Chapter & Verse: fragrances inspired by literature

Fragrance and literature have a scented symbiosis, a way of piercing beneath layers of logic to reach our most instinctive emotions. They tap into deep-seated memories, dare us to dream, and share the power to make us feel a certain way, even if we don’t fully understand why.

Consequently, English Literature is a particularly bountiful resource for perfumes – so many have taken inspiration from the pages of novels, hoping to evoke the atmosphere of the story itself, or exemplify famous characters through the ages.

Writers frequently allude to other senses when attempting to fully plunge the reader into a plot – the most skilled wielding the sense of smell as another character, almost, or underlining that most private, inner world the other characters inhabit.

 

 

I encourage you to dive into these scented stories, for as Master Perfume Jean -Claude Ellena says:

‘Perfume is a story in odour, sometimes a poetry in memory…’

 

Sarah Baker Parfums Far From the Madding Crowd

Juxtaposing idyllic pastoral scenes with simmering, intense emotions, this fragrance references Thomas Hardy’s book of the same name, seeking to evoke an atmosphere that is, to quote Baker, ‘simultaneously exquisitely beautiful and cruelly unforgiving.’ Amidst the beautiful note of heliotrope – a flower that often grows wild among ancient hedgerows – dangerous declarations and balmy evenings are poised betwixt the romantic idealism of a country picnic. Think long summer grasses, orchards filled with fallen fruits, wide meadows to run through in gauzy gowns, willows to sit beneath while passionately pining.

£95 for 50ml eau de parfum or try a sample in their Discovery Set for £25 / VIP price £21

Histoire de Parfums 1804 George Sand

Renowned for her androgynous pen name, Sand was ‘the incarnation of the first modern woman’, and forms a central part of the brand’s literary leanings (which include an intriguing voyage via their 1828 Jules Verne and the rather more risqué 1740 Marquis de Sade). This vibrant throb of a scent tempts the senses with succulent pineapple before lavishly decorating with tall vases of white flowers and coming to rest on the warm, ambered sensuality of the spices that ripple throughout. If ‘fruity’ fragrances have previously made you recoil, come back into the fold with this utterly grown-up and bosomy embrace.

From £36 for 15ml eau de parfum 

 

Parfums Dusita Montri

A writer, traveller and strong yet gentle man who spent a lot of time in Paris, this fragrance was not only inspired by one of his poems, the office he wrote in and the materials he used – it radiates a sense of his poetic soul. A refined and ultra smooth blend of sophisticated spices are seamlessly stirred through orris butter, rose and Oud Palao. Ah, but this is a sheer, spacious and uplifting oud that speaks of wooden desks, piles of papers, the gentle scratch of a fountain pen on parchment and writing as the sun sets. An elegantly comforting scent that feels immediately timeless, how perfect for perfumer Pissara Umavijani to honour her literary father in this way, and what an honour for us, the wearers, to share it.

€150 for 50ml eau de parfum

 

 

 

Guerlain Mitsouko

Author Claude Farrère was a close friend of Jacques Guerlain, so when Farrère included a Guerlain fragrance in his novel Opium Smoke, describing ‘Jicky poured drop by drop onto the hands blackened by the drug’, Jacques was thrilled at the symbiosis and returned the favour by naming one of his greatest ever creations after a character in Farrès novel La Bataille. Conjuring romanticism as see through a woman’s eyes, this scent is a complex unfurling of cinnamon infused, milk-lapped plump peach skin, the oakmoss trail that lingering beguilingly for hours. The masterful current reformulation by Thierry Wasser is as close as we’ll get to the original, thanks to oakmoss restrictions, but oh it’s a must-sniff for literary and perfume lovers alike.

£112 for 75ml eau de parfum

 

 

 

 

Frederic Malle's Portrait of a Lady perfume

Frederic Malle Portrait of a Lady

In Henry James’ eponymous novel, protagonist Isabel Archer sulks her way through immaculate gardens, burdened by blessings of too much beauty, intelligence and wealth [#thoughtsandprayers] while James himself seems to scamper behind, awed by her melancholy and reflecting that ‘a visit to the recesses of one’s spirit was harmless when one returned from it with a lapful of roses.’ Dominique Ropion’s fragrance leads the wearer face-first into that lap, a rambunctiously sexualised and swaggeringly confident portrait of the woman she might have been, perhaps; the shadier bowers ravaged for ripe berries, lips stained vermillion from their juice, petals torn as velvety pocketfulls of roses are ripped from their stems. A page-turner on the skin, for sure.

£188 for 50ml eau de parfum

Written by Suzy Nightingale

What would Santa smell like…?

Responses to the question ‘What would Santa smell like?’ have revealed a wide range of answers from children all over the world, depending on their age and where they live. Perfumer Penny Williams took the most popular answers and turned them into a fragrance that teachers can use to engage school children in discussions around their sense of smell…

Lisa Hipgrave, Director of IFRA UK, who undertook the research, says ‘We are working with a group of people across the fragrance industry to develop ways to help people understand and benefit from a greater awareness of their sense of smell. Whilst this is a lighthearted approach to get us all in the Christmas spirit which we hope people will try at home, it is part of a wider piece of the work of that group. We have created a new website called fragrancematters.org to help people find out more about the importance of their sense of smell  – from new and quirky facts, to taking a deeper dive into the world of olfaction through highlighting wider research, activities and events.’

So, what were their answers? ‘Soot and sweat’ was a popular response, while others answered ‘leather, boot polish and velvet’ and ‘pine trees, from brushing past them on his journey, and from Christmas trees as he places presents under trees in hopeful homes.’ More poetically inclined children decided he might smell of ‘nose-tingling magic and moonlight’ or ‘starry nights from his journey through the night sky’ and even ‘like space, perhaps with a little whisky’. Contributions from the USA included ‘the New York night sky just before snowfall’, and Canadadian children said ‘the first snow of winter on the pine woods’, while responses from Australia included ‘countless beach barbecues’.

 

 

Unsurprisingly, food and drink was a major theme, with cinnamon, gingerbread and mince pies appearing most often. Many children think that Santa smells of milk and biscuits, until they reach around 14 years of age, when Santa’s snacks switched to ‘sherry or brandy and mince pies’.

 

British perfumer Penny Williams, Chairperson of the IFRA UK working group, Vice Chair of the IFRA UK Technical committee and founder of Orchadia Ltd, says: ‘The human sense of smell is incredible. We take around 20,000 breaths a day and each one is an opportunity to learn about our surroundings. Inside our nose are olfactory bulbs, which are linked directly to our brain and create a memory link. That is why our sense of smell is so important to our wellbeing and feeling connected. Through our noses, we can also sense temperature and humidity. Both also affect how well we can smell – and smell is also the flavour of food. The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted how losing our sense of smell can make us feel disconnected. Our sense of smell isn’t just about the present, it’s about the past and can create feelings of happiness and nostalgia.’ She continues:

‘We want to bring back that innocent joy, comfort and sense of happiness to pupils in the schools we are working with. However, this is such a fun experiment for anyone of any age, so we are inviting people across the UK to spark up the discussion with family and friends. Using everyday objects and a few Christmas treats you can quickly get your olfactory sense working. Our nose is connected to a part of our nervous system which is responsible for detecting heat (chilli) and cold (menthol). So, menthol, found in peppermint and often in toothpaste, has a physical cooling effect that we can feel and mince pies might create a feeling of warmth. The different sensations and feelings evoked by our sense of smell comes from many places and somehow comes together in a wonderful way: rather like Christmas.’

Using these responses, Orchadia created a special fragrance that follows Santa’s journey with a mixture of 48 traditional and modern ingredients that have made an intriguing and bold scent. Most noticeable on first spray are smoke and ozone –using the uniquely woody smokey scent of vetiver and an ingredient that smells like fresh water. Menthol hints at snow flurries in cold air. Also featured are pine needle and davana oil, which is reminiscent of Christmas pudding. There’s even the leathery scent of reins next to reindeer fur, accompanied by earthy patchouli oil. The fresh forest notes are extended with cedar, eventually fading to vanilla and soft moss. 

Victoria Osborne, Teacher at Hinchingbrooke School in Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire, says ‘The children are going to have so much fun discussing what Santa smells like as part of their STEM learning. It is a really lovely way to get them to use their own personal experiences and memories whilst also learning about the science of smell. We are going to have a science lab that smells like Christmas has come early as we will be taking time to properly breathe in the different layers of smells in mince pies and to take time to notice if something created a warm or a cooling smell.’

Children respond amazingly and often explain smells in the most creatively imaginative ways, so if you find yourself desperate for a way to entertain the kids during the holidays, why not gather together some ingredients from your pantry (and toothpaste from the bathroom!) to create a sensory station in your own home, where children can explore their sense of smell?  Ask them to smell each ingredient and describe how it smells. you can use questions we ask people to think about at our How to Improve Your Sense of Smell Workshops:

If this was a material, would it be velvet, suede, linen, fluffy towels…?

If this was a musical instrument, which would it be?

Would it be loud or quiet? High or low-pitched? Fast or slow?

What colour would this smell be?

And… which of these would Santa smell of?

 

Synthetic Jungle – Frédéric Malle in conversation with Anne Flipo

It’s a jungle out there – an incredibly refined, ultra-green, 1970s-inspired one, thanks to Frédéric Malle and perfumer Anne Flipo‘s latest creation: Synthetic Jungle eau de parfum.

We were lucky enough to be part of the virtual launch event for Synthetic Jungle, where Fréderic and Anne discussed the inspiration behind the fragrance, and exactly how the composition came together. And Frédéric was  particularly keen, as you will see,  to make the point that synthetics are a vital and creative component to the fragrance industry, not some dirty little secret that fragrance houses should seek to obscure from public view…

Fréderic Malle: I had an idea about revisiting ‘green’ perfumery, and thought Anne was the perfect candidte for that. She’s very good at starting points. We looked together at formulas from the past.

One we thought particularly interesting was Private Collecion by Estée Lauder. This was our starting point. Working with Anne was like two musicians jamming together. We were very comfortable together, with common interests, a common language. There was no fear!

Anne Flipo: At the beginning I was a bit stressed because I had to understand how he works. But it was immediately very easy, he works the way I do. Everything was possible, but I wanted to organise the floralcy around the greenness. I chose lily of the valley.

Frédéric: The paradox, that people don’t often understand, is that to create a natural smell we need synthetics. Each synthetic note is part of the puzzle. I chose this paradoxical name to remind people how perfumery functions. And to show that what man makes is often as interesting as nature. …

Anne: When I choose the ingredients, (I work with over 400), the green note, for example, is very different to the colour itself…

Frédéric: There’s a difference between a smell and a perfume. Between a flower and a fragrance. A fine fragrance has to feel like it’s coming out of you, not worn on the skin.

Anne: I wanted it to smell like this jungle was coming out of you. The chypre accord helps it last on the skin, it balances the formula.

Frédéric: When Anne added the lily of the valley it was a huge turning point, it was the key. And then the dampness comes from Patchouli.

 

 

Frédéric Malle: Interesting perfumery really started at the end of the 19th century, because there were some synthetics available. Perfumery as we know it today has big doses of synthetic, and furthermore, if you want to recreate nature you need synthetic.  The name, Synthetic Jungle, is a way of opening the debate, I love nature, it needs to be preserved, don’t get me wriong; but this idea that everything from nature is great and everything from man is awful is a new kind of facism.

Anne Flipo: Making the formula very short was important to me, overdosing some ingredients – there’s a lot of cassis, overdoes of floralcy, not so many base notes volume-wise. They’re present, you smell them, but the construction is very modern.

Frédéric: Sometimes you have contrast. The patchouli and oakmoss is a black background, but it’s not dirty. A lot of the fragrances from the 1970s smelled dirty. This smells carnal, but not dirty. There’s a distinction.

Anne: I’m so proud and so happy to be part of the Frédéric Malle family.

Frédéric:Yes, look, she’s a completely transformed woman! [laughter]

Anne: Well, we really had the chance to challenge each other further during this.

Frédéric: It was a challenge, yes, but Anne has a great sense of humour and that’s really important. It’s like dancing, making perfumes; deep concentration, but also deep relaxation…

 

Frédéric Malle Synthetic Jungle from £38 for 10ml eau de parfum
fredericmalle.co.uk

Synthetic Jungle is brave in many ways. For one thing, it has the word ‘synthetic’ in the title, at a time when there’s much so-called ‘green-washing’ – the implication that fragrances and cosmetics are ‘toxic’ if they aren’t all-natural, when in fact many essential oils are potentially more harmful and less environmentally sustainable to produce. For another, intensely green fragrances aren’t always the easiest to love. But Frédéric Malle has always been about the quality of the fragrance first, allowing the perfumer’s talents to shine through. And oh my, how Flipo shines in Synthetic Jungle…

What does it smell like? Bitter green crunchy stems and sticky sap – it’s very chic French Chypre from 1970s snogs a Cologne and goes wild, hacking through undergrowth, with vibrant bursts of tart, mouth-puckering blackcurrant, fuzzy tomato leaves examined under a microscope. WHOAH BLACKCURRANT GOES NUCLEAR! Everything gets HUGE AGAIN! Rolled in soft moss and seed spores to dampen the edges, the fruitiness gets warm, viscous, jammy.

Synthetic Jungle is the Indiana Jones ride at Universal Studios, or a missing scene from Honey I Shrunk the Kids as shot by a Vogue photographer in 1976 (a steamy greenhouse becomes a surreal cartoon jungle and everything’s impossibly glamorous). You emerge with berry stained lips and leaves in your hair, covered in grass stains and grinning wildly.

By Suzy Nightingale

Nose – the ‘smell good movie’ revealing the scent secrets of Dior perfumer, François Demachy

Nose is a more than a documentary following Dior perfumer François Demachy, it’s a paean to the raw ingredients of perfumery, and the hardworking people who grow and harvest the ingredients around the world.

Having first premiered at the 2020 Tribeca Film Festival, the film has just been released – watch the trailer, below, read our review and find out where you can watch…

 

 

Dior describe it as ‘A true “smell good movie” Nose sheds light on one of the most secret jobs in the world.’ And while we mostly remainly quarantined, what a wonderful way to travel by your nose it is.

‘Perfumes are a language everyone understands, but few people can speak’ Demachy explains as he sits in his office, filled with endless bottles and piles of books, later commenting that ‘For me, a perfume is a land of sharing.’ Fascinatingly, when asked what his first ever perfume was, he reveals ‘The first thing I did was a perfume intended to whet the appetites of bovine, so they would eat the fodder.’ Quite a leap to his life, now, and yet in this film we get to see how he works with the growers of the materials he so loves, eventually whetting all our appetites with their distilled passion.

In Sulawesi, Indonesia, Demachy travels for three days to visit the patchouli plantations, and says for him, it was the most rewarding part of filming Nose.

‘We took a small plane, then a four-wheel drive, followed by a hike through a few isolated villages in the middle of nowhere. That in itself was already an enjoyable adventure, but then there was this magnificent reward at the end, and I finally got to see my favorite ingredient in its natural environment, on these steep slopes… It’s quite moving to see this… This is where it all begins for perfumery.’ François Demachy remarks as he watches the freshly picked patchouli being washed (and having covered his arms in the fragrantly oily residue).

Fragrance writer Eddie Bulliqi makes an apperance at several points during the film, discussing the links between music and fragrance, and the creative process; but again, it’s the growers who are most celebrated in Nose, even more than the often romanticised life of a great perfumer.

From the idyllic fields of jasmine and rose in Grasse, we meet the women who own the land and discover exactly how hard it is to work those so-pretty fields. And we hear from Patrick Lillis, a ‘Celtic ambergris broker’ from County Clare, Ireland. As the wind and rain lash the shore, Patrick and his dog walk beside the broiling sea, and this gruff-voiced, sou’wester-wearing man waxes lyrical on the magic of ambergris in perfumery.

‘It’s a personal taste thing, you know?’ he says, while sniffing a white (and therefore older, stronger) lump of the precious material. ‘It’s quite a profound, animatic smell… Some people say it adds another dimension to perfumery, that a normal perfume is 2D and this is 3D. It’s the best natural fixative for perfume, and it’s oleophilic – it grabs hold of the oils. But it also does another thing which is a little bit magical: it transforms other fragrances.’

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…

Nose is now available to rent or buy on Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV and Google Play.

By Suzy Nightingale

Safe scents: a perfumer explains

Safe scents – what are they, who checks, and what processes do fragrances have to go through?

It’s such a minefield, and there is much misinformation floating around the internet and social media, of late, regarding the topic of ‘safe scents’. So we welcome the ‘open door’ approach many perfume houses and perfumers are now taking, making the public more aware of what goes on behind-the-scenes in not only creating a fragrance, but ensuring its safety.

Perfumer Pia Long, from  the fragrance creation house and expert consultancy, Olfiction, recently created some images, while she was working on a new creation for a client – ‘…the creation in question being a sparkly citrus eau de toilette with a very high percentage of natural materials.’ (Because yes, even if a fragrance is 100% natural, it still has to be checked. Just because an ingredient is deemed ‘natural’, it’s still a chemical and it still needs to be safety checked).

Pia has been noticing more comments on social media from consumers, who, she explains ‘…say (wrongly) that there are no safety considerations for fragrance prior to it going into a product, or that natural is always safe and synthetic is always not (also wrong).’

So, Pia took some screenshots of ‘the stuff I have to be fluent in,’ and wanted to share them with the public because she thought, ‘Maybe it’s time we perfumers start to show you a little more than nice photos of us in our swish laboratories or eccentric offices; or maybe just seeing content from brands is not enough these days.’

We all love seeing those ‘sneak peeks’ into perfumers’ labs, or the harvesting of fragrant crops, but while that content is incredibly enjoyable to see, it doesn’t address the misinformation regarding fragrance safety. So while it’s fantastic to learn more about what Pia terms ‘the artistic and olfactive side of our work,’ she reminds us that not also talking about the various stages a fragrance goes through ‘…can make our contribution minimised.’

These images are from Pia’s ‘first sketch of a formula’. It’s vital she goes through this process for any kind of fragrance she creates – whether that will be a fine fragrance or to scent another product, because, she tells us:

‘I want to make sure the formula is compliant before I do any more to it. We are sometimes requested to do more than 100 modifications to a fragrance. We have to do the safety calculations each time. When the fragrance is signed off, it’s then off to (further) stability and safety testing.’

 

Basically, Pia wants to get the message across that if you are buying a perfume or fragranced product that has been supplied by a professional perfumer or perfume house, ‘they will be following IFRA guidelines.’

IFRA  – the International Fragrance Association – was formed in 1973, with a mission ‘to represent the collective interests of the industry and promote the safe use and enjoyment of fragrances around the world.’ And as for those guidelines, IFRA says that, ‘The IFRA Standards ban, limit or set criteria for the use of certain ingredients, based on scientific evidence and consumer insights.’

We’d love to see more of these insights from perfumers. While not as romantic as seeing them strolling through lavender fields, such conversations are a vital reminder of the huge amount of work that a fragrance entails. And clearly explained topics of safety and science go hand in (scented) glove with the questions consumers are (rightly) asking about sustainability and inclusivity – topics we cover in depth in the Beyond Fashion & Fragrance edition of The Scented Letter magazine, if you’d like to read more…

By Suzy Nightingale

Les Parfums – charming new French comedy film about a ‘nose’: watch the trailer here!

Les Parfums (‘Perfumes’) is a just-released and utterly charming French film following the life of a feared and reclusive ‘nose’, and her troubled realtionship with her new chauffeur.

The English-subtitled film is a gentle comedy, but takes a serious (and very well presented) look at the life of a perfumer, and it has been released in the U.K. Now showing at selected Curzon cinemas,  it’s also on Curzon Home Cinema (to stream at home, for those of us not near one of the venues or who prefer to watch from the comfort of our homes).

Curzon Home Cinema says: ‘Anne Walberg (Emmanuelle Devos) is a master in fragrance who has fallen from grace amongst the upper echelons of the perfume industry. However, her skills are still in demand from companies looking to mask the smell of their odorous products. Over the years she has become selfish and temperamental. When she hires Guillaume (Grégory Montel) – a down on his luck chauffeur with too many points on his license and a rocky relationship with his young daughter – they strike up an unlikely friendship. Together they look to repair their lives and create a new signature scent to return Anne to her previous fame.’

Our review:

There are so few films about perfumers and our sense of smell, and we were thrilled to discover this new movie more than lives up to expectations. Following the rather hapless chauffeur, at first, Guillaume’s first clue to the trials and tribulations ahead with his new client is when she sniffs him, names the brand of his cigarettes and, when he offers her one, throws the packet out the car window. Other clues to her profession (and her character) come when Ms. Walberg demands that he help her change the sheets in a hotel room, declaring: ‘They use a fabric conditioner full of galaxolides for that “clean” smell. I hate it!’
Asked to recreate the smell of an ancient cave to diffuse at a tourist attraction, Ms. Walberg takes Guillaume along with her, rubbing the walls. ‘Mineral, earthy, camphor, touch of moss… Iris root’ she bids him write down in her notebook. Later, she asks him to smell something she’s created on a blotter. He complains that he doesn’t know what it smells of, but she gently encourages him to say whatever thoughts come to mind. ‘Trust yourself.’ Before we know it, Guillaume is 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.
The extent of of Walberg’s’ fame is revealed when she smells Dior J’Adore on a waitress and casually tells Guillaume she created it. (In fact, it was composed by perfumer Calice Becker in 1999, but this is a fictional film, after all). Later we learn that, after she became famous with her photo adorning the cover of magazines, she ‘began to lose (my) nose.’ She thought that ‘with my experience of blending I could do it from memory.’ But after making a mistake, her confidence in composing fine fragrance was truly troubled and Devos lost her contract. Her sense of smell came back, but ‘the perfume world is small,’ and so with her reputation struck down in flames, she stuck to smaller, industrial and functional fragrance jobs while avoiding the public gaze.
Suddenly, Walberg loses her sense of smell again. Terrified, she decides to part ways with her pushy agent and, under the treatment of an anosmia specialist – who describes the condition as when ‘The nose and the brain stop working together,’ she begins her journey back into the fragrance world. But can this chauffeur with ‘a good nose’ actually help her recover her reputation and heal his own life…?
Les Parfums is a wonderful evocation of that joy of sharing a love of fragrance, of watching someone develop and explore their own sense of smell. And it’s also a healthy reminder that anosmia – losing one’s sense of smell – can be a terrifying and life-changing experience, even if you don’t happen to be a perfumer. A gentle film that’s slow in pace but nonetheless completely gripping because of the sensitive character portrayal by the two leading actors, there’s some stunning shots of the French countryside and those Parisian streets we miss so much, too. A paean to the world of perfume and the gift that is our sense of smell, we say this is a must-watch for anyone who loves fragrance.

Now we’ve caught your interest, watch the trailer, below, and allow yourself to fall for Les Parfums’ charms…

Written by Suzy Nightingale

Bodyguard hand sanitisers: made by French perfumers (you’ll LOVE how these smell!)

There are so many hand sanitisers out there now, but when we were looking for a special extra gift to pop into our Treat Box, we wanted something that would be incredibly useful and smelled beautiful (of course we did!)
So as soon as we heard the BODYGUARD Protect hand sanitisers are made by French perfumers at an atelier in Provence, we knew we had to get our noses on them. Let’s face it – if we have to use them every day, we’d rather our hands smelled fabulous. And this is a fragrant ritual we can get behind.
Founder Celia Nicolosi explains:
‘Our heritage and all our expertise comes from creating fine fragrances in Provence, France. We use traditional techniques passed down through generations that take time and patience to deliver.
Our BODYGUARD anti-bacterial hand sanitisers are fragranced with a fresh Eau de Cologne formula, with each bottle made in our own L’Atelier in Manosque, Provence, this allows us to maintain the quality standards of our product. Our formula is also incredibly gentle on your hands, this is because we use a very high grade moisturising glycerin, which we don’t filter so that you receive all the added goodness to care for you hands.’

 

As we’ve discussed before, fragrant Colognes were traditionally used for health purposes – the alcohol was cleansing to the skin and many of the ingredients added additional anti-bacterial properties (though people didn’t realise that, then. They simply thought pleasant smells warded off sickness).

The BODYGUARD anti-bacterial hand sanitiser contains a powerful 70% alcohol formula with moisturising properties, to cleanse and calm your hands, each beautifully scented in four unique fragrances, and priced at £4.95 each.

Which will you choose as a daily fragrant pleasure…?

MORINGA BLOSSOM
The gentle clean scent of the tropical moringa flower subtly enhanced with violet and a touch of cedar.

MARINE
A breezy sea fragrance, of fresh Mediterranean bergamot, with a hint of woody cedar and musc.

COCONUT
Our coconut fragrance is an irresistible, dreamy, exotic cocktail of coconut, vanilla, jasmine and amber. A holiday must have!

CITRUS
Bursting with orange, bergamot and lemon, this classic citrus fragrance is awakened with notes of lavender and epice.

bodyguardprotect.co.uk

Meanwhile, if you’d like to try the always reviving Citrus Bodguard Protect Hand Sanitiser as an extra goody in our fragrant Treat Box, you can buy the whole box of THIRTEEN perfumes and two scented treats for just £23 (or £19 if you’re a VIP Club Member)

By Suzy Nightingale

Wet Dog: a malodorous mystery solved by perfumer Christophe Laudamiel

We’re currently loving exploring ScentCulture.tube – a website offering ‘an incisive look at a research project that reveals the secrets of creative practice in perfumery.’ So how do perfumers solve a mysterious scent mystery when working on their composition?

‘In most cases, a perfume is meant to be a pleasurable odour,’ the ScentCulture piece begins, ‘Technically, it is a mixture of essential oils, aroma compounds, and solvents used to provide an agreeable scent. Yet, the process is more complex than often explained.’

 

 

In a fascinating film called Wet Dog: Chasing the Villain, offering a unique insight into (okay, we’re calling it) one of the most inventive and brilliant perfumers working today; we get to see how Christophe Laudamiel works with raw materials and traces the mysterious presence of sudden appearance that’s certainly less than ‘pleasurable’…

Together with fellow perfumer Christoph Hornetz, during the development of ‘a jewel-like perfume’, they suddenly discover ‘…an unpleasant facet, an annoying animalic note. Laudamiel calls it a “wet dog” that only appears after some delay. The two perfumers are puzzled. The phenomenon seems to be really special, if also undesired. They investigate the composition, ingredient by ingredient. In the end, the detective search for malodor delivered a suspect for which Christoph Hornetz had noticed the same unexpected effect in other previous instances.’

 

 

We wont spoiler it for you, but the chemical compound they trace it to is actually often described as ‘tropical coconut, tonka bean and tobacco’. So how do we get from delicious to dawg? The clip linked above tells the detective story of that puzzling perfume mystery…

Written 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…

 

Ralph Lauren Polo Red Rush: Exclusive Q&A with perfumer

We caught up with Olivier Gillotin, the perfumer behind Ralph Lauren’s Polo Red Rush fragrance, for an exclusive Q&A and a sneak peek behind the scenes of his inspiration for creating the scent…

Q1. What was your inspiration behind POLO RED RUSH?

In designing the Polo Red Rush fragrance, I was inspired by the acceleration, elation and intensity during the very beginning of a race. I wanted to translate the rush of those never-ending first seconds into the fragrance. To achieve this vision, it needed to bring an immediate, intense freshness. Two ingredients inspired me at first: red mandarin for an impulsive, crispy start, then fresh mint for its energizing power.

Q2. How would you describe the way POLO RED RUSH smells?

I like to describe Polo Red Rush as an energetic red water – a fresh water tinted with crisp, energizing red notes. The citrus top notes (red mandarin, red grapefruit, lemon and pineapple) complement the spearmint mid note for an immediate fresh effect. The scent evolves on the skin with facets of red saffron while orange flower adds a masculine watery fluidity. Finally, a vibrant burst of roasted red coffee is streamlined with Cedarwood, bringing a new sleekness and elevating the background with an enamoring trail of woody musk.

Q3. How does POLO RED RUSH fit into the POLO RED franchise?

Polo Red Rush takes the franchise to the next level, capturing the sensations of speed, seduction and freedom. With its fresh, invigorating and surprising association of citrusy mint and cedarwood, Polo Red Rush perfectly rounds out the Polo Red portfolio.

Q4. What are the main differences between POLO RED, POLO RED EXTREME AND POLO RED RUSH?

Polo Red Rush is a crisp, energetic new interpretation of the original Polo Red. It elevates a spiced, cool watery freshness and bold red citrus profile. Spearmint from Morocco joins as a new bracing and dynamic element. Coffee notes play a supporting role to enhance a sleekly sensual dry-down with cedarwood and musk.

Q5. How did you choose the key notes for POLO RED RUSH? What makes the olfactive structure so intriguing?

Polo Red Rush masters a high proportion of saffron that is paired up with citrusy mint. I chose to elevate saffron for its unique and vibrant character able to unveil a fascinating fresh-spicy facet. Mint – saffron is an unusual and surprising association that creates a fresh yet intense and refined energy. Both ingredients fit perfectly well and complement each other.

Q6. Were there any special techniques or stand-out ingredients used to achieve your vision for POLO RED RUSH?

The creation process has been a construction – deconstruction “game”. My original intention was to design the ultimate experience of fresh energy for the Polo Red thrill-seeker. After translating this idea into fragrance, I deconstructed the formula to clearly identify and highlight its best facets – crisp and citrusy mint, cedarwood, saffron. I then removed all unnecessary ingredients to maintain the most relevant ones and to develop the fragrance in a fresh, unique and refined way.

Q7. What makes POLO RED RUSH so crisp and energizing?

Polo Red Rush has everything of a fresh water putting the emphasis on citrus and mint. In addition to that, I highly elevated saffron, as a powerful red spice imbued with fresh intensity and a key ingredient for the franchise. The combination of citrusy mint and saffron create this unique crisp and energizing freshness.

Q8. You’ve often described how the color red inspires you. How did you channel that inspiration into an entirely different olfactive experience for POLO RED RUSH?

For each Polo Red fragrance, I ensured that the smell brought to mind the color red. Polo Red and Polo Red Extreme respectively focused on the symbolic of seduction and power. With Polo Red Rush, I wanted to explore another strong and explicit meaning: energy. It inspired me to design a red water acting like a booster. This red water needed to be olfactively infused with the positive and stimulating energy of the color to be able to master a never ending rush.

Ralph Lauren Polo Red Rush £55 for 75ml eau de toilette
Try it at debenhams.com