Venus Wong attends a Berlin workshop that gives her the chance to create her very own fragrance.
I only buy perfume when I’m travelling, both for sentimetal and costeffective reasons. I remember the first bottle of perfume I owned, acquired in Lisbon: a whiff of the (sadly now expired) scent brings back memories of sprinting down the mosaic pavements in Baixa, giddy with my milestone “adult” purchase.
Studies have found that sense of smell is closely connected to memory. The smelling and recognition process known as olfaction creates unique information about a time and place, which is partly how a memory of who, what and where is formed. I put this theory to the test at Frau Tonis Parfum, a boutique perfumery in Berlin. I was here to attend a perfume-making workshop, in the hope of creating something to commemorate the trip – a scent that felt uniquely “me”.
The first order of business was to smell all the boutique’s preblended fragrances, and compile an edit of the ones I liked. Our group fanned out in the whitewashed space, which was strikingly minimal so as to not have anything distract from the perfume. Spraying was not allowed, as having so many particles in the air would be too overwhelming. Instead, glass stoppers from the giant bottles were passed around so everyone could get a whiff. We were given small notecards to jot down the scents we liked.
Our “scent journey” began with floral notes, as they are easiest for the nose to process, then segued into citrus and fruity ones, with the more powerful oaky, Asianinspired smells saved for the end. Coffee beans were on hand as a refresher when our noses became tired. For a while, there was no noise besides the clinking of glass.
There are no rules when it comes to building your scent: it’s all about gut feeling, and the possible combinations are endless. I was instantly taken with a scent called Linde Berlin: this featherlight, powdery scent is extracted from a type of lime tree flower common around Berlin. The flower blossoms in early summer and fills the air with a wonderful aroma that reminds people of the most beautiful time of the year – a perfect base note for a perfume to remember the city of the Unter den Linden by.
I decided that half of my bottle would be made of Linde Berlin, and the middle note (30 per cent) would be Bouquin, a sophisticated sandalwood, amber and Madagascan vanilla scent. I then topped off my creation with Launderette, which reminded me of fresh linen. The result was an elegant, understated scent that I would be proud to wear every day.
My olfactory adventures didn’t end there: Frau Tonis Parfum has partnered with The Ritz-Carlton, Berlin, (where I stayed) to offer customers the chance to try a cocktail based on their perfume preferences and creations at Fragrances, the hotel’s cocktail bar. I was in the hands of Arnd Heissen, an eccentric master mixologist who claims to be able to gain insight on someone’s hopes, dreams – and entire personality – based on theire favourite perfume.
Venus Wong - 20.09.2020 - The Daily Telegraph Uk
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