The Scent of a Woman, Imagined

The Imagination of Designing Fragrance

Perfume is a storytelling — it’s a layering of tellings that translate to the alchemy of ingredients. Woods, resins, tinctures of flowers, aromatic leaves, natural ingredients, all combine to build a story that allows interpretation.

Working in Paris, there was a woman that I knew, an older professional PR talent that I’d connected with in guidance when I was working there.

She smoked and drank; and she was redolent of tobacco and alcohol; it wafted off her in a sillage of earthiness. In the French custom of kissing each cheek in greeting, you get closer to that person’s fragrance. Aside from their body chemistry, there will be the sweetness of their applied perfume. In the story, life, experiences, places been, all figure in the layering of scent. Embracing a person will speak to presence in environment — a farmer will layer in the scents of hay, dirt and the dust of grains, the perfume of cattle and horses and all that goes with them.

I was curious about the idea of designing a scent around a photograph, or perhaps a painting — emblematic of a woman.

If there’s anyone to explore the idea of building a scent around a picture, it might be Ben Gorham, who we’ve written about in the pasta man that reaches into his upbringing to revive scents from his childhood, a robust and complex layering of memories and perfumes from the mind of past experiences. My first experience of his reminiscences comes from Pulp.

The Scent of a Woman, Imagined

A new collaboration tells more; long-running husband and wife photography team Inez van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin co-created with
Ben Gorham of Stockholm-based fragrance house Byredo to produce
a new
scent: 1996.

According to Gorham’s overview,
“the fragrance is a true collaboration in every sense as Creative Director Ben Gorham sought to interpret not only the image itself but the vision and personality of its creators.
“We said, ‘These are the notes that we’ve always been attracted to that come from the different countries we have memories of, this is our house full of warm wood and high end design, this picture represents the duality that underlies our work and our life together, the scent is very much Ben’s impeccable and sensitive interpretation of that“ – Inez van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin.'”

The point lies in the layering link of story, memory and the touch of the woman, her scents —
what is recalled, and
what is forgotten.

Tim | NYC