Fragrance connects us to our memories. In fact, smell is the only sensor that sits in the same region of the brain as our memory. It’s easy to forget that our olfactory sense is deeply personal, and shapes our different thoughts and experiences as we move through the world.
I learned this at the Università dell’Immagine in Milan. In English it’s called the University of the Image, and it was dedicated to the study of the five senses. It prepared students for creative careers, whether in art, design or, in my case, perfumery. My time at university taught me that fragrances work in a subtle creative language; a scent can connect with a person on an emotional level when it’s blended with them in mind.
When there was an opportunity to work with Floris in London, I jumped at the chance. Creating fragrances one-to-one is the most exciting part of what I do. It’s a uniquely personal experience, and very few (if any) other fragrance houses are offering such an elevated service today.
When a customer visits Floris to commission their own scent, we sit and spend some time together. It’s important that I understand something of their personality, and what they want the scent for. Of course, everyone is different, so during a consultation we’ll spend time choosing ingredients that the customer connects with and enjoys, or wishes to remove from the process.
Then it’s down to me to blend our chosen notes into something that translates the customer’s taste and sense of style, or maybe something that suits a particular occasion – a wedding, a job interview or an anniversary, perhaps. Sometimes, wearing a hand blended fragrance is the perfect way to crystallise your own personal experience during one of life’s special moments.
This is where the power of memory comes in. Consciously or unconsciously, every moment in life has a different scent attached to it; a certain flower has the power to conjure memories of your mother’s garden, the smokiness of burning wood or charcoal can take you back to a lazy summer afternoon barbecue with friends, and in cookery certain smells take a person back to their childhood kitchen, for example.
In our bespoke consultations, we always talk about memories with our customers. As we test different accords, we’ll choose particular ingredients based on their emotional impact. I love those moments when we unlock something during a consultation, and a customer’s brain reminds them, “You’ve been here before, remember?” It can happen out of nowhere, but it’s always special.
Fragrance is invisible, but it has the power to evoke old memories and shape new ones. When I blend a perfume, it only takes a few hours, but it can stay with you for a lifetime."
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