The Candy Perfume Boy’s Trend Report

There are many bloggers we admire at The Perfume Society, and occasionally, we like to feature some of our favourites to share with you here. Thomas Dunckley – a.k.a. The Candy Perfume Boy – is a longtime friend, award-winning writer and fellow contributor to The Scented Letter magazine. Along with a wealth of fragrance expertise he brings a completely refreshing and totally down-to-earth voice to the perfume world, offering his opinions and providing information in a way that’s not only accesible but makes us want to rush out and try all the things he’s mentioned.

And so, get ready to add to your ‘must sniff’ list, as we look back to the most interesting scent trends The Candy Perfume Boy saw in 2017. Which of these have you tried and loved, and which, we wonder, will continue to shape the face of fragrance throughout 2018…?

‘We’re officially in quarter four of 2017 and what a year it has been. By my count there has been at least 20 million fragrance launches this year, but I do have a tendency to exaggerate. In truth it has felt like a particularly busy year, with lots of behemoth launches from equally gigantic brands. I also think it has been a phenomenally good year for perfume and I’ve fallen in love with more than a handful of wonderful fragrances already. But this post is not a retrospective of the year – you can have that at the annual Candies (my fragrance awards) in December, no this is something a little bit different.

As we’re heading towards the end of this year I thought it would be a good idea to do a quick recap of the big perfume trends we’ve seen this year. I’ve certainly noticed a handful of key themes over the last 12 months and it’s kind of fascinating to look back at them at this point in the year. So in this post you will find four trends that have populated the perfume landscape in 2017. These are just my thoughts however, and I’d be more than happy to hear about any trends you’ve identified too!


Sandalwoods

Let’s kick off by talking about sandalwoods because if there is any material I’ve seen lots of this year, it’s sandalwood. I’m used to the note being treated as a gateway to the exotic, with spicy, creamy and warm facets that lead one to think of oriental opulence. This year however, there seems to be somewhat of a shift in the olfactory lexicon of the sandalwood, with a much more minimalistic approach that sees the more intimate, softer and fresher sides of the material showcased in all their glory.

Firstly let’s take a look at Molecule 04 and Escentric 04 by Escentric Molecules, both of which showcase the sandalwood material Javanol. In Escentric 04, the traditional fragrance composition of the pair (rather than Molecule 04 which is simply Javanol in alcohol) we see a fresh, almost metallic sandalwood paired with grapefruit and cannabis to create a sharper tone. It’s a wonderfully fresh take on a note that hasn’t really known freshness before.

This year Juliette Has a Gun created Sunny Side Up, a sunny, beachy fragrance that did not focus on aquatics or florals and instead showcased a rather sexy sandalwood note. The presentation of the note was intimate, nutty and creamy, with a salty skin-like vibe that brought out the sexier vibes of sandalwood. There was even a delightfully rosy take on sandalwood from Comme des Garçons in the form of Concrete, which felt plush yet dry and smooth at the same time.

So sandalwood definitely has been the note of the year and I hope we’ll see more intriguing takes on it in the year to come.


Androgynous not Unisex

One trend that has really piqued my interest appears to be in its infancy. So far I’ve only noticed two fragrances that have done this, but I expect that we will see more over the next year. The trend is brands referring to their fragrances as ‘androgynous’ or ‘gender fluid’. Now, if you’ve been following this blog for a while you’ll know that I’m all for removing gender labels on scents, because anyone can wear anything that they want to. I’m also a pretty liberal guy and I’m very much in support of gender identities that are non-binary or otherwise. So I see this all as a very good thing.

With the rise in discourse around gender identity it seems that brands are cottoning on to this and are using these terms to replace the description of unisex. Katy Perry described her latest fragrance, INDI, as being “androgynous” as opposed to unisex and Guerlain launched Lui with mention of gender fluidity in the press release and a description of a scent that is “not entirely feminine, nor truly masculine”. I’m totally here for this and hope that maybe, just maybe, we’ll start to do away with gendered labels on fragrance entirely. Wishful thinking? Probably!


Decent Celebrity Scents

This trend technically started in 2016 with SJP Stash by Sarah Jessica Parker, but one scent does not a trend make – four however, do. A year or so ago there were numerous articles in the beauty press about how celebrity fragrances are dead and that consumers are no longer buying them. In that year next to no celebrities launched a new fragrance and with any kind of reality ‘star’ launching a scent, it really did feel as if we had reached ‘peak celebrity’ in terms of fragrance. Well now things are a little different and this year alone we have seen three celebrity launches that are far removed from the sickly sweet fruity florals that lead one reaching for the Gaviscon – these celebuscents are unique and actually rather good.

First off we have Shawn Mendes Signature from dreamy, put a poster of his face on your wall, singer/songwriter Shawn Mendes. Created for all of his fans, whether they be a boy or a girl, Shawn Mendes Signature is a well put together woody gourmand that feels as if it has been made with thought and links to the singer’s roots and personality. Then there’s Katy Perry’s INDI, an effortless woody musk that wears like a second skin, and finally we have Xyrena’s Scented by Willam (which I vow to review soon), a drag queen known for her acerbic wit and controversial appearance on RuPaul’s Drag Race. Scented is really quite beautiful – a violet-tinged iris with woods and musk that channels shades of Tauer’s discontinued Pentachord White. Each of these celebrity fragrances is really good and it’s refreshing to see such care, attention and quality applied to fragrances which so often have simply been a cash cow to complete a celebrity’s brand.

It seems as if celebrities now know that they have to work a little bit harder to sell a scent. They can’t just release yet another fruity floral in a clingy bottle and call it the Emperor’s New Clothes – they actually have to make it smell good. With the continuing rise of nice and luxe, people are willing to spend more money on a bottle of perfumer, but they’re going to buy less bottles, so whatever they buy must be interesting. Celebrities have caught on to this. The biggest thing though – they actually need to be a celebrity, ain’t nobody gonna buy Eau de Tan Mom any more.


Crowd Pleasing Concoctions

What do Mon Guerlain, Gabrielle de Chanel, AURA by Mugler, Twilly d’Hermès and Scandal by Jean Paul Gaultier all have in common? Well, first and foremost they all launched in 2017 – and let’s face it, each is an absolutely massive release from some of perfumery’s biggest brands. 2017 will definitely go down in history as the year of the launch (the mainstream feminine pillar launch if we want to get specific) and these five big brands have pulled out literally every stop to make their olfactory mark on 2017. They’ve recruited big stars like Angelina Jolie (Mon Guerlain) and Kristen Stewart (Gabrielle), and have created visually stunning bottles that range from glass hearts formed in the Emerald City (AURA) to carriage lanterns topped with little bowler hats (Twilly), not to mention a pair of legs falling out of a taxi (Scandal). In the case of two of these launches, the fragrances are the first feminine pillars from their respective brands in quite some time. It has been quite the year for launches, indeed – launches that are eye catching and nose catching for many.

But the trend we’re talking about here is not the simple fact that these brands have all had big launches, no, the trend is specifically in reference to a commercial theme that has run through each and every one of them. There’s no use beating around the bush – all five of these launches are very commercial and whilst there may be some interesting work going on inside the bottles, such as the super-radiance of Gabrielle’s floral notes, the clash of smoke, vanilla and jungle greenery in AURA, and the ginger-tuberose shock of Twilly, the overarching feel of these fragrances is that they were created to appeal to a wide audience. Even MUGLER, who are renowned for their divisive compositions, could be accused of a less polarising approach with their latest output. They all smell great but they lack a sense of boldness in their signatures.

So why is this happening? Are consumers buying less? Are they moving away from mainstream to niche? If so, why aren’t these fragrances more daring? That’s a lot to answer, but I wonder whether it has something to do with the level of investment these brands have to inject into the development, marketing and visual impact of a new scent. Perhaps they are worried about their return of investment? Take Guerlain for example, they have funnelled millions into the launch of Mon Guerlain and just to be sure that the scent would resonate with consumers, they tested it as a boutique exclusive (the new discontinued Mon Exclusif) prior to its launch.

So who knows why the big brands are being commercial? They’re getting the packaging and concepts right, that’s for sure, so let’s just hope that in 2018 they will bring a little bit more innovation to our noses. I know that my nose is waiting with great anticipation.’

Originally written by, and used with permission of, Thomas Dunckley: The Candy Perfume Boy. Pictures ©Thomas Dunckley.

5 woody fragrances your nose needs to know

There’s something about woody fragrances that feels especially comforting at this time of year – a snuggle of smooth sandalwood is like wearing a cashmere blanket, dry cedar is wonderfully grounding and the all-pervasive oudh (aka ‘akigalawood’) we suddenly find is being used in fine fragrance as a sexy rumble of a base note, that beckons rather than billows-forth at full-force. Woody scents also make us think of woodlands themselves, long walks in bright, frosty forests with those cheering signs of Spring just beginning to stir – and thank goodness for that!

The only question remains, which perfume path should you choose through the woods…?

Inspired by the stark serenity of British beaches in winter, we were intrigued by the salty driftwood note at the heart of this new fragrance, peppered with bergamot and a mineral accord that stays cool and slinky on the skin, we imagine broken seashells, the rustle of dried grasses and wave-lashed coastlines. Ambroxan and patchouli in the base feel like wearing your softest sweater, pulling your scarf up to your nose and breathing deeply, your soul becalmed.

Amouage Beach Hut Woman £240 for 100ml eau de parfum
Buy it at selfridges.com

Warm in a powerful way, the cedarwood here balances a deliciously decadent accord of roses, jasmine, orange blossom and bergamot. One of those all-day wrist-sniffers, you’ll be taken on a darker journey through the distinctly shadier path of patchouli, cedarwood and an almost sticky-smelling amber at the end (think resinous, dark honey slathered on hot toast. We practically think of nothing else on cold, frosty mornings…)

Ormonde Jayne Ambre Royal £110 for 50ml eau de parfum
Buy it at harrods.com

Inspired by the Mr. Harrod, Penhaligon’s describe the character of this scent as ‘…a flourishing businessman who has evident appeal with the ladies.’ While that could be interpreted another way, we’re here to say it’s definitely shareable! Spiced plum and patchouli sinks into a jasmine, raspberry and ambergris accord with an oudh, cinnamon, tobacco and cedarwood dry-down that could well be your nose’s new favourite thing.

Penhaligon’s Mr Harrod £185 for 50ml eu de parfum
Buy it at harrods.com

The rich sandalwood is enticingly interlaced with cardamom, coriander and rose for an all-natural scent that’s so soothingly spiced, it’s what our skins are crying out for right now. Fittingly, a percentage of every sale is given to charity – this year to the The Tulsi Trust – which funds health and education projects in Chhattisgarh, a remote area of central India. So it does good while you smell great: win-win.

Marina Barcinella Parfums India  £130 for 30ml oil
Buy it at mbparfums.com

Close your eyes and imagine taking a walk among the giant sequoias, as legend has it so tall and denseley packed that sunlight never touches the ground at their roots, a darkly woody haunt of a scent that lingers long after you’ve first sprayed, like some mischevious woodland sprite always darting further ahead. Dry with black tea, cheering with cocoa, it’s pepped up with a glow of saffron and ginger for added warmth, and beguilingly addictive.

Olfactive Studio Woody Mood £84 for 50ml eau de parfum
Buy it at bloomperfume.co.uk

Written by Suzy Nightingale

Take a trip to Les Senteurs – the newly reopened haven for fine fragrance

Les Senteurs is a family-run perfumery that has been nurturing niche fragrance houses since its beginning in 1984 – and now it is re-opening its doors (after a short hiatus), refreshed and with a new lease of life. (Our co-founder Jo Fairley once described Les Senteurs as ‘a slow perfumery’)

If you haven’t already visited this treasure trove of scent on Elizabeth Street – you may have been to their old store in Seymour Place, where we hosted our How To Improve Your Sense of Smell workshops – we suggest you hop on over to Pimlico for a perfumed pilgrimage. With some of the fragrance world’s most experienced staff on hand to help guide you through scents in a serene environment, the newly-revamped Les Senteurs is a home to more fabulous fine fragrances than we can count.

They combine their wonderfully curated shelves of niche perfumes with specialist knowledge, expert advice and exceptional service. They have debuted in the UK many lesser-known brands, who’ve gone on to fabulous success; Byredo, Diptyque, Annick Goutal, Creed. And more recently Éditions de Parfums Frédéric Malle, Mona di Orio and Tauer Perfumes. Suffice to say, they know their scents.

You only need to listen the words of their fabulous Perfume Archivist, James Craven, to feel just a small part of the love they have for their industry: ‘I have laboured joyfully in the vineyards of Les Senteurs for 20 years. The thrill and anticipation of opening a new bottle of perfume is not a whit diminished. For who can tell what genie, what spell it will release… Working at Les Senteurs is like waking up to a perpetual Christmas morning. One never comes to the end of scent: perfume has no limits; no boundaries. As symbolised by our new Discovery Table and its great Wheel of Fragrance, the ripples of perfume spread outwards to infinity – blending, metamorphosing, reacting and interacting.’

‘After 35 years in the business, we continue with the aim and ambition of helping all our visitors – and truly the world is our customer – to find their dream scent: whether that is the Holy Grail of a lifetime; the end of a rainbow; or the mood, the reverie of a moment. All our staff are experts; and we help our clients to find that expertise within themselves, too. We educate – but in the true sense of drawing out what is already within our dear customers.’

So whether you’re looking for your signature, or just something to delight your senses in a new way, Les Senteurs will lead you down a rather fragrant garden path, you may never want to return from. As their late co-founder Michael Hawksley used to say: ‘Come to Les Senteurs and discover the perfume you never knew you loved.’

You might well bump into us there.

Les Senteurs, 71 Elizabeth St, Belgravia, London, SW1W 9PJ/020-773- 2322

Opening hours Monday – Saturday 10am – 6 pm

lessenteurs.com

Written by Carson Parkin-Fairley

The Treat Yourself Discovery Box

As the old saying goes – if you don’t love yourself, who else will? We also believe in the power of giving ourselves plenty of TLC. Quite simply, if we’re running on empty, we’re no good to anyone else…

For once, this is Discovery Box is all about you, you, you. We know (because you tell us so) that our boxes make fabulous gifts – but we also believe in giving ourselves a little treat every now and again!

The Treat Yourself Discovery Box features… the windswept Amouage Beach Hut Woman (close your eyes and imagine yourself on a sandy shore somewhere breathtaking), and the delights of Sana Jardin Berber Blonde (which whisks you to Morocco and the orange blossom harvest). Expand your mind (and fragrance knowledge) with Volume 1 and Volume 2 from maverick perfumer Geza Schoen’s The Beautiful Mind Series – and enjoy two new fragrances inspired by passages from F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Tender Is The Night, from Miller Harris.

Dress yourself up after dark with sumptuously sensual Estée Lauder Modern Muse Nuit – or brighten a dull morning with zestily uplifting Fragonard Verveine, with its matching mini-soap. Alongside that also enjoy our gifts to you of velvety Heathcote & Ivory Lavender Fields Hand Cream – capturing the aromatic scent of just-harvested lavender. And we know you’ll LOVE the Aromatherapy Associates Deep Relax and Support Breathe Bath & Shower Oils

And if you do feel generous and decide to treat someone else to this box? They’ll love you for it…

Here’s exactly what you’ll find in the box…

  • Amouage Beach Hut Woman 2ml eau de parfum
  • Sana Jardin Berber Blonde 2ml eau de parfum
  • Miller Harris Scherzo 2ml eau de parfum
  • Miller Harris Tender 2ml eau de parfum
  • The Beautiful Mind Series Vol 1 Intelligence & Fantasy 2ml eau de parfum
  • The Beautiful Mind Series Vol 2 Precision & Grace 2ml eau de parfum
  • Estee Lauder Modern Muse Nuit 4ml eau de parfum
  • Fragonard Verveine 4ml eau de toilette
  • Heathcote & Ivory Lavender Fields 30ml hand cream
  • Aromatherapy Associates Deep Relax 3ml bath & shower oil
  • Aromatherapy AsscociatesSupport 3ml Breathe bath & shower

Do share your favourites from the beautiful selection of fragrances below on InstagramFacebook and Twitter, tagging us using the hashtag#treatyourself

The scented secrets of the Queen’s coronation anointing oil…

The fascinating recent BBC documentary delving behind-the-scenes of the Queen’s Coronation on June 2, 1953, held a scented secret for sharp-eyed fragrance fans… did you spot it?

While discussing the ancient rituals of the act of anointing the monarch, our eyes were drawn to the oil itself – rather incongruously kept nestled in a battered old box and bottle of Guerlain‘s Mitsouko!

May we admit experiencing a momentary thrill that the BBC had uncovered our Queen as a secret perfumista, who’d insisted on being anointed with a fabulous Chypre? We’d definitely consider being baptised in Mitsouko, but it turned out it was just the bottle and box. Oh well. No matter, for the story of the oil’s recipe was rather deliciously revealed…

The oil was made from a secret mixture in sesame and olive oil, containing ambergris, civet, orange flowers, roses, jasmine, cinnamon, musk and benzoin– actually sounding rather Oriental in its composition – and must surely have smelled glorious.

The anointing ritual is always hidden from view – a private moment for the monarch to reflect on their duties and the significance of being touched by that oil – and so a canopy was held over the Queen by four Knights of the Garter, and the televison cameras turned respectfully away, as the Archbishop anointed her with the fragrant holy oil on her hands, breast and head.

Quite a scent memory.

In fact, the phial containing the original oil had been destroyed in a bombing raid on the Deanery in May 1941. The firm of chemists who’d mixed the last known anointing oil had gone bust, so a new company, Savory and Moore Ltd, was asked by the Surgeon-Apothecary to mix a new supply, based on the ancient recipe, for the Coronation. We’d quite like them to whip up a batch for us, too.

During the ritual, the highly scented oil was poured from Charles II’s Ampulla (the eagle-shaped vessel shown above) into a 12th-century spoon. One imagines the Archbishop’s hands must have shook just a little during this procedure – thank goodness for that canopy. Meanwhile, the choir sang one of the most thrillingly dramatic songs in history: “Zadok the Priest”. The words are taken from the first Book of Kings, and have been sung at every coronation since King Edgar’s in 973, but the anointment ritual is even older, going back to King Solomon supposedly being anointed by Zadok himself in the 10th century BC.

Of course the rest of the Coronation was an extraordinary display of magnificent jewels and robes and the peculiarities of historical traditions played out ‘like a ballet’, as the programme described, but our minds kept returning to the mysteries of the anointing oil, what the Queen must have thought as she smelled it (was it the first time she’d smelled the oil?) and how it’s still, charmingly, kept in that tatty old bottle and box of Mitsouko.

Now then, to whom did that bottle once belong? For whomever they were, we congratulate them on their taste…

Those of you who missed the documentary can watch it while it’s still on BBC iPlayer.

Written by Suzy Nightingale

Murdock London & Silent Pool’s scented gin fling

We know that many are striving for a ‘dry January’, but to be honest, we’re far preferring the ‘Ginuary’ approach to this month… and as such were excited to hear that gentlemen’s grooming aficionados, Murdock London, have teamed up with Surrey-based gin connoisseurs, Silent Pool, for a fragrant gin cocktail experience based on Murdock’s best-selling Cologne.

Watch the beautiful short film below and read on for details of how you can get your hands on some…

Style-seeking chaps who spend £75 or more during their visit to Murdock London salons in Soho, Covent Garden or Shoreditch can now look forward to a bespoke gin made by Silent Pool – based on the intriguingly smoky yet vibrantly citrusy Murdock London fragrance, Black Tea.

Part of Silent Pool’s ‘Intricately Realised‘ series of collaborations, in which they hook-up with suitably sophisticated companies who inspire limited edition infusions of their artisanal gin, we spoke to Stu Bale, Head of Innovation at the Silent Pool distillery, to find out more…

Stu explained their approach to the Murdock London drink was slightly different to previous Intricately Realised versions, built as a fragrance can be composed, so he ‘…started with the base notes, which were black tea, nutmeg and pepper,’ trying many differing kinds he eventually settled on Tasmanian pepper, ‘which gave a great warmth without having overpowering spiciness.’

We were thrilled to hear that long-time friend of The Perfume Society, Henrietta Lovell‘s Rare Tea was the one selected with which to flavour the gin. ‘As far as I’m concerned, it’s the best in the world,’ Says Stu, going on to describe how he infused this, along with nutmeg in the same alcohol they use to macerate the botanicals in Silent Pool gin. Another link to the fragrance world, as perfume compositions must be macerated (allowed time to develop) before they are ready to wear.

Layering the materials by ‘constantly referring [to the fragrance] and working systematically from the base notes through to the top notes,’ Stu then added small amounts of sandalwood and cedar to echo the ‘woody, mysterious oriental vibe’ of the Cologne. Finally he added neroli and pettigrain – classic top notes to a traditional Cologne, and the final mixture is served with tonic water to add the ‘oomph’ of a spritzed scent. Having tirelessly researched the taste of this Cologne-inspired cocktail, we can report that it’s silky smooth with a definite tang of gentle spice-infused tea, and goes down a treat.

Have a look at the short film they made…

We also took the opportunity to douse ourselves in the Black Tea fragrance, which is equal measures of refreshing and riveting – a darker, spicier Cologne than most and all the more intriguing (especially at this time of year). Definitely a scent that can also be enjoyed by women, we might have to buy this as a Valentine’s gift (perhaps with a certificate for one of Murdock London’s many grooming services) and, um, ‘borrow’ it for ourselves…

Murdock London Black Tea £70 for 100ml Cologne
Buy it at murdocklondon.com

Silent Pool’s bespoke #IntricatelyRealised gin is currently a gift when spending £75 or more at Murdock London’s Soho, Covent Garden and Shoreditch branches. While stocks last, so hurry!

Written by Suzy Nightingale

Your introduction to Spring’s floral fragrance trend…

It’s offical: flowers are back in the fragrance world. Perhaps you thought they never went away (indeed, they’re the backbone of practically all fragrance formulas) but we can assure you that Spring 2018’s launches point the way to fully embracing petal power in exciting and conemporary compositions – from bohemiams frolicking in wild flower meadows, to vampish vixens smouldering beguilingly: these flowers certainly aren’t granny’s knicker-draw anymore…

Probably the most easily identifiable notes in perfumery, you may recognise some florals at first-sniff – rather reassuring in these days of sometimes confusing contemporary scents – and they are perfect to indulge in wearing on days the sky’s the same colour as the pavement. But floral scents have several sub-categories, now – from the fruity to the so-called ‘floriental’ – so where does one category end and another begin, and which ones should you explore first depending on your personal preferences?

Rose has long been considered the ‘Queen’ of perfume, the two main varieties being rosa centifolia, found in the South of France, and rosa damascena (known as Damask rose) primarily from the Middle East, with a dozen exclusively grown May roses from Grasse famously within every bottle of Chanel No.5.

James Craven – the fragrance archivist of niche perfumery Les Senteurs, tells us that many customers (particularly women) come in confidently declaring they ‘hate rose fragrances,’ and he breathes deeply while subtly showing them some scents that beautifully harmonise the rose with other complimentary material. As they inevitably adore one of these, James then charmingly admits it’s simply swathed in the stuff – a strong case for always being led by your nose and not your preconceptions, we feel!

Jasmine is the second most-used, entwining its heady white blossoms within virtually every floral fragrance you care to mention – tiny though the flowers are, their scent is animalic, often called ‘indolic’ (referring to indoles also found within gardenia, honeysuckle, lilac, and tuberose), and utterly addictive. One ounce of fragrance, such as the classic Jean Patou’s Joy, can lavishly contain 10,600 jasmine flowers!

– For less va-va-voom in a scent, look for the powdered green of violet, delicacy of lily of the valley, suede-like softness in iris, waxy freshness of magnolia, and cashmere-like fluffiness of mimosa. Sprinkled with hot spices and exotic extractions (crossing into ‘Floriental’), juiced-up with fruit (becoming ‘Fruity Floral’) or buried within deeper, more mysterious creations – there truly is a floral fragrance for every one of us, with many men now delving into fragrances where floral notes are centre-stage.

Ready to get petal-powered? Discover some of the specially curated Brand Discovery Boxes we’ve chosen, in which the characters of florals have been fully explored – from the vampish divas to more softly swooning – there truly is a bouquet for everyone to adore…

Cochine is Vietnam’s first luxury fragrance brand – and one that we are totally obsessed with! Created to inspire you, Cochine’s collection captures the romance of a sun-warmed exotic garden as its enchanting florals unfold into the evening air. Specially selected from their portfolio of unique botanical scents, you’ll find yourself enraptured by roses, jasmine, gardenia and the newest fragrance – Tuberose & Wild Fig.
Cochine Floral Collection £35

Discover Molton Brown‘s interpretation of some of perfumery’s most precious ingredients with this colourful selection of their best-selling scents, from delicate floral Blossoming Honeysuckle & White Tea to dreaming of dozing beneath fragrant canopies of flowers with the exotic Ylang Ylang, and many floral facets in-between…
Molton Brown’s Art of Fragrance £12.50

Hand-crafted in England, created from the essences of real flowers, fruit and spices, Shay & Blue‘s invite you to explore their most-loved scents. Pocket-sized and beautifully presented in their signature blue and white stripes, the set also boasts Framboise Noire – a mesmerising floriental of cassis berries, jasmine and patchouli.
Shay & Blue Precious Miniatures £65

This limited edition collectible box has been designed especially to showcase Les Infusions de Prada in six of the most adorable and desirable 8ml miniature eau de parfum bottles… Featuring notes of iris, orange blossom, heliotrope and the often overlooked carnation (think spicy and hot yet dry and fascinating) it’s a perfectly refined way to get your nose around floral ingredients.
Prada Parfums Les Infusions de Prada £36

Written by Suzy Nightingale

7 Perfumed podcasts we can’t get enough of…

Fragrance is filling the air(waves) right now, with a plethora of perfumed podcasts to catch up with – some fairly recently released episodes, and some other (for us) just-discovered gems.

At The Perfume Society, we’ve long held that the topic of fragrance and our sense of smell is perhaps at the point food and wine were not so long ago: something the general public are waking up to as a valid subject to explore and discuss in depth.

We have enjoyed listening to some of these already – perfect to download and enjoy while commuting, or to to catch up with while chilling this weekend, perhaps…?

Fume Chat: The Filth Battle (2017)
Fellow ‘fumehead Katie Puckrik joins regular hosts, Thomas and Nick, to judge a battle of their perfume picks that smell nothing short of downright dirty. Our very favourite kind! You’ll come for the fragrances and stay for the banter.

The Conversation: Perfume Makers (2017)
How do you capture and bottle a scent? Two perfume makers from France and Malaysia talk to Kim Chakanetsa about how they’ve trained their noses to smell over 1,000 different raw ingredients.

Histories of the Unexpected: Perfume (2017)
Presenters Dr Sam Willis and Professor James Daybell ‘argue’ that everything has a history (well, yes) here delving in to our favourite topic (obvss).

Making Scents: The Story of Perfume (2017)
Bridget Kendall and guests explore the modern history of perfume, including its flowering in France and the explosive chemical discoveries that helped to make fine fragrance what it is today.

The Pool: Perfume: A Century of Scents – Part one of four (2015)
Lizzie Ostrum (aka Odette Toilette) discusses her brilliant book, beginning with the story of CK One and how it came to epitomise the 1990s. Music: Incense, Erykah Badu.

Stuff You Should Know: How Perfume Works (2015)
Josh and Chuck are the affable hosts who plunge into topics they previously knew little or nothing about, sharing their research with listeners. There are hundreds of episodes covering everything from corsets to cults!

The Why Factor: Perfume (2014)
Mike Williams talks to an historian, archaeologist, ‘nose’ and a business analyst to find out what image we’re projecting while wearing perfume, and learns how to make Eau de Cologne.

Written by Suzy Nightingale

6 of the sexiest leather scents you should try…

Reminding us of our beloved leather jacket, a stack of books or the wood-panelled, boozily infused surroundings of a members’ only club, leather fragrances are generally not for the scent-shy. Scintillatingly smoky, they evoke a particularly voracious and luxurious sensuality, favouring deep base notes that linger the whole day long.

Russian leather fragrances have a long heritage, recently enjoying something of a revival as we crave perfumes that are bigger, badder and bolder than before, and it’s the intense, relentless smokiness of birch that’s the vital scent ingredient giving Russian leather it’s characteristic smell.

In order to process birch for perfumery, the bark of the tree is peeled off in papery strips and soaked in a water/alcohol mixture until it forms a ‘liquor’, which is then evaporated to leave the oil behind. Perfumers can use any number of ingredients along with birch to compose a ‘leather accord’ – echoing the history of the leather trade and tanning process itself, when animal hides are treated with strong-smelling oils to mask their naturally foul odours.

Over time, the smell of ‘Russian leather’ became shorthand for luxury goods and an exoticism lusted over by wealthy travellers who wanted to waft forth their fortunes in scent form, too. And this eventually led to a piece of that history being present in practically every bathroom in the UK, including, perhaps, your own…?

 

The Russian soap-opera in your bathroom…

Cussons’ Imperial Leather soap has been a staple of British bathrooms since 1938, but you might well wonder where it gained the name. According to their heritage story, ‘In the 1700s Bayleys of Bond Street were challenged by Count Orlof to create a perfume which embodied the distinctive aroma of the Russian court, and as a result they developed the scent of Imperial Leather.’

In 1921 Bayleys was acquired by Cussons Sons & Co, and it wasn’t until 1938 that Cussons conceived the idea of launching a soap based on their archive scent, initially called ‘Imperiale Russian Leather’, but soon renamed to ‘Imperial Leather’.

During the 40s, soap was heavily rationed in Britain, so Imperial Leather was marketed as being the best choice because it lasted far longer than other brands, with the world’s tallest man apparently being a fan, presumably because, well, he got through a lot of soap!

In 1975 the Cussons Group was acquired by Paterson Zochonis, now renamed PZ Cussons – currently boasting an extraordinary range of fragranced body products (along with the ever-popular Imperial Leather), including soaps and shower gels scented like sherbet lemons and even cherry Bakewells, for perfume-lovers of a certain age, the name of Cussons will forever evoke the comforting smell of Imperial Leather.

Six Russian Leather scents we love:

We think winter is the perfect time to explore this fascinating fragrance family, and we’re certainly not short of recently released scents to try. Read on to see how the many moods of Russian leather can go from the masculine to feminine, from the softest caress to the sizzlingly opulent…

Curls of smoke swirl through a Siberian pine forest, leather-bound books infused with a campfire’s glowing ember scent.

Molton Brown Russian Leather £45 for 50ml eau de toilette
Buy it at moltonbrown.co.uk

Butter-soft leather liberally dusted with baby powder, the comfort of warm skin embraced with an open heart.

Evody Cuir Blanc £84 for 50ml eau de parfum
Buy it at houseoffraser.co.uk

Chic aldehydes bely smoky scandal insinuated beneath – supple leather waited for with baited breath.

Les Exclusifs de Chanel Cuir de Russie £140 for 75ml eau de parfum
Buy it at chanel.com

Violet leather ballet shoes, cinnamon-dusted bon-bons eaten at Nijinsky’s performance while writing love-letters.

Le Jardin Retrouvé Cuir de Russie from €35 for 15ml eau de parfum
Buy it at lejardinretrouve.com

Frosty air tinged with lavender, frozen herbs gathered at dusk in a fur-lined leather coat, ice-crystals on eyelashes.

MEMO Paris Russian Leather £205 for 75ml eau de parfum
Buy it at harveynichols.com

A buxom bouquet thrust forcefully into a leather-gloved clasp, hot coffee clutched to warm the fingers, a woodland romp to warm the soul.

Zoologist Civet £135 for 60ml eau de parfum
Buy it at bloomperfume.co.uk

Written by Suzy Nightingale

They got you the ‘wrong perfume’? – Use our scent survival guide!

There is an etiquette to receiving a gift you’re really not sure about. Rule one is probably not to look them square in the eye and scream ‘WHAT were you THINKING?!’

But how to survive a present of The Wrong Perfume…? Save your screams and follow our guide before you ditch it or cause a scene!

1: Are you sure you don’t like it?

This might sound like a silly question, but please don’t make any hasty decisons. Is it simply not your ‘usual’? The idea of a Signature Scent is a wee bit dated these days, plus did you know that after a while, your nose can get ‘used to’ a scent, and you won’t get that fragrant hit you once adored if you wear it every day.

A fragrance takes several hours to fully ‘develop’ on your skin: so many of us immediately discard them after the very first sniff! How about giving it a go on a few differing occasions, tracking its progress throughout the day? It’s only fair…

2: Layer up

It used to be considered a cardinal sin of the scent world, but in the past few years it’s a huge trend we’ve seen fully blossom. Try layering the scent with a differing fragranced body lotion (Top Tip: this also makes any fragrance last longer, as perfume disappears far faster on dry skin), or with one (or more!) other scents you already like.

You might create your own ‘bespoke’ blend and be pleasantly surprised…

3: Wear it well

The heat of your skin can drastically change the way a perfume smells, which is partly why not all scents smell the same on everyone, but how about wearing it a different way?

Spraying perfume on a scarf, or even in your hair, is a wonderful way of trying something new. Also, this tends to prolong the top and heart notes of a perfume, so if it’s the base or ‘dry down’ that’s putting you off, you’re on to a win-win…

4: Changes, changes

Are you aware the weather (along with our mood and even what we’ve eaten several days previous to trying a scent) can hugely alter the way we perceive a perfume?

Cold weather will prolong the top and heart notes on your skin, with warmer days meaning the fragrance will ‘bloom’ (journey through all the notes) on your skin much more quickly. We’re always thrilled to discover something we thought we didn’t like in winter becomes the hit of the summer. There’s still hope…

5: Do some research… and treat yourself!

If all else fails, look up your favourite fragrance on our genius Fragrance Editor, known as FR.eD for short, and you’ll be given several suggestions of other perfumes you’re bound to like. We’re sorry your gift-giver didn’t get it right, but life is too short for perfumes to be gathering dust!

Perhaps treat yourself to something new – and check out our fantastic sale to explore a whole wardrobe of perfumes from the comfort of your own home…

Written by Suzy Nightingale