scent memories

For This Creative Director, Success Smells Like Sandalwood

Victor Sanz. Photo: Courtesy of Tumi

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 Victor Sanz, creative director of travel-and-lifestyle brand Tumi. Today, the brand launched two men’s fragrances that travel as well as their luggage: Awaken [08:00 GMT], an energizing boost to start the day, and Unwind [20:00 GMT], a finishing touch to reset once you reach your destination. The Cut recently caught up with Sanz to talk rain-soaked earth, freshly baked cupcakes, and a relaxing Le Labo candle.

My first scent memory is: That fresh-cut grass smell; the smell of summer. Every time I smell that, it takes me back to my youth and remembering that excitement of Oh my God, summer’s here. It’s all about fun and being outside, the whole thing. Summertime took an entire year to get there, and that was the craziest part about it as a kid.

Happiness smells like: Lemon, or a citrusy smell where it’s very light and energetic, and it has this crispness to it. It’s got an energy and a freshness to it that I associate with happiness.

Love smells like: Lavender, because it’s soothing and embracing. It’s another happy smell but it’s not forced — there’s an ease to it, and love reminds me of that. It’s exciting but quite easy and comforting at the same time; there’s no stress around it.

Friendship smells like: That smell right after it rains in the summer, when the sun comes right back out and you get that rejuvenated smell. It’s fresh, easy, and new, and it’s how I view that true kind of friendship. Whether it’s turbulent at times or not, they’re always there for you in the end. It’s also a very distinct smell that everyone recognizes. Similarly, I have those friendships where we don’t talk for years and years, and you jump on call and everything feels super-familiar instantly, never intimidating.

Heartbreak or loss smells like: A very distinct smell that’s again related to weather: that smell right before a big snowfall, where you’re outside and you can feel the temperature changing, but there’s this sharpness to the air, there’s this icy feeling. It’s not quite there yet, but it’s something that can still cut you.

Success smells like: Sandalwood. There’s a sweetness to it, but it’s also a deep smell that has this depth to it, which mirrors the amount of work and effort you have to put in to achieve success. It also has this earthiness to it where you want that smell to last.

Regret smells like: An old, stuffy room that hasn’t been opened in years. It smells like stale paper that’s been left in an old trunk, like things just sitting there.

My ideal vacation smells like: The Mediterranean. That smell that you get when the breeze is pulling the ocean smell and you catch the smell of grilled seafood being made right there, beachside. That specific combo of salty air and fresh grill smell; it’s taking me back right there right now. Amalfi Coast, just unwinding, watching that guy come out of the water with the octopus, the sun is shining, but it’s not too hot … it’s just perfect.

My home smells like: A combination of fresh-baked cupcakes and freshly made coffee. I have an amazing family, two sons and one daughter and an amazing wife, and that’s what’s been keeping them entertained with everything going on. It smells just like the fun times I had baking cupcakes as a kid and, now, as a parent, having that fresh cup of coffee to be able to keep up with them.

The first thing I smell in the morning is: Definitely coffee, that’s the one thing. That first cup of coffee, sitting there in the French press, steeping. That first whiff of coffee is what gets my brain going, ten minutes before even taking the first sip. It tells my brain, Hey, time to start doing, time to start creating.

The last thing I smell at night: A Le Labo Santal 26 candle. As far as candles go, it’s my preferred candle. It’s my way of finishing off the day. It smells really nice, it’s a little aromatherapy for me.

If I could have one smell on my hands forever, it would be: The smell of fresh, crushed mint leaves. That’s one smell I’ve always really enjoyed. We have this herb garden, and I love the natural smell the leaves leave on your hands when crush them and you can still smell the earth in there. I could probably live with that for forever.

I smell like: Right now, as we speak, I actually smell like our fragrance that we just developed. That’s not just a plug, I actually smell like Tumi Awaken. I’ve been a little bit obsessed with it. It’s fresh and it’s crisp and it’s just been keeping me going, which is a nice effect to have, especially now.

For This Creative Director, Success Smells Like Sandalwood