Monday 23 May 2016


You might not have heard of Marina Barcenilla, but you've probably heard of her award winning perfume, India, which won Best Independent Fragrance at last week’s Fragrance Foundation Awards. Born in Spain, her desire was to try and create a perfume range grounded solely in traditionally extracted ingredients. Would her perfume memories for "Stephan's Six" include any surprise synthetics?

What is the first smell that you can remember?
As a very young child I used to spend most of my time at my grandparent’s home while my mum was at work, so most of my first scent memories are rooted there, and there are definitely two... I can’t pick one, sorry! There’s the smell of warm milk being heated on the stove in the morning, so comforting and grounding even though I don’t like milk, and the smell of my grandfather. He wore some sort of cologne or aftershave with strong amber notes, very sweet and rich, warm and animalic. I think that was the beginning of my love affair with labdanum and sweet amber notes.

What perfume do you remember your mum or dad wearing?
Dad wore Drakkar Noir. Mum loved perfume and she’s the main reason I fell in love with it and became a perfumer. She adored Samsara, Anais Anais, and Herbissimo (an aromatic juniper cologne); as she got older she switched to Opium and Poison. I remember smelling the remnants of Poison on her clothes and in particular, a fur coat that she had. I hated fur, and yet, I couldn’t keep my nose out of it because of the combined scent of the fragrance and the fur, so comforting and sensual at the same time.

What was the perfume of your twenties?
Oh, there were three! Channel Allure, Guerlain Samsara, and the original Dior Hypnotic Poison, in no particular order. I had to have those three on my shelf at all times; plus another twenty or thirty more, and whatever concoction I was working on at the time.

What was your biggest perfume mistake?
Vetiver, ten years ago. Despite working with vetiver for many years I didn’t really like it. I listened to someone who said “you won’t notice it if you only use a little bit on the base”, so I added a little bit and the best fragrance I’d created to date turned in to the smell of an old carpet in a pub with no windows! Vile. I still have it there, in the cupboard, so I never forget, and I still find it hard to work with vetiver.

You can only choose one perfume?
Only one? Are you serious? I have to go away and think for a bit…OK, I would choose a perfume that only exists in my imagination. It’s composed of the actual scent of wisteria and lilac flowers, with hints of honeysuckle and lemon blossom, and the smell of rain in the countryside. Failing that, at this point in my life, it would probably be Cuir de Gardenia by Mandy Aftel.

What perfume should I try?
Hmmmm, if you like real patchouli notes I’d say you should give natural fragrance a chance and try my Patchouli Clouds, especially the perfume oil version.

For more information on Marina and her company, The Perfume Garden, you can visit their website at

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