Does culture influence our Fragrance choices ?
We are all drawn to certain smells by nature; it could be the aroma of pie baking, which transports you back to your grandmother’s house during the holidays as a child, or the scent of roses, which makes you think of a loved one.
Our sense of smell offers one of the greatest ties to our emotions and memories, and holds the power to whisk us away into different times.
My favourite scents include the smell of fresh mint which reminds me of my mom’s cooking, the scent of frankincense, which my mother burned to cleanse the house, and the scent of potent oud, packed in tiny glass bottles sold in the bazaars of Charminar. Which smells similar to Oud Gaiac by Sentier.
So, what triggers our sense of smell? In the odorous epithelium at the top of the nasal cavity, light, volatile molecules that escape come into contact with our neurological system and cause us to detect fragrances. Everything we smell becomes a part of us because every smell is the result of a molecule from the outside world fusing with a molecule from the interior of our bodies. It’s all quite magical isn’t it ? It made me wonder; do cultural experiences we have growing up have any impact on the fragrance families we are inherently drawn to?
I asked Lorna McKay, Founder of The Perfume Society, for her perspective:
“I tend to choose fresh smells for happy day fragrances with neroli and bergamot – I also love petit grain and datura which grew in my garden in Menton. I love cedarwood , sandalwood, vetiver and patchouli for evening scents as that’s probably what I associate with going out” says Lorna.
You can get a sense of how the combination of cerdarwoord, bergamot and patchouli would smell trying our Estmeed Musk.
I also reached out to Oana, a Fragrance influencer on Instagram, who commented:
“I love fragrances and I love having different types of perfumes in my collection. From fruity, floral and aromatic gourmands to fresh oriental. I wouldn’t say I’m necessarily influenced by culture considering fragrances I love, but I noticed that I frequently lean towards fragrances that have a vanilla note, which is an ingredient that is often used in Romania, where I’m from”.
Oana continues to reflect on how vanilla reminds her of her grandmother, who “made the best vanilla flavoured cakes in the whole world”, as well as the beautiful scent of lavender, which she used to place in her wardrobe.
“The scent of oranges reminds me of Christmas in my childhood, as we could only enjoy these fruits in winter, and it was a tradition to hang them on the Christmas tree”.
Perfumes have been a part of Romanian culture dating back to 1564. In 1881, Elisabeth of Wied, the first Queen of Romania, selected the German perfume house Johann Maria Farina, which sparked the popularity of fragrance ever since.
Reaching out to another Fragrance influencer, Chris expressed that culture didn’t directly impact her choices:
“There are several fragrances which have become very popular in the community that I would not wear. Perfume is an important part of my day life, a reflection of my personality, individualism and taste”
The key is to find fragrances that you adore and enjoy wearing, regardless of whether you have a connection to certain scents throughout your life or from your culture. Fragrances are a reflection of who we are, and a special fragrance that brings back fond memories and emotions is magical.