Dresses, fabrics, cutlery, eye shadow(s), hair, playlists, scallops, weather, tents, napkins, wines, cakes, cookies, beloved relatives, impossible relatives, speeches, ribbons… The list of things that can be part of planning a wedding is endless.

If you ask me an important sense is often neglected. There are perfumes advertised in wedding magazines, and every now and then a story about a particular perfume and a related love story of someone famous, or a perfume created as a love declaration. But I can’t remember a more dedicated piece on the scent aspects of a wedding. (If you have, please share). Some perfume writers and bloggers have addressed this topic in an ambitious way though. I have also not seen proper consultations offered in retail (I don’t count “there is a new romantic lily of the valley out on the market, the perfect scent for a bride” as a wedding scent consultation).

Now you may think, well maybe it’s just not as important and prominent as the dress, music, place, flowers etc… My answer is: are you sure?


Smells have a very powerful impact on our memories, moods and feelings. So when selecting the details that will create the atmosphere of a wedding, it should be natural to consider also how scents will contribute. It is easier than you think.

The scent of an occasion like this (the thoughts in this post can be applied to any event of significance) is just as significant and influential as the music or scenography. It’s just that there is no tradition of working with it. That however does not mean that we are not affected, and making more personal, emotionally valuable, romantic and wise choices would indeed make a difference.

So, what should you think about? Two things mainly: yourself and your partner (that is one thing) and the other smells at your wedding. The other ones are for example the food, the flowers in your bouquet, surrounding flowers and plants (both decorations and already existing ones), the setting.

Choosing a scent is not very different from the other choices you will be making in that the same criteria should apply. At some point you probably sat down and made a list of what you want your wedding to be like, for example romantic, elegant, unusual, playful, sweet, decadent, personal, sophisticated, relaxed. And you had some ideas on what that would lead to, for example if you and your partner love nature and you want your wedding to be personal you’ll want to incorporate some nature elements into your wedding in setting and menu and clothes. If you are a couple from different cultures you probably put some effort into coming up with ideas on how to add different elements and symbols based on that. If you want a Rat Pack wedding that has influenced your choice of DJ and dress and venue. Etc etc. All these kinds of thoughts and ideas can be translated into scents.

Skärmavbild 2014-05-06 kl. 3.08.23 PM

Your fragrance
Let’s start with you. If you like to wear perfume (or other fragranced products), you will want to wear some for your big love celebration and you’ll want it to be special and right. A wedding is usually an event that lasts for a few hours and as a bride or groom you want to feel fresh and uplifted not tired, uplifted. Maybe you prepared the day before by doing sports and eating and drinking healthy, you have gone to a spa or beautician to add some glow. Scents too, affect our energy, they can help us feel fresh. A scent can also soothe or even make us tired. I would be very surprised if there have not been some people getting married wearing a perfume that either made them tired or maybe even allergic. A wise fragrance choice is one that keeps you in the right mood and supports energy – for example a nice clean cologne or other citrus fragrance for the day and the emotional moments that easily make your body send off extra heat, and then for the evening something more sensual, gourmand or spicy. These two fragrances should be selected so they go well with each other though.

If you feel tense and a little more nervous that you want to feel – it might be unwise to have a fragrance that is too complicated, a more clean fragrance with balanced calm notes will help you relax and feel centered. On the other hand if you are exhausted from preparations, support yourself with something that keeps your mind awake. And of course… coordinate your scent with your partner. You will be close all day, don’t expose yourselves to a scent collision that will not smell nice and give you both a headache. These are just some aspects to consider from a more practical point of view.

Choose a fragrance synchronized with your wedding bouquet. A perfect perfume and a perfect bouquet might clash when in combination if they include smells that don’t go well together. Choose flowers in your bouquet also from a scent perspective; avoid sedating or too strong smell. Co-ordinate your perfume provider and your florist.

Generally, I would say that for your wedding day – don’t go complex. Choose something light, soft, intimate and personal but easy. There will be so much going on, so many people, so many emotions and hormones. Trust your preferences. While its never right to make a perfume purchase too fast (too fast in this case means for example without taking the time to experience more than top notes) this is really really not the time for a hasty risky purchase. Other things to consider can be looking for a perfume house or creator that you identify with, associations to geographical places (for example places that are part of your romantic history together), perfumes created in a romantic contexts (By nose couples, or perfumes created by a nose for a lover or commissioned for a beloved.) And if you can, maybe consider creating your own fragrance for this day with the help of a perfumer.


Smell an(d) emotion
Now from an emotional and romantic point of view (and what occasion is there more relevant for that than a wedding) there is so much you can do with scents. It is a fact that regardless of whether we are interested or pay attention to it, scents are very powerful because of the brain’s design. Scents are connected to memories and feelings. If you think about it, you probably have some scent memories that you connect to a person, a place or a situation.

This is the same mechanism that teleports us to places and times when we smell something and suddenly get an image in our head. So imagine how beautiful to use this brain force at your weeding and connect this day to those particular moments. During a wedding scent consultation process I talk to a couple about their romantic history to identify one, or several, particular scents that we can work with. Maybe the scent of the first flowers your partner gave you, maybe there is a spice in your favorite meal to cook together, maybe a smell in the apartment or something from a trip together.
A scent that creates an instant connection to the feeling of “us”.

Not only will highlighting such a scent detail during the wedding add emotion from the past, which will intensify your experience, it will also be coded in the brain for the future. So in one or ten years when you want to relive some of that feeling from your wedding day using that scent will help you.

Scent scenography
Naturally, we are not talking just about perfume but also about the food, the setting, floral arrangements etc. What we are looking for is a consciously created scent scenography for your wedding which supports atmosphere, emotion and well-being. It should be functional and personal.

Here are some concrete things to consider:

– The place your wedding ceremony and party are in already has/have some scents – take them into consideration. If it’s a church maybe don’t wear incense-like perfume, it will be too much. If you are in a garden with trees and flowers – be careful when adding more flowers so not to create an overdose.
– Synchronize the smells in food, fragrance and flower decorations.
– Avoid smells that guests might react to. For example big lilies give many people a headache and they take over so if you have a lovely plate in your menu with delicate tastes it might not get the attention it deserves.
– If you are giving guests gifts, a scented candle can be really special. Create a red thread, for example if you had roses in your bouquet and fragrance a nice scented rose candle will make the day live on. (Scented candles deserve a post on their own…, they are often used to create an atmosphere, sometimes a shortcut. A good candle is great but no candles by the food! And choose carefully.)
– Create a sensory frame that is comfortable for the senses for guests – everything from food to scented candles in wash rooms should be treated like members of one ensemble. Think of scent as a scenography tool.

If reading this made you interested in making scent scenography part of your wedding and you would like some help with that or if you are a wedding coordinator and would like to incorporate this into your process please feel free to contact me for a consultation using the comments section below or by e-mail sylvia(at)

I haven’t written any post here for a while because of travelling and an over-whelmed mind. I spent most of March in Kenya with a malaria elimination project. (As some of you now my other professional path is communication, mainly PR and strategy but also some fundraising.) An extra-ordinary experience that allowed me to discover many different places and contexts, from embassies to small island communities on Lake Victoria. These weeks and the complex context can be summarized and shared from many perspectives of course and my main focus on the experience is indeed from a malaria elimination project point of view. (If someone is interested in more information on that please feel free to contact me, especially if you are interested in supporting.) But for now, I do want to share with you some reflections and impressions from an olfactive and sensory perspective given the context of this blog and part of my life.

Coffee beans in the garden of Karen Blixen's house

Coffee beans in the garden of Karen Blixen’s house

This was my first trip ever to Kenya and when I left Sweden spring had just begun to discretely announce its ambition to arrive… at some point. Many layers of clothes, gentle silent shy spring smells. Preparing for intense days by the equator I expected a mild shock, that it would be hot, that the Nairobi air would be compact, stubborn, urban, dusty and the Lake Victoria air sticky, lush and sweet. I was not prepared to instantly fall in love with Kenyan air but that’s exactly what happened and I spent many days talking about it to whoever would listen. The Kenyan air is amazing. It’s a fragrance in itself. Fresh, breezy, sweet, soft and always with a hint of something floral. It’s so likeable, so tender. Such a contrast sometimes to the visual impressions, for example in Nairobi where there is a lot of traffic, construction and… people. (I live in Sweden… it’s not so densely populated, downtown Nairobi is a physical and visual sensation for me.) Every day I felt aware of this particular air and felt like inhaling endlessly. The Kenyan air was really a remarkable part of my impressions and it feels like the perfect reflection of other impressions such as for example the soft slow voice that many Kenyans speak with.

Streets of Nairobi

Streets of Nairobi

Nairobi bloom

Nairobi bloom

Something else that I thought about a lot was the directness and purity of flavors. It was really quite relaxing and restoring for the senses, and I noticed how I quickly started to avoid cosmetics that smelled to much (the one particular product that felt the most right was a serum from Swedish brand Emma S, that actually smells a little bit like the Kenyan air). Even having returned home I notice when cooking that I am much more attracted to simple gentle pure things, I keep trying to recreate ugali and sukuma. When you are raised and based in a climate that allows for things to grow in your garden only a few months per year, it is a true luxury to eat fresh food and only fresh food every single day. Fresh fish and fresh lime is really really fresh in Kenya.

Porcupine lime

I don’t know how many times I ate kachumbari, a delicious salad made with tomatoes and onions and cilantro, and never grew tired of it because the flavours were so rich and intense. A little bit more onion or cilantro or not made it feel like a different dish. And the mango… I think for the rest of my life when I think of mango my brain will start creating the sweetness of fresh ripe mango in my mind. Surprisingly enough the closest I get to the intensity of fresh Kenyan mango is the dried mango from Swedish-Colombian Nathalie. I quickly found a favorite routine for the early evenings when we returned from field trips in the islands on Lake Victoria. There was a place, a lawn right in front of the lake with soft chairs and a beautiful view and they made Masala tea with milk, served in a nice pot. The soft grass, the soft chair, the over-whelmed mind… watching the lake make its daily transition turning into a an unruly water more resembling a sea than a lake… warm dusty skin and the taste of the spices embraced by soothing milk. I will remember this forever.

Masala place.

Masala & contemplation place.

There was an abundance of sensory impressions in this environment but somehow they came isolated and so there was a balance between variety and purity that felt energizing. It reminded me of the first week at perfumery school in Grasse where we smelled so many raw materials every day but somehow I never felt tired or sedated (the first week with naturals that is, the second week with synthetics was an entirely different story…). There were so many new sounds and smells and flavours… all senses were on an endless daily safari. And such odd combinations that form new associations of the mind… For example every night I applied mosquito repellent before going to sleep and every night in Mbita there was music somewhere in the distance. Very often the same song reappeared with a certain background drum loop repeating. Two slow, three fast. That kind of beat smells like mosquito repellent to me now. A more pleasant association is dusty clay road and fresh sugar cane. That one I love. And this is where I tell you that going on a road trip in Nyanza with a good jeep and an excellent driver and some fresh sugar cane should be on everyone’s bucket list. It is epic.

Sugar cane, dusty road

Sugar cane, dusty road

Someone asked me the other day, if I would create a fragrance that symbolizes Kenya, what would it smell like. An enchanting challenge of course but I am not ready at all to even attempt. My first encounters with Kenya revolve around being struck by the many faces and characteristics of Kenya, from one extreme to the other. So dynamic and unruly in one second, so peaceful and intimate the next. Dusty roads and lush opulent rural hills. Fast lanes with matatu madness and zebras that just don’t care. Flowers and fish. Masala and sugar cane. Mandazi and mango. Nyama choma in the making in the night air. Drumbeat and breeze. Endless contrasts. I admire the pride that every Kenyan I met seems to have in the spine, and the soft silent voices. The big smiles that light up not a room but an entire street. The reserved poise. I have no idea how to convey all that. But I know I would want to capture it in a way that also includes those incredible magic infinities…

Kenyan infinity

Kenyan infinity

I could write a book about everything that Kenya did to my mind, heart and senses. Maybe someday when I have had the privilege to spend more time there I will. For now I leave you with these impressions, some Kenyan seduction from Dela for your ears and some amazing photos by Kenyan photographer Kevin Ouma.

Asante sana Kenya. Infinite place.

Maasai Photo by Kevin Ouma

Maasai Women. Photo by Kevin Ouma

Boats in Mfangano. Photo by Kevin Ouma.

Boats in Mfangano. Photo by Kevin Ouma.


During the last days I have been getting this question a lot “Should I buy my partner a perfume for Valentine’s Day? Which perfume should I get?”.

Well, this is actually what I suggest you do to add some olfactive excitement to Valentine’s Day with the person your heart, mind, soul, body desires – skip the shopping and instead just smell each other. Take the time to experience one another. Take the time to enjoy how warm skin smells differently than cooler parts, how sweat smells, how wrists smell, how the neck smells, how the part between the nose and the lips smells.

If you want more scented romance then cook together. Enjoy fresh herbs, choose every thing carefully and invest in really good fresh ecological ripe ingredients. Maybe there are flavors and scents that you associate with your love story – find those, revoke those memories. Enjoy your senses together. That’s what I think you should give each other for Valentine’s Day. And who knows, you might enjoy it so much you’ll make it into a habit – if it isn’t already.

If you are interested in romantic perfume reading my suggestion is to look up the stories behind Shalimar and Le Parfum de Thérèse, two epic fragrances created as declarations of love. My personal favorite romantic perfume story right now is the creation of Fleur de Louis and Infanta en Flor by Arquiste. And I love this another elegant and sensual piece from Clayton of What Men Should Smell Like about skin.

If you are celebrating this day alone I recommend that you indulge in the kind of olfactive self-love you enjoy the most – going to the spa, fresh flower, cooking…is not only for couples! And perfumes… well, you know what you like so why not! And if you are unsure, why not treat yourself to a nice discovery set from an interesting brand or to a perfume consultation.

Happy Valentine’s Day friends, may it embrace your heart in beautiful scents!

Rhye - Open. Nice music for romantic days.

Rhye – Open. Nice music for romantic days.

This will be a personal post about a recent experience and how it connected to some thoughts I have been carrying around for a while.

I recently attended the funeral of a friend. Although I have had some losses and arranged funerals myself, this one was quite different. It was my first friend funeral, someone my own age, in the same life phase, someone who is a part of groups of people that up to now have had no empty seats.

This added a dimension to the experience. The sadness was accompanied by a feeling of reflection, not only reflection as in thinking, but really reflection. Looking at yourself in the mirror of someone’s absence. Being reminded of transience, of all the clichés about one’s own mortality. But not only that, also an intense wave of gratitude over having a functioning body, legs that run and lungs that expand to embrace a new breath of air. And the very valuable occasion to run an inner check-up. Am I on track? Am I moving in a direction aligned with my compass? What about this unique person that I will never ever again have a coffee and exchange ideas with is it that I will remember the most? What has she inspired in me – and how can I cherish that in the best possible way? Where will I find the reminders?

You know of course where I am going here. We know that our brains are created in a way that links our memories, feelings and scents to each other in an unavoidable way. We have stored memories and associations linked to scents. Smelling something takes us back in a second to something we felt, saw, experienced a long time ago in a second and turns the past into the present. We know this and the map is drawn in literature as well as in research. Smells are used in therapy to unlock traumatic memories so they can be treated. I have been carrying and idea around to spend some time working with elderly people and smells to help them reconnect with memories of things that created their identity. From what I can see, there is much much much to be done with the pro-active use of smells though. We can create memories and olfactive tools that support them. This means that not only can we support a person going through severe health challenges by providing them with scents that will connect them to positive memories and feelings – even create a sense of presence of people who can’t be there with them. (Yes, I do believe there is something supportive for a very ill parent to have a garment that smells of their child with them close for example). But, also, and here comes the sadder part – we cannot keep a person alive just with smells, but if we do lose someone – we can use smells to help ourselves stay close to the memories of them and to revoke the feelings of happy moments shared together. There are many children who have lost a parent and are not able to “find” them emotionally. Many lovers who would find something special in the smell of a person that is no longer there. My point is, knowing as much as we do about the connection between feelings, memories and smells – we can use that knowledge more pro-actively.

I will associate losing my friend with the amazing romantic flower decorations at the funeral she designed herself. In fact I will also think of her when I see, smell or eat green apples because she chose to have that song played at the end of the service, But I will also remember her when I eat chocolate and chili ice cream from a particular tiny Italian ice cream and coffee place here in Stockholm where we met one day to exchange some ideas. And these aromas will remind me of the value of welcoming people’s ideas and lifting them higher. Because that is what I associate with her more than anything else.


To me unconditional love smells of chicken soup. Because that’s the first smell that I felt every time I got out of a car in front of my grandmother’s house as a child. Airport, car, open window, chicken soup, warm embrace. My brain will never question this logic. Just like the aromas in Korean food are synonymous with all the lessons I learned in my first serious relationship about what true intellectual partnership and respect is.

How can you remind people in your life of how much you care and of who you are? Which odors, smells, fragrances, scents carry your values? Which ones can you create new memories with together with people you love?

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Green apple photo

Not every one cares about the brand behind the perfume. Or the brain behind the perfume, for that matter. And sure, if I discovered olfactory marvel from a perfume house I did not feel strongly for I would still find the perfume extraordinary and wear it. But I do prefer to feel that there is also a person and intention behind the perfume that I can relate to and like. This could be explained with my day-job in PR and communication. I started out as a copywriter so I am interested in storytelling of course. But more than that, I am interested in the special stories that I believe can be found in anything if you know how to listen and how to search. And that’s why I got into communication in the first place. To search, find and tell. 

For this reason there are some perfume(r)s that appeal more to me than others, there are some brands that I feel more comfortable with and more curious to discover. I appreciate a personal declaration and intention, expressions of curiosity, passion and purpose. I appreciate the generosity of those who share more than their product, for example the way Carlos Huber of Arquiste connects all sorts of life dots in his interviews. Or how Jean Claude Ellena invests so much energy into writing books that give the reader unique insight into the life and mind of a perfumer. I appreciate the world of Mandy Aftel enormously, such passion and endless curiosity for the craft and a generous dedicated ambition to share it. Byredo’s perfumes became so much more special to me when I learnt about the red thread with Ben Gorham’s recreation of memories and places. There are many examples, I realize I leave important ones out by stopping here but it has already taken me too long to get to the point. (Then again, that is not really relevant in perfume reflections, the journey is the point.)

First time I read about Jul et Mad I instantly loved the story. Who wouldn’t? It is enough to know that Jul and Mad in “Jul et Mad” are a couple who met and created perfumes together. Yes, I admit in my world creating a perfume together is the most romantic thing any people in love could do. This kind of story only works though if it comes with perfumes that really deliver, otherwise it becomes a somewhat awkward branding concept.

So who are these two perfume makers and lovers? Julien, comes from a science environment with thorough knowledge in neurosciences and biology. This background is combined with an entrepreneurial spirit that has led him to communication companies specialized in the scientific field. He is also a traveller at heart. Madalina, left her native Romania to go to NYC in order to pursue a future in the beauty industry. The first step was the Cosmetics and Fragrances Marketing program at the Fashion Institute of Technology, followed by work at several luxury brands. So far – two separate stories about two separate ambitious individuals who have not yet met. (I can relate to both for various reasons so what happens then gives me double goose bumps).

This is where the magic starts… One day the both find themselves in Paris and in the same café. I know no details of what happens here more than the result of this encounter – Madalina leaves NYC and moves to Paris for love. These two find each other’s hearts but also a share path, which is the creation of perfumes that tell the story of love. The name seems rather inevitable, Jul et Mad. With the help of Dorothée Piot of Maison Robertet they have so far created three fragrances: Stilettos on Lex, Amour de Palazzo and Terrasse à St-Germain.

Stilettos on Lex is the olfactory story about Madalina’s life as a single woman in Manhattan. It is an interesting one, this super feminine blend of independence and softness. I have worn it to work, cinema, girls’ talk-about-life-dinner and a date. On me, this fragrance is really soft and I appreciate the way in which it is sweet without trying to please. It is very easy to wear and manages to combine a soft romantic feeling with something more urban and mischievous. I don’t know how else to describe it. I really enjoy wearing it, but for me it works better in a private context than at work.

Head : Lemon, Pear, Davana, Plum Liquor

Heart: Lily of the Valley, Violette Leaves, Rose Absolute, Heliotrope, Iris, Carnation

Bottom: Musk, Madagascar Vanilla, Indonesian Patchouli, Atlas Cedarwood

The second fragrance in the story is of course Terasse à St-Germain… The Moment that changes it all. And this is where you can tell there must have been many candid personal conversations between Julien, Madalina and Dorothée Piot because this is a completely different feeling. Just like Stilettos on Lex combined different sides of femininity, Terasse à St Germain sparkles with different energies in a special meeting. Soft, bouncy, sweet, playful. When you know that this is the meeting between two persons you can find that duality blending. And it is so happy, so extrovert.

Head : Grapefruit, Tangerine, Rhubarb

Heart: Freesia, Lotus Flower, Blue Rose

Bottom: Musk, Sandalwood, Indonesian Patchouli

The third fragrance, Amour de Palazzo tells the story of the couple’s trip to Venice… If you feel any of the seduced infatuation that I feel for this city you will recognize much of that feeling in this perfume. It is dark, flirtatious, deeply sensual and seductive. It is the scent of the beauty of no turning back now. This has nothing of the cashmere softness of Stilettos on Lex, nothing of the playful sunny conversation of Terasse à St-Germain. This is just pure seduction.


Head : Four Spice (pepper, cloves, ginger, nutmeg)

Heart: Absolute of Violette, Atlas Cedarwood, Leather, Indonesian Patchouli, Labdanum

Bottom: Musk, Oud, Amber, Papyrus, Animal Castoreum

Three completely different perfumes, which could very well be the base of a perfume wardrobe if you add something more work-oriented. I love how they all emerge out of this love story because they are quite different reflections of the energies that exist between lovers. These perfumes remind me of the variation I have appreciated in my own most memorable romantic relationships. How both persons could be many aspects of their personalities and switch between them. The freedom and playfulness that a relationship that stimulates such variation creates.

I really like the background stories that come with each of the perfumes. In fact, I would almost have preferred to have only those and the notes. It seems to me that there are two different tonalities in the Jul et Mad communication, and personally I prefer the more poetic one which to me carries more of the personal serendipity of this beautiful story. I leave you with the three stories and the wish that all may find that soulmate to create with at least once in life.

She’s back! I can guess her presence behind me by the clacking sound of her high heels on this legendary Lexington Avenue… I turn, and it is her, indeed, with her determined walk, her tall silhouette more real than ever… Pleasure for the eye, trouble for the soul… 
A mysterious aura accompanies this almost immaterial apparition while walking, so beautifully, so elegantly… Who is she? Where is she coming from? A divinity descended from a different world? An animated sculpture carved by the tools of what genius? The perfect image from a silent dream, if it wasn’t for the regular percussion of her stilettos…
As in a spontaneous homage, the crowed steps aside to let her pass… Heads turn… Is she aware of it? Nothing indicates it. She seems ignoring the passers-by, her expression is serene, her regard soft but determined… Was that the shadow of a smile floating on her lips? Royal, superb, her image fades away, vanishes. Nevertheless, she offered me the most attaching gift: her unforgettable perfume. On her magical path she left the trace of a subtle fragrance, yet imposing… an obsessive, rare perfume that floats, nostalgically, like the memory of a Lost Paradise. 
Dream or reality? Enthusiasm or despair? All she did was to pass by… The contouring of her figure and the sound of her high heels marked my spirit… I now invoke my luck, hoping that one day I will cross again her magnificent allure on this same legendary avenue…
Her image disappeared, but during her short passage she offered me the most attaching of memories: her perfume…

Paris. Tender sunlight and bright fresh air of springtime. Saint-Germain. A pleasant noise of the conversations all-around floats over the café terrace. From her table, in perfect quietude, she watches the passers-by… when suddenly she observes this elegant silhouette, virile and relaxed, crossing the boulevard in front of her. They look at each other… They are captivated… It’s intense, magnetic… He approaches… keeps regarding her… A moment of inattention, the sidewalk missed… A false step he transforms rapidly in a gracious reverence, accompanied by this charming smile… a bit embarrassed, a bit amused… Everything lasts no more than one second, the handsome stranger walks away… 
His passage leaves a void behind him, and this emptiness, daydreaming, she already fills it with wild and fascinating perfumes inspired by the picture of the young man… Fusions of subtle yet present scents, atypical but almost recognizable, a soft mix but virile at the same time, of a complete ambiguity and yet of an incredible simplicity: the very essence of a growing passion.
A delicate and refreshing breeze, in perfect accordance with the spring fragrances surrounding the terrace, brings her back to reality… She finally looks away from this sidewalk where the seducing silhouette escaped her insistent gaze… 
Then, suddenly, the perfume of her reverie embalms the air, but rather real this time. The beautiful stranger turned around and approaches, also real. He plunges his regard into hers, he walks straight towards her. 

It is truly her… her, Venice, revealing itself to our first avid regards as the unrestricted décor of a dream theater. High facades come out nude from the dark waters of the Grand Canal, slightly veiled by the mist of dawn, nude, but rapidly ornamented by the marble garlands of their bays. The three annunciating sounds of the ball will soon be heard; the costumed guests will animate the ballroom and the balconies with their multicolor embroideries and silks. 
Will the day put an end to this magical night? In the penumbra, an interlacing of winding narrow streets and canals traversed by bridges. Hand in hand. Drunk with love. Drunk from dancing for so long. We wander through these labyrinths charged with history, trying to recover our spirits after this enchanted night: the long passageways of the magnificent palazzo we just quit, its ballrooms richly decorated, so beautiful under the lights of their gigantic suspended chandeliers. 
The first signs of the dawn envelop the so well-called “Serenissima”. The rich and heavy perfume of precious wood and leather furniture, shone and polished by passing centuries, mix agreeably now with the pleasant and cocooning fragrances coming from the surrounding gardens, the humidity of the old stone and the lagoon that follows and surrounds us… We walk aimlessly… Dream or reality? It doesn’t really matter… Here we are in perfect harmony, we feel free, free to love each other, free to taste as one the same happiness… free to appreciate the instant… Every single gesture, no matter how simple, is now charged with profound significance.

PS: Love this – Jul et Mads pinterest. Fun way to share inspiration and references. 

PS: All images in this post from Jul et Mad.

To wear The Soft Lawn is to spend a day in the bubble around a young (at any age) Crush on The Tennis Teacher. It smells like the sweat on your (and his) warm skin, like the moment when you open your racket bag and feel that strange aromatic blend of old and new, of artificial and animalistic smells that the sports world has. It smells like the deodorant and your nice flowery shampoo as your hair gets messier and messier. It smells like smiles and sweet attraction combined with performance adrenaline. 

It smells of the tennis ball travelling fast from one side of the court to the other, just like the unarticulated thoughts that follow it do. From him to you, from you to him. It smells like the dust swirling and the smiles and the laughter and the fresh air and the feeling of sweet moist summer evening air waiting for magic to happen.

It smells like releasing the racket, the way the air between a sore palm and the warm sweaty overgrip smells. You wonder if you’ll have blisters tomorrow, you won’t but it feels like it. You wonder if it is time to change that wrap overgrip. You wonder if you look ok or just red and sweaty and hair like a tornado, you wonder how he can look this amazing after the entire day and if his smile means that you have improved your serve and he thinks you are kind of interesting. You are. He does. The drydown smells like getting on your bike to go somewhere together. Like the cool air on your calves and the warm air vibrating from your blushing cheeks. There are some sensations that love and sports have in common. For a brief moment this charming perfume smells like a secret shared cigarette and you wonder how that happened. Ooops. Then warm cantaloupe dripping between fingers down on asphalt. The candy-like innocence of an English lush park and textures of the carnal city on a date. Much like the contrast between fragility and darwinism in a kiss. Like sneakers and warm skin and fearless curiosity.

It is not easy to create a fragrance that is romantic, sporty, edgy, contemporary, classic and utterly charmingly mischievious.

There are moments with this perfume that remind me of Molecule O2 and L’Imperatrice (a Fragrantica search does not reveal that these would have anything officially in common) which are fragrances that I like because of their way of being light in a slightly weird way, breezy with integrity, sweet but in an unpleasing way. There is hommage to the most elegant way woody notes are used in classic fragrances that have been designated at men and beautifully stolen by women. You find those feelings here, but combined with that superweird and absolutely wonderful tennis ball smell that really is there. It is an uncomplicated complex perfume, a comfortable adventure you could say. And so much fun.

This perfume puts me in such a good mood that it’s almost bizarre. It makes me blush and laugh and send flirtatious text messages and feel like going out to fill my lungs with fresh air. It also makes me think of the summer I spent playing tennis on one of the loveliest outdoors tennis courts I have ever seen, in Hagaparken in Stockholm, and the exact feeling I had when looking up from the ball to enjoy the beauty of the place (lush trees and water) for a moment. One of those evenings I tore off a cruciate ligament and I haven’t played since. I have missed a feeling that this perfume gives me back again. For all the reflections above, but maybe particularly for this, I am grateful.

The Soft Lawn can be ordered from Imaginary Authors directly and it is also part of Olfactif’s brilliantly curated Vignettes of Spring selection. You’ll find a great interview with Josh Meyer, the creator of the perfume on Olfactif’s website.

I often help someone find a signature scent or create a perfume wardrobe for example by finding additions to their work fragrance that smells to safe for romance, or their romantic fragrance that doesn’t feel right for work. Or an upgrade, for example when someone has been wearing the same favorite perfume for 5-10 yrs (not at all unsusal) and feel that they still like it… but have outgrown it. Then we look for something similar, for example the same heart notes, but something more complex or mature or dark added. As we walk through life our inner child often stays the same, but we go through experiences, challenges, times – that add shades to our personalities. Shades, depth, complexity. When you wear a perfume that is right for you, it will reflect many parts of who you are. Then you get that feeling of you just smelling like you because someone created a beautiful formula that defines some of your characteristics with fragrance notes. This is a very different feeling from “wearing a nice perfume” that lies on top of your skin like a pretty fabric. There is nothing arbitrary about what feels right. Not in life, not in perfumery.

Finding those perfumes that really match is not easy. The market offers an abundance that is over-whelming even to the most passionate and curious perfumista. But it is worth it, and once you learn how to navigate and recognize the patterns in your preferences it is not as complicated as it looks. For myself, I choose to ask for guidance so that I can find perfumes that I have not discovered where notes that I like have been used. I ask for stories about them and I ask for help to discover new brands. I don’t look for someone to help me choose my perfume as I have trained myself now to translate thoughts and aspects of my character to notes and types of perfumes. If you feel unsure about such things, talk to someone who is skilled and really takes the time to help you find a perfume for the creative you or the you that wants something comforting or uplifting or mischievous or escapist. For a true perfume expert these are not strange questions. Choose the right advisor.

I am sure you have been in the situation where you just love a perfume that someone is wearing, you go buy it… and… anticlimax. It doesn’t feel like you thought it would, it is not as amazing on you. You wonder if your mind and memory played tricks on you. This is not unusual. But it is a great reminder of two things – perfume is like a relationship – it is not about you and not about the other – it is about happens in between, in the space that is the together.

Perfume sensations are created in the meeting between a formula and a person’s skin. And every person’s skin is different. There is nothing objective about perfume. The other thing is – do not make hasty decisions. It does not matter how skilled you are, you just do not know what a perfume that is composed with top, heart and base will smell like in an hour of five on you. No one knows. The super-charming person who sells it to you doesn’t know even if she or he is an expert and amazing. Take your time. Get a sample if you can. Get ten samples of ten perfumes with sandalwood if that is what you are looking for. Take your time. Apply the perfume, take a coffee and come back in an hour. And don’t be disappointed if your friend’s magic potion smells boring on you. Or different. Be curious. You’ll find your magic potion, maybe there is just some little detail that needs to be different for you. Try to detect what the difference is – does it smell sweeter in him/her? Does it smell more flowery on you? Try to remember the difference and ask an expert.

Skin, painted by Sir Lawrence Alma Tadema

I will give you an example. I have been wearing Ambre Narguilé for some years. Or to be honest, I bought it a few years back and wore it a lot during two years with mixed feelings. I adore this perfume. It is a masterpiece to me. But, I found myself often thinking that it was too overwhelming and not appropriate in many situations. And later on I felt that it lacked something for me to feel really comfortable with it, it was too sweet. It lacked integrity or a mature nuance. So in the last two or so years I have not been wearing it at all but I smell the bottle sometimes to use as reference when searching for similar compositions. Among perfumistas this fragrance is well-known. Still I have not met anyone that wears it a lot. Then comes a man. He says he really likes the perfume, I think “Really?” and feel how in my eyes he becomes slightly more like a baklava than Omar Sharif.

He introduces me to Serge Lutens’ Ambre Sultan, and I am amazed because this – is the darker version of Ambre Narguilé that I have been wishing for. In my mind this man is starting to be associated with an olfactory world that I find rather attractive. His voice, his choice of words, his aesthetic preferences, his unbelievably immature sense of humor are joined by his scents. The latter exposing a darker side of him than the blond bangs.

Tillya Kori Madrash, Samarkand

Then he brings out another of his favorites, a completely harmless airy Gatsby cocktail party apple lemonade lunchtime careful kiss on the cheek sorbet and dancing on a meadow in a perfectly cut flowery organza skirt kind of story. Bois 1920, Sushi Imperiale. It feels like someone just gave me my first kiss on a summer day in 1939. And then gave me raspberries on a straw before we go look at the horses and the sunset. Someone wears an immaculate linen vest and smiles like a young Sinatra though. It’s Rat Pack meets Anna Karenina of Green Gables. I fall like a rock sliding down a rainbow of course and get instantly addicted. (To the extent where he has to order me to let go of the bottle because the heat from my palms will ruin the perfume). A couple of weeks later I order it from MiN. It is on its way as we speak. I can’t wait. I will wear it like nothing else matters more than raspberries on a straw and immaculate linen vests and Green Gables are the perfect place to be flown to the moon and then share an apple stolen from the strange neighbour’s tree.


And then he appears again. Wearing the darkest most intriguing strange thing thats smells like a love affair on the way to Samarcand and words that cannot be spoken. “What are you wearing??”, I say. He answers, “you have it, Ambre Narguilé”. It is a mystery to me where the carnal alluring notes disappear when I wear it. Same perfume. Completely different experiences. On me it is Christmas dessert and the Nutcracker, on him a secret night in Venice, a 19th century emerald shining from a décolletage at the opera. Forbidden. “Warn me?

I have more examples, oh so many more. Of perfumes that surprise and confuse and alter as they evolve on one person’s skin or another’s. Of the infinite mysteries that create a love affair between the nose and the mind. This is one of the many reasons why perfumes fascinate me.

Come, let’s dance!

I have infinite amounts of scent memories from my childhood that are linked to Poland and my grand mother. From the smell of chicken broth when she opened her window as she saw us arriving by car from the airport – to the Lancôme powder in her handbag. My Poland is a Poland with so many olfactory codes and sentimental signs that go through my nose straight to my soul.

This summer I am spending some time in Sopot and the surrounding area. A place where my mother spent childhood summers and where I have been as a child as well. And so many scents… The fish restaurants by the sea, the corn, the grilled little cheeses “Oscypek” that you can buy as street finger food – and my favorite smell… Gofry. A kind of waffle that you can buy every ten steps, you get them with cream or ice cream, berries, chocolate what have you… I don’t eat them but the smell of them that covers the entire coast in a soft vanilla embrace… It’s divine. And then there is the pop corn smell by the beautiful outdoor cinema at the pier, the fruits, the homemade soups and pierogi, and the perfumes that leave a trail after all the dressed up people at night.

Oh, and today… the most amazing one. Driving to Krokowa there was this scent outside in the infinite woods. So poetic and so gentle. Sand, sea and warm pine trees. It smelled of innocence, eternity and fairytale.

My beloved Poland. How much you offer all senses.

I had a conversation the other evening about scents and music with a friend from Swedish band Diablo Swing Orchestra. Two of my favorite topics in life, so you can imagine my mind went all the way to eleven. (Sorry, musicians’ joke, some of you might catch the reference).

Music and perfume are related in so many ways, after all it is not by coincidence that the language of perfumes with notes and accords is taken directly from the terminology used to describe music composing. I don’t know how you feel about this, but for me the bond is much more profound and omnipresent. As with any language connected to any of our senses, I feel that the language that scents “speak” also has rhythms, paces, vibrations, textures that can be detected in music. Listening to music I associate the instruments, moods, transitions etc with scents and I feel instant affinity between certain fragrances or smells and songs. These associations are of course very personal and subjective, so any other person would be likely to make other connections than I do.  With some persons that I have helped find signature fragrances, or created fragrance wardrobes for, their music preferences have been a very valuable tool in the process after I felt like I grasped their way of “sense-translating”.

I don’t know how many of you share this way of thinking. I’m guessing I am not alone in this and I would love to hear your reflections. So let me start this topic by sharing some of my reflections from the conversation I had with singer/composer/musician Daniel. These are not revolutionary thoughts or ground-breaking associations. Some are quite obvious, others less. But I do find the interplay between sound and scent very inspiring and helpful so maybe these reflections will be useful to some of you.

Daniel Håkansson, Diablo Swing Orchestra

Let’s take for example instruments. Drums, I love drums. I am perhaps slightly obsessed with drums. To me drums are resinoids, some woody notes and animalistic. Drums are never flowers in my mind. Never moving or floating. Other sounds, like for example a cello can have something very mobile, alive and almost painfully transient about it. For an olfactory exercise – here’s a mind blowing reference to play with:

Diablo Swing Orchestra – How To Organize a Lynch Mob

My associations are not always directly from music to scent, sometimes they go via color, texture and pattern. Details in a song will feel like white dots or like a string about to burst or like a sweeping caress. Some ingredients will share one of these characteristics. It is highly subjective, but completely unarbitrary. And just like instruments or accords can be dissonant, a scent accord can be in conflict. To me the smell of dissonance is sour or like bitchy little flowers.

I like to use music as inspiration for fragrance composing in my mind… This spring there is one specific bridge that I have crossed a gazillion times as it takes me from my work to my favorite coffee bar. Many many of these walks I have listened to the song ‘Undisclosed desires’ by Muse while creating a fragrance in my head. I used a poem to remember the transitions between top, middle and base. (If you google “Trisiagion et L’Ame” you should be able to find it if your are curious). I would like to make this fragrance someday so I don’t want to talk it apart beforehand. My point is this, sometimes a specific song brings ideas of colors, characteristics, tonalities, opacity or denseness etc… that can be directly translated to notes and in this process music can serve as inspiration, storyboard and reference.

Can scents be used as an inspiration tool for musicians? Just as music can be used to augment olfactory thinking, I am convinced that scents can benefit the music composing process. Scents work with the brain in a very powerful way. This has to do with the human anatomy, the passage between the scent and the brain is short and direct. I will look into this more so I can provide you with a better more thorough explanation but until then let’s just embrace this fact and the possibilities it creates. We have the obvious aroma therapeutic aspects, such as citrus as uplifting. But how can we go a step further? My idea here is that by surrounding yourself with mood scents you’ll be stimulated to balance the music you create or to add a certain atmosphere in a helpful way. For example when looking for a way to add softness or desire or savageness or depth to a melody. Say if you want to make the music darker, I am sure that incense or animalistic notes would help your mind find the way.

So, what about G minor? This was the question that triggered the conversation the other night, “what does G minor smell like?”. Take a moment to think about it and then I will tell you my thoughts.

G minor. This is where I go with my brain – the sound smells like a plant to me. Not a flower, not a spice, not resinoid, not animalistic. It is something that moves and lives. Like the strings on a guitar it stretches, vibrates. My first specific scent associations were the way that air smells between the lightnings during a thunder storm – wet, sweet, angry and vibrant. But also new. The idea that comes to my mind is vetiver. Solid but flexible, alive. Dark and light at the same time. Rooted and reaching out.

Thank you Daniel. For the music and for a great question.