Scenting the groove

With the Music & Perfume edition of The Scented Letter magazine hot off the press, we’re really feeling the harmony right now – and here, Amanda Carr explores the intriguing history of fragranced vinyl…

Vinyl is having something of a moment, with new record stores selling both vintage and new vinyl LPs opening in all the hippest of locations. Imagine our thrill, therefore, when we discovered that vinyl is often sold scented! From Madonna to Stevie Wonder, musicians have perfumed their vinyl grooves to enhance the listening experience.

Fragrances are often inspired by a good tune. The gorgeous Acqua di Parma Note Di Colonia collection springs to mind, with its appreciation of soaring operatic crescendos, artful preludes and glorious musical scores. On a more modern note, JUSBOX’s collection of fragrances honours musical genres: there’s Cheeky Smile, which celebrates Acid House, alongside Green Bubble, a scented ode to reggae (and yes, there are notes of marijuana in the accord). JUSBOX‘s vinyl-capped bottles can even be found for sale in an actual record shop, the delightful Olympic Studio Records in Barnes. (Disclosure: it’s owned by my husband – which is how I stumbled onto this story in the first place…)

Actually scenting the grooves is an inspired move. It’s no surprise the Queen of Pop, Madonna, dabbled with perfuming her tunes. First pressings of 1989’s ‘Like A Prayer’, were impregnated with the smell of frankincense and patchouli, reinforcing religious connections, along with song tracks such as ‘Oh Father’, and pictures of Madonna’s considerable crucifix jewellery collection. Our much-played copy of the album still carries a shadowy sillage of a rather good patchouli scent, although those earthy, incense vibes remind us more of dressing up and dancing till dawn at parties held in darkened basements rather than the cold stone and incense-heavy interiors of churches.

 

 

Stevie Wonder’s ‘Journey Through The Secret Life of Plants’, a title crying out for its own scent, was perfumed with a floral note on its release in 1979, although apparently stopped after reports that the scent – which fans of the record remember as a faint hint of rose – turned out not to be helping the quality of the sound. But technology has since improved considerably and scented vinyl continues to be pressed by modern artists. The Third Man record company, founded by uber-cool musician Jack White, bought its own vinyl factory in Detroit, where its produces top quality vinyl that is often scented. Karen Elson, ex-wife of Mr. White, released ‘The Ghost Who Walks’, in 2010, as a delicate peach coloured vinyl record which is also scented with the dewy aroma of softly sweet peach.

Less artful but still enthusiastically received by fans, the 30th anniversary ‘Ghostbusters: Stay Puft Edition’, a 12-inch double A-side single, released by Sony Music in 2014, was scented with marshmallow in tribute to the film’s giant Stay Puft marshmallow baddy. Singing along to Ray Parker Jr.’s catchy theme tune on one side and Run-DMC’s updated reboot on the other, could surely only be improved with wafts of sugary-sweet vanilla notes coming off the stylus. We can’t help thinking that other film soundtrack albums could use fragrance creatively to add to the sense of fun, for example wouldn’t ‘Mamma Mia’ be even more joyous to sing along to if it pumped out an olfactive scentscape of a sun drenched Greek island alongside the songs…?

With a different angle on the concept, Japanese fragrance house Shiseido once hired musician Hiroshi Noshimura to create a vinyl album entirely inspired by one of its fragrances as an innovative gift-with-purchase idea. The fragrance was called A.I.R (Air In Resort) so the album, which was steeped in the scent, was given the same name. The music complemented the green, forest notes of pine, earth and wood with a sound track of birdsong, the sea and field-based recordings of nature. Customers were were encouraged to listen to the record while appreciating the scent. It’s certainly a step up from the paper tester blotters we’re used to.

And artists, it seems, simply can not resist a scratch-n-sniff album cover. A quick chat on the super-informed Discogs forum, where music fans hang out to talk all things vinyl (there are many similarities between music and perfume fans) turned up a long list of album covers with scent-infused patches used to enhance the listening. The gold standard scented cover is unanimously agreed to be a 1972 release by The Raspberries, with a scratch-and-sniff sticker that smelled very convincingly of…yep, raspberries.

 

 

From Duran Duran’s limited edition ‘Perfect Day’ 7-inch single with its strawberry scented ice cream cone cover, to Spinal Tap’s The Majesty Of Rock album, with its scratch-and-sniff sleeve scented with Ye Olde Roast Beef Flavour, via Melanie’s ‘Garden In The City’ – where listeners were encouraged to rub the sticker to ‘release the magic of Melanie’s Garden’ – musicians clearly love to scent their songs.

We say: that makes for a great-smelling record collection. And we’d like to see more of this, please…!

By Amanda Carr

 

 

To get even further in the groove and explorethe links between music and scent, have a look at our print copy of the just-published Music & Perfume issue of The Scented Letter Magazine

• In Hitting All The Right Notes (above), Viola Levy looks at ways that modern perfumers use music to inspire their creations

• Ofactory consultant Pierre Aulas – who chose perfumery over a career as an opera singer – shares the secrets of his creative days in A Working Nose

• Scent gets social with Smellfie Day 2020, our celebration of International Fragrance Day – which had quite a different message in this strange year

Suzy Nightingale invites us to enjoy A Scented Symphony, discovering a perfume house with works with instruments, artisans and musicians

• And why note create your own scented playlist? In Listening to Scent, Persolaise invites us to sit back, relax, hit ‘play’

And of course, as usual, we bring you all the Latest Launches, news, events – and so much more!

 

We are now able to take orders for a limited run of printed copies of the magazine, priced £12.50 to our VIP Subscribers (£15 to non-VIPs). And remember: you can now also buy an annual print subscription to The Scented Letter (six issues), here

(NB Print copies are sent out approximately 10 days after each new issue of The Scented Letter appears on the website, so please bear with us. We work right up to the wire to make sure everything is truly newsworthy!)

How to buy fragrance at Christmas?!

How to buy fragrance at Christmas? Where do you even begin? Well, right here with The Perfume Society‘s everything-one-click-away guide! From nervous noses to designer divas and scented gents, we’ve even got the perfect gift for overseas friends. Start (and finish!) your shopping right now…

When you’re not sure exactly what scent to get, or are sick of giving loved ones the same old thing, our overwhelming feedback from happy customers suggests a Discovery Box is definitely the way forward. Bursting with luxurious and often hard-to-find mini, try-me size scents and decadents beauty extras, each box is specially curated around a theme or with a particular kind of perfume-lover in mind.

At The Perfume Society, we’ve something to suit pretty much everyone, no matter how picky about perfume they are! From designer name divas to scented gents about town, millenials desperate to discover what suits them best and those keen to branch out with something different – get those pens ready and see how many gifts you can tick off your shopping list in one fell swoop (and all from the comfort of your sofa/desk/bed!)

Packed with even more new niche scents, there’s an incredible 13 fragrances curated, including a stunning 7.5ml of Anima Vinci Neroli Wisdom. Alongside treasured houses such as Amouage and Atkinsons we’ve included exciting newness from Parterre, fragrantly evocative Stories by Eliza Grace, Memoize, perfumed provacteurs The Modernist, and the brilliant UK niche house of Tom Daxon. But it doesn’t stop there… Keep their complexions glowing (no matter how many nights were spent partying) with the recent GOLD AWARD winning skinSense ANTI-AGING Overnight Leave on Mask (WORTH £8.50) – and ensure their hands smell and feel wonderful with the bestselling Balance Me Super Moisturising Hand Cream (WORTH £10). If you don’t know these names, we’re betting you AND your fragrance loving friends would love to discover them…

Niche Collection II Discovery Box £19 /£15 for VIPs

If you’re not sure what fragrances are currently in their collection, plump for some perfumes that only came out recently. With that in mind, we curated a selection of the newest and most exciting fragrances we’ve seen and smelled this year. It includes sunlit AERIN Hibiscus Palm, whisk-you-to-the-Riviera Tory Burch Bel Azur, and so-pretty Philosophy Amazing Grace Ballet Rose. If they prefer their scents darker and with more intrigue, they’ll love the Clive Christian duo – Chypre ‘L’ for Women and Oriental-woody ‘L’ for Men. And they can also enjoy the sophisticated Lalique Noir Premier Illusion Captive, Shay & Blue Black Tulip, together with the new KENZO WORLD.

Latest Launches Discovery Box £19 /£15 for VIPs

Know someone who’s stressed, had a horrible year or just deserves some scented pampering? Invite them to take some time and indulge their senses with the glorious scents in this box. The perfume houses range from Amouage to Sana Jardin, Estée Lauder to Fragonard, together with duos from an exciting niche house called The Beautiful Mind Series and the ever-fabulous Miller Harris. We have also included some indulgent little extras to help them really unwind: a sumptuous Heathcote & Ivory Lavender Fields Hand Cream and from Aromatherapy Associates, Deep Relax and Support Breathe Bath & Shower Oils.

Treat Yourself Discovery Box £19 /£15 for VIPs

Is there a male in your life who’s stuck in a rut, and really needs to get their fragrance game together? Give them our most generous men’s collection to date, with sensational scents including Creed Viking (winner of The Fragrance Foundation‘s Best Male Fragrance 2018!), niche offerings from Nejma, Floris and Jack (Richard E. Grant’s fragrance line) and the new Shay & Blue King’s Wood, among this divine selection. Plus as a special treat, we are throwing in a FULL-SIZE Escentric Molecules 03 Body Wash (worth £20 alone!). With so many incredible fragrances to choose from, anyone will feel like a new man…

The New Man Discovery Box £19 /£15 for VIPs

Alas, due to postal restrictions (don’t get us started) we can’t ship our boxes overseas – and we’re as gutted as you are about it. BUT that doesn’t mean fragrance loving friends and family living outside the UK should miss out. We can now offer International Subscriptions to our multi-award-winning digital downloadable magazine, The Scented Letter.

We take full advantage of our privileged access to all the leading ‘noses’, perfume houses, latest launches, news, exclusive interviews and more to ensure The Scented Letter is your finger on the pulse-point of everything that’s happening in the scented world!

The Scented Letter Magazine International Subscription £20 for a full year

If they’re obsessed by fragrance and very possibly will need new shelving units from Santa, just to hold the scents they already own, why not welcome them to our world?! As a member of The Perfume Society VIP Club, they’ll receive the following exclusive benefits…

•  Six issues a year of our online/downloadable digital magazine The Scented Letter – (virtually) the only publication in the world devoted to all things fragrant…

Exclusive competitions with fab fragrant prizes – including bottles signed by perfumers.

An exclusive monthly ‘insider offer’ – special offers from top-name fragrance houses, and ONLY for our VIPs.

•  Early access to tickets for all our events – meet with leading ‘noses’ and key figures from the perfume world, attend in-store events, workshops, etc. (Our VIPs are first to hear about these.)

•  A special member’s discount on our Perfume Society Discovery Boxes (normally £19 – but £15 to our VIPs)

•  Plus, choose them a FREE Discovery Box when you sign them up, from a number of options…

It’s the fragrant gift that keeps on giving for an entire year!

VIP Club Membership £25 for a full year

Still don’t know what to get them? Well, if you happen to know a fragrance they already like, type that name into our Fragrance Finder and you’ll be given suggestions of six other scents we think they’ll absolutely adore, with something for every budget… It’s sheer (almost spooky) genius!

Written by Suzy Nightingale

Softly (scented) does it: Bamford's Knitwear Wash is cashmere, bottled…

Fashion and fragrance go hand in [scented] glove, and with super models strutting their stuff on the catwalks of London Fashion Week, our thoughts turn the array of beautiful fabrics on display. Us being us, of course we want everything to smell fabulous – and our just-published Fashion & Fragrance edition of The Scented Letter magazine features an in-depth sniff into the secretive world of fabric conditoners and the perfumers who work on them.
But we didn’t want to stop there. Not everyone likes washing in a machine – particularly those luxuriously delicate hand-wash only fabrics that require a bit of tender loving care, and the sensorial delight of slipping them on is further heightened by the scent of the washing liquid ‘matching’ our perception of what the particular fabric should smell of. So what does wool smell like to you…?
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Fabric care products for hand washing clothes – particularly those aimed at the cashmere and silk market – tend on the whole to be far more delicately fragranced. Indeed, you may have seen ‘cashmere’ listed as a note in many perfumes. But what does it smell of? The untreated wool alone is certainly not what we may dream of when imagining burying our faces in kitten-soft materials, and in fine perfumery each perfumer may compose their own interpretation within an accord to create the smell of fluffy luxury.
Within this market, organic and natural brands thrive, with many highlighting the purity of their products and selling them alongside their body and skincare lines. The organic brand Bamford sell beauty products along with knitwear and cotton clothing, and we asked why they decided to develop their own knitwear wash, soothingly fragranced with cedar extract (which really does smell as you imagine cashmere should!)
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As Merchandise Director Karen Leck explained: ‘It encourages you to wash knitwear by hand, which is the very best way to care for it. We chose not to use a strongly scented wash as they can be too overpowering and fragrance is very personal. Knitwear is an emotional purchase, it’s our best-selling category – most of us have a favourite sweater – they’re comforting as well as comfortable and the scent adds to the whole sensual experience of natural fibres against the skin. I also use a Bamford Pebble Soap in my knitwear drawers, as it gives just enough natural fragrance to personalise my sweaters.’
Bamford Knitwear Wash £15 for 350ml
See bamford.co.uk for stockists
Written by Suzy Nightingale

The Fragrance Foundation awards (aka ‘FiFis’) are tomorrow – and we can’t wait to be there!

We are thrilled to be attending ‘the Oscars of the perfume world’ tomorrow evening – The Fragrance Foundation Awards, aka the ‘FiFis’ – a prestigious ceremony in which the créme-de-la-créme of the fragrance world gather to celebrate and pay tribute to the very best newly emerging and already established brands out there.

Having won several Jasmine awards (had we mentioned?) this year for the our Scented Letter Magazine, we were kindly invited by The Fragrance Foundation to sit on the judging panel alongside other winners for two of the categories in 2016’s FiFi Awards, and the finalists who will nervously be await their fate are as follows…

Best New Independent Fragrance:

Coeur de Noir – BeauFort London

India – The Perfume Garden

Maxed Out – 4160 Tuesdays

Midnight in the Palace Garden – 4160 Tuesdays

Salome – Papillon Artisan Perfumes

Tea Tonique – Miller Harris

 

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Perfume Extraordinaire:

Floriental – Comme Des Garcons

Parfums de la Nuit No.1 – Roja Parfums

Royal Leather – By Kilian

Sable d’Or – Armani Privé

Salome – Papillon Artisan Perfumes

Voulez-Vous Coucher Avec Moi – By Kilian

With so many incredible perfume houses up for awards in all manner of categories tomorrow evening, it makes you realise what a vibrant and exciting industry this really is – and how many incredible brands there are yet to explore. Indeed, we must admit it makes us glow with pride to be part of it all…

 Written by Suzy Nightingale