Last month, I went behind the scenes at The Masters 2016 course to see how #TEAMTPS are trained. It was magical, wacky and totally wonderful. And it all started in London with a glass of lemon sorbet prosecco...
One prosecco down, the selfies were underway and the 23 of us gathered outside a room called The Masonic Temple at the Andaz London Liverpool Street hotel. This hidden room was built in 1912, but not discovered again until the late 1980's. We stepped inside with Odette Toilette, perfume expert (also known as Lizzie Ostrom), where the regal seats awaited us. And yes there was a throne!
Why were we here? Because of The Perfume Shop's passion for fragrance. The Masters 2016 training is for staff who want to go that step further and experience the journey of perfume. At the end of the course, they will create a fragrance fit for The Perfume Shop customer.
And so the journey began with the Aromatic Rituals Evening, where sampling perfume and the foods to match were on the agenda. Odette Toilette explained that perfume ingredients go back centuries...
In Ancient Greece, if you had honey on your lips, you were thought to be a sweet talker. Odette handed us a shot of honey jelly, which tasted amazing. There was only one perfume that matched the taste - Paco Rabanne Lady Million. We smelt the clean, airy honey mixed with notes of bitter orange, and I couldn't get enough!
Egyptians would bathe in jasmine petals to relax. How cool is that? Jasmine was thought to cleanse your skin and make you a real VIP. Thierry Mugler Angel is packed with jasmine, along with notes of smoky vanilla to create a gorge evening scent. We were handed it along with flower-infused wine to see how beaut florals can taste. I was definitely a fan!
OK, so we all love chocolate, but did you know it's an aphrodisiac? Yep, get ready for romance, people - especially when you spray Thierry Mugler A*Men. 'This men's fragrances is a smoky chocolate scent,' Odette explained. 'The perfumers of A*Men used incense to move away from that sickly, sweet smell of chocolate' We tasted smoked chocolate truffles, which were bitter but addictive. I may have had around five...
In Ancient Greece, tuberose would calm victims down before they were sent to die. Sounds horrible, but it actually got them incredibly high, so chances are they had no idea of what was happening to them. Cue Estée Lauder Beautiful, which marries tuberose, lily and mandarin for a sweet, feminine scent. It was appropriate that we were handed pomegranate sorbet to taste afterwards, which matched the perfume perfectly.
Throughout the 19th century, orange blossom was the most popular flavour - much like the vanilla of today. It was used in the anointing of Charles I when he became King, giving it royal and religious symbolism. To represent the sweetness of orange blossom, we were treated to orange blossom doughnuts. Yes, you read that right! They were incred, and, yes, I took more than one. Enter Cheryl StormFlower Noir, which mixes orange blossom and brown sugar for a citrusy scent. It got top marks from me!
The next day was challenge time. I headed to the Hilton London Kensington to watch the staff create their own perfume brief. In true Apprentice style, the room was split into three groups and given 1 hour 45 minutes to come up with a new and exciting fragrance.
The end result was astounding! The groups presented back and I watched open-mouthed. The first was an explosive gourmand fragrance, the second a personalised bottle that you can indent with your fingerprint, and the third, a perfume shaped like a runner's water bottle. I wanted them all!
What was clear was that #TEAMTPS are passionate and devoted to perfume. They're really one of a kind. Their expertise and creativity shone from beginning to end. So when you next walk into a store, have 100% faith that they're experts in the industry...
Here's a review of The Masters 2016 Aromatic Rituals Evening from Sonia Zabair, Deputy Manager at Birmingham Fort.
'Memorable, mouth-watering, mystical! The Aromatic Rituals evening with Odette Toilette was full of sheer wonder and delight.
The entire experience was not only a feast for the eyes, but a journey for the senses. Dark rooms, ancient rituals and the odour of mystery all added to the anticipation and excitement. It was almost like seeing a new fragrance for the first time and having that feeling of not being able to wait to try it.
The food that came around was worthy of a bill at the end. My favourites were the honey jelly, smoked chocolate and pomegranate sorbet, which melted in my mouth. The scent of each had a history to explore and told a story. Who knew that marrying food and fragrance could do such wonders?
The aroma of the flower-infused wine made me really make use of my sense of smell. It took me to places that existed centuries ago while Odette Toilette narrated an enchanting history of kings, queens and aromas of times gone by.
It was more than just an evening out. It was a fascinating scent adventure - a wild and wonderful olfactory experience. It can be best described as a 4D history lesson while smelling my favourite thing - perfume!'