scent memories

For This Artist, Friendship Smells Like a Fog Machine

Photo: Stefanie Keenan/Getty Images

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 Ariana Papademetropoulos, a Los Angeles–based artist, filmmaker, and Gucci muse. A creator known for her dreamy landscapes, vintage-inspired glamour, and interest in everything from the occult to the psychology of architecture, Papademetropoulos fits perfectly in her latest role: appearing alongside Harry Styles as one of the faces of Gucci Mémoire d’une Odeur, an airy, universal scent that transcends gender and time with the help of a distinct chamomile note. The Cut caught up with Papademetropoulos to talk martinis, freshly shampooed hair, and playing a member of Gucci’s free-spirited family in Italy.

My first scent memory: My dad’s Old Spice. It’s a strong scent that I have so many different types of memories associated with it; it’s weird. I also have memories of boyfriends of mine who have worn it.

Happiness smells like: A bakery in Italy at 5 a.m. when you’ve been out and they’ve just started making all the croissants and it’s just that smell of fresh butter.

Love smells like: Whoever you’re with, their pheromones. In a way, it’s just body odor and you know you’re in love when that person’s body odor smells really good to you.

Friendship smells like: My fog machine. All my friends are from different realms and the only time I really see them all in the same place is at a party, and I’m obsessed with having fog machines at a party.

Heartbreak or loss smells like: My mom’s clean bedsheets. That’s where I’d be if I’m very heartbroken; I don’t have a television at my house and her house is so cozy so I’d just be in her clean house.

Success smells like: A dirty martini at Musso’s.

The worst smell is: Sulfur. I have this very strange love/hate relationship with sulfur because it’s something that morphs. Sulfur without the right environment is awful, but sulfur in a cave or hot spring totally smells fine. I love hot springs more than anything else, so it also comes with my favorite location. But it’s the worst smell taken out of context.

Vacation smells like: A fresh ocean breeze. Saltwater in the air, dried saltwater on your skin.

My home smells like: Turpentine and paint, because right now, home is my studio. I’m traveling and working so much I’m there more than I’m home.

Mémoire d’une Odeur smells like: Fresh moss and the incense they have in Greek church.

Shooting the campaign was really magical because we shot in this castle outside of Rome that belonged to Balthus, who is one of my favorite painters; he made those paintings of kittens and girls and they’re very spooky. It really didn’t feel like work. Every day was just dreamy, like hanging out with your friends and getting dressed up and everyone was really chill. My role was this spacey, Botticelli creature who is frolicking around and making people laugh, ethereal and the most, classic in a way, with more of a renaissance vibe.

If I could have one smell on my hands forever, it would be: Jasmine.

I smell like: Wet, freshly shampooed hair. I feel like my hair’s always wet and when people tell me I smell good but it’s because I’m always going out with wet hair.

Photo: Courtesy of Gucci

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For This Artist, Friendship Smells Like a Fog Machine