scent memories

For Chloë Sevigny, Friendship Smells Like Pierogies

Photo: Alex Phillipe Cohen

Scientific studies confirm that, 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 Chloë Sevigny, actor, model, director and designer. Sevigny recently teamed up with Alia Raza and Ezra Woods of Régime des Fleurs to create Little Flower, her personal take on her favorite flower, the rose. With a juicy mix of peony, palo santo, pomelo, blackcurrant, and crisp black tea, it’s a refreshing, non-powdery update on the traditional scent. The Cut caught up with Sevigny to talk pierogies, pranks, and popcorn.

My first scent memory is: Barbasol. My dad’s shaving cream. We also used it on Halloween to create shaving cream houses. We would stick a pin in the end and burn it, and it makes this really small hole. Then we’d just spray it and it would shoot really, really far. So yes: Halloween and Dad in front of the sink, for many reasons. It was also his favorite holiday.

Happiness smells like: Popcorn. It’s my favorite food and it also means sitting in the dark, watching a movie. I can’t go into a movie theater and not buy popcorn. Especially when you go to the Four Seasons in Los Angeles and they put all kinds of wacky stuff in there. But any popcorn smells like happiness.

Love smells like: Sweat, endorphins, and warm skin. Arpege, because my mother wore it. New York, because it’s my home and I love it. When you get off the plane and smell the New York smell; it’s very specific. Any of those locational smells smell like love. When I get off in Miami, I almost always cry because I spent so much time there as a child with my family and it’s a very specific smell, so I get misty-eyed every time I arrive in Miami.

Heartbreak or loss smells like: Oof. Xanax? [laughs] Salt and tears. What does a pit in the stomach smell like? Or anxiety? It’s a raw, empty, and hollow smell. It also smells like money and paper — a little retail therapy.

Friendship smells like: Pierogies from Veselka. And sweaty dance floors.

Regret smells like: Lilac. It’s wistful, romantic and bittersweet.

Success smells like: Blood, sweat, tears, and coffee.

A pleasant surprise smells like: Lily of the Valley because they’re surprisingly bright.

My home smells like: Régime des Fleurs. I have the Swans candle, the Leis interior spray, and I wear Little Flower. And it also smells like me. Everybody’s always like Oh my God your house always smells like you, so it smells like whatever I smell like, which is hopefully pleasant. Some sort of pheromone, which has worked okay for me thus far.

Vacation smells like: Aloe.

The worst smell is: Low tide.

Sunday morning smells like: Frankincense, church incense, and newspaper.

Monday morning smells like: Geranium⁠ — fresh and new; you’re starting over on Mondays.

If I could have one smell on my hands forever, it would be: Rosebud salve, because I already have it on there. I always use it on my fingertips so it’s already always on my hands and I actually can’t live without it, so it will be forever. I always have it on. I’m addicted. But I can say something more romantic …

What do you smell like? Sugar, spice, and everything nice.

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For Chloë Sevigny, Friendship Smells Like Pierogies