I am a self-improvement junkie so the idea of exploring the various ways scents have promised to enhance our lives over the centuries was right up my street. PLL has switched nights from Thursdays to Tuesdays so I had to miss yoga which might have made it counter-productive but it was well worth it.
Callum introduced the topic by saying that perfume ads have become more and more infamous with increasingly outrageous claims. Therefore he and Laurin decided to look at the aromatic ingredients which were historically supposed to provide you with certain positive results and then match those notes to modern day perfumes for us to try.
As Laurin pointed out, 2016 was a difficult year for many so what we needed first of all was to relax. She had looked into how laudanum had been drunk by the Victorians. Apparently Lord Byron was a laudanum addict and because it was opium based, it was associated with opium dens. However it was taken by respected authors to help them sleep and there was even a recipe for home use in Culpeper’s Complete Herbal (1653) which went as follows:
“Take of Thebane Opium extracted in spirit of Wine, one ounce, Saffron alike extracted, a dram and an half, Castorium one dram: let them be taken in tincture of half an ounce of species Diambræ newly made in spirit of Wine, add to them Ambergris, Musk, of each six grains, oil of Nutmegs ten drops, evaporate the moisture away in a bath, and leave the mass.”
Callum picked Musc Tonkin by Parfum d’Empire to represent the relaxing properties of laudanum because of all the animal ingredients mentioned in the recipe. It’s as close to real musk as he’s experienced in a perfume. For Laurin “It smells a bit disreputable. I don’t mean this in a bad way, but it has a slightly dirty, soiled smell.”
The Ancient Greeks believed that illness was a result of an imbalance in The Four Humors; black bile, yellow bile, phlegm and blood.
An imbalance in black bile was thought to cause conditions such as melancholia and nervousness: basically anything we’d treat with antidepressants today. The element of earth was associated with black bile. Vetiver being earthy and supposedly very grounding, we tried Lune de Givre by Cloon Keen Atelier. Callum described it as “a very easy, relaxing vetiver” which it was and I’m not usually vetiver fan.
Thwart Your Enemies!
Laurin had trouble finding revenge spells on the internet because those that practice magic don’t want you harming others. Although unsurprisingly, you can pay someone to cast a revenge spell for you. Ingredients that did come up were often woods (particularly cedar) and hemlock. Hemlock paralyses the body and leads to a very unpleasant death.
Forest Walk by Sonoma Scent Studio features a hemlock note (though entirely safe!) and Callum called it “Weirdly witchy” with “a smoky base to represent the burning bodies of your enemies.” Unfortunately samples of this one weren’t available on the night but it’s the perfume I enjoyed the most.
Achieve Great Wealth!
Laurin found that patchouli and cinnamon featured heavily in spells for attracting wealth although with patchouli you also run the risk of attracting unsavoury types.
As Callum pointed out, Behind the Rain by Paul Schutze is a cold, incensy, peppery fragrance with a very smooth patchouli note.
Laurin found a recipe for Money Oil which she made up and added a few drops to some green candles for us to take home. We’ll be millionaires!
“7 drops Patchouli oil, 5 drops Cedarwood oil, 1 drop Basil oil, 1 drop Clove oil, 10ml base oil, small piece of cinnamon stick- Blend all the oil’s together & bottle. Add the small piece of cinnamon stick to the bottle. Use to anoint candles in money / prosperity spells.”
Callum had really wanted Robert Piguet’s Knightsbridge (a leather fragrance exclusive to Harrods) to represent wealth for obvious reasons.
Live Forever. Sort Of!
“If you can’t live forever you want to at least live forever in people’s minds.” Laurin told us that peppermint had been shown in tests to improve memory so the chosen perfume featuring this note was Memoir Man by Amouage.
Callum had a wonderfully specific picture of this scent. “I’m at a kitchen in the countryside where it’s raining outside and there are potatoes on the boil.” The spuds mirroring the earthy facet of Memoir Man.
Laurin found there are many spells designed to keep you looking eternally youthful. They largely used rose which makes sense as it’s associated with feeling beautiful in aromatherapy. We tried Eau Rose by Diptyque which is a very nice, fresh rose with notes of bergamot and lychee.
Find True Love!
Laurin told us that Sex Appeal by Jovan came out in 1975 and the advert featured a He-Man type. Callum read a little of the ad copy which included lines such as “Sex Appeal – Now you don’t have to be born with it” and “Attract women, at will”.
It was very medicinal and I could almost taste it at the back of my throat. As Laurin confirmed, it’s very camphor-like but apparently does soften down. Marginally better was Apollo by Lynx (Axe in the States) which Callum told us was done by perfumer Francis Kurkdjian. As you may know, “The Lynx Effect” is supposed to send hoards of women chasing men down the street. No one in the room found Apollo sexy but it was nostalgic for one guy.
A higher end version for women is Scent of a Dream by make-up brand Charlotte Tilbury which was released last year. Laurin was pleasantly surprised by it and Callum thought it was “a perfectly nice scent”. However, it would be quite difficult for anything to live up to the advertising copy which Laurin perfectly described as “word salad” –
“SCENT OF A DREAM is a first-of-its-kind ‘floral chypre’ perfume harmony – featuring a blend of confidence-boosting JOY top notes, intoxicating FLEUROTIC heart notes, plus ‘pheromone’ base notes… It’s mind-altering ‘fleurotic frequency’ creates an emotional pathway to the body’s ENERGY CENTRES igniting and attracting LOVE, LIGHT, POWER, POSITIVITY and SEX to the wearer. IT‘S THE KEY TO ATTRACTION”
At the bargain price of £7 a bottle you can also buy Attract Men or Attract Women by Mojo Pro. Their scents are supposed to contain pheromones and despite there being no scientific evidence for them acting on humans, Callum’s mate told him that a friend of his swore after he started wearing it, the most attractive girl in his year at uni wouldn’t leave him alone.
Two audience members (one male and one female) had been sprayed with the perfumes and we had to try and sniff them out from a group of six. We pretty much failed so make of that what you will.
Molecule 01 by Escentric Molecules is another supposed pheromone perfume which is meant to smell different on everyone, although Laurin said she regularly recognises it on people. An audience member owns it but never had any man chase after her in the street to ask what she was wearing. Callum said pheromones are a load of nonsense and Laurin felt we were ending the evening on rather a sad note as a result, but we now had the scent solutions to relaxation, thwarting our enemies, great wealth and eternal youth. What more could you ask for?