scent memories

For Mario Sorrenti, Friendship Smells Like an Old Sweatshirt

Photo: Courtesy of La Mer

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 legendary fashion photographer Mario Sorrenti. Sorrenti recently teamed with his daughter Gray to refashion La Mer’s iconic Crème de la Mer jar with limited-edition labels inspired by the father-and-daughter duo’s favorite muse: the ocean. The Cut talked to Sorrenti about incense, sweatshirts, and the best salty breeze.

My first scent memory: Gray’s poop? Just kidding. Baby powder. When I was little, I would get a bath and my mother would just cover me in talcum powder, and that smell was something that was always amazing when I was little.

Happiness smells like: Talcum powder [laughs]. But also lemons and the ocean and the ocean breeze. For me, happiness smells like when you’re in a field in Italy close to the ocean and you smell all the nature and the freshness of it all.

Friendship smells like: An old sweatshirt.

The worst smell is: When you’re in New York City and you’re walking down the street and you smell the sewage of the garbage in the summer. It’s repulsive. All that pollution mixing with all the trash from all the restaurants and all the buildings, just coming together.

Sunday morning smells like: Coffee, wafting into various rooms. Sundays also smell so chill. It almost has no smell because you have no clue what to do.

Monday morning smells like: My car, and rushing to it to get to the office quickly.

My home smells: Very clean. It smells like biodegradable organic cleaning supplies and materials.

Vacation smells: Refreshing and salty and full of love. It kind of smells earthy a little bit, too. It smells like olive trees and olive oil and coconut oil. Very fresh. Very clean. Very good.

Heartbreak or loss smells like: Incense; frankincense. Like when you enter church. And a watery scent, almost like a wilting rose.

If I could have one smell on your hands forever, it would be: Sandalwood.

I smell: Strong, in the morning [laughs]. I smell like a lot of stuff: shampoo, deodorant, cologne, all of it on at the same time. It wafts, just like that coffee on Sunday mornings.

Crème de la Mer x Mario Sorrenti Moisturizing Cream
Crème de la Mer x Gray Sorrenti Moisturizing Cream

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For This Photographer, Friendship Smells Like a Sweatshirt