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

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

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

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

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

By Suzy Nightingale

Happy hump day! Laugh along with these vintage fragrance ads

January may feel like a month of Mondays, especially with this awful weather, but we’ve made it to another hump day, fragrant friends! We’re celebrating with a look back at some of the most hilarious scent ads of yore.

Now that we’re in the 20s, we are feeling distinctly nostalgic for all things vintage – 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.

Written by Suzy Nightingale

Jo Malone London Gent film: first look…

Following on from their summer announcement of the first ever ‘Jo Malone London Gent’, Britain’s own movie star John Boyega, and from their intriguing teaser on Instagram, Jo Malone London just announced ‘…a very exciting Short Film launching with our Male Ambassador,’ which they finally unveiled at 1pm today, and you can see, below.

Simply entitled ‘A London Gent’, Jo Malone London say they sought to bring ‘the power of scent to life’ with the short film, featuring proudly London born-and-bred actor (and that brand-new brand ambassador who was carefully selected to be the aforementioned ‘Jo Malone London Gent’), the brilliant Boyega.

‘The story is a medley of real life, fond memories and the wildest of dreams,’ say Jo Malone London, (which perhaps explains the mix of bikes and Boyega astride a white stallion in the photo!) ‘all seen through the lens of his life and work. Shot close to John’s family home in Peckham, south London, the creative story has very real and relevant connections to his life…’

Starring John’s family and closest friends, and local talent hand-picked by him, it was filmed near John’s family home in Peckham, south London, and shows how ‘scent triggers powerful memories, the most potent of which always bring John home.’ And Jhn says that for him, ‘The story lies in the magic, the opportunity and the undeniable spirit found all over London. There is raw talent, energy and inspiration on every corner and it certainly affected me, my view of life and my approach to work. In London, anything is possible.’

We are loving fragrance houses who truly celebrate the individual characters and lives of their ambassadors, rather than simply replying on how great they look and calling them ‘faces’, don’t you?

For those of you wishing for smell-o-vision, meanwhile, you should grab yourselves some Bronze Wood & Leather Cologne Intense, which is one of Boyega’s scents of choice. Described as ‘Sultry leather encased in a medley of woods. At once smoky and warm, bronzed by the sun’s evening rays. Enlivened with vibrant juniper and fresh grapefruit. A mysterious twist of vetiver, left lingering in the air,’ – we feel that dousing yourself with a sultry spray while re-watching the film can only add to the sensorial thrills.

For research purposes. Yes.

Jo Malone London Bronze Wood & Leather Cologne Intense £78 for 50ml
Try it at jomalone.co.uk

Rain, rain… come to stay? Why we love that smell

Most of the U.K. seems to have spent the last few days with a deluge of rain, and while we cannot help but mourn the last days of summer, for many of us, that smell of rain is actually a reason to rejoice…

‘Petrichor’ is the technical name for that unmistakable (though so-difficult to describe) scent of imminent rain in the air, or the damp earth following a fresh downpour. The chemical reaction of plants, bacteria and soil all combine to create that experience that follows a thunderstorm, a phenomena first discovered by two Austrialian researchers in the 1960s, and published in a scientific paper called Nature of Argillaceous Odour.

For the less technically challenging explanation, we recently enjoyed watching Today I Read‘s lovely short film on their Facebook page, all about the smell of rain, but we’re so obsessed we couldn’t leave it there.

One of the books on our scented shelf is The Smell of Fresh Rain, by Barney Shaw. Going in search of the meanings of smells (and how they help shape our lives), author Barney Shaw went on a journey of exploration for this book celebrating ‘The unexpected pleasures of our most elusive sense.’ 

From describing petrichor to researching the scent of fresh paint, frying bacon and pondering the question of what three o’clock in the morning smells like, it’s a fascinating ride to be part of. And part of it you most definitely are, as merely reading this book expands your mind to the possibilities and scents you take forgranted every single day. We especially loved the observation that ‘Unlike sight, smell does not travel in straight lines, so it is valuable in environments when sight does not serve well…’

Indeed, as Helen Keller once said, smell truly is ‘the fallen angel of the senses.’ We may not use it to seek out a sabre-toothed tiger or find food anymore, but the ability is there, or emotional reactions are built-in, unbidden.

An excellent book for anyone interested in exploring their senses further (for flavour is so interconnected to smell, as we know, and addressed within the book); those who write about perfume or smell in any respect will be especially pleased by the chapter On the Tip of My Nose, which looks at the language of smell, and what we can do to improve our communication skills. Completely fascinating from start to fragrant finish!

Publisher: Icon Books

At Amazon

By Suzy Nightingale

Greece is the word: Diptyque’s mythologically inspired Eau de Minthé

Diptyque were inspired by an ancient Greek myth on the concept of metamorphosis for Eau de Minthé – a perfect starting point for this fragrant collaboration of the house’s director of marketing and product creation Myriam Badault alongside perfumer Fabrice Pellegrin, and a completely new twist on mint and the Fougère family.

Diptyque say the scent ‘…reinvents an emblematic perfumery accord, fougère, by drawing on the scent of mint. At the very heart of the composition, its aromatic freshness enhances the lively floral notes of geranium while the patchouli confers profound depth.’

In fact, completely forget everything you think you know about mint – we get the name from a Greek myth’s nymph – who Badault was inspired by, because ‘I like to tell stories and share my discoveries, mythology and ancient times are among our strong inspirations, and we found this very nice story about the nymph Minthé and her love affair with Hadès.’

Diptyque are known for their fabulously evocative visual style, often collaborating with artists to bring their fragrances alive, and for Eau de Minthé, Badult knew exactly who to choose. ‘I have a whole collection of comics based on myths,’ she explained, ‘the young author is Clotilde Bruneau. We asked her to write the storyboard of the film. It was a very enriching experience.’

Having watched the beautifully illustrated movie (above), we urge you to seek out this surprisingly complex take on mint, that we feel can be enjoyed whatever the weather. Herbaceously creamy swirls are stirred into the dappled shade of a traditional fougère structure and infused with a genderless, contemporary edge of thorny rose oxide. Cool as a long cold drink on a hot day, crisp as the first touch of frost on green leaves, the verdant notes swoon to skin-warmed whispers of soft muskiness that delight the whole day through.

Diptyque Eau de Minthé £120 for 75ml eau de parfum diptyqueparis.com

By Suzy Nightingale

 

 

CHANEL Chance gets Eau Tendre with eau de parfum

If anything can revive flagging spirits, it’s the sniff of a new CHANEL fragrance – this time the classic Chance fragrance getting reinvigorated with a new interpretation of Chance Eau Tendre in eau de parfum form.

One glimpse of the gloriously colourful advertising campaign, and we rather think you’ll be joining us in wanting to whirl around in a pretty sugared-almond coloured skirt, while performing joyful dance moves on a velvet chair! OK, given that it’s January and we’re all still easing our way back to reality, perhaps it’s better to enjoy watching it, below, instead…

So what can you expect from this new addition to CHANEL’s scented wardrobe? Well, each evocation of Chance takes on a special character of its own, while of course adhering to the spirit of the original. So, let’s think back to when Chance was first launched back in 2002 – the name, as always was no mere chance in itself: it was chosen because, as CHANEL remind us:

‘Chance is a way of being,’ said Gabrielle Chanel, who believed in her lucky star as much as she cultivated it. With confidence and determination, Mademoiselle seized this chance throughout her whole life. Attentive to all the signs that marked her path, a woman who loved chance encounters and the unexpected, she smiled at fortune and fortune smiled on her in return.

With four current versions of that original, it’s not simply about adding power to a perfume by increasing its strength, or adding freshness to what was already there – each transition marks a new fragrant chapter in the life of the fragrance.

CHANEL say: ‘With CHANCE EAU TENDRE Eau de Parfum, perfumer-creator Olivier Polge, in cooperation with the CHANEL Laboratory of Fragrance Creation and Development, reinterprets the floral-fruity signature. More intense, more enveloping, this version expresses a radiant and confident femininity. Its oral heart accentuates the fullness of exotic jasmine absolute, enriched with an essence of rose that shines a soft light at the center of the composition.

More feminine than ever, this oral equation is draped in just the right dose of smooth and creamy white musk notes to create a clean, cottony effect. Immediately illuminated by the tangy whirl of the grapefruit-quince accord, CHANCE EAU TENDRE Eau de Parfum brings a feeling of absolute tenderness. Delicate and profoundly poetic, this new composition evokes a woman whose joy and inner glow gives her instant charm.’

To visually express this new fragrant interpretation, the gold neck takes on a silvery hue for the eau de parfum, and in many ways, wearing it feels like a whole new fragrance. The notes are beautifully rounded, like layers of tulle or the petals of a flower, enveloping you in waves of deliciousness that seem to float around you in a fragrant cloud. A softly powdered elegance follows your every step, but that opening zing of the grapefuit and quince really adds energy and lifts the composition to above and beyond, and so it never feels heavy or too swaddling to wear all day.

Really, it’s just the thing for this time of year – characterful, of course, and with a depth that feels comforting, but with enough get up and go to shake you from the doldrums. So what are you waiting for? Let’s get those pastel skirts on* and twirl to our heart’s content!

*[Though we might be adding something longer that a crop-top, while it’s still a bit chilly…]

Written by Suzy Nightingale

Givaudan perfumer reaches for the stars

Givaudan perfumer Shyamala Maisondieu grew up wanting to be an astronomer, ‘…but in Malaysia, there are no astronomers!’ and so decided she wanted to travel, broaden her horizons and eventually became a perfumer. And there’s a link with the stars in more ways than one, for did you know that there are more people who have walked on the moon than there are master perfumers?

We loved watching this insightful interview with Shyamala, which we’ve shared with you, below, and especially hearing her views on niche versus mainstream (or what she calls ‘selective perfumes’), especially because she has worked extensively across both categories of fragrance, enjoying them in differing ways but finding ‘a symbiosis between them.’

‘I think perhaps travelling gives you different insight into differing people, different cultures, different backgrounds. And as perfumers, it’s imporant for us to understand the diversity of human beings!’

‘People are more in tune with themselves, and they need things that reflect them, and you cant make one type of perfume for so many different types of people.

It’s always such a pleasure to hear directly from perfumers themselves, on what drives and motivates them, what inspirations they bring to a fragrance brief – something we enjoy talking about in our series of Working Nose interviews (just search that phrase at the top of the page), and when asking noses about their Five Favourite Smells (which never fails to be an eye-opener!)

Watching this video and Shymala’s humble but obviously passion for her craft, it’s also encouraging to see diversity of gender and culture finally breaking through in the fragrance world. For, as Shymala puts it so well: we humans are a diverse bunch, so why shouldn’t our fragrances reflect this?

Written by Suzy Nightingale

 

We go behind the scenes with Acqua di Parma's heart-melting ad

Acqua di Parma have been serving us stylish Colognes since 1916, their heritage leading us to beautiful city of Parma – famous for its violets, and strong cultural traditions. With their original Colonia, Acqua di Parma offer something crisp, subtle, utterly refreshing elegance – the sense of Italian style, bottled. Refined and wearable, Colonia became an instant – and now timeless – classic.
The fragrance was worn by stylish men, movie stars and those who understood luxury. (And borrowed, we’re sure, by many of the women in their lives – just as today.) The chic hand-made Art Deco bottle and vibrant yellow hat box style packaging graced many a smart bathroom shelf – and by the 1960s, it was a ‘best-kept secret’ shared by those-in-the-know. Rich in Sicilian citrus (bergamot, lemon, bitter and sweet oranges), this sparkling creation unfolds to a heart of lavender and Bulgarian rose, on warm, woody base notes – a formula that’s never changed…
But now, there’s a new Cologne in town, with Acqua di Parma launching Colonia Pura – a contemporary and highly refined interpretation of the Italian classic. Fresher still, balancing delicacy and boldness, the top notes of spicy coriander harmonise with the classic citrus burst, while in the heart we encounter sambac jasmine and petit-grain with the startling sensuality of the ultra-green narcissus absolute. In the base, musk and patchouli sink into the soothing woodiness of cedar, and all things said, this has to be one of the sexiest just-out-the-shower, gorgeous-man’s-skin scents we’ve sniffed for quite some time…

As for the ad campaign  (see the video, above) – oh it’s just heart-meltingly lovely, and not only for the fact it stars model Will Chalker (whom we’d be happy to look at under any circumstances) but because his adorable family star alongside him. Shot by photographer Josh Olins, we’re loving this modern take on ‘masculinity’ focusing on a man’s contemporary life – and one that very much that includes the model’s wife, Chloe, and son, Arthur.

Will Chalker says: ‘I have known about Acqua di Parma for a long time, it’s a brand you kind of associate with Italy and the sun, elegance and style. It is one of my favourite campaigns, just because I get to shoot with my wife and son. It makes it feel more about us just having fun as a family and creating these little moments that, you know, we can capture in photos.’

Talking of capturing the mood, we were thrilled to get a sneak peek at what happened behind-the-scenes during the shoot, and share it with you, below…

A shot of sunshine and warm feelings is exactly what we need right now, seeing as autumn has arrived way before we were ready for it. Watching the campaign videos and spritzing Colonia Pura could be the only way we get through the grey-er months at TPS Towers, frankly. And yes, we’re ‘borrowing’ this, too. (He totally nicks our luxe beauty products, so share and share alike, right?)
Acqua di Parma Colonia Pura from £66 for 50ml eau de Cologne
Buy it at John Lewis
Written by Suzy Nightingale

Explore the stunning new scent & watch the gorgeous new film

Gucci have been blowing us away with their fabulously opulent catwalk collections, and now continue that trend with the launch of their sumptuous new scent, Gucci Bloom
The first fragrance developed under the complete control of Gucci’s Creative Director, Alessandro Michele, this is a lusciously modern white floral we couldn’t wait to get our noses on.
Alessandro Michele says: ‘I wanted a rich white floral fragrance, a courageous scent that transports you to a vast garden filled with many flowers and plants, a bouquet of abundance. The garden is as beautiful as women are; colourful, wild, diverse, where there is everything. Gucci Bloom smells of this garden in order to travel to a place that is not there.’
So what does it smell like? Well it’s gloriously soaring right from the first spritz, with the mysterious scent of the (exclusive to Gucci, as far as we know) note of Rangoon Creeper – a white flower that only opens at dusk, gradually transforming to pink and finally a deep, blood red. A sparkling bouquet of tuberose and juicy jasmine garland the fragrance throughout, before soft musk slowly rolls in to billow beguilingly…
Now, feast your eyes on the eye-poppingly gorgeous mini-film – and if the sun’s not shining where you are right now, we’re sure you’ll feel a virtual glow.

Gucci Bloom from £52 for 30ml eau de parfum
Buy it at Harrods
Written by Suzy Nightingale

Love to Smell review our Scent of a Man Discovery Box – so full they had to sniff it twice!

We already loved Love to Smell – the YouTube channel set up by fragrance experts and friends Pia Long and Nick Gilbert to make perfume reviews both fun and informative. But when they had to split their latest review – all about our Scent of a Man Discovery Box – into two parts because there’s so bloomin’ much in the box, we fell in love all over again…
You can watch the video yourselves, below, but we thought it worth a recap of some of the amazing things in store if you haven’t already explored. Firstly, let’s just accept that size sometimes matters and the Scent of a Man Discovery Box is a whopper, featuring 13 fragrances in all, plus luxurious grooming additions (worth £40.25 alone!). We think you might have to agree, it’s just the best gift for a male scent-lover, ever…
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So what’s in the box? *Deep breath* It’s quite a list…
Penhaligon’s No 33 eau de Cologne, 1.5ml eau de Cologne
Lalique Encre Noir à L’Extrême, 1.8ml eau de parfum
Paul Smith Essential, 1.2ml eau de toilette
• Carven L’Eau Intense, 1.2ml eau de toilette
Issey Miyake L’Eau d’Issey Pour Homme, 0.8ml eau de toilette
• Eight & Bob Original, 1.5ml eau de parfum
• Illuminum Piper Leather, 2ml eau de parfum
• Miller Harris Vetiver Insolent, 2ml eau de parfum
 Prada Luna Rossa Eau Sport, 1.5ml eau de toilette
• Yardley 1770, 1ml eau de toilette
• Beaufort London Coeur de Noir, 2ml eau de parfum
• Gruhme for Him, 5ml eau de toilette
• Montblanc Legend Spirit, 1.2ml eau de toilette
Elemis Ice Cool Foaming Shave Gel, 100ml
Penhaligon’s No 33 Beard Scrub, 5ml
Elemis Pro-Collagen Marine Cream for Men, 15ml
Phew. You can see why they couldn’t fit it all into one episode!
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Pia makes a really good point at the start of the video, saying if you’re a woman who happens to prefer fresh or less obviously ‘feminine’ fragrances, then you should also get the box for yourself. We happily wear several of the ‘male’ orientated scents in the box, but called it ‘Scent of a Man’ because this was the first ever perfume box curated for the chaps. In a world where everything can now be seen as ‘shared’ or ‘unisex’ we kind of wanted to point out this was created with them in mind (but nothing to stop us gals from helping ourselves, too!)
So if your appetite has been whetted you can watch part one of the video review below, and then pop here to buy the box – only £15 for VIP Subscribers or £19 otherwise.
Or, if you have the box already, why not join Nick and Pia in a sniffalong as you watch the video?

Written by Suzy Nightingale