When we are born, we have no preconceptions of scent. Our sense of smell is present from the womb and somewhere along the way, we make positive and negative connections to the things we smell. We decide we don’t like floral fragrance, or we only wear perfume containing spice. How does this happen, and should we suspend our perfume bias when we approach a new perfume?
This is the challenge that Creative Director and Founder of STORIES Parfums, Tonya Kidd-Beggs, engages with wholeheartedly. Each Eau de Parfum in the STORIES range is numbered to allow the perfume to speak for itself. This gives customers the opportunity to enjoy the fragrance without any associations informed by past preference. It also explains why the scent profile of each blend is discretely included on the boxes. Tonya wants her customers to experience the Eau de Parfum free from perfume bias in order to inspire a new understanding of scent.
The Power of Perfume
How do you smell the world? This is not a question that is asked very often. We are more likely to focus on our ability to see the world, speak out about the world or listen to the stories the world is telling us. However, our ability to use scent as a tool for connection, inspiration and exploration is invaluable.
There is something powerful in the way a smell can trigger our memory. Fragrance has the power to connect us to people and places in the past. A spritz of the Eau de Parfum favoured by a belated grandmother can reaffirm our bond with people who are no longer part of our present. A walk in the woods can take us back to our childhood when we climbed trees with no worry of falling. There are parts of ourselves with which we have lost touch. An olfactory journey can bridge those gaps in a way that looking at a photograph fails to do.
It’s not just about forging bonds with our past but it is also about making new memories. The scent you wear on your first date or first day in a new job creates an opportunity to mark that point in a way you will never forget. We can map our life experiences with scent and remain tethered to them, needing only a spray of that fragrance to relive the joy.
Thanks to the artistry and commitment of key people in the fragrance industry, there is a small renaissance in perfumery. There is a move away from the rampant commercialism of scents, towards bespoke blends made from high quality ingredients.
According to fragrance expert and author, Michael Edwards, there is an evolution of luxury brands.
“Many of the great brands of the Eighties and Nineties have become almost masstige. Limited editions are so pervasive; flankers so frequent. The aspirational qualities don’t last…I’m fascinated by the explosion of creativity, the opportunity that is taking place in the niche fragrances. For me, niche is the nursery school of the future.”
STORIES Parfums is part of this revolution. Each note in STORIES No. 01 and STORIES No. 02 is part of a story. Tonya chose the ingredients because they meant something to her on a personal level. It is perfume as an artform that encourages wearers to engage with fragrance as one might listen to an orchestral composition: with an open heart and a curious mind. Ask yourself: how does it make me feel? What memories does it invoke?
'It’s not just about forging bonds with our past but it is also about making new memories.'
Lock and Key
When we inhale, an odour molecule travels into our nose, towards the mucous membrane. This membrane is located at the top of the airway either side of the nasal septum. This is where scent receptors are located. The odour molecule moves back and forth above the mucous membrane until it finds a receptor that matches it in shape and size. When it does, a message is sent by the olfactory nerve to the cerebrum in the brain. This process has been labelled ‘Lock and Key Theory’. This olfactory message then passes into the limbic system where cognitive recognition takes place and either a positive or negative association occurs.
For example, you enjoy the smell of fresh orange because your mother juiced oranges at the weekend for a special treat. Your friend comes to stay and recoils at the scent because of a vomiting bug she experienced that was made worse with orange juice. These experiences forge our unique olfactory identity. Therefore, the odours with which we positively connect are part of our core identity. This will influence the type of fragrance to which you are drawn. It also suggests that there will be a fragrance that is perfect for you. The ingredients will be keys that unlock positive associations, reflect your personality and contribute to your sense of happiness. STORIES Parfums combines this science with storytelling and art, to encourage customers to reconsider their relationship to fragrance.
What is the Story?
Smell is the most intimate of our five senses. When we view our olfactory journey in this way it completely changes the way in which we smell the world. It also affects how we buy perfume. Are you limited by perfume bias when you approach a new fragrance? Do you judge an Eau de Parfum by its notes? Consider, too, the story behind the fragrance you wear. Is it authored by experts in the industry who have a passion for perfume? Is it crafted from high-quality ingredients? Does the smell move you? Is it a story you want to be part of?We have some wonderful gift sets available on our online store. Whether you want to treat the one you love or map this part of your journey with our luxury fragrances, we have something for everyone.