The smell of fresh laundry regularly tops the lists of people’s favourite smells, and recently, 4160 Tuesdays founder and perfumer, Sarah McCartney, was asked to create a fragrance for Samsung, for which they produced a series of spoof ads starring Olympic gold medallist, Max Whitlock.
Samsung questioned 2000 British adults to reveal the nation’s favourite smells. The results, they announced, ‘…positioned fresh laundry at the top of the pile, closely followed by clean bedsheets, cakes baking in the oven, the seaside air and freshly cut grass.’
The new ‘Freshly Laundered – Eco Edition’ fragrance was recently made available to customers who purchased a new ecobubbleTM washing machine from Samsung KX, an experience space in Coal Drops Yard, King’s Cross. But what is it, exactly, that makes us love the smell of fresh laundry so much?
It’s a question that continues to provoke much research, the answer being worth billions – not only in the ‘functional fragrance’ market, but worked into many fine fragrances, home scents and body care products. Earlier this year, we reported on a scientific study that finally revealed exactly what makes fresh laundry smell so good; and out of three possible options Sarah McCartney presented to them, the final fragrance Samsung chose contained, ‘… four musks which evoke the smell of a fresh garden and fresh water, paired with aromas of lily of the valley.’
The series of adverts for the perfume put an amusing ‘spin’ (sorry, couldn’t resist) on classic fragrance ads, by paying reference to some famous examples. Says Samsung:
‘The launch video pays homage to Brad Pitt’s infamous commercials for Chanel No.5 – with our greatest young Olympian in philosophical and moody mode as he ponders the mysteries of life and laundry. The Team GB Olympian sends up some of the industry’s clichés by seductively running his hand over the edge of a washing machine and spraying himself with perfume before sniffing a Union Jack flag. Max can also be seen putting his spin on well-loved and celebrated ads such as Dolce & Gabbana’s Light Blue commercial (originally starring David Gandy) and Versace’s 2014 advert for Eros.’
While you can’t go out and buy the Samsung Freshly Laundered fragrance separately, it’s fascinating to see that we still cling to familiar scents – perhaps moreso now than ever, in these troubled times – when asked about our favourite smells. How many, from the official list, would make your personal list…?
Full Top 20 best loved smells according to British Adults:
Amidst the chaos of modern-day life, there are times (now, more than ever) we need to take some time back for ourselves. However we choose to do this, Our Modern Lives is a completely new range of fragrances made by purveyors of quirky, indie scents we know and love already – 4160 Tuesdays.
Founder and perfumer, Sarah McCartney has been a long-time yoga teacher alongside her fragrant commitments, and initially created five yoga-room fragrances for own use. With weekly requests from perfume lovers who wanted all natural fragrances or from people allergic to certain ingredients commonly found in the majority of ranges, Sarah came to realise that something had to be done – and that she was the someone to make it happen… Sarah McCartney: ‘Every week we’re asked for two things: 100% natural fragrances, and safe scents with no allergens. People often imagine they can have both in the same bottle, or that one implies that you get the other. It’s not that simple’ Sarah laughs wryly – a point she has often made but that’s seemingly quite difficult to get through to people. And the reason perfumers can’t just use all “natural” ingredients and make them entirely safe for people to wear on their skin? ‘The issue is that nature is naughty – there are allergens in most essential oils, including jasmine, rose, lavender, all citrus fruits and the spices – which means that natural fragrance has to be handled really carefully to be safe, to be legal and still to smell great.’
For Our Modern Lives, Sarah created seven 100% natural fragrances, ‘We’re using all our experience to make these complex blends beautiful and safe,’ and two 100% synthetic fragrances with no allergens. ‘Here we’re choosing simple blends of molecular compounds to create soft, smooth, long-lasting sensual fragrances.’
Red – Harvest – Gratitude: A sense of security, nature’s bounty, reaping what we sow. For us it feels like a rich red berry in colour. Materials include: hay absolute, Turkish rose absolute, raspberry leaf absolute, oakwood CO2 extract, hazelnut CO2 extract, labdanum, wine essential oil, davana essential oil, pink peppercorn C)2 absolute. Orange – Sunset – Peace: A sense of serenity as the sun goes down, lighting up the sky in shades of blood orange, Materials include: neroli essential oil, Honeybush CO2 extract, vanilla absolute, cocoa absolute, peach natural liquid, bran absolute, rose geranium essential oil, Virginian cedarwood essential oil. Yellow – Sunrise – Hope: A sense of vitality, but because it’s early we’ve added in a dash of coffee for a touch of real life. Materials include: lemon petitgrain, fennel, cardamon, clementine, yellow mandarin, blood orange and sweet orange essential oils, coffee absolute, narcissus absolute and cabreuva essential oil. Green – Leaf – New: A sense of revival. The smell of spring when green shoots appear from the cold and dark. Materials include: jasmine tea CO2 extract, green mandarin essential oil, Calabrian bergamot essential oil, cucumber natural liquid, bergamot mint essential oil and spinach absolute. Aquamarine – Waves/WiFi – Clarity: A sense of connection. The colour of the clear warm sea, and sharp hit of citrus and deep seaweed. Materials include: white grapefruit and rosemary essential oils, olive fruit CO2 extract, jasmine sambac absolute, blue hemlock essential oil, organic English lavender essential oil, seaweed absolute. Blue Screen/Blue Horizon – Perspective : A sense of balance. We spend too much time looking at screens, not enough at the horizon. This is a scent to help you meditate. Materials include frankincense essential oil, lavender absolute, vetivert absolute, eucalyptus mint essential oil, patchouli essential oil, hyacinth absolute, organic English lavender essential oil. Indigo – Into the Night: A sense of the infinite. A 3a.m. scent of total darkness, when night feels endless. Materials include: Cognac absolute, black tea CO2 extract, osmanthus absolute, Atlas cedarwood essential oil, jasmine sambac absolute, labdanum absolute, rum CO2 extract.
OML α – a soft, mildly ambery woodsy fragrance that really lasts well, made with seven synthetic materials, completely clear in colour. Some of the beautiful aroma molecules we use here are more expensive than most naturals. OML β – even softer and smoother and very long lasting. We chose to make OML β with materials which are widely used in perfumery, including costly niche fragrances, but they are out of patent so their prices have fallen. We wanted to make a really good, affordable fragrance, so here you are.
We’re sure these fragrances are going to be very popular indeed – not only for people who prefer all-natural products, those allergic to many commonly used perfumery materials – but for anyone seeking serenity through scent. Because these are not simply “diet” versions of “proper” perfumes – Our Modern Lives perfumes smell glorious first and foremost, and just happen to be entirely wearable by absolutely anyone who loves perfume – no matter what their concerns are. We’d call that a win-win!
Currently, Sarah McCartney is following the same successful IndieGoGo launch route for Our Modern Lives that she has followed for previous perfumed projects. A “crowdfunding” website, it allows small and indie businesses to directly receive funding from individual consumers interested in supporting them. A sliding scale of investment opportunities with benefits attached to them range from £15 (for a scented, hand-stitched eye mask) to £850 for a completely bespoke, all-natural perfume. In between, investors can plump for try-me or full sizes of specific scents at less than the eventual RRP.
Those interested in learning more and wanting to purchase the scents themselves should assume the Perfumista Position (fingers on buttons, ever ready to spritz or order more to try!) and head to Our Modern Lives IndieGoGo page…
Written by Suzy Nightingale
Sarah is not only the creator behind the 4160 Tuesdays fragrance collection – find her Sexiest Scent on the Planet Ever (IMHO) in our Love Scents Discovery Box – but has worked with arts groups to turn theatre and music into multi-sensory experiences, in which smell and scent play a role. In our first-ever ‘guest blog’, she shares her thoughts on perfume and the arts…
‘We all know how a smell can make time travel happen. We’ll suddenly get a whiff of the way our old school smelled and we simultaneously think we’ve forgotten to do our homework. It’s all down to the way smell is so closely related to memory. Music can do it too, but smell is instantaneous. Current neuroscience research is catching up fast on exactly how this works, after centuries of neglect.
That’s another thing. So why has scent been ignored as an art form, and banished to the vanity department?
The men of the Enlightenment were to blame – inspired by Ancient Greek and Roman philosophers – as they declared smell a “lower” sense. Only sight and hearing were needed for education and discovery. Touch, taste and smell were mere animal things.
Now, there is so much going on in the world of scent: arts, sciences, industry, and the overlaps among them all, and where they intersect it’s fascinating.
Scientists are still arguing about the way scent works – the mechanics of it – but in the 21st Century, what we can observe, as the brain reacts to the world, is growing more and more accurate. Now we’re beginning to realise how important the sense of smell is, even when we don’t think we smell anything at all.
Think about the smell of your own home. There isn’t one – to you – unless there’s something wrong. Other people’s homes always smell, at first. Then it wears off. It’s not our noses, it’s our brains that decide “nothing to worry about, move on…”. People don’t smell much these days either – unless they’ve purposely added something they find pleasant, or they’ve accidentally gone one too many days without friendly acquaintance with a bar of soap. Except we do smell. Places smell; rooms have an atmosphere. People who have lost their sense of smell (anosmics) or whose sense has gone wrong (parosmics) can find it terrifically difficult to judge a social situation.
The science of scent is exciting.
The arts? Still suffering slightly from the cultural inheritance that smell is a lowly thing, and that people who care about fragrance are probably on the frivolous side. (Perfume lovers probably have expensive watches, buy designer bags and generally have more money than sense.)
When friends find out that I’ve stopped writing and started telling stories in scent, they look worried for me. Embarrassed even. One former teacher came out with it and said how they’d all expected more from me. They’d already diverted me from my beloved music into maths and physics; truth is that by working in perfume, with Oxford and London PhD students, I’m probably more likely to be involved in a great scientific discovery than with any other area I’ve worked in.
Arts though. What can we do with a smell?
We can create an atmosphere. We have to be careful with smells because they linger. Some do anyway. Others have left the building in 20 minutes. There’s one scent that stays on paper for only 30 seconds then it’s gone. Sandalwood lasts months. We can create one smell and leave it in place, we can use them to create a transition, or we can layer them – pile them one of top of the other. There we need a bit of skill.
Working to create a scent for performances of The Shipwrecked House for A Younger Theatre, we decided on House + Shipwreck. House is a cosy wooden warm welcoming smell. Shipwreck is a tidal wave of salt water.
Something we do have to watch out for are the EU and International Fragrance Association regulations, though. You can’t just take a bottle of nice cinnamon leaf oil from the aromatherapy shop and scent the stage. That would be illegal. Things we can legally eat, drink and smoke are banned from perfumes. If anyone out there does want to scent your performance, bear in mind that’s it’s not going to be a DIY project.
I also scented the Debussy String Quartet for BitterSuite’s multi-sensory performance – one of the most amazing experiences I’ve taken part in. The abuse on The Guardian’s review blog was quite extraordinarily bitter.Snootiness unbounded, at the idea of adding taste, touch and smell to a masterwork. The audience disagreed. “Debussy would have despised this.” No, he’d have loved it.
Diaghilev scented his stage curtains with Guerlain’s Mitsouko for Les Ballets Russes. If it’s good enough for Diagliev…’
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