Perfume and memories are inextricably combined – our olfactory bulb is part of the limbic system, which plays a huge part in memory and has an intricate relationship with the amygdala (the bit of you that processes emotion). It is in part for this reason that I’m a proponent of a ‘scent wardrobe’: to feel empowered, squirt on that one you wore when you aced that meeting; to feel sexy, spritz a little of whatever you wore last time you looked great etc.
Some of my favourite scent memories have nothing to do with bottles of stuff you can buy from Selfridges – the smell of freshly-cut grass is an enduring favourite thanks to it conjuring up of those heady early days of summer and being allowed to wear my ‘summer uniform’ (our winter uniform was hellishly uncomfortable, while our summer one was conversely breezy and allowed for running and jumping around with abandon). Equally, suncream coupled with the slightest waft of cigarette smoke holds a special place in my affection – I had a very glamorous aunt who loved to recline on a sun bed wearing bright red lipstick and an excess of jewellery while smoking when we holidayed as a family.
The founder of Lola James Harper, Rami Mekdachi, is well, well aware of this relationship between scent and emotion, declaring his mission for his collection of eau de toilettes to be to offer people a place to dream: ‘we need to fill our senses with images, smells, music, meaning and stories.’ His scents aren’t made to the standard ‘sweet/masculine/citrus’ formula, but are instead blends of notes that will strike the sentimentalist in you: from the summer-holiday evoking ‘Little By Little With Joy’, to the sparkling freshness of the verbena hit that is ‘Everything Will Come Together,’ each felt oddly familiar to me, like sticking my nose into chapters of my childhood.
Of the lot, ‘Together Is Always Better’* is my favourite. A green tea that hints at the wide, verdancy of English gardens that’s spiked with the warmth of homely cinnamon, it instantly transported me to being a five-year-old fresh in from stomping around muddy fields in my wellies with a growling stomach and the prospect of mum’s apple strudel carried through the air to my eager nose.
It is the perfect scent for summer days when the weather is changeable: on warm days, the spicier notes will mingle with skin and it’ll seem sensual, on cooler days, it’s crisper, cleaner. Give it a sniff, and if it doesn’t resonate, try the rest of the Lola James Harper EDTs – I’d be amazed if one doesn’t demand to be bought.
* Due out here soon at £75 for 100ml.