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The Fragrance Foundation UK

#ScentMemories

Emily Chalmers – Global Associate Director at TALK PR

I’m lucky to be part of a very close, loving and supportive family – and many of my most treasured scent memories centre on this. My Dutch grandmother in particular has lived around the world and continues to be an inspiration to me today. She speaks eight different languages and raised four children across four continents – my father being one of them. She has the most incredible stories of her life in far-flung places, always infused with much excitement and a touch of old world glamour that only eras past can evoke. Her signature scent, “Rive Gauche” by YSL is extremely distinctive and she’s worn it for as long as I can remember. It’s the perfect balance of gentle florals and warm woody notes infused with a subtle sharpness that always has a comforting, calming yet motivational effect on me.

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Barry Wa

My mum died when I was only 2 years old. In my dad’s bedroom, on the dressing table, there was an empty perfume bottle that he never threw away, no label on it, cut glass, that had been used to decant perfume into. I always remember that when I was a kid, I was forever taking out the stopper and sniffing the bottle, I never knew what it was, but I knew it was my mum’s. When I got older and was truly interested in perfumes, I happened to try out Guerlain’s Shalimar, as soon I as I took a sniff, I started crying, because I realised that Shalimar was the perfume that the mum that I never knew wore, and was the scent of that empty scent bottle.

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Amanda O’Shaughnessy – Global senior Account Executive, TALK PR

My #ScentMemories favourite that comes to mind is Ralph Lauren Romance – my Mum’s fragrance when I was a teenager!
It’s the first perfume I ever borrowed from her and reminds me not only of summer nights and holidays with family, but also when I borrowed it, it made me feel “grown up” for the first time. The scent always makes me feel equally happy and nostalgic all at the same time! Fragrance started to become a big deal for me then – one of my fondest memories is shopping with my Mum, we’d always head to the fragrance hall first and spend ages trying them all.

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Leighton Denny MBE founder of Leighton Denny Light & Dark Fragrance Collection

When we’re asked about our scent memories we always go for the first smell that we remember or our first fragrance. I’ve said before that my answers would always be mandarin and Paco Rabannne XS, which was the first perfume that I ever bought, but another one of the scent memories that has been with me all of my life is leather.

Growing up in the eighties we all loved our leather jackets and I remember the smell that you used to get when you went into one of those stores. It was a rich, luxurious scent that just seemed to surround you. Throw in a suede coat and it felt like you were standing in the middle of a classic fragrance. I always used to remember back to that time whenever I smelled my rescue dog Rhino’s leather collar and lead. He was an absolute bundle of energy but unfortunately he died last year. So now when I smell leather it reminds me of him, and it always makes me smile.

When I launched LIGHT & DARK ORIGINAL in 2014 I wanted a classic, sensual fragrance that felt like you were being embraced when you wore it. This classic oriental style used patchouli, myrrh and amber to create the rich aroma, but I didn’t include leather. Maybe I should think about that for my next launch, perfume number five?!

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Diane Clothier

As a 12-year-old I dabbed waxy green apple solid perfume on my thin wrists; at 14 I was mesmerised by Chloe; and at 17 Cacharel’s Anais Anais followed me out the door as I went to university. But the height of sophistication for me, during those teenage years, was my mother’s Weil de Weil. It still takes me back to being kissed goodbye in the mornings by my mother, emerging from a cloud of Elnett in a work suit with her hair up in a chignon and tired but loving eyes, leaving behind a wisp of green, languid, hypnotically floral Weil de Weil. I was magicked into enchanted woods before setting off for school each day. My beautiful mother has endured—though she has lost her sense of smell, and her bottles stand like sad sentinels on her shelf—and so has my love of this exceptional perfume. 
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Emily Veness Budin – National Training Manager, Dolce & Gabbana Fragrance

All through life we collect ‘olfactory memories’ – scents that remind us of a particular time, person or place.

Whenever I come across the scent of jasmine, I am immediately transported back to my childhood in Australia, where the flowers grew wild over our back deck. A place where my family used to languidly laze on summer days, my father, legs-crossed, ever-reclined with the Sunday paper.

Like most women, certain fragrances have bookmarked certain times in my life. For me, Clinique Happy heralded the start of my adolescence; my older sister tossing me a sample-sized bottle that was part of a gift-with-purchase. 10 years my senior, she could afford things like Clinique Powder Compacts. I wore the fragrance like a badge of honour, dotting my neck and wrists with the elixir that symbolised a coming of age. I now wore fragrance. It seemed so adult. 

Next, a stint of Davidoff Cool Waters (that all my classmates wore, too), then Issey Miyake (a gift from my first love), followed by a trip to New York, traipsing around drenched in the signature perfume of Juicy Couture (fitting, in retrospect).

For my wedding day I hoped to find a fragrance that was ‘bride-worthy’. A scent that was delicate and innocent, yet sensual and magnetic. An easy find, right…?

At the time, I was the training manager of L’Occitane. One day in the office I was greeted with a scent that ignited an immediate, yet momentary flash of a memory. It was the inimitable notes of jasmine, taking me back to the days lazing on the deck among its wild flowers. The scent was drifting from the marketing teams’ desks, a new fragrance release named “Jasmine, Immortelle, Neroli”.  Its combination with the sensual touch of Neroli and the golden warmth of Immortelle simply captured my heart. In a moment I knew it was “The One”.

On our wedding day I gave each guest a fragrance, so they too could have a scent to remember the day by. The men received a mini L’Occitane Oranger & Cedre, the women, a mini L’Occitane Rose et Reins. We tied tags around the necks of the bottles with our initials and encouraged everyone to wear the scent. As our wedding was in Bali, the weather was warm and balmy and the women smelled of Roses and the men, like Spring-time.

As for me? My scent was a memory from my childhood mingled with my future, as a wife.

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Veronica Henry – Author

As teenagers locked away in an English boarding school,my friends and I lusted after nothing more exotic than Avon’s Pretty Peach bubble bath or a Bromley lemon soap – innocuous anodyne scents that were reminiscent of nothing but a draconian bath rota.  So when I smelt Opium by Yves St Laurent for the first time, it transported me to a place beyond my wildest dreams and smelled like the person I wanted to become – a glittering glamorous party girl, sophisticated and a little bit dangerous.  But of course it was well out of my reach. I remember having a dinner party one New Year’s Eve, and thinking I was terribly grown up.  I went in to our local department store and splashed Opium onto my neck and wrists.  It lasted long into the night and lingered on my dress for ages.It was years before I earned enough to buy my own bottle with its silken tassel and it took pride of place on my dressing table.  It makes me think of music and laughing and dancing on tables, even now, and I still adore it.  A perfume for behaving as badly as you want.

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Jane Thynne, Author of the Clara Vine Series

I’m fascinated by the link between scent and memory and it’s one that I’ve often explored in writing. Because the olfactory centre is so close to the hippocampus, the seat of memory, perfume triggers vivid recollections in a way that sight and sound alone simply can’t. My first powerful perfume memory comes from early childhood when we living in the West Indies and my mother would come to kiss us goodnight before yet another expat cocktail party. She brought with her a waft of Nina Ricci’s Air du Temps, a scent I still associate with sheer distilled sophistication, plus an undertow of sadness because she was leaving. It was important, when creating my fictional heroine, Clara Vine, that I gave her the right perfume, so she wears an iconic Thirties brand, Bourjois’ Soir de Paris. Ironically, because Clara is not only an actress but a spy, she sometimes has to forgo her signature perfume because it identifies her, but the fruity concoction of rose, violet and jasmine is one I totally associate with Clara and I often wear it while writing. It’s way too sweet for modern tastes, but smelling it takes me straight into the past – this time not a real, but an imagined one!

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Sadie Frost – Producer

My grandparents ran a corner sweet shop in the 70’s in manchester- there was a concoction of smells which all seemed to fit together perfectly. From the old coal fire with it’s distinct smoke and woody aromas, to the perfumed sweetness of lemon drops and the spicy liquorice all sorts.

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