Fragrance (but make it fashion!) – Scents inspired by fabrics

The trend-fuelled worlds of fashion and fragrance have been hand-in-glove for centuries – quite literally by 1656, when the perfumery and leather industry had become intrinsically linked, the fashion for exquisitely crafted gloves, popularised at court by Catherine de Medici, somewhat at odds with the disgustingly pungent reality of curing leather in urine. So, the Corporation of Glove-makers and Perfumers – the ‘maître-gantiers’ – (master glove-makers/perfumers) was formed in France, importing ingredients from all over the world to scent the gloves; with acres later given to growing and distilling them, such was Queen Catherine’s passion for perfume, and an entire industry was born in Grasse.

Since then, where fashion has led, so fragrance has followed – and just as hemlines go and up down, and silhouettes dramatically alter from era to era, so too do scented ‘shapes’ change with time. And perumers have long been inspired by fabric in their creations – a peculiar thing, you may think, as most fabrics don’t have their own distinct smell. Yet as we imagine a white sheet drying in sunshine, or the plush eroticism of velvet stroked beneath our fingers, we can also imagine the scent these textures might have. Such is the alchemical magic that fragrance can create – an overlapping of the senses, and in this first of two parts looking at fragrances inspired by fabrics, we pay homage to scents evoking satin, cashmere, leather and cotton…

Satin drapes. It clings to the body. It moves in the most sensuous way… And you definitely need to try draping yourself in this from prolific and gifted ‘nose’ Francis Kurkdjian. We’d call this an after-dark fragrance, one for oudh-lovers, for sure – but busting any prejudices against that ultra-woody material, for in Francis’s hands it never, ever overwhelms. We’re getting Turkish delight – a sugar-dusted rosiness that blends Bulgarian rose essence with Turkish rose absolute, while genuine Laotian oudh melts into benzoin from Siam, and the sweetness owes much to a soft, powdery accord of violet and vanilla in the heart. There’s almost a chocolate-y element swirling seductively around the patchouli, while the oudh underpins everything with its animalic smokiness. Mesmerising.

Maison Francis Kurkdjian Oud Satin Mood £200 for 70ml eau de parfum
harveynichols.com

 

 

Tom describes Iridium as ‘the fragrance equivalent of charcoal coloured cashmere.’ We always enjoy a description that makes you imagine a smell from a texture and colour, don’t you? And this really is a cool-toned cashmere, exuding effortless chic with all the powdery sophistication of precious iris concrète, but granted a strong silvery spine. The iris is dosed with carrot seed to amplify the dry, root-y yet so-refined character, and the synthetic note of Iso E Super wafts forth a deliciously grown-up gourmand ‘your skin but better’ dry-down – the kind that has people asking ‘what’s that delicious smell?’ and a secret smile is stifled when you know it’s you… Now also available as an extrait formula, poured at 71% strength, for even longer lasting enswathement.

Tom Daxon Iridium £105for 50ml eau de parfum
tomdaxon.com

 

 

Reminding us of our beloved leather jacket, a stack of books or the wood-panelled, boozily infused surroundings of a members’ only club, leather fragrances evoke a particularly voracious and luxurious sensuality, favouring deep base notes that linger the whole day long. Russian leather fragrances have a long heritage, the intense smokiness of birch the vital scent ingredient giving ‘Russian’ leather it’s characteristic smell. Here, Molton Brown curl swirls of smoke through a Siberian pine forest, infusing leather-bound books with a campfire’s glowing ember scent. Magnificently done, it’s an especial pleasure in colder weather, though I love layering it at times with a rose that needs some extra oomph.

Molton Brown Russian Leather £60 for 50ml eau de toilette
Buy it at moltonbrown.co.uk

 

 

Like burying one’s nose in sunny-day line-dried linen, a gust of pure, clean ozonic notes greets us at this fragrance’s first spritz, only made more refreshing by a rush of watery notes and pinch of ginger. Mint and green accords carry this clean and fresh feeling into the fragrance’s heart accord, which then softens into florals, cushioned by skin-like musk and vetiver. Magically capturing the comforting sensation of crispness, and featuring elegant white lilies, floral cotton accords and a vanilla-speckled, benzoin-infused amber glow in the mix: this is one to spray when you need to be reminded of home, of lazy sundays and lie-ins and snuggling up in bliss. (See below to get a luxury try-me size!)

CLEAN Reserve Warm Cotton [Reserve Blend] £82 for 100ml eau de parfum
spacenk.com

 

 

Warm Cotton was the perfect addition to the Luxury Layering Discovery Box – featuring THIRTEEN layerable scents and three fragrant body treats to try at home for £19 (£15 for VIPs) – use it to freshen up a perfume without resorting to the usual citrus, to soften a scent you feel is too harsh or simply to luxuriate in the sebsation of that clean, soft white fabric dried in the sunshine.

Whether vintage or modern – evoking an era or an archetypal fabric – the fingers of fashion are still firmly within those fragrant gloves, and together they work their alchemical magic to embolden us: seducing several senses while enhancing our own sense of who we are – or whomever we want to be that day…

By Suzy Nightingale

Perfumes on a pinch: 5 fragrances under £20

If you’ve been on a no-buy or slow-buy regime of late – or are impatiently awaiting payday – but want a fragrant fix RIGHT NOW: we totally understand, and have you covered. We think the best collections have a mixture; so yes, perhaps some of those high-end scents we save up for, but also a good selection of the more pocket-friendly purchases we can collect and enjoy along with them.

These budget friendly fragrances have been selected to showcase a range of our favourites available on the high street – perfumes that really pack a punch and smell incredible (of course); and with many of them having been made by some of the world’s best noses, they may surprise you.

So which of these will you treat yourself to…?

 

 

If you have shied away from ‘celebrity perfumes’ or thought them dull, prepare to have your mind blown. This is properly weird – and I mean that with the greatest of respect. Hold onto your hats because the first few seconds (and it’s only seconds, I promise you) smell like a hot photocopier: warm paper and wet ink. Now that surreal image has dated me, buckle up because you’re about to be propelled straight into the heart of a forest, a tunnel of trees with tender green leaves unfurling. An hour after spraying, I feel as though I have built a secret den from twigs and moss, lined the floor with slightly damp cardboard and garlanded the walls with sprigs of lilly of the valley and swags of honeysuckle. Snug in this scented hideaway, the drydown becomes a hazy reverie of joyfully sucked chocolate squares, a daydream to savour. Think ‘celebrity’ ‘fumes are humdrum affairs? Ditch your snobbery. This is like wearing a legal trip (half a tab, anyway). The perfumer was Frank Voelkl – chappie who also did Le Labo Santal 33 and Chantecaille Tiare. And look at that price (currently on offer – snap them up before they disappear).

Sarah Jessica Parker Covet, £7.99 for 100ml eau de parfum
theperfumeshop.com

 

 

Big name houses doing collaborations with clothing brands? I’m a huge hands up for such enterprises, and the new Jo Loves fragrant offshoot at Zara created by Jo Malone is going great guns, if the breathlessly excited reviews by our friends are anything to go by. It’s hard to choose, as they’re all very well done, but I’ve plumped for this one simply because it’s not something I’d normally try, and that’s half the fun. Think of early spring days when the fat buds are bursting and signs of life stirring, a drafty picnic in a bosky dell, wrapped in a cashmere jumper and smiling at clear blue skies. The lavender, musk and sandalwood noted become a swirl of slightly subdued laughter on a lightly frost-tinged breeze. Delightful. (PS: The 10ml bottles are just £5.99 and full-size £25.99).

Zara Bohemian Bluebells, £15.99 for 40ml eau de parfum
zara.com

Perhaps there are times you want to feel swathed in comfort and warmth but with some sunlight filtering through and room to breathe? This is just the ticket: the richness of patchouli and oak moss tempered with transparency and shot through with shards of pink pepper. The cedarwood offers a soothingly dry shadiness, the sense of a late-afternoon stroll with the sun gently dipping and long shadows stretching to infinity on the grass. Before a chill sets in, the dry-down emerges – a splendidly sheer cocoa that enhances the airy earthiness of the patchouli and feels more of a dusting atop a latte than a ribbon-wrapped box of chocolates. Rather lovely on the chaps, of course, but at this price I’d buy myself a bottle, too, instead of nicking his. (This comment is not legally binding).

Yardley Gentleman Legacy, £19.99 for 100ml eau de parfum
yardleylondon.co.uk

 

Now here’s a little gem you may have overlooked – and one created by Francis Kurkdjian no less. An incredible burst of freshness that encapsulates the drowsy luxury of basking in Provençale sunshine, from the first sniff I’m transported to sunnier climes and can practically feel the warmth on my skin. It’s just the perfect balance of sparkle with that lactic lap of milky figs a balm for the soul. A fizz of mandarin fruitiness and the aromatic air of lightly spiced caraway seeds is sliced by a zing of grapefruit to awaken the senses, stirred through with fig pulp and grouded with the greeness of fig leaves. But it’s the dry-down I find particularly swoonsome, with a delightfully dry cedar smoothed into perfection by a creamy base of that fig milk. It’s something I find myself reaching for throughout the warmer days and whenever I need a happy holiday memory to get me through more challenging times; so often.

Roger & Gallet Fleur de Figuier, £19.50 for 30ml eau de toilette
marksandspencer.com

 

 

If you don’t have days you want to be wrapped in a whisper of white, soft cotton and powdery peonies, are you even alive? I adored this the moment it came out (1998, fact fans) and simply haven’t stopped. It’s somehow both effortless and uncomplicated but soothingly nuanced, and full of the most tender poignancy. The darling little bottle resembles a pearl in perfume form, and wearing this does feel as though you have become subsumed in that pearlescent radiance. Delicate blooms of freesia nuzzle fuzzy peach skin and ylang ylang dances with a shower of sheer rose petals to an intriguing base of coffee, silvery wisps of incense, and an aerated ivory smoothness akin to a long, cool glass of cream soda. Created by Olivier Cresp – of Mugler’s Angel and Penhaligon’s Juniper Sling fame, among many others – it’s a masterpiece in understated loveliness that I like to wear on lazy sundays.

Cacharel Noa, £15 for 30ml eau de toilette
superdrug.com

When searching for a little something to treat yourself with, do also have a look for travel-sizes and special edition giftsets in stores and online, because there really are some bargains out there.

If you’re already well versed in the charms of the high street and want to venture into indie and artisanal fragrances, It can sometimes be more difficult to find a cost effective way in, but we’re thrilled to currently be offering FIVE luxe niche Discovery Sets, all £20 or under. And don’t forget – our own carefully curated Perfume Society Discovery Boxes are all £19 (£15 to VIP Club members).

By Suzy Nightingale

Fragrant reads we recommend: Nose Dive by Catherine Haley Epstein

This week we’re diving in nose-first to Catherine Haley Epstein‘s Nose Dive – a brilliant book for adventurous noses. We have a whole scented bookshelf of Fragrant Reads we recommend, so do please feel free to browse at your leisure, from literary to scientific and everything in-between.

Meanwhile, let’s get up close and personal with our sense of smell, and re-connect our sense of wonder as we read…

On the back of the book, author, artist and scent-maker, Catherine Haley Epstein, introduces her book in a way that intrigued and delighted us immediately. Describing it as a handbook for taking ‘…Adventures for your nose in art, anthropology, and science, the book Nose Dive is a broad introduction to olfactory culture meant for artists or anyone curious about the power of scent.’ Well that’s pretty much a checklist of our intersts, so we were eager to learn more, and Epstein contnues: ‘Something is in the air with respect to our most powerful and least regarded sense. This book demystifies the world of scent, provides springboards for further study, and presents exercises for shifting gears with your nose. A must-read for anyone intrigued by the superpower right under our noses.’ Consider us sold!

Epstein was lovely enough to send us a first-edition copy of her book with a letter, saying further that she wrote it because she wanted ‘…to invite dialogue from the different aspects of the scent arena.’ And also explaining the cover of the book is ‘Tiffany blue… not for the reason you might think – it’s actually the colour of my favourite smell, a pool toy.’

You know what they say about finding kindred spirits? We think she’s definitely one of us

Reading Nose Dive is an absolute must for anyone of us who’s wanted to dive deeper than merely smelling nice by spraying something beautiful, deeper still than having a particular memory connected to smell – Epstein manages to express both a childish glee at this super-power right under (and in) our noses, while explaining some complex theories and inviting the reader to explore. There are short, easily digestible chapters on Art, the science of smelling, things to consider when making a perfume and on extolling the utter joy that our sense of smell can bring. On that first thorny issue of art, and in answer to the on-going debate as to whether perfume ‘deserves’ to be classed as such, Epstein puts it perfectly by saying, simply, that ‘Art is translation. Art is a human-specific activity for translating our experiences, using whatever mediums we can.’

Along with theoretical discussions, pondering on her own years of research and development, Epstein also offers some practical exercises for those interested in making their own fragrances, or things to think about, study and and enjoy in your own time. Half the joy of Nose Dive, in fact, is that it doesn’t pretend to have all the answers or place itself on a pedestal to preach about perfume to the already converted. Neither does it simply re-hash historical references and methods of making fragrance or only focus on new, exciting niche houses. This is a well-considered work that manages to pack in some powerful topics and truly thoughtful themes into such a slim volume, you can practically feel the waves of excitement about perfume and smell pulsating from every page. Not only to read and enjoy for yourself, we suggest this is one to press into the hands of everyone who’s ever asked you why you’re so obsessed with scent… Spread the love!

Nose Dive by Catherine Haley Epstein, $25 catherinehaleyepstein.com

By Suzy Nightingale

Smell, Love & Memory: do male & female brains react differently?

Sometimes we love to get super geeky and take a deep dive in to the world of smell – the work on our sense of smell, memory and emotional responses triggered by smelling certain things is constantly revealing further insights into this ‘fallen angel of the senses’, as Hellen Keller once desribed it.

The 2019 Francis Crick medal was awarded to Dr Gregory Jefferis for his fundamental discoveries concerning the development and functional logic of sensory information processing, and he recently gave an utterly fascinating lecture at The Royal Society explaining his work, asking: how does the genome encode behaviour through the development of the nervous system? What makes male and female brains different? What is different about brain circuits for learned and unlearned behaviour?

Luckily for those of us who weren’t able to make it there, The Royal Society recorded the entire lecture and have uploaded the video to watch online – just click below to have your mind blown…

Ignored for years as our least important sense (and often the one people say they’d give up first), thanks to modern technology, scientists are only now beginning to uncover smell as a possible super power, and the impact that smell can have on our every day lives. The more we learn, the more we hunger to know, and although we can’t pretend to have understood all of the information, lectures like this simply set that fuse smouldering.

By Suzy Nightingale

Living without your sense of smell

Despite many recent technological and fascinating biological discoveries, our sense of smell remains the least explored and perhaps still most misunderstood of all our senses – despite being so important to our every day lives. And the sudden loss of smell, or having lived with no sense of smell at all, can be utterly devastating, and Fifth Sense have launched a film to explain…

Smell isn’t simply a pleasure, it makes up a huge percentage of how we taste, helps us navigate our understanding of the world we live in and form connections and relationships with those closest to us. So when people lose their sense of smell – through injury, illness or because of the medication they’re taking – it can be a life-changing and deeply disorientating time, and we refer to this as experiencing ‘anosmia’. And then there are those born without a sense of smell at all, or an impaired sense, who perhaps don’t realise at first, but come to feel left out, ignored, and as though their inability to smell doesn’t matter.

Fifth Sense is a UK charity specifically for people affected by smell and taste disorders, offering support, advice and conducting their own research, as well as running workshops, seminars and get-togethers for those who have hitherto felt abandoned by the medical profession, or misunderstood by well-meaning friends and family.

‘The smell of cut grass, freshly baked bread, childhood memories, lost loved ones. What happens when it’s all gone?’ This is the question asked in a new film launched on YouTube, highlighted by Fifth Sense, on the University of East Anglia’s channel, which you can watch below…

Fifth Sense was founded by Duncan Boak, who lost his sense of smell and taste following a head injury in 2005,and has worked so hard to make this condition at least more understood, and taken seriously.

We encounter people all the time who sadly tell us they can’t smell, or that their sense of smell has become impaired, and they feel so lost. If you are one of these people, please do get in touch with Fifth Sense, because there’s a whole community of people out there who totally understand what you’re going through. And there ARE ways to help. Indeed, Duncan himself attended one of our How to Improve Your Sense of Smell workshops (keep an eye on our Events page for when the next ones are due for 2020) and became quite emotional having blind-smelling a fragrance, realising he had written some of the same key words others (without impaired smell) had.

In those moments – and watching films like this – we realise quite how important our sense of smell is…

By Suzy Nightingale

 

January blues? Listen to these fantastic fragrant podcasts to make your commute a scented breeze

Facing the January commute with a feeling of ennui? Download a fragrant podcast to blow away those blues!

We’re thrilled that fragrance is finally getting spoken about more frequently in the media, and in a way that confirms our belief that people are genuinely hungry to hear more – not only about the history, but the truly fascinating new technologies and advances being made. And there’s a plethora of perfume-related content out there at the moment.

We have rounded up some of the very best fragrant listening for you. So sit back, take a deep breath, and immerse yourself in these scented soundscapes…

Fume Chat has long been one of our favourites, presented by fragrance experts (and great friends) Nick Gilbert and Thomas Dunkley. In this latest episode they look back at some of the best fragrances of the decade.

We were so happy to hear We Wear Perfume’s, and regular correspondent for The Perfume Society, Amanda Carr on BBC Radio 4’s You & Yours, discussing fragrance used for wellness and future trends. (Start listening to the conversation at 29:33).

Radio 4 really have a penchant for perfume, it seems, as another of their regular programmes took a fascinating look at the ‘smells and bells’ aspect of religion in Beyond Belief. They ask why smell has become an important part of many faiths and how it enhances religious observance, but also discuss the importance of the sense of smell and memory for everyone – an excellent listen we highly recommend!

Brilliant natural perfumer Mandy Aftel has inspired many to follow her lead, and mentored the founder of Heretic perfumes. The author of nine books about perfumery and essential oils, she is a wealth of information and always great to listen to, so the perfect guest for the Heretic Perfume podcast.

The AMERICAN PERFUMER® Podcast is a fantastic way of keeping up to date with the very latest niche fragrant happenings across the pond, and this episode hands the mic over to self-taught perfumers John Biebel & Hans Hendley.

Those interested in vintage fashion and fashion history will adore exploring the back-catalogue of the Dressed podcast, but this episode takes a look at the ancient process of extracting fragrant oils through enfleurage.

In a perfumed partnership with Fenwick, the presenters discuss the perfumes they can’t get enough of, and talk about fragrancing their homes in innovative ways, in the Outspoken Beauty podcast.

Pinot & Perfume ask: are robots creating fragrances? Spoilers: yes, and they have been for ages (mostly measuring fragrant materials and mixing them precisely), but now we are looking at a future where ‘robots’ might be designing the perfumes you wear..

In this edition of the popular beauty podcast Fat Mascara, David Seth Motlz, of D.S. & Durga, talks about how he became a self-trained perfumer, the bacon-y smell of autumn leaves, and the difference between natural and synthetic fragrance compounds.

Looking at the science behind the beauty indsutry, this episode of Beauty Brains asks what the terms unscented and fragrance free actually mean. Should you avoid fragrance in skin care products? What’s the difference between synthetic and natural fragrances? They seek to find the answers for you…

This series of short podcasts offers bite-sized French lessons to help you better explain yourself, and Learn French By Podcast. Here they will aid you to pass comment on fragrances – food, perfume, flowers, nature, and so on. ‘Let’s study, in this short lesson, some expressions which will allows us to do that. We’ll meet the verbs “sentir” and “mettre”, in particular. We’ll also see how to say that something smells quite strong.’

Whichever of these fragrance-related podcasts you listen to, we’re sure you’ll be equally thrilled to find the world of fragrance slowly (very slowly) opening up to the wider world. Like, subscribe and leave reviews to encourage this ongoing media discussion – and who knows what the next year will bring to further fragrance our airwaves…?

Written by Suzy Nightingale

 

What to do…if you hate your perfume present? 7 tips to try before you cry!

Well firstly, ‘hate’ is a very strong word. If you’ve been landed with the favourite fragrance of your current partner’s ex, we’re not going to pretend to make you suddenly adore it, so maybe re-gift that one – see tip #7 – and treat yourself to one of our Discovery Boxes of fragrant delights, and perhaps a new partner, instead?

But there are things you can try before you completely ditch a scent – we can’t tell you how many fragrance experts (ourselves included!) and even perfumers have drastically changed their minds about a fragrance by trying some of these top tips…

#1 – Seasonal changes
Did you know that the weather, your mood and even what you ate up to *two weeks ago* can dramatically alter how scent 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). Don’t re-gift until you’ve tried the perfume again later in the year, or even on holiday – you can easily decant some into one of the wonderful Travalo bottles we sell, just for this purpose!

– Similarly, strongly spiced foods can change how a perfume smells on your skin, and when testing fragrances under lab conditions, the ‘skin model’ volunteers they use are often specifically asked to refrain from eating such foods up to two weeks prior to testing, so the perfumers can smell a ‘true’ representation of the scent. Though sometimes the reverse is true: if a fragrance is to be mainly sold in a country where people eat lots of spicy foods, the ‘skin models’ are asked to replicate that diet to ensure the scent works efficiently.

– We now know that mood plays an important part in how we select a fragrance – try a scent when you’re feeling a particular way, and it colours how you feel about the fragrance itself. If you’re feeling stressed or upset, a bit under the weather or just overwhelmed, these are not ideal conditions for testing out something new. Wait until you’re feeling calmer, or simply have more time to really explore what you’re smelling. That’s when you can try to…

#2 – Improve your sense of smell
Absolutely everyone can benefit from this – we’ve had people from normal perfume-lovers, complete novices to industry professionals telling us how trying these techniques have changed the way they smell for the better (for good). This doesn’t mean suddenly gaining the ability of being able to detect every single ingredient within a bottle of perfume, but rather learning to train your nose the way a perfumer does: by deeply exploring the emotions it makes you feel, colours, textures, places and people it reminds you of.

This is why we developed our so-popular How to Improve Your Sense of Smell Workshops, regularly held in London and, sometimes at independent perfumeries around the UK (let us know if you’d like one near you!) We’ll be adding new dates soon, but if you can’t make it to one of these fun and fascinating afternoons, here are a few simple tips to try every day:

– Spray a scent on a blotter, preferably (you can buy books of blotters in our shop, if you need), close your eyes and keep sniffing for several seconds, then take the blotter away, inhale deeply, and re-sniff the blotter again. Repeat this for a minute or so, and then begin writing a few words in a notebook. It doesn’t have to be a description, and it shouldn’t ‘list’ notes – try to use words that make you think of other things. For example…

– If this scent were a fabric, what would it be? What colour? If you made someone an outfit from that fabric, who would they be, where would they be going?

– If it were a piece of music, what instruments would be playing? Is it classical, rock music, pop, rap or jazz?

Really attempt to get past thinking ‘I don’t like this’ and focus instead on the mood it’s creating. Is it too deep or too fresh or floral for your personal taste? Give it time and then, if needed, move on to one of the tips, below…

#3 – Layer up!
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 – why would you need to? – but 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!

Add power: ramp it up by adding more base notes like patchouli, labdanum, vetiver, woods or musk.

Add freshness: look for 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).

Add beauty: find a scent too ‘harsh’ or clinical? Look to layer it with decadently velvety or lusciously fruity rose oils, the sunshine-bottled scent of orange flower, a heady glamour of tuberose or a luminescent jasmine; try an apricot-like osmanthus flower, the fluffiness of mimosa or the powdery elegance of iris/orris.

Add sweetness: vanilla and tonka bean can ’round’ a perfume, making it swoon on your skin (and addictive to smell), as can touches of synthetic notes described as ‘caramel’ or ‘dulce de leche’, ripe fruits, chocolate or even candy floss. Try to add less than you think you need, as adding more is always easier than taking away, and a little of these can go a long way!

For layering any of these, you can either try layering over other fragrances you have in which the above notes dominate, with a single-fragranced ‘soliflore’ (one main note) fragrance oil or spray, or try layering the scent you don’t currently like over a differently perfumed body lotion or oil (see below or the added benefits of doing this…)

#4 – Boost the lasting-power
If the reason you don’t like a perfume is because it just seems to ‘disappear’ on your skin, you’re not alone. We often find those with dry skin have this problem, and it’s even thought genetics and things like hair colour may play a part. Scientists are still finding this out, but while they do, there are ways you can make perfume last far longer:

– 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.

Spraying a fragrance on to a scarf is a particularly good idea if you want…

#5 – A part-time perfume
There are days we feel the need to try something completely different, but perhaps don’t want to be stuck with that scent all day, so what to do?

– Consider spraying a scarf (preferably not silk or a light colour, unless you’ve patch-tested it as above, first!) with this perfume you’re unsure of, 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.

Nope? Tried all that and still struggling? All is not lost, don’t give up yet…

#6 – Scent up your life
We all have certain scents or fragrant ingredients that, for one reason or another, we might not wish to wear but do like to smell if it’s scenting something else.

– Why not try spraying off-cuts of pretty wrapping paper or tissue paper, and using this to line your lingerie or sweater drawers?

– Or, how about being utterly fabulous by spraying your note paper and insides of envelopes (the fancy ones lined with tissue paper are particularly good for this), and writing a few actual letters or thank you cards to loved-ones you’ve not seen for a while. Everyone loves getting proper post!

– The truly decadent could try scenting table linen – again, PLEASE patch test, as above – for lavish dinner parties to rival Marie Antoinette – spraying on cotton wool and putting inside a deocrative ceramic or pottery vase, on wooden ornaments or ceramic discs you hang over radiators to scent the whole room as they heat.

We so hope you can find a way to try this poor perfume again and give it some love, but if all else fails and you still can’t bring yourself to use it, well at least you tried! Why not…

#7 – Have a perfume-swapping party / re-gift
Um, remembering not to invite the one who gave you that particular perfume… otherwise, major awks. Or, if you’re looking to re-gift, have a look at our brilliant Fragrance Finder. Simply put the name of the fragrance into the search box, and it’ll suggest six scents that are similar in character and style, or share a number of significant notes – this way you can see if anyone you know already has one of these, and it means they’ll very likely love to receive this one from you. Genius!

Written by Suzy Nightingale

Scenting The (Snow) Globe: Olfiction perfumer creates the smell of Christmas

Get your snow shoes on and experience a fabulously scented, festive performance, as the world famous Globe Theatre is transformed into ‘The (Snow) Globe’ with fragrant help from Olfiction and perfumer, Pia Long

Pia is the co-founder of Olfiction – a UK-based fragrance consultancy that work with suppliers, contract manufacturers, brands, retailers and fragrance industry organisations. As well as creating fragrances and scented products, and aiding existing fragrance houses to shape and better define themselves in the marketplace, Olfiction can also help evoke specific moods (or seasons) by scenting spaces – and this one couldn’t be more festively fragrant!

Olfiction says: This Christmas, world renowned performing arts venue, cultural attraction and education centre Shakespeare’s Globe will show Christmas at the (Snow) Globe. As part of their dedication to making performance accessible, the production will have an audio described performance with a set touch tour for visually impaired visitors. To enhance this aspect of the production, Shakespeare’s Globe commissioned Olfiction to create fragrances which evoke all of the sensations and scents of Christmas.

The team at Olfiction created accords of Snow, Christmas Tree, and Pomanders as well as a finished fragrance which combines all of these elements.

Talking about the experience, Olfiction Perfumer, Pia Long, said: ‘A Finnish person being asked to make the smell of a Nordic Christmas? Absolutely!

The challenge of doing things that are very well known by people is harder than it seems, because if you don’t get it right, it is as though you have ruined something that is personally important to them. It’s a fun challenge to make something that if you give the scent to someone, they will smell it and say ‘that’s Christmas!’.

I particularly enjoyed making snow because it is so abstract, more like a sensation than a smell – and it’s not until you think about it that you realise there is a smell. I’ve always felt that some aldehydes smelled like snow. That was the most fun to do as a perfumer – it’s something that you know and you don’t, because it isn’t as though there is a snow essential oil!’

Snow Globe

A sensation of cold crisp air and frozen earth.
‘As though you are walking into a snowy landscape and take a big lungful of snowy air, it’s got the snow but also the frozen ground under the snow. I wanted you to sense that there are trees in the background. It’s very much a Nordic landscape on a crisp winter morning when it’s well below zero.
Notes: Aldehydes, Juniper, Cyclamen, Black Pepper, Cold Effects

Yule Tree

A picture-perfect Christmas tree.
‘I wanted to do a spruce as it’s growing, ready to be your Christmas tree – so here are the fresh young shoots as well as the smell of the Christmas tree when you bring it into your house for Christmas. So, it’s Nordic spruce, not a typical pine – the smell is more delicate and leafy, there’s almost a fruitiness to it and it’s absolutely the smell of Christmas for me. It’s not Christmas until you have the real live tree in the house. The tradition was that you would go and physically fetch your tree on Christmas Eve, and you’d go to cut it down from the forest as a family.’
Notes: Fir Balsam abs, Cypress, Elemi, Labdanum, Amber, Oakmoss, Pine

Pomander

A traditional orange pomander dotted in spices.
‘For this accord, I wanted to capture an orange pomander with cloves, but I’ve also thought of the Christmas stockings stuffed with clementines and gingerbread – the whole idea is combining citrus and spices. There’s a bit of floralcy in this as well – I added carnations and orange blossom – to make it a bit more sophisticated.’
Notes: Cinnamon, Clove, Nutmeg, Orange, Orange Flower, Clementine, Mandarin, Carnation, Patchouli, Amber

Danish Christmas

This fragrance captures all of the sensations of the individual accords, in a wearable perfume that can be used by the actors and ushers as well as to scent the decorations and space.

‘I wanted to take slices of each of the accords. Up top you’ve got the aldehydes from Snow Globe, and the spice and citrus from Pomander. From the Yule Tree, I’ve taken the resins and balsams and the ambery side, with some of the woodiness, so the complete fragrance is this warming and cosy Christmas hug. I’ve added a slight gingerbread note in there as well, to evoke the feeling of baking Christmas treats and festive cosiness.’
Notes: Aldehydes, Orange, Clementine, Mandarin, Jasmine Absolute, Cedarwood Atlas, Carnation, Cinnamon, Orange Flower Absolute, Clove, Nutmeg, Benzoin, Incense, Sandalwood, Patchouli, Fir Balsam, Labdanum, Oakmoss

 

 

About the Show:

‘The Globe Theatre stands empty, the stage bare, the Christmas tree undecorated and we need your help.

Someone has stolen the magic of Christmas from Snowdrop, the fairy who stands watch over our wooden ‘O’ during the winter months. Comedian Sandi Toksvig and her merry gang need your help to find it and bring it back to the Globe.

Sing along to classic Christmas songs with the tremendous Fourth Choir, prepare to make paper chains to decorate the theatre and get ready to harness your belief in the spirit of the season to help restore some festive cheer.

This is a show for the entire family so tell everyone you know to put on their favourite Christmas jumpers and join us for the most heart-warming of gatherings.

Help us spread the cheer further. In the spirit of storytelling and gift giving, we’re inviting audiences to bring along a brand-new children’s book as a present to put under the Christmas at the (Snow) Globe tree, which we’ll donate to local charities that support children and young people.

Created and directed by Sandi Toksvig and Jenifer Toksvig, Christmas at the (Snow) Globe will have integrated BSL for every performance.

There will be captioned performances on Sunday 22 December at 2.00PM and 6.00PM, and the audio described performance will be on Saturday 21 December at 2.00PM, with a touch and scent tour on the stage at 12 noon.

Leonardo da Vinci’s secret scented formula

Art experts use x-rays and scientific tests to help determine the authenticity of a masterpiece painting, but soon they could well be using their noses, too…

While researching a painting called Donna Nuda – believed to be by a contemporary follower of Leonardo da Vinci rather than the artist himself, but conducted under his close supervision – experts were greeted with a unique smell of the materials used within the painting, described as ‘…the fresh smell of a forest after the rain.’

The technique used is, necessarily, non-invasive, and Martin Kemp – a leading authority on da Vinci, based at Trinity College, Oxford, has excitedly commented that this method of scented investigation, when used as a prototype to test the authenticity of other paitings, could hold enormous potential for the future of art attribution.

Gleb Zilberstein and his co-authors had previously used the technique to discover traces of morphine on the manuscript of Mikhail Bulgakov’s novel, The Master and Margarita, as well as analysing Anthony Chekhov’s blood-stained shirt, and finding evidence of tuberculosis. The team will publish their full findings in the Journal of Proteomics, but for those of us not quite up to the technical language, a more basic explanation of the way it works is this:

Acetate film embedded with charged particles is placed on sections of the painting. The film is analysed by gas and liquid spectrometry and chromatography – run through a computer which can separate and identify every component the object is composed of, allowing researchers to pick out particular areas of interest and actually smell them, individually.

The same technology is used to analyse traces of vintage fragrances, or to capture the smell of a thunderstorm, for example, and allow a perfumer to recreate it. But this is the first time it’s been used to analyse and identify the materials of a painting. This way, the tem discovered a unique mixture of egg yolk, linseed and rosemary oil had been used by Leonardo’s Protégé, and as they were learning his exact techniques, they would have used the same paint mixtures – perhaps even mixed by the hand of da Vinci himself.

Researchers concluded that rosemary oil had been used in some sections to ‘enhance the sense of depth’ by blurring a background – just like the Portrait mode on a modern iPhone – and that they hope to use the technology to create a ‘decay curve’, so as to further help pinpoint the date of a painting by studying the smell and decomposition of organic materials.

Zilberstein commented that it was a ‘magical moment’ to smell odours that had been trapped beneath the surface of the painting for over 400 years, and explained that now, ‘for the first time the deciphering of the recipes used by Leonardo was possible…’

By Suzy Nightingale

The Future of Fragrance: Olfiction’s Pia Long predicts…

In the current issue of our magazine, The Scented Letter, we take a look at what lies in store for the future of fragrance, and what we’re likely to be spritzing in the years to come.

Of course such crystal-ball-gazing is backed up by experts whose job it is to predict which ingredients – and relies on innovative ways of growing, harvesting, distilling and filtering fragrant natural crops, or even the creation of brand new synthetic aroma molecules… smells that cannot be captured or, perhaps, do not even exist in nature. Can you imagine the excitement if we created a new musical note previously unheard by musicians, or added a new, never before seen colour to the artist’s palette?!

We honestly could have written two volumes of a book with the amount of fascinating information we discovered, so wanted to share with you in a series of scented snapshots, the thoughts of three people we talked to with experise in varying fields of fragrance. What, we asked them, can we expect the future to smell like?

Pia Long is a perfumer and co-founder of Olfiction – a UK-based fragrance consultancy that work with suppliers, contract manufacturers, brands, retailers and fragrance industry organisations. So they can be involved with a brand right from the start, helping them create fragrances and scented products; or aiding existing fragrance houses to shape and better define themselves in the marketplace. And for Pia, education, accessibility and honesty are key factors…

‘Fragrance is currently experiencing a similar breaking down of barriers to access as we’ve seen in other trades – film and television; music. The differences are, though, that we don’t necessarily have the platforms and systems in place to democratise perfumery (though organisations such as The Perfume Society and the Institute for Art and Olfaction are heading the way in acting as a bridge between the trade and general public).

What the public currently understands as perfumery has typically been communicated by brands and marketers, rather than by perfumers and the trade, and therefore the concept of what perfumery even is, remains a little bit unclear in the public’s perception. This, combined with a general greater demand for transparency from consumers, creates an interesting scenario: if perfumers and businesses become fully transparent about how perfumes are made, are consumers ready? Would they understand? Or would the information that lands on a bed of misconceptions, in fact do harm to our trade?

Pia Long

I think for the fragrance trade to continue to thrive, we need to do far more education and allow far more access. This will help everybody. We are already seeing an increase in queries that involve full ingredient traceability, sustainability, and other considerations that touch on the growing, harvesting, supply chain or manufacturing processes.

Specific material predictions are hard to make, but the popularity of naturals as a marketing message, and for their aesthetic beauty is an ever-growing part of the trade, and all major fragrance houses have some systems in place to obtain and supply complete natural materials, as well as their own specialities. Natural materials have always had variation due to location and extraction methods, but I see the strategy of larger manufacturers ensuring ingredient loyalty as being one of creating specialist materials that are unique to that supplier.

In general, with synthetic materials, we’re likely to see more efforts to go back to some of the classic feedstocks like wood (turpentine), versus petrochemicals, and we’ll also see novel ways to replace raw materials that have fallen foul of regulators (if not 1:1 replacements, then certainly ones that can go towards creating similar accords).’

So it seems the future is smelling distinctly woody… and with perfumers looking for ways that we can still enjoy those ingredients that end up on the ‘naughty’ list (due to concerns about allergens and skin irritants), while manufacturers further explore how to make naturals smell unique. And at The Perfume Society we share Pia’s hope that more organisations and fragrance houses will open their doors and let the light in on what continues to be a subject that excites us every day.

There’s absolutely no doubt that fragrance lovers want (and deserve) more information about how their perfumes are made; how and where the materials are being sourced and hearing directly from the perfumer’s themselves. Just ask anyone who’s attended one of our many exciting events – visiting the archives of heritage houses, seeing ingredients distilled in front of them, smelling raw materials, hearing perfumers talk about their scientific and creative process and founders discuss why they bravely – some may say madly – wanted to launch their own fragrance house in the first place.

Or, indeed, from authors who’ve written about their enduring love-affair with perfume – such as the launch of Neil Chapman’s book, Perfume – In Search of Your Signature Scent. So why not join us on Thursday 28th March 2019 to find out more?

We think there’s a buzz about perfumery, alongside the developments in technologies and public hunger for reliable information, that’s perhaps where the food industry or wine business was twenty years ago. A widening of the world of ingredients we have access to, and want to know more about – and ultimately, a hunger to smell and wear even more exciting things. Better make room on that scent shelf, then, because we’ve sniffed the future, and it’s shaping up to be fabulous…

Written by Suzy Nightingale, with many thanks to Pia Long of Olfiction for her insights.