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 actress Jessica Szohr, who recently collaborated with luxury home fragrance brand Apotheke to create Kai Rose, a modern, airy scent with a stylish, limited-edition candle to match. Inspired by Szohr’s grandfather and his positive perspective on life, the scent is a fresh and energizing blend of rose, tuberose, jasmine, cyclamen, geranium, white hawthorn, musk, and amber. The Cut caught up with Szohr to talk lemonade, lip balm, and the man behind the scent.
My first scent memory is: A lilac tree in my childhood backyard. I don’t think I really realized it until later on in life, in high school, when I would walk past a lilac tree and it would bring back this really great feeling. Not quite goose bumps, but something that made go, Oh my God, I love that smell so much, and it would bring me back to that beautiful lilac tree. It was the most stunning smell and our whole backyard would smell like it when the winds picked up.
Happiness smells like: My nieces, Harper and Rani. Harper is 5, and Rani is just a month old. Every time I’m around them, or get pictures of them, or FaceTime them, or smell them when I’m home, it’s just pure happiness. There’s nothing else like it. They just make me happy.
Love smells like: My boyfriend. He has his cologne smell, which is Dolce & Gabbana, I’m pretty sure. But I don’t even know if it’s that I love that smell, it’s more I just love smelling him.
Friendship smells like: Lemonade. I’m not sure if that’s from when I was a kid doing lemonade stands with my friends in the neighborhood, or going on a hike on a nice summer day and getting a lemonade after, or grabbing drinks with my friends and getting a vodka-soda with a lemon. I don’t know, but a fresh-squeezed lemonade reminds of a nice friendship. Not just “lemonade” — fresh-squeezed lemonade.
Heartbreak or loss smells like: This may seem kind of odd, but the first I thought was vanilla. I don’t love the smell of it, it’s just very blah to me, and heartbreak and loss are not great feelings, obviously. It’s wild — I think most people love the smell of it, and I just don’t.
Regret smells like: Tequila. I can smell a headache the next morning whenever I smell it.
Success smells like: Old Spice and leather. My grandpa always smelled like Old Spice, and he always had two things that smelled like leather: hHs bible and his briefcase. He succeeded in so many things in life, and not in what, on paper, most people would think of, like having this successful business and making all this money. He did have a great successful family business, but he succeeded in being a very happy person, living life very simply, and making other people very happy without trying. It was just his vibe and energy. He didn’t need much, and [it took] very little to make him happy, and his energy rubbed off on any person that walked into his life; he’s the most special person ever.
A pleasant surprise smells like: A piece of birthday cake. But I feel like, nine times out of ten, people see the cake coming, even though people try to surprise you. Either that or lip chap, which is what my boyfriend calls it because he’s Canadian, but it’s just [lip balm], a very generic ChapStick. He’ll sneak up behind me to give me a kiss on the cheek, and he smells like it because he always has it on.
The worst smell is: Rotten eggs.
Vacation smells like: Ocean water, sand, and, sunscreen.
Sunday morning smells like: Breakfast in bed: eggs and bacon.
Monday morning smells like: Coffee with French-vanilla creamer.
My home smells like: A mixture of different candles and fresh flowers. Every week I have to have fresh flowers in my place, and every day I have a candle burning in a few different rooms. So you could walk into one room and it’ll be a rose candle with lilies in a vase and another room could be tulips with the Kai candle. It all meshes and goes well together, but you’re kind of like, There’s a lot of fresh-smelling things going on … But I always have my windows open, so it’s always airy. People are like, “Do you ever close your windows?” And I’m like, No, not really. [Laughs.]
If I could have one smell on my hands forever, it would it be: Rose water. I go through a little bottle of rose water probably once a week, and I just love the smell on my face and the smell on my hands. I use a rose lotion on my hands as well.
I smell like: This is going to hit right on the nose, but I’m being honest: Between the oils that I use in my perfume, my rose water, and my rose lotion, I smell pretty much like Kai rose. You can smell the rose, but it’s very light and airy at the same time.
If you buy something through our links, New York may earn an affiliate commission.