2021 . 03 . 19 | written by Karen Marin

Add to my selection

Essencional's original content




As the days on the calendar pointed to Spring, I couldn’t help but realize we had hit the one-year mark of living under a pandemic, a moment when life as we knew it changed immediately and drastically. The experience has pushed us to re-examine our lives, our values, our relationships, and hopefully, it has also literally made us stop to smell the roses….and made us appreciate things we had taken for granted – like our sense of smell. International Fragrance Day arrives on March 21st, and rather than see it as a day to drive sales, I think it should be something much bigger than that. This is a day on which we should celebrate our fantastic ability to smell! (And even more so after so many people lost their sense of smell and taste due to COVID-19.) Let’s think about scent in our life.

For the past year I’ve been taking a long, daily walk in my neighborhood, and every day I appreciate that I can smell things. There is cut grass in the park, the smell of burnt rubber from a car that accelerated too fast, the sweet aroma of crepes being made at a takeaway stand, and even the odor of people smoking cannabis down by the river. While out the other day I started thinking about smells that are important to me in one way or another: my favorites, the ones I dislike and the ones I truly miss.

Aside from any of the numerous fragrances on my vanity, I really like the tannic notes of a just-opened bottle of red wine. There’s the semi-sweet odor of pipe tobacco and the glorious perfume of garden roses in full bloom, both of which trigger memories of my grandparents. I even like the smell of gasoline, indicative of travel, and fresh ground coffee means a cup is coming my way. These are common odors from daily life which bring pleasure, comfort and sometimes even heighten anticipation of moments to come. As for scents I truly dislike, the cat litter box could make me keel over but cigar smoke is probably my least favorite.

What are the smells I truly miss? How about stale, recycled air in an airplane, or the nastiness of sweaty bodies in the gym? What about the fake-buttery smell of commercially processed popcorn in movie theaters, or the stench of spilled beer in a crowded bar, and the spicy aroma of Moroccan cuisine wafting up from the (temporarily closed) restaurant on my corner. Am I channeling Marcel Proust with my olfactive memories from a life put on hold?

Turning to happy thoughts, I ask myself, what does the sunset smell like? What about happiness? How could I describe the scent of a moonlit night? Does friendship have a smell? While pondering these questions, I asked colleagues around the globe to tell me how fragrance enhances their life. Let their words resonate as we celebrate our fragrant world today and every day.

“Fragrance for me is pure escapism in a bottle. Particularly over the past year when we have been living with travel restrictions and working from home, fragrance is a way to transport the mind to exotic locations and remembering past travels; the smell of jasmine sambac reminds me of flower markets in South India, a classic chypre reminds me of summers on the Côte D’Azur and modern musks and woody-amber notes remind me of walking in downtown Manhattan."

Clayton Ilolahia, Communication and Evaluation, Fragrances of the World, a former New Zealander now living in Australia
"Fragrances are my passion, they are my hobby, they are what I spend the better part of my day talking about and, luckily, they are the engine behind my work so I consider myself a lucky man who spends his days working on what he loves."

Eduardo Garcia de Alba Barroso, Founder, MyScentJourney, Mexico
"When we hug our friends, we sniff them; the mere molecules their bodies produce linger in the air and enter our noses, where they become, for a second, us. Literally. Of all our senses, smell is the only one building connections regardless of personal preference, demography, or cultural background. It's our purest form of communication, and thus our highest mountain to learn and climb... particularly in a world of always- filtered messages".

Dana Sandu, High-tech advisor | data collector | perfume anthropologist | Romanian-born, now based in California, USA
"The main reason why fragrances are important to me is because of the moods & tone that they create. Fragrance can instantly change any situation. They transport us to times & places of yesteryear and spark thoughts of the future with the one you love. Fragrance is truly the stuff that dreams are made of."

Luc Solomon, Entrepreneur & Bespoke Fragrance Creator, The Elemental Fragrance Company, USA
"Perfume is that apparently superfluous gesture that brightens your day. Scents make you feel unique and alive, especially in such tough times where isolation is the new normal. I wake up in the morning, brush my teeth, wear a perfume and turn my laptop on. This gives me a sense of normality and has become a daily sanity check. Last but not least, fragrance is a flying carpet since traveling is very limited. You just spray, close your eyes and you're smartworking from everywhere you want, from Sicily to Australia. Isn't this wonderful?"

Ermano Pico, Fragrance Consultant, Italy
"Fragrance is very important to me because of the level of comfort it brings me. When I was much younger I met a lady who has the most comforting aroma she turned out to be my wife for over 30 years. Looking back I realised what an important role fragrances has played in my relationships. So if you're asking what fragrance means to me it means comfort and I value my comfort very much."

Olufemi Olusola, Founder, Seinde Signature, Nigeria
“Scents decorate our life.”

Chi Tang, Consultant, Singapore
As an artist I work with a range of media to provoke responses whether emotional, intellectual or otherwise. Naturally, I do this through engaging the senses—sight, hearing, touch—it was inevitable to engage through smell too. It’s such a hugely important and fascinating sense and one that’s still underexplored in contemporary art. Producing a collection of perfumes has become the most important way of doing this for me. It's a natural progression in my art practice because it uses principles that apply in art, such as composition, craft, aesthetics, and stories to evoke new responses, in me and others.

Sarah Baker, Founder Sarah Baker Perfumers, former American living in the UK

And closing words from our Founder:

"With the pandemic we have perhaps rediscovered the communicative and evocative power of perfume, beyond its ability to hide us behind a curtain, but by becoming once again our most trusted friend that reveals something about us that we recognize and that lets us be understood even better by others.

We may also be grateful to perfumery because it has fueled our dreams, our desires to escape, it excites us. I thank Karen and our esteemed colleagues for these beautiful words with which we turn with great confidence to a bright future made of greater awareness and sincerity. "

Silvio Levi, Founder & Director, Essencional, and Founder, Esxence, Italy