A consciousness of ones sensory associations is not unique, however, I do believe that my own experiences and inner-workings have made for a heightened relationship with, and appreciation of, the senses - particularly scent. With this blog entry I hope to share with you what I believe are some of the key characteristics and moments that have contributed towards my pursuit of a life in fine fragrance.
For as long as I can remember, my mind has paired names, symbols, numbers, words and letters with a colour. For example, the letters ‘C’, ‘D’ and ‘L’ for me all have a very blue hue, whereas ‘W’ and ‘R’ are both much warmer and tinged with red and orange. This has forever been my norm and is how I assumed everyone interpreted the world. It wasn’t until 2017, reading an NME interview with the artist, Lorde, that i learnt of Synesthesia.
“IT'S HARD TO EXPLAIN THIS TO PEOPLE WHO DON'T HAVE SYNESTHESIA BECAUSE THEY DON'T KNOW ANY DIFFERENT," SAID LORDE. "FOR A LONG TIME I ASSUMED THAT PEOPLE HAD A COLOUR FOR EACH DAY OF THE WEEK OR FOR ALL OF THEIR FRIENDS' NAMES. THEN YOU JUST REALISE, 'NO, YOU'RE JUST WEIRD'."
Reading this was my own moment of realisation. Not because I was seeing my own experiences reflected for the first time, but because this was the first I’d heard this wasn’t a shared experience of everyone else that surround me. Whilst my particular synesthesia (Grapheme-Colour Synesthesia) isn’t directly related with scent, I do believe it gives somewhat of an insight into why the power of association and nostalgia are particularly significant and prevalent in all that I do and the choices I make. ‘THE 5TH’ has its name because I far prefer the cleaner and brighter colours I see with the numerical digit, compared to the dull hue of the alternative, ‘THE FIFTH’.
The sense of smell (olfaction) is the strongest of the human senses and is believed to be closer linked with memory than any of our other senses. A fragrance that’s able to instantly transport the mind to a particular place, memory, person or era, for me is captivating.
Sitting on the London Underground one day on my way into work, a lady brushed past, and before my mind could consciously identify what was familiar, I could already see the lobby of a Brooklyn hotel that I’d visited the previous Summer in 2018. Back when physically in this hotel, I don’t believe I could have relayed exactly what it was that I found so pleasant; the sounds, the interior design, the scent, or all of the above, but whatever it was, somewhere deep in my psyche, those sensory experiences were captured and became the keyframe of my best ever Summer. I didn’t know how that moment would later hold such significance, but it was experiencing that scent in a very different environment that triggered such a marked memory recall. Those who know me well, know that often I’m introverted and the idea of striking up a conversation with a stranger is not a choice I’m likely to make. However, on this occasion, I had to find out what fragrance this lady on a London tube was wearing so that I could own a bottle of this transportive scent for myself. She very politely told me the scent she was wearing. I later discovered that a home fragrance iteration of this scent is used in hotel lobbies across the globe, including the one I’d visited in New York.
Despite this anecdote being just one example of many, it was the first to really bring my love for olfaction and perfumery into focus and led me to consider how I could create nostalgia for others hereafter, through scent.
Since identifying what I believe to be my vocation, I’ve been fortunate enough to have had the opportunity to train and work with a luxury fashion and fragrance brand. Exposure to this brand and their customers has only further highlighted the skills of this craft and confirmed both my affection for the art itself, and the lives it can touch. It was one afternoon, working in a department store in Oxford Street, London, that an elderly lady (whom worked part-time on a different concession) visited my counter and requested to sample a particular cologne from our classic collection. I, of course, obliged and proceeded to provide the sample as well as some general information about the scent, closing with “traditionally this was marketed as a men’s cologne”. I said this expecting her to maybe opt for a different, less intensely musk perfume as I was under the assumption she was shopping for herself. However, she very politely replied with the most sincere but soft smile, “yes, this was the aftershave worn by my late husband. I don’t smell it often but when I do it’s like he’s right here with me”. I had a lump in my throat. I feel honoured to this day that I was present for such a precious and personal moment for this lady. I don’t know what’s more powerful than that; the power of scent.
Now with THE 5TH, we continue to work behind the scenes with this passion and drive, hoping that one day a fragrance labelled as one of our own, will mean more than words can express, to you.
See you on THE 5TH.
R E F E R E N C E S