In the middle of the crowd, a lady whisks past you quickly. Her perfume trails behind her and the scent instantly takes you back to a distant memory. You turn around, thinking that she might be someone you used to know, but she’s not. Just a stranger, who smells familiar. In fact, this is a common occurrence. We often can identify people by their signature scent.
Scents are powerful. Our olfactory senses are closely linked to our memories. Behavioural studies have shown that scents trigger more vivid emotional memories as compared to images. Our brains have associated certain actions/people/memories to smells, both positive and negative impressions included. However, unlike describing images, it can be difficult to describe scents. Fruity? Musky? Even so, these terms do little to explain to our listeners what a smell comprises of. Nonetheless, this doesn’t mean we give up on words. Words piece together stories, with stories bringing experiences to life. These experiences give meaning to the smells that linger in our memories.
This is a key reason why many perfumers are inclined to add a narrative to their perfume campaigns. Take Louis Vuitton for instance. When they finally launched a perfume line in 2016, the initial details about the collection wasn’t about the scents but about adventure. In particular, how travelling is a feeling and how the journey begins on bare skin. They subtly weaved their fragrances into the overarching theme of travelling, attempting to tap into that association between scent, memory and emotion.
As such, fragrances are intimate. They have the ability to shape the mark you want to leave on others around you. What kind of memory they will have of you. Crafting your own perfume gives you the power to decide how you want to be perceived and remembered. Perfume making may not always be a recreation of a memory but a way to define how new memories will be made.
“A woman’s perfume tells more about her than her handwriting.” ~Christian Dior
The process of making your signature scent involves experimentation. Figuring out what subtle notes you want, deciding which base you like, thinking about how many essential oils you would like to add… there’s a lot of combinations to play around with! Relax and let the scents soothe you while you create the perfume which defines you best.
Don’t belittle small bottles of handcrafted essences! Having a signature scent puts your identity on the table and allows others to know you just a little bit more, without you revealing anything verbally. It’s not really about how you want to smell, but how you want to feel and how you want others to remember you. Making your own perfume puts you in the centre of the narrative.