Scent memory is the closest thing in the world to a time capsule. These days, as we find ourselves craving the sights and sounds of foreign lands, find solace in these place-based fragrances, which certainly cost less than an overseas flight. Each one was inspired by natural elements and historical details, and in some cases contains botanical extracts from the very place that inspired its creation.

Bukhara by Gallivant

After 20 years in fragrance production, London-based founder Nick Steward launched his own brand inspired by the simple joys of wanderlust. His goal is to capture the essence and energy of different places around the world in universal, unisex scents, and to celebrate the multi-sensory pleasure that comes from discovering a new destination.

The collection includes a number of his most cherished cities including Istanbul, Tokyo and Tel Aviv. Steward was most recently inspired by a trip along the Silk Road in Uzbekistan for his latest release, Bukhara. The fruit- and spice-laden scent was composed by New York-based perfumer Ralf Schwieger, who rose to prominence as the designer behind Frédéric Malle’s Editions de Parfums Lipstick Rose. Schweiger approaches scent creation first from an intellectual point of view, followed by a sensory one. He himself had never visited Uzbekistan, so the discovery process of bottling it was an illuminating “journey of discovery.”  A great believer in travelling light, Steward formulated the Gallivant bottles in a 30ml “nomad size” so that your favourite cities can accompany you just about anywhere – including through airport security.

Eau d’Italie by Eau d’Italie

The first – and signature – release from Positano-based perfumery Eau d’Italie was created to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Sirenuse Hotel, a modest seaside home that would go on to become a world-class hotel with a famed history.

Eau d’Italie founders Marina Sersale and Sebastián Alvarez Murena conceived of the idea as a creative tribute to Sersale’s family’s hotel, as well as her beloved memories of Positano, and they approached master perfumer Bertrand Duchaufour (Acqua di Parma, Commes des Garçons, L’Artisan Parfumeur) to help them build it. The scent contains actual extracts and accords of terracotta and sweet yellow clover, which grows wild along the Amalfi coast, along with frankincense and quintessential southern Italian bergamot. Eau d’Italie has since blossomed to include an impressive line-up of place- and time-inspired fragrances near and dear to the hearts of niche perfume lovers worldwide.

Pampa Húmeda by Fueguia 1833

Founded in Buenos Aires in 2010 by Julian Bedel, Fueguia 1833 was inspired not only by Bedel’s scent memories of travelling throughout Argentina, but also as a tribute to the complex history, history, art and culture of South America. The name stems from Tierra del Fuego in Patagonia, a rich and wild terrain where the perfumery sources and distils some of their rarest natural extracts. Pampa Húmeda is a blast of fresh green, inspired by the scent of rain-washed prairie that sweeps across parts of Argentina, Uruguay and southern Brazil on a strong wind locally referred to as El Pampero.

Misfit by ARQUISTE Parfumeur

Carlos Huber, the founder and mastermind behind Arquiste Parfumeur, is an architect first, so conceiving of moods and building them comes naturally to him. Born and raised in Mexico City, he later studied at the École Spéciale d’Architecture in Paris and graduated with honours in Historic Preservation at Columbia University. During a trip to Spain, he discovered the power of aromatic landscapes and went on to launch his own line inspired by distinctive geographical locations and historical periods.

His olfactory time capsules are mostly conceptual, but the natural essences inside of them are meticulously selected. For Misfit, Huber paints the scene of an upstairs bedroom in the port city of Marseille, France in 1877. An old-fashioned Kashmiri shawl is draped upon the bed, imbued with the heady scent of patchouli and musk, which then mingles with Provençal lavender wafting in from the window. Patchouli has come in and out of style throughout history. Misfit is a nod to trends that come and go, and to those on the fringes of society who embrace the old and thereby make it new again.

Coco Coco by Coqui Coqui

The original Coqui Coqui Residence and Spa is located in the Yucatan capital city of Mérida, surrounded by tobacco plantations and the accompanying heady scent of the tobacco flower. The company has locations scattered throughout Mexico and Polynesia, each boasting a signature scent inspired by the place and designed to contribute to what Coqui Coqui hopes will be an “ultimate sensory experience.” Tropical to the core, Coco Coco has at its heart fresh coconut and a sea-salty breeze. The coconut essence utilised in the blend was sourced from Yucatan green coconut, and conjures the paradise of the Sian Ka´an nature reserve in Tulum.

[Photo at left: Vianca Soleil]

Pichola by Neela Vermeire Créations

Neela Vermeire founded her perfume line as an homage to her Indian heritage. Each scent encapsulates a very specific mood based on places, colours and even moments in time. For instance Mohur, a scent inspired by the Empress Mehrunissa during the height of the Mughal and British Raj era, combines inimitable Indian spice notes of coriander, cardamom and black pepper with milky rose, a nod to high tea and rambling gardens. In Pichola, Vermeire captures the hypnotic shimmer of reflections on Lake Pichola in the northern Rajasthan city of Udaipur. The scent opens with sparkling bergamot and juniper, and blooms with an intoxicating floral heart including an opulent magnolia accord.

[Photo at left: A. Zeigler]

Don’t Cry for Me by ALTAIA

ALTAIA stands for “a long time ago in Argentina.” It celebrates the founders’ shared Argentinian origin stories, which they discovered by chance after knowing each other for decades.

Deeply rooted in nostalgia and visceral scent memories, the collection began as a love letter to Buenos Aires with Don’t Cry for Me, which is steeped in notes of jasmine in a nod to the flower vendors that still dot the streets of Argentina’s capital. ALTAIA has since branched out to include a number of site-specific scents, including Purple Land, inspired by Lake Chamo in Ethiopia and the red frangipani flowers that grow along its banks, and By Any Other Name, a modern rose-infused scent based on memories of a blooming English garden.

Un Air de Bretagne by L’Artisan Parfumeur

Un Air de Bretagne is from the ‘Landscapes’ collection, a new line of place-based fragrances inspired by iconic scents belonging to specific locations in France. In this case, perfumer Juliette Karagueuzoglu evokes the untamed and untarnished beauty of waves crashing against the Breton coastline. The fragrance is built around a fresh and sea-salty marine accord and iodised oxygen, which she imagines as “a breeze on the body, a taste of salt on the lips and on the skin after a stormy day.” There is an added marine layer of algae absolute and ambergris.

White Vetiver by Abel Odor

Inspired by the art and science of wine aroma, former winemaker Frances Shoemack partnered with perfumer Isaac Sinclair to develop naturally derived scents that evolve throughout the day. Not only are they dedicated to making beautiful fragrances, they’re committed to protecting the planet as well as giving back to the places where they source their ingredients.

White Vetiver, for instance, is quite literally Haiti in a bottle. It conjures cool tropical citrus and mint along with the earthy warmth of vetiver, which is harvested on the island. Imagine a misty morning atop the grassy hillsides and the gradual emergence of a blazing sun. In a gesture of gratitude, Abel Odor gives back to the Haitian community, donating 1% of all White Vetiver sales to SOIL Haiti, which is working to transform waste into resources and ultimately replenish the soil where the vetiver is grown.

Lavande Ombrée by Au Pays de la Fleur d’Oranger

The essence of Provence, and the town of Grasse in particular, this fragrance is an homage to lavender and exudes the scent of southern France. In a modern and masculine twist on a classic lavender accord, Lavande Ombrée combines rich leather notes with locally harvested deep and earthy lavender. All of their fragrances represent the heart and soul of the area, and even the name is inspired by the blossoming orange trees that dot the hills of the Cote d’Azur. They count among their partners the best of Grasse suppliers which means a bouquet of flowers bottled at the source.

Berber Blonde by Sana Jardin

Sana Jardin was founded in large part to empower women in the rural regions of Morocco, who work primarily as flower harvesters, but found themselves struggling financially after the harvest season had ended. The brand partnered with the non-profit Nest and Les Aromes du Maroc, a women’s cooperative based in Morocco and created especially for women to produce and sell their products. A sustainable and socially conscious brand, Sana Jardin also hopes to inspire their perfume-loving customers to become conscious consumers along the way.

This particular sunny scent is built around the essential oil of Moroccan orange blossoms, and it is undeniably transportive; at its base are North African Neroli and musk. Orange blossom is also thought to have mood-boosting effects, so a spritz of Berber Blonde is not only good for your heart and soul, but might just save you from the winter blues.

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