The Scented Story of 4160 Tuesdays Tokyo Spring Blossom

Sarah McCartney, perfumer-founder of 4160 Tuesdays, has featured her scent Tokyo Spring Blossom from the time she launched her perfume house, in 2011. It’s the most beautiful essence of spring, and though it feels so effortless to wear, the story of how Sarah actually captures that blossom-y blooming sensation is quite another matter…

 

In the spring issue of our Scented Letter magazine – sign up to get your FREE digital copy delivered to your inbox! – Jo Fairley focussed on blossoms in her joy-filled fragrance feature for the season, and Sarah revealed the complications of capturing that airy, cheery, breezy scent in a bottle, explaining: ‘I’ve attempted to capture a few blossoms in my time. The technical way is headspace analysis, capturing the air around the flowers and identifying all the different molecules they emit, then reassembling the aroma from its components. But artisan perfumers like me do it by nose and experiment, so we might arrive at the aroma by a completely different route.’

 

 

For Tokyo Spring Blossom, which remains a much-loved fragrance in her line-up, Sarah explains, ‘I wanted a general impression of walking through a park in cherry blossom time, and used a touch of rose geranium with raspberry leaf, violet and balsam for the effect.’ And the intricacies of the perfumer’s art to create these textures, feelings of light and colour, of spaciousness, are not something we might even consider the scientific skills behind (as quite rightly, we’re caught up in the beauty of wearing the scent itself!) However, it’s fascinating to know just how it’s achieved. Says Sarah:

 

 

 

 

‘Essential oils and absolutes very rarely represent the exact scent which blossom wafts out, when we bury our noses in it. The extraction processes lose volatile molecules along the way, so we add synthetic materials to restore the impression of living flowers. Ironically, when someone comments that a blend smells fresh, light and natural, it’s because I added Hedione – or Methyl dihydrojasmonate, to give it its chemical name.’

 

 

 

Tokyo Spring Blossom is one of 4160 Tuesdays’ earliest fragrances, first made in 2011 for a charity fundraising event in a tiny Tokyo cafe. We made it for our friend Urura, whose name means “the breeze through spring blossom”. It is one of those fragrances which  is so unusual that people have to spend a while deciding whether they adore it or are afraid of it. It is built around oppoponax, cabrueva and tolu, with soft violetty ionones, with pink peppercorn, rose, tangerine, geranium and grapefruit, with Ambrox and raspberry leaf absolute at the base. Imagine the breeze through spring blossom, but in another universe.’

 

 

Tokyo Spring Blossom £65 for 50ml eau de parfum in our shop

 

Purchase your stunning glossy print copy of The Scented Letter Magazine featuring the full blossom-scentric feature, £15 / £12.50 for VIPs.

Written by Suzy Nightingale

Sarah McCartney: Celebrating Shakespeare’s flowers in fragrant form

Shakespeare and his love of flowers are eternally entwined in our imaginations, and now we have hot-off-the-press news of a specially commissioned fragrance inspired by the bard…

 

Though much of what we know of Shakespeare’s life is supposition, and hotly debated by historians to this day; what we can surmise is that he loved flowers – including references to over fifty types of them within his writing, using them to highlight the emotional tone of scenes, reflect character’s thoughts or send messages his audiences would have readily understood in the ‘language of flowers.’ Artists, writers and musicians still find much inspiration in these floral allusions, and little wonder, given the veritable bouquet of creative suggestion Shakespeare proffers.

 

Botanical Shakespeare: An Illustrated Compendium, £20 (Royal Shakespeare Company shop)

 

Many of the flowers Shakespeare alluded to in his work have led to well-known phrases we still use, such as ‘a rose by any other name’ and ‘gilding the lily’, but it’s worth pointing out, lovely as they are, these are slight misquotations. In Romeo and Juliet, the rose is used to there to garland Juliet’s complaint about their families refusing to let them marry because of an ongoing feud, saying:

What’s in a name? that which we call a rose

By any other name would smell as sweet. [Act II Scene II Line 43]

As for the lily, that pops up when painted, in King John, with a courtier commenting

To gild refined gold, to paint the lily

To throw perfume on the violet …

Is wasteful and ridiculous excess [Act 4 Scene 4 Line 11]

I respectfully arch an eyebrow at the slightly scathing mention of perfume, and though of course it’s a literary way of saying that natural beauty need not be embellished, would point out that many fine fragrances have been created to evoke the violet (it being one of the flowers unable to have its scent naturally extracted); but shall forgive the courtier (and, therefore, Shakespeare) for not being privy to such scent chemistry knowledge.

 

Shakespeare’s Flowers cards, £3.99 for 5 x A5 pack, DaysEyeCards

In any case, April 23rd is National Shakespeare Day, the anniversary of the bard’s death, and though the exact day of his birth is unknown, also the day his birthday is traditionally celebrated (his baptism being recorded as taking place on April 26.) So, this would have been excuse enough for me to celebrate his gorgeous floral allusions by showcasing some fragrances I feel are particularly pertinent to Shakespeare’s love of flowers. However, Fate intervened to reveal an even more intriguing story…

While thinking about writing a general Shakespeare and fragrance type article, a little bird (in fact, fellow fragrance writer and friend Amanda Carr, co-founder of We Wear Perfume, and currently organising the inaugural Barnes Fragrance Fair) happened to mention to me that 4160 Tuesdays founder and perfumer, Sarah McCartney had recently received a rather fabulous private commission to create a Shakespearean-inspired fragrance for none other than Gyles Brandreth. A noted Shakespeare expert, broadcaster, author and language-lover.

 

 

Currently named Sonnet No.1, the fragrance is actually for both Gyles and his beloved wife, the writer Michèle Brown, in celebration of their forthcoming wedding anniversary. Describing the ingredients she used for the composition, Sarah chose: ‘Rose, violet, lavender, lily, narcissus absolute, musks and hay absolute,’ with two versions having been made, one including beeswax absolute.

Before you ask if we can all get our hands (and noses) on it, Sarah explains, ‘I only made it on Monday, so at the moment just 30mls exist, but it’s gorgeous! (Though I say it myself.) I’d like to launch it, but it would have to go through its stability tests and all the official processes before it can go public.’ Well, it probably does seem only fair to let Gyles and Michèle enjoy the fragrance first, but golly it does indeed sound gorgeous, so fingers-crossed. In the meantime, fragrance and Shakespeare lovers should consider another beautiful 4160 Tuesday’s scent. Says Sarah:

Ealing Green was originally made for a fundraising event on Midsummer Night in Ealing, and I used herbs and flowers mentioned in the play… wild rose, thyme, grassy banks, violets and oakmoss feature.’

 

 

 

We were invited to make a midsummer scent for a 2013 charity evening in Ealing, West London, using plants and flowers named in Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, so we imagined the scenes taking place by Pitzhanger Manor on Ealing Green, and created the aroma of a magical summer evening. Its perfect for wearing in the heat.
It starts with a wander through the herb and flower gardens of Walpole Park, takes in a picnic on the grass and ends up lying on the lawn by the pond, staring at the clouds floating by, smelling the warm earth.

4160 Tuesdays Ealing Green £65 for 50ml eau de parfum

What better time to purchase a bottle and immerse yourself in the floral imagery of Shakespeare?

So synonymous with flowers is Shakespeare, in fact, that seed boxes of Shakespeare’s Flowers are now available from Shakespeare’s Globe shop, where you can choose from ‘…the Shakespearean Growbar, containing the seeds of three Shakespearean flowers: heartsease, marigold and columbine. Or the Tudor Herbs Growbar, containing the seeds of three herbs familiar to the Tudors: fennel, lemon balm and winter savory.’

 

Shakespearean Flowers Growbar £12

[Just don’t spray the flowers with the perfume, is all I’m saying. We know how he’d have felt about that.]

 

Written by Suzy Nightingale

 

Freshly Laundered – the scent inspired by one of the nation’s favourite smells

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 Editionfragrance 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:

  1. Freshly washed laundry (77%)
  2. Clean bedsheets (69%)
  3. Cakes baking in the oven (60%)
  4. The seaside (59%)
  5. Freshly cut grass (58%)
  6. New flowers (55%)
  7. Freshly brewed coffee (53%)
  8. Fresh air (52%)
  9. Roast dinner (45%)
  10. Bacon (44%)
  11. Rain / Thunderstorms (39%)
  12. Vanilla (35%)
  13. Citrus (35%)
  14. Food cooking on the BBQ (34%)
  15. Pine needles (33%)
  16. Chocolate (32%)
  17. New car smell (28%)
  18. Shampoo (24%)
  19. Leather (23%%)
  20. New books (21%)

 

By Suzy Nightingale

Our Modern Lives – 4160 Tuesdays new (natural and anti-allergenic) scents for body and space…

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.’

The Naturals:

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.

The Synthetics:

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

Guest blog: Sarah McCartney and the art of perfuming a performance

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.
It stuck.

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…’

www.4160tuesdays.com