Perfume in popular culture

Perfume in popular culture used be represented as something of a frippery, a subject to sneer at. Then there’s those endless pieces proclaiming that £4.99 ‘dupe’ bottles of scent are ‘exactly the same’ as classic fine fragrances (yeah, okay). 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 of the most-loved television shows we’ve all 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.

Here’s three of the major scent mentions we spotted most recently, with direct links to watch online…

 

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…

 

Grayson’s Art Club: Series 2, Episode 1: Family [Channel 4]
Rebelliously lovable artist Grayson Perry and Philippa (psychotherapist, author and his wife) invited members of the public to express their feelings in artworks for a physical exhibition to be held in Manchester Art Gallery. During the various stages of both major #lockdowns in the U.K. these programmes have been an absolute joy. Interestingly, the first episode of the latest season includes a significant scent-related piece. As Grayson scrolls through the submissions, he comes across a photograph of hand-labelled bottles. These turn out to be a collection of fragrances designed by the artist Suzanne Bull.

‘It’s a family collabroation,’ she explains to Grayson during a Zoom call. ‘I did a creative task to collect the smell of your favourite person. So I texted all my family, going “what’s your favourite smell? I’m doing an art thing.”‘ Grayson asks Suzanne ‘what really appeals to you about trying to evoke your family with smells?’ She replies that she’s not seen some of her family for more than a year, ‘…but it’s like they’re here with me in the room.’ Grayson seems struck by this concept and remarks ‘That’s such a brilliant idea because it brings home the physical experience, doesn’t it?’ Ironically, Suzanne can’t actually smell them at the moment as she had Covid, but it was clearly an important exercise for her – she still feels they evoke her family and loves keeping their smells nearby.

 

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…?

By Suzy Nightingale

Nose – the ‘smell good movie’ revealing the scent secrets of Dior perfumer, François Demachy

Nose is a more than a documentary following Dior perfumer François Demachy, it’s a paean to the raw ingredients of perfumery, and the hardworking people who grow and harvest the ingredients around the world.

Having first premiered at the 2020 Tribeca Film Festival, the film has just been released – watch the trailer, below, read our review and find out where you can watch…

 

 

Dior describe it as ‘A true “smell good movie” Nose sheds light on one of the most secret jobs in the world.’ And while we mostly remainly quarantined, what a wonderful way to travel by your nose it is.

‘Perfumes are a language everyone understands, but few people can speak’ Demachy explains as he sits in his office, filled with endless bottles and piles of books, later commenting that ‘For me, a perfume is a land of sharing.’ Fascinatingly, when asked what his first ever perfume was, he reveals ‘The first thing I did was a perfume intended to whet the appetites of bovine, so they would eat the fodder.’ Quite a leap to his life, now, and yet in this film we get to see how he works with the growers of the materials he so loves, eventually whetting all our appetites with their distilled passion.

In Sulawesi, Indonesia, Demachy travels for three days to visit the patchouli plantations, and says for him, it was the most rewarding part of filming Nose.

‘We took a small plane, then a four-wheel drive, followed by a hike through a few isolated villages in the middle of nowhere. That in itself was already an enjoyable adventure, but then there was this magnificent reward at the end, and I finally got to see my favorite ingredient in its natural environment, on these steep slopes… It’s quite moving to see this… This is where it all begins for perfumery.’ François Demachy remarks as he watches the freshly picked patchouli being washed (and having covered his arms in the fragrantly oily residue).

Fragrance writer Eddie Bulliqi makes an apperance at several points during the film, discussing the links between music and fragrance, and the creative process; but again, it’s the growers who are most celebrated in Nose, even more than the often romanticised life of a great perfumer.

From the idyllic fields of jasmine and rose in Grasse, we meet the women who own the land and discover exactly how hard it is to work those so-pretty fields. And we hear from Patrick Lillis, a ‘Celtic ambergris broker’ from County Clare, Ireland. As the wind and rain lash the shore, Patrick and his dog walk beside the broiling sea, and this gruff-voiced, sou’wester-wearing man waxes lyrical on the magic of ambergris in perfumery.

‘It’s a personal taste thing, you know?’ he says, while sniffing a white (and therefore older, stronger) lump of the precious material. ‘It’s quite a profound, animatic smell… Some people say it adds another dimension to perfumery, that a normal perfume is 2D and this is 3D. It’s the best natural fixative for perfume, and it’s oleophilic – it grabs hold of the oils. But it also does another thing which is a little bit magical: it transforms other fragrances.’

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…

Nose is now available to rent or buy on Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV and Google Play.

By Suzy Nightingale

Fragrant Film Club – scent-themed movies, documentaries and series streaming now…

We’ve scoured the internet for this Fragrant Film Club – a curation of some of our favourite perfume-themed movies, documentaries and TV series to watch right now.

So, if you’re about done with Christmas and need a way to fill the weird hinterland between festive or new year celebrations and the return to (whatever will be) ‘normality’ – here’s a scented selection box of fragrant treasures…

 

Perfume: Story of a Murderer Amazon Prime: rent for £3.49

‘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 premis of the novel, but in a modern-day setting: Perfume (series) Netflix

 

Scent of a Woman Netflix

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.

 

Love Blossoms free with Amazon Prime

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.

 

The Perfume of The Lady in Black free with Amazon Prime

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!

 

The Women (1939) Amazon Prime: rent for £3.49

‘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).

 

Emily in Paris (series) Netflix

Following a rather gauche… sorry. A ‘driven twenty-something American woman from Chicago, who moves to Paris for an unexpected job opportunity.’ Emily in Paris has seen equal parts love and hate in the many reviews that followed its release earlier this year. Whichever camp you fall in, it’s a lovesong to Paris and HOW we yearn to get that back there as soon as we’re able. And you know what? It’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.’

 

Birth of a Perfume (British Pathé, 1967) YouTube

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!

 

The Legend of Fragrance free with Amazon Prime

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?

 

Tee & Mo BBC iPlayer

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!)

 

At the time of writing, the new BBC drama series of The Black Narcissus have not yet aired, but you can watch them here when they do (starting Sunday, 27th December in the U.K. at 9pm, with the following two episodes airing in the same slot over the next two nights – Monday 28th and Tuesday 29th December 2020). Based on the aponymous Powell and Pressburger classic 1947 film, Black Narcissus, named after the iconic Caron fragrance and following the intense sensual awakening of a nun who dabbles with such vices as perfume and lipstick; this 2020 version stars the late Diana Rigg (in her last role) among an incredible cast; and promises to be an absolute must-watch.

Fancy even more fragrant viewing? A little while ago, I took a look at some vintage perfume adverts, in which a surprising number of movie stars made their televisual debuts. Or, for those seeking some scented chuckles, why not gawk at these hilarious retro men’s fragrance ads – featuring chaps being spoon-fed in restaurants, a hang-gliding man in danger of being whipped by his own moustache and an impromptu musical set outside a greengrocer’s. Ah, they don’t make ’em like that anymore.

We hope this Fragrant Film Club list provides a fragrant escape for those of you desperately searching for something new to watch – and a chance to re-watch some old faves for those of you who’ve already seen them. Whichever you choose, we suggest snuggling up, staying safe and perhaps locking the door for some blessed moments of me-time…

By Suzy Nightingale

 

 

Take your seat for the IFRA Fragrance Forum… MIND BLOWING lectures & a new book

The IFRA Fragrance Forum has been a source of awe-inspring intellectual discussion of, and future predictions for, our sense of smell – utterly fascinating lectures given by the world’s top scientists, perfumers and researchers in in the field of scent. Normally, you need to buy a ticket to attend, but this year (as with many events) it was held (albeit in a slightly truncated form) online.

You can watch the lectures here, for FREE – and get ready to have your mind BLOWN, as such scent luminaries as perfumer Christophe Laudamiel, Professors Barry Smith and Charles Spence and Claire Guest, CEO of Medical Detection Dogs talked about the new work they are doing with dogs sniffing out Covid-19.

IFRA – the International Fragrance Association – was set up in 1973, dedicated to showcasing perfumery and (crucially) agreeing on a set of international guidelines so that we are safe to wear scent all over over the world.

But IFRA does much more than advise on safety requirements. For several years, now, they have been hosting an annual Fragrance Forum, gathering a diverse range of speakers to focus ‘…on developments in olfaction in the widest possible way.’ Events we have widely reported on, and been so inspired by.

This year, the Forum incorportated IFRA’s book launch, which collates ‘The results of these fascinating talks from around fifty speakers’, and which have been have ‘now been brought together for the first time in a new book Olfaction: A Journey’’
IFRA told us that, ‘The book offers a reflective celebration of the Fragrance Forum and allows readers to dip into the ideas presented by past speakers, organised by theme and offering a fascinating journey through ten years of olfactory research.
The themes covered include psychology, health & well-being, design & creativity, arts & culture, technology & innovation and business insight. From the ability of someone to detect the smell of Parkinson’s disease to the possibilities of creating an artificial ‘nose’ through machine learning, IFRA UK has brought together thought leaders and key researchers spanning a breadth of different fields to share their ideas and findings.’
Lisa Hipgrave, Director of IFRA UK said: ‘This isn’t an inward look at the fragrance industry, in fact it is the very opposite. Over the last decade we have brought together such a powerful range of speakers on such wide-ranging topics we realised we were sitting on a really wonderful collection of stories. We were really keen to share these to shine a light on the work of the amazing speakers we have had over the years, from all walks of life.
‘Where else could you find out about historical perspectives, from the ancient Egyptians to new advances by Google Brain using machine learning? And personal stories about someone who could smell Parkinson’s disease to what the impact of living without the sense of smell really means? We hope that people will be as fascinated as we have been over the years by the impact that our sense of smell has in so many different facets of our lives.’
Editor of the book, Lizzie Ostrom, elucidated her involment in the project, explaining that: ‘It is evident from the collected stories in this book that our sense of smell impacts every area of our lives, from our health to our relationships. It’s a testament to the fragrance forum that concepts seeming esoteric ten years ago – like detecting disease through our noses – are now much more in the public consciousness. We’re excited to bring this leading research to readers in an accessible and compelling format.’

Included in the book are explanations of some of the most jaw-dropping moments we’ve experienced hearing the lectures first-hand….

Sniffing out Parkinson’s
Do people with Parkinson’s smell different? A pioneering team showcased their respective expertise to show how our sense of smell could enable early detection and treatment.
Living without smell
As many as 3-5% of the population have anosmia (no sense of smell), and up to one in five of us will experience some form of smell loss. What are the future prospects for treatment?
How to make a mosquito invisibility cloak
Mosquito-borne diseases affect more than half the world’s population. More than 2.5 billion people are at risk of contracting dengue fever, and there are at least 400,000 deaths each year from malaria. Understanding body odour might help tackle this threat.
The role of smell in consciousness
Is olfaction largely conscious and we just do not notice, or does it occur largely in the unconscious, modifying mood, helping us to recognise kin or choose a mate without us being aware it is happening?
Spices, balsams and the incense of temples
What was the prominence of fragrance in the elite culture of ancient Egypt? How could this most ephemeral of histories be captured to give modern audiences a glimpse of the ancient experience of scent?
Our evolutionary pharmacy
As a sensory function, olfaction probably predates all others, primarily helping us to identify food, danger, predators and prospective mates. 
‘Olfaction: A journey’ is available to purchase at for £29.95 plus postage by visiting: ifrauk.bigcartel.co
By Suzy Nightingale

Perfume War – watch this fascinating documentary…

The highly acclaimed, multi-award-winning documentary, Perfume War, asks the question: can perfume prevent war? One woman made it her mission to find out..

Perfume War is about two friends and their unstoppable fight for world peace. Captain Trevor Greene’s mission in Afghanistan ends violently with a Taliban axe in his head. Miraculously, he survives to see his best friend Barb Stegemann, a single mom, carry on his peace mission with a new strategy – perfume.

In an Art of War maneuver she takes what the enemy loves most, the poppy crop, by purchasing rose and orange blossom oils, which pay Afghan farmers twice the income over illegal poppy. Scientists marvel at Greene’s recovery as he rebuilds his brain, while Stegemann helps rebuild in Afghanistan and Rwanda.

Barb fights a retail war in stores while working to keep her company financially afloat. In a world that monetizes war, Barb needs a cavalry of business to take up her retail activist charge. A global beauty giant shows interest, but is her essential oil good enough? Will she run out of money? Will she win her perfume war?’

 

 

You can find out for yourself, as the full documentary film has now been made available to watch for FREE online!

Explaining why she wanted to make the film free free to watch during this period of #lockdown, Barb says ‘I was thinking about how I could send you all a gift. So here it is…’

Barb had previously used her go-getting attitude to build a socially-minded fragrance empire in the Canadian niche house of 7 Virtues, and it’s fitting the film of this incredible journey has now been made. She’d launched her brand after discovering an Afghan activist who was encouraging farmers to grow orange blossoms and roses, as an alternative to the poppy trade that was fuelling such unrest in the region.

Can perfume truly stop war? As Steggemann says, we spend a lot of money funding violence all over the world, so surely it’s worth trying to fund peace with perfume…?

By Suzy Nightingale

Anima Vinci perfume masterclass – live-streaming sniff-along

Anima Vinci, the niche house with perfumes that are ‘feel-good potions’ – are live-streaming perfume masterclasses online, for free! Read about how to join in and connect with your sense of smell…

What with staying home being the new going out, we’re loving the inventive and engaging ways fragrance houses are finding to bring the perfume community together – and these weekly sniff-along scent classes with Anima Vinci are just the ticket to learn something new while having fun.

Anima Vinci say: ‘Treat yourself with some time out of the daily confined routine and have fun with us discovering the world of perfume, the raw materials, the creative process and much more. The live event is open to all to follow but it’s much more fun with the @home kit!’

So, how does it work?

The live masterclass will last for approximately one hour, and while everyone is free to watch, of course it’s much more fun if you sniff-along for the session. They have made special Anima Vinci @home Masterclass Kits, £45 which you can purchase on their website, and which will contain ‘7 mystery raw materials to smell, an Anima vinci discovery set with 8 samples, perfume strips and a quiz card.’

If you want to jump straight into discovering their scents, however, without the raw materials and card – we are thrilled to stock the full Anima Vinci Discovery Set, £20 in our shop, for you to explore and fall in love with, whenever you wish.

If you already have a kit, or discovery set – or simply want to tune in to see what it’s all about, here’s the link you’ll need:

NEXT LIVE MASTER CLASS : THURSDAY 9th APRIL 2020 at 7pm (LONDON GMT) – don’t forget to head to the Anima Vinci Facebook page to take part! And check back on their website for news of the next masterclass

 

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

Perfume: watch the new Netflix series for fragrance-lovers to feast on

Like your perfume dark and mysterious? Well you’re certainly in for a treat…

We’re sure the majority of you will have read, or at least be aware of Patrick Süskind‘s novel,  Perfume: The Story of a Murderer, and will perhaps also have enjoyed the 2006 movie adaptation. Now Netflix are further indulging the senses of the scent-obsessed by exploring the story at greater length, in a new original drama series, simply called Perfume.

The spin they’ve added is a contemporary German setting, following the story of a group of six students who bond together in boarding school through their intense passion for scent. When one of the six is brutally murdered years later, disturbing secrets about the group are revealed as the police investigates each one as a scented suspect.

The cast includes August Diehl and Ken Duken who were both in Inglourious Basterds, Christian Friedel (The White Ribbon) and Wotan Wilke Mohring (Valkyrie), and the whole series is directed by international Emmy-award-winning Philipp Kadelbach.

With such a gloriously gruesome backstory and dark subject matter for exploration, it’s certainly not one to binge on for the faint of heart, but we have no doubt fragrance lovers will at least be interested to give it a go. Have a look at the trailer, below, and see what you think…

Suzy Nightingale