Seven reports from the front in ‘BSP Fragrance at War’

The atmospheric Imperial War Museum North in Manchester was the appropriate choice of venue for an evening with the BSP earlier this month.

Inspired by media reports, fine fragrance, personal stories and original artefacts from the War Years in Britain, a packed audience of BSP members, non members and friends were given a fascinating insight into this memorable time in history.

Based on a concept devised and developed by Kate Williams, who also hosted the event in her role as president of the BSP, the event explored fragrance in the powerful context of the war.  Kate brought together and introduced a line up of engaging expert speakers including fellow creative perfumer at Seven, Pete Malton.

Pete had been given a choice of original artefacts from the war era to use as inspiration to create a bespoke odour.  From a varied selection, each with their own touching story, he had chosen the last remaining possessions of a sailor called Donald Hodgkinson.  In creating the odours, Pete imagined the day to day life of Donald; a wireman (electrician) on board a ship known as a minesweeper which was sent in first to clear the way on D Day.  He presented two evocative odours:

  • Warship: opening with a fresh sea salt spray, it developed a much darker undertone with hints of diesel, oil, electrical burning and pervading damp.
  • The man: inspired by Donald’s preserved items of clothing, this odour created a sense of constant close living on the warship; an unpleasant blend of wet, musty woollens and waxy, damp uniform.

The full programme also featured:

  • Lizzie Ostrom, also known by her alter ego Odette Toilette, treated the audience to a number of exclusive extracts from her new book ‘A Century of Scents’ ahead of its official bookshop launch.
  • Virginie Daniau, BSP council member and founder of Parfum Parfait, took the audience through the creative process of selecting a fragrance for a war bride to wear on her special day based only on the sparse details provided by a photography and original wedding dress from 1943.
  • Archille Riviella, creative perfumer at PFW, used a boy’s collection of shrapnel and highly descriptive text extracts to produce two scent profiles; each creating a very different sense of place, mood and season.

The next BSP North meeting will take place on the evening of 25 November 2015 at the Chill Factor Manchester when Virginie Daniau of Parfum Parfait which present her much anticipated Fine Fragrance lecture.  We look forward to seeing you there.