinking…’
Truly, wearing her heritage and inspiration on her skin, the fragrant future of Maya Njie was forming.
Maya had chosen the stimuli of an old family photo album for her inspiration – the images within were taken decades before her birth, but she found their faded colours and snapshots of familial life so fascinating to pair to fragrances.
Gaining notoriaty from glowing fragrance reviews all over the world, now, we are thrilled to be working with Maya Njie at The Perfume Society, and to offer her fabulous Fragrance Discovery Set now in our shop!
Within Nordic Cedar, for example, we may never have visited the Swedish Forest it was inspired by, but we feel a sense of towering trees, the reassuring comfort of cedar and earthy patchouli enclosing us as cardamom gifts brightness, ambergris adds a touch of mist.
For Vanilj, the traditional Swedish note of cardamom is used again, the comfort intensified by addictively dark vanilla that swirls boozily amidst ambered musk.
In Tobak, addiction is ramped up via the honeyed smokiness of the tobacco leaf, a trail of animalic musks and leather resonating many hours later.
Incorporating music as another inspirational medium, Les Fleures is named for Minnie Ripperton’s 1970 song, a green floral scent that ripples with bergamot’s brightness, magnolia and sweet fig, an ‘unbound celebration of life, love and creation.’
Those longing to escape might yearn for Tropica – an invitation to imagine ‘trading in a dark, bleak and cold setting for a warmer climate far away, with flourishing green vegetation and remote beaches’ with tropical fruits lushly layered on sandalwood and coconut.
And in Voyeur Verde, nature claims an abandoned car, leaves and creepers entangling the leather seats, a wonderfully verdant burst of rebirth and ‘balmy cypress trees shadowed by the Sierra Bernia mountains.’
There’s a veritable glut of vegetable notes cropping up in perfumes lately, from beetroots and carrots through to artichokes and even cauliflowers in this brand new gourmand category of scents. If you’ve over-indulged on rich food, consider a salad, and (far more enjoyable) getting your greens in fragrant form.
Like any other trend, newness in fragrance can be traced back through cultural patterns, a certain shift in the zeitgeist that suggests something’s in the air. One of the major happenings has been a gardening and grow-your-own vegetable boom in the UK that began during lockdowns and shows no signs of slowing. Google reported that searches relating to how to grow vegetables doubled during May 2020 to May 2021, while new research from beauty and naturopathic product producers Weleda, meanwhile, reveals that in 2021, ‘26.7 million Britons grew their own fruit, veg and herbs’, with almost two thirds claiming that ‘connecting with nature has had a positive impact on their mood.’
Leaps in technology have given perfumers access to new aroma molecules, which for the first time allow natural extracts of vegetable notes to be used in perfumery. To read even more about this remarkable vegetable revolution in the perfume world, take a look at the Spray Your Five a Day feature, which appeared in the late summer issue of The Scented Letter magazine; but meanwhile we urge you to seek out some of this bumper crop as your New Year’s scent resolution…
Salvatore Ferragamo Giungle di Seta (pea)
Inspired by Ferragamo’s exotic silk prints, the verdant sweetness of pea shoots entwine jungle vines, tempered by the powdery familiarity of peony: nature, tamed.
Freddie Albrighton Someone Else’s Flowers (watercress, radish)
Rain-washed radishes, watercress and plucked peapods photosynthesise to a florist’s shop of snapped stalks and tin buckets: happy-making bouquets yet to be.
Diptyque Eau Rose Eau de Parfum (artichoke)
Artichoke was added to enhance the original rose oil – fleshy, green, slightly bitter, it speaks of melancholy moments wandering walled gardens, arboreal amour.
To the Fairest Élan Vital (greens/nettle)
A settling of greens and grounding vetiver on forest-y floors, the gathering of soft moss and patchouli to line a cosy bolthole with, a cover of golden leaves.
DS & Durga Bistro Waters (bell peppers)
A savoury special of juicy green peppers and aromatic, just-chopped herbs with undercurrents of fancy cocktails to follow, late-night lock-ins and snogging the chef.
Paco Rabanne Fabulous Me (pumpkin)
Eschewing showiness, a warm snuggle that speaks of cosiness, silky sandalwood wrapped around fleshy pumpkin; rhubarb’s tartness tempering the sweetness.
4160 Tuesdays Le Jardin de Monsieur McGregor (cucumber/celery)
Mr McGregor’s pipe smoke trail traces a rambunctious bunny through a Lake District garden: leafy greens, creamy mushrooms and nibbled strawberries.
If you’ve had your fill of Christmas TV, have basically completed Netflix, or find yourself desperately flicking through the channels to find something worth watching – we’ve got a fab list of fragrantly-themed things to consider adding to your viewing over this festive period…
Perfume in popular cultureused be represented as something of a frippery, a subject to sneer at, but more recently, this eye-rolling attitude appears to be changing for the better. Certainly it seems to be (albeit slowly) if you cast a glance at some series, films and some of the most-loved television shows we’ve been streaming of late.
We couldn’t help noticing the subject of fragrance – perfumery and bottles as an art form, and our sense of smell in general – is coming up more frequently. It’s the perfect way to fill the weird hinterland between festive or new year celebrations and the return to real life.
Here’s a selection box of fragrant items that are either scent-centric of contain major perfumery mentions which we have spotted, with direct links to click and watch. Ditch the TV guide and follow your noses, this way…!
‘With his incredible talent for discerning scents, Jean-Baptiste Grenouille (Ben Whishaw) is one of 18th-century France’s finest perfumers. He becomes obsessed with capturing an elusive aroma: the scent of young womanhood. His search takes a deadly turn, and when the bodies of 12 young females are found, panic breaks out, with families rushing to lock up their daughters.’
Based on the best-selling, and now infamous, novel by Patrick Süskind, this is one every fragrance-lover should watch. It’s remarkable not only for being filmed at all (many said the book could never be made in to a screen drama), but for changing the way fragrance was talked about in the media. Stunningly shot, utterly gripping, we of course urge you to read the book first, but do then see this and marvel.
If you’ve already seen the film, have a gander at the made for TV drama loosely based on the premise of the novel, but in a modern-day setting: Perfume (series) Netflix.
Simply put, Nose is a feast for the senses, and a much-needed way for us to feed the wanderlust we’re all experiencing. Gorgeous, swooping shots of landscape and sumptuous close-ups of dew-speckled flowers accompany this portrait, that goes beyond the work of Demachy, and invites the viewer to fall as passionately in love with the world of perfumery as he and all the people behind the scenes so obviously are…
Telling the story of a preparatory school student who woefully takes a job as an assistant to an irritable, blind, medically retired Army officer, Frank, (magnificently played by Al Paccino) this is one of those films that helped highlight the importance of our sense of smell. In one memorable scene, Frank approaches the table where a woman sits alone, waiting for date. ‘You know, I detect a fragrance in the air,’ he says, ‘Don’t tell me what it is… Ogleby Sisters Soap?’ So, although not a movie about perfume per se, it’s a fantastic performance, and fun to look out for some well-known fragrance names he also detects along his adventures…
Perfumes (Les Parfums) Amazon Prime: rent for £4.49
We reviewed this charming film in full, here, but basically it’s the story of a reclusive, once-feared French perfumer and her new chauffeur. Though a gentle comedy, Les Parfums takes a serious (and very well presented) look at the life of a perfumer, and now this subtitled film has a wider release with Amazon, we hope many more of you will be able to see it. Certainly it’s a treat for the senses, and sadly such a rarity to see perfumery explored on screen in this manner. We particularly loved the scene in which Guillaume, the chauffeur, is discovering his newly-acquired appreciation for smell – in the supermarket, sniffing various shower gels, under the watchful gaze of a bemused security guard. ‘Something quite mellow…’ he says, as the guard shuffles closer, clearly unused to such behaviour in Aisle 5. Delightful from start to finish.
‘After a perfumer’s death, his daughter works to meet the production deadline for his company’s latest scent, which is complicated by the lack of an elusive ingredient.‘ Now we should really start by saying this a Hallmark movie, and as such has a certain look and feel to it that previous viewers of their oeuvre will recognise. That being said, this is the kind of whimsical film that one can happily curl up on the sofa with while eating your way through an entire tub of ice cream. Just don’t expect Süskind levels of olfactory detail, accept that everyone wears pastel and has perfect hair, and all will be fine.
We must admit to not having watched this one yet, but it certainly sounds like an antidote to excessive Christmas schmaltz, if that’s what you’re looking for. ‘After her mother dies, a chemist begins to have strange visions of a mysterious woman in black applying perfume in a mirror, and of strangers who follow her everywhere.’ That’s the synopsis in brief, but further reviews reveal that it’s a surrealistic film, also described as an ‘incoherent and inconsistent slice of psychological horror.’ Nonetheless, it’s a plot that sounds intriguing enough to capture our interest, and we very much we get to find out what the mysterious woman in black’s perfume actually is!
‘Mary Haines (Norma Shearer) can’t believe her husband’s having an affair with salesgirl Crystal (Joan Crawford). But when Sylvia (Rosalind Russell) and Edith (Phyllis Povah) deliver the gossip firsthand, Mary heads to Reno for a divorce. En route she meets Countess de Lave (Mary Boland) and Miriam (Paulette Goddard), who coincidentally is having an affair with Sylvia’s husband. Once in Reno, the Countess finds another beau, Sylvia shows up for a divorce and Mary plots to win back her man.’
Even though this really only has one perfume-related scene, we’re recommending this one mainly because it’s one of our favourite films EVER. And what a scent scene that is – set in the fragrance department of a classy department store, and featuring magnificently catty lines with Crawford as the predatory perfume counter gal. A stellar cast – made up entirely of women (practically unheard of even today, let alone in the 1930s!) – magnificent costumes and a gasp-inducing sudden switch to full-colour film during the fashion show sequence, make this more than worth your watching (on repeat).
Some years ago, the BBC made a fascinating doccumentary series about the perfume business, taking a deep dive into the creation of a fragrance, the revival of a perfume house (Grossmith) and interviewing perfume personalities such as Roja Dove and perfumers including Guerlain’s Thierry Wasser. Sadly the episiodes are no longer available on the BBC iPlayer website, though they are now available to watch on YouTube: Perfume (BBC Documentary series).
When it originally aired, the first season of Emily in Paris saw equal parts love and hate in the many reviews that followed its release. By season two, more had succumbed, and with a new season now available, whichever camp you fall in, you cannot deny it’s a love-song to Paris. And you know what? In the first season there’s actually not a bad look at the creation and marketing of a perfume, as we follow Emily’s hapless adventures as she’s ‘tasked with bringing an American point of view to a venerable French marketing firm.’ Time to catch-up and binge watch!
YouTube is a treasure trove for archival fragrance adverts and wonderful little gems like this Pathé documentary on how fragrance is made. We might chuckle at the Stiff Upper Lip ‘Received Pronunciation’ of the voiceover, but it makes for a still very interesting look at Grasse, French perfumery and the technical side of perfumery still not often shown in such detail to this day. Click above to watch it now!
Another still on our ‘to watch’ list, this series certainly sounds like it ticks many (perfume) boxes for us… ‘During the Republican era, a family empire famous for making the best fragrances and incense must guard against those who are out to steal their secret recipes. Ning Zhi Yuan is the sweet young master of his family’s fragrance empire. An Le Yan is a determined young woman who is out for revenge against the Ning family. Zhi Yuan falls in love with Le Yan, but she only wants to infiltrate Zhi Yuan’s family to steal a valuable perfume formula. Le Yan’s true heart is drawn toward An Yi Chen, an inspector. But Xiao Hui, the daughter of a Japanese imperialist, is determined to capture Yi Chen’s heart at all costs. Can Zhi Yuan protect his family’s livelihood and his own heart?‘
Something for the little ones – perhaps inspiring a new ‘nose’ in your family? – this cheeky little cartoon follows the story of Mo, who is ‘…upset when Tee accidentally breaks her favourite perfume.’ And indeed she might might be upset! ‘Tee is now determined to cheer her up by making her some new perfume from ingredients found around the house. Lucky Mo!’ Hmm. Well we’re sure that’s all whimsically delightful, but if Tee tried whipping up a batch of vintage Mitsouko from stuff he found around our house, we’re very much afraid he’d be out on his ear (having replaced the bottle and cleaned the carpet, thank you very much!)
Blown Away: Series 2, Episode 6: Scents & Sensibility [Netflix]
In the same sort of stable as successful reality series like Bake Off, Sewing Bee and The Great Pottery Throwdown; ‘Blown Away’ proved a huge hit for Netflix a couple of years ago. The latest season once again showcases the artistry and immense skill in glass blowing, and of course we LOVED the focus on perfume bottles in this episode. We’ll even forgive the much-overused perfume pun title.
Katherine Gray, professor at the California State University and resident evaulator describes the challenge to the contestants, saying that: ‘Over the course of the last 5,000 years, perfume flacons have transformed from really simple containers to elaborate and ornate works of art.‘ In this episode, they must design and hand-blow their own glass bottles, while keeping in mind, as perfume designer and guest judge, Michel Germain says: ‘A successful perfume is more than just the scent. The bottle has to draw people in, spark interest and tell a story.’ And the results? They’ll definitely blow you away…
Antiques Roadshow: Christchurch Mansion 2 [BBC1]
Always a soothing warm bath of a show, our ears pricked up at mention of a special perfume bottle a member of the public wanted one of their resident antique experts, Judith Miller, to take a look at. A mother and daughter duo explain how they came to own this precious fragrant family heirloom. ‘I got it a couple of years ago from my mum and dad for Christmas,’ the daughter begins, recounting the history and how her dad went shopping ‘forty or fifty years ago’ to find the perfect present for his wife, when he came across the exqusite piece and ‘loved it so much that he bought it for my mum.’
Miller reveals the stunning little scent bottle was probably made around 1760 and said it was possibly the work of famous engraver and porcelain decorator James Giles, who was ‘absolutely top of the tree.’ It is always interesting to look at the faces of the people when they’re told how much the piece is worth, and we’re wondering if it crossed the mother’s mind she might like to reclaim the perfume bottle gift she so generously passed on to her daughter… We won’t spoil the show by saying how much it could sell for, here, but suffice to say Father Christmas was VERY generous that year. The daughter, it turns out, has ‘a number of scent bottles’ on display in her home, and this one will be kept in the centre ‘as the pièce de résistance!’
And if you’re after even more fragrance talk filling the airwaves, have a look at some of the Perfume Themed Podcasts we rounded up recently. Perfume in popular culture: a fragrant renaissance, do we dare hope…?
While selecting fragrances for the Winter Solstice, why not let it snow in the scents you wear? Perfumers have been inspired by frosted leaves, frozen lakes, mystical, white-tipped mountains, and all manner of wintry scenes.
Recently, we were blanketed by snow in the U.K. and the countryside was like a Christmas card come to life, while London looked for all the world like a real-life Rom Com. For a while, anyway. Though beautiful, snow and ice sadly cause travel chaos, and that pristine perfection turns to grey slush before long. But with the Winter Solstice, we want to keep the thrill of snowy scenes alive in the scents we choose…
4160 Tuesdays Doe in the Snow
A crystalline breeze brushes snowflakes on eyelashes, a world tinged white while eating peach sorbet in the midst of a magical forest’s wedding feast. From £32 for 15ml eau de parfum4160tuesdays.com
Moncler Pour Femme
In the chicest ski resort, powdered snow flecks cold metal, a crisp morning breeze of bringing the mountains closer with drifts of icy flowers’ frozen petals. £113 for 100ml eau de parfumharveynichols.com
Lorenzo Villoresi Teint de Neige
Now available in sparkling scented body gel form, this crackles like a frost fairy’s mirror coated in face powder, coaxed from its ice layer by a flicker of candlelight. £95 for 100ml sparkling body gellessenteurs.com
Frederic Malle L’Eau d’Hiver
Soothing whispers of endless comfort swirl in exquisite minimalism, a blanket of iris covering frosted hawthorns, radiant hedione glistening through melting icicles. £210 for 100ml eau de toilettelibertylondon.com
Creed Silver Mountain Water
Cascading alpine streams conjured via chilled cassis, sparkling citrus, iced tea and the mercurial illusiveness of ambergris: purity providing welcome breathing space. £185 for 50ml eau de parfumcreedfragrances.co.uk
Kingdom Scotland Albaura
An icy gasp of air, the magnificence of a mountain conquered by a woman ahead of her time, marvelling at fresh snow, wild berries and botanicals, her own bravery. £120 for 50ml eau de parfumkingdomscotland.com
The House of Oud Wonderly
Snow in the desert? Picture this: warm copper bowls of apricots, almond blossoms blooming, plumes of smoke curling skywards, snowflakes falling on sand dunes. From £30 for 7ml eau de parfumab-presents.co.uk
Roos & Roos Mentha Religiosa
An interplay of shadow and light, a crackle of mint awakens the fizz of bright bergamot, mellowed by powdery iris, threads of patchouli, and cold, clear incense. £175 for 100ml eau de parfumroosandroos.fr
Zoologist Snowy Owl
Silvery snow hides life, but in the beat of a white feathered wing the owl swoops, furry voles snuggled in mossy tunnels oblivious as the world sleeps and glistens. £210 for 60ml extrait de parfumbloomperfume.co.uk
Skandinavisk SNÖ Candle
A fragrant light to guide you through the darkest winter nights (and days), it fills the room with frosted berries, frozen timberwood and pushes stubborn walls back. Now £19.20 for 90gosmology.co
L’Atelier Parfum Rose Coupe de Foudre
‘Somewhere between a shiver and a heartbeat,’ they say, ‘an intoxicating passion.’ Frosted magnolia unfurls, buxom buds bursting free; roses, berries, no regrets. £95 for 100ml eau de parfumuk.latelierparfum.com
Cloon Keen Atelier Frosted Moon
Ethereal moonlight kisses frosted grass, sparkles of ice shards piercing beneath winter’s mantle to vetiver’s welcoming earthiness: spring’s bulbs warmly cocooned. £120 for 100ml eau de parfumlessenteurs.com
Agonist Blue North
Spearmint-tinged botanicals, ginger-tingled herbs and cardamom-kissed woods pay scented tribute to the startling beauty of remote landscapes plunged in darkness. £135 for 50ml eau de parfumaveryperfumegallery.co.uk
Diptyque Neige Candle
Once upon a winter’s midnight, in the depths of a blue velvet sky, phosphorescent shapes are traced in sparkling heliotrope, a cosmic shimmer of cold white musk. £38 for 70gselfridges.com
For further reading on the fascinating ways perfumers can conjure a sense of ‘cold’ in their compositions, and how we can actually use our sense of smell to predict an oncoming snowstorm before a single flake has fallen, read our lead feature in the winter edition of The Scented Letter Magazine – this multi-award-winning publication is FREE to read in a digital, flickable format, and to get yours, simply sign up, here.
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