New Zealand born Megan Paki has made her home with her family in the famously picturesque French Riviera. Megan, who writes the blog Meganinsaintemaxime also works behind the scenes for French niche perfume houses in nearby Grasse. We caught up with her to ask her our six nosy questions.

What question do you get asked most often?

“Why do you like fragrance so much” is a question that I get asked quite often especially by friends who knew me before this passion started. Some think it’s a strange passion to have although if you take them through a selection of fragrances and materials and explain some of the history you can see that they start to have some appreciation. It’s nice when you can see a light bulb pop on when the seeds are being sown.

French Riviera coast

The fragrance related question that I’m often asked is very simply what is a great fragrance for a loved one or themselves. Sometimes people are quite specific in terms of their tastes and previous loves, however you need to really understand what sort of smells they enjoy – quickly you can check on marine / sea, outdoors – green, a make up scent, incense, florals, cologne style etc. It’s a good idea to see what perfumes they have loved on themselves and others as well. Then you can start making a few recommendations.

What’s your first scent memory?

Definitely my mother’s Chanel No 5 fragrance that I loved to see her spraying. I adored the bottle as it all seemed so glamorous and grown up and when you are a child you often want to experience some adult life even though it is a far away concept. Apparently when I was young I drank some of it as well!  

Orange blossom photo by Fragrantica

My first scent memory in France that I still appreciate is the smell of the bitter orange blossom.  It is the most heavenly smell and one that I am completely besotted by and as soon as the season begins the scent permeates the air and really lights up the day. I was lucky enough to live for a time in a house that had three of these trees and it is just the most divine smell and I do love when it is captured in a fragrance

What was the first fragrance you bought?

Fragrance at first was a special gift and one of my first was Opium which back in those days was a real heavy hitter, with a potent and evocative spiciness.  In fact it was a beautiful perfume but really too sophisticated for my teenage years.

The first perfume I remember buying with my own money was Trésor by Lancôme. This perfume was absolutely gorgeous and I was completely enamoured by its apricot rose blend. This fragrance really brings me back to those days even though it smells quite different today to my nose.

What does fragrance mean to you?

Megan giving a fragrance talk in Lithuania

Fragrance for me is a means to express a feeling, a moment, a state of being. Perfumes have the ability like music or a great wine to make us feel an emotional connection. Fragrance can be a huge mood enhancer; they can boost you up, chill you out, create a sense of happiness and can help to bring back cherished memories that you want to experience again.

Fragrance is also a way to expand your horizons by smelling materials and fragrances that are different and exciting that have the possibility to transport you to another time and place or to give a moment to pause and reflect.

Scent can also be the exact opposite too, it can simply serve as an accessory to quickly spritz and go. You leave the house and you feel like you are better dressed but you don’t give it too much thought. I think it can be many things to us all but the link to emotions is very strong.

How did you discover Le Jardin Retrouvé?

collage by Sebastien Notre

I’m sure that I discovered Le Jardin Retrouvé via Instagram . I sampled their initial line and fell in love with Citron Boboli. It’s a fragrance that is so much more than a lemon scent and this is from someone who initially didn’t even like citrus fragrances. It has a really interesting spicy aspect to it that errs more to glamour than refreshment. 

The fragrances spell quality and there is something for every perfume lover in the collection. There is a fantastic leather – Cuir de Russie and a very nice rose fragrance called Rose Trocadéro

What do you think the fragrance industry needs in the future?

I think the fragrance industry has really moved in so many directions since I first became interested and now there are many more niche, indie, artisan and lifestyle brands that are doing great things and really helping to extend what we know about fragrance and to give us new creations and inspiration. I think it is good for the consumer as they should be able to find something that gives them pleasure and enjoyment.

The landscape for perfume media has changed dramatically since my hobby started and now there are hundreds of Instagram accounts and YouTubers that suggests that the love is spreading. Personally  I would love to see more documentaries on fragrance that cover every facet of the industry because it touches on so many different elements.

I think that the sense of smell is so very important yet is one that is downplayed. It would be great to see more education for children that helps to build their olfactive capabilities. Also, as they become older to help them understand that there are career opportunities here too.  I think that many working in the industry have ended up there in a roundabout way so it would be nice to see a wider promotion of the various facets that are involved. Most people know that there are perfumers, but beyond this I think understanding is quite limited.

I believe the industry needs more diversity in terms of who works within it. Recently I looked on a company website of one of the big fragrance and flavour houses and there was a photo of master perfumers seated around a table and it was all white males over 45, which seemed the equivalent of a banking boardroom. This is an area that needs to change.

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2 Comments

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    Prince Barry Reply

    What an excellent interview and extremely excellent, and well thought out answers.

    • Avatar
      Clara Reply

      Thank you so much for your kind comment Prince Barry! We appreciate it truly. Warm regards
      Clara

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