POWER IN PERFUME
Smell is the strongest and most underrated scent. Smell is not just another way to experience the world around you, it can change the way you feel and create ever-lasting memories. When you smell something, your brain is recording how you feel. Emotions and memories. Your brain recalls everything about that moment and when you smell that scent years later, you are surrounded by that memory.
Ever since I was a little girl I have loved fragrance; starting off with the sugary Impulse body spray, transitioning to a teenager wearing Tommy Girl, sampling everything in the David Jones perfume section and finally settling on my favourite fragrance, Roses de Chloe. I’ll admit I did not know much about fragrance past the nice smell, until I was given the opportunity to attend a Perfume Masterclass with the amazing Samantha Taylor. Samantha is a Fragrance Specialist and owner of The Power Room, a boutique beauty consultancy, specialising in perfume education.
Originally from Adelaide, Samantha started her journey at Estée Lauder, where she fell in love with perfume and the wonderful world of fragrance. In 2003, she moved into the niche area of perfume. Samantha moved to London and worked for Floris, the oldest perfume house in the world, founded in 1730, owned by 8th generation perfumers and still working out of the same building. This was a big move in that time, when all you were really exposed to when it came to perfume were big houses like Estée Lauder and Gucci.
You’ll have to hear the rest of her amazing journey in person next time she visits Adelaide.
During the Perfume Masterclass, my eyes were completely opened to the incredible world and power that fragrance holds. Samantha illustrated the power that perfume can have in a story about one of her clients that came in for a consultation; a professional poker player that wanted to learn about fragrance and pick a scent.
He was quite a shy guy, not a big personality at all. Samantha found a fragrance for him to wear during the day and one to wear out at night. This is where you can see Samantha’s genius really come to light. She told us about the following conversation:
She said: “Now let’s find a work fragrance, for when you play poker, what’s your poker face? How do you act?”
He said: “I play the geeky nerd, I wear my hat backwards, I wear glasses, have my earphones in and stuff like that.”
She said: “Okay, let’s find a fragrance that’s really going to convey that naivety.”
The poker player had never even thought of that.
What Samantha showed to him that day, and consequently to all of us in the Perfume Masterclass, is that fragrance is a way to convey a sense of your personality, not only for other people, but also for yourself.
The wonderful world of fragrance is quite complex, but to make it a little easier to digest, we can start off with four major families; Floral, Citrus, Oriental and Woody. Asking Samantha more about this, she gave me an incredibly useful way of making sense of them and remembering them, by referring to the four main characters of Sex and the City:
Charlotte is floral – feminine, soft and delicate;
Carrie is Citrus – bright and bubbly;
Samantha is Oriental – confident and seductive; and
Miranda is Woody – down-to-earth and straight forward.
Giving personification to each fragrance family can help you pick out a fragrance for any different mood. Just like you have different pieces of clothing in your wardrobe for different occasions, you can do the same with perfume, creating a fragrance wardrobe. Just like fragrance, women are complex creatures, with different facets to our personality and our fragrance can reflect that.
Smelling is our brain’s primal way of identifying if something is harmful to the body and alert us to danger. Once your brain has been exposed to a smell for a long time and has identified it as a threat, it doesn’t pay as much attention to it. For example, off milk. You smell it, it smells bad and you know not to drink it. Your brain recognises the smell, so whenever you smell it you know it’s bad.
The opposite works with your perfume. If you’ve been wearing the same perfume for years, you may notice that you don’t smell it on you as much as you used to. That is because your brain has worked out that it is not a threat and therefore does not give it as much attention.
So if you’re thinking your perfume has lost its edge, it hasn’t. Don’t lather on double the amount... you might be giving the people next to you a headache.