Scents of Place : My Article in the May Issue of Marie Claire

May’s issue of Marie Claire includes my article about fragrances that satisfy our wanderlust. It’s called Scents of Place (p.79).  I also meant it as an introduction to niche, or however you want to call the artisanal, indie, etc. perfumery that aims to offer something different from the department store perfume counter. Not all niche brands guarantee an interesting experience, but the ones that do are worth exploring. I loved writing about this topic and highlighting my personal favorites in the article.


“Serge Lutens’s perfume Arabie conjures the heady exuberance of a Moroccan souk with cardamom, tobacco, and honeyed dates; Neela Vermeire’s Mohur takes you to India with its lush sweetness of roses and milky sandalwood; and Amoureuse, a perfume created by California-based Parfums DelRae, evokes San Francisco’s jasmine festooned streets. If those names don’t sound familiar, it’s because these fragrances don’t appear in television commercials or on the scent strips in magazines…”

May’s Marie Claire is a global beauty issue, and it has many interesting articles on makeup, health and fashion. Scarlett Johansson is the sultry cover girl. There are articles on beauty trends in Hong Kong, reports from Berlin Fashion Week and more. I especially loved the spread featuring the gorgeous Chinese model Ping Hue wearing summer colors. The magazine is now available at newsstands. I will post the link to my article once it becomes available.

Do you satisfy your wanderlust with perfume? Are there fragrances that conjure up specific places for you?



  • Martha: I like to learn about the sources for natural materials including the locations where they can be found. Thanks to the internet, the research is relatively easy. For instance, it was interesting to discover that patchouli had been used in the British-East India textile trade to discourage insects from eating the cloth while it was in transit. May 3, 2013 at 8:04am Reply

    • Victoria: I also love learning about the history of perfume materials and how they were used at different times. Or for instance, that during the WWII the oakmoss, traditionally harvested in the Balkans, became unavailable and how the perfume houses were forced to face these shortages as well as the shortages of glass. Guerlain archives have a whole collection of the refillable war era bottles.

      My mom says that even as recently as the 1970s you could find Indian pashimas packed with patchouli leaves. The cashmere shawls had such a nice scent! May 3, 2013 at 9:45am Reply

    • nikki: patchouli and its use in the western world is an interesting topic, spanning continents and colonial history. May 3, 2013 at 10:39am Reply

      • Victoria: And spices too–pepper, cinnamon, nutmeg. There is a good book on this topic called Spice: The History of a Temptation, written by Jack Turner. May 3, 2013 at 10:49am Reply

        • Martha: Yes, I’ve often thought that touring the Spice Islands would be interesting just to see where our common spices are grown. It is easy to forget that those spices were once very expensive commodities. May 3, 2013 at 1:46pm Reply

          • Victoria: Wouldn’t it be amazing? I would love to see how nutmeg is grown or how cinnamon is collected. From reading Turner’s book, I can imagine the process, but it would fascinating to see it. May 3, 2013 at 3:13pm Reply

            • carole: Victoria,
              There is a really wonderful book, called Nathaniel’s Nutmeg, which gives a detailed description of this spice, and of the Spice Islands in general. It’s a really wonderful book-it provides a contextual history, so we understand the need for spices, and gives really wonderful descriptions of fragrances of the Spice Islands.
              Carole May 8, 2013 at 4:45pm Reply

              • Victoria: Thank you so much, Carole! I found a copy on for 1 cent (ok, + 3.99 shipping), so I had to order it. Can’t wait to start reading it. May 12, 2013 at 9:40am Reply

  • Erica: I’m going to pick up my copy today, and I look forward to reading it over breakfast this weekend. As for fragrances and wanderlust…I love Lolita Lempicka L. Anyway, to my novice perfuming mind it is a fragrance that smells like the beach. May 3, 2013 at 8:14am Reply

    • Victoria: I also find it summery and languid, perfect for a lazy day, and the bottle looks like something you find on the beach. So pretty! May 3, 2013 at 9:46am Reply

  • Anastasia: Victoria, is this the U.S. or UK edition? I would love to read your article. May 3, 2013 at 8:25am Reply

    • Victoria: Anastasia, it’s the US edition. I’ll post a link when they put the piece online. May 3, 2013 at 9:51am Reply

  • Jillie: You are deservedly becoming more and more famous!

    I’ve never been to Turkey, but L’Artisan’s Traversee definitely conjures up a Turkish market place for me – Turkish delight, apple tea and leather. Probably the reality doesn’t smell half as lovely, although is no doubt much more complex, but I am happy to dream. May 3, 2013 at 8:45am Reply

    • Victoria: Definitely not famous, but I love writing about a topic I feel so passionate about, whether here or in other publications. Plus, it’s a chance to meet different people and discover how many fragrance lovers (sometimes even secret ones!) there are out there. 🙂

      Traversee du Bosphore is my fantasy market too, and as you say, it’s an invitation to dream and escape routine. My other fantasy Turkish market scent is Fendi Theorema, which smells like candied oranges, cloves, cinnamon and dried roses. May 3, 2013 at 10:00am Reply

      • Marie: Is Theorema still available? I haven’t seen it for years. May 3, 2013 at 11:47am Reply

        • Victoria: Unfortunately, it has been discontinued. The entire classical Fendi collection was axed, but Theorema is the one I miss the most. May 3, 2013 at 1:29pm Reply

      • Ann: I just got a bottle of the new, reformulated eau de parfum Shalimar–I only mention all that because there are some of you who know what the old Shalimar smelled like, but alas I do not. Anyway, I happily sprayed it on, in the air, in the direction of the cat… when I realized that I couldn’t smell a thing. I’ve had a cold for over a week and I smelled nada! Why this long ramble? Because my 12 old son came by my office a few minutes later, sniffed the air, sniffed me, and said, “Wow, it smells like Turkish Delight in here!” I can’t wait to see (smell!!) for myself. I have loads of happy memories traveling in Greece with my parents when I was nine stuffing my face with loukumi (Greece’s word for the candy) and loving the smell of the rose water and powedered sugar… May 3, 2013 at 12:08pm Reply

        • Victoria: I love this! I now want to run and find my bottle of Shalimar EDP. 🙂 May 3, 2013 at 1:37pm Reply

        • Hannah: Haha! Your cat must smell fantastic. I’ve always thought Shalimar was somewhat of a feline scent to begin with- decadent, self satisfied, and a bit grandiose 🙂 May 5, 2013 at 9:46pm Reply

      • Jillie: I’ve got to hunt for my bottle of Theorema – I know it’s somewhere. That always reminds me of Christmas, but now I will think of an exotic market place too! May 3, 2013 at 1:30pm Reply

        • Victoria: It reminds me of Christmas too, a blend of orange and dry spices used in mulled wine. But the souk prevails in the end, probably because the Ukrainian Christmas doesn’t feature many spices. 🙂 May 3, 2013 at 3:08pm Reply

  • Deborah: Congratulations on your article! Well done. May 3, 2013 at 9:12am Reply

  • Samantha: Congratulations, V! I already bought my Marie Claire last week and I loved your article. I was happy to see Mohur mentioned, which is my current favorite. May 3, 2013 at 9:21am Reply

    • Victoria: Glad that you liked it! I enjoy Mohur very much, and it’s one of my most evocative scents. The combination of rose and sandalwood instantly reminds me of Indian temples and various religious ceremonies. May 3, 2013 at 10:05am Reply

  • sara: all of my lutens, especially douce amere, kenzo amour, kelly caleche, santa maria novella zagara. my favorite perfumes make me dream. May 3, 2013 at 10:22am Reply

    • Victoria: Serge Lutens’ perfumes definitely give me the feeling of traveling via scents. You’ve reminded me that I haven’t worn Douce Amere in a while, and it’s time to revisit it.

      Same with Zagara! Sara or anyone else who knows, how does it compare to Annick Goutal Neroli or Jo Malone Orange Blossom? May 3, 2013 at 10:41am Reply

      • Olivia: To my nose Zagara and JM Orange Blossom are very similar. It’s like having your own orange grove. But, I don’t know Neroli, so I would like to try it too. It will soon be winter in NZ, so I need something bright and summery. May 4, 2013 at 2:54am Reply

        • Olivia: Wanted to add that Zagara lasts longer on me. May 4, 2013 at 3:00am Reply

          • Victoria: Thank you very much, Olivia! I’ll definitely add to my list. May 4, 2013 at 7:13am Reply

            • Rachel: I thought it got discontinued, no? May 4, 2013 at 6:28pm Reply

              • Victoria: It’s still up on SMN’s website and Aedes has it too, so I think that it’s around. May 5, 2013 at 8:18am Reply

  • Lauren: Yay! Planning to buy this issue and looking forward to reading it. Have a good weekend. May 3, 2013 at 10:22am Reply

    • Victoria: Have a nice weekend, Lauren! Hope that you like it. If nothing else, it’s a great issue with lots of different interesting articles! And Scarlett looks beautiful in the spread. May 3, 2013 at 10:43am Reply

  • Phyllis Iervello: Victoria, I subscrbe to Marie Claire and loved your article! Although it is a French scent, everytime I wear Hermes’ H’iris, I think of Rome because H’iris came out right before I was leaving for a trip to Italy about 13 years ago or so and I bought a bottle to bring with me. I wore it the entire time I was there and everyone commented on my fragrance. (Someone actually bought a bottle of it in Rome because she loved it on me so much.) For some reason, to me the scent actually smelled even better in Rome than in the U.S. To this day, every day I wear it, I think of Rome. May 3, 2013 at 10:25am Reply

    • Victoria: Such a beautiful, romantic association! By the way, the perfumer who created Hiris, Olivia Giacobetti, is of the Italian ancestry.

      Hiris is one of my favorites too, and although it’s such a light fragrance, I also get plenty of compliments on it, sometimes from complete strangers. May 3, 2013 at 10:48am Reply

  • AndreaR: AG’s Eau du Sud transports me to sunny Provence. May 3, 2013 at 11:02am Reply

    • Victoria: It’s so evocative. For me, it was a tough choice between Eau d’Hadrien and Eau du Sud for this article. If I had more space, I would have included both. May 3, 2013 at 11:09am Reply

  • Jessie: I read your article a few days ago and I wondered if you were the same person writing Bois de Jasmin! I loved it. I’m new to perfume and I don’t have many to choose from. Ralph Lauren’s Romance makes me think of vacationing with my boyfriend in Florida. I wore it during the entire trip. May 3, 2013 at 11:20am Reply

    • Victoria: 🙂 Sometimes I’ve even done this on purpose–I would use the same perfume during a trip to have a scented memento for later. May 3, 2013 at 1:28pm Reply

  • Figuier: Hey, looking forward to reading the article – congrats 🙂 My place/scent associations are like those of Jessie & Phyllis, above: I wore Black Orchid on holiday in Italy a few years ago, so now the two are irrevocably linked in my head; same (bizarrely) for Jardin en Mediterranee, which I associate with Sweden in summer. May 3, 2013 at 11:50am Reply

    • Victoria: That’s funny! I also have an unusual association with Un Jardin sur le Nil. I wore it a lot during a summer I spent visiting my relatives in Ukraine, and now whenever I wear it, I think of Kiev. Just as well, since I’ve never been to Egypt. 🙂 May 3, 2013 at 1:31pm Reply

  • Marie: I usually don’t comment but I wanted say congrats. I enjoy your blogs and looking forward to reading your article. btw, I loved your post about tulips. May 3, 2013 at 11:57am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you very much, Marie!

      Seeing all of those tulips made me wish I had a little garden of my own. May 3, 2013 at 1:32pm Reply

  • Ilia: Looking forward to reading the article!
    As for wanderlust… Andy Tauer’s L’Air du Desert Marocain is a very evocative scent for me, probably helped by the name in equal measure. It reminds me of hot air rising from heated stone, and the scent of my grandmother’s house, she lived in a hot sunny place and I stayed there in summer when I was little. On the other hand, Manoumalia is a journey to the tropics, at least how I imagine they would smell, because I’ve neevr been to a place like that. I have a nameless tester of a perfume that smells like an old book, and it’s like a trip to the library that no longer exists, with leather seats and green lamps and tall shelves.
    I second Traversee du Bosphore for Turkish market association! I think Lutens’ Fumerie Turque as well and El Attarine have a similar effect. May 3, 2013 at 12:06pm Reply

    • Victoria: Manoumalia is one of the strangest and most evocative perfumes I know. I’m intrigued and repulsed by it at the same time, but on certain days, it’s so perfect, like a trip to a tropical country. An Indian friend smelled it on me one time and exclaimed that it smelled exactly like India, since it has a bit of something decaying, rotten under all of those lush flowers.
      . May 3, 2013 at 1:35pm Reply

    • carole: Ilia, I have the CB In The Library scent, which smells exactly like what your are describing. Maybe that is your mystery sample! May 8, 2013 at 4:48pm Reply

  • OperaFan: Congratulations, Dear V!

    I will look forward to reading this. Also very glad you’re putting the focus on quality Niche/Artisanal fragrances on such an accessible publication.

    Cheers! May 3, 2013 at 12:20pm Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you! They are the brands you know very well, but when I thought of how I myself discovered niche and what fragrances touched me the most, and I’ve talked about those. Still, deciding which perfumes I should include was such a Sophie’s choice. Of course, this is a topic on which one could write several articles! May 3, 2013 at 1:40pm Reply

  • Nancy A.: Hi V,

    I hope to check out your article — interesting concept. I guess if I allowed myself I would be living in perpetual wanderlust! For the most part I’ve gravitated towards the niche brands of fragrance but always, of course, what stirs me to memorialize these fragrances and perhaps never to wear them again. May 3, 2013 at 12:28pm Reply

    • Victoria: Hope that you like it. The niche is now so large (over 300 brands) that a label by itself means nothing. But the best of this category is very exciting, whether we’re talking about small indie brands like Aftelier and Vero Profumo or larger houses like Serge Lutens. May 3, 2013 at 1:45pm Reply

  • Geneviève: Great! I was going to buy this issue anyway, but now that I know that you wrote an article in it, I’m even more excited about that! The subject really interest me! If only I had more money – and I lived near by a place where I can smell at least some niche perfume – I would be so glad 😛
    I need to go in Montreal soon, I guess 🙂 May 3, 2013 at 12:38pm Reply

    • Victoria: Please let me know what you think! Their global beauty issue is always interesting, and last year they had a great article about scent preferences around the world. May 3, 2013 at 1:48pm Reply

      • Geneviève: I’ll sure do! May 3, 2013 at 1:49pm Reply

        • Geneviève: Hello Victoria, I bought today the issue and I really liked it! You must have been to all the places you describe the smell because it’s so well explained ! I love the way you introduce niche perfume lines to the majority of people who doesn’t know anything about it!
          Congratulation! May 14, 2013 at 9:47pm Reply

          • Victoria: Thank you very much for letting me know. I’m so happy to hear that you’ve enjoyed the article! I love to travel, through perfume or otherwise, so it was such a fun piece to write. 🙂 May 20, 2013 at 8:32pm Reply

  • Anna: I’m going to buy this issue for Scarlett Johansson (I <3 her!) and I look forward to reading your article too. Good timing, because I want a new perfume. May 3, 2013 at 5:48pm Reply

    • Victoria: 🙂 I especially loved her in “Girl with A Pearl Earring”. (And I love the red lipstick she’s wearing in the photo on the MC cover). May 4, 2013 at 7:09am Reply

  • Karen: Neroli always reminds me of Seville. I was there with my kids when the bitter orange trees were in full blossom, we took a carriage ride around the town, I just closed my eyes and breathed in the fragrance. May 3, 2013 at 6:32pm Reply

    • Victoria: What a wonderful image! Seville is one of my dream destinations, and since I love orange blossoms in all forms–actually, having a glass of water with a drop of orange blossom essence as I type this, I can only imagine how gorgeous Seville must be during the blooming season. May 4, 2013 at 7:11am Reply

      • Karen: It really is a beautiful city! Go in early spring (we were there late . And don’t be afraid to look like a tourist, as I initially was, and take a carriage ride. And I can’t wait to read the article! May 4, 2013 at 8:07am Reply

        • Victoria: Thank you for a tip! I’m sometimes wary of these things too, but I’ll keep it in mind. 🙂 May 4, 2013 at 11:54am Reply

  • AndreaR: I just went out and bought a copy of Marie Claire and enjoyed reading your elegant and informative article. Congratulations, Victoria May 3, 2013 at 7:15pm Reply

    • Victoria: I’m very happy to hear this! Thank you, Andrea. Hope that you liked the rest of the issue too. May 4, 2013 at 7:13am Reply

  • Tara C: Got my copy in the mail and was thrilled to see your article. It was so great to see many of my favorite niche perfumers like Neela, Vero and Andy mentioned. Perfume definitely allows me to be an armchair traveler – some favorites are Zagorsk, L’Air de Desert Marocain and Rahat Loukhoum. May 4, 2013 at 9:17am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you, Tara! It was such a difficult choice what perfume lines to mention since there are so many creative, unusual fragrances done by passionate individuals. When a perfume bears the fingerprint of its creator, it really makes for a special experience. May 4, 2013 at 12:06pm Reply

  • Rachel: I’m going to get my copy tomorrow. Congrats, V. May 4, 2013 at 6:27pm Reply

  • Piper: Congratulations, Victoria! I love Bois de Jasmin so much and am happy to see niche fragrances gaining a larger following. Some of my personal favorites: L’Artisan’s Seville a l’Aube, which reminds me Venice (haven’t been to Seville yet, must go!), Keiko Mecheri’s Genie du Bois that transports me to my hometown on a tiny island in Puget Sound and L’Artisan’s Passage d’Enfer, which reminds me of Florence. I think the main reason I love perfume is because it can so easily transport me to a different place and time. Again, congrats! May 6, 2013 at 6:28pm Reply

    • Victoria: Piper, thank you! It’s great to be able to talk about some of these interesting, lesser known perfumes. Many of them are completely different from the big launches, and if someone is tired of the same theme in the new releases, it’s always fun to explore.

      I started exploring niche when as a student I was really missing being able to travel. Some of my favorites remind me of my favorite places too. May 12, 2013 at 9:42am Reply

  • Karen: Hello Victoria

    My first post after over a year of sitting on the side-lines soaking up the (new-to-me) world of perfume.

    Strolling through a British department store, it was the first casual spritz of Annick Goutal’s Songes which sparked my new-found pleasure in perfume. That heady lush scent transported me some 15 years back; to Zanzibar Island, straight into the heart of the Old Town, to our bedroom at Emerson’s Hotel, to the carved bed draped with gauzy muslin, and pillows scattered with Jasmin flowers. It was a revelation.

    It’s not a fragrance I can wear daily – I dab it on at night when I go to bed, breathe it in and remember.

    I’ve flirted with many samples since last year, and it transpires that my perfume choices are very much led by the weather. Bois des Iles has been my first real perfume love, and my constant and glorious companion through Winter and through our very cold Spring. Despite valiant attempts, my Spring/Summer perfume is yet to reveal itself, though Chamade has been a serious contender. Still, I’m not good at rushing these things, and I’m very much enjoying the journey.

    Your rich and insightful words have navigated me on a daily basis through my first year of discovery – thank you! May 10, 2013 at 5:55am Reply

    • Victoria: Welcome, Karen, to BdJ and to the addictive perfume hobby! 🙂 I love your story about Songes, and I can completely relate, because my niche introduction happened at Annick Goutal. I remember trying Gardenia Passion and being completely taken aback by its drama and richness. It really smelled like a garden in full bloom. Like you and Songes, Gardenia Passion hasn’t become my top favorite, because it’s a bit demanding as a daytime perfume (for me, at least). But I still find it thrilling. May 12, 2013 at 9:45am Reply

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