Monday, 19 February 2018

STEPHAN'S SIX - AMANDA CARR


Amanda Carr is a freelance journalist and also the co-founder of The Women's Room and We Wear Perfume, an online blog that looks at the personal memories associated with scent. After asking others about their fragrance recollections, I though it was time to discover a few of Amanda's own as I asked her “Stephan’s Six”.

What is the first smell that you can remember?
My first memories are of living in Singapore, where my dad was stationed during the 60s. I remember the night markets where we’d go for the street food; hot steaming pans of freshly cooked and wonderfully fragrant nasi goreng. I also remember the taste and smell of the vanilla ice cream, which had been nowhere near either cream or eggs or real vanilla for that matter, since dairy products were hard to get in the tropics at that time. That artificial vanilla cream, frozen solid into yellow rectangles was a treat for high days and holidays and weirdly, I get a blast of the memory of the smell when I stand over the Tate Britain air conditioning vents.

What was the first perfume you remember your mum or dad wearing?
For my dad it’s the memory of Old Spice, not just for its sharply fresh scent after he’d been in the bathroom, but also for that ceramic, stone-like bottle with the metallic splash applicator, it seemed quite space-ageish. Mum always wore Madame Rochas when I was a kid. Just a hint of it takes me back to her white Formica dressing table with my sister and I sat watching mum take out her heated Carmen rollers (with their own particular hot metal-and-hairspray aroma) then spritzing what seemed like the very essence of glamour in a bottle.

What was the perfume of your twenties?
During my twenties I worked for Laura Ashley, so never seen without a sprigged floral, multi-ruffled cotton dress, and was always drenched in the brand’s No 1 or (hugely successful) Emma fragrances, which I spritzed generously every day from shop stock. We also used to have fantastic staff sample sales where damaged bottles could be picked up very cheaply, so my first grown up experience with scent came was heavily influenced by getting perfume either free or at a cracking mark-down price.

What was your biggest perfume mistake?
I think I’ve blanked out most of my worst perfume mistakes, the late eighties were something of a bleak period as I remember, but I think my current role as a perfume writer is quite a dangerous way to live. Once, after a morning testing a powerful collection of oud-inspired scents, I caught the bus into town and sat next to a woman who, after a moment inhaling my aroma, turned to me and said, “is that a new fragrance you’re wearing?” and before I got a chance to explain she continued “because you might want to dial it down in the future”.

You can only choose one perfume?
Oh that’s almost impossible to answer, it would be hard enough to do a Desert Island Discs top eight, let alone get it to just one. I try beautiful new fragrances every week but, if you really pushed me to choose one, my current go-to scent for confidence boosting is Cierge de Lune by Aedes de Venustas, a plush suede-ish vanilla.

What perfume should I try?
We spend a lot of time on We Wear Perfume trying to move people away from the habit of giving fragrance a gender and, after years of male/female marketing campaigns telling us what we are ‘supposed’ to wear, BeauFort London’s Come Hell Or High Water collection opens up the idea that fragrance can be about visceral emotions. It features fragrances such as 1805 Tonnerre, inspired by the Battle of Trafalgar, and Vi Et Armis, a narcotic mix of tobacco, tea, opium and whisky. The inspiration for this collection is very ‘boy’s own adventure’.

For more information about Amanda and We Wear Perfume you can visit the website at wewearperfume.com
[Image of Amanda Carr © Maya Glaser]

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