Time travel in a bottle…Scent and memory

My Aunty worked in the fragrance industry. My very first fragrance was a gift from her –  a small bottle of Oscar de la renta. I treasured it. Sadly, that same bottle leaked on my family trip to sydney and wafted over the passengers in the plane. I was 10. One spray of Oscar 18 years later,  and I can be taken back in time experiencing a sad feeling of shock when I saw my gift had saturated the lining of backpack!

Scent is the strongest line to memory there is. It’s why brides want a signature scent to define their wedding day – and why wearing  the same scent on an anniversary is a powerful aphrodisiac. It’s time travel in a bottle – now that’s something you would pay a premium for right?

This is no coincidence. Coco Chanel wanted a perfume no one could imitate or forget. Designer Ernest Beaux used the most expensive ingredients available at the time of its creation, its signature and defining feature is a 1% overdose of aliphatic aldehydes, the chemical is used in the top fragrances in the world

Aldehydes are organic compounds present in many natural materials, such as rose and orange rind, but they can also be reproduced in a lab. They vary in smell;  ranging from soapy to citrus, waxy to starchy, from green to vanilla.

The type of aldehydes used in perfumery is called aliphatic, or “fatty”.  They are recognised on perfume packaging with letters and numbers eg C13 has a waxy, grapefruit-like scent that is used in baby doll by ysl. You can read more about the science here

Popular aldehydic fragrances include: Dior Miss Dior,Lanvin Arpege, Jean Patou Joy,Ivoire de Balmain, Chloe, Yves Saint Laurent Rive Gauche, Elizabeth Taylor White Diamonds, Givenchy Ysatis, Estee Lauder Knowing, Guerlain Vol de Nuit, Avon Rare Gold, Joop! Femme, Tommy Hilfiger True Star, Givenchy L’Interdit, Agent Provocateur Maîtresse, Dolce & Gabbana Classique, and Lagerfeld Femme.



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