Perfume is personal
Sweet smelling Grasse
Grasse is a town on the French Riviera, situated in the hills north of Cannes. In the 16th century, aware of how strongly their leather smelt, tanners decided to “perfume” it. Beautiful flowers were planted, such as roses and jasmine, to extract their fragrance. Famous names are associated with Grasse; Chanel grow the Mai de Rose there. This flower has, for nearly 100 years, contributed to the iconic perfume, Chanel No. 5, which celebrated its 100th birthday in 2021. When asked what she wore to bed, Marilyn Monroe famously replied, “I only wear Chanel No. 5.” Dior, Les Fontaines Parfumées, Galimard, Fragonard and Molinard are there and a beautiful museum, the Musée International de la Parfumerie, tells the fascinating story of Grasse’s past, holding a unique collection of 50,000 items related to perfume.
Closer to home
We are fortunate to have our own perfume-making studio in Otago. Miller Road Fragrance Studios, located in Devenport and Queenstown, offer a workshop where you can spend two and a half hours creating your own 30ml bottle of bespoke eau de parfum. There is a choice of both masculine and feminine fragrances, with 60 perfumery materials available including rose, jasmine, vanilla, sandalwood and ambergris. Private bookings are also available for birthdays, Christmas outings, corporate events or Hens Nights.
If you are concerned about the number of synthetic chemicals used in perfume, natural fragrances should have 80% or more certified organic ingredients to be classed as organic. The ingredients are plant-based, such as plant oils, distilled water and natural alcohol made from products such as grapes, wheat or corn. Producing natural perfumes is much more labour intensive and usually made on a smaller scale. The price of the ingredients is higher and therefore natural fragrances can be more expensive. However, for those concerned about what they put onto their skin, (which is the largest organ in the body; 60% of what we put onto our skin is absorbed into our bloodstream) sustainable scents are better for the planet and can have a greater intensity of fragrance. Ensure a patch test is done first if prone to allergies.
Our sense of smell is directly linked to the limbic system, which processes and regulates emotion and memory. Certain smells, such as the sea, freshly mown grass, coffee, or even the smell of rain can take us back to a specific time or place. Scents can be nostalgic and affect our mood. As an example, citrus notes such as lemon, lime, orange or bergamot have been shown to reduce stress and increase our energy. Dabbing or spraying on a favourite scent can help us to feel good and give a boost to an otherwise drab day. - Gill Towle