When I flip through my memory’s library pausing at volumes on childhood or first loves, the images are fuzzy. The visual details feel obscured and out of reach, but visceral scents tied to those memories reverberate strongly. Like the time when I was five, my older sister pushed me in our wagon down the hill at the neighborhood block party and I violently tumbled out scraping my knees bloody. I can recall neither the terror I’m sure was on her face, or the pain I felt from my open wounds. What does feel salient is the scent of fresh cut grass, the damp musk of humid summer nights and the smell of my mom’s laundry detergent as she held me sobbing against her shirt. Even the memories of relatively more recent high school crushes and sneaking out to meet boys feels opaque. Their faces, names, and the subsequent heartache feels lost to years ago. Yet, the overly saccharine fruity notes of my first bottle of “adult” perfume, Escade Ibiza Hippie, or the fresh bergamot and neroli scent of Aqua Di Gio, the cologne every teenage boy was dousing themselves in during the 90s, rings as clear as yesterday.
If your memories have shaped themselves in a similar fashion, don’t be surprised because behind it is a scientific reason: Scent is the strongest sense tied to memory. Psychology experts have long reported the closely tied connection of smell, memory and emotion and I’ve known this for some time, but I didn’t realize until I started writing this blog post the reasoning for this is based on the brain’s anatomy. Psychology Today explains, “Incoming smells are first processed by the olfactory bulb, which starts inside the nose and runs along the bottom of the brain. The olfactory bulb has direct connections to two brain areas that are strongly implicated in emotion and memory: the amygdala and the hippocampus. While visual, auditory (sound) and tactile (touch) information do not pass through these brain areas.”
It’s a fascinating makeup of the human experience and most likely explains our cultural obsession with fragrances.
I personally have had a long love affair with fragrances since I was a teenager. First was Escada, then the gardenia notes of Marc Jacobs signature fragrance had me enthralled for years, but I ultimately moved on to the bamboo and lotus flower notes of Bvgari’s Omnia Crystalline. As I grew older and searched for something more complex, Jean Patou’s Sira Des Indes captured my early twenties.
But synthetic fragrances like these are a distant memory for me now. Ever since learning about the harmful chemicals synthetic fragrances contain, like phthalates which are added to make the fragrances adhere, lift and linger in the air, but have been found to be capable of disrupting hormones, contributing to infertility and inhibiting fetal development (JAMA) – read more about it here – I am a devotee to natural parfums.
One natural fragrance brand in particular I need to put on your radar is In Fiore. This brand’s complex, heady solid fragrances have re-ignited my feminine passion for parfums, and I fiercely recommend you explore their offerings for your own olfactory pleasures.
In Fiore’s Parfum Solide Haute Concentré solid fragrances are made with natural ingredients including jojoba oil and scented beeswax which comprise the solid bases, and pure oils and expensive absolutes to form intimate, sensual, long-lasting, and decadently complex and contradictory fragrances.
Seven parfums encased in burnished gold keepsake compacts make up the current In Fiore solid parfum collection with each one more layered and beautiful than the next. Verdant sweet and grassy florals, smoky and woodsy resins, hedonistic oud, or sumptuous spices can be found among the seven.
I’ve been testing out the line’s three top selling solid parfums – Fumée D’Ambre, Rose Noir and Night Queen – and I say confidently either one would make the perfect holiday gift. One that will create a lasting memory of your thoughtfulness. (I’m already hinting to the hubs how I need the rest of the collection.)
Read on for my review of Fumée D’Ambre, Rose Noir and Night Queen and be sure to follow me on Instagram @bondenavant because on Monday at 8pm PST I’ll be hosting a giveaway where one lucky winner will be able to win all three solid parfums!
Parfum: Night Queen
Notes: Jasmine Grandiflorum, Jasmine Sambac, Jasmine Auriculatum, Bulgarian Rose, Rose Centifolia, Italian Bergamot Peel, Dark Indonesian Patchouli Leaf, Assam Oud
Description: Night Queen is such an apt name for this fragrance. The layers of jasmine with dark oud remind me of evening dew atop blooming jasmine and sultry roses. The subtle citrus of bergamot doesn’t hit you until you know you’re looking for it. And patchouli creeps around the corner but ever so slight. This fragrances feels feminine and slightly mysterious, but appropriate for the office.
Parfum: Rose Noir
Notes: Saffron, Demascena Rose Absolutes, Iranian Galbanum, Vetiver Root, Assam Oud
Description: While the name leads with “rose” and the earthy floral is what you smell first from the compact, it is the saffron and vetiver that hit you as the balm melts against the warmth of your skin. As the day wears on you will find the scent of verdant rose weaves gently amongst its headier companions. This fragrance feels like taking a stroll through a lush, resinous English forest where roses are in full bloom just on the other edge of the clearing.
Parfum: Fumée D’Ambre
Notes: Labdanum Resin, Dark Indonesian Patchouli Leaf, Bourbon Vanilla, Vetiver Root, Oman Frankincense
Description: This fragrance reminds me of the dark smoky musk of a cabin fire where men are sitting around drinking bourbon and a woman’s warmth lingers nearby. The frankincense and vetiver give it a dry and woodsy feel, but the musky smokiness from the patchouli, bourbon and vanilla burst forth with equal power. This scent is masculine yet hesitant, straddling an androgynous zone that feels sexy, moody and appropriate for those late night trysts.
Tip: Apply to warm spots on the body: wrists, behind the ears, neck, collarbone, inside hip bones and along lower back. And just a little bit goes a long way; these solids pack a powerful fragrant punch.
Written & Photographed by Amy Chang