Made During the Pandemic, These Perfumes Signal the Suspension of Time
In the last decade, the rise of modest, product-focused scent brands has debunked the notion that the fragrance industry needs either historical heritage or celebrity endorsements to make a splash. The American scent conglomerate International Flavors & Fragrances (IFF) exemplifies this trend with its annual Speed Smelling project, founded in 2009, which gives its perfumers free rein to devise a scent around a given concept without creative or budgetary restraints. IFF introduces the experimental concoctions to the industry in a speed dating–style event, and afterward, to the world, in a limited-edition box set.
This year’s theme, Slow Smelling, encouraged perfumers, stuck at home during the pandemic, to consider the “suspension of time and of calmness as a way of reconnection to the self.” Contributors include rising star Fanny Bal, who based her creation on the aromatic sap from the lentisc tree that grows on the Greek island of Chios, and senior scent-maker Domitille Michalon-Bertier, who designed her fragrance around the Inhotim Museum, an outdoor art center located in a Brazilian forest. Perfumer Delphine Lebeau recently learned about the Japanese pastry mochi, and used a trio of musks to embody the treat’s soft, mellow profile. The resulting 11 fragrances were unveiled at a virtual event over the summer, compounded by hand in the famed French perfume capital of Grasse, and collected in a pack of small vials, newly available for purchase in the U.S. on the website Luckyscent—providing a nose around what makes these master craftspeople tick.