Of all the senses, smell is perhaps the most mysterious. Experienced in the present, yet indelibly connected to our past, it is as timeless as it is ephemeral. Imagine a perfume specifically designed by a master perfumer to conjure up your favorite memories—be they an evening walk among blooming jasmine, a bitter coffee your father favored, or all of the above.
“To have a custom perfume made is a true luxury and ultimate pleasure,” says Brooklyn-based bespoke perfumer and olfactory artist Marissa Zappas. “It is my job to take pleasure seriously.” A classically trained dancer with a master’s degree in anthropology, she followed her lifelong obsession with perfume to study under renowned perfumer Olivier Gillotin of Givaudan (Polo Red, Tobacco Vanille, Higher) in New York. “There’s something really valuable in the knowledge and wisdom that gets passed down,” she says. Zappas credits Gillotin for teaching her that for a perfumer, scents are memories. “There is something profound about seeing one’s self reflected in art, especially when that art is evocative of spirit, is invisible, and encapsulates the most important memories of a lifetime.”