Scent and Association

Scent has always been very important to me. It ties me to the best and worst moments of my life. As a doctor the importance of scent was always highlighted by Patients with Parkinson's Disease who often lose smell and taste perception as part of the disease process. For many this is one of the most debilitating components. 

In my earlier career as a stage actor and certainly during my training I used to find it difficult to draw upon emotion spontaneously. We can all fake it until we make it;  but there is no doubt a moment of truth is far more moving for an audience. This has become easier as I have gotten older. I feel less censored. I have loved and I have been hurt. I now have a bank of experiences to call upon. Interestingly enough, for me, accessing those feelings is much easier if I use the memory of scent (if it was associated with the moment) rather than trying to fast track to the emotion. As someone who works as a perfumer this can be more complex. I have scents I created, that exes wore, that I shelve rather than sold - until the hurt subsided at least.

Aside from emotional association, perfume as an art suffers from what I will call "chemical association." Pine based scents are often linked to toilet cleaners or that magic tree car freshener. Many people relate neroli or even rose to nappies. I remember someone saying they couldn't wear a neroli scent I used to make because it reminded them of their floor cleaner - it goes without saying I wanted to know the brand so I could clean my floor with the same. It is my opinion that the world of aroma chemicals has become so accessible that the scents of our household products are improving and encroaching on our cosmetics which makes association more and more of a challenge as a perfumer and as a customer.


What I am trying to highlight here is that there is a never a right or wrong answer when it comes to scent. We all hold strong opinions and we should continue to do so. However, we must never forget that our taste in scent is so heavily inspired by our emotional experiences and our environment, that the importance of others opinions should never be taken as more than that. An opinion.

When I create perfumes, I am inviting others to experience the scents that emote and inspire me. There are thousands of us all around the world doing the same. What a fantastic way to express yourself.