The first time I came across Panorama by Olfactive Studio, I found myself overwhelmed with emotion. This penetrating zesty fragrance had somehow managed to transport me back to my 30th birthday. A day I’d achieved my lifetime goal of trekking across the Inca Trail, in Peru.
As a child, I’d learnt about this mystical place that was Machu Picchu, and had always wanted to retrace the steps by explorer Hiram Bingham. Twenty years later, for my 30th celebrations, the 4 day trek across the Andes mountains turned out to be the toughest challenge I’d ever attempted. Blood, sweat and tears were shed at almost 14,000 feet. At one stage, I needed emergency oxygen to get over Dead Woman’s Pass. On the last day, and at the break of light, the mist lifted and we found ourselves at the summit looking down on this wondrous site. I remember the smell. It was of oxygen, of greenery, of a rebirth. It was both fresh yet damp, it smelled like the promise of a new day. At this point, my knees buckled. I fell to the ground and started weeping from the immense sense of accomplishment. So too did my mates, with whom I’d been travelling around South America with. This was followed by the rest of our trekking group. It became ridiculous, the sight of 17 adults, all bubbling like children, while our trek leader ran around handing out tissues. Months later reflecting on it, did I realise how this had been a symbolic moment. It was about realising how small we are in this world and how insignificant we are in history. I blamed the exhaustion, but I also knew the tears were about how I’d overcome pain and self doubt, how I was leaving my twenties behind, and how I would have to embrace every challenge, as an adult.
Incredibly, Panorama – a small understated bottle with a modest label, from an obscure niche brand – had somehow managed to trigger an emotion from a distant place. That’s the sheer power of scent, right there. Even today, when I feel uninspired, a simple spray of it does the job of reminding me that “I can do this”. Bravo Céline Verleure for creating this fragrance that is reflective yet reviving, nostalgic yet empowering.