4 Noteworthy Creatives on Scent as Personal Style

Plus, the fragrances they swear by for life in NYC. In collaboration with Sephora.

Creatives can get a rep for being…sensitive. Emotionally, sure, but also for being in tune with what's going on around them: from a room’s color scheme to the energy of the people and things inside it. And if there's one sensory experience that can influence everything from your mood to the tone of your entire day, it’s fragrance.

After all, different occasions can call for different fragrances. The perfume you’d need to inspire confidence at a job interview might differ from what you’d wear on a butterflies-in-your-stomach first date. It’s no longer seen as something to save just for special occasions, but rather a crucial component of your day-to-day life. As journalist Marjon Carlos told us, “Smells provide vibes, right? That’s what they do.”

To prove our theory, we consulted with four of our favorite New York–based creatives. Discover how they use scent to express themselves in everything from their work in music, fashion, and more to the role it plays in their personal style.

Gia Seo

Stylist & Creative Director

Scents she lives in: Versace Bright Crystal; Marc Jacobs Daisy Love

Versace Bright Crystal

Key notes: Yuzu Lemon, Pomegranate, Peony

Smells like: Drinks and dancing on one of the first nights of summer.

Marc Jacobs Daisy Love

Key notes: Raspberry, Daisy Tree Petals, Cashmere Musks

Smells like: A chill afternoon gazing at clouds in the park.

Why she doesn’t believe in titles:

“I was originally born and raised in Alaska. [I'm] from a very small town, and now I’ve been in New York for 11 years. Technically, I’m a creative director, but I think titles are super arbitrary. I end up doing everything on a photo shoot set. There’s not a job that’s too small. I’ll still pick up coffee, even if I’m directing a shoot. I think it’s a big team effort, and I really, really support that.”

What you might find her doing on any given day:

“No two days are the same for me. Every set is different because every client is different. It’s a lot of juggling different personalities and making sure that everyone who’s on set understands what we’re here to do. The most important thing for me [on set] is always asking how everyone identifies with gender, because the world is changing, and I think that’s super important. It’s those little things I try to do.”

Her relationship to fragrance:

Of the 28 years I’ve been on Earth, there’s not a scent I won’t forget. I can always tell you exactly which memory it’s tied to, because my emotions are tied to my nose. There are particular scents that I’m drawn to. I like fragrances where you kind of have to have the person lean in to get a little taste of that smell.”

How she views fragrance as part of her personal style:

“Fragrance is tied to my personal fashion in the sense that it really dictates the mood I'm in. If I smell something that’s a little more floral, it puts me in a less colorful mood because the scent itself is already so vibrant. Or if I’m choosing something that’s a little bit more of a musky smell, then maybe my outfit will be a little bit more vibrant to kind of offset the subtlety of the fragrance.”

Torraine Futurum

Musician, Model

Scents she lives in: Yves Saint Laurent Black Opium Neon; Armani Beauty Si Passione Eau de Parfum

Yves Saint Laurent Black Opium Neon

Key notes: Coffee, Orange Blossom, Dragon Fruit Accord

Smells like: Getting ready for a night out.

Armani Beauty Si Passione Eau de Parfum

Key notes: Sparkling Pear, Rose, Woody Vanilla

Smells like: Pulling off something especially daring.

What her creative process looks like while working on music:

“My process starts off very organized, and then it descends into chaos. [laughs] It’s never like, ‘Oh, I like this sound, let’s see what words and feelings come out of me.’ It’s always like, ‘I want to write about this specific thing and that emotion,’ and that drives what the music should sound like.

“I make a playlist of songs that are inspiring, like a sonic mood board. I want it all to take you on an emotional ride. Making music is like my form of therapy.”

The role fragrance plays for Torraine as a musician and performer:

“I absolutely think that scent finishes a look. Fragrance makes me feel powerful. It’s the thing that makes you memorable, or becomes part of your brand. I feel like I’ve probably heard five different television or radio hosts say, ‘When I met Rihanna. Wow. She smells so good.’ Some scents almost create a barrier, like this person is untouchable. I like things that feel like you want to get close to that person. Like, ‘Hmm, what are you wearing? It’s similar to having your visual imagery together. If you’re any kind of visual artist, if you’re a musician, people are going to see you. It ties everything together.”

Banna Nega

Designer & Co-Founder, Glazed NYC; Freelance Creative

Scents she lives in: TOM FORD Ombré Leather, Jo Malone London Wood Sage & Sea Salt

TOM FORD Ombré Leather

Key notes: Black Leather, Cardamom, Patchouli

Smells like: Driving through hazy golden hour, in a vintage car, on a desert road trip.

Jo Malone London Wood Sage & Sea Salt

Key notes: Ambrette seeds, Sea Salt, Sage

Smells like: When you feel like you’re on top of your sh*t.

The mission behind her brand, Glazed NYC:

“Glazed NYC is an accessories brand, focused on functional accessories that bridge the gap between function and glamour. We started the company with one of my best friends from college. It was during the Polar Vortex, where it was two degrees every day. We couldn’t really wear anything that we felt cute in. We had people who live in urban settings in mind, because basically even though it was that cold, we still had to go to work and run around.

“Everything we do involves our friends and people around us, creating with them, bringing to light their stories, incorporating their talents into our vision as well. We wanted that to be at the core of our ethos because that’s how we got to the point that we’re at, through people [who] believed in us.”

What her daily creative process looks like:

“A typical day for me would be meeting up with friends, collaborating, finding ways to work together bringing our ideas to fruition.

“What inspires me most in my creative process is black women, and how there has been historically a lack of representation. I want to pay homage to the icons that came before us.”

Her relationship to scent growing up:

“My family is East African, and a lot of the scents in our culture, like incense we burn, is something that has always resonated with me. For most of my childhood, my mom was a stay-at-home mom. She never really took time for herself, but if she was going out for one night, she would always bring out her favorite perfume and use that, and that was her special thing.”

And what it’s like now:

“Fragrance definitely makes me feel confident. My favorite compliment [to receive] is that I smell good. It’s almost like a signature in a way. When you smell that, you know it’s me in the room.”

How scent relates to her personal style:

“I think my personal style is a mix of masculine and feminine. I can wear sweatpants and Jordans and a big t-shirt one day, and a tight dress the next day.”

Marjon Carlos

Journalist, Public Speaker

Scents she lives in: Chloé Roses de Chloé; Gucci Bloom Ambrosia Di Fiori

Chloé Roses De Chloé

Key notes: Bergamot, Rose, Amber

Smells like: Getting ready for a third date.

Gucci Bloom Ambrosia Di Fiori

Key notes: Jasmine, Tuberose, Damascena Rose

Smells like: What you’d wear to really make an entrance.

What her day-to-day looks like:

“I went freelance almost three years ago now. I’d decided that I wanted to do more features, bigger cover stories, and I wanted to be more public-facing in my work. I found that I wasn’t as creative getting that content out for the 24-hour news cycle. And so I took the leap!

“It’s such a hustle. Some months, I can be doing five stories and I’m crazy, not sleeping. And then another month it can be kind of dry. So you have to figure out how to stack those checks!

“I do a lot of different things outside of writing; I also consult for brands. It’s really rewarding, creatively, to work at my own pace and be able to take on big projects. This year I’m finishing up my book proposal, serving as an advisor to some designers, and hopefully writing more covers and feature stories.”

How scent factors into that daily routine:

“I’m all about creating a vibe, so I definitely mix and [match] all my scents. I always burn palo santo in the morning to get that aura right. And then I’m constantly burning candles throughout the day because I want my home to smell right and to feel right.

“I always wanted to have a smell that people associate with me, that’s reflective of my tastes. My mind-set has changed through the years as my personal style has changed. You realize, ‘Wait, maybe I smell like everybody on the train,’ and you want something a bit more distinct.”

And how fragrance makes her feel:

“Fragrance makes me feel complete, pulled together. I think smelling of glamour, or what I believed to be glamour, helped me shape who I was and this larger idea of what I thought fashion was. It linked me to that world, even though I felt so detached, living in Texas. So I’ve always associated fragrance with fashion and style.”


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