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Technology & Innovation

Perfume to Recover the Special Scent of Lost Loved Ones

When a loved one dies, would you buy a perfume of their scent? Katia Apalategui would like to think so — after all, smell is a powerful thing.

Smell can be a powerful thing. The scent of a loved one can move through those olfactory senses and bring memories or emotions to the surface. I remember a significant other that used to wear his sweater to bed every night, just so it would be washed in his scent when I took it home after a weekend visit. That sweater, with his smell on it, would comfort me once I was away. In those days, if I could buy a bottle of his scent, I would. Interestingly enough, a French perfumer is claiming to be able to do just that. However, she’s aiming her personalized scents at bereaved customers.

Erin Blakemore from The Smithsonian reports that Katia Apalategui alongside chemist Geraldine Savary say that they have been able to successfully extract a hundred odor molecules from a subject’s clothing to create a bottled scent.

Apalategui came up with the idea after seeing her mother’s attempts to preserve the scent on her dead husband’s pillowcase. So, she began her quest to find a scent chemist to help her manufacture and bottle these personalized smells of dead loved ones.

Blakemore reports that Apalategui plans on marketing her perfume line in funeral homes by September. She expects to charge around $600 to bottle the scent of a deceased loved one.

The venture seems a bit morbid, especially when the prime customers are people who have been devastated by grief. But when you’ve lost someone, you’d pay anything to regain even the tiniest piece of that person. Smell is a powerful sense — one that can trigger deep memories and emotions, like my significant other’s sweater.

What do you think? Shady business plan, taking advantage of damaged people, or a product that helps bereaved people recover something they’ve lost?

And what is it with the French and their obsession with perfumes? In a Big Think interview, fine-fragrance perfumer Christophe Laudamiel — who has designed scents for Ralph Lauren, Abercrombie & Fitch, and Frederic Fekkai — explains how he used fragrance to create a scent opera. Amazingly creative, those French!

Read more about the power of smell and postmortem perfumes atThe Smithsonian.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock


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