I have so many childhood memories of amazing smells as my Grandfather owned a florist and sweet shop next door to each other. Internally there was a linked door and I remember shifting between the sweet smell of Turkish Delight (and as of today it is still my favourite sweet to eat!) then the smell of the vivid pink roses in the florist. I am so excited for the next Parfums de Marly launch which mixes both floral and gourmand notes – watch this space!
I was a well behaved child, generally speaking, but at the age of two I had one day of behaving badly.
The coup de grâce on my trail of unexpectedly naughty acts (stepping into a bucket of soapy water in my socks and shoes, squirting orange squash over the breakfast table…) was to pick buds off our beautifully aromatic mock orange bush and shove them up my nose so I could carry the fragrance around with me. This still seems quite reasonable. I was hurled into the pram with my baby sister and pushed at a sprint to the doctor’s surgery.
Despite the indignity of having them picked out of my nose with tweezers, the fragrance of the mock orange remains one of my favourites.
Mine is probably quite a common one (for a child of the 70s in the U.K!) but I love tobacco accords largely because they evoke strong memories of being in my Grandparents’ front room, which was regularly filled with the aroma of Grandad’s pipe smoke. He would perform the intricate rituals that went with it, getting just the right amount of tobacco from the pouch and then packing it into the pipe. At that stage it had a damp, earthy smell and he performed a series of puffs to ignite it. Once lit, it would become a rich, reassuring, smoky fog – and I always imagine it in conjunction with the faint soundtrack of horse racing on the TV!
As always, there are wider associations than just the scent itself – it encompasses the man himself, fond memories of childhood , the excitement of seeing grandparents, the place he lived and a snapshot of that period in time – the music, the decor, Christmas as a young child – I could go on.
In terms of fragrances that conjure up this memory, I’m drawn to Cedarwood Heart from @ostens_official because of the subtle smoke accord. When I smell it on my shirt or jacket it instantly transports me to my Grandad’s front room and makes me feel warm – and a little reflective. That kind of happy/sad – you know?
I’m taken back to a place of safety and excitement through the early morning dewy grass. This time of year, when the night turns to morning, and the grass is still wet and cold, but the blue sky and sun in slowly warming up the earth and there’s a smell of sweet, green, freshness that’s heaven for me. Growing up in the countryside and never wearing shoes, feeling the grass between my toes and looking up at the sprouting green leaves and creating in deep earthy, fresh notes. Fragrances that embody nature, those are my scent memories.
‘I have hesitated answering this for a while as I do not know where to start. There is no one Scent Memory – my life has a play list of perfumes which, I now realise, follow olfactive themes, particular perfumer’s creations and fashionable blockbusters, each telling a story about a phase in my life. However there are two Scents which anchor all others. They are Femme de Rochas, its wonderfully voluptuous bottle sitting on my Mum’s dressing table as she gets ready for a night out in the early 70’s with all the intricate hairpieces and hairspray which that involved! The second scent is Three Nuns tobacco which instantly recalls my very contented father preparing and filling his pipe. Sadly the yellow tobacco stains on the ceiling became too much for my Mum and Dad’s pipe smoking days were over. I am sure Three Nuns would be his Scent Memory!’
‘There are so many! Growing up, we had lilac trees in our garden, and when they were in bloom, the scent was absolute heaven. In my early 20s, I have a vivid memory of a brilliant Sephora store associate recommending L’Eau Par Kenzo to me by saying, “It is life” – and he was correct, it smelled like youth and fresh possibility. Beautiful by Estée Lauder will always remind me of a warm hug from my beloved late grandmother. And every time I wear Gardenia by Chanel, I’m transported to Paris, where I first bought it.’
‘My earliest scent memory is the smell of hospitals and disinfectant; I had to be rushed to hospital for my appendicitis when I was 4 and this is my earliest memory. Surprisingly as I considered it a pleasant one, since then I find the smell of hospitals oddly satisfying. My childhood was also spent close to the sea so the smell of salt, sea and suntan lotion is embedded in my DNA and any fragrance inspired by these scents makes me happy. When I first arrived in London, it was a rainy December day and I was really impressed by how the air smelled different after it stopped. I love the smell of open green spaces and how all gardens bloom in spring. I learned to love roses very much in the last 8 years!’
‘My earliest and fondest scent memory is bergamot. I grew up in Haiti with bergamot trees near my bedroom window and could smell them at night. We also used the zest in porridges and after a long day of cooking in the kitchen to neutralize and perfume the room. Bergamot is often used in chypre fragrance formulations. J’adore!!’
‘Gardenias, they remind me of childhood summers spent in the heat. I recall staying in a house with a beautifully planted garden and running through it with my sister as it was so fragrant! We also seemed to spend a lot of time looking for lizards who generally raced away from us and any that didn’t we would just stare at. So, the smell of gardenias always makes me think of happy times’