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scent is a story.

scent is a story.

Experimental Perfume Club X by Fabric of my Life

last weekend i was invited to attend a wonderful workshop at the experimental perfume club, led by fragrance expert emmanuelle moeglin. held at the cockpit arts studios in holborn, the four hour perfume-making workshop was designed to introduce the art and logic of creating a fragrance and deconstruct the world of perfume, encouraging us all to use our instincts and push the boundaries to create our own signature scent from scratch.

you may remember i attended a perfumery workshop in grasse last summer and had had a hugely enjoyable time, so i was really excited to attend this london-based workshop to see if i could learn anything new and perhaps create a better scent than i did during my last perfume making attempt…!

Experimental Perfume Club Emmanuelle M

obsessed with scent her whole life, emmanuelle trained at the world’s leading perfume school, isipca, in paris and learnt about the secrets of fragrance formulation before going on to work with global fragrance brands in paris, barcelona and new york. she now lives in london, working as an international fragrance and cosmetics trend forecaster, and launched the experimental perfume club late last year, in order to bring the world of fragrance to the people, letting those who have loved it from afar get hands-on just as they would with other art forms.

“our sense of smell is our most primitive and intuitive sense, but in a world saturated by images and sounds, we sometimes forget how to use it,” says emmanuelle. “we don’t teach odours as we teach colours or letters to children and we are slowly losing our ability to recognise scents. we all use our nose in an instinctive way, but our capability to do so will increase when training and developing one’s interest around scents.”

Experimental Perfume Club 05

Experimental Perfume Club 02

to start our session it was important that we open our noses and ‘learn to smell’; mastering the basics of perfumery by sniffing out 25 raw materials in order to discover how versatile and layered each one really is. as emmanuelle explained, scent is a story. just like a story, it has a beginning, middle and end; the beginning must draw you in with impact, the middle must have true imagination and emotion, and the end must stay with you long after you’ve walked away. poetic, right?

and so we begun identifying the 25 raw scents emmanuelle had laid out for us, each grouped into clearly distinct types of smell, known as olfactory notes. these include citrus, green, fruity, floral, aromatic, aqueous, edible, woody and so on, which helped us to build up a good sense of which scents made our hearts race and which, uhh, did not! often our likes and dislikes with scent come from our previous experiences and subsequent associations with the smell. for example, i took an immediate dislike to violet as in its raw form it smelt just like an aniseed banana medicine i had to endure as a child. the edible sugared almond scent of raw vanilla was met with happy, contented nods all round though!

Experimental Perfume Club 01

Experimental Perfume Club 04

the scents i was most drawn to during sampling were the warmer, aromatic base notes of dry wood, sandalwood, coumarine and amber, so i wanted these earthy, woody fragrances to be at the heart of my own concoction when we got down to the creation part of the workshop.

we were all encouraged to create a scent truly bespoke to us, by either following the rules of perfumery or choosing to break them entirely and be truly experimental, whatever the consequence! in general, a scent combines around 10 different raw material, blending a well-balanced combination of top notes, heart notes and base notes, but you can experiment with different combinations and propositions to obtain your own personal blend.

Experimental Perfume Club 03

Experimental Perfume Club 06

i wanted the spicier, oriental scents of sandalwood and amber in my perfume to be tempered by the sweeter ‘edible’ nose of marzipan, almond and pistachio in the coumarine, and felt they would pair nicely with top notes of 5 spice and velvety peach. emmanuelle then helped me pick out floral orange blossom and the fresh aqueous scent of marine to round out the middle notes in my scent and stop it being too heavy or sickly.

once we’d finished our own recipes it was time to nose out those that had been created around us, and it was wonderful to see how diverse a range of scents we had all created during the session! i had named mine ‘x’ in homage to my favourite comeback show but also to the variable in the equation that had allowed us all to create something entirely unique. andrew’s an evening in the orient was spicy and heady, while sofia’s the green was incredibly clean and fresh.

if you’re looking for a unique way to celebrate valentine’s day, then perhaps an experimental perfume club workshop could be just the thing? emmanuelle is running a special valentine’s workshop on 13th february, designed to help you uncover the type of fragrance your special someone loves and create something especially for them. you can also find emmanuelle’s top five tips for choosing a fragrance for someone else over on the epc blog.


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  1. Kimberly Duran

    1 February

    This sounds utterly fascinating! I love blending essential oils but I will be the first to admit, I really know very little about really understanding scent and end up experimenting until something smells nice (or nice enough – ha) ;) Really love the sound of this one and love that everyone came up with totally unique scents! xx

  2. Jessica

    1 February

    Sounds like a great workshop. I’ll have to check it out…

  3. Pippa Jameson

    1 February

    This sounds so interesting, Kate. I love the idea of finding a scent that is truly matched to your taste. I’ll be sure to take a look at this workshop xx

  4. Katy

    1 February

    I’ve done a perfumery workshop before and it was so interesting listening to everything that goes into mixing a scent. I like the idea of the ‘edible’ nose of marzipan! Great idea for Valentine’s too x

  5. Rachel

    1 February

    Sounds fascinating, both learning about the different scents and notes, and creating your own fragrance. Another moment where I wish it was possible to sniff things on the Internet!

  6. karen jones

    1 February

    This sounds like a wonderful workshop and ohhh how to truly relax and use our sense of smell. I bet the aroma in the workshop was truly divine. x

  7. Carole

    1 February

    Sounds like fun Kate. Can’t wait to smell your creation! x

  8. Cate

    2 February

    This sounds lovely, perfume is so personal and everyone has different favourites. I hate the strong industrial perfume that’s very overpowering, I got Le Labo’s Bergamote for christmas and love its subtle aromatic scent. Yours with peach and marzipan sounds divine, I can almost smell it! x

  9. Carole

    2 February

    That sounds so great! What an amazing workshop to take part in. Scents are so personal and I have 2 go-to perfumes throughout the year depending on mood and season. Would love to smell what you’ve created :-) xo

  10. Julia

    6 February

    I would love to be part of such a nice experience. Well, so far i could find in my area just some testing cosmetics and household products. Not so lucky.

  11. Emmanuelle

    10 February

    Just reading the lovely comments. Really glad you enjoyed it Kate, and hope you still love your perfume! Thanks again for the amazing blog.
    Emmanuelle

  12. Stacey Sheppard

    12 February

    What a great workshop. Sounds like so much fun creating a bespoke scent just for you. Did it give you a headache being surrounded by so many different scents though?

  13. jennifer

    16 April

    wow!amazing workshop i really like it many many thanks for sharing this post i really
    like it look so amazing!!

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