‘The Smell of Success’, supported by CPL Aromas, formed part of The Fashion Business Summit 2017 organised by London College of Fashion's school of business. A panel discussion involving Angela Stavrevska, CPL Aromas’ UK Creative Director & Perfumer; Lizzie Ostrom, the writer, broadcaster and event curator, (otherwise known as Odette Toilette); Palvinder Mann from Estee Lauder; Hannah Roberts from Unilever; with the panel discussion chaired by Will Andrews from Coty Prestige Service Ltd.
Opening the discussion at the Vinyl Factory off Carnaby Street in central London, Will Andrews opened by asking the audience “Who hasn’t brought one of these?” as he waved his mobile ‘phone. Only one member of the audience was without his mobile device. “’Phones are ubiquitous and technology marches on,” he said, “But smell is not catching up. Is that a problem?” He wondered if smell was less important to younger people than to those of his generation. The panel discussed whether smell has become our memory: does digital dyslexia, using technology that doesn’t allow for scent, mean scent and our sense of smell is less important?
Could smell be transmitted digitally? “We are decades away from digitising smell,” said Will Andrews. Preserving smells is important, the panellists agreed, in these days of ephemera and Snapchat.
Having commented on how technology might be crushing the sense of smell, the debate moved to how technology can capture and enhance smell. The panel agreed there was much to be learnt from the food and drinks sector in developing language to describe fragrance and that traditional means of marketing are largely obsolete.
Will Andrews said: “There is one thing technology can’t yet do. We can’t replicate the nose. It is so complex that even now we don’t truly understand how it works”. He concluded: “Maybe smell is the last bastion! The saviour of the human spirit against technology!” Questions from the audience included one about cultural differences with Angela Stavrevska describing how Oud, for example, was a note present in fabric conditioners in the Middle East but not outside the region. “Perfumes are culturally specific,” she said.