Which scents remind you of summer? For me it’s the smell of sweet gorse, lemon sorbet, granitas and Martini, sun-baked umbrella pines and mimosa, and these are a few of the touchstone smells that make up my olfactory signature, and have heavily influenced the Legology fragrance.
Add in the salt-laden smell of the sea, Orangina, Amalfi lemons, oranges, hot tarmac and scooter exhaust and you get the picture: for me, the definitive smells – the ones that tend to make me feel good – are those that remind me of carefree times, of holidays, travel and family.
Naturally, as each smell conjures its own memory, there are a flood of images, colours and sounds to go with it. The bright yellow gorse that grows along Golden Cap on the Dorset coast, itself redolent of the smell of Hawaiian Tropic sun cream, reminds me of the many clifftop walks I’ve done there, accompanied by crying gulls; the sweet smell of lemon sorbet always takes me back to a Cornish holiday when my mother dished it up in real lemons to the amazement of three children, George Harrison and My Sweet Lord being the soundtrack to that summery memory.
Mimosa is all about my sister’s house in France and endless people-watching days on Pampelonne beach.
Forever etched in my mind, too, are the original Martini commercials where beautiful people clinked sun-dappled glasses on yachts, ski slopes and in hot air balloons, and Nicolette Sheridan roller-skated around LA with a tray of drinks. Those ads were as much about smell as taste and sound; you could almost smell the good-times-well-spent glamour through the TV screen (the contemporary fruity vermouth-gin mix of Demeter Martini Cologne is pretty much how I imagined it then and now), and it spoke of romance, travel and escapism to a girl stuck in a Surrey boarding school.
I’ve picked up a note of glamorous transience from a few perfumes over the years – Byredo Palermo, O De Lancome, Artisan Parfumeur Mimosa Pour Moi and Guerlain Terracotta de Parfum all spring to mind – and there is usually a freshness or citrussness involved in it for me, but not always: Clinique Aromatics, with its mighty ylang ylang presence, will forever evoke a snowy New York, after I wore it there one long weekend during a sub-zero white-out. But Profumi di Positano, a tiny shop trading in the Italian town since the 1920’s, make – for me – the ultimate transportive lemon scents and soaps, in particular Aqva Avrea, which is all of the lemon – juice, oil, leaf and rind. Unwrap a bar of the soap in the bath and you could be lying in an Italian lemon grove.
When I came to brief the fragrance house Robertet on creating a signature scent for Legology my aim was to capture that enervating time-out goodness with a ‘holiday bubble’ smell that complemented the brand’s mission to delivery energizing care from the toes up.
For me, this meant crisp, uplifting citrus notes – lime, orange, grapefruit and especially lemon: the prince of lemons – the golden Amalfi and Sorrento fruit bloated by the Mediterranean sun and nourishing volcanic ash – are as fundamental to Legology as its ingredients. They are sweeter, softer and less acidic than ordinary lemons too, with a trace of bergamot and spice, and Robertet heightened this with extra bergamot notes, rose and jasmine.
They nailed the Legology feelgood fragrance in one. I received the sample one damp, miserable February morning, and the minute I opened the lid I was transported to the Mediterranean, bare-legged on the back on a Vespa, careering around the hairpin bends of Campania, as I did one holiday in my early twenties. The scent is full of sunbeams, and instead of the seasonal darkness I saw brightness and sunshine, and I hoped that if the scent spoke to me like this it would for others, and make them feel uplifted and transported, especially when using the product on a cold wintry day.
The Legology scent is full of sunbeams, and I hoped it would make the wearer of my products feel uplifted and transported, especially on a cold wintry day.
Equally, the Legology scent could evoke the Californian coast – driving it in an open-top car, Burt Bacharach and Pacific Coast Highway on the radio – or the south of France. It doesn’t matter. As long as fragrance takes you somewhere, allowing a moment of escape, it’s all good. The secret is knowing which notes do that for you.