By Kim Reyes Palanca
Primal and powerful, our sense of smell is the strongest of all five senses that we are more likely to remember something we smell than something we see, hear, or touch. Scents have energy and we are awakened by what fills the air every day.
Scents send messages to the brain, and can access memories from one’s autobiographical, olfactory “archive.” Our brain stores these scent memories that, once triggered, immediately transport us to a familiar place, time, emotion, or state.
Powerful people, like politicians, use a specific perfume when campaigning to increase recall in voters. Celebrities often wear a signature scent, or customize one to make theirs extremely unique. The intention of a signature scent is to imprint on people much individuality and the desire to be memorable.
Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel had a playful spirit. She was superstitious. She surrounded herself with good luck charms and the number five, which she believed had mystical powers. Hidden in the chandelier of her rue Cambon apartment were metal “five” figurines. She would also present her collections on the fifth of May, which is also the fifth month of the year. And for her eponymous fragrance, she chose the fifth sample vial we now know as Chanel No. 5.
Chanel No. 5, Givenchy L’interdit EDP (P4550/50ml;
P6350/80ml) available at Rustan’s department stores; shop at www.rustans-thebeautysource.com; follow @rustansthebeautysource on Instagram and Rustans The Beauty Source on Facebook
Mother Monster” became the world’s most provocative perfumer with her first fragrance in 2012, Fame. And what is Gaga without the element of shock? Hers was a fragrance inspired by the smell of blood and semen. She wanted to make a woman smell like, in her words, “an expensive hooker,” combining the primal scent of blood (taken out of her own blood sample), with the seductive notes of the poisonous flower, Belladonna. A collaboration between fragrance company Coty and her own, The Haus Laboratories, it was the first ever black eau de parfum. Using black-to-clear technology, the black liquid renders invisible when sprayed. What was cheekily called a “slutty” scent, in fact, smells opulent and sensual, not a trace of the smell of bodily fluids.
The queen of ancient beauty secrets with henna for hair, crushed carmine beetles for red lipstick, donkey milk skin elixir, and pheromone perfumes, Cleopatra always made a theatrical and multi-sensorial entrance, drenching her ship’s sails with intoxicating incense so that, as Shakespeare described them, the sails “were so perfumed that the winds were lovesick with them.” In her own perfume factory by the Dead Sea, her concoctions had aphrodisiac and hallucinogenic elements: frankincense, myrrh, rose, sandalwood, kyphi, basil, and blue lotus.
Givenchy L’Interdit is known as one of the first celebrity perfumes. Created in 1957 by Hubert de Givenchy, the amber-vetiver formulation was exclusively made for Audrey Hepburn, whom the house dressed in iconic looks for Breakfast at Tiffany’s and Sabrina. The floral aldehyde embodied the actress’ sweet, magnetic personality and she wore the perfume a year before its official release. L’Interdit is French for “forbidden” and some say the name was coined when, having asked by Givenchy if he could market the perfume he made for her, in reply Audrey was said to have cried, “I forbid you!”
The intention of a signature scent is to imprint on people much individuality and the desire to be memorable.
The most recognized talk show host (media executive, actress, producer, and philanthropist) has been known to wear the award-winning Bijan perfume. This floriental scent has a stellar following, including Princess Diana, Annette Bening, and Whitney Houston, to name a few. But the media mogul has a few other “favorite things” on her list: Lovely by Sarah Jessica Parker, Jo Malone Grapefruit, Monyette Paris, Annick Goutal Gardenia, Comptoir Sud Pacifique Amour De Cacao, and Philosophy’s Amazing Grace.
As if the most powerful woman in fashion needs a signature scent to make a statement, rumor has it that, aside from Prada, she wears Josef Statkus eau de parfum. The incense-perfume from the Lithuanian fashion designer is soft and sophisticated, an earthy musk intensified by amber. Although it is a jasmine-infused scent, Anna’s favorite flower is tuberose. Her office would often have a vase of it, and she is said to gift the same flower to friends.
Queen Elizabeth I
The Virgin Queen still fascinates many, far beyond her half-century reign. There have been many attempts to recreate her royal fragrance, including this precise perfume recipe: eight grains of musk-infused in eight spoonfuls of rose water, three spoonfuls of Damask water, and a quarter of an ounce of sugar boiled for five hours. The result: an elegantly understated floral scent for the queen of the Golden Age.
Former First Lady and US Secretary of State has been noted to wear J’adore Adoration by Christian Dior and Angel by Thierry Mugler. J’adore is an opulent floral-fruity fragrance that led to various flanker fragrance while Angel exudes a sensual, oriental gourmand scent.
J’adore EDP (P6650/50ml; P9550/100ml); available at Dior Boutique SM Makati and Dior Podium, Rustan’s, leading department stores
Criticized for her vanity and extravagance, Evita had a special room devoted to her glamorous dresses, jewelry, hats, and European perfumes. Ambre Cannelle by Creed was supposedly the favorite of the famous First Lady of Argentina. Spicy and powdery with a masculine streak, the animalistic fragrance is rich, warm, and overtly sexy, meaning, not for the faint of heart.
More than just David Beckham’s wife—this former Spice Girl can hold her own. Victoria, a.ka. Posh Spice, with her impeccable taste and style has led to her own fashion and beauty empire. Although this mom of four has a line of her own bestselling perfumes like Intimately Beckham, she remains a fan of Anna Sui’s scents. Speaking of signature scents, her chic Dover street store also has one—the smell of Diptyque Figuier Vert candles.
Diptyque is located at G/F Central Square mall, Bonifacio Global City
The Harajuku Lovers fragrance line was a natural extension of L.A.M.B., No Doubt front woman’s own brand of fashion accessories and apparel. Modeled after her love for the fashion-crazed Japanese woman, each scent represents a unique personality and comes in kawaii, collectible bottles. Harajuku Lovers G represents Gwen’s trendsetting and creative persona, something the singer and style icon continually exhibits in all her passion projects.
Audacious and unapologetic, the former Vogue editor in chief was a visionary in every sense of the word: She believed in creating the life of your dreams, in no holds barred conversations, and in extravagance indefinable by money. Not one to be subtle about perfume (or anything else), she was known to always carry a purse-sized scent, inject perfume on her pillows, and was infamous for having perfume pumped at The Met’s air conditioning vents!
The ever-quotable Diana once said, “There’s a whole school now that says that the scent must be faint. This is ridiculous…Do you notice any scent on me now? Don’t come any closer if you have to sniff like a hound, it’s not enough!”
In her honor, grandson Alexander Vreeland launched a luxurious five-scent collection in 2014 — Extravagance Russe, Absolutely Vital, Perfectly Marvelous, Outrageously Vibrant, and Simply Divine—with olfactive elements that capture her joie de vivre.