Scent Memory: The Movie
When Joseph Quartana and Kaya Sorhaindo’s Six Scents initiative launched in 2008, it brought a new dimension to the age-old designer-fragrance concept. Rather than simply putting their names on a bottle, a select handful of rag-trade regulars were offered the opportunity to collaborate with Symrise noses on limited-edition, personalized perfume projects, part of the proceeds of which were donated to charity. Boldfaced fashion names such as Gareth Pugh, Mary Katrantzou, Jeremy Scott, and Bernhard Willhelm have all participated in the venture, which relies on a very thorough question-and-answer period that is meant to unlock each designer’s scent memory. “It was almost like going to a shrink for the day,” Katrantzou told us, back in 2010, about the questionnaire Quartana had sent to her. “[There were questions like] if you were an object, what object you would be? What kind of smells do you remember from your childhood? What was your first kiss like? What words best describe you as a teenager? By the end of it, I knew myself much better than when I started it.”
It’s this idea—the unlocking of scent memory—that compelled director Michelle Peerali to get in on the action. “I have an insane sense of smell, and I have to admit that memories that have been the most profound usually have a certain scent associated with them. This was the seedling that inspired things to bloom,” Peerali recalls of how Quartana came to commission Notes of Memory, her new short film. “The brand is very into the ‘experience of scent,’ and my film was very fitting with this idea, as we witness each person sharing their own personal experiences of scent through scent memories they share with us.” Peerali’s subjects are varied, a deliberate gesture that came from a comprehensive search. “I casted through agencies, I casted through asking a person who worked at a local Trader Joe’s that I found interesting, and last but not least was very lucky to have received interest from such an icon in the fashion and celluloid world: Julie Newmar.” The result is a somewhat raw rendering of how our minds process things inter-sensorially, like how the smell of an old boyfriend’s cologne can stay with you far longer than the boyfriend himself. “I wanted to make the viewers experience this piece as if the subjects were speaking to them and only them, [to connect] to these stories and possibly explore their own scent memories after viewing.” Click above to watch—and commence olfactory recall at will.