LDN Experiences

Published on November 28th, 2016 | by Francesca Baker


The Experimental Perfume Club, Dalston

It’s only the second day of the Experimental Perfume Club’s first home. Housed in Dalston, this is the laboratory set up by fragrance expert and perfume curator Emmanuelle Moeglin. Having worked in the industry for many years, including brands such as L’Oreal, Aramni, Nina Ricci, she’s an expert on working olfactory magic, and we’ve gathered together for a hands-on and informal perfume-making workshops where we hope she’ll reveal some of the science and some of the secrets of creating a fragrance.

We start with words. Emmanuelle makes a good point. As children we are taught that *this* colour is orange, or *that* sound is the note A, and it’s quite obvious when the taste on your tongue is chocolate. But the sense of smell is more ambiguous, and there’s very little education into the language that can be used to convey it. We know Chanel No 5 is iconic – but not what an icon smells like.

As we begin to deconstruct what seems a complex world, our preconceptions are challenged. The best-selling brands are certainly not the most appealing to the nose, and the smells we think we know are created by the mind, not the source. Musk for example, could never be described as musky, and you might not naturally consider suede to remind of you of cucumber, but it’s definitely in there.

The best things in life have a story – that’s why they matter. They draw you in with imagination and emotion, and they stay with you after you’ve walked away. I wanted a perfume that felt familiar and comforting. In the grey of December I need something uplifting. So the world I wanted to immerse myself in was that of a summer fete in my grandparents’ village.


As a writer I know the idea is only the first step, but the important one. Then the hard work starts, the building of the chapters starts. Once the story is set out, the science begins. The sense of smell is multifarious, and perfumes mix multiple different raw materials and compounds together to create their product.

Anything from ten to fifteen different fragrances and essences can be added to the recipe, layered up from the deep and lingering base notes, the signature heart middle layers, and the top notes, those that are most immediate, instant, create interest but fade more quickly. The small of a summer fete comes from a concoction of the smell of cut grass, zesty and green, fresh and vegetal leafiness, delicate dewy flowers, sweet caramel and ice creamy vanilla, fruity crisp apple, almondy hay and woody suede.

A fragrance is a composition of raw materials that come together in harmony. It’s as simple as that. Whilst there are certain materials and ratios considered to be the ideal accord, what really matters is what suits personal preference, lifestyle, and emotion. It’s this that is the really powerful lesson from Emmanuelle. All of us in the workshop experience the same lesson, yet all come away with something completely different. Each one of us is unique, creating a different story, and we now have the perfect perfume to accompany us on that journey.


The Experimental Perfume Club, 29 Bentley Rd, London N1 4BY

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About the Author

Francesca Baker is curious about life and enjoys writing about it. A freelance journalist, event organiser, and minor marketing whizz, she has plenty of ideas, and likes to share them. She writes about music, literature, life, travel, art, London, and other general musings, and organises events that contain at least one of the above. You can find out more at www.andsoshethinks.co.uk and follow her on https://twitter.com/andsoshethinks

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