favourite five : perfumer anne mcclain



per·fume/ˈpərˌfyo͞om/: the scent of something sweet-smelling

The word perfume is derived from the Latin phrase “per” meaning “through” and “fumus” meaning “smoke”, and even the word itself were almost to take one away. . .


Perhaps that is the reason why the French gave the name parfum to the delightful smells that drift through the air when burning incense. Since early civilization, perfumes and scented oils have played a role in attraction and emotions — a fragrance can create memories and also be a sign of individuality — having a signature scent can leave a lasting impression, not to mention, it is one of the most luxurious things ever . . .




Ancient Romans indulged in applying perfume at least three times a day. Emperor Caracalla‘s Roman baths had rooms dedicated to housing jars of fragrant oils and essences in bottles of varying size. The animals were even perfumed — during lavish feasts, birds were released from their cages to disseminate perfume from their wings; even draperies, candlesticks, tables, and cushions were all perfumed.



In the 18th century, Louis XV of France’s court (known also as “le cour parfumee” / “the perfumed court”) also daily perfumed not only their skin, but also their clothing, fans and furniture, for perfume was a substitute for soap and water.



Having studied the history of perfumery, Anne McClain of MCMC Fragrances creates scents with the past, present, and future in mind, by adding her own touch to perfumes that were developed throughout history and will live on in the future through memories created by those scents — whether a delicate floral that conjures thoughts of a summer day or the scent of a musky bark that reminds of the author of a love letter . . .



Raised in Rhode Island and Japan, Anne moved to Grasse, the “perfume capital” of France, to study, intensively, the history, techniques, and practices of modern perfumery, before starting her own company in 2010. Now based in Brooklyn, NY, MCMC Fragrances carefully crafts perfumes in small batches and hand-bottles them in Anne’s own studio. Since the launch of the company, Anne’s fragrances have won the praise of publications such as Wallpaper, Lucky, InStyle, New York Magazine, and the New York Times.




Offering a range of classes, Anne shares her knowledge of the art and craft of perfumery. Another way she creates a positive impact is through her collaborations with community organizations, creating special edition fragrances with Trust Art and the Ananda Harvest, to help benefit their causes.



After delighting in the intoxicating scents of each of her fragrances, we were interested to know more about the history that has inspired her work, and so we asked Anne:



{the top five most interesting things about the history of perfume:}

1. Egyptians wore scented wax cones on their heads to parties.


2. Louis XV demanded a different perfume every day.

3. The formula for Chanel No. 5 may have been a mistake! It’s said that the perfumer’s assistant mixed in ten times the amount of aldehyde by accident, but Coco Chanel loved it.

4. The first perfumes popular in France were used to scent leather gloves, not the body.

5. The very first mention of perfume is from 2,000 BC…Whoa! I’m still amazed by perfume sometimes!


p r e v i o u sf a v o u r i t e f i v e s :* food editor & author: donna hay

* photographer: debi treloar

* painter: janet hill

* jewelry designer: suzie gallehugh

* artist: michelle armas

* jewelry designers: megan & moira flynn

* actress & writer: shiva rose

* jeweler: camille eddera

* artist: kimia kline

* actress & fashion muse: chloë sevigny

* floral stylist, part 1: denise porcaro

* floral stylist, part 2: denise porcaro

* fashion photographer & illustrator: garance doré

* interior designer & architect: nina freudenberger

* entrepreneurs: rent the runway

* designer: rachel ashwell

* interior designer: tricia foley

* photographer: romina shama

* jewelry designer: cc skye

* designer & ceramicist: reiko kaneko

~ laily


{all images: via the makers by jennifer causey; the definition for perfume from the merriam webster dictionary}

Laily Mesbah
Contributor, New York City

Laily lives in NYC and began contributing to This is Glamorous in 2011 - interviewing designers for a popular series called Favourite Five. Her background ranges from studying documentary photography at the School of Visual Arts in Manhattan to founding Project Flora, a company that works with florists, event planners, and socially-conscious brides and grooms to resell flowers after events, donating a part of the proceeds to charity. She currently runs a digital media and marketing company servicing an array of clients, including Flower Girl NYC and Lushlife Nailworks. Her new column, La Fête, explores trends in the world of event design and planning.