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The Fragrance Foundation UK

#ScentMemories

Mandy Aftel

My favourite scent memory is when I was a child, my mother kissing me good night before she went out with my father on Saturday evenings. A cloud of her signature Joy perfume enveloped me, along with the infinite softness of her mink. The heady, narcotic aroma of those flowers took me to exotic places in my imagination, far removed from our predictable suburban routines.

Celia Lyttelton

Sitting with Socotran fisherman smelling ambergris, (that they had found floating on the waves 35 years ago) smoking on embers of cinnabar wood. As the grains of ambergris fumes rose in a cobwebbed skein to the rafters where some young fisherman lay supine in hammocks the aroma had a velvety sea briny effervescent effect, evocative of seaweed-infused mint, liliaceous and redolent of a misty autumn morning , of truffles, mushrooms, moss and ferns.

Jeff Waters

The way a smell can trigger a memory, is still a wonderful mystery. It’s as if we have a tiny time machine back there waiting for the right fragrance to whisk us off to days long forgotten and certain perfumes, more than others, seem to punctuate our lives and make those recollections even fonder. The other day I saw a bottle of Estee Lauder’s Youth Dew which was my mother’s favourite. I picked it up. Same bottle, same colour, the little sash of gold around its waist tied into the same bow but the last time I had smelled it, even held it, was over 40 years ago so I expected some changes. I sprayed it into the air and indeed it was somehow sharper, a little processed, like a new cognac from an old barrel, but then a couple of minutes after it had settled something miraculous happened. The memories rushed in and within seconds  I was a 6-year old in pyjamas, in my childhood home being baby-sat by my grandmother as my mother and father went out for the evening. It was the scent of excitement, watching them go to their glamorous party whilst leaving that fragrance behind her in the room, hanging in the air and on me as she kissed me goodnight and vanished like something out of a fairy tale. Forty years turned into magical mist. Then I realized my favourite smell in the world is love and the people it reminds us of.

Susan Irvine

I always loved driving into Edinburgh and entering the city’s smellspace. It’s a grand, a rich and a swaggering smell, as distinctive as bagpipes. I would like to be a dog and roll in it. The smell comes from the city’s distilleries and breweries. At one time it was so strong that breathing as you came in from the west was like inhaling a malted liqueur through your nostrils. The aroma has lessened as distilleries have shut down decade by decade. Worse was the news that the last of them, the North British Grain Distillery, was planning anti-emissions towers to kill off the smell. The distilling of whisky is to Edinburgh what the distilling of rose de mai is to Grasse: an olfactory heritage to be treasured. Lang may it reek!

Tonya Kidd-Beggs

I am a fragrance designer and the Founder of a fragrance line called Stories by Eliza Grace. It all started because of my grandmother. She was an extraordinary business woman and broke a lot of glass ceilings for women in her time. Sadly, I never met her but I was told she always wore Chanel NO.5 and that smell is still what connects me to her today. Fragrance has always been a way for me to connect with who I am and what matters to me, it has always evoked memories for me. So that’s the reason I wanted to create fragrance, to give people the space to stop and connect with either their past, their present or even dream for their future.

Nancy Meiland

My earliest scent memories are the most powerful and visceral.  My mother’s skin in the sunshine, burying my nose in large heady blooms of rose in my Grandmother’s garden while running about barefoot.  My grandfather’s wax jacket coming in from the rain and damp, be-dewed forest floors. Also, the steamy, leather, lemony hay scent when a saddle is lifted off a horse and the sea – always the sea; briny, salt, seaweed, rich, earthy and full of mystery.

Tracey Chapman

As a teenager growing up my best friend’s mum was an Avon representative, she always used to give us samples and one of them was Sweet Honesty perfume.Last year I tried to source some of this perfume alas the only place I could find it was on eBay & then only in a 10ml bottle …However when I opened the tiny box it arrived in and sprayed some on my wrist I closed my eyes & I was a teenager once again. Every now & then I take out the little bottle , spray & the memories come flooding back. I am  one of a team of  Admiral Nurses offering emotional & psychological support to Carers looking after a loved one with Dementia  so I am very aware of the powerful memories that our sense of smell can evoke. We take for granted our sense of smell but when our memories fade our sense of smell can be the trigger to re-ignite those memories.

Craig Godsman

I love the smell of old smokey pipe tobacco and peaty scotch Whisky. It transports me back to my childhood where I would spend weekends in the Scottish countryside with my dear old Grandpa.

Robert Starling

I have a number of favourite scent memories. The smell of a fresh pot of Play-doh opening. Instant comfort! I had many happy moments making things out of Play-Doh – and that’s what led me on to making my own models. Have you ever seen those packets of model railway grass? And the bags with lichen and bark in? Those instantly take me back to long hours spent making things in our shed. One whiff and I’m there! It may be a cliché, but I can’t pass a rose bush without checking whether it has a scent. Early evening walks with the dog have us both stopping regularly! And finally – steam trains. I wouldn’t recommend inhaling too much, but I do love the smell of an old-school locomotive.

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