Welcome to our series, My Life in Perfume. We’re asking our favourite fragrance fans to reveal all – from their first perfume purchase to their signature aroma; here are their scent stories…
Pia Long isn’t just a fragrance lover; she makes them, too! Pia is a Perfumer, Co-Founder of Olfiction, a UK-based fragrance consultancy, and Boujee Bougies, a luxury candle brand that creates unique, show-stopping home fragrances, which we’re proud to stock on Escentual.
Pia has a fascinating scent story. Her journey didn’t start in an ISIPCA or an internal perfumery school in a big fragrance house. Instead, Pia learnt on the job, working at department stores before landing the role of Junior Perfumer at Lush. In her seven years at Lush, Pia helped develop and create all their scents, plus trained in-store teams!
Here’s Pia’s life in perfume…
My First Perfume
Love (by, I think Fleur de Sante, a Swedish mail-order beauty company).
My All-Time Favourite
This is genuinely impossible to answer for so many reasons but my perfume-wearing and perfume appreciation have split into parallel paths that often do not cross. I have a collection that I can throw on and not think about and feel good in. Things like Eau Dynamisante by Clarins, Eau Noble by Le Galion, various Guerlain lighter cologne type scents like Nerolia Vetiver – and then a few scents that are different in character, fuller, sweeter or woodier and again I can wear without thinking about them. Out of the latter group, Cuir Beluga by Guerlain is probably my all-time favourite.
My First Perfume Purchase
YSL Paris – by this time I had developed a mini collection of Yves Rocher and other perfumes which at the time were marketed as suitable for young girls, but at age 13 I started working behind a perfume counter (in Helsinki, alongside school) and this was the one perfume that completely captured me.
My Everyday Scent
Nothing or the lightest application of Eau Dynamisante away from my neck and face. Somewhere on the body under the clothes – because I don’t want to wear strong scents during work days, as I am constantly smelling and thinking about fragrances in progress, or evaluating raw materials. Even if I am physically not sniffing a single thing, if I am working on a perfume formula, having a strong smell on myself and then turning all those virtual smell objects around in my head at the same time would feel like trying to listen to two records at the same time.
First Mind-Blowing Fragrance
It wasn’t so much the perfume but more how it was being presented by the sales rep who visited the fragrance distributor I was working for at this time (in London, in the 90s). We were shown the Tiffany Trueste perfume that had launched a couple of years prior and the rep brought along a “miniature perfume organ” which I now know was mostly retail theatre but it was such a step beyond discussing notes lists and looking at glossy pictures, I was captivated. Even though I had worked on the retail and training side of fragrance for some time by then as a side hustle to what was supposed to become my real career, I had never truly thought about how perfumes are made. That was a turning point for me and I couldn’t get the thought out of my head. This was before any internet forums on fragrance or being able to Google anything about anything was a thing, so eventually, I bought a National Geographic book (Perfume: The Art and Science of Scent by Cathy Newman – known to us from Channel 4). At the time, this was like gold dust, a reliably robust bit of journalism rather than the often inaccurate or deliberately obfuscated information available about the process of creating perfumes.
My Most Sentimental Perfume
Summer by Kenzo. I wore it on my wedding day – and as prosaic an answer that is, there’s a reason people form strong connections to perfumes worn on significant days. Sadly, this is discontinued now, but I have a well-preserved bottle left that I use on anniversaries only.
My Perfume Collection
I went from having about a dozen perfumes in my teens and twenties (that’s a respectable normal person’s perfume wardrobe!) to over 30 in my mid-30s (at the beginning of starting to seriously pursue perfumery), to a height of perfume nerd obsession (where I had almost 200 bottles), to something like 70-80 today. I have all kinds of brands and styles, but my obvious favourite brands seem to be Guerlain, Serge Lutens, Annick Goutal, Hermès, and L’Artisan Parfumeur, from whom I have multiple fragrances. I love to wear fragrances coded as cologne or leaning towards masculine, but some of my absolute favourites are ambery, warm, and floral, too.