Travelling Through Scent: Fragrances to Holiday With

Fragrances aligned to destinations

The significance of a holiday scent is manifest, sharing with travel the power of making memorable moments of experience. Perfume, of course, is an experience itself, but it also has the power to punctuate and preserve. A new scent smells like a new scent, soon to become attached to a special moment (and place) in time. In the inverse, a beloved favourite brings old memories into new contexts.

The right fragrance can help us assume the appropriate mindset for travelling, and is the surprising source of a great amount of creative possibility. Some of the oldest perfumes gain their names and inspiration based on places, often exotic and distant, carrying over into the present. For instance, the Chypre category was inspired by the island of Cyprus, believed to be the birthplace of Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love. Its name was inspired by the fact that many of its key ingredients are grown in Mediterranean climates. The connection between travel and scent is a longstanding one.

A matter of memory and association, the scent of yuzu is tied to Japan in the same way lavender stirs imaginings of Southern France, and ylang-ylang calls to mind South-East Asia. It's important to keep this in mind.

For those preparing for an upcoming jaunt, we’ve amassed some of the many fragrances in our collection that speak of places, pairing this information with advice of the most practical order. Travelling not only through scent, but with it too.

We’re spoiled for choice with many places to go and fragrances to wear. At the most practical level, consider factors such as the weather and the clime itself. Your perfume wearing experience should compliment, not stifle. Although the rules were meant to be broken, we generally wouldn’t dream of musk at the heights of a summer heat, nor do we associate tuberose with the Aussie Outback. Fair enough. Work with what the fragrance is offering.

The Great Outdoors: At One With Nature

Rogue Targhee Forest and Zoologist

Sometimes the choice is an easy one. If a trip to the American wilderness is looming, might we suggest Targhee Forest (Rogue) from American perfumer, Manuel Cross? The scent of the great outdoors, you can smell the pines shiver as an aromatic breeze carries their sweet-and-cool, warm-and-spicy scent. Light yet substantial, it’s a bonafide scent to travel with, an elegant and exotic coating that is dynamic and enduringly interesting. We imagine its profile of juniper berry, sagebrush, patchouli, musk, and woods blending with the scent of foliage and pine needles, crushed and crunched underfoot. For Cross, Caribou-Targhee National Forest is a silent retreat free from commotion - and he has put its essence into scent.

In similar fashion, Macaque Yuzu from Zoologist is, first and foremost, lovely. Its two central notes - yuzu and hinoki wood - evoke Japanese nature, while incense situates a temple right in the middle of this scene. The scent is quiet and serene, energetic yet languid. Macaque Yuzu is finely textured and brilliant, as faint intersections of citrus and resin cross over a forest of trees, which impart structure and gravity to such an atmospheric scent.

Familiar Comforts

No 88 ELO Like this

Like This is an olfactory retreat, both inwards-looking and expansive. And Etat Libre d’Orange says it best: 

The search for happiness begins with your dreams. They can take you in many directions. You might seek a place, a locale that seems to answer your questions. Speak another language. Eat different foods. Smell exotic scents. Are you happy now?

And in a reversal, Etat Libre d’Orange proposes a return to the comfort of home: where you can be complete on your own, and discover a happiness that was there all along. The home allows one to dream in peace. The sweet and radiant happiness of tangerine, the fresh comfort of neroli, the familiar warmth of baking spice and the surprising roundness of pumpkin wrapped in a blanket of musk - all trigger our happiest memories of the bucolic and the homely. We comfort ourselves by reliving memories of protection, posed Bachelard, which are ultimately memories of home.

Or the scent of the garden, which for many is a retreat away from the distractions of the world. In No. 88 by Czech and Speake, a nectareous rose note sits on a mantle made of mosses - an upright and phlegmatic blend that steadies and stills. It is the comforting assurance of another person and another place, and No. 88 is an image of an English landscape garden that idealises nature. Gentle and idyllic, it is indeed a place of retreat - fashioning the world according to the dreams of the imagination. 

Dreams of Elsewhere

Our dreams can take us elsewhere, triggered by an elsewhere anywhere in the world. In Chameleon (Zoologist), the image is one of tropical locales and beachy resorts - and what starts this imagining is a combination of ylang-ylang and vanilla, touched up with coconut and frangipani to form an ‘ambre solaire’ accord that evokes the scent of radiant sunlight landing on suntan lotion. While salicylates and cashmeran musk create the sensation of warm skin coated in seaspray, as if one has freshly emerged from a dip in the ocean. A tropical inflection is gained from additional notes of mango, star fruit, pink pepper, and jasmine.

If your idea of elsewhere has a more discernible Mediterranean tone, replete with dazzling sunlight, long shores, and infinite blue - Heeley’s Athenean balances Mykonos with Athens, part Apollo and part Dionosyus, its blending of energies is the combination of prudence and elegance, with passion and pleasure. The pulpy green scent of the emblematic fig melds with aquatic overtones and woody undertones, alongside leafy greens, and musks scented with white tea, amber, and sandalwood. This scent is for an al fresco lunch in Santorini with the Aegean sea in the background, to coat an outfit of fine linen and sandals. 

Chypre Siam (Rogue) draws its imaginative force from culinary inspiration, evoking the South-East of Asia, gathering scent via a journey through bergamot, lime leaf, holy basil, and lemongrass - riding on the humid vapours of jasmine, ylang-ylang, civet, and vintage musks. The scent is expressive and readily wearable - respecting its inspiration while rendering it in the language of perfume. 

For many, the idea of a holiday is to be right in the middle of a bustling metropolis, seamlessly darting between galleries, boutiques, restaurants, and bars. What is the ‘smell’ of a city if not its sensation, its energy coursing through its occupants and the flow of its visitors. Occasionally we find a personal piece of heaven in these immense places, a communion of self and world. Such dynamism needs a scent that matches this liveliness, something sleek and urbane.

Our pick is Silver Musk from Nasomatto, which is an early progenitor of the musk cocktail in overdose - layering many white musks to the point of them becoming electrifying, like a surge through the body and a static field of smell. It is pure, potent, and focussed. Bright and soaring and yet it clings to the wearer, as if it emerges from them. It will remind you of freshly laundered hotel bed sheets, the cool and smooth feeling of metal - like the very towers that rise and pierce the sky. Silver Musk is unobtrusive, and works across a range of situations.