Skandinavisk – scents of freedom, bottled. Founder, Shaun Russell, explains how it began…

From a love story to a fragrance house capturing scented snapshots of one of the most richly abundant areas on Earth, Skandinavisk’s journey has been anything but average. We caught up with founder, Shaun Russell, to discover their fascinating, fragrant story.

Seeking to re-connect us with nature, evoking wide-open spaces and uplifting, mood-enhancing scents; including a sample of a Skandinavisk fragrance in the Eau So Fresh Discovery Box was obviously a must-have. Freedom to Roam has proved especially resonant during the pandemic (and its inherent lockdowns and travel restrictions). ‘Of course, that wasn’t planned,’ explains Shaun when we chatted, ‘but yes that fragrance and its name, the spirit of freedom it stands for, has been more relevant than ever.’ With its aromatic composition of heather, wild thyme, tart berries and resinous sap, this oh-so-Scandi scent bottles that landscape perfectly, giving a strikingly visceral sensation of walking through that remote wilderness.

But how did it all begin, we wondered? Senior Writer, Suzy Nightingale found out…

 

 

Suzy: Did you realise what you were getting in to when starting a fragrance brand?

Shaun Russell: ‘God no, I didn’t! I mean if you take the backstory… British guy meets blonde, Scandinavian girl, when I was living in Australia. I followed her for love, [to Copenhagen, Denmark, then Stockholm, Sweden] not with a business in mind, then…’

So, how did Skandinavisk happen?

‘I travelled around the region in multinational roles, as I was the handy, neutral English man. The business language here tends to be English across borders anyway, as the Swedes don’t really understand the Danes. It’s a bit like the differences between cultures in England, Ireland, Scotland, and Wales. In Scandinavia you get this rivalry we don’t understand from outside.

I realised what the Nordic countries do share is a common approach to life, which has translated into one of the most successful, progressive, responsible societies on Earth. I was in this weird position where I’d probably experienced more of Scandinavia than most Scandinavians. The thing that unites them – this mentality and way they live, with a dominance of nature surrounding them – was the gold they overlooked. I found a way to wrap up the rich, diverse story in a way that celebrates that and helps people from outside to find a way in. We’ve needed that more than ever with climate change, trying to balance our lives, build communities based on values and ethics. I wanted Skandinavisk to be the mouthpiece for all of that. I wondered what the vehicle was to share this story, and it seemed obvious…’

 

What was the first fragranced item you created?

‘The candles – they represent such a symbol of everyday, simplistic life. They burn more candles in Scandinavia than any other nation on earth! I used to question my wife when, in the summer at breakfast time, she’d light a candle. And it’s so bright outside! I’d say “You can’t see the flame, darling. Why are you lighting it when there’s no functional benefit to it?” But for her, it was an unconscious action all Scandinavians do. They light candles at any time, to soften the moment and create this harmony that brings people together.’

 

 

How are the fragrances inspired?

‘I needed to get into fragrance to create the candles and tell this Scandinavian story. What we learned afterwards was the fact that different fragrances allow us to tell that story in multiple ways – we can take them to the forest, the Norwegian fjords, the archipelagos. So, we made fragrances that define those moments for people to explore in their own homes. When you get to try more of them, you build a bigger picture. That’s why internally we began referring to each fragrance as a ‘chapter’ or ‘Kapitel’. Going into the eau de toilettes was another big step for us. Some of the scents are seasonal or time limited.

 

Take Kapitel 17 – it was specifically inspired by a trip me and our perfumer took to the fjords in order to get direct inspiration. The fragrance industry has never looked at Scandinavia. A French perfumer once said to me at a trade show, “Isn’t it all just pine and snow…?” That quote’s imprinted on my brain. It’s a terrible loss, given the size and wealth of nature, the diversity of flora Scandinavia has. When you think of what the region has offered the world food-wise, with that whole Nordic Food Manifesto and the huge successes, like Noma, which came from that. Those guys reinvented a new approach to sourcing and presenting local food which has transformed the global food industry in the last decade. Given they were able to achieve that, I thought: why don’t we try to do the same thing with fragrance?’

How did you find a perfumer who understood such unique inspirations?

‘I found, at a very early stage, a French guy who’s an experienced ‘nose’, been in the industry a long time, but got tired of working with brands and retailers who were always trying to look for something that was cheaper or smelled a bit like something that was already on the market. He felt the magic of perfumery had gone. Then I turned up with this idea, and I said to him, let’s just go and discover stuff!

 

 

My wife is the third member of the fragrance development team who made this happen. She’s Danish, a doctor by profession but a passionate organic gardener who grew up in Sweden, had her summers in Norway and a plot of garden since she could walk. She helped me understand the arboreal forests, rose gardening, temperate flora, in a way neither I nor even the perfumer had experience of. Putting those two together was fascinating, to see how they talked about scent, season, regions… We all work together by travelling to the places the fragrances are about, experiencing them for ourselves and saying “Okay, what IS the scent of Copenhagen” for example?’

What’s it like, having such freedom to the way you work?

‘It’s a blessing. There’s no conference room, no PowerPoint slide presentations. The perfumer has this incredible scent memory where he records places through his nose and comes back with ideas which interpret that through a mixture of natural ingredients or synthetics where you cannot capture that scent in nature. He can now do things like create the scent of orchards in blossom in fjordland – very specific scent memories. We physically go these places, we stay there, we walk around, we take pictures. I mean at that level, it’s that basic. He says he doesn’t know any other perfumers who get to do that. But it feels so right, this way we work, and the process means we end up making fragrances the world hasn’t smelled before. And that’s very exciting…!’

Try Skandinavisk Kapitel 12, Freedom to Roam for yourself in the Eau So Fresh Discovery Box – one of 14 incredible scents for you to explore and take your nose on a journey with. We also urge you to check out the brilliant Skandinavisk Voices Journal, which apart from featuring more of this stunning photography to look at, gives a really personal insight into the inspiration of each fragrance…

By Suzy Nightingale

Fragrances celebrities wore on their wedding day (& how to find yours!)

So many wedding days were postponed or re-scheduled thanks to the pandemic, but now the nuptial season has truly kicked into gear again. Panic not – we’re here to help guide you to the perfect perfume, suggest some imaginative gift ideas for bridesmaids / groomsmen & wedding parties, and along the way learn which scents the stars have favoured for their own wedding days…

 

Grace Kelly commissioned perfume house Creed to create a bespoke scent to wear for her wedding to Monaco’s Prince Rainier III in 1956. The result was Fleurissimo – an elegant blend of sparkling bergamot atop the swooningly sophisticated floral heart – which you can still fall in love with today.

 

Princess Diana chose Houbigant Paris Quelques Fleurs for her 1981 wedding to Prince Charles. The heady bouquet of tuberose, jasmine, lily of the valley and rose evoked the fulsome flounces of her romantically designed gown, and the scent itself has continued to capture hearts since 1912.

Quelques Fleurs l’Original £50 for 30ml eau de parfum

 

Audrey Hepburn wore the fragrance her friend Hubert de Givenchy created for her in 1957, for second wedding (to Mel Ferrer). L’Interdit is a chicly luminous white floral shot through with intriguing, darker notes. Hepburn reportedly loved it so much, she refused to have it mass-produced, but it was finally released in the 60s (and reformulated for the present day version).

Givenchy L’Interdit £52 for 35ml eau de parfum

Always deeply interesting (and potentially psychologically revealing, we find!) to discover what they wore, but of course a fragrance is such a personal choice. Here’s some tips to set you on the path to a perfumed ‘happily ever after’…

 

– It’s vital to live with a fragrance for several hours (better still – an entire day) on your skin. That scent you spritz and immediately fall for may turn into something less than loveable as the notes develop.

– The very best way to try is in the comfort of your own home, with zero pressure, scroll down to our hand-picked selection of samples for you try, below (they’re perfect for bridesmaids gifts and wedding favours, too!)

– Try not to test more than a few fragrances at one time, because too many at once = a muddle (and you’ll likely forget which is which, anyway!)

– Following on from the previous point, when testing a fragrance, be sure to write down the name of it on a blotter or jot down on your phone. By the time you get home a pile of random bits of scented paper will mean nothing to you.

Scared to branch out? Type the name of a fragrance you already know you love into our Fragrance Finder, and we’ll immediately suggest six new scents we think you’ll fall for.

Don’t know where to start? Book a bespoke fragrance consultation as a couple (or on your own if you prefer) – we’ve listed seven scent sittings for you try, and many are completely free, so what do you have to lose?

– When you find a fragrance you love, consider following the fragrant theme through to your floral arrangements, colours, mini-versions (to give as bridesmaid gifts or wedding favours), and matching scented candles to use for table decorations… ?

– Getting married in a colder climate or later on in the year? Fragrance writer Viola Levy gave us her suggestions for the best Winter Wedding fragrances.

– Consider gifting your bridesmaids a beautiful box of try-me scents to make their choice from, such as the just-launched Eau So Fresh Discovery Box £23 / £19 for VIP Club Members

 

– Gift the Groomsmen a luxury box of hand-picked masculine fragrances that have been chosen to be ultra smooth & dapper, like the Suave Scents Discovery Box £23 / £19 for VIP Club Members

 

What’s YOUR Escentric Molecules 01 story? Win limited editions, here!

Can you believe that Escentric Molecules Escentric 01 and Molecule 01 are 15 years old this year? To celebrate, they’re planning to release a limited edition of these iconic fragrances, uniquely featuring YOUR stories printed on the bottles…

Over the years, Escentric Molecules have heard so many fantastic stories from people who fell in love because of the fragrances, or had a Sliding Doors moment of their lives utterly changing thanks to the fragrance they were wearing.  Now, they’re looking to collect these stories, and want to hear ‘…about the adventures had while wearing Escentric 01 or Molecule 01 – how you met your partner – a wild night from a chance meeting on a train to Brighton – being chased down dark wet streets in Clerkenwell, London, by someone desperate to discover what fragrance you were wearing.’

 

 

Escentric Molecules say:

‘We are asking you to contribute to the history of both fragrances and send us your stories.

We will select the 25 best, funniest or most outrageous ones and feature them on bottles.

The “story editions” will launch this autumn and the 25 winners with our favourite #moleculestories will not only have their stories featured on the bottle but will also receive a pair of limited editions and an invite to an online Q&A with Escentric Molecules founder, Geza Schoen.

Each bottle will also feature a QR code that will link to a story edition page on escentric.com featuring the winning stories.

Geza will also pick his favourite story and the winner will receive a one of a kind neon wall piece created from their story.’

 

 

This incredible opportunity to share your scent stories closes on August 15th, so you need to be quick! Hurry up and submit your story using the link below…

https://www.escentric.com/pages/story-edition-competition

Celebrating 100 years of Shalimar (and why we still love it)

It’s really quite incredible to think that Shalimar is 100 years old – having been first launched in 1921 – and that Guerlain‘s most romantic fragrance is still worn and adored to this day. If you’re already a fan of the fragrance you’ll know how special it is, but if you’ve never tried it… oh, you’re in for in a treat!

 

Jacques Guerlain – Guerlain Perfumer 1890-1955

‘A good perfume is one whose scent corresponds to an initial dream.’

 

 

The History: The most prolific of the Guerlain perfumers, Jacques’ rein lasted for an astonishing 65 years. He took over from his uncle Aimé in 1890 and was responsible for creating the ultimate signature of Guerlain, the ‘Guerlianade’: an accord which blends vanilla, bergamot, balsams, tonka bean, iris, rose and jasmine, and has been at the heart of (almost) every fragrance since the early 1920s. His most celebrated creations include L’Heure Bleu, Mitsouko and of course, the astonishing Shalimar, launched in 1921, which remains one of the bestselling fragrances in the world.

 

 

 

The flacon for Shalimar is almost as fascinating as the fragrance inside. Sometimes described as the ‘bat’ bottle (we hadn’t until now quite realised it resembled outstretched wings!), it is also said to resemble a basin that could be admired in the Mughal gardens in India, and was designed by another talented Guerlain, Raymond, with a dark blue stopper chosen to evoke Indian starry nights. The bottle won first prize at the Exhibition of Decorative Arts and Modern Industry in 1925.

 

 

Why perfumers love Shalimar: When we interview perfumers, we often ask which classic fragrance they wish they’d created or most admire. One of the most frequent answers? Shalimar, of course. Carlos Benaïm told us, ‘My grandmother used to wear Shalimar. It is magnificent, absolutely wonderful, with that mossiness – not just oakmoss, but the other mosses which we’re restricted from using so much these days…’ And Alberto Morillas – another nose often cited as one of the most talented perfumers working today – explained, ‘If you ask me what is the greatest fragrance ever created, I’d say Guerlain Shalimar. Some might imagine it’s old-fashioned but it’s also very modern. There are all sorts of contrasts inside it – but it works so well.’

 

Guerlain Shalimar £83 for 50ml eau de parfum selfridges.com

Why we love wearing Shalimar: Imagine a silky pair of 1920s pyjamas worn as daywear (or with heels, to a cocktail party) as uplifting lemon and bergamot swirl with honeyed, night-blooming flowers of heliotrope and jasmine. Beautifully rounded by powdery iris and cocooned in a comforting, vanilla-plumped base of patchouli, benzoin, ambergris, tonka bean, incense, vetiver, sandalwood and musk. To wear Shalimar is still the ultimate gesture of olfactive romance.

Quite simply, it’s a masterpiece that’s effortlessly glam. And it’s one of those perfumes that people will still be wearing and talking about in another 100 years, we reckon.

Many Happy Returns, Shalimar!

By Suzy Nightingale

 

Fragrances for… comfort & protection

Sometimes we all need some extra comfort, the protection of a reassuring hug. So, if you’ve been feeling particularly anxious, over-worked or just more than usually stressed (and frankly, who can blame you?!) we suggest reaching for one of these recently released scents to help soothe your cares away in fragrant form…

 


INITIO PARFUMS Musk Therapy
Initio fragrances ‘initiate perfume as an object of power’ – a concept we very much connect with. We could all do with some therapy after the past year, and the feather-soft white musk here fluffs around the edges of magnolia (we told you last year this flower would be blooming!) Blackcurrant provides a piquant edge, immediately smoothed and soothed by the assuring purity of sandalwood. Spray whenever you need a ‘me-moment’ of escape.
£205 for 90ml eau de parfum
harrods.com

ISSEY MIYAKE A Drop d’Issey
Almost 30 years on from the launch of the iconic l’Eau d’Issey, it’s still blazing a trail. This exquisite droplet-design bottle is created from recycled glass, the outer box with 70% recycled paper, many ingredients are sourced via ethical and sustainable partnerships – and oh, did we mention that Ane Ayo’s creation smells sublime? A gauzy, feminine veil pairing lilac and orange blossom, star anise and jasmine, resting on creamy musks, biovanillin and Ambrox.
£56 for 50ml eau de parfum
boots.com

 

AMAN Haru
Aman’s sculpturally-bottled scents are inspired by their peerless, understated luxury destinations around the world – in this case, Aman Tokyo. ‘Haru’ translates as ‘spring’; Tokyo is renowned for its cherry blossom festival, thus perfumer Jacques Chabert (who has applied his talents across all the Aman scents) layers the floatiest petalled floral notes with apricot and green tea, fluttering towards a dry-down that whispers with tobacco and maté tea, delivering a sense of calming harmony.
£220 for 50ml eau de parfum
shop.aman.com 

BVLGARI Splendida Patchouli Tentation
We happen to be fully signed-up members of the filthy patchouli fan club at TPS, marvelling that many are still put off by the ‘hippy headshop’ legacy. Fear not, naysayers, this contains a patchouli accord exclusively designed for the house – but it’s a gauzy shimmer of orris-dusted white peach on a sumptuously soft caress of white musk. Enough to convert anyone, we feel, and fresh enough for the most humid of days.
£78 for 50ml eau de parfum
selfridges.com

 

PARLE MOI DE PARFUM Haute Provence / 89
Endless vistas of Provençal lavender fields and their ‘glorious explosion of purple, mauve, lilac and blue’ were the inspiration behind this wonderfully soothing, aromatic ‘memory of France in high summer.’ Until we can wander those fields first-hand, this cool, dry and immediately nostalgic scent spirits us there with every spritz. Refreshing watermelon and hypnotic narcissus only add to the bucolic charms, and once again we praise the nose of Michel Almairac. Mais oui!
£98 for 50ml eau de parfum
lessenteurs.com

 By Suzy Nightingale

 

Orange blossom: how to bottle sunshine

Did you ever sleep in a field of orange-trees in bloom? The air which one inhales deliciously is a quintessence of perfumes. This powerful and sweet smell, as savoury as a sweetmeat, seems to penetrate one, to impregnate, to intoxicate, to induce languor, to bring about a dreamy and somnolent torpor. It is like opium prepared by fairy hands and not by chemists.’ ― Guy de Maupassant, 88 Short Stories

Orange blossom is beloved by perfumers in light-filled ‘solar’ scents – a newly emerging category, and a word I’ve found increasingly used for fragrances which aren’t merely fresh, but attempt the alchemy of bottling sunshine.

It’s the bitter orange tree we have to thank for these heady white blossoms – one of the most benificent trees in the world, for it also gives us neroli, orange flower water and petitgrain – all utterly unique in smell, from verdant to va-va-voom depending how they are distilled and the quantity used in a fragrance.

Originating from Asia, the bitter orange was introduced to North Africa by crusaders of the VIIth century, and now it’s just six villages in the Nabeul region of Tunisia that provide the majority of the world’s crop. Women do most of the harvesting, the pickers swathed in headscarves climbing treacherously high-looking ladders to reach the very tops of the trees, typically working eight hours a day and gathering around 20,000 (approximately 10kg) of flowers.

 

 

When the blossoms are hydro-distilled – soaked in water before being heated, with volatile materials carried away in the steam to condense and separate – the extracted oil is neroli, the by-product being orange flower water, while petitgrain is the essential oil steam distilled from the leaves and green twigs.

Long steeped in bridal mythology, when Queen Victoria married Prince Albert in 1840, she chose orange blossom to decorate her dress, carried sprigs in her bouquet and even wore a circlet of the blossoms fashioned from gold leaves, white porcelain flowers and green enamelled oranges in her hair. It firmly planted the fashion for ‘blushing brides’ being associated with orange blossom – but this pretty flower can hide a naughty secret beneath its pristine petals…

 

 

While the primly perfect buds might visually convey a sign of innocence, their heady scent can, conversely, bring a lover to their knees with longing. In his novel The Leopard, Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa chronicles crossing an orange grove in full flower, describing ‘…the nuptial scent of the blossoms absorbed the rest as a full moon does a landscape… that Islamic perfume evoking houris [beautiful young women] and fleshly joys beyond the grave.’

It’s the kind of floral that might signify sunshine and gauzy gowns or veritably snarl with sensuality. Similar to the narcotic addictiveness of jasmine, with something of tuberose’s potency; orange blossom posesses none of that cold, grandiose standoffishness of some white florals: it pulsates, warmly, all the way.

 

Perfumer Alberto Morillas associates the scent of orange blossom with his birthplace: ‘I’m from Seville, when I’m creating a fragrance, all my emotion goes back to my home,’ Alberto told me, talking about his inspiration for Solar Blossom (below). ‘You have the sun, the light and water – always a fountain in the middle of the square – and “solar” means your soul is being lifted upwards.’

Oh, how we need that bottled sunshine when summer fades; an almost imperceptible shifting of the light that harkens misty mornings, bejwelled spiderwebs and sudden shivers…

Why not swathe yourself in these light-filled fragrances to huddle against the Stygian gloom? I love wearing them year-round, to remind me sunny days will return, that things will be brighter, presently.

 

Mizensir Solar Blossom Luminescent, life-affirming, a shady Sevillian courtyard with eyes and hearts lifted to the glorious sun, ripples of laughter and birdsong.
£185 for 100ml eau de parfum harveynichols.com

Sana Jardin Berber Blonde A shimmering haze of Moroccan magic, orange blossom diffused by dusk, a languid sigh of inner contentment.
£95 for 100ml sanajardin.com

Stories By Eliza Grace No.1 Waves of warmth giving way to fig tea sipped beneath the shade of whispering trees, bare feet on sun-warmed flagstones, fingers entwined, forever dancing.
£75 for 30ml eau de parfum elizagrace.com

 

Elie Saab Girl of Now Youthful sophistication via juicy pear and pistachio sway to opulent orange blossom at this fragrances marzipan heart, melding to a carefree, dreamy base.
£42 for 30ml eau de parfum (but try a 2ml sample in the Eau So Fresh Discovery Box)

By Suzy Nightingale

Don’t sweat it – how to wear fragrance in hot weather

In hot weather, you may find some fragrances seems ‘stronger’ or more overpowering, or that your perfume simply ‘disappears’ on your skin when the temperatures soar. How can you help your scent survive the heat…?

Personally, at The Perfume Society,  we enjoy switching to brighter, airier perfumes for the warmer months, because fragrance can almost feel textural. So, just as we’ve long since cast off our opaque tights and cardis, so too do we crave something that feels sheer, gauzy and less stuffy.

Often you’ll find brands offer lighter versions of bestselling scents, for the summer. Of course some people still enjoy wearing the heavier more full-bodied, comforting, almost ‘cocooning’ scents throughout the year – but again, this is individual and depends on how you want a fragrance to make you feel. Whatever style you reach for, there’s no doubt hot heather can make a scent behave differently on your skin. So, why is this and how can you prevent a favourite from disappearing so quickly?

 

 

Hot Weather Perfume Problem #1 – Your scent doesn’t last as long

The weather can dramatically alter how long a scent lasts, and even how it smells on your skin. Skin and climate temperature are vital to a perfume’s performance, so even your favourite fragrance will smell different based on the time of year. When perfumers test the scents they’re creating they often use climate-controlled booths to check how they smell in hot and colder conditions (depending what countries they’ll be selling in). Though we tend to reach for brighter, citrus fresh scents in summer, these molecules are lighter, so can evaporate even more rapidly in high temperatures.

Solution:

– Try using a body oil, rich body balm or moisturising lotion before you put any fragrance on (and even afterwards, too), as scent takes longer to evaporate on nourished skin. This helps the fragrance ‘cling’ to your skin more easily, and so you get to actually smell if for more than a few minutes without frantically re-spraying.

– Spray pulse-points you might not usually think of. Behind your knees is a good example – it’s a warm spot that, once spritzed, will mean you leave a fragrant trail…

– Spritz the perfume at the nape of your neck, even into your hair and on clothes – BUT do check by spraying a tissue first that it isn’t going to mark your hair or fabric a strange colour, or leave an oily residue! We adore this way of wearing perfume, as hair and fabric are porous without heating up as much as your skin, allowing the perfume to stay all day.

 

 

Hot Weather Perfume Problem #2 – Your favourite fragrances now smell too ‘heavy’

Layering fragrances used to be seen as a scent sin, but we’ve all gotten over ourselves a bit (well most of us have). You don’t have to do this to a perfume you already love on its own, but if it’s suddenly feeling smothering rather than sensual or bulky instead of beautiful, there are brilliant ways of beefing-up a sadly flimsy fragrance, or adding a zing to something that’s a bit too dark or cloying on your skin. Give it a go, because, as we always say: perfume isn’t a tattoo – if you don’t like it, you can wash it off!

Solution:

Add freshness by layering with citrus notes like bergamot, neroli, lemon, lime or ‘green’ notes such as galbanum, tomato or violet leaf, green tea, marine/aquatic accords (synthetic recreations of sea-like, watery smells) and aldehydes (often desribed as being like Champagne bubbles).

 – Spray on a lightweight scarf that way if it gets a bit ‘too much’ or you want to wear something different, you can simply take the scarf off and you’re not stuck with it on your skin all day. Do test on a tissue first, to make sure it wont stain the fabric, but also consider typing a scented scarf to your bag if you want to carry around a beautiful scent all day without having it on your skin.

 

Hot Weather Perfume Problem #3 – Nothing you’ve got seems to smell right in the heat

We empathise, because you’re definitely not alone! Just as weather can dramatically alter our mood, our mood plays a huge part in how we perceice a perfume – even if it’s something you’ve adored wearing for years but suddenly just don’t feel like wearing anymore.

Solution:

Have a think about exactly what you’re looking for in a scent – is it to boost flagging energy levels, to comfort and help you feel protected, or to give you immediate mood-lifting feeling of trying something new? We’ve all be craving change these past few months, so why not treat yourself to a brand new selection of scents with the just-launched Eau So Fresh Discovery Box? Each fragrance has been especially curated to work well in hot weather, because we believe everyone’s olfactory wardrobe deserves a fresh start. Priced at just £19 for VIP Club Members, and £23 RRP, this could be the ‘newness’ your nose needs right now!

By Suzy Nightingale

Smell you later – is your perfume preference decided in childhood?

A new study suggests our preference for perfumes may have already been decided in childhood, thanks to a process known as ‘imprinting’. Does this mean the scents we’re drawn to as adults have a direct link to those childhood associations…?

Imprinting refers to the known phenomenon of certain animals and birds getting ‘fixated on sights and smells they see immediately after being born. In ducklings, this can be the first moving object, usually the mother duck. In migrating fish like salmon and trout, it is the smells they knew as neonates that guides them back to their home river as adults.’ But how does this work, and what might it say about the scents humans tend to prefer?

According to the report on the science news website eurekalert.org: ‘Exposure to environmental input during a critical period early in life is important for forming sensory maps and neural circuits in the brain. In mammals, early exposure to environmental inputs, as in the case of imprinting, is known to affect perception and social behavior later in life. Visual imprinting has been widely studied, but the neurological workings of smell-based or “olfactory” imprinting remain a mystery.’

Setting out to discover more, scientists from Japan studied ‘the mechanism of olfactory imprinting during the critical period in mice.’ In doing so they found three molecules significant to this olfactory ‘imprinting’ stage in infants, which Dr. Nishizumi revealed are: ‘Semaphorin 7A (Sema7A), a signaling molecule produced in olfactory sensory neurons, Plexin C1 (PlxnC1), a receptor for Sema7A expressed in the dendrites of mitral/tufted cells, and oxytocin, a brain peptide known as the love hormone.’

The report goes on to explain the way the molecules were discovered to be enabling the ‘imprinting’ or early love of certain smells. ‘During the critical period, when a newborn mouse pup is exposed to an odor, the signaling molecule Sema7A initiates the imprinting response to the odor by interacting with the receptor PlxnC1. As this receptor is only localised in the dendrites in the first week after birth, it sets the narrow time limitation of the critical period. The hormone oxytocin released in the nursed infants imposes the positive quality of the odour memory.’

Fascinatingly, previous studies have shown male mice also seem to prefer (or show a curiousity for) ‘unknown’ smells, and this study also concluded that mice can change their minds about what they like – taking a previously negative smell association and changing it to something positive, which they enjoy smelling. ‘This study adds valuable new insights to our understanding of decision making and mind struggle in humans and reveals new research paths in the neuroscience of all types of imprinting’ the report concludes, but what might this say about how we, as humans, choose fragrances in later life?

 

As with all areas connected to our sense of smell, huge amounts of research remain to be done, but it shows how complex the brain is when processing smell memories, and possibly predicting how we will react to those scents we encountered as children.

It makes sense (she said, resisting the urge to make that overly-used pun) – if you adored the smell of your grandmother’s lavender, you’ll likely be drawn to smelling it again throughout your life. But if you had negative associations with that smell from an early age, you’re more likely to avoid it. However, just as the mice can change their mind, so do we – our olfactory palate expands the more we smell, and the more we focus on the emotions we experience through those scents. If you create new, happy memories with an aroma you used to hate, you can shape your own reaction to it.

Our own conclusion? Explore the smells connected with your own childhood memories, but continue to enjoy exploring new scents and creating positive associations to tap in to whenever you need some reassurance…

By Suzy Nightingale

Perfume podcasts we’re listening to for summer

Summer is (mostly) in the air, so we’re going to be listening to even more perfume podcasts as we sashay forth in… (cross your fingers) actual sunshine!

Fragrance, smell and scent-themed podcasts are on the rise – and about time, too, we say, given the number devoted to our other senses. You can find our previous must-listen-to lists by typing perfume podcasts into the search bar, or see our previous post, here.

With 15 million+ (and rising) regular podcast listeners in the U.K. alone, have you added any of these to scent your airwaves…?

 

 

The Sniff perfume podcasts

The Sniff – Aurelien Guichard
Interviewing one of France’s top perfumers, who’s worked for Nina Ricci, Guerlain, Gucci, Issey Miyaki and many more, host Nicola Thomis talks to Guichard about coming from a family of perfumers, growing rose centifolia on his organic farm in Grasse, and founding his own house, Matiere Premiere.

 

Escentric Molecules perfume podcasts

Escentric Molecules MolecastNot According to Plan
‘Things did not go according to plan when Geza Schoen launched Escentric Molecules. They went ridiculously, spectacularly better.’ If you’ve not yet caught up with EM founder Geza Shoen’s podcast, it’s well worth your while diving in to his (always eccentric) world. Here he discusses why off-plan ventures for a perfumer / fragrance house often turn out the best.

 

 On the Scent perfume podcasts

On the Scent – The Icons
Previously part of Outspoken Beauty, On the Scent’s proved so popular it’s launched on its own podcast platform. In episode 6, co-hosts Nicola Bonn and our own Senior Writer, Suzy Nightingale, enter the world of some of the most iconic fragrances of all time; discovering their history, the huge statements that they made and why they’re still relevant now.

 

Smell Yeah perfume podcasts

Smell Yeah – Smell Loss & Dysfunction
Irene Plax is a former restaurant cook and cooking teacher, and ‘has always noticed aromas before other people.’ Here Irene investigates the psychology behind how smells touch every one of us, including those with smell loss or dysfunction, across a surprising number of industries.

 

Perfume Room perfume podcasts for summer

Perfume Room – What Makes a Fragrance ‘Easy to Wear’?
Hosted by comedian, dating expert, and perfume lover/advisor Emma Vernon, in this episode Emma chats with Rosie Johnston. Togtether they divulge their mutual love of white musk and chat about the inspiration behind each of the seven frags in Rosie’s collection, as well as some of her inspiration for future scents.

 

Moresque – get your questions in for our Instagram Live event with founder, Cindy Guillemant!

We’re so thrilled to be hosting an Instagram Live event with Cindy Guillemant from the fabulous niche fragrance house of Moresque.

Get the date in your diaries now!

July 14th 2021 5pm (U.K. time) on The Perfume Society Instagram channel

We’ll be discussing the launch of TWO new Moresque fragrances on the Instagram Live event, but meanwhile, here’s a little bit more about this wonderful house…

Moresque Parfum was born from a sheer love of the intricacy of Moorish art and the passion for elegant but opulent perfumes by founder, Cindy Guillemant.

Right from the start, she says, her work has been driven by this desire to bring together Italian taste and Arabic charm. ‘I completed my MBA in International Business in Florida and built my career between Monte Carlo, Paris, Miami and Milan. I always used perfumes, but my grandmother instilled in me a real love for fragrances and provided me with knowledge that motivated me to delve into this industry.’

 

 

That familial connection resounds still in Cindy’s work, and she finds that ‘I still rediscover my grandmother’s knowledge even today with all the scents I collect from around the world through their volatile notes, essences and the most mysterious and profound flavours.’

So, what questions would YOU like to ask Cindy – about Moresque Parfum, the stunning bottles, their inspiration, her favourite ingredients…?

Moresque Instagram Live Questions

We so look forward to you joining us on Instagram at 5pm on Wednesday July 14th at 5pm U.K. time for this exciting event. Until then, we’ll be spritzing the scents and dreaming we could travel to all the places they’re inspired by…