Learning to smell
Smell is the strongest of our senses—inextricable from our most powerful memories and emotions—but you'd never know that from the way we talk about it. Which is to say, we don't: in this digital age of rampant visual and aural stimuli, we've stopped paying attention to our sense of smell entirely.
Invisible Stories started as a project to change that, to bring scent back into the everyday vernacular. It was also, personally speaking, a deliberate pursuit of happiness. Scent was restorative for me, a mental tonic—a whiff of lilacs in the spring could lift a depressive episode instantly, while a spritz of a new perfume sample kept me giddy all day. For something so simple, its rewards are incommensurate. After all, smell is as close as we get to time travel—a familiar scent can transport us back to places long lost in the dusty crevices of our brains, while a new fragrance conjures up glittering futures and new realities we'd never dreamed of.
Then there's the universe of it. As a writer, I am interested in scent as a language—a means of communicating something to the world—but also in the language of scent. Because even though the human nose can recognize up to a trillion smells, we only have a few words to describe them, and most of this vocabulary is borrowed from our other senses. Even though I love think about scents and perfumes, I didn't know how to write about them, and I wanted to change that.
So that's what this is about: exploring the world of scent, and in the process, learning to speak this new language. That means delving into the perfume industry, of course, but we're also paying attention to the natural smells that surround us: those that hang in the air and seep into the streets; those that put us off, or turn us on. The scents that stay with us long after they're gone.
Scents - A deep dive into fragrances, individual ingredients, and interesting niche perfume houses.
Interviews - Conversations with friends, strangers, and perfumers about their favourite scents and olfactive memories.
Guides - The broad strokes of what you need to know about perfume.