With the world in turmoil and so much uncertainty it might seem, to some, an act of ‘frivolity’ to turn to fragrance. But we know – and we hear from you all the time – how important scent can be at times of extreme stress. Rising sales in personal and home fragrance attested to this during lockdowns, and so we offer a spread of recently launched scents that can help soothe frazzled nerves, remind us of happier times and, most importantly, give us hope…
MAISON MARTIN MARGIELA Replica When The Rain Stops
As if the name wasn’t evocative enough, this is fresh air, bottled: the scent of flowers and leaves, after a summer rainstorm, via bergamot, nose-tingling pink pepper, an aquatic accord, Isparta rose petal essence and jasmine, on a base that hums with pine needle oil, the dampness of moss, and Bali patchouli. Crystal-clear in colour – like the rain-washed air it evokes – this has us believing that the storm clouds are beginning to part, at last. From £49 for 50ml eau de toilette selfridges.com
MOLTON BROWN Delicious Rhubarb & Rose
Celebrating ‘home is where the heart is’, Molton Brown showcase a duo of star ingredients often grown in our own gardens, much beloved by us Brits. Perfumer Vanessa Prudent conjures comforting childhood memories of baking, a sprinkle of sugar and pink pepper dusting rhubarb’s crispness, the leaves swagged by armfuls of soft pink roses. Marrying crisp fruitiness to the cedar muskiness of the base via silky cream ribbons, it’s an elegant reverie, bottled. £85 for 100ml eau de toilette moltonbrown.co.uk
TO THE FAIREST ODRE COSMIQUE
Inspired by ‘the magic and connectivity of the cosmos’, this gender-neutral scent opens with unusual notes of cool, silvery cardamom and calming water lily. Shimmering like the night sky, the sparkle hushes to a warmer base of soothing sandalwood, rippled through with the addictive nature of the chocolate cosmos flower. Gourmand-shunners need not worry, this is no ‘foodie’ type concoction – it feels far more sophisticated than that; a subtle addiction, if you will. £85 for 50ml eau de parfum tothefairest.com
EMPORIO ARMANI Stronger With You Only
Chock full of assured suaveness, the character of the beloved original juice is allowed to shine through but there’s a zing up top with a generous squeeze of grapefruit. Meanwhile, an extra dose of freshness is granted by aromatic lavender and geranium in the heart. An intriguingly smoky is joined by a chestnut accord that’s sugar-coated yet still masculine. It feels like having your favourite jacket re-made in a differing material: the perfect fragrant fit. £54 for 50ml eau de toilette armanibeauty.co.uk
GABAR Ground II
‘We’re rooted in Myanmar and made for the world,’ the founders of this niche house rather beautifully explain, and the inspirations are firmly planted there, too. Based on traditional La Phet (tea leaf salad) and Thanaka (tree bark) the verdant crunch of stalks is seamlessly stirred into dough-like orris, fig, saffron and sandalwood silkiness that had us burying our noses in our wrists. A majestic oudh, patchouli and vetiver trail truly feel grounding, hours later. £120 for 50ml eau de parfum gabarmyanmar.com
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’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
How often have you heard the phrase when this is all over during the past year? Well, the “when” is soon – at least in the U.K. with the government’s ‘roadmap’ for easing restrictions seeing the return of shops and outdoor hospitality services reopening on Monday, April 12th.
However, while our hearts may be full to bursting at the prospect of seeing loved ones we’ve missed for so long – there’s some real anxiety in the mix, too.
Because we know the ‘new normal’ (ugh, another saying that needs to get in the sea) is still far from resembling what our lives looked like in those hazy ‘before’ days, when many of us (perhaps lazily) took our freedom foregranted. To travel, to meet a friend for coffee, to hug them when we arrived – blimey, just to walk into a shop! And things will remain strange for some time. So we’re going to need some extra help, still, to get through this together.
If you’re feeling anxious about mixing in public again, you’re certainly not alone. The medical website patient.info has a great article with tips to combat stress in a post-Covid world, quoting psychologist and well-being consultant Lee Chambers, who says of course we’re all still worried, because ‘Over the course of the past 12 months, there has been significant change to adapt and acclimatise to.’ and explains: ‘Without a clear future anchor and the ability to create a longer-term plan, we lack the ability to prepare, and the constantly changing rules lower our tolerance to uncertainty.’
We know that so many more of you have been finding comfort and great mental-health support from scent during lockdown. It stands to reason we’ll need a fragrant anchor to help us get through the next few months as well. So, here are some soothing scents to help calm your nerves and help you feel grounded, but also some party perfumes for when the celebratory spirit strikes and you need an instant spritz of glamour.
Whatever your mood, there’s a fragrance to match or counteract, if needs be. Think of them as bravery: bottled. For when this is all over? For right now, or whenever you need them…
Nancy Meiland Gaia£45 for 30ml perfume attar
A beautifully nurturing scent delievered via a handy rollerball. A nuzzle of jasmine wrapped in warming nutmeg, brightening bergamot and a soft breeze of blue lotus on a caressing base of cedar and sandalwood.
Vines House Parfum Signature Story£75 for 30ml eau de parfum
Founder Rebecca Harrison shares her signature scent ‘for a mood of composure and contentment’ – a veriutable hug in a bottle. Cool lychee snuggles with ginger lily in a whisper of warm amber-rippled vanilla.
Angela Flanders Bleu de Chine£79 for 50ml eau de parfum
Swathe yourself in the hush of dry lavender, grounding patchouli aged for extra depth and the woody heart of bois de rose. Inspired by vintage Chinese textiles, it’s immediately comforting yet effortlessly elegant.
Histoires de Parfums 1899£35 for 15ml eau de parfum
With a pop of Champagne corks flying, the bohemians emerge from the clubs of Paris into the dazzling lights of the city. The fizz of bergamot and juniper floats on orange blossom ablaze with amber in the vibrant base.
Hermes L’Ombre de Merveilles £75 for 50ml eau de toilette
Perfumer Christine Nagel encourages us to ‘see the world from new and marvellous angles’ via contrasting light and shade. Shimmering tops notes swirl to black tea and simmering tonka.
Kierin NYC Nitro Noir£65 for 50ml eau de parfum
Mathieu Nardin’s powerhouse gourmand/floral positively swings its hips, with ripe berries swirled through rich patchouli and dusted with orris for a hypnotic, individualistic ‘hurrah!’
Whether you need soothing or a chance to celebrate, there’s a whole world of fragrances out there to support and reflect how you’re feeling (or would like to feel). If you’re still wondering what would be the best scent to suit your mood, take a look at our genius Fragrance Finder. Simply type in the name of a fragrance you love and it will suggest six others, thanks to the so-clever personality-matching algorithm…
In this time of unprecedented stress, seeking calm or a way to boost our energy levels has become more than a moment of ‘me time’ – it’s absolutely vital to our wellbeing. Focusing on your sense of smell helps control your breathing and forces your mind to concentrate on something lovely for a change.
Our sense of smell is directly linked to our limbic system, which stores memories and emotions, so using scent to uplift, unwind or soothe is a brilliant way of dealing with anxiety. Taking time to care for yourself should not be a luxury – it helps you face the day feeling revived and ready to go.
Experiencing ‘newness’ is something everyone has been severely lacking of late, but using a fragrance or scented product and fragrancing your home can transport you somewhere lovely, and change your mood in an instant.
Here’s how to ward off an anxiety attack or lift your spirits with scent:
Take a few minutes to spray a fragrance on a blotter or thick piece of paper.
Close your eyes while smelling it and see where it takes you. Don’t try to guess all the notes (it’s almost impossible unless you’re a trained perfumer!) instead, let your imagination run wild…
If this fragrance was a place, where would it be?
Think about texture as you smell. Can you say what type of fabric it would be? Heavy velvet, soft suede, crisp cotton… or something else?
What occasion does the scent bring to mind, and who else would be there? Allow yourself to picture the people you’re missing and imagine yourself laughing with them, hugging them again!
Music and fragrance are closely linked, so what type of melody would be playing, and which instruments does the scent remind you of?
It can be difficult, at first, to think of the answers, but whatever you imagine or feel is the right answer, for you. Scent is incredibly personal, so the more you practice this technique of ‘deep smelling’, the more in-tune with your sense of smell and how it connects to your memories and emotions you will be.
This is how perfumers train – often having to commit several thousand smells to memory, so they know how to recall them and can evoke particular moods in their compositions. If you’d like to try this so-soothing technique and experience some spa-like serenity, we’ve chosen some scents that help you turn your home into a Scented Retreat.
Filled with specially curated scent samples, the entire collection of La Montaña home fragrances (which perfectly echo their matching candles, if you’ve ever wanted to try those), and sensory beauty treats, including 100ml bottle of Molton Brown Bath & Shower gel – TheScented Retreat Discovery Boxallows you to relax in style at home. Here’s how…
Scents of Calm:
Anima Vinci Sesame Chan
Embracing the skin with ethereal light, the warmth of ginger slowly simmers to a haze of dry nuttiness – a cocooning, Cologne-esque experience, yet one that feels immediately comforting, at the same time.
Based on sweet yet smoky notes of patchouli and vanilla, this one wraps itself around you, swathing you in softness on a soothing heart of lavender and tobacco for a truly sophisticated finish that lasts all day and into the night.
Botanics Pure Essential Lavender Oil
Lavender has been shown to improve mood – add a few drops to a bath, humidifier, or for use for massage This essential oil from Botanics is bursting with all the wellness benefits of this herbaceous plant.
ånd fragrance Måd
Sustainably sourced naked vanilla in all its raw beauty is blended with violet, blackcurrant, ylang ylang, jasmine and grounding vetiver for a scent that’s like a warm hug in a bottle.
Ecooking Day Cream
This hydrating cream is formulated with 100% organic oils that are combined with the highest quality natural peptides and vitamins, specifically hyadisine, which mimics hyaluronic acid, and trylagen, to support collagen production.
La Montaña Siesta
This home scent evokes the sweet scent of neroli, rose and herbs on the warm breeze mingled with woods and resins to send you off into the most sublime sun-dappled slumber. Heaven.
La Montaña Alfredo’s Cafe
The scent of sleepy village awakening, all sun-soaked light, fresh citruses, black coffee and the incense-y smell of the church drifting through the air. Spritz your room to recall the gentle excitement of a day exploring on holiday.
La Montaña Fig Grove
Think of a green fig’s freshness, soothing musky wood enhancing earthy, bark-like qualities, with the warmth of white flowers and a little powdery piquancy from hyacinth. This is lazy, hazy, hotter-than-hot days to scent your home.
La Montaña Galán de Noche
Few smells are more seductive than that of night-blooming jasmine, the hypnotic radiance synonymous with late nights in balmy climes and the mystery of flowers that shine their brightest once the sun goes down.
La Montaña Three Kings
Spiritual contemplation for your home – a spritz of pine, woods, frankincense and myrrh with a little Balearic twist. Sweet almond nougat and a dash of brandy give a flash of brightness and warmth that, somehow, is so very Spanish.
La Montaña Sacred Roses
Combined with sweet neroli, crisply green narcissus and geranium, and dreamy lavender, spritz your bedroom (or boudoir) to float away on a bed of velvety rose petals, warm cedar and ripened, fruity davana oil. Sumptuous!
Scents to Uplift:
Histoire de Parfum 1899
Peppy, cocktail-like notes open with unbridled optimism, fizzing with a Champagne-esque effervescence as they dance off the skin. The sweetened, powdery heart then sparkles with unbridled joy.
Shay and Blue Mermaid Kisses
The light, watery honeydew melon note that first greets you is pure aquatic-juicy joy; it is holiday cocktails on the shoreline at sunset, looking out to an endless horizon and all its possibilities.
Molton Brown Orange & Bergamot Bath & Shower Gel
Zesty orange kicks off an uplifting sensory experience, heightened by mouth-watering mandarin and and gloriously sunny neroli notes that transport us to citrus groves in Seville.
Exfo-Lite Stimulating Salts For Legs
Packed with diuretic, detoxifying Himalayan pink crystals and sea salt, formulated not only to smooth the skin but to encourage better blood flow to our often-neglected lower-limbs (getting ready to bare again!)
Benamôr Alantoìne Hand Cream
The classic outdoors-y citrus scent turns a much-needed (several times) daily hand-soothing ritual into a moment of uplifting contemplation. Breathe deeply and inhale as the Portuguese beauty hero sm oothes and protects your skin barrier.
La Montaña First Light
In the morning, fill your room with the luminosity of a sun-filled new dawn, captured with wild fennel and orange, supported by energising mountain pepper, warm amber-y notes of rockrose and aromatic rosemary.
La Montaña Cloudburst
That moment when the sun breaks through the clouds in perfect shafts of light; all the scents of a herb garden, a citrus grove zinging to life against the backdrop of a mountain steaming in the sun, releasing wild, mineral-like vapours.
La Montaña Winter Oranges
One of their best-selling home fragrances, the orange here is both uplifting – a memory of high summer, devoured while juciy or adorning glasses – and calming, grounded here in aromatic spices that smoulder as they warm the soul.
You can practically feel your blood-pressure drop as you watch these short but so-exquisite flower-filled films on Instagram – but can looking at pretty pictures of nature ACTUALLY (scientifically, not merely anecdotally) lower your stress levels? Apparently so…
A dear friend of mine recently posted on Facebook to say she’d been suffering panic attacks, but that watching these films had really helped her relax, to focus on something lovely for a while and just help her to breathe out again.
I’d been feeling similarly wobbly, to tell the truth, so immediately clicked and scrolled, and actually found myself sighing out-loud with how beautiful they are.
Available to watch on Li Ziqi’s Instagram, the IGTV films follow her adventures as she strolles through flower-filled meadows, picking blossoms to cook with, to arrange into stunning, so-simple floral arrangements, and even make her own floral hydrolates with a copper still in her garden. A Chinese food and country-life vlogger from Pingwu in Mianyang, Sichuan, Li has become something of an Internet celebrity within China, and is fast gaining popularity around the world as stressed-out viewers tune in to drop out for a while.
And oh! That garden! Filled with rambling roses, herbs and vegetables of all description, kittens and puppies frolic and her grandmother chuckles in what are almost overwhelmingly charming and bucolic scenes, as Li Ziqi wanders further into the forest and welcomes spring by picking magnolia flowers, celebrates ‘peach blossom day’ and makes all manner of utterly delicious (and sometimes bewildering, if you don’t happen to be familiar with them) floral-themed dishes.
Satisfyingly, every single part of the plants seems to be used, in meals, for homemade fabric dyes or in glorious floral arrangements in huge vases. There’s something very ASMR about it all – Auto Sensory Meridian Response: a tingling, relaxing sensation some people feel while watching or listening to pleasing audio – with the wind rustling the rose bushes as she meticulously chops and prepares the food, windchimes tinkling in the background.
If you’re stuck indoors and feel trapped, as I do (self-isolating while looking after two elderly, at-risk parents) watching these short films feels almost as good as running through the forests in gauzy gowns yourself… And you know, the calm that washes over you isn’t just make-believe. Scientists have proved that even just looking at pictures of trees and greenery for a few minutes a day can actually help reduce stress and depression.
Dubious? Have a read of this fascinating article in Psychology Today, which asserts that ‘the sight of trees allows the parasympathetic nervous system to gain an edge, calming the entire body and making us more relaxed. That’s a good thing given how many of us live in concrete, urban environments. A recent NIH study  found that in urban surroundings, “contact with real or simulated green settings as opposed to [manmade] settings has positive effects on mood, self-esteem and self-reported feelings of stress and depression.” The Japanese have longed practiced Shirin-yoku, taking in the forest atmosphere or “forest bathing,” to alleviate stress, aggression, fatigue, and feelings of depression.’
So there you have it: if we can’t find freedom for now, or if you don’t have access to a garden of your own (let alone a flower-filled forest to frolic in), you can at least tune in and switch down your stress levels awhile.
Wishing you safe and well, until we meet again fragrant friends…
Insomnia can strike at any time, and stressed-out sufferers are increasingly turning to ‘sleep apps’ of various kinds to try and catch a few zzzzzzs. Now, Stephen Fry is offering to tell you a bedtime story, gently soothing you to sleep… and all within 24 minutes, apparently.
Few celebrities attain ‘national treasure’ status, but Fry is certainly one of them – famed for his dulcet tones, quick-wit, writing and acting abilities. Now he’s putting that sonorous voice to work by narrating a bedtime story for a sleep app called Calm. Themed around the lavender fields of Provence, the story for adults, called ‘Blue Gold‘ [ scroll down to listen an extract] invites listeners to close their eyes and imagine the purple-hued flowers in all their glory, guiding you through their cultivation and distillation techniques while describing the golden sunlight and snow-capped mountains beyond…
Makers of the app at Calm say: ‘We challenge anyone to stay awake for all 24 minutes of this sleep-inducing masterpiece by Stephen Fry.’
Just in case the sound of Stephen Fry’s voice wasn’t enough to lull you, the makers also produce a Sleep Mist you can purchase online and spritz to take you even deeper into those lavender fields. Described as a ‘natural elixir of lavender, frankincense, chamomile and clary sage essential oils’, Calm hope the spray will ‘transform your pillow and create a relaxing environment for sleep.’
The story by Stephen Fry is free, along with several others to choose from, with further stories available to download from their website. Listen to an extract below, and get set to feel calmer already…
We’ve all made a few dodgy purchases in the past, pushed for time and yet wanting that instant feel-good hit of ‘retail therapy’. And we’re not alone – according to research undertaken by Fenwick Bracknell, ‘…nearly half of British consumers admit they have made unconsidered purchases because they are always in a rush.’
47% of UK shoppers admit they have bought unconsidered purchases, and nearly a quarter (24 per cent) doing so because they rushed their shopping experience during their lunch break
52% of British consumers have regretted a purchase they’ve bought without trying it on in store
But how to solve the dilemma of desperately wanting to purchase *something* to cheer yourself up, but not wanting to make a heinous mistake? Well, to soothe the stresses and calm the nerves of their shoppers (and to celebrate the launch of its latest store) Fenwick Bracknell has launched a brand new limited edition perfume, Quiescent, the fragrance being given away to customers visiting the store.
Developed using the principles of aromachology, Francois Robert, Master Perfumer at The Perfume Studio, explains that, ‘Modern-day life is stressful so we wanted to create a calming product which can be easily incorporated into the everyday beauty routine. Fenwick Quiescent does just that. The careful balance of headier notes of sandalwood and cedarwood with the delicate florals of jasmine delivers a truly mind-altering scent which has a tangible effect on the wearer.’
Fenwick say it’s ‘the perfect daytime scent for any shopper,’ because ‘the carefully curated range of oils not only trigger the olfactory system, but also the nervous system.’ Mandarin is renowned for its uplifting and calming effects, while cedarwood contains the highest amount of sesquiterpenes – a hydrocarbon group found in essential oils – which seem to stimulate the brain’s limbic system and apparently help to elevate mood and relaxation.
‘With over half of shoppers admitting they’ve regretted purchasing an item of clothing because they didn’t try it on in store and a third wishing that the changing rooms were generally a more pleasant experience, Fenwick Bracknell is also transforming some of its changing rooms into The Aromachology Rooms.’
Throughout September, a selection of the changing rooms in the store will be infused with the Quiescent fragrance, while the walls will be adorned with relaxing images of the British countryside and ambient sounds piped in to complete the spree-calming experience.
For those of you not able to visit the Bracknell branch, we spoke to perfumer Ben Janousek, who helped develop the fragrance, about ways we can can apply the principles of Aromachology to our everyday lives – finding scents that calm us most effectively…
‘Start with the basics; heighten your sense of smell, which you can do by exercising your senses; make an effort to keep smelling and tasting new things, from the ‘every-day’ scents of washing up liquid or toast – to flowers in the market or spices cooking in a local restaurant – let your sense of smell lead you to new experiences.’
‘Scents, as well as perfumes, can have many layers and textures. Think about your favourites, look for new ones and question why you like them. Does a certain scent trigger a hidden memory? How does it make you feel? For example, the smell of freshly cut grass can trigger a sense of nostalgia in many people as it reminds them of their favourite childhood summer holidays.’
‘Your Limbic System (the set of brain structures largely responsible for your emotion and memory) is key to Aromachology, and there’s lots of things you can do to help try and keep this healthy. Practice deep breathing, try visualisations or guided imagery, writing or diary keeping, and trying alternative practices such as mindfulness, therapy, meditation…and of course, exercise.’
‘Work out which scents to use in your life. There is evidence that certain essential oils, when inhaled, are absorbed into the bloodstream and then trigger the Hippocampus (the part of the brain responsible for memory). Lavender has been shown to reduce stress, mandarin to uplift and improve your overall mood, frankincense for sensuality and confidence, and peppermint essential oil to improve focus.’
‘Memories; you can apply the principles of Aromachology to bring positive memories and wellbeing – and also to creating new ones. For example, smelling rosemary stimulates your Hippocampus and could increase the intensity of your memories. If you’re going on a big trip, think about investing in a new scent – it will forever bring the back memories or glimpses from this time. You can also apply this to starting a new job or fresh start – find a scent which makes you feel fierce!’
These are all techniques we teach and explain in more detail at our How To Improve Your Sense of Smell Workshops, so why not check when the latest one near you is happening and get your nose in the know…?
Written by Suzy Nightingale