scent memories

Jason Wu Loves the Smell of Carbs

Photo: Laurence Ellis

Call it the Proust effect: Memories are often triggered by smells. Scientific studies confirm that out of all the senses, smell offers the best recall. In Scent Memories, the Cut asks people about the scents they associate with different times in their lives. Next up is designer Jason Wu. Earlier this year, the designer launched his second fragrance, Velvet Rouge, alongside his fall/winter 2019 collection. Inspired by the same femininity found in his designs, Velvet Rouge is a mix of deep incense, patchouli, amber, balanced by lighter rose, peony, pepper, and dewy greens, all housed in a darker version of his debut namesake fragrance. The Cut caught up with Wu to talk stems, crappy weather, and various forms of carbs.

What is your first scent memory?
A jasmine flower. I remember I used to pick them from a neighbor’s yard in Taiwan growing up.

What does happiness smell like?
Freshly baked bread, or a bakery. That’s always really good.

What does love smell like?
Freshly steamed dumplings, because I’d always make them with my mom. We still do, whenever we see each other!

What does friendship smell like?
Friendsgiving. I always do a Friendsgiving dinner every year because all of our friends, we kind of have our own little family in New York. That’s always what I really look forward to. I like a traditional spread; I love a turkey, cornbread stuffing, the whole thing. I literally spend the entire day cooking.

What does heartbreak or loss smell like?
Rainy days. I really hate rainy days. Like today. My mood is never as good.

What does regret smell like?
All my ex-boyfriends.

What does success smell like?
Champagne. For every celebratory thing, we always have Champagne present.

What does a pleasant surprise smell like?
Freshly cut flowers. I have an obsession with flowers. When people bring me anything, that’s always my favorite — it’s a given. I especially love that stem-y smell.

What is the worst smell?
The air-freshener that looks like a tree in cars. You know those? It’s disgusting. Is there even a name for it? “Car Freshener in the Shape of a Tree.” The worst. [Editor’s note: apparently they’re called Little Trees!]

What does your vacation smell like?
Sand and sea water and coconut. I love tropical vacations. Because New York is cold half of the year, I never take vacations to cold places. I love the sand and the sun.

What does Sunday morning smell like?
Bagels and eggs. Specifically, Everything bagels from Sadelle’s. I have a lot of carb-related ones in mind you’ll notice…

What does Monday morning smell like?
Coffee on top of espresso. Mondays are hard.

What does your home smell like?
Cotton poplin. I always like it to have a very fresh smell, like fresh linens.

If you could have one smell on your hands forever, what would it be?
Rose petal. I love anything rose water or rose anything, really.

What do you smell like?
I’m working on a new fragrance, so I’ve been wearing a lot of it lately. It’s a combination of cedar wood and flowers, so that’s what I smell like lately. I love the smell of cedar wood; it’s one of my favorite things. I actually keep a couple of sticks of cedar wood by my desk all the time to burn.

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Jason Wu Loves the Smell of Carbs