Perfume Expert Huỳnh Hải Yến’s Story On Scent Memories | Vietcetera
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May 09, 2024

Perfume Expert Huỳnh Hải Yến’s Story On Scent Memories

Beginning with her interest in her grandfather’s aftershave lotion, how did Huỳnh Hải Yến create her distinct scent world?
Perfume Expert Huỳnh Hải Yến’s Story On Scent Memories

Source: Khooa Nguyen for Vietcetera

Huỳnh Hải Yến, a scent expert, is the founder of beauty care brands Thé Spa, NauNau, Y25, and Metascent Australia. With 12 years of experience, she has made significant strides as a fragrance creator in both Vietnamese and international markets.

At the same time, she authored Vietnam’s first book on scent titled Ốc đảo mùi hương (Scent Oasis). Her most recent book, Hành trình những mùi hương (Scent Journey), delves into the history of perfumes and details her ten-year quest to discover exotic aromas all across the world.

In this episode of the Have A Sip podcast, she opens deeper into the world of smell and perfume, providing valuable insights for anybody considering a career in this exciting industry.

Some fragrances are impossible to make since they rely on natural ingredients from faraway places. Candles scented with cow butter, like one could see at a Tibetan monastery, are an example of such a distinctive aroma. Despite extensive efforts, it remains sterile and unreplicable.

During another journey to Morocco, she encountered a remarkable perfume crafted from beeswax and resin of olive trees, and it was an amber perfume bar widely popular among the locals.

For her, discovering new ingredients is the most thrilling aspect of the scent industry. | Source: Khooa Nguyen for Vietcetera

Many ingredients used in mass-produced perfumery today are accessible for learning or purchase, but acquiring natural elements from remote regions necessitates hands-on experience.

"The Smell Of Delonix Is The Most Fragrant Scent In The World"

At Paris Fashion Week 2019, Hải Yến got the opportunity to work with a perfume designer. She was given the task of creating a tropical atmosphere and came up with the fragrance "Delonix."

"Delonix" is depicted as a representation of the "flame of the South American jungle," exuding freedom and power. It’s adorned with imagery of Heliconia Rostrata, ferns, and birds of paradise.

Despite her initial reservations about the new fragrance, Delonix garnered significant customer appreciation. | Source: Khooa Nguyen for Vietcetera

Being in the spacious and luxurious environment of Vendôme, surrounded by the scent of home, brings her immense joy. This experience deepened her appreciation for the finished product she created, making it her favorite scent due to its fragrant appeal.

Memories Are One Of The Things That Make Up Fragrance

Perfume is more than a fragrance item—it’s an art form in her eyes. The scent needs to reflect personal stories. Whenever we come across a scent that is associated with negative memories, it can evoke feelings of insecurity.

The opposite is true: a pleasant aroma associated with happy recollections can lift your spirits. For instance, when working in Australia and experiencing severe homesickness, she created the perfume "Lebleu" for the Y25 brand, which is evocative of a little garden following a rainstorm.

"Lebleu" reminded her of lovely childhood memories of playing in the rain. | Source: Khooa Nguyen for Vietcetera

Even if the scented candle she smelled in Tibet was not appropriate for her own usage, the perfume has lingered in her mind for more than ten years. Therefore, whether one likes or dislikes a scent is not solely determined by its ingredients, but by the memories associated with it.

Not Afraid To Step Out Of Comfort Zone

She has a tendency to choose the most out-there or recently introduced cuisine whenever she is making a meal selection. She is always game to try new things, and that includes trying different fragrances. Even if she feels defeated or exhausted today, she eagerly returns to work, fueled by excitement to explore another smell tomorrow.

Since her time here is limited, she seizes every opportunity to pursue her desires. Furthermore, she finds great joy in collaborating with youths since they present her with fresh perspectives, infectious enthusiasm, and the courage to think and do beyond the box.

Translated by Thúy An

Watch the full episode here