SCENTS AND SENSIBILITY:

THE SOUL-HITTING SCENTS YOU NEED TO KNOW

Words: Grace Gargini

SCENTS AND SENSIBILITY: 

THE SOUL-HITTING SCENTS YOU NEED TO KNOW

Words: Grace Gargini

The fragrance world has undergone a major makeover in recent years. ​To really stand out from the crowd, fragrances now need to do more than just smell good – they need to make you feel something. We want fragrances that tell a story, reflect our individuality, and stir emotions – be it empowerment, comfort or sensuality. So, to explore the relationship between emotion and fragrance, and understand what goes into creating the most captivating, soul-hitting scents of today, we spoke to some of the greatest names in fragrance about their most evocative creations.

VYRAO – Free 00 Eau de ParfumWitchy Woo Eau de Parfum and  I Am Verdant Eau de Parfum (all exclusive to Selfridges) 

VYRAO – Where Wellness Meets Fragrance   

Tapping into the growing link between fragrance and the wider wellness space comes new fragrance brand, Vyrao. Inspired by her training in Reiki and energetic medicine, founder Yasmin Sewell explains: “I wanted to create a multi-dimensional wellbeing brand that looked at not just what we eat and drink, but how we feel. The connection between our emotions and physical body is a subject I feel deeply passionate about.”

Using plant and flower remedies believed to have emotional benefits, each Vyrao fragrance evokes a specific feeling – from iris and bergamot to clear and cleanse, to orris absolute for creativity and courage. Look a little closer and you’ll see glistening Herkimer diamond (an energetically charged quartz) for a little bit of magic inside each bottle.

So, which scent should you try first? It depends on your mood, explains Yasmin, “Free 00 makes me feel like I’ve jumped off a boat into the ocean and Magnetic 70 makes me feel like there’s a golden orb of protection around me. If I need an energetic boost in the morning, I go for I am Verdant – an uplifting mossy citrus – and then Witchy Woo in the evenings, for when I want to channel creativity. As the name suggests, this one casts a bit of a spell…”



We can’t underestimate how feelings of freedom, protection or sensuality can affect our bodies. That little spark of joy you get from fragrance is a powerful tool for healing.

– Yasmin Sewell, Vyrao Founder

BYREDO – Distilling the Zeitgeist

“We’re in the business of bottling up emotions,” says founder of Byredo, Ben Gorham. It’s a sentiment that is perfectly encapsulated in the brand’s most recent launch, Mixed Emotions. Designed to reflect the tumultuous nature of our times, it’s a bold, polarising scent that perfectly distils a feeling of flux – “it’s a mix of notes that belong and somehow conflict at the same time”, says Gorham. Comprised of contrasting highs and lows – think notes of comforting maté and black tea against sharp sweet blackcurrant and violet leaves, all sat within a framework of rich birch wood – the sticky, smoky concoction leaves you wanting more.

Instead of starting with a specific ingredient or fragrance ‘family’, Gorham sees fragrance as a translation of a memory or mood. “Inspiration can come from anywhere,” Gorham explains, “my kids, memories of my childhood, reading my Dad’s travel diaries, the smell of a tree halfway up a mountain, standing in the middle of a city and soaking it all up.”



Mixed Emotions reflects the collective state of mind we’ve all been living through; a reminder that sometimes it’s OK to not be OK.”

– Ben Gorham, Byredo Founder and Creative Director

MIZENSIR – Fragrance as Art

Created by fragrance royalty Alberto Morillias – the man behind iconic scents such as Marc Jacobs Daisy and CK One (widely recognised as the first ‘unisex’ fragrance) – Mizensir is his very own line of fragrances, which he created with his wife in 2015.

Rather than being tasked with a particular client brief, he’s been given limitless freedom to blend some of the most exclusive ingredients in modern perfumery with decades of experience to dream up personal creations, many of which he famously dedicates to those closest to him. “I would say that, generally speaking, the perfume industry is more interesting and exciting than ever,” Morillias explains. “To be meaningful and successful, a fragrance must have a signature, bring emotion and be instantly recognisable. It’s this quest for perfection that drives me to create constantly.”

A fragrance’s origin usually starts with something intangible or abstract, such as a particular emotion that he wants to express. “I visualise it and transcribe it into ingredients,” he explains, “For Your Love, for example, started with a particular sensation that I wanted to convey – a kiss. I wanted to find that soft, musky warmth of the body with a touch of deliciousness.”



Perfume transports us beyond reality. It can make us dream, take us back to past memories or places we have known. It is a machine for travelling through space and time. I always say that perfumes must have a soul, with aspects that can be grasped instantly, but with an element of mystery and intrigue.

– Alberto Morillas, Founder Mizensir

LOEWE – Bringing the Outside in 

Inspired by a luscious botanical garden meets apothecary, Loewe’s new Home Scents collection is the brainchild of Creative Director, Jonathan Anderson, and in-house perfumer, Nuria Cruelles. Tapping into our renewed appreciation of the great outdoors (something we’re exploring with our Good Nature theme this year), the collection is made up of room sprays, diffusers and candles (all of which are handmade in Spain using 100% vegetable wax housed in glazed terracotta pots that look like pieces of art).

“Smell is the sense where we best remember moments, places and people,” explains Cruelles, “just a brief sniff can transport you to different places and moments. For this, we wanted the act of lighting a candle to transport you to a botanical garden bursting with aromas.” In preparation, Cruelles visited gardens and greenhouses, as well as drawing on her own memories of nature, while experimenting with oils and extracts in the lab in order to recreate the scent of the original plant as closely as possible.

As you would expect from a greenhouse, you can find all sorts of botanical-inspired scents from Luscious Pea, Honeysuckle and Oregano, as well as a few surprises with the likes of Liquorice and Marihuana. “I was quite shocked when Jonathan proposed some of the scents, but I loved the challenge. Beetroot and Tomato Leaves are my personal favourites – they are sweet yet soft, elegant yet unexpected.”



The selection of scents follows a very personal trail. These are olfactory sketches that remind me of my childhood, of different journeys I have taken. Part Victorian botanical garden, part apothecary; the mix is both scientific and sentimental.

– Jonathan Anderson, Loewe Creative Director

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