Fragrance possesses a distinct power to captivate the mind and enchant the senses, and nobody understands that better than Principal Ballet Dancer, Lauren Cuthbertson. To represent the beauty of its newest fragrance Wind Flowers, The House of Creed is proud to introduce Cuthbertson as its muse. Here, Lauren reveals her practice of using the poetry of perfumes to help embody her characters on stage, and opens up about losing her sense of smell to coronavirus – an experience which led her to appreciate the power of scent all the more.
Cuthbertson’s career has been nothing short of extraordinary. Now 37, she has graced the stage for nearly two decades, portraying an astonishing variety of roles, from the dainty Sugar Plum Fairy in the Nutcracker, to the indomitable huntress of Sylvia, and the brilliant Jaqueline du Pré in lyrical memoir The Cellist. Renowned for her acting skill as much for her technical prowess and musicality, Cuthbertson embodies the character from the moment her pointe shoes touch the stage. And the secret behind these incredible transformations? The incomparable redolence of scent. Working with her own personal perfumer and others, Cuthbertson blends bespoke fragrances not just for each role, but for individual scenes within a ballet.
For her role as Juliet in Tchaikovsky’s masterpiece Shakespeare adaptation, Cuthbertson kept half a dozen specially created fragrances ready offstage. Swift costume changes, accompanied by a few spritzes of these evocative perfumes, left Cuthbertson olfactorily transformed - from the formality of the ballroom scene to the romance of the balcony pas de deux, and into the dank, mossy air of the Capulet tomb. “There’s a really big contrast in such a short space of time and you have to emote that very quickly to the audience.” Explains the prima ballerina. “Scent puts me right in that time and place. It hits me harder than any costume change or prop can.”
The act of blending each perfume helps to bring Cuthbertson closer to her characters. “It’s such a wonderful, creative thing to do.” She says of the process of carefully, deliberately reflecting upon the character’s motivations and surroundings, so that each scene can be interpreted through a combination of essential oils. “Discussing my character in terms of perfume forces me to articulate and understand the role in a way I wouldn’t have to normally”. This process allows Cuthbertson to conceptualize the character in full. She recalls: “When I was playing Queen Hermione in The Winter’s Tale, I found it easy to dance her maternal side, but I kept forgetting I was a queen. I wanted to create a perfume that evoked something regal. As soon as I put on the scent, I straightened my posture.”
Scent has always been an important part of the Lauren Cuthbertson's identity, and some of her earliest memories are of watching her mother apply perfume: “There’s that intimacy of being there when your mum’s getting ready to go out when you’re young and you’re looking up to an adult. The finishing touch was always scent. I became hooked and told her that for my 10th birthday I wanted my own fragrance.”
Aged 11, she began studying at the Royal Ballet School in London. “It was perfume central.” She remembers. “We didn’t have our own room in the dormitories, only a shelf above your bed for your favorite things. My perfumes and body mists had pride of place on that shelf. I guess we all had to don the same leotards, wear our hair in the same way. Scent was the only way you could make a statement about who you were.”
When she began performing professionally as a soloist, Cuthbertson initially stopped wearing perfumes on stage. “I’d be wearing a very modern fragrance like Ralph Lauren Polo Sport, which was fresh and energizing, while I was training. But then, in the evening performance, I’d step into my fairy outfit in the medieval world of Sleeping Beauty and that scent didn’t feel appropriate.” She explains. “But it became upsetting not wearing any scent as it’s a big part of who I am. So, after a few years, I decided to find fragrances that were suitable.”
"Scent puts me right in that time and place. It hits me harder than any costume change or prop can... Discussing my character in terms of perfume forces me to articulate and understand the role in a way I wouldn’t have to normally."
- Lauren Cuthbertson, Principal Ballet Dancer
This evolved into Cuthbertson’s practice of wearing different perfumes throughout the performance, reflecting a character’s growth over the course of the ballet. When she first played the lead in Sylvia, the natural choice for Act 1 was a men’s fragrance: “Sylvia is a powerful warrior. I needed to come out attacking the stage with a bow and arrow, with big leaps and strong steps. I needed a fragrance that would make me feel manly.” In Act II, Sylvia’s feminine, alluring side is explored as the character performs a seductive dance to outwit her captor, so Cuthbertson opted for a mysterious, provocative women’s eau de parfum. A charity event 10 years ago ignited Cuthbertson’s passion for creating her own performance scents - asked to demonstrate an auction prize of a bespoke perfume crafting experience, she discovered the unique power of specially blended fragrances.
With her love for fragrance and dance, Cuthbertson is the perfect muse for Creed’s new dusky floral scent, Wind Flowers. Inspired by the strength and femininity of dancers in motion, their grace reminiscent of flowers swaying in the breeze, Wind Flowers features head notes of sweet jasmine, zesty orange blossom and soft peach, a heart of tuberose and rose, and a haze of iris and decadent creamy praline giving way to a woody musky base. Globally released on 16th March 2022, Wind Flowers is the latest creation from Olivier Creed, joining a collection of luxurious and iconic women's fragrances, including Aventus For Her, Royal Princess Oud and Love in White, already adored by The House of Creed community.