Scents and the city

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Martin Moodie
Martin Moodie is the Founder & Chairman of The Moodie Report.

scent of departure

How do you capture and embody the essence of a city in a bottle?

That’s the challenge posed – and the proposition offered – by a new fragrance house called The Scent of Departure (

The house is headed by Gerald Ghislain, a French fragrance creator (pictured below with designer Magali Sénéquier) who refers to himself as a “passionate epicurean”. A decade ago he launched the luxury brand Histoires de Parfums but this time round Ghislain has drawn his inspiration not from history but from the concept of destination.

“Each perfume,” he says, “explores the most vibrant facets of a city in a subtle olfactory memento which distils faraway stories as you wear and experience them”.

The company is launching the concept with leading travel retailer Gebr Heinemann at the latter’s airport stores in Vienna, Budapest, Munich, Frankfurt and Istanbul.

So how does the company sum up the essence of, say, beautiful Budapest? Here’s the answer: “Soft and spicy all at once, the essence of Budapest, ‘Pearl of the Danube’. A majestic and contemplative cruise between Buda Castle and Gellert Hill, transported by a powdery wind of paprika spice. The fragrance of a soft soothing nightfall in Budapest. ”

A little over the top perhaps but you get the drift. How about intoxicating, intriguing Istanbul, where East meets West?

“Immersed in the vibrant, breathtaking Istanbul Grand Bazaar and its clouds of scents : grapefruit, bergamot, elemi, pink pepper and sweet spices. Indulged by a rose Turkish delight with the subtle litchi and raspberry notes at the fabulous Topkapi Palace. At nightfall, be swept away with the whirling dervishes of the Blue Mosque, in a soft oriental wind of sandalwood, cinnamon and musk. ”

Beyond the arguably overly gushing prose I quite like the concept. Fragrance as destination merchandise ? Why not ? Some locations (I better not name names) may be slightly less fragrant than others but there’s no reason that virtually every major city in the travel retail universe couldn’t have a dedicated fragrance.

It’s a more authentic souvenir or destination merchandise proposition than many an offer I have seen in, say, confectionery (for example a box of sheep-shaped white chocolates in a New Zealand duty free store which bore the unfortunate words ‘Made in Australia’ on the back of the box) or clothing, where the concept of provenance is strained to say the least.

Watch this space…

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