The Maxiamo Blog - Thinking about Perfume

Black Roses and Frilly Tulips – The myths surrounding unusual flowers

There are highly exotic-looking flowers in the world, and some look fantastic but smell of nothing, and some smell fabulous but look weird. Here are two extremes: the “Black Rose” of Halfeti, Turkey, and the extremely vivid “Fringed Tulips” which are prolific this time of the year. Strange looks but great fragrance Halfeti, in the southeastern…Read more »

Quantum Biology explains why we “hear” with our noses

Prof. Jim Al-Khalili’s fascinating program The Secrets of Quantum Physics, from BBC Four, included a particularly intriguing section on Quantum Biology. In the second episode in the series, Let There be Life, he explains the “vibration theory of olfaction”, and he does it so eloquently and coherently (and beautifully!) that even I could grasp the general…Read more »

Recreating scents as “memory perfumes”

People do all kinds of things in an effort to keep or get back something of the person they loved who has died. They make diamonds of their ashes, they have paintings of them, they dedicate park benches to them in their favourite parks, keep their clothes in their wardrobes until the smell has faded,…Read more »

Perfume – The Art and Science of Bottling Memories

“When we reflect on the origin of creativity, in whatever field of endeavour, our thoughts turn first to the imagination…And the imaginative person, gifted with taste, will naturally be drawn in the direction of artistic creation.” – Edmond Roudnitska

The creation of perfume is both an art and a science; the ancient art of composing and creating a substance that will evoke specific memories and emotions in the person who uses it, combined with the science of organic chemistry.

A perfume that has been specially created is like an abstract painting. Its meaning for the wearer lies in the personal associations they experience when they smell it – a hot summer’s day, their mother’s scent, the skin of a loved one, walking through damp cedar woods, or standing on a beach, breathing in the sea scent. Each person will interpret a perfume differently, and for each, a perfume will reveal its top, middle and bottom notes as subtly different as each person’s own chemical makeup. Magically (though it is actually mainly science!) the perfume creator combines different extracts of carbon-based compounds, found in plants, in a systematic and intentional way to layer different smells to recreate memories for the user. One sniff – and you are somewhere else.

The word perfume is used today to describe scented mixtures and is derived from the Latin word, “per fumus,” meaning “through smoke”. And that is exactly what wearing perfume is like – the fragrance reveals itself like fragrant, invisible wisps of smoke – first the top notes, then, after a while, the middle notes, and lastly, lingeringly, the base notes. The words we use to describe these notes in a perfume are generally understood, but like describing a piece of art, or a wine, or a piece of music, the words and imagery are merely approximations. To truly experience a perfume, you have to smell it.

For most people, a perfume is the closest they will ever come to owning a piece of art, or a poem or piece of music dedicated to them. But today, owning your own piece of perfume art is more attainable than ever before.