Lipstick is said to enhance and brighten lips, a coat of mascara won’t just lengthen lashes but also waken tired-looking eyes, and blush promises to deliver a healthy flush in a flash. But as powerful as beauty products can be in their ability to produce such effects, none come close to that of a fragrance: One spritz can evoke a visceral reaction so great, it can transport you back to a moment in time or a place beyond the confines of your home (figuratively speaking, of course).
And that’s precisely the intrinsically beautiful thing about perfumes — the ability to create an association with a recollection, an olfactory fingerprint if you will, that can anchor you to another point in your life. Couple that with an emotion as meaningful as love — in all of its forms, whether it’s a first encounter, a new adventure, or simply the feeling of longing — and these nostalgia-tinged flashbacks become that much more profound. (Humans have about 450 different olfactory receptors, allowing us to detect and recall as many as a trillion smells.) With the help of Atelier Cologne, we tasked six people to recall and recreate an important love flashback inspired by the French Maison de Parfum's perfumes.
For one, it’s the sweet, citrus notes of clementines that remind her of her past — picking fruit in her family’s background as a child — and to practice self-love in the present. For another, the smell of vanilla calls forth the familiar warmth of her home and the love she feels for her city. Read on for all six of their personal and intimate interpretations of what love smells like.
Fragrance: Clémentine California | Flashback: Californian Summer Self-Love
“For me, self-love is important. At home, in my loft in downtown Los Angeles with my pup, I love to take a self-care day to practice all my favorite self-love rituals. Clémentine California is sweet, joyful, and playful — all the things you need to be to yourself. I love this perfume because it reminds me of my childhood, of the hot Californian summer days when I would pick citrus fruits in my family's backyard. I apply it in the mornings when I want to evoke feelings of playfulness and joy.”
Fragrance: Vanille Insensée | Flashback: First Encounter With Love In NYC
“The love emotion I’m recollecting is a first encounter, which, for me, is my first encounter with New York City: It’s where my parents fell in love, where I was born, and the place where I draw inspiration from. Vanille Insensée reminds me of comfort and warmth — emotions associated with being home and around family. I apply this fragrance when I need a burst of positivity — it makes me feel happy and comforted.”
Fragrance: Oolang Infini | Flashback: Longing For Love
“The beginning stage of falling in love — the longing — is my favorite for many reasons, but mainly because I love the yearning of a presence that you miss and desperately wish to be around. This is the stage of love where you want to know every little thing about them: their favorite color, their favorite song, what makes them laugh, who they’re inspired by, but most importantly, how they smell. Because there are strong notes of oolong tea, Oolang Infini reminds me of tiny moments I’ve shared in Malibu, sipping on hot tea and watching the waves pass by from their apartment window as the sun goes down.”
Fragrance: Orange Sanguine | Flashback: Morning Love Olfactive Painting
“Perfumes can take you back in time to a place that had a significant impact. With Orange Sanguine, I’m taken back to a time of infatuation. This perfume unlocks my passion and my love of art, and it’s a reminder of when I realized the appreciation I have for myself, both body and mind — it’s an awakening. I’m a creator and a creative, and scent is key to the process, allowing me to create in vivid color. Orange Sanguine is the perfect blend of feminine and masculine notes, and it reminds me of a bright sunny spring or midsummer morning. It energizes me. I like to apply it as soon as I get out of the shower for a feeling of rejuvenation.”
Fragrance: Pacific Lime | Flashback: My Mexican Love Affair
“I love to travel, and for each new place I visit, I try to bring either a new fragrance or candle that will help encapsulate the trip. Anytime I wear it it reminds me of that time in my life. I’ve had a love affair with Mexico — it’s where I have always felt like my most authentic self — so last December, I made the decision to finally move from Los Angeles to Guadalajara. And while it’s extremely scary, especially amid a pandemic, it’s exciting — and Pacific Lime, with its bright citrus and warm amber notes, is helping me mark this special time in my life. It’s happy, it’s bright, it’s lifted me in times of uncertainty, and it’s comforting — it reminds me of my other times in Mexico, sipping tropical drinks with friends. I love applying it in the morning to help start my day. It helps pull me out of the mundane from being indoors all day and reminds me that I’m in the place I love most.”
Fragrance: Love Osmanthus | Flashback: Creative Love In The Garden
“I think of fragrances as an accessory to my outfit, which can complement the season, occasion, or mood. With this perfume, I’m taken back to a trip to Italy that I loved. I toured a huge garden that was encased in lemon trees and spent long nights out exploring. I am using both the memory of my trip to Italy and the Love Osmanthus cologne to spark my creativity. By wearing a perfume I love — a blend of floral with citrus and woody accords — Love Osmanthus inspires my love for creating. I’ve been applying it in the morning after I get ready, and it helps pull me out of a funk (which is easy to fall into when you’re at home 24/7) and keeps me motivated for the rest of the day.”