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!)

By Kilian scented lingerie works with body heat…

Niche fragrance brand By Kilian are launching a capsule collection of perfumed lingerie, created in collaboration with French luxury brand Fleur du Mal, featuring By Kilian’s Love, Don’t be Shy fragrance. With Oriental notes of orange blossom, iris, rose and amber, things are clearly going to get rather steamy…
Designer Jennifer Zuccarini worked with handcrafted lace from the Solstiss Lace Mill in Caudry, France, and the entire lingerie collection uses micro-encapsulation techniques to weave the garments with the fragrance, gradually released with the body heat and movement of the person wearing it. And with the additional help of any special friends, um… also enjoying the lingerie, one assumes!
‘There’s something intriguing and intimate about fragrance and lingerie that I’ve always wanted to explore,’ says Jennifer. ‘With this collection, we’ve been able to add an element of sensuality that enhances the experience of intimacy.’ So, what can you expect to be wafting forth while shimmying in your scented scanty things? By Kilian describe Love, Don’t be Shy, composed by perfumer Calice Becker, as follows:

Opening: As tender as orange blossom, as luscious as a marshmallow.
Vibe: A fragrance with a sweet tooth, like when you love someone so much you just want to take a bite of them!
Drydown: The amber base adds sensuality.

The collection features three curated sets: lingerie, accessories and pyjamas, with prices ranging from £360 to £620, they’re available at bykilian.com, KILIAN boutiques, fleurdumal.com and speciality boutiques worldwide.
Designed to last between four and five washes, once the initial fragrance has worn off, one could pick up a bottle of the perfume and continue the perfumed passion the traditional way. According to founder and Creative Director, Kilian Hennessy, Rihanna is a big fan Love, Don’t Be Shy – and as she certainly isn’t known for being backward in coming forward, we say pick up a bottle and spritz away (on lingerie, skin, hair, sheets, perhaps even your special friend…) to your heart’s content.

 
By Kilian Love, Don’t be Shy £205 for 50ml eau de parfum,
Buy it at Selfridges
Perhaps if trying to win favour as a gift, and lingerie seems a little too… forward; might we suggest adding the cheeky, slogan emblazoned clutch-bag style case?
£225 with clutch-bag case
Buy it at Selfridges
Written by Suzy Nightingale
 
 

JO LOVES keep the flame burning with customisable candles

What makes a thoughtful gift even more special? Customisation, of course.
Nothing says “I swear I didn’t just pick this randomly off a shelf at the last minute” like a gift that’s been personalised – it’s proof positive that actual genuine thought has gone in to the process!
And to get you ready this Valentines Day, JO LOVES have your back.
A beautifully fragranced candle is always a great choice for those who aren’t sure which scent a loved-one likes best or just because a gorgeously long-lasting haven of scent is always gratefully received. But with their name personally emblazoned across the front? Well, your gold star rating in The Good Books just went off the chart…
‘Surround yourself with the scent of white Norma Jean rose laced with subtle strands of peppered citrus and soft cedarwood. Fresh and elegant, this fragrance literally blooms as it floats through the air. Each Jo Loves Home Candle is accompanied by a silver and glass lid to keep the wax dust free, and beautifully presented within a luxurious gift box. Hand poured in England, each 185g candle burns for approximately 40 hours.’
If you’re not a V-Day type person, then why not use this opportunity to think ahead for Mother’s Day, a forthcoming birthday or even (we’ll whisper this in case we cause convulsions) next Christmas? Whatever the occasion, this exquisitely scented candle can be customised with a name from 20 January exclusively at the JO LOVES London boutique or online at their website.
JO LOVES Customised Candle
JO LOVES White Rose & Lemon Leaves Candle £65
Buy it exclusively at JO LOVES Boutique and joloves.com
Written by Suzy Nightingale

Seasonal scented ingredients that make winter sparkle…

Frosty foliage glittering beguilingly is uplifting to the soul on wickedly cold mornings, and although our hearts (and hands!) may yearn for the warmth of summer, we can remind ourselves that the onset of winter also heralds some truly magical ingredients that are inexorably associated with the season.
We’ve listed four of our favourites, below, but where does your (cold) nose take you when the frost bites? Well, if you click on the names of the ingredients, you’ll be whisked to their fascinating and fact-filled individual pages, where you can also find a list of perfumes to try with that as the prominant note…
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Myrrh
Long associated with Christmas (one of the three gifts given to the infant Jesus),used in religious ceremonies and magical rites; myrrh is actually a gum resin, tapped from the True Myrrh tree, or Commiphora Myrrha, and originating in parts of Arabia, Somalia and Ethiopia. Tapping the tree to make small incisions, small teardrop-shaped droplets ‘bleed’ from the trunk and are left to harden into bead-like nuggets, which are then steam-distilled to produce an essential oil. Myrrh gets its name from the Hebrew ‘murr’ or ‘maror’, which translates as ‘bitter’. It’s earthy. It’s resinous. It’s intriguing. And it’s still a key ingredient in many sensual and iconic Oriental perfumes today…
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Pssst! Read more about the fascinating history of myrrh, and how Jo Malone London have used this precious indredient in their soon to be released latest perfume, in our hot-off-the-press glossy magazine: The Scented Letter.
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Pine
There are good pine smells, and, well… horrid pine smells. If you’ve ever sat in the back of a taxi with one of those ‘Christmas tree’-scented cards dangling from the rear-view mirror, you’ll probably get where we’re coming from. But pine can also be wonderful crisp, spicy, outdoorsy and invigorating – and it’s been closely linked to perfume creation since the time of the early Arab perfumers, who liked it in combination with frankincense, in particular…
 
cinnamon
Cinnamon
Spicily enticing, comforting and sweet, all at once.  Our love of cinnamon dates back thousands of years:  2000 years ago the Egyptians were weaving it into perfumes (though it probably originates way before that, in China). Because cinnamon bark oil is a sensitiser – and as such, you may ‘cinnamates’ on perfume packaging, as a warning – where natural cinnamon’s used, it’s likely to have been distilled from the leaves and twigs.  But it’s often also synthesised, adding a spicy warmth to Orientals (and quite a few men’s scents)…
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Orange
Studded with cloves we can hang these ultra-Christmas-sy pomanders from our trees for an instant Yuletide hit. But where would perfumery be without orange…?  The blossom of the bitter orange tree (a.k.a. neroli, when it’s extracted in a particular way) is one of the most precious scent ingredients of all.  Bigarade, from the fruit of that tree, is another key ingredient in colognes, while its leaves give us petitgrain, another popular element in citrussy scents.  And then there’s orange itself (sometimes referred to as sweet orange, to distinguish it from the bitter, ‘marmalade’ variety.)
There are many more notes to discover and explore in our Ingredients section of the wbsite, so why not take a sensorial journey and follow your nose there, now…?
Written by Suzy Nightingale

Cire Trudon’s new Cyrnos candle conjures the smell of Empress Eugenie’s sun-drenched villa…

‘Sunshine and showers’ seems to be the phrase most often escaping the lips of weather-forecasters of late – yes it may be fully Spring time in the UK, but sunshine is most definitely not guaranteed. Thank goodness, then, for the consistently stylish scented offerings from Cire Trudon (who know a thing or two about candle-making, having been at it since 1643) – the latest being ‘Cyrnos‘ (which translates to ‘Corsica’ in Ancient Greek), presented in the most sunshine-y yellow glass holder we think we’ve ever seen, it truly seems to glow before it’s even been shown a flame. From the vibrant colour, you may imagine it to be a highly citrus-fragranced affair, but read on, for all is not quite what it seems…

Cire Trudon say: ‘Between 1850 and 1914, the French Riviera was the place to be for the intellectual and political elite. Ruling families, intellectuals, aristocrats and artists travelled there there to enjoy the practically guaranteed sunshine during there during the winter.

Empress Eugenie, Napoleon the 3rd’s widow, fell for this small corner of paradise. In 1894, she built a villa – named Cyrnos – in Cap Martin, located near Monaco. The name was a tribute to the Bonapartes’ homeland, her late husband’s family. Drenched in sun, and overlooking the Mediterranean Sea, the villa is set in an idyllic stage. The limestone rock made the garden’s construction particularly difficult, only achieved through strong will, and lots of dynamite. The Empress’s ambition was to create a park that looked as though it had always been around. Cyrnos, Cire Trudon’s latest creation conjures the solar beauty, the dazzling scent, and the art of living in this truly unique place.’

With her penchant for landscapes harbouring contrasting plants and their multitudionous scents, the Empress finally achieved this vision: mature pine, olive, and palm trees fringed by wide-ranging flowerbeds full of colour amid the arid landscape typical of the region. The smell of cystus, myrtle, mastic, and rosemary fill the air, mixing with the lavender blooms carried from the garden. Though she lived mostly alone, the Empress hosted any number of prominent monarchs at the time, such as Queen Victoria, as well as avant-garde intellectuals types like Jean Cocteau.

Gorgeously vibrant and uplifting, the sunshine is captured in Cyrnos not through the obvious choice of citrus, but with sun-warmed herbaceous wafts of loveliness that follow you around the house all day, and have us wishing for a personal invite to that all too tempting-sounding villa itself…!

cire-trudon-cyrnos-candle-bCire Trudon Cyrnos candle £70
Buy it at John Lewis

Written by Suzy Nightingale

Mid-week hump? We guarantee this will cheer you up! Man plants scent garden for blind wife, to make her smile again…

Tissues at the ready, because this is all just too lovely…

After his wife lost her sight at the age of 52 within just a week, following complications from diabetes, Mr Kuroki wondered what to do to make his beloved smile again. Locking herself away and living a life of seclusion after going blind, Mrs Kuroki was utterly distressed not to be able to enjoy the outdoor life she was so used to – the couple were dairy farmers in Shintomi Town, Miyazaki Prefecture in Japan, married since 1956 and working hard every day – a life that seemed lost to her, now.

Her husband thought that if he could perhaps tempt her outside again, if perhaps a few visitors might come every day, that her life would be improved. Little could he have known what a huge and lasing impact his next decision could have on both their lives…
husband-plants-flowers-blind-wife-kuroki-shintomi-2Vowing to connect his wife to the nature she so loved, Mr Kuroki set about picking a highly fragrant plant that she could enjoy smelling even though she couldn’t see the flowers anymore. With this in mind he began clearing the land, a process that took two years in all, eventually creating the perfect environment to grow a huge carpet of tiny pink flowers called ‘shibazakura’ in Japan, or more commonly known as phlox to us.

ScentgardenAs the buds began to bloom, word spread of their touching love story and the mass of colour and scent it inspired, ‘a few’ visitors has now, more than a decade after the first phlox was planted, become a must-see (and smell!) destination for up to an incredible 7,000 people on any one day, during the peak season of late March to April. What once were the cow sheds have now been transformed into an information building to house pictures of the couple and their story, and of some notable local dignitaries who have visited them. The couple often receive the visitors in person, and from the pictures, it certainly seems as though his wish came true:

Mrs Kuroki has a lot to smile about, now.

scentedgarden
Do have a look at the official website for more stunning pictures of this unashamedly heart-warming story – the text is all Japanese, and though we know of several readers who are fluent, here’s the all important address details for those of you who aren’t, and are planning a trip to Japan:

Miyazaki-ken, Koyu District, Shintomi, Nyuuta 17180-1
One teeny word of warning for people wishing to recreate this carpet of colour is that the scent of phlox is apparently quite similar to that of the cannabis plant – read more here – so we may be playing safe and enjoy looking at the pictures, or hopefully one day visiting in person, instead.

Written by Suzy Nightingale