Courtesy of Harry Slatkin
Harry Slatkin has been called the "king of home fragrance" by The New York Times—understandably so! As founder of Slatkin & Co. and current President of Home Designs for Limited Brands, Slatkin oversees all home product development for Bath & Body Works. His sophisticated scents have become a staple among designers, architects, editors, and especially among celebrities like Elton John, Lenny Kravitz and Mary J. Blige. Here, Slatkin dishes about selecting, using and designing fragrances for your wedding and beyond! —Melanie Baevsky
Where should a bride start when finding her signature wedding day fragrance?
The bride and her fiance should find it together. They should go into all the different home fragrance stores and they should try different ones. If it's right, then continue to use it. You'll always look back and tell your children, "This was our scent."
I remember when my wife and I were getting married; my wife didn't like all of the scents that I wore. So off we went in our travels to find a scent we both liked.
How does scent evoke emotions and set the tone for an event?
Scent is all about memory and it evokes so much within us. I've often been on an elevator and I'll smell a scent and say, "Oh my gosh, it smells just like my mother." For a bride, I would pick out one scent to use the night before to calm you down and put you in a good mood, and then I another one that's going to put you in an amorous moment for after you've recuperated from your wedding. Scent will help make sure that everything is about the mood you want it to be.
What you're biggest piece of advice for people choosing a home fragrance?
You can't do it wrong! If you walked into my home right now in New York you would smell 12 different scents. Recently we had a dinner, and I had Tory Burch and Pat Wexler in the front hall asking me, "What is it that I smell?" but I couldn't tell them because I had so many different layers. Create your own atmosphere, and have fun with it! The worst case scenario is that someone wells up, tears up, or blows the candle out himself. It's not the end of the world.
There are so many ways to fragrance your home: candles, oils, sprays, plug-ins. How do you use each?
Use them to layer your home fragrance. Usually when a bride is getting married, she'll layer herself with creams, lotions, shampoos, conditioners, perfumes; she layers herself into the moment and you do the same with home fragrance. You start with a plug-in, that's the background fragrance: 24/7 scent in your home. Then light a candle if you want to power it up. If you are hosting a dinner party use oil and fill up the whole house and apply three shots of room spray around the front door. Now you're ready to entertain!
Why are home fragrances such great gifts?
Fragrance is the number one gift to give. I think it's wonderful because it means you have taken the time to shop for your friend and you've given them a piece of something you love and that you think they may like. What's really great is that the average candle lasts 50-60 so during that time the recipient will be thinking about you. It's the gift that keeps on giving.
BONUS: What inspires you when you're designing a collection?
Oh my god I am inspired all the time. I just came back from London and Rome. I went to a wedding in London where my daughter was the flower girl and just being in the English countryside inspired me. I will now end up having that reflected in a collection. Then you go the opposite side of the spectrum: to Rome where I was standing in the Vatican looking at the amazing art and that inspired me. Everything I take in moves me.