Fragrances have become the modern-day action figure. Where celebs used to have plastic toys moulded into their likeness, they now create scents. As if we need any more Katy purr-fumes and eau-to-be-famous fragrances.
In our fast-paced, commoditised world, we have lost sight of the origins, of the history and stories, and the magic behind the artistry of perfumery. Fragrances didn’t begin with CK, nor did they begin with Chanel. In fact, records date the first perfume maker back to ancient Mesopotamian times, way back before Christ.
It is with this in mind that Francis Hooper and Benny Castles, principal directors of WORLD go about their business, sourcing rare, luxurious and eclectic fragrances for their WORLD Beauty line. To wind up in their boutiques, a perfume must possess a few key things.
“Perfume must have a provenance – a real story and existence – and it must have authenticity,” Francis explains. “It must be unique and special and tell a wonderful story that transports the customer to a fantasy-land that is in fact real.”
For example, the Carthusia brand of perfume is steeped in history, dating back to 1380 at the Carthusian Monastery of St. Giacomo in Italy, while French perfumery Lubin’s Black Jade was worn by French queen Marie Antoinette. Both of which are available at WORLD boutiques.
Much of the beauty in perfume is the magical quality in which smell can take us back in time and conjure up the unseen. New Zealand artist Dane Mitchell explains, “We can all attest to the incredible force with which a scent can take us (involuntarily) into the past.” Mitchell has explored the role of smell in a series called Radiant Matter, examining perfume’s ability to fuse relationships and act almost as a sixth sense. “Memory and smell have a distinctive bond, olfactory processing and long-term memory both being situated in the limbic system of the brain, which also supports behaviour and emotion.”
Many of the world’s rare, original perfumes are bold scents, but Francis suggests that you should not be afraid of them. “Be brave and take a bit of time finding a perfume. The modern world has beaten passion out of people so that they ignore what they’re attracted to, but listen to your heart. Don’t overthink things.”
WORLD Beauty staff work with customers to find a fragrance – helping to determine individual tastes, encouraging customers to try three or four perfumes, and then giving them time to choose the one they fall in love with.
As Mitchell reminds us, scent has a history steeped in magic, even considered to be, “the most important factor in the laying of spells on people.” It is no wonder then, that fragrances can stop us in our tracks.
Francis and Benny work hard to bring the best of the best to New Zealand, travelling twice a year to Paris where they sell their fashions and then venture off to explore and hunt for new scents, candles and antiques for their stores. But while it may sounds exotic and whimsical, Francis says it usually takes between 18 and 20 months from when they discover a perfume to when they bring it to New Zealand. It’s a long conversation, and that is part of the beauty. For store information and more about the brands available at WORLD, visit www.worldbrand.co.nz/.