Fragrance and music have long been linked, but in this matching series we’re partnering perfumes with Strictly dances, too! Which ones will you most be drawn to, and which would match the mood of this new season’s celebrity couples’ characters…?
The Waltz, Cha-Cha-Cha, Quickstep, Rumba, Tango, Jive, Foxtrot, Paso Doble and Samba were the first dance forms showcased when the programme began in (can you believe it?) 2004. Later, in series 3, the American Smooth and Viennese Waltz were included for the first time, followed by the Salsa and Argentine Tango, which were added as part of the lineup for Series 4, and the Charleston in series 7.
To fully explore the perfumes I’ve paired with each dance, and truly celebrate the high-stepping kick-off of the new Strictly season, I thought it best to split these scent suggestions into two parts; beginning with the original dances and moving onto the later additions as the competition really heats up.
Now, get on your dancing shoes, pop on a pair of leg warmers, limber up, and get ready for the scented spotlight…
Waltz – 4160 Tuesdays Dancing With Strangers
First introduced in the 18th Century, this dance shocked polite society for how close couples’ bodies were pressed. Cult Fragrances author Tessa Williams partnered closely with Sarah McCartney with this twirling-ly provocative perfume. We’re treated to a deliciously fragrant waltz that’s partly formal-feeling, with lipstick-y rose, violet and white florals; part exuberant energy, shot through with solar jasmine and joyous honeysuckle.
A lively, playfully flirtatious dance, this needs a similarly light-hearted fragrance to match its mood. Vibrant, colourful, and yes, flirtatious, here Bulgarian rose essence brings glorious radiance, refreshed by a sun-kissed splash of sparkling mandarin from Italy. French May rose absolute from Grasse – the rarest and most precious – adds sensuality. Notes of red berries, naturally present in some varieties of roses, tinge the vivid bouquet with extra playfulness. A velvety drydown of vanilla and musk sashay the scent to skin-like sensuality.
Fast, powerful, but still full of fun, this dance requires a perfume that can keep up! Rockin Rose really sets the pace with an uplift of mouthwatering juicy pear and melon, immediately followed by a soaring floral heart of narcotic muguet (lily of the valley) and a rose that runs to greet you with an exuberant smile. Even rose naysayers will fall madly for it! Finally, as it warms the scent fades out with a trail of ultra comforting musk and silkily grounding sandalwood for a breath of serenity after all that energy.
Considered the most saucily romantic of all Latin ballroom dances, here’s a scent that equally appeals to bohemian spirits. This tobacco-laden fragrance speaks of long liquid lunches in smoky bars padded with faded leather and panelled in dark wood. Musky Cuban cascarilla oil is pierced by the piquancy of pimento berries and a cool shot of pine needles with herbaceously aromatic sage. The gently smouldering base of patchouli gets comfortable with a boozy cherry-like sweetness of the toasty tonka beans. Hip-swivelling-ly good!
Famous for its trademark sharply accented, staccato moves, this dance is passionate for sure, but it celebrates a love of life, not only romance. Palo Santo infuses this woody-amber incarnation ‘an almost spiritual sensuality that uplifts your mood.’ It smoulders meaningfully alongside dry cade essence, resinous cistus absolute, carnal roses, guaiac and thorny, ebony woods. The trick it carries off? This would be equally at home on the dance floor at a party or in bedroom, afterwards.
Upbeat, lightning-quick and seriously social, this one needs a scent that projects a sparkling freshness yet lasts the whole night long! Dagian is inspired by ‘…the feeling of optimism that breaks at dawn, the exhilarating hope of a fresh start. As the sun rises, a breeze of lime and mint shimmers over notes of orange blossom and rum.’ Energetically fizzing from first spritz, this is one to reach for when you need an immediate WHOOSH! of energy that doesn’t fade (as most citrus-centric fragrances can). Perfect for any weather, too. A must-sniff.
Foxtrot – Maison Francis Kurkdjian Oud Silk Mood Extrait
Known for its iconic ruse and fall motion, there’s a smoothness to this dance which requires something equally silky as a scent – but a fragrance that appears as seemingly effortless. Well. Does anyone do utterly wearable oudhs for Western sensibilities better than Francis Kurkdjian? Probably not. Here he offers us a masterful paring-down from the original Oud Silk Mood, with an eau de parfum. Can silk get any smoother? Somehow this manages to be airy yet still voluptuous, the Laotian wood woven through with Bulgarian roses, Italian bergamot, Indian papyrus and Moroccan blue chamomile, with a hit of hedoine. Simply heavenly.
Theatrically dramatic, full of angular shapes and fabulously intricate flamenco-style footwork, it’s the fastest of the Latin ballroom dances. For this scent, imagine a deep red rose dressed in a black leather jacket. A classic note but so Intoxicating, spirited, bohemian and alive – this is a fragrance that feels complex and multi-faceted, the sweet honeyed scent of centifolia rose adds depth to lighter, spicy nuances via a sizzle of red peppercorn and warmly tingling saffron. ‘Once smelled forever adored’ they say, and we think you’ll totally agree! Go on, succumb…
A Brazilian dance with its roots firmly in Africa, this is an expressive style where dancers must move hips, feet and arms to the beat – where music seems to course through the entire body. Obviously this beloved Brazilian brand had to be our choice, and we’re plumping for this scent, which they explain the origins of: ‘The atmosphere of Lapa at the beginning of the 20th century was the starting point for this intense creation. Ambrée, striking and extremely elegant, Boemia represents all the sensuality and daring of the most bohemian neighbourhood in Rio de Janeiro. With 92% of ingredients of natural origin, the perfume has a light fresh spicy air over warm and sensual notes, enveloped by an atmosphere of mystery and sophistication.’
£110 for 75ml eau de parfum libertylondon.com (Also available at their new Ham Yard and Regent Street stores)
If you’ve not already binged Emily in Paris Season 3, have you even got a Netflix account? Continuing our series of matching characters in popular series to scents they should wear, of course I had to pick some perfumes for the cast of Emily in Paris!
Okay, perhaps you avoided it thus far and thought it beneath you, somehow? Well cast off your snobbiness, wind back to the first two seasons and give it a go! There’s a lot of talk about scent, for a start, with an ongoing storyline about the creation of a fragrance and (in the third season) a plot involving Emily trying to save a potential disaster for a lavender farm’s luxury perfume. Fun, frivolous and with some absolutely gorgeous Parisian scenery, it’s one to watch when you just need something easy, breezy and beautiful for a change, and while fans await the much-anticipated fourth season of Emily in Paris, here’s some fragrance choices to explore in the meantime…
Emily (played by Lily Collins) – Lancôme La Vie Est Belle
Optimistic, confident (even though her French, fashion sense and romantic decisions are sometimes shocking) Emily’s joie de vivre often gets her in trouble, but her plucky spirit and great ideas save her. She embodies the joy of this free-spirited fragrance by a trio of top-notch noses (Anne Flipo, Dominique Ropion and Olivier Polge), which was reportedly with 5000 trials in the making. Starring a contemporary, silky iris swagged by radiant orange blossom and sparkling jasmine, its fruitiness is woven with praline (to satisfy her sweet tooth). Pretty, perky, with a long-lasting trail, it’s a scent that says ‘I’m here to stay, and you’re going to love me!’
Suave, sarcastic, but with a seemingly good heart, Alfie’s the ambitious banker [NB: not a spelling error] who’s fully London-born and proud of it, with no intention of fitting in to the French way of doing things. Piccadilly was the third fragrance from Richard E Grant’s house, and similarly swaggers with pride. Based on Grant’s own first venture to the big city in 1969, and working with talented perfumer Alienor Massenet, these extraordinary memories are evoked via rich patchouli, Earl Grey tea, ginger and leather swirling against the backdrop of a vibrant city, cool cars, petrol fumes, illicit parties, a buzz of excitement. Thrillingly addictive!
A talented chef conflicted by the ongoing battle between his heart and head (and possibly other parts, too), Gabriel gets away with an awful lot by looking soulfully confused and running his fingers through his hair. While dreaming up new ideas for menu, he should liberally spritz this: a savoury special of juicy green peppers and aromatic, just-chopped herbs with undercurrents of fancy cocktails to follow, late-night lock-ins and snogging the chef (when you really shouldn’t be), this always fun niche house nevertheless serve up seriously great fragrances. It’s the scent of a great night out and, very likely, will scent the morning after the night before.
Camille (Camille Razat) – Histoire de Parfums This is Not a Blue Bottle 1.2
Ah, Camille – the gal pal unfairly turned love rival with secrets of her own to hide. I think her love of art would be intrigued by this contemporary niche French house’s scent inspired by ‘The Treachery of Images’ – a famously surrealist work from the 1920s by Belgian painter René Magritte. It resonates the dualities of sparkling light and fiery emotions, so perfect for Camille. From a bright beginning of ivy leaf with a fizz of pink pepper, the softness of lilac and lily of the valley are interrupted by passionate ylang ylang’s embrace, with the base of sandalwood and vanilla-lapped musk being sexy in a luminously insouciant but now subversively sexy way.
Sylvie (Philippine Leroy-Beaulieu) – Yves Saint Laurent Rive Gauche
Being the boss isn’t always easy, especially when you’re not sure you are the boss anymore, and you’re doubting your romantic entanglements; so I think Sylvie would reach for a classic that reminds her of more carefree times and boosts her confidence. Completely chic but with a bohemian soul, Rive Gauche was launched in 1971 and – shockingly, then – presented in tin casing so a woman on-the-go could throw it in her bag . Timelessly French Chypre in style but with that rebellious Left Bank spirit. Soapy, sparkling aldehydic bubbles burst to clean-cut woodiness with claws out, while the rich oakmoss dry down is an irresistibly seductive purr.
Luc (Bruno Gourey) – Parle Moi de Parfum Woody Perfecto
Always dapper, slightly eccentric, but ever dependable in a crisis – even when everyone seems to desert Emily, Luc is a friend indeed and thus deserves a scent to match his quirky but warm personality. Composed by master perfumer Michel Almairac (who runs the house with his sons), expect mischievous names paired with immaculately blended fragrances that blend great taste with not taking yourself too seriously. This one wafts aromatic notes of coffee and cool, rooty vetiver with undercurrents of naughtiness implied by a smooth infusion of leather. Symbolising freedom, the scent is perfect for offices or star-studded parties alike.
Julien (Samuel Arnold) – Christian Louboutin Loubicrown
Dramatic? As if! Okay, well sometimes he can go a tiny bit over the top in his reactions, but Julien’s tantrums never last that long, and he’s one of those friends you’d definitely want to party with (as long as you weren’t held responsible for their actions). Never exactly averse to a designer name with a bit of boldness and bling, his ever-colourful wardrobe needs a fragrance that’s just as fantastic, and I reckon he’d love the crowned bottle, too. The scent itself is one that beckons the red carpet via oodles of cedar, deliciously resinous patchouli and a tonka bean accord that will draw crowds of admirers for another sniff.
Mindy (Ashley Park) – L’Orchestre Parfum Rose Trombone
Gregarious, loyal and super-talented, Mindy is a fave of Emily in Paris fans – a magnificent singer with a difficult background of a family who definitely don’t approve of her busking career choices. Mindy’s fortunes may be changing, but that means extra complications for her romantic life. This niche French perfume house couldn’t be more perfect – all their fragrances have songs inspired by them, written by world class musicians; this one’s a beautiful raspberry-tinged rose that turns into a smoky smooch of vanilla-laced rum. Think: torrid glances, forbidden kisses and the sultry voice of a chauntress rising above it all, aching with emotion, hushing a crowd.
The BBC’s new Marie Antoinette series is making lovers of historical costume dramas rejoice, and in a continuation of our character and scent-matching sessions, we’re powdering our wigs, unfurling our fans and and wafting forth with the following fragrant suggestions…
‘An innocent teenage queen drawn into a dark, manipulative court of Versailles. Her duty is to bear an heir. Her fate will set a country on fire.’
From the brilliant writer Deborah Davis (who also gave us the award-winning film, The Favourite), this is a drama that’s not afraid to lean into the opulence – so of course it calls for some seriously fabulous olfactory counterparts to the characters. For more information on the show, do read The Guardian’s review in full (which is suitably glowing), and give the trailer a watch before you begin your scent exploration of some of the main characters.
‘…it is sometimes strange, funny, grotesque in places, with a gorgeous if occasionally oppressive score. Historians and purists in France, where the series launched at the end of October, have unsurprisingly called it “obscene” and full of “historical aberrations”, including the supposed rebrand of Marie Antoinette as a feminist icon. But the trend for reappraising historical and maligned female figures with a contemporary viewpoint is unstoppable and, anyway, this is not the first revision of the last queen of France before the revolution.’ – The Guardian
Marie Antoinette (played by Emilia Schüle) – Parfums de Marly Delina
Encased in its sugared-almond pink bottle as it is, the silk tassel befits such a regal scent, as does the beautifully powdery rose within; but this isn’t as ‘girly’ as you’d imagine. Just as Antoinette blooms as her confidence grows, so too does Delina blossom on the skin. As it warms, the powder becomes more bare skin-like, a hint of pink thigh flashed above a white stocking, the sense of feminine power that comes with learning the art of flirtation.
Louis XVI (Louis Cunningham) – Matiere Premiere Falcon Leather
Given his preference for birds of the feathered variety (at first meeting his bride-to-be, anyway) and generally wandering free among the grounds rather than the stilted, terrifying confines of polite society; Louis XVI should plump for this. Smoky as a distant bonfire on the breeze, redolent of the leather gloves falcon trainers use, it’s got hint of that huntin’ ‘n fishin’ outdoors-y attitude but it’s scrubbed up and refined, far sexier than it realises. One to wonder at, then fall for. Hard.
Madame du Barry (Gaia Weiss) – Etat Libre d’Orange Putain des Palaces
Prettily powdered she may be, but this is a fragrance that means business. Evoking passionate encounters and smudged lipstick, beneath the make-up strewn dressing table top notes there’s a writhing of hot bodies entangled in sheets and an evocation of dirty linen very much being aired in the public gaze. Du Barry doesn’t mean to allow her grasp on the throne to be weakened, and if you’re not in her court, you’re done for. Why not simply submit to the sensuality within?
King Louis XV (James Purefoy) – Etat Libre d’Orange Exit the King
Amidst the bitchy court of Versailles, King Louis (‘Papa Roi‘ as Antoinette comes to call him) is a welcome friendly face (though do watch out for his wandering hands). This pleasingly soapy scent is classy all day long, with a hint of traditional Cologne among the French Savon and a dandyish air that isn’t afraid to wear its more feminine side on its frilled white shirt cuff. Luminous musks beam forth from the foam, sunlit jasmine and lily of the valley resting on light woods. Lovely (but dangerous in the wrong hands).
Princesse de Lamballe (Jasmine Backborow) – Lancôme Trésor
Beloved since its launch in 1990, this softly peachy hug swathes its wearer in an embrace of fluffy muskiness, pillowy sandalwood and vanilla encircling the lilac blossoms in the heart. Lamballe was (sometimes) Antoinette’s closest confidant; known for her kindness and likability, she surely deserves to be as treasured as this scent. To be worn when you need to be kind to yourself, perhaps, this perfume should be sought out anew by those who once loved it and discovered afresh for those yet to be blessed.
Quite frankly ‘a bit much’ and just not giving a damn, these mesdames might be the unmarried daughters of the King, but they co-rule the court with iron fists inside their couture gloves. In the BBC series they are magnificently snarky, their plum lipsticks and bruise coloured gowns a fabulous contrast to pastel froth and youthful folly. Deep, bold and unapologetic, the original Poison still swaggers, while the Pure version is more translucent, and though not as powerful can deliver a slap to the unworthy. So: bow down.
£54 for 30ml eau de parfum / £63 for 30ml eau de parfumdior.com
If you’ve had your fill of Christmas TV, have basically completed Netflix, or find yourself desperately flicking through the channels to find something worth watching – we’ve got a fab list of fragrantly-themed things to consider adding to your viewing over this festive period…
Perfume in popular cultureused be represented as something of a frippery, a subject to sneer at, but more recently, this eye-rolling attitude appears to be changing for the better. Certainly it seems to be (albeit slowly) if you cast a glance at some series, films and some of the most-loved television shows we’ve been streaming of late.
We couldn’t help noticing the subject of fragrance – perfumery and bottles as an art form, and our sense of smell in general – is coming up more frequently. It’s the perfect way to fill the weird hinterland between festive or new year celebrations and the return to real life.
Here’s a selection box of fragrant items that are either scent-centric of contain major perfumery mentions which we have spotted, with direct links to click and watch. Ditch the TV guide and follow your noses, this way…!
‘With his incredible talent for discerning scents, Jean-Baptiste Grenouille (Ben Whishaw) is one of 18th-century France’s finest perfumers. He becomes obsessed with capturing an elusive aroma: the scent of young womanhood. His search takes a deadly turn, and when the bodies of 12 young females are found, panic breaks out, with families rushing to lock up their daughters.’
Based on the best-selling, and now infamous, novel by Patrick Süskind, this is one every fragrance-lover should watch. It’s remarkable not only for being filmed at all (many said the book could never be made in to a screen drama), but for changing the way fragrance was talked about in the media. Stunningly shot, utterly gripping, we of course urge you to read the book first, but do then see this and marvel.
If you’ve already seen the film, have a gander at the made for TV drama loosely based on the premise of the novel, but in a modern-day setting: Perfume (series) Netflix.
Simply put, Nose is a feast for the senses, and a much-needed way for us to feed the wanderlust we’re all experiencing. Gorgeous, swooping shots of landscape and sumptuous close-ups of dew-speckled flowers accompany this portrait, that goes beyond the work of Demachy, and invites the viewer to fall as passionately in love with the world of perfumery as he and all the people behind the scenes so obviously are…
Telling the story of a preparatory school student who woefully takes a job as an assistant to an irritable, blind, medically retired Army officer, Frank, (magnificently played by Al Paccino) this is one of those films that helped highlight the importance of our sense of smell. In one memorable scene, Frank approaches the table where a woman sits alone, waiting for date. ‘You know, I detect a fragrance in the air,’ he says, ‘Don’t tell me what it is… Ogleby Sisters Soap?’ So, although not a movie about perfume per se, it’s a fantastic performance, and fun to look out for some well-known fragrance names he also detects along his adventures…
Perfumes (Les Parfums) Amazon Prime: rent for £4.49
We reviewed this charming film in full, here, but basically it’s the story of a reclusive, once-feared French perfumer and her new chauffeur. Though a gentle comedy, Les Parfums takes a serious (and very well presented) look at the life of a perfumer, and now this subtitled film has a wider release with Amazon, we hope many more of you will be able to see it. Certainly it’s a treat for the senses, and sadly such a rarity to see perfumery explored on screen in this manner. We particularly loved the scene in which Guillaume, the chauffeur, is discovering his newly-acquired appreciation for smell – in the supermarket, sniffing various shower gels, under the watchful gaze of a bemused security guard. ‘Something quite mellow…’ he says, as the guard shuffles closer, clearly unused to such behaviour in Aisle 5. Delightful from start to finish.
‘After a perfumer’s death, his daughter works to meet the production deadline for his company’s latest scent, which is complicated by the lack of an elusive ingredient.‘ Now we should really start by saying this a Hallmark movie, and as such has a certain look and feel to it that previous viewers of their oeuvre will recognise. That being said, this is the kind of whimsical film that one can happily curl up on the sofa with while eating your way through an entire tub of ice cream. Just don’t expect Süskind levels of olfactory detail, accept that everyone wears pastel and has perfect hair, and all will be fine.
We must admit to not having watched this one yet, but it certainly sounds like an antidote to excessive Christmas schmaltz, if that’s what you’re looking for. ‘After her mother dies, a chemist begins to have strange visions of a mysterious woman in black applying perfume in a mirror, and of strangers who follow her everywhere.’ That’s the synopsis in brief, but further reviews reveal that it’s a surrealistic film, also described as an ‘incoherent and inconsistent slice of psychological horror.’ Nonetheless, it’s a plot that sounds intriguing enough to capture our interest, and we very much we get to find out what the mysterious woman in black’s perfume actually is!
‘Mary Haines (Norma Shearer) can’t believe her husband’s having an affair with salesgirl Crystal (Joan Crawford). But when Sylvia (Rosalind Russell) and Edith (Phyllis Povah) deliver the gossip firsthand, Mary heads to Reno for a divorce. En route she meets Countess de Lave (Mary Boland) and Miriam (Paulette Goddard), who coincidentally is having an affair with Sylvia’s husband. Once in Reno, the Countess finds another beau, Sylvia shows up for a divorce and Mary plots to win back her man.’
Even though this really only has one perfume-related scene, we’re recommending this one mainly because it’s one of our favourite films EVER. And what a scent scene that is – set in the fragrance department of a classy department store, and featuring magnificently catty lines with Crawford as the predatory perfume counter gal. A stellar cast – made up entirely of women (practically unheard of even today, let alone in the 1930s!) – magnificent costumes and a gasp-inducing sudden switch to full-colour film during the fashion show sequence, make this more than worth your watching (on repeat).
Some years ago, the BBC made a fascinating doccumentary series about the perfume business, taking a deep dive into the creation of a fragrance, the revival of a perfume house (Grossmith) and interviewing perfume personalities such as Roja Dove and perfumers including Guerlain’s Thierry Wasser. Sadly the episiodes are no longer available on the BBC iPlayer website, though they are now available to watch on YouTube: Perfume (BBC Documentary series).
When it originally aired, the first season of Emily in Paris saw equal parts love and hate in the many reviews that followed its release. By season two, more had succumbed, and with a new season now available, whichever camp you fall in, you cannot deny it’s a love-song to Paris. And you know what? In the first season there’s actually not a bad look at the creation and marketing of a perfume, as we follow Emily’s hapless adventures as she’s ‘tasked with bringing an American point of view to a venerable French marketing firm.’ Time to catch-up and binge watch!
YouTube is a treasure trove for archival fragrance adverts and wonderful little gems like this Pathé documentary on how fragrance is made. We might chuckle at the Stiff Upper Lip ‘Received Pronunciation’ of the voiceover, but it makes for a still very interesting look at Grasse, French perfumery and the technical side of perfumery still not often shown in such detail to this day. Click above to watch it now!
Another still on our ‘to watch’ list, this series certainly sounds like it ticks many (perfume) boxes for us… ‘During the Republican era, a family empire famous for making the best fragrances and incense must guard against those who are out to steal their secret recipes. Ning Zhi Yuan is the sweet young master of his family’s fragrance empire. An Le Yan is a determined young woman who is out for revenge against the Ning family. Zhi Yuan falls in love with Le Yan, but she only wants to infiltrate Zhi Yuan’s family to steal a valuable perfume formula. Le Yan’s true heart is drawn toward An Yi Chen, an inspector. But Xiao Hui, the daughter of a Japanese imperialist, is determined to capture Yi Chen’s heart at all costs. Can Zhi Yuan protect his family’s livelihood and his own heart?‘
Something for the little ones – perhaps inspiring a new ‘nose’ in your family? – this cheeky little cartoon follows the story of Mo, who is ‘…upset when Tee accidentally breaks her favourite perfume.’ And indeed she might might be upset! ‘Tee is now determined to cheer her up by making her some new perfume from ingredients found around the house. Lucky Mo!’ Hmm. Well we’re sure that’s all whimsically delightful, but if Tee tried whipping up a batch of vintage Mitsouko from stuff he found around our house, we’re very much afraid he’d be out on his ear (having replaced the bottle and cleaned the carpet, thank you very much!)
Blown Away: Series 2, Episode 6: Scents & Sensibility [Netflix]
In the same sort of stable as successful reality series like Bake Off, Sewing Bee and The Great Pottery Throwdown; ‘Blown Away’ proved a huge hit for Netflix a couple of years ago. The latest season once again showcases the artistry and immense skill in glass blowing, and of course we LOVED the focus on perfume bottles in this episode. We’ll even forgive the much-overused perfume pun title.
Katherine Gray, professor at the California State University and resident evaulator describes the challenge to the contestants, saying that: ‘Over the course of the last 5,000 years, perfume flacons have transformed from really simple containers to elaborate and ornate works of art.‘ In this episode, they must design and hand-blow their own glass bottles, while keeping in mind, as perfume designer and guest judge, Michel Germain says: ‘A successful perfume is more than just the scent. The bottle has to draw people in, spark interest and tell a story.’ And the results? They’ll definitely blow you away…
Antiques Roadshow: Christchurch Mansion 2 [BBC1]
Always a soothing warm bath of a show, our ears pricked up at mention of a special perfume bottle a member of the public wanted one of their resident antique experts, Judith Miller, to take a look at. A mother and daughter duo explain how they came to own this precious fragrant family heirloom. ‘I got it a couple of years ago from my mum and dad for Christmas,’ the daughter begins, recounting the history and how her dad went shopping ‘forty or fifty years ago’ to find the perfect present for his wife, when he came across the exqusite piece and ‘loved it so much that he bought it for my mum.’
Miller reveals the stunning little scent bottle was probably made around 1760 and said it was possibly the work of famous engraver and porcelain decorator James Giles, who was ‘absolutely top of the tree.’ It is always interesting to look at the faces of the people when they’re told how much the piece is worth, and we’re wondering if it crossed the mother’s mind she might like to reclaim the perfume bottle gift she so generously passed on to her daughter… We won’t spoil the show by saying how much it could sell for, here, but suffice to say Father Christmas was VERY generous that year. The daughter, it turns out, has ‘a number of scent bottles’ on display in her home, and this one will be kept in the centre ‘as the pièce de résistance!’
And if you’re after even more fragrance talk filling the airwaves, have a look at some of the Perfume Themed Podcasts we rounded up recently. Perfume in popular culture: a fragrant renaissance, do we dare hope…?
We’ve been waiting for Wednesday for ages – Wednesday Addams, that is – and now the Netflix show has proved to be even better than the anticipation and trailers had promised, topping the prime spots for streaming around the world!
So, because I believe fragrance to be an art form as deserving of cultural comparisons as any other (indeed, ideally suited to character explorations); of course I immediately set about pairing some of the main characters to perfumes they might match with.
It truly gladdens my ex-goth heart to see the original Addams Family cartoons (and previous adaptations) honoured in such a way. First published in 1938, Charles Addams work was regularly featured in The New Yorker, and he went on to draw over 1,300 cartoons during his career. In 1964 the first TV show starring the delightfully ghoulish family aired in America, with a series of successful films starting in 1991, and an animated movie premiering in 2019 (with a sequel expected in 2023).
Netflix’s Wednesday differs from the others in the genre because they allow Wednesday to grow up. We’re used to seeing the character as a little girl – albeit a scarily sarcastic, spookily adept and sword-fighting child – but here, she’s a fifteen-year old begrudgingly starting a new boarding school, and very much the central character rather than a cutesy little smart-ass sidekick. The students of Nevermore mostly fall into four categories:‘Fangs (vampires), Furs, (werewolves), Scales (sirens) and Stoners (gorgons)’ as Enid succinctly describes them while showing Wednesday around on her first day. Wednesday doesn’t really fit any of these groups, and is glad of it.
For those who already love the show, I hope this will tempt you to try some scents you may never have heard of; for those who don’t know the series or, perhaps care (quelle horreur!) about the characters, let this be your guide to peruse some fragrances that may be out of your comfort zone, but are frighteningly good anyway…
Wednesday Addams (Jenna Ortega) – Zoologist Bat
Startlingly intelligent and a loner by heart, she’d really like to be left alone to write her novel or work on her ghoulish inventions. Difficult when there’s a monstrous murder spree to investigate, and even more challenging when the scariest things of all she must face are socialising with other teens, and dealing with her feelings.
This is the perfect perfume for Wednesday because not only would she delight in telling people what she was wearing, it has an enigmatic sparkle to the darkness it evokes. Shadowy vetiver smears velvet skies, a ripple of piquant exotic fruits surprising the damp earthiness, drifts of incense curling through glimmering jasmine and mossy forest floors to the pitch black leather base.
The epitome of va-va-voom goth glamour, withering put-downs (delivered with a disarming smile) and loyal to a fault, her overt passion for her partner causes the kids many cringe-y moments, but she always puts family first. While at Nevermore, Morticia was Queen of the social scene (quite the opposite of Wednesday) but during her time there, perhaps she harboured sinister secrets of her own?
Did you know cyanide smells like almond? Cleverly cloaked in clouds of apricot, luscious plum and waxy white flowers, narcotic tendencies are softly smothered by creamy sandalwood and a fluffy base flecked with wildly addictive vanilla. Revisit this, and I defy you not to spend the entire day being enraptured by your own smell, and capturing the hearts of everyone who encounters you, darrrrling.
Gomez Addams (Luis Guzmán) – Eight & Bob Nuit de Megève
Always dapper, ever-stylish and cheekily charming, the exuberant Patriarch of the Addams clan met his beloved Morticia in their Nevermore Academy days. Their ardour still burns bright, and there’s no doubting his love for his family; but darker secrets will always out, and a disturbing discovery casts doubts. Could Gomez be hiding a dubious past behind his playful present self…?
Resonating with a smoky grandeur of days gone by, this is a fragrance that simmers with passion and exudes the kind of charm to fall instantly in love with. One to be worn while waltzing scandalously as vetiver, tobacco and coffee are shot through with grapefruit zest and the bitterness of petit grain. Pop the corks and pull out all stops, it’s party-central and non-stop fun with this fragrance!
Enid Sinclair (Emma Myers) – Contradictions in ILK Sincere
Colourful, friendly, optimistic and bubbling over with school spirit, Enid is the rainbow to Wednesday’s storm cloud. Romantic, rather too trusting, Enid is the friend we all need to to stand by us, even when we’re grouchy. But don’t underestimate her cheerful joie de vivre for weakness; she’sa werewolf after all, so she has a force of spirit that, when pushed, means the claws will come out.
Sincere is the scent to wear when you need a reassuring hug. It wraps you in a fuzzy nuzzle of peach and swathes with a fluffy blanket of iris and ambrette seed. Ylang ylang grants an instant hit of happiness, while creamy coconut and white musk softly cosset. This house suggest layering scents to reveal the true you. Might I suggest Enid reaches for their ‘Devious‘ for feeding the wolf within?
Larissa Weems (Gwendoline Christie) – Robert Piguet Fracas
Forced to confront her past failures via the offspring of her most deadly nemesis, Larissa’s cool, calm icy exterior is truly put to the test when Wednesday appears and causes havoc. The backbone of the school, her position of Principal has been hard-earned, and Larissa relishes the respect all the more for having been overlooked all her life. The centre of attention, now, she’s not letting go without a fight.
For Christie’s portrayal of Lucifer in my Scenting The Sandman feature I chose another Piguet perfume, but here, she is pure Fracas. A scene-stealing, room-filling fragrance which can never be ignored, Fracas glistens like an eerily perfect spear of tuberose captured in a block of ice. Exuding the carnality of a steel-boned white silk gown, only those latently aware of their own magnificence dare wear it.
Thing (Victor Dorobantu) – Juliette Has a Gun NOT a Hand Cream
A ‘hand-servant’ whose lineage apparently dates back several generations for their family serving the Addams Family (nope, I’ve no idea either, let’s go with it), Thing comes in very handy (sorry) as a spy for Wednesday. Communicating by tapping, pointing and typing, don’t let appearances deceive: Wednesday reveals early on that Thing is incredibly vain and has a penchant for perfumed hand lotions.
This niche French brand love cheekily playing with expectations, and this hand cream matches the ‘NOT a Perfume’ – so named because it contains the single synthetic aroma molecule of Cetalox. Often used in the base of a scent to add longevity and a clean but musky warmth, it lingers for ages on skin, is allergen-free and so hands feel luxuriously pampered while being beautifully perfumed.
One of the ‘Normies’ (people without special powers) who live in town, Tyler nonetheless makes a magic brew. Working as a barista in the local coffee bar, he meets Wednesday and becomes utterly intrigued by her. As the sheriff’s son, he has access to criminal case files, which proves more useful (and unsettling) on more than one occasion. And he’s yet another harbouring deep secrets of his own…
Reminiscent of that bewitching allure that fills a cosy coffee shop on a dull day, it’s all lemon-washed steamy windows, a bitter richness balanced by the intriguingly cool and aromatic spice of cardamom. Meanwhile, the inkiness of newsprint thrums in the beautifully grounded base, a dark swathe hinting at deep-seated feelings that cannot be contained. Inspired by addictions, marvellously more-ish.
While she may seem like the stereotypical ‘mean girl’ of the school when we first meet her, Bianca’s been through some stuff which, while it doesn’t forgive her hostility toward Wednesday, at least explains it. As a siren, Bianca has the power to persuade people with her words (and must wear an amulet at all times to weaken this ability), though tends to bury her struggles beneath barbed observations.
This fragrance was specially developed by neuroscientists in collaboration with the perfumer Aurelian Guichard, an addictive duo of what is often found to be the most universally adored note of vanilla is used in both absolute and C02 extracted form. Rippled with rum and golden rivulets of resinous olibanum and Haitian vetiver, it’s one you’ll come back to time and again – once sniffed, never forgotten.
A ‘psychic painter’ who can make his drawings come to life, Xavier’s an irritation for Wednesday when she first meets him, though the feeling isn’t mutual. The ex paramour of Bianca, he’s a bit of an enigma, but whatever his motives (and his many secrets) there’s no doubting those feelings cause him heartache. Intrigued with Xavier despite herself, of course Wednesday would be drawn to mysteries.
Championing the concept of fragrance as an art form, D’Otto bring famous paintings to life through their compositions, this one echoing Kazimir Severinovič Malevič’s revolutionary Black Square via the simmering warmth of black pepper and carnation, red sandalwood and Bulgarian rose plunging to the plush, velvety darkness draped with Indian oudh and a sweetness that cuts through the shadows.
Oh poor Eugene – he’s a trier. Hopelessly in love with Enid, he consistently fails to catch her eye, but never stops hoping, bless his heart. Although he’s far more comfortable tending to his bees, Eugene’s quest for adventure comes to the fore as his friendship with Wednesday builds, to the point he’s determined to prove himself no matter what. If only he knew it, he’s incredibly loveable already.
A really good introduction to how oudh can be used almost as a seasoning instead of the main flavour – here, it darkens the sweetness to add great depth, such as can be found the wild honey gathered from forest bees who’ve also feasted on whole meadows. Amidst the deliciousness, incense smoke drifts dreamily. Completely cuddly, warm and welcoming, it’s the sort of sweetness Enid deserves.
Ajax Petropolis (Georgie Farmer) – Comme des Garçons Concrete
Being one of the ‘stoners’ isn’t quite the usual connotation for this student, as Ajax is a gorgon who can turn people to stone with a glance. Rather embarrassingly, that includes himself on occasion, which doesn’t exactly help his romantic chances with Enid. Sweetly insecure but desperately wanting to be braver, when he ventures outside of his comfort zone it doesn’t always go to plan.
An olfactory ode to ‘a versatile material [in] unpredictable form’, this surprisingly approachable fragrance fuses a mineral-like waft of chalkiness to the rich, soothingly creamy essence of sandalwood and the most transparent rose, created by synthetic rose oxide – a molecule that turns the flower on its head and adds acres of luminescent lightness, a breath of fresh air. Time to get stoned!
Stranger Things is one of the most successful shows of all time, certainly the most talked about and trending on Netflix right now. With the release of Season Four, we’re propelled back in to the strange(r) world of Hawkins Indiana, where once again, everything is most certainly not as it seems.
Inspired by classic 1980s teen horror movies such as Nightmare on Elm Street, with elements of The Goonies and the Alien franchise sprinkled around and about (and Upside Down); its mixture of nail-biting drama, truly terrifying moments and superbly nuanced (often laugh out loud funny, amidst the horror) script is part of the recipe for Stranger Things continuing success. But as with any long-running drama, it all hinges on the incredible cast. Of course, we couldn’t resist the opportunity for an olfactory pairing, so settle down for your EPIC, scenting of Stranger Things Season Four, where we match some of our favourite characters to fragrances we feel would most suit (or even help) them through this season’s tumultuous storyline…
Warning: Though we’ve tried to keep this spoiler-free for season 4, there are references made to previous seasons’ storylines, so proceed with caution if you’re a complete Stranger Things newbie who’s only just begun your journey!
Fiercely loyal, hugely resilient, Joyce has had to fight for her children, her independence and even simply to be believed, more times than most could stand. Having already battled supernatural beings, her sheer force of character is called on in far chillier climes this season, and so her scent must radiate the warmth of her soul while serving as a shield against those who seek to harm her (and the loved ones she continues to fight for). Here, juicy ginger and black pepper add to the spicy zing while powdery orris cushions the decadently wormwood-rippled base (perfect for those who’ve fearlessly faced darkness in their lives). Cedar adds a calming note of contemplation while limette thrums with woody oudh and patchouli, but the Calabrian citrus also reminds us of holidays – and gawd knows, Joyce deserves one (with business class plane tickets this time, please, luxury all the way).
Murray Bauman (Brett Gelman) – Hai Karate£9.99 for 100ml Cologne
A former investigative journalist who first appeared in the season 2, Murray goes on to display a range of rather unexpected skills in this season, where he’s paired with Joyce on their own deadly mission. Sarcastic, seemingly shambolic and yet surprisingly heroic in turn, we feel only Murray could pull off this (always very tongue-in-cheek) Cologne. First released in 1967 with the tagline ‘be careful how you use it’, Hai Karate remained a popular choice right through the 1980s, known for their (intentionally?) hilarious (now rather dated) TV ads. But Murray doesn’t care about appearances, and there’s something about the classic, retro barbershop freshness that’s actually rather comforting to smell.
Jim Hopper (David Harbour) – AKRO Smokefrom £70 for 30ml eau de parfum
Now Hopper has been through a lot already, and his troubles only increase this season. Former Hawkins Chief of Police, protective father-figure to El and revered by fans as a supposedly ‘unlikely’ sex symbol for the first seasons, we’re sure he’s swaying those who hadn’t already swooned. ‘Bottled without restraint or moderation, a concentration of excess,’ the AKRO collection are inspired by guilty secrets and addictions – and we certainly can’t get enough of this fragrance, or Hopper, come to that. Given his clever use of fire in one particularly nail-biting scene, and the fact that he really deserves a quick drag (OK, we obviously don’t approve of smoking, but the man needs a cigarette break!) the deliciously resinous drift of tobacco smokiness in this scent would surely appeal…
We know what you’re thinking. You’re assuming this fragrance was just chosen for the name, right? Wrong. Well, OK, partly it was, but mostly we selected this scent for its soothing nature (which El certainly needs this season, more than ever, as she struggles to tap into her true powers while solving the mysteries of her past), and even for the meaning of the number itself. In numerology, so the house tell us, ‘the number 11 represents two pillars, a gateway, representing awareness and consciousness.’ Inspired by ingredients that help balance the soul, the head-clearing woody greeness of geranium boosts strengthening rose, while earthy patchouli and a warm amber provide a comfort blanket of softness. Encouraging the wearer to ‘stop, take a deep breath, stay positive and consciously focus on balancing themselves,’ it also ‘awakens the senses, ignites intuition and makes the wearer truly unforgettable.’ Just like El, herself.
Seen as a ‘nerd’ in the first season, Dustin more than proved the strength of his friendship, even though he regularly feels a bit isolated and left out of some social groupings. Quick-witted and gregarious, he’s often the only one who sees things as they really are, though perhaps we’ll pass over his pet ‘slug’, Dart, in season 2, actually being a juvenile demogorgon. Oops. Never mind, none of us can be perfect, huh? In a somewhat tempestuous long-distance relationship with computer genius Suzie (see below), Dustin is driven by a quest for adventure. Inspired by ‘Demigods, explorers and those that remain unknown,’ this fragrance fizzes with a Champagne-like exuberance then surrounds you in spicy, almost curried cosiness. New heroes are born every day, say the brand, and ‘There is an element, an event, a circumstance, or maybe just a quirk in their personalities that changes them, empowers them, enables them to transcend the ordinary.’ Dustin, you’re our hero!
An aspiring journalist known as a bit of a ‘princess’ in the first season, her main concern, then, was merely trying to divide her time between her boyfriend, Steve, and her best friend, Barbara (oh, poor Barb!) When all hell (literally) broke loose, Nancy stepped up to become an integral member of ‘The Party’ of friends who try to save the world. Nancy’s cleverness at piecing clues together also earned her the nickname of ‘Nancy Drew’, and she’s desperately trying to focus on those clues this season, rather than the continuing confusion of her love life. With her love of books, we think this library-centric scent will appeal to Nancy’s nose for extensive research. It’s all waxed wood and leather-bound tomes with a twist of pepper adding spice to the pencil shavings of cedar, a sweetly dry rustle of vellum adding further intrigue as we finally get to the base of it all.
Known (and lovingly mocked for) his obsessively-tended and oft-touselled head of hair, Steve had a more supporting role as Nancy’s cooler-than-thou boyfriend in the first season, before dropping most of his foolish ways and being propelled to main (mane?) cast status. Forming an unlikely, though charmingly fraternal, sparky friendship with Dustin, their duologues make for many of the season’s funniest moments. He was a bit of an asshole, but he’s fully blossomed, so we think Steve would very much appreciate and now truly desrves the sexy scent of Halfeti that’s been imbued with protective and hair-shining properties in the hair mist. Worn alone in hot weather or layered with the fragrance for an even longer-lasting waft of woody sensuousness, the masucline rose even has smooth leather notes to remind him of his favouite jacket.
Working with Steve at a new job in Hawkins premiere video rental store, her no-bullsh*t approach comes in handy for day-to-day wise-cracking at work, and quickly becomes her scene-stealing modus operandi as the story continues. Robin is funny but seriously intelligent, her quick-thinking and bravado vital to the gang throughout the season, and she provides a balance to the darkest moments. Her sharp contrast to Nancy’s character means their friendship is often spiky, but quite apart from being independently brilliant, she’s also an amazing team player when needs be. With a similarly down-to-earth approach, this travels from the cold of night to day break’s warmth via yuzu citrus, the clarity of cedar and incense on a sea breeze. Providing clarity of mind and feeling spirit-cleansing to wear, it’s the one to turn to when times are hardest.
Lucas begins by being torn between two rival sets of friends. A difficult circumstance for any young person, it’s made all the more horrific when lives (and tender feelings) are on the line. Mixed Emotions has been created, so we’re told, ‘to reflect the tumultuous nature of our times’. Yet the fragrance itself seems to offer something of a welcome antidote to that: a beautiful, cool blend of maté tea, sharply sweet blackcurrant, reviving Ceylon black tea, violet leaves, all strongly tethered by papyrus and birch wood. ‘A refreshing reminder that it is OK to not be OK – and that from unsettling experiences, a new reality might emerge,’ conclude BYREDO. Here’s hoping Lucas emerges with a renewed sense of who his truest friends really are, and that it’s alright to be ostracised if those people alienating you are all assholes. When Lucas taps into his emotional depths he’s remarkably resilient, and this scent really encourages the spirit of ‘you do you.’
Having captured the game-playing jealousy, then potential love-interest of fellow arcade game players Dustin and Lucas in season 2, the Californian skateboarding cool reserve of Max could be read as snootiness, but in fact is down to her horrific home life (thanks mainly to step-brother, Billy, and her innate social anxiety). Having become a close friend of Eleven’s, despite their initial shakiness, her on-and-off again relationship with Lucas provides another emotionally-challenging storyline – as though these young people aren’t under enough stress right now. Though she might feel a special connection with another of the scents on this list (we can’t tell you why without spoilering!) we think she’d find solace and extra courage in the universality, yet deeply personal connections of this one. Creamy, cocooning, the softness of ambrette seed, orris and magnilia swirl protectively around you, a second skin that can be layered to magnify another scent or worn alone to ‘create the absolute essence of you.’
Leader of the Stranger Things Hellfire Club, the Dungeon & Dragons and Metal music-obsessed Eddie has become an instant fan favourite – his ‘bad guy’ stereotype soon punctured by his sweetness of character and his obvious (to his friends) sensitive side. Sadly, not everyone sees him this way, and it’s not long before he needs all the help he can get. Apart from the fact this fragrance name sounds like a song from one of his favorite bands, it features a host of potentially spooky notes. The headiness of lily has been associated with spiritualism and the afterlife since Victorian times, here smouldering alongside the billowing yet sheer smokiness of incense and an intensely comforting woody muskiness that seems to offer hope even when everything around you is on fire. Despite the ‘scary’ name, it’s a bit of a pussycat at heart this one, a place of sanctuary amidst charred wooden pews and dusty books, something that brings solace whenever you spray it. So, Eddie’s gonna need backup bottles.
Your friendly local pizza and weed delivery guy, Argyle would doubtless rather be thinking up new toppings while taking another toke, but his hippy-dippy lifestyle comes abruptly to an end when he gets involved in the horrifying Hawkins shenanigans. So, we suggest this bohemian yet beautiful balance of rich, spicy and herbaceous notes. A surprisingly floral heart of muguet and magnolia has the laid-back chill of a lazy afternoon, but the base is what really steals the show: a combination of cedar wood, patchouli and sandalwood comes together to recreate this green, hempy, smoky haze of scent. It’s dark, green, rich and altogether very moreish. As with all cannabis fragrances, this is free of THC (the ingredient that causes a ‘high’) so Argyle isn’t going to be swapping this for his usual herbal preferences… but we suggest he might like to try smelling of something altogether lovelier. The dry down is fantastically earthy with cedarwood, patchouli and sandalwood creating a peaceful vibe we reckon he could probably do with after all the excitement.
With an ultra-dry sense of humour, Suzie is a mathematical computer genius who used her hacking skills to full effect in season 3 (despite having been kind of ghosted by her beloved ‘Dusty Bun’ Dustin: “Okay, let me just be clear on this. I haven’t heard from you in a week, and now you want a mathematical equation so you can… save the world?“) Called on once again for season 4, we feel she’d get on board with this collection by Perfumer Geza Schoen – dedicated to women with extraordinary talents. This first fragrance was inspired and co-created by memory genius Christiane Stenger, a vibrant blend of magnolia bud, citrus and Schinus molle (pink pepper) with luminous florals emboldened by exotic tiara absolute on a strong, woody base. Proudly get your geek on!
Okay, we know Kate isn’t a character in season 4 per se, but as you’ll have doubtlessly seen reported, like, everywhere; Kate’s song Running Up That Hill features prominently – not merely part of the (always excellent) soundtrack, but in the culmination of a particularly important episode that proves something of a breakthrough in the supernatural plot. With her strongly independent and mysterious allure reignited for a new generation, we feel a perfect perfume match for Kate would be this groundbreaking scent, launched in 1971, the world’s first ‘aromatherapy’ fine fragrance; a classic chypre style that’s cool, grounding, rested on seductive, patchouli-rich base that fuses vetiver and amber which steadies us in a frenzied world, and is slightly weird in the best way.
Is your favourite character missing from this list? Well, before you get stroppy, can we just say it is an extensive cast, and we’ve tried to focus on some of the newer characters (or those with especially important story development roles) this season. But look, we know how frustrating it can be, so if you’ve a strong feeling for a particular character – perhaps have already imagined the fragrance you’d pair with them – do let us know! In the meantime, sit back and think how you’d scent your Stranger Things streaming.
For those of you missing Bridgerton and already wishing a new series would be delivered faster than one of Lady Whistledown‘s infamous newsletters, we present to you a themed scenting of some of the major characters in season two of Netflix’s smash-hit show. And if you’ve not yet succumbed, fear not, dear readers – it’s all scents and NO spoilers at Perfume Society Towers. So, pull on your best gloves (fragranced, of course) and get out your feathered fans for an aristocratic olfactory romp…
Simone Ashley as Kate Sharma
Fesity and fabulous, Kate’s main motivation is the happiness of her younger sister, Edwina, and she doesn’t suffer fools gladly (Anthony Bridgerton very much included). Clever, witty, often hot-headed and a brilliant horsewoman who does things her own way, we feel she’d love the simmering sensuality of Bascule. Succulent peach juice sizzles on hot leather, tobacco frottages smouldering hay while a hint of saddle-soap, lily of the valley and cut grass beckon a bath (following a torrid tumble, or a quick gallop in the park, perhaps?)
Utterly charming, Edwina’s often underestimated because of her kind nature. Enthralled by society’s welcome, and in thrall to her much-loved older sister’s wishes, there could be no better match than Delina. A sparkling rose leads the dance – swiftly followed by delicate facets of lily of the valley and peony. Lychee, rhubarb and bergamot beckon a hint of nutmeg swirled in vanilla, twirling through gauzy white musk and cashmeran. An invitation to follow your true heart…
Lady Danbury is highly respected wherever she goes, holding many of society’s secrets and always a trusted confidante. Stopping people in their tracks for decades, now, the opulent rosiness of Portrait of a Lady is shot through by piquant berries, rich sandalwood woven with resinous ripples of patchouli musk, amber and benzoin. Equally unmistakeable and unforgettable, this lady is gloriously unique, powerfully projecting and with an enormous heart.
Queen consort and wife of King George III, Queen Charlotte is always dignified, commanding respect and great loyalty in her subjects, but that’s not to say she doesn’t hold some secrets of her own (soon to be revealed in a spin-off series!) Deserving of a truly regal fragrance, the always-poised elegance of 1872 Feminine is beautifully balanced with crisp citrus atop the intense bouquet of rose de Maï, (often called the ‘Queen of flowers’) and a reassuring woody base.
Refined and warm-hearted, the Dowager Viscountess is the calmly assured matriarch of the Bridgerton family trying to keep their social standing and her children in check; and with eight head-strong offspring she certainly has her work cut out for her. We believe she’d find great comfort in the classic beauty of April Violets – a luminescent abundance of dewy violet leaves rose petals with delicate white peach, all becommingly dusted with orris and honeyed, luminous mimosa.
Burdened by grief, and his well-meaning but misguided attempts to assume the mantle of patriarchal perfection; Anthony obstinately careers between his true (passionate) nature and what high society expects. As the heart of the family tree, we think he’d benefit from the grounding nature of Quercus (Latin for oak), a true classic with a vibrant zing of lemon and basil Cologne freshness, with a warmer, woody and soft moss-swathed base (once you get to know it).
Strongly self-willed, unpredictable and often unruly, Eloise very much does things her own way. Finding the false politeness of high society utterly vile (and most of its members utterly vapid) she’s happier reading a book than dancing, and discovers her voice through subversive feminist literature. Her perfect perfume is Not a Perfume – a scent made from a single ingredient: cetalox. Zero florals or flounce, think warm, clean woodiness, your skin but better.
Artistically spirited and with a yearning for something more meaningful than glamorous but vapid parties, Benedict is keen to give himself over to his bohemian soul. Endearingly sensitive, he would be well-suited to the expressive yet enigmatic This is Not a Blue Bottle 1.1 (inspired by the Magritte’s surrealist painting). Bubbling bitter orange gives way to a heart honey-drizzled geranium, resting on an hypnotic ambered-musk base that resonates with rich patchouli.
Following his heart rather than listening to sense, Colin often comes a cropper and ignores what’s under his nose. Recently returned from Greece, Anthem will remind Colin of his travels, hailing from a Greek fragrance house and inspired by the history and rich mythology of Ancient Greece. A gilded glow of saffron illuminated by zesty lemon feels like wearing sunshine, ylang ylang and rose a reminder of romantic idealism and a spicy silage to tingle temptations
Determined to make good for her family (and herself), Lady Portia bursts into a room with all eyes on her, and often dressed in eye-popping colours. Sopoudrage is a a magnetic and vibrant composition that often surprises – the seemingly classic combo of rose and iris are beautiful but chilled at times, their contrast walzing to a harmony of brightness, here, dusted with powder for a truly lasting finish that’s way ahead of its time and cannot be ignored.
Clever, curious and treadling lightly through society (always lingering on the edges of a room), Penelope seeks solace in her close friendship with Eloise (and her deep yearning for Colin) Bridgerton. Woody has the soft paperiness of parchment lingering in the background, a whisper of a scent, with a soft cashmere hug and delicious chocolate beckoning you closer; while smoked leather, vetiver and myrrh suggests deep secrets soon to be spilled…
Given the current state of the world, we thought we’d cheer ourselves up with a look back at some of the most hilarious vintage fragrance ads of yore.
Now that we’re firmly in the 20s, we’re feeling distinctly nostalgic for all things vintage anyway – but it’s easy to forget how drastically advertising styles change over the years. What once was ultra cool can turn to cringe in the blink of an eye. YouTube is the gift that keeps on giving, as far as viewing vintage adverts is concerned, and there’s a whole host of fragrance ads that range from the unintentionally hilarious to the downright dodgy. We’ve rounded up some more of our favourites to keep you smiling for the rest of the week…
There’s a distinctly Monty Python-esque feeling to this advert from 1969. At any moment, one expects a character to ask, ‘Alright, but apart from the sanitation, the medicine, education, wine, public order, irrigation, roads, the fresh-water system, and public health, what have the Romans ever done for us?’ To which, according to this advert, we can now add: Bacchus Cologne. He’s not the messiah, he’s a very smelly boy!
Lasers, leotards, smoke machines… could this be the dawn of the 1980s by any chance? This couldn’t be more thrillingly of its it time (1981 to be precise) if it tried, and we even have SCIENCE (along with some nifty robotic dance moves, which I’m pretty sure we’ll all be breaking out down the club this weekend) to back up their claims of ‘pheremones’ in every bottle of Jovan Andron, that are ‘guaranteed to attract.’ Attract what, we’re not quite sure. Stifled laughter?
We can imagine the storyboard the advertising team created before filming this advert for Hawk Cologne in 1981, showing a ‘man who reaches higher’ – embodying all the freedom and graceful power of a bird of prey as he effortlessly conquers the rock he’s climbing. Unfortunately, the images somehow don’t match the voiceover, because what we see is a rather gormless chap with a bowl haircut looking for all the world like he’d need nanny’s instructions to climb the stairs to bed. Ah well, it probably looked good on paper.
This woman is not on the verge of a complete breakdown, she’s just ‘a little bit Kiku.’ That’s all. It’s 1969 and she’s fine, okay? She’s just changing her mood every two seconds and wearing a salad bowl on her head. She’s NEVER BEEN BETTER, thank you. In fact, aren’t all women, ‘a little bit Kiku?’ Well perhaps, but in public we try to hide it. Now take that off your head, Sandra, and come with us. We’ve all been rather concerned about you…
It’s not merely the yellowish hue that makes this 1976 advert look like a cheese dream: we think the people behind this campaign had been at the last of the Camenbert. In an unfathomably long sequence, we see Charles Bronson gawping weirdly at a piano player, then burst through the doors of his own appartment and begin stripping as though he’s joined the Chippendales, all while smoking a pipe. The name of the fragrance? Mandom. Of course it is. Pass the Brie.
Richard E. Grant explores the world of Süskind’s Perfume novel in episode 2 of his new BBC series, Write Around the World, and we think you’ll be captivated by his so-evocative scent journey…
‘I’ve been led by nose all my life,’ says Richard. ‘When I was 12 years old I tried to make a perfume with gardenia and rose petals – to impress a girl I was madly in love with, called Betty Clapp. It took me 56 years to create my own professional perfume brand here in Grasse.’ He’s there for part of his wonderful new BBC series, Write Around the World, traversing those places that have inspired iconic writers through history – Grasse being the perfume capital of the world and the setting for one of Richard’s favourite books: ‘Patrick Süskind’s Perfume novel… the best description of scent I’ve ever come across, and reading it is almost a physical experience.’
The BBC say: ‘Book and travel lover Richard E Grant journeys to southern France, visiting the Cévennes mountains, Marseille, Juan-les-Pins on the French Riviera and Grasse in the hills north of Cannes, in the footsteps of writers inspired by the country, its culture and history.
Reading key passages from their books as he goes along, including works by Robert Louis Stevenson, Alexandre Dumas, F Scott Fitzgerald, Elizabeth David and Patrick Süskind, Richard not only learns about the lives of these great authors, but also experiences many of the places immortalised in the literary classics they created.’
Richard’s own fragrant journey led him to the brilliant perfumer Alienor Massenet. She garlanded his original idea (and favourite flower) of gardenia with marijuana (a nod to his film, Withnail and I), mandarin, vetiver and a plethora of spices, with a sophisticated, cologne-like zing of lime up top, capturing all Richard’s favourite smells in an intensely personal ‘signature’ scent. That fragrance is now immortalised as Jack – the first of the synonymous collection, and a scent which succeeded in winning the Fragrance Foundation Award for Best Independent Fragrance in 2015.
In the episode Richard wanders through Grasse with obvious delight, his nose veritably twitching as he sees (and smells) the places described in the novel, even having a fragrance created for him at the historic house of Galimard, which he names for Grenouille, the novel’s protagonist. Little wonder, given his scent obsession, that Richard went on to add three other fragrances to his collection, which you can explore in our page dedicated to the house of Jack.
‘Our sense of smell is the shortest synaptic leap in the brain to our memory,’ says Richard, ‘and every one of these ingredients is like a sensory trigger. I’ve aspired to create a fragrance that is as lickably moreish as it’s addictive.’
Retro fragrance ads have a certain nostaligic charm – we might remember them from our childhood – or occasionally downright hilarious (let’s just say that some age better than others…)
While some houses or perfumes slip through the mists of time and become names we forget altogether or perhaps spot at vintage fairs, others remain firm favourites and become scents that stood the test of time. Here’s a list of some of our favourites you can sit back and chuckle at if you will, or be propelled back into vivid scent memories via the magic of perfume’s ability to whisk us through time and space.
Prepare yourselves for moustaches, pot plants & lasers: oh my!
#moustachegoals for miles as our hero is seen splashing on Blue Statos Cologne one minute, and hurling himself into a hang-glider the next. We hope he waxed that ‘tache or he could give himself whiplash. And who’d have thought it? It turns out hang-gliding is the perfect sport to take up if you want to make eye-contact with female drivers – not something we’d have thought Health & Safety regs would approve of, but still. She can get a whiff of his Cologne even as he whisks through the air above her car (like a fragrant falcon), and they immediately decide to live together in a glorified wooden shack. We love happy endings.
Spying someone gorgeous at a party, trying to subtly flirt across a crowded room, has always been a situation fraught with danger. But it’s all going so well for this woman – she’s chic, fun and poised with dignity – until she applies Tigress, quick-changes into a catsuit, spends several minutes fighting her way through the potted plants and breathes on her ‘prey’ in a quite unpleasant and off-putting manner. And this is why we should all have that friend who says, ‘Yes, Susan. There is such a thing as “too many cocktails” and you’ve had them. I’m calling us a taxi.’
Shopping for men while picking up their vegetables for the week, two women perform an improptu musical outside a greengrocer’s, discussing what, exactly, constitutes ‘something about an Aqua Velva man.’ I’m not sure we ever quite get to the bottom of it, only that they must be ‘manly’ and ‘last all day’. With packaging that at first glance might be mistaken for men’s hair dye – or a devastatingly attractive fake Moustache In a Box – we can only guess how ‘fresh’ and/or ‘provocative’ the duo of fragrances actually smelled. Or perhaps it’s of secondary importance to the freshness of the veg?
On what looks to be the set of a 1960s Hammer Horror film, and wearing a nightdress that only adds to the impression, we are given life advice by a really quite terrifying woman who declares in a breathy, faintly sinister way, that her men must wear ‘English Leather, or nothing at all.’ We’d be straight on the phone to the police, to be honest, advising them to check under her patio for those who refused either option…
Lasers, leotards, smoke machines… could this be the dawn of the 1980s by any chance? This couldn’t be more thrillingly of its it time (1981 to be precise) if it tried, and we even have SCIENCE (along with some nifty robotic dance moves, which I’m pretty sure we’ll all be breaking out down the club this weekend) to back up their claims of ‘pheremones’ in every bottle of Jovan Andron, that are ‘guaranteed to attract.’ Attract what, we’re not quite sure. Stifled laughter?
In the mood for more retro fragrance vibes? Take a look at our feature in which we invited author Maggie Alderson to browse through the adverts of more recent years and see how men’s fragrance advertising has changed…