The Festival of Europe is “a cultural celebration spanning the diversity of the European continent…founded on shared cultures and values, transcending borders of every kind”. Its festivities have just begun throughout the UK and will last throughout the summer until the end of September.
At Stratford for Europe, we have been bending our minds to come up with creative contributions in music, drama and pictorial art. After all, Stratford is famous as a cultural centre and so we should be able to do something which complements the exciting events taking place up and down the country.
One art form which has been rather neglected in the past is creative perfumery. Yet there is nothing like a memorable scent to stir the emotions and conjure up a mood.
Small scale or niche perfumery has enjoyed a renaissance in recent years, for those who seek something different from the usual designer brands and department store offerings. A subculture has grown up of connoisseurs, knowledgeable bloggers and passionate hobbyists. This has come under threat since Britain left the EU as it has become more difficult to obtain supplies of ingredients. A possible solution is to establish a pied-a-terre on the continent, and commute there at regular intervals with a suitcase, but this is impractical for many.
Not to be deterred, however, I thought it would be a nice challenge to create a scent to celebrate the diversity of Europe: roses from Bulgaria, lavender from Provence or the French alps, citrus fruits from Italy, birch leaves from the saunas of Sweden. I will call it Euroscent.
Having been interested in fragrance chemistry since my childhood, I already have a stock of materials dating from happier times when trade was easier. And last week I had the opportunity to acquire some of the latest introductions, at the British Society of Perfumers’ annual symposium. Here the leading producers from around the world unwrap and showcase their latest fragrant ingredients, including natural extracts obtained by novel methods.
The most brilliant stars of this symposium were undoubtedly the Italian citrus extracts from Calabria. Mandarin orange, Sicilian lemon, bergamot, and some you may not have even heard of before. Extracted in giant centrifuges where 20 tons of water are needed to make a kilo of extract, they are kept cool under nitrogen so the ultimate freshness is preserved. Fresh scents to engender fresh thinking maybe, and a fresh approach to Europe.
Discover Euroscent at one of our forthcoming events in Stratford.