Tuesday 22 September 2015

Music And Perfume

Everything in life creates an impression, sparks a memory or ignites a passion. Real life inspirations can sometimes create the most powerful and challenging scents, which is why perfumers have always called upon daily life and filtered reminiscences to find that next blockbuster. Yes, abstract creation also results in very exciting perfumes, but I have always liked to be able to hang my fragrances on a story. A description or an actual image are easier for people to share, because they can come to the same conclusion. What is harder though is when music is used as inspiration. Are you interpreting words, melody or even emotion?

I was first challenged with this question by Ugo Charron, a perfume technician that I met in Grasse. He asked me whether I thought it was possible to create a perfume based on a piece of music. "Of course", I replied, not realising then just how much time I would eventually spend working on it. His concept was a perfume recreation of a 'techno' tune, mine was Edith Piaf's "Hymne a l'amour" ... I'm significantly older! So, the question you end up asking yourself is what aspect of the music do you want to create?

I opted for the emotional essence of the song. So, let me share with you some notes that I made at the time. "The singer is desperate for confirmation that the person she loves actually loves her back. She will do anything to prove her love for him and is even asking to be set tasks to prove it. Something has happened to make her need this confirmation after so many years ... This is her last chance to show her love by laying herself bare in front of him."

The notes led me to a floral chypre fragrance with a smokey, dry desperation in the base and a Turkish rose in the heart, supported by a sorrowful carnation. The top of the perfume went away from the emotion and took on the soaring strings of the recording. The final description was, "An intense brightness gives way to a rose of love but with the darkness of carnation before moving down to the dry Woody desperation of Castoreum and Iris".

Penny Williams, from Orchardia, said to me that whilst a customer is "unlikely to pinpoint the right song, it's possible for the 'sniffer' to feel the emotion, darkness, brightness or journey. However, regional and personal variations give the same odour different personalities." In the end, whatever the inspiration, a good perfume will always be a good perfume. So, the next time that you're smelling a new one just remember to ask if there is a story associated with it because, occasionally, it will provide you with the final piece of the puzzle to turn your favourite fragrance into a lifelong friend.

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