The sweet smell of success

The sweet smell of success
It is said that perfume is the most intense form of memory. Rightfully so. Many people associate persons, events and even places with smell. Think of the aroma of fresh coffee, the heady scent of the first drops of rain falling on the ground or the sweet smell of an old book and a hint of a smile will linger on your face. And since the sense of smell is one of the strongest senses we have, how we look at a person is also strongly influenced by our olfactory system.

“When you are meeting someone for the first time or going out in public, smelling nice is very important,” says Binesh Balakrishnan, a professional at Accenture. “I believe that the first impression is also the last impression and smelling good is synonymous with being groomed and looking good.” After all, who doesn’t love perfume? It can complete an outfit, uplift your mood and give you confidence to get through any day. And the Indian populace is increasingly becoming aware of the significance of leave a fragrant impact on others.

“Till almost 10 years ago, there were limited options in this industry,” says Mohit Khatri, perfumologist and founder of ‘Project Perfume India’. “We knew about a few foreign brands that were heavily marketed. But now, there is a distinct shift with people moving from designer ones towards niche and indie perfumes . By indie perfumes, I mean handmade perfumes from independent artistes without the backing of big brand names. And the number of perfume users in general has gone up by almost 10 times.”

Talking about some of the trends in this sector, Mohit continues, “Animal scents have been popular for quite some time and continue to remain so. The reason for this is that, for us as humans, animal scents evoke the senses. So there is a preference for scents like musk and civet. While musk was widely used in ancient times, what we have these days is the synthetic version of this. In earthy scents, vetiver, which smells somewhat like damp soil, is the most popular one now. But the very latest fascination is with leather perfumes. It makes you smell like you just stepped out of a very expensive Aston Martin.”

The fad for unique and distinct aromas is certainly catching up and is leading to a lot of interesting experimentation in the field. Says Manan Gandhi, founder, Bombay Perfumery, “My family has been in the perfumery business for 35 years now, supplying raw material to perfumery houses across the country. I set up my own perfumery label here with an aim to put a modern spotlight on Indian natural ingredients and give the consumers a genuine homegrown brand. Indian naturals are used so often in perfumes across the world but they are never given their due here.”

His purpose is to inspire nostalgia for a selection of quintessentially Indian experiences like fresh masala chai, spice bazaars, iconic cities and so on. “We have some unique varieties like Sulawesi, Chai Musk and Moire. Sulawesi has many facets — woody, amber, tobacco, green — but is balanced by an addition of spices like nutmeg and the sweetness of custard apple. Chai Musk is an addictive woody fragrance inspired by a cup of good, strong chai infused with lemongrass. Moire is Bombay Perfumery’s ode to the art of perfumery, with its studied ingredients ranging from tuberose to leather,” he adds.

The preference is shifting to darker scents these days, away from the fresh, citrus variants that have ruled the roost for many years, adds Mohit. “Personalised fragrances are becoming popular too; where customers get customised fragrances depending on their personality and work environment. Everyone, from working professionals to college students, are recognising the importance of grooming and perfumes are an integral part of it. And people are willing to pay for this too,” he says. So do people judge others by their perfume? “I don’t know about that but I judge people by their lack of perfume,” laughs Binesh.

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