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.

Our Modern Lives – 4160 Tuesdays new (natural and anti-allergenic) scents for body and space…

Amidst the chaos of modern-day life, there are times (now, more than ever) we need to take some time back for ourselves. However we choose to do this, Our Modern Lives is a completely new range of fragrances made by purveyors of quirky, indie scents we know and love already – 4160 Tuesdays.
Founder and perfumer, Sarah McCartney has been a long-time yoga teacher alongside her fragrant commitments, and initially created five yoga-room fragrances for own use. With weekly requests from perfume lovers who wanted all natural fragrances or from people allergic to certain ingredients commonly found in the majority of ranges, Sarah came to realise that something had to be done – and that she was the someone to make it happen…
Sarah McCartney: ‘Every week we’re asked for two things: 100% natural fragrances, and safe scents with no allergens. People often imagine they can have both in the same bottle, or that one implies that you get the other. It’s not that simple’ Sarah laughs wryly – a point she has often made but that’s seemingly quite difficult to get through to people.
And the reason perfumers can’t just use all “natural” ingredients and make them entirely safe for people to wear on their skin? ‘The issue is that nature is naughty – there are allergens in most essential oils, including jasmine, rose, lavender, all citrus fruits and the spices – which means that natural fragrance has to be handled really carefully to be safe, to be legal and still to smell great.’
For Our Modern Lives, Sarah created seven 100% natural fragrances, ‘We’re using all our experience to make these complex blends beautiful and safe,’ and two 100% synthetic fragrances with no allergens. ‘Here we’re choosing simple blends of molecular compounds to create soft, smooth, long-lasting sensual fragrances.’

The Naturals:

Red – Harvest – Gratitude: A sense of security, nature’s bounty, reaping what we sow. For us it feels like a rich red berry in colour. Materials include: hay absolute, Turkish rose absolute, raspberry leaf absolute, oakwood CO2 extract, hazelnut CO2 extract, labdanum, wine essential oil, davana essential oil, pink peppercorn C)2 absolute.
Orange – Sunset – Peace: A sense of serenity as the sun goes down, lighting up the sky in shades of blood orange, Materials include: neroli essential oil, Honeybush CO2 extract, vanilla absolute, cocoa absolute, peach natural liquid, bran absolute, rose geranium essential oil, Virginian cedarwood essential oil.
Yellow – Sunrise – Hope: A sense of vitality, but because it’s early we’ve added in a dash of coffee for a touch of real life. Materials include: lemon petitgrain, fennel, cardamon, clementine, yellow mandarin, blood orange and sweet orange essential oils, coffee absolute, narcissus absolute and cabreuva essential oil.

Green – Leaf – New: A sense of revival. The smell of spring when green shoots appear from the cold and dark. Materials include: jasmine tea CO2 extract, green mandarin essential oil, Calabrian bergamot essential oil, cucumber natural liquid, bergamot mint essential oil and spinach absolute.

Aquamarine – Waves/WiFi – Clarity: A sense of connection. The colour of the clear warm sea, and sharp hit of citrus and deep seaweed. Materials include: white grapefruit and rosemary essential oils, olive fruit CO2 extract, jasmine sambac absolute, blue hemlock essential oil, organic English lavender essential oil, seaweed absolute.
Blue Screen/Blue Horizon – Perspective : A sense of balance. We spend too much time looking at screens, not enough at the horizon. This is a scent to help you meditate. Materials include frankincense essential oil, lavender absolute, vetivert absolute, eucalyptus mint essential oil, patchouli essential oil, hyacinth absolute, organic English lavender essential oil.

Indigo – Into the Night: A sense of the infinite. A 3a.m. scent of total darkness, when night feels endless. Materials include: Cognac absolute, black tea CO2 extract, osmanthus absolute, Atlas cedarwood essential oil, jasmine sambac absolute, labdanum absolute, rum CO2 extract.

The Synthetics:

OML α – a soft, mildly ambery woodsy fragrance that really lasts well, made with seven synthetic materials, completely clear in colour. Some of the beautiful aroma molecules we use here are more expensive than most naturals.
OML β – even softer and smoother and very long lasting. We chose to make OML β with materials which are widely used in perfumery, including costly niche fragrances, but they are out of patent so their prices have fallen. We wanted to make a really good, affordable fragrance, so here you are.
We’re sure these fragrances are going to be very popular indeed – not only for people who prefer all-natural products, those allergic to many commonly used perfumery materials – but for anyone seeking serenity through scent. Because these are not simply “diet” versions of “proper” perfumes – Our Modern Lives perfumes smell glorious first and foremost, and just happen to be entirely wearable by absolutely anyone who loves perfume – no matter what their concerns are. We’d call that a win-win!
Currently, Sarah McCartney is following the same successful IndieGoGo launch route for Our Modern Lives that she has followed for previous perfumed projects. A “crowdfunding” website, it allows small and indie businesses to directly receive funding from individual consumers interested in supporting them. A sliding scale of investment opportunities with benefits attached to them range from £15 (for a scented, hand-stitched eye mask) to £850 for a completely bespoke, all-natural perfume. In between, investors can plump for try-me or full sizes of specific scents at less than the eventual RRP.
Those interested in learning more and wanting to purchase the scents themselves should assume the Perfumista Position (fingers on buttons, ever ready to spritz or order more to try!) and head to Our Modern Lives IndieGoGo page
Written by Suzy Nightingale

Escentric Molecules celebrate their tenth anniversary with The Power of Ten limited edition cases…

Escentric Molecules have been groundbreaking in their approach to flagging synthetic ingredients in perfumery as something to embrace and wear with pride rather than look down on as a lesser substitute for naturals. Perfumer Geza Schoen launched Escentric Molecules in 2006 with a pair of fragrances that focused on the enigmatic aroma-molecule, Iso E Super – a creamy, woody multifaceted smell now quite often found in fragrances, shampoos and other scented beauty produts.
But Escentric Molecules were the first to use this in an overdosed formula within Molecule 01 – correctly supposing this unique approach would create a buzz in contemporary perfumery, especially as to some the scent has an alomst addictive quality on their skin, while others cannot smell it as strongly – or even at all. Certainly a talking point – and a great excuse to get people closer to you, should wish to, in the guise of seeing if they can detect the scent as it blooms on your skin…

Its partner fragrance Escentric 01 is perhaps more traditionally masculine in tone, also containing Iso E Super, but along with ambroxan, pink pepper, green lime and deeper, balsamic notes like benzoin, mastic and incense.

The Power of 10 Limited Edition bottles are presented in sleek, travel-friendly aluminium cases that have been anodised for durability, with purple for Escentric 01 and gunmetal for Molecule 01; deliberately minimalist and ultra-cool to reflect the purist ethos of the fragrances inside.
Escentric Molecules limited edition cases £77 each for 100ml spray
Buy them instore at Liberty and Havery Nichols
Written by Suzy Nightingale

Aether perfumes – time to stop and smell the molecular roses…

When is a rose not a rose….?

Niche perfumery can sometimes fall in to the very tropes they so desperately try to avoid – highlighting expensive, natural ingredients and hiding, or at least not announcing, the incredible molecular technology (often just as expensive as raw ingredients) at play in the majority of perfumes we have been falling in love with since the early 19th Century. Part of the problem is the language involved – ‘synthetic’ just doesn’t sound sexy. But these clever molecules add depth, space and longevity to fragrance – ultimately, some being as complex and multi-faceted as several hundred ingredients mixed together at once. While of course the perfume industry still celebrates the multitude and quality of naturals, it’s vital – now, more than ever – to educate ourselves on, and stop being squeamish about, the modern methods of extracting and shaping these invisible bubbles of pleasure.

The just-launched Aether perfumes are unique – a wardrobe of fragrances dedicated to paying tribute to synthetic molecules – while showcasing their elegance, diversity and ability to convey distinct and intricate emotional messages through scent. Offering a new way to experience fragrance for we beings who so desperately cling to known and expected smells, the collection is an eye-opening (nostril-widening?) demonstration of how molecules are not something to hitch up your petticoats and stand on a chair (in the manner of a Tom & Jerry cartoon) in fear of. Far from it – these are scents we know somehow, emotionally, if not by name alone – could many people automatically bring to mind the smell of Cetalox or Oxane?

Screen Shot 2016-06-21 at 13.00.09
©Roberto Greco

Under the creative guidance and artistic direction of Nicolas Chabot – perhaps best known for his rescuing and reinvigorating of the heritage house Le Galion – perfumers Amélie Borgeois and Anne-Sophie Behaghel have created five fragrances that break the boundaries of “known” smells, crafting ‘egoless perfumes, creative atmospheres where everything is delightfully extravagant, whimsical, playful…’

Aether say: ‘If each molecule has a rather distinctive smell, who could guess exactly what the smell of the aldehyde C12 or ISO E Super would be? Sometimes a shimmering bubble and sometimes dazzling beauty, the molecule – this almost nothing in infinity – is the sacred young muse of the collection. At ÆTHER, no flower-show or flight of lyricism around the historically traditional raw material; rather the evocation of metallic vegetation, unknown woods, imperceptible sounds, moments to come … These scents of imperial fancy do not envy the wake of others, but prefer a luminous halo, a magical ring, an aura of humor and mystery…’

Closing your eyes, forgetting what you think you know and allowing the fragrance and sensation to wash over you is the pleasure, here. And what pleasures there are in store…

Muskethanol: ‘A semblance of realism: a handful of golden sand poured in alcohol (damascenone) that starts to glow, as if by magic, a thousands sequins, a silver shimmer similar to the sea. The disturbing impression of sand that has been rendered almost abstract. A sand of steel, futuristic, perhaps from another world (cetalox, muscone).’

Ether Oxide: ‘Far away, very far away, you vaguely smell a beautiful fresh and contemporary wood; closer, there is strange “ether accord” (ethyl acetate), a sort of gentle steam, which approaches the skin like a breath of burning wood (ambroxan, ISO E Super). An emanation of love. “And if peace had a smell?” She asked me, a little worried. “It might be like this” I replied.’

Rose Alcane: ‘One could imagine it so textured, so vivid, so real (Rose Oxyde). Beautiful flower in a cowhide. A rose for girl and boys who do not love roses madly, but who do not hate to be surprised. Through beautiful floral mechanics, the miracle of alchemy transforms, right under your nose, a super fresh rosebud into a metallic flower.’

Aether
©Roberto Greco

Citrus Ester: ‘One of those days that seems to stretch out forever, and you are not quite sure there is going to be a second. The moment quivers with energy. An energy ghost, bright (methyl grapefruit) and caring, tinged with a slight taste of primordial fruit (firascone, rhubafurane). Life, the beginnings of life.’

Carboneum: ‘The dreams of a child: the man in a diving suit resurfacing from the ocean wrung out by the waves, before being propelled into space by a magnetic force. A strange harmony representing neoprene (Benzoate Methyl, Sudéral, Timbérol)! One also smells the texture of foam, a little rough (Globanone). The next night it had the same dream.’

We admit we’re very excited by Aether and their unashamed celebration of molecular fragrance beauty – an art form, yes, but not for art’s sake alone: each of them are totally wearable (and sharable) by even the most molecularly-inexperienced fragrance lover.

Forget what your nose thinks it knows – about rose, or any other scent, and give in to curiosity…

Aether perfumes £140 for 100ml eau de parfum
Buy them at Liberty

Written by Suzy Nightingale