Our Favourite Women On Their Favourite Fragrance Memories

By now, it should be quuuite obvious that we’re big, big fans of fragrance. One thing that’s got us especially enamoured is how personal each woman’s journey towards finding The One is, and also the transformative nature of the power of scent. One whiff of Miss Dior Cherie, and I’m taken back to my 15-year-old surfer girl self.

Ask any woman for their first beauty memory, and there’s a good chance they’ll regale an anecdote about their mum and the way her favourite fragrance (no doubt from the Chanel arsenal) smelled growing up. We went one step further, asking six of our favourite women to share their best fragrance memories with us. The result is very satisfying—read about their scent tales below.

  • Ashley Helvey, Senior Art Director, The Line

    “For me it was riding on a train from Strasbourg to Paris when I was living in Germany during school. My senses always seem to be a bit heightened while traveling alone—the sounds, the colors, and especially the smells. On the train, the most elegant older woman sat across from me wearing the most beautiful navy dress, hair perfectly tied back. She made herself the chicest picnic I have ever seen—the tiniest bottle of red wine (accompanied by the cutest wine glass), a small sandwich wrapped in wax paper with a cloth napkin, and a sliced apple. After she’d dined and put everything away, she pulled out a bottle of Franzbranntwein to freshen up, dabbing the liquid on her temples and wrists. It’s an herbal essence that I always travel with now. It takes me back to that very day, when remember thinking, ‘I want to be like that when I grow up.'”

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    Carly Rogers, PR Manager, Dermalogica Australia

    “I’m not the most loyal person to fragrances (although I wish I was one of those people—it seems like a chic way to be), but I definitely have a type. Woody, warm, spicy, smokey, leathery, peppery… but especially anything with vanilla notes. I’m pretty sure I can trace this back to my mum’s go-to scent when I was growing up—she never went anywhere without The Body Shop’s vanilla perfume oil in her bag [ed.note: discontinued]. And of course, as any good pre-teen would, I’d ‘borrow’ it whenever I could. These days I tend to love anything that errs on the side of masculine, which I only truly realised when my boyfriend told me my wrist smelled ‘like an Italian man’ after one unfortunate foray into the airport fragrance department. I’m still very into vanilla—an obsession that extends outside of fragrance and into other areas of my life (read: gelato), but my choices have matured ever so slightly in the past 15 years, and now I switch between Tom Ford’s Tobacco Vanille and Byredo’s 1996, the Inez & Vinoodh collab.”

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    Elsa de Berker, Journalist

    “I have always struggled to find my own fragrance. No matter how many I try, whatever I road test never feels quite like me—they are either too sweet, too floral, or too synthetic smelling. But I love fragrance on other people, particularly on men. Because of this, my most memorable scents belong to the guys I’ve dated. How someone smells is such an intrinsic part of falling in love with them—at least it always has been for me. My first boyfriend wore Clinique Happy. When we initially started dating, I couldn’t stop smelling him. If I slept over at his house I would spray a tiny bit of the scent on my clothes before I’d leave. I surreptitiously sniffed my sleeves everywhere—on the train, throughout class, and at my weekend job at a clothes boutique. When we broke up, I remember crying on my bed with a jumper that smelled like him. He probably doesn’t even wear the scent anymore, but if I pass a Clinique counter today, I’ll occasionally sniff a bottle and be reminded of how much I loved him. My current boyfriend smells like no one I’ve ever met before. He has the most random fragrance, which I adore because it’s so unique. It took me nearly a year to track down a replacement bottle when his first one had nearly finished. I eventually spied it on a shelf while shopping at Selfridges. The scent is Jaïpur Homme by Boucheron. It’s pretty strong, so he only sprays a tiny bit. I like it best when I wake up in the morning and the scent of it from the night before still lingers on his chest hair and in his necklaces.”

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    Monica Nakata, Managing Director, Par Femme

    “I think the most memorable fragrance memory of mine is from my mother in the late 1970s. One of my favourite things to do when I was young was to watch her get ready to go out to a party or event with my father. The minute I entered her bedroom, all my senses would light up at once—to me, she was the most glamorous woman in the world. Her signature beauty look was bright red Chanel lipstick and perfectly manicured, long red nails to match. After applying her makeup, she would don her Charles Jourdan heels and her pièce de résistance: YSL Opium. That rich, exotic, heady smell was so all-consuming that, after walking into her spray, I would instantly feel like I was Cinderella, about to head to the ball. I don’t often smell the fragrance now—it is something I would never wear myself—but when I do, I am transported right back to those moments, and the feelings are still as strong.”

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    Alice Betts, Co-Editor, Mint Journal

    “My most memorable fragrance memory would have to be the scent I associate most with my mother: Acqua Di Gioia by Giorgio Armani, which was my mother’s signature scent during my childhood years (the early 90s). She would only really wear it on special, mostly evening occasions, and I can recall being mesmerized by the fact that she would always perform the ritual of applying the scent before going out. I was both fascinated by the elegance of the minimalistic bottle itself as well as the femininity and pleasantness of the scent—evoking at first crushed mint, acqua rooted in the earth, amber, ylang-ylang, and then the slightest hint of pineapple (I still to this day cannot seem to find another scent with the same surprisingly delightful touch of pineapple). I can recall, as a child, tip-toeing into my mother’s room after she’d left for the evening and applying it to myself, imagining I was getting ready to go off to some exciting evening occasion. My parents travelled quite a lot when I was younger, and whenever my mother was away and I missed her, I would put on her amazing floor-length velvet green dress (the scent held astonishingly well in that garment) and pretend she was there with me.”

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    Christiane Spangsberg, Artist

    “It’s an interesting question. Because I’m so particular about smells in general, at first I thought it would be an easy one to answer. But I thought about it all day yesterday. My first fragrance memory must be the long-term love affair I had with Chanel’s Chance. I feel like we went though everything together! I wore it all through my teenage years. It was mostly my going out perfume, and I always got so many compliments when I wore it. For years, my mum gave it to me as a gift for birthdays and Christmas (maybe because I didn’t have any money to buy it myself). Now, it reminds me of a forgotten past, but it sure is a good fragrance. Each year my fragrance changes, and I use different ones for summer and winter. A fragrance is a great tool for storing memories—don’t you agree?”