Christmas, what an enchanting time of year! Here at Hip & Healthy, our thoughts are on the weeks ahead: on family time, on the presents we’ll be gifting, the food we’ll be enjoying and the special scents that will be filling our homes. Ah yes, the familiar scents of Christmas: cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, pine, oranges, mince pies, mixed spice, mulled wine…even this list is enough to flash back to times of merriment and itchy Christmas jumpers. Feeling fabulously festive (as you might have guessed), we recently caught up with Tessa Williams, author of Cult Perfumes, to mull over the extraordinary power of perfume, what makes us feel good and what’s likely to be at the top of our wish lists this Christmas!

In your book, many of the perfume “greats” talk in detail about how they have used scent to capture specific memories from their childhood. Are there certain scents which make you feel nostalgic?
Oh yes, absolutely. Mitsouko by Guerlain reminds me of my mother and I love it for this reason! It instantly makes me picture her getting dressed to go out, looking beautiful and then leaving the house with a gorgeous gust of perfume behind her. In fact, my love of perfumes goes back to the early age of 6 or 7 as my Grandmother used to gift each of her grandchildren with the smallest bottle of Chanel No.5 pure perfume. I was absolutely fascinated by this incredible liquid that had the power to transform my mood – a magical substance of sorts.

Speaking of moods, winter is synonymous with dark mornings, the biting cold and an overwhelming desire to retreat to our duvets. Are there any ingredients or scents that you would recommend to inject a little joie de vivre into a frosty winter’s day?
I find that tuberose is one of the most uplifting scents. It’s a floral scent with a big personality which can be found in Bubblegum Chic by James Heeley, the Parisian perfumer (www.jamesheeley.com). Citrus and bergamot scents can also boost your mood; one of my favourites is Cala Rossa by Santa Maria Novella. Sicily is an amazing citrus scent too (www.smnovella.it).

H&H Top Tip: we all have our own personal mind maps of scents. However, if escapism is what you’re after, check out Efflora by ODIN New York. It’s a fantastic scent that instantly transports us to a hot summer’s day (www.odinnewyork.com).

As well as memories, it’s clear from your book that perfumers draw inspiration from the finer things in life such as flowers, herbs and nature which very much compliments the Hip & Healthy ethos of appreciating the everyday. What makes you happy day to day? 

For me, seeing my daughter happy always lifts my spirits and being with my partner and family makes me happy too. Perfume also makes me happy – I don’t know why but it’s one of the only few legal things that really can change your mood!  I love seeing good news on the TV or in the papers as well as hearing inspiring stories of people who have succeeded against all odds. I believe we’re in charge of our own happiness; you have to seek it out however you can.

H&H Top Tip: Lululemon are running a great campaign entitled ‘Give Presence’ – why not ditch the distractions this Christmas and focus on being with the ones you love?

No doubt a number of readers will be treating their loved ones to a new scent this Christmas, which boutiques would you recommend in or around London to find that something special?

I do love Santa Maria Novella, they have three stores in London but their iconic flagship store in Florence is a must visit for any perfume lover. I was lucky enough to have an event there for Cult Perfumes in summer. In London, I love Roullier White (125 Lordship Lane, London SE22 8HU), also Ormonde Jayne (192 Pavilion Road, off Sloane Square), Floris (89 Jermyn St, London SW1Y 6JH) and Les Senteurs (71 Elizabeth St, London SW1W 9PJ).

H&H Top Tip: if you know someone who’s always on the go, how about a solid perfume that they can take with them?  Priced at £10, Pacifica has a great range of affordable solid perfumes (www.pacificabeauty.com).

If you’re looking for something a bit different, are there any new scents “shaking up” the world of perfumery? 

There are some fantastic new scents like Incitatus by Electimuss that really does smell of a horse! Smell Bent have created some exciting new scents too; St Tropez Dispenser is a great one that smells very similar to Hawaiian Tropic – kind of like a beach in a bottle. For my new book, A Scent for Every Day – I have discovered over 365 different perfumes. It’s been quite a journey!

H&H Top Tip: if you’re not looking for something quite so adventurous, woods and spice are often linked to the winter months and so people tend to embrace dark, woody, spicy Orientals at this time of year. Nevermore by Frapin and Fortis by Liquides Imaginaires are two warming winter fragrances.

Last but not least, what scents are you gifting next month? 

I’m very excited to be launching my own range of Perfumed Candles which are aimed to evoke The Elements; Earth, Water, Air and Fire. I worked with a perfumer/ candle maker to produce what I believe to be the scents of these hugely influential elements.  I’m excited to share them with my friends and family.

H&H Top Tip: We love ‘Fire’ – because we’re all for cosying up with a cup of warm almond milk!


words by Alexandra Salisbury

image from Hush: https://www.hush-uk.com/christmas_gifts