The Psychology of Scent

Heike Hegmann - Creative Fragrance Consultant contemplates bottle of perfume

“What is so appealing to me about fragrance is that you can touch people so directly through it.” says Heike Hegmann, Creative Fragrance Consultant, GRAHAM HILL.

Our olfactory impulses, or sense of smell, go directly into our subconscious, or limbic system. This is one of the oldest parts of the brain, where memories and emotions are located. It is no wonder that scents can activate our emotional centre in a way no digital medium can.

Scent is connected to so many areas of our lives, it is truly interdisciplinary and that fascinates me. Natural fragrances come from all over the world, with every culture having its scent preferences and scent histories. Perfumes are subject to trends, just like fashion.

Creating a new fragrance requires exploring all of these dimensions. The GRAHAM HILL fragrances made me think first about about Graham Hill the man, his elegance and authenticity as a British gentleman.

The notes would need to be of a particular high quality. They would need to combine classic and modern, just as the brand itself fuses tradition and modernity. The scent components I chose, bergamot and green tea, both have a role in English tradition.

Our first fragrance is a subtle masculine note that stands for authenticity and naturalness of the modern man. It opens with the freshness of bergamot, with the modern and exceedingly fresh smelling cedar wood in the fragrance’s base, standing for strength and masculinity.

The second scent in the collection is fresh and lively, reminiscent of a morning trip to a tea plantation. With its colonial buildings, golf

courses and horse racing tracks, it is strongly influenced by British nobility.

Since the end of the 19th century, perfumers have been able to isolate single scent molecules in an essential oil. Bergamot for instance, consists of 150 individual fragrance ingredients and it is these single substances or ‘colors’ that enable us to create new and unique fragrances.

Then ingredients of the highest quality are sourced, such as Jasmine from the blossoms of the jasmine grandiflorum from India. To make 1 kg of jasmine absolue, an incredible 8 million blossoms are picked by hand.

Today, perfumers are embracing the possibilities offered by artificial intelligence that could be a wonderful resource in the creation process. But could that replace a process that involves so much craftsmanship? I don’t think so. Heike Hegmann, Creative Fragrance Consultant, GRAHAM HILL.

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