When first asked to find a fragrancer for our new range of candles, I must admit that pretty ashamedly I had never heard of a “fragrancer”… and even more ashamedly, on learning what a fragrancer did, I questioned whether that constituted a real job. (Even now as I type this my word processor keeps trying to autocorrect the word fragrancer, seemingly as unwilling as I was to accept the validity of the role). A fragrancer, is responsible for creating the smell for candles, which is subsequently mixed with wax. This is then taken to be poured into the vessels provided.
After much deliberation on whether this constituted a real job, I realised that my fears had become somewhat undermined by the fact that I had now become a “fragrancer finder”… A role surely less noble than a fragrancer. So I had better start believing in fragrancers… and finding them…
Luckily at the time of being asked, I was in Paris at Maison&Objet. Maison&Objet is more or less a gathering of all the designers, from all of the world. They are given a stall each and are forced into 8 cavernous hangar-like halls, and forced to interact with one another… a pastime which doesn’t come naturally to designers… But it seemed like a good place to start my hunt for a fragrancer. And If I couldn’t find one at Maison&Objet then what kind of fragrancer finder would that make me?
Tom Dixon’s studio was a few stalls down from us, (on a stall considerably larger stand than ours). They had some scented candles on display from a newly launched series called “Materialism”. I meandered up anxiously took a secretive sniff of “Oil” one of the new candles in the range. I was instantly hit by the complexity of the smell. It was amazing. And a totally unpickable knot. Before then, I think I had thought that candles had to smell of a thing, like “lemons” or “roses”… or a more maverick one might smell of “lemons and roses”. But this candle was evocative and suggestive without being definable.
It reminded me of the first time I tasted a nice glass of red wine, after many a teenage year drinking many a bottle of questionable stuff. Suddenly everything you’ve heard people saying about “blackberries and cloves” and “woody finish” is validated. It’s all actually there. The words of Jilly Goolden ring in your ears, and you realise maybe… just maybe… she wasn’t talking rubbish after all.
Stayed tuned for Part 2 – choosing a fragrance.