The perfect scent can do wonders for lifting your mood and transforming your environment.
As the founder and ‘nose’ of MARACA fragrances, Chris Lim not only knows all about choosing scents to suit your style and mood, he travels the world seeking inspiration to create these aromas from scratch, too.
To find out more, we quizzed Chris on just how he concocts his sensual blends and how they’re best utilised in the home.
FQ: Creating fragrances sounds like a truly romantic job. How did you discover your nose and where has your career taken you to this point?
Chris Lim: Fragrance has surrounded me my entire life. To me, it is an everyday luxury which enhances emotions, evokes memories and can transform any environment to feel luxurious!
I was born in Malaysia, and I truly fell in love with the mysterious powers of fragrance at an early age. My Mum and Aunt, who both worked in the beauty industry, had an amazing collection of fragrance miniatures, which I spent hours playing with whenever I had the chance. I was fascinated with the beautiful, sparkling bottles and different scents, from which I developed a life-long passion.
This led to my early career when I was employed behind the fragrance counter of Hugo Boss at 17, which coincided with the beginning of my now vast fragrance collection. I spent seven years in the industry working with global brands like Ralph Lauren, Giorgio Armani, Versace and Gucci. In 2012, when I moved to New Zealand, I was ready to embark upon a new chapter and my lifelong dream to establish my own brand, MARACA.
What inspires you to create new scents and what is involved in the process from inspiration to creation?
The inspiration behind each MARACA fragrance is based on my experiences with fashion, trends, culture and countries which I have travelled to. Each fragrance is personalised and created to release a story of inspiration, designed to take the receiver on a fragrant journey. For example: Shanghai Night – the most memorable smell which reminded me of my experiences in China and their culture was the unique smell of burning incense in the temples – so this fragrance is oriental spicy, warm and woody with a blend of rose, jasmine and ylang-ylang leaving a beautifully invigorating scent perfect for the evening.
Sunset Dreams takes me straight back to my holiday in Brazil every time! My latest creation, Generalife Gardens, was inspired by the Palacio de Generalife in Granada, Spain. I fell in love with this palace during my visit last year. It was winter and foggy in the morning, and the gardens were lush, beautiful and green. All I could smell was leafy, fresh earthy smells without floral, with orange trees planted on the other side of the gardens. I wanted the new fragrance to reflect this scene and its scent.
What are some of your favourite fragrances for scenting your home in winter and which rooms of the house are they best for?
I definitely prefer warm, spicy or woody aromatic fragrances for winter to help create a deliciously cosy environment. MARACA’s Shanghai Night, Generalife Gardens, Velvet Noir (woody aromatic) and Ambre Vanille would be my favourite scents for autumn and winter.
I tend to rotate my fragrances in every room rather than adhering to the same scent in one room. It creates a different ambiance and mood for each space.
Bedroom scents should not be too overpowering – something like Ambre Vanille, with a hint of vanilla and an oriental scent. The bathroom deserves something stronger like Shanghai Night. And, for the dining and living rooms, I use Velvet Noir and Generalife Gardens, which are not overpowering but subtle and welcoming for guests.
How do fragrance choices communicate a person’s own style? Which scents do you associate with different personality types?
The fragrance you use in your home is one of the first things people experience when they walk through your front door. It communicates everything from your sense of style to your personal identity and is a very personal choice.
To introduce fragrance in to your home, I recommend selecting a few different fragrances which you enjoy and rotating these scents every few months. This will let you get a feel for each fragrance and then you can either pick the fragrance which you feel reflects your current mood or alternate the fragrances depending on how you are feeling. I think fragrances are much more aligned to moods, than personality types.
If you are having a special occasion at home I always recommend choosing a ‘wow’ fragrance. It’s like bringing out your best china and cuisine – a fragrance, like music, can help make a special occasion a memorable one.
If you could choose to burn only one of your MARACA fragrances for the rest of your life, which one would you choose?
That’s a hard one because I love them all! But I think my new creation – Generalife Gardens – I love the smell of nature, green and leafy. It doesn’t smell artificial, just simply natural and earthy. The scent reminds me of picking tomato leaves in my garden. It is very real.