flash scents

Powerhouse fragrance and flavor fabricator, IFF has released a new Speed Smelling collection. The minimalist white box contains a collection of freestyle fragrance-making where professional scent artists have total creative liberty but only 7 minutes to spin a scent.

speed smelling

Available at Lucky Scent.

In this collection, perfumers take inspiration from music, pop culture, photography, fairy tales, and jewelry:

Nicolas Beaulieu: With this fragrance, Nicolas wanted to share his memories of a trip to Tamil Nadu in South India. The spices that suffuse the land, jasmine, monsoon coffee..a scented image of the region’s fragrant specialties.

Domitille Bertier: Inspired from her trip to Rio this year, Domitille’s fragrance celebrates the bountiful greenery of the Tropics, evoking the breathtaking verticality of trees, the delicacy of certain tropical flowers and the telluric, nurturing power of the soil that feeds this vegetal extravagance.

Alexis Dadier: With her mastery over appearances, Conchita Wurst inspired Alexis’ creation with her half-pirate, half-siren persona, resulting in a joyful fragrance that opens up with creamy Viennese hot chocolate and shifts to vegetal notes softened with a feminine cocktail of blackberries, and floral rose and iris notes.

Loc Dong: As an ode to his grandfather’s herbal dispensary in Vietnam, Loc was inspired by natural Cinnamon essence to build a fragrance with this note as its fiery base, building on it with the synthetics ambroxan, cashmeran, and Iso E Super.

Anne Flipo: An olfactory focus on the pistil of the flower, in the manner of a bumblebee that sips the stamen’s honeyed nectar and fly off to pollinize the bush. The scent evokes the stamen’s honeyed nectar and pollen, built upon broom flower, beeswax, orange blossom, and rum.

Nelly Hachem-Ruiz: Inspired by the budoir: Peachskin, suede, silk, velvet… all the textures that are a call to pleasure. Floral and fruity notes flirt witih tobacco, incense and animalic leather tones.

Jean-Christophe Hérault: Built like a floral kaleidoscope, Jean-Christophe offers a bold, sensitive interpretation of mimosa, rendering the many facets and colors of the flower.

Juliette Karagueuzoglou: Showcasing the geranium leaf by emphasizing its freshness, the fragrance is a geranium sherbet, a frozen delight of floral and aromatic notes reflecting the intrinsic duality of the ingredient.

Aliénor Massenet: Inspired by a luminous, many-faceted golden sculpture by Olafur Eliasson entitled The New Planet, Alienor’s composition has grapefruit, rhubarb, ginger, pink pepper, sage and juniper. A yellow, stimulating aura of a scent.

Sophie Labbé: Imagining a garden in space, suspended among the stars, Sophie conjured up a cosmic garden that smells of honey, a cloud of ozonic musks, aromatic herbs, carrot and vetiver roots, as well as rose and jasmine flowers.

Dominique Ropion: A fragrance inspired by the rose of Taif, composed from entirely different materials, and not a drop of rose of Taif. An amplified leathery rose whose composition includes coriander, cardamom, pink pepper, and blackcurrant bud, as well as ambergris.

famous last smells

morgue fridge
J.F. Kennedy
Lady Diana
Muammar Gaddafi
Whitney Houston …
What do they have in common? They died weird deaths. Thanks to a group of Dutch researchers, now you can experience them.

The Museum of the Image recently had an unusual installation – Famous Deaths. The exhibit recreates the final moments of a few celebrities whose deaths are equally famous. The exciting, though macabre, exhibit is part of the inter-European SENSE OF SMELL project coordinated by the Communication and Multimedia department at the Dutch university Avans in Breda.

The exhibit invites guests to enter a steel case like the refrigerated compartments for corpses at a morgue. Inside the case distinctive smells and sounds that evoke the precise place and circumstances of each famous death.

Check out this trailer that was made to launch the project:

does America get perfume?

In a recent article in The Guardian, Sady Doyle ponders how and why Americans engage more conservatively with perfume and perfumery as art. It’s a fascinating discussion, and one that merits more attention and investigation. Doyle seems a bit hasty in proclaiming Americans anti-perfume. “The scents we do like tend to smell weird to everyone else.” Perhaps. However, the same is true for virtually every culture compared to any other culture.


Having taught at colleges across the US  since 2000, I noticed some strong scent trends. Many of my students 2000-2012 flooded the quad and classroom with artificial food-based scents reminiscent of candy.

While there are certainly generational cultural trends there’s not much evidence to support the argument that we are uniquely scent averse or perverse. Doyle states that Americans are ‘far behind’ but in what regard? Where and how far do we have to go? Is this a cultural problem or a marketing one? The fact that Chris Brosius has had success in innovative scent retail experience, not to mention Lucky Scent’s Scent Bar, Aedes de Venustas and more popping up each year, seems to suggest that we are evolving our olfactory palate. We Americans may not have the historical appreciation or sophisticated habits of Europeans or Middle Easterners, but we are far from a nation of scentphobes – even if we are germophobes. Given that flavor is roughly 90% olfaction, we have an established desire for strong scents and tastes. We are, after all, the nation that created Doritos and Sierra Nevada IPA.

memory and smell

Even before Proust, scent has played an integral role in memory-making and memory recall throughout history. One has only to consider the vast tomes of naturalist fiction, only the tip of the iceberg. It is one of the key senses in creating an immersive experience whether on the page, in conversation, and now, in the virtual realm of screens. The rising popularity of digital scent memoirs is also strong testimony.

Alzheimer’s researchers are continuing to investigate the relationship between olfaction and memory. For some time, they have known that the loss of smell or anosmia is a sure sign of the onset of Alzheimer’s Disease. Now teams are trying to determine how special scents can be used strategically as stimuli in patients struggling with dementia and memory loss.

Belgian fashion collective Margiela is tapping into the rich digital space for scent memory. Their fragrance line replica has spurred a social project to mine sensory-rich, smell-inspired or evocative photos via Instagram. All are invited to share their personal smell images like this lovely post by Mimi Frou Frou  by tagging photos with #smellslikememories.

Here’s my very first scent memory  and a smell image to accompany it:maplesyrupPhoto courtesy of boston.com

I will never be able to separate the smell of maple syrup from my unsophisticated yet eager five-year-old nose, from my five-year-old skin. My tiny curious self, trudging through a maple farm in the bright, crunchy snow, puzzling at the plastic jugs parasitically strapped to the maple trees’ wispy figures. These dainty giants stood at attention in service of the warm glowing cabin and its endless stream of billowing white smoke. I remember wondering if the trees were in fact bleeding. The smoke filling my nostrils with warm woodiness, goodness of the  slender forest overtook the tingly icy chill of winter’s air tickling my bare cheeks. The dim light of dusk cast an overwhelming blanket of mystery over this place, which at that moment seemed to me as secret and profound as the other side of the coat closet in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe must’ve been for those fictional children I would read about a few years later. These great clouds of smoke filled my wool scarf, wrapped tightly around my neck, over my coat, catching the condensation of that fantastic new scent dripping from my nose. How amazed I was by the rich sensations. How strange that in my memory, I am virtually alone, except for the incredulous, excited glances fired between my sister and I. Stranger yet that my memory is absolutely silent, and that this heavy silence is a crucial part of the experience that is today only awakened by the accidental thought that I love the smell of maple, but not its taste. Perhaps this is because no bottle I’ve opened to this day has had the power to bring me back to the feeling I’ve just described, the intoxicating novelty of witnessing the magical birth of maple syrup in the New Hampshire countryside. You see, the scent of maple is vision, quietude, sensation, and awe. It is too rare to be plucked from the shelf out of a crude grocery store lineup, too precious to be cavalierly spilt in public, among strangers, over pancakes or waffles or bacon.


Take a small stick of cinnamon, or a maple branch, if one is handy.

Put a dram of very peaty scotch into a small glass or bowl. A very smoky cognac, brandy or armagnac will do.

Drizzle a bit of maple syrup into the scotch. It will sink to the bottom.

Get a match (ones that light fire logs are even better).

At dusk, preferably during the winter or fall, bundle up in coat and wool scarf.

Gather your scotch-maple glass, stick and matches and go outside.

Light the stick or branch just until it smoke a bit, like an incense stick and wave it under your nose.

Throw back the scotch and maple, making sure to lick the last bit of maple from the bottom of the glass or bowl so it is the last taste you have.

Enjoy the warm. smoky, sweet, stickiness of maple against the chilly mystery of winter dusk.

For maximum enjoyment, do this alone.

perfumes under fire


Photo courtesy of Lemonde.com

Buy your favorite European scents while you still recognize them. The latest European Commission’s ruling on perfume allergens will be quite a blow to perfumers, especially small quantity niche brands like Frédéric Malle, who is one of the most vocal in public resistance to the imminent changes. Read an excellent article in French newspaper Le Monde on the ruling.

smells unseen


Photo courtesy of peterdecupere.net

The small town of Herford, located between Hanover and Dusselforf, is home to Frank Gehry-designed Marta Herford museum. From June 8 – June 15, 2014 you can test and train your sense of smell. Belgian artist Peter De Cupere uses scratch and sniff technology in his invisible (SCENT) paintings of olfactory art, which is part of an interactive sculpture and architecture show.

JUNE 8 – 15
Marta Herford
Goebenstraße 4–10, 32052 Herford
Fon +49.5221.994430-0
How to get to Marta Herford with Google Maps


bringing molecular gastronomy home


Photo courtesy of molecule-r.com

The Canadian molecular gastronomy company, Molécule-R is tackling a new frontier in taste and home dining. They are about to release aroma-diffusing forks and spoons – Aromafork, at $58.98 CD and Aromaspoon $24.95 CD – add various aromas to each sip or bite. They call these enhancements ‘volatile flavoring kits,’ which are available for pre-order slated for release June-July 2014.

aroma-r-evolution (1)Photo courtesy of molecule-r.com

continuing education

ImagePhoto courtesy of Odette Toilette

Noses in the Big Smoke are lucky to have Odette Toilette, the founder of a thriving olfactory event scene in London. Her scratch + sniff nights provide rich olfactive adventure and education.

Californians can take a more institutional yet no less exciting approach to olfactive training at one of perfumer and wine consultant Alexandre Schmitt‘s seminars as he travels wine country across the state.

As the latest smell research shows, participating in scent events like these trains your brain and nose to smell a wider range and greater nuances in smells.

the medium is the massage

smell taste touch sing

Read a wonderful article on the brief history of olfactory stimulation in marketing. From Smell-o-Vision smell-o-vision Photo by Santa Clara County Library 

to smellizing to the latest scent-emitting ophone app,

Image Photo by Vapor Communications

it covers a few milestones in scent technology. Although this is in no way exhaustive of olfactive technology in the 20th and 21st century, if you’re curious about the next level of immersive sensory marketing and media, this is a must read.