Fragrances For… Track & Field

With a summer of sporting events ahead, in our Fragrances For series this time we’re suggesting Track & Field as a fragrant theme. The Commonwealth Games 2022 have begun in Birmingham, and of course we’re also celebrating the ongoing success of the brilliant women’s England football team getting to the final, woo hoo! Whether you’re sporty yourself, prefer being a spectator or are simply looking for some lovely fresh, summer-y scents to wear – we got you covered, no matter what your team’s colours are…

 

 

 

Freshly snapped stems and verdantly green undergrowth give the feeling of being in the middle of a field on a summer’s day (now that could be indulging in your favourite sport, or perhaps watching on the sidelines with a picnic, which is our preference!) A gorgeously dewy floral bouquet at the heart features hyacinth florets, wild freesia greens and zesty mandarin leaves, with blossoming rose centifolia stems and jasmine buds on an earthier, soul-nourishing base. The flowers proffered to the winners on the podium, perhaps?

Malin + Goetz Stem £78 for 50ml eau de parfum

 

 

Sneaker addicts will want to get their noses on this – an amazingly lifelike scent of new out the box sports pumps in perfumed form! Think the squeak of clean rubber on a court, freshly buffed white leather gleaming in sunshine. What’s more, sing a clever micro-encapsulation technology in a water-based solution, the spray, they say,  ‘works the miracle: a scent of newness and cleanliness will diffuse for a long time as you walk. At ease in your shoes, the world and success lie beneath your feet!’

Officine Universelle Buly 1803 Eau Gymnastique €70 for 500ml spray

 

 

Creative Director Jeremy Scott knows about delivering freshness, and always with a cheeky wink. Having done a limited edition scent for Adidas Originals in a shoe-shaped bottle, we think sporting types will love the wonderful whimsy of seeming to spray a cleaning product on your body in the locker-room! In fact, inside, the juice itself is a joyously refreshing blast of zesty mandarin and bergamot going to work on your nose, before a raspberry juiciness, rich ylang ylang and luminescent woodiness.

Moschino Fresh Couture £51 for 50ml eau de toilette

 

 

A suitably victorious incarnation of the heroically themed fragrances ‘seizes with its power and seduces with its freshness.’ Freshly squeezed lemons offer the juicy bite here while the woody notes of incense wrap tendrils of soft smoke around a purr of vanilla in the base. Spiced tonka bean is the delicious finale for this scent inspired by ‘subtly celebrating modern masculinity.’ We say: any gender who adores the juxtopsition of vibrancy and woodiness would love this – leave everyone else on the track in your smoke trail!

Paco Rabanne Invictus Victory £58 for 50ml eau de parfum

 

We’ve not forgotten about the swimmers – those of you plunging in to the pool (whether it’s in a stadium, or more serene settings on holiday) might like to imagine for a moment that you’re bathing ‘In a mythical ocean,’ where ‘a sea shell gives birth to the goddess of love.’ Well it’s more romantic than a swimming cap and dry robe, anyway! Here, ‘Desire lingers beneath the shimmering surface’ with yuzu, pink pepper and seaweed glistening on slippery rocks, a salty undertow of ambergris and driftwood beckoning you further in.

Sarah Baker Atlante £145 for 50ml extrait de parfum

 

Written by Suzy Nightingale

Pairing Perfumes to Teachers. Today’s lesson: Geography

The majority of British schools have now broken up for the summer holidays, with some having even broken up earlier due to the extreme heat we’ve been experiencing here. Having worked through perhaps the most challenging few academic years in our lifetime, we can practically hear the sighs of relief from teaching staff the land over! If you’re a teacher, we think you deserve a treat far greater than an apple, so over the next few weeks we’re matching scents to teaching subjects and encourage you to explore and indulge at will. Today’s lesson is…

 

 

Scented Subject: Geography suggests earthy scents, and yes those loamy, wild-roaming fragrances can be found in this selection, but we’re thinking more laterally, with houses who are inspired by world travels, wild landscapes, and fragrant foraging.

 

Ella K – Brumes de Khao Sok £175 for 70ml eau de parfum

Founder and perfumer, Sonia Constant, finds inspiration ‘From my travels – flowers, trees, arid landscapes, humid places. Everything I encounter can be an inspiration.’ For this one, we journey to ‘…an impenetrable jungle some 160 million years old’ in Thailand, ‘watered by the monsoons and the mists of the Andaman sea. Sonia continues: ‘At daybreak, the mist rises to reveal the floral, transparent freshness of the white flower-filled forest borders, and exhales moist, green and woody perfumes. Unseen in the distance, the gibbons impose their presence on this mysterious awakening with their characteristic early-morning calls.’

 

 

Kingdom Scotland – Metamorphic £120 for 50ml eau de parfum

‘Scotland has some of the most complex geology in the world and this scent is inspired by metamorphic rock that is spectacularly woven into the landscape,’ explains founder, Imogen Russon-Taylor. It’s complex, fusing black pepper and tobacco, incense, minerals and rose absolute, metamorphosing on the skin as it’s warmed to reveal a base of amber resin and leather. And in this one, you might make out just a splash of Islay malt whisky – a nod to Imogen’s own history, here.

Ruth Mastenbroek – Amorosa £70 for 30ml eau de parfum

Inspired by her innate love for Italy, talented perfumer Ruth Mastenbroek created Amorosa as a perfumed paean to the country she so proudly declares her passion for. Literally translating as ‘a woman in love’ this is an intriguing new take on a floral that feels like a love affair with the landscape itself. Yes, the notes are classic at heart – but it’s the fascinating opening that particularly sets the senses tingling: Mouth-wateringly juicy watermelon paired with the fresh green sap-like note of galbanum and violet leaf, while the heart proffers a bouquet of white flowers and tender blossoms, beckoning you forth to the final layer of woody musks and exotic amber.

 

Maison Crivelli – Osmanthe Kōdoshān £170 for 100ml eau de parfum

A sublime portrait of the apricot-y bloom, this is inspired by a trip to ‘a tropical mountain shrouded in mist.’ We sense sunsets, a gasp of geological height and grandeur, in a scent that very slowly unfurls itself as it warms. Curls of fog clear to reveal a forest far below, the resinous scent of verdant vegetation and grounding woodiness rising to meet you, the osmanthus swathing your skin in a leathery embrace. Calming, mysterious, transcendentally beautiful – a voyage for the senses, no matter where you are in the world.

 

Written by Suzy Nightingale

 

 

Perfuming the Proms – classical music-inspired scents

We’re always fascinated by the links between music and fragrance at The Perfume Society – indeed, we dedicated an entire issue of The Scented Letter magazine to the subject of Music & Perfume, fully exploring how music terminology came to be attributed to fragrance – accords, notes, compositions, harmony, the perfumer’s organ. To wear a perfume is to create your own harmony, and we feel emotionally connected by this invisible expression, just as we do when hearing a piece of music that moves us.

 

 

With The BBC Proms 2022 having begun – a whole host of concerts from now until 10 September – what better time to really relish these links and wear the classical compositions with pride? Here, we present a selection of perfumes that showcase music and even musical instruments themselves…

 

 

 

Created by perfumer Pierre-Constantin Gueros, the fragrance was then interpreted by composer Javier Marti­nez Campos and cellist Gautier Capucon. Based on ‘a tale whispered by an apothecary in the perfume souks of Deira’  it’s ‘the story of a nomad, a genius virtuoso from the desert whose divine cello notes echo, creating indescribable magic as transcendental and velvety scents float in the desert air.’ Think silky, langorous luxury, the warmth of amber tempered by the freshness of bergamot, a melody of myrrh married to chewy, delicious tonka and stickily addictive resins.

L’Orchestre Parfum Ambre Cello £129 for 100ml eau de parfum
ab-presents.co.uk

 

 

 

 

Bursting into blossom with a joyous rush of juicy grapefruit trickling into rosemary infused honeysuckle and a swag of jasmine sambac absolute, JUSBOX’s first classical perfume is inspired by Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons – ‘an interweaving of violins that chase one another in an allegro of pure melodies, unfurling with the awakening of Nature.’ We imagine twirling in a meadow while wearing this, paddling in streams and laughing euphorically, dancing on freshly cut lawns and feeling at one with nature. An immediate mood-lifter that truly celebrates classical music and life itself.

JUSBOX Perfumes Spring Dance £125 for 78ml eau de parfum
selfridges.co.uk

 

 

 

‘At a party on Paris’ rive gauche, a woman’s fur coat is lifted from her bare shoulders, exposing her neck to the candlelight. Aware of many eyes upon her, she pauses, smiling to herself, before emerging like a conqueror from the shadows. A sensuous body of lavender is warmed by patchouli, amber and vanilla, and transformed by notes of pineapple and mandarin.’ One to wear at the Opera in Paris, we feel – a stunning vintage-feel fragrance that evokes oppulence, divas and passionate encounters in dressing rooms.

Editions de Parfums Frédéric Malle Music For a While from £42 for 10ml eau de parfum
fredericmalle.co.uk

 

 

 

Inspired by the breathtaking beauty of the famous theatre in Venice, and further more, ‘by the preciousness of the pearl, a symbol of femininity, loved by great sopranos who have trod the stage of Gran Teatro La Fenice’, this is ascent that exudes softly filtered, opalescent light. A fluff of powdery muskiness feels like backstage at the dressing table, while a grand bouquet of white flowers is hopefully proffered by a bevvy of admirers. Delicate yet hugely characterful, it takes the wearer from the cool of first placing the pearls at your throat to the drama of the fragrant finalé.

The Merchant of Venice My Pearls from £126 for 50ml eau de parfum concentrèe
themerchantofvenice.com

 

 

 

An olfactory picture of ‘the transcendental woods of the 1800s, where craftsmen built violins and bows in the tiny towns of the Pioneer Valley, Massachusetts’, this thrum of woodiness resonates with the magnificent depth of mahogony, richly sweet maple shavings and the resinous waft of standing in the middle of that forest and windering which trees have granted musicians the tools of their artistic trade over the years. The aromatic pine of the arboreal atmosphere is finally burnished with walnut – a sensation of closing your eyes and feeling the music vibrate inside your body, your soul itself.

DS & DURGA Bowmakers £148 for 50ml eau de parfum
libertylondon.com

 

 

Cologne to Parfum: your quick-read, easy guide to scent strengths

From Colognes to extraits, splashes to after shaves – there are so many differing types of fragrance categories now that it can be hard to tell one from another and where to begin. Read our handy guide, below, and get your nose in the know!

Descriptions like Eau de Toilette or Eau de Parfum are used to identify the strength or concentration of oil in the carrier (or base – usually alcohol) in a fragrance composition. These concentrations can vary from fragrance to fragrance, depending on how that particular brand like to blend their scents, but use this is a rule of thumb (or nose!)

 

 

Extract/extrait/solid perfume – 20-30%

Perfume – 15-25 %

Eau de Parfum  (EDP) – 8-15%

Eau de Toilette (EDT) – 4-8%

Cologne (EDC) –  2-4%

Body cream/lotion –  3-4%

After Shave/Splash  – 2-4%

Soap – 2-4%

 

In general, the higher the percentage, the longer it will last on your skin, and therefore, the higher the price – but do be aware that different concentrations (Perfume, or Eau de Toilette, etc.) may sometimes have differing notes in them, and not simply be weaker or stronger. So when you like a fragrance, we suggest you explore it in all its different concentrations before you find your favourite… Perhaps in the heat, seek some shade and read our recent guide to which classic and contemporary Colognes we recommend for cooling down – we’ve included the fascinating history of the Cologne to tickle your senses, too.

 

 

Some people like to layer their scent types throughout the day. Here’s how:

Begin with a refreshing splash of Cologne to get thoses senses revving, and then wear an Eau de Toilette for day time.

In hot temperatures, consider layering a Cologne or Eau de Toilette with a matching (or unscented) body lotion, as dry skin makes fragrance fade faster.

Try one of the many new hair perfumes – a delightful way to wear your scent, often imbued with moisturising, protective properties as a bouns when temperatures soar (and alcohol-based scents can sizzle dry hair).

As evening falls and you head out on the town, switch things up by adding a spritz of Eau de Parfum to leave a sultrier trail that will last as long your night does.

And for the boudoir – a dab of pure Parfum or Extrait will tempt until the next day (or night) but wont project as far as an Eau de Parfum. Think of them as stronger concentrations, but in a hushed form – only for you and whomever you allow to get that close to nuzzle your neck and admire…

Is your nose twitching to find out more? See our brilliant FAQ section – there to answer your questions and put the sense into scents.

Written by Suzy Nightingale

Cool off with Colognes

There’s no better time than to cool off with Colognes than during a heatwave, and with temperatures set to soar to record levels in the U.K. let’s all take a breather with a quick refesher on the fascinating history of Colognes – including why they used to be drunk, and while we certainly don’t recommend you do that anymore, why they should still be splashed on with abandon in the heat, and why that ‘c’ of Cologne should be capitalised…

 

Firstly: what denotes a true Cologne? Well traditionally, Colognes contain a blend of bergamot, neroli, lavender and rosemary oils diluted in grape spirit, and though volumes differ, tend to be poured at a strength of 2-4% – meaning that’s the amount of pure fragrance within a carrier (usually alcohol in spray or splash form). They were made at this strength because half the pleasure is in the re-applying of these cooling scents, particularly delicious if that Cologne has been stored in the fridge, we find!

 

The Cologne style of scent has proved to be incredibly popular for hundreds of years, the original recipe proving such a success that it’s remained remarkably unchanged, and much copied, to this day. With contemporary Colognes also abounding, it’s intrestesting to ponder why this style of perfuming ourselves has remained so stable through the centuries. Perhaps, posits Christine Nagel, in-house perfumer at the cologne-loving brand Hermès, because the composition conjures ‘immediate pleasure and a universally shared register of emotions.’

 

The Cologne is often assumed as male in origin, but was 100% unisex from the get-go, and with many later directly marketed to women. Indeed, this universally pleasing experince of lavishly splashing yourself with something immediately refreshing and reviving to the spirits is, ‘…a trick that Cologne has been pulling off for more than 300 hundred years.’ fragrance writer and vlogger Persolaise told us in a previous summer edition of The Scented Letter Magazine.  He recounts the story: ‘Back at the start of the 18th Century, the Italian barber and entrepreneur Gian Paolo Feminis moved to Cologne, Germany, and began selling a blend of bergamot, neroli, lavender and rosemary oils diluted in grape spirit. Dubbed Aqua Admirabilis, the product was such a success that Feminis summoned other members of his family to northern Germany to help develop the business.

 

 

His nephew, Giovanni Maria Farina – a.k.a. Jean Marie Farina – tweaked the formula, committed it to writing and, crucially, began advertising the product as a miracle potion not just for scenting one’s person but also for drinking and combating all sorts of ailments, including skin, stomach and gum problems. ‘This perfume refreshes me,’ Farina wrote to his brother, ‘and stimulates both my senses and imagination.’ When travellers and soldiers began taking what they called ‘eau de Cologne‘ back home with them, its reputation spread, causing high-profile figures to take note.

Madame du Barry is reported to have spent a fortune on the fragrance. The composer Richard Wagner once wrote in a letter that he expected to use one litre of the stuff per month. And no less illustrious a figure than Napoleon was a fan. After washing with England’s Brown Windsor soap, he would use liberal amounts of Cologne, apparently getting through several bottles in one day.

 

 

Throughout the 20th Century, the classic cologne appeared in the portfolios of several brands – notably Hermès, Acqua di Parma and Dior – as there was always a supply of customers seeking its weightless, approachable personality. But in recent years, this demand has stepped into a higher gear.’

One could almost say demand for these instantly cooling and soul-lifting fragrances is at something of a fever pitch amidst a heatwave, so indeed this is the perfect time to seek the shade with these so-enduring and still universally pleasing Colognes…

 

 

The Cologne whose formula began it all was been a closely guarded secret for centuries, but atill wafts beguilingly of a walk in a Mediterranean walled garden. Within, the distilled, precious essences of flowers, herbs and citrus simply sing through. It’s one to liberally apply and sigh with relief while wearing on the kind of day that provokes ‘Phew! What a scorcher’ headlines in red-topped newspapers. Nuances of the herbacious breeze tinged with the sunshine-evoking lemon zest cut through cloudy, dull days, too. Keep in the fridge for occasions of overheating or undue stress, we say.

Roger & Gallet Jean Marie Farina Eau de Cologne Spray £29.75 for 100ml eau de Cologne
escentual.com 

 

 

An all-time (now timeless) classic that surely nobody can fail to fall for, as Colonia unfolds you find yourself entering into an elegant floral-herbaceous space, as if you’ve wandered into an Italian sunlit idyl, Sicilian citrus, bergamot, lemon, sweet and bitter oranges infusing your soul with sunshine. Finally the warmth of the woody base notes comes through, wrapping around you like a cashmere sweater as the sun goes down over the Tuscan riviera. Simply said, it’s bliss in a bottle.

Acqua di Parma Colonia from £56 for 20ml eau de Cologne
acquadiparma.com

 

 

 

No round-up of Colognes could be complete without this classic (and so pocket-friendly). Still popular since 1792 for a reason, it’s often reached for on hot days, but you absolutely don’t need to keep it only for summer – experience the mood-enhancing quench whenever you like! Colognes take on a new aspect in the cooler months, any way, and of course on sweltering days breathe a welcome breeze, here it’s the classic lemon, rosemary, lavender and neroli notes, which feel like sunlight filtered through unfurling leaves. Heavenly.

4711 Cologne from £4.80 for 25ml Cologne
escentual.com

 

Hydrating, toning, and revivifying via essential oils of lemon, patchouli, petitgrain, ginseng and white tea, it’s immediately mood-lifting. And this one came long before today’s natural beauty trend was even a twinkle in Gwyneth’s eye (or, uh, whatever). Clarins pioneered the use of aromatics and botanicals in skincare; their Eau Dynamisante was the first eau de toilette combining principles of aromatherapy and phytotherapy (plant therapy) in fragrant form, back in 1987.

 

 

Close your eyes and imagine riding the crest of a wave, or perhaps rise like Venus emerging glamorous from the ocean – far easier to evoke while spritzing this whoosh of ozonic sea water, the saltiness a seasoning to the bracing bitterness of Marram grass and the rounded, grounding warmth of beechwood. Vesuvian lichen clings to wet rocks, the herb-y sense of home shores nearby. A lovely version of a modern Cologne, it almost feels you’ve been to the seaside and back with none of the pesky traffic queues or train cancellations. Just add ice cream and you’re there!

Prosody London Ocean Commotion from £57 for 30ml Cologne
prosodylondon.com

 

 

The cooling sensation of Cologne at Eau de Parfum strength, from spicy beginnings, the woody heart andwarming base resonate with unanticipated thrums of juicy freshness and mouth-watering appeal. Then, a surprise appearance of heady patchouli in the heart nuzzles a balmy resin-rush of styrax as the Cologne dries down. With this fresher spin on their bestselling Aventus, with luscious mandarin replacing pineapple of the classic, and a long-lasting, fruity/musk dry-down, it resonates beautifully in the heat.

Creed Aventus Cologne from £190 for 50ml eau de parfum
creedfragrances.co.uk

 

Written by Suzy Nightingale

The Good Oudh Guide

Oudh (often also spelled oud) is omnipotent – way beyond the ‘trend’ it was first thought of when it began wafting in the fragrance aisles of the Western hemisphere, it’s practically become its own perfume family. Though beloved in the Middle East and in many cultures around the world for centuries, there are some who still clutch their pearls a little at the mere mention of the word, let alone a whiff of that ultra-woody, multi-faceted fragrance.

But all oudhs are not the same beast (though they can indeed be redolent of the farmyard), and just as with any fragrance ingredient, depending on the type, quality and quantity the perfumer has used, the over-arching olfactory effect can be massively different. Think of it like giving a cheese naysayer to a slab of blue-veined Stilton as their very first taste, or an oozingly ripe Camembert – perhaps a more gentle intro might have been a nibble at a mild Cheddar, or the cool, crumbly creaminess of a Wensleydale? It’s the same with any potentially heady ingredient in a fragrance, you might want to dip your toes in a softer evocation before drenching yourself with the olfactory equivalent of an offensive weapon.

Before we dive in to the fragrances themselves, let’s start with a 101 refresher on what oudh actually is…

 

 

 

WTF is Oudh, anyway?

The resinous heart-wood from fast-growing evergreen trees – usually the Aquilaria tree – oudh is actually agarwood: a result of a reaction to a fungal attack (stick with us, here), which turns this usually pale and light wood into a deliciously dark, resinous wood with a distinct fragrance. From that ‘rotten’ wood, an oil is made, then blended into perfume, and the highly scented wood of the tree can also be burned – often at prestigious or religious occasions and celebrations, such as marriage ceremonies – because it’s believed the fragrant smoke creates harmony, removing negative energies from sacred spaces.

 

 

 

 

What does it smell like?

The aroma of natural oud is distinctively irresistible and attractive often with bitter sweet and woody nuances: seriously earthy (and in small quantities, seriously sexy). It can equally be fresher, softer, reminiscent of a romp in a hay barn, or the dry grasses of a meadow on sweltering summer day. Because of how long it takes to produce, and the protection of Aquilaria trees (in a similar way that sandalwood is now highly protected and restricted), as an alternative, perfumers have often now turned to synthetic oudh. Highly trained noses will tell you that the synthetic version can smell plainer (thinner), more woody and leathery, but without the rounded, warm, ultra-animalic and balsamic qualities of the original. Of course, in many compositions this may be desirable and, therefore, more suitable than natural oudh.

 

 

 

Why is it so expensive?

Collection of agarwood from natural forests is now illegal under CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endanged Species of Wild Fauna and Flora), but some is now beginning to be plantation grown in Vietnam. This process can take hundreds of years, hence the high cost – it’s also known as ‘liquid gold’ – the scarcity of the real stuff, and why sythetic oudhs may be blended with a natural ingredient, or used instead of.

 

 

 

honey-oud-b

A really good introduction to how oudh can be used in a nuanced way – almost as a seasoning instead of the main flavour – this one is actually delicious (as in, if it came in a jar, I’d want to slather it on buttered toast and guzzle it, or perhaps slather myself in it and roll on a meadow). The dark, spiced honeyed note deepens as the oud kicks in. Intensely nuzzle-able, there’s nothing whatever to frighten the horses, here.

Floris Honey Oud from £22 for 10ml eau de parfum
florislondon.com 

 

 

 

Using pure oudh oil from their own plantations, Fragrance du Bois weave woodiness through a salt-tinged sea breeze wafting mandarin’s freshness, and the cool, cardamom-infused whoosh of mountain air. Warming the heart with a resinous, gilded gleam of frankincense and warm amber, the oudh wraps sacred onycha (an ancient spice added to incense) and sweet myrrh in the kind of heavenly mistiness that invokes rapture.

Fragrance du Bois Oud Bleu Intense £295 for 50ml eau de parfum
jovoyparis.uk

 

 

 

 

Unashamedly salacious, the Turkish and Bulgarian roses entwine with gently powdered violet for an evocation of bare limbs caressed by silky sheets; add to this mental image a silver bowl of decadent white chocolates decorated with violets, slowly melting into your sensorially satiated smile. An animalic smokiness underpins the sensuously draped covers, making this the perfect after-dark fragrance for illicit encounters…

Maison Francis Kurkdjian Oud Satin Mood £215 for 70ml eau de parfum
selfridges.com

 

 

Described as ‘the olfactory projection of silence’, you can guess this one is hushed, evoking a gentle yet meaningful glance which fosters an immediate understanding, a merging of souls. But you don’t need to relate to the esoteric explanation. Simply delight in the pairing of blossom-y florals rippled with raspberry and a drift of tobacco, the smoothest Iranian oud billowing to benzoin, white spruce and airily transparent musk.

The House of Oud Empathy £220 for 75ml eau de parfum
harveynichols.com

 

By Suzy Nightingale

 

Perfumes to wear with Pride

Encouraging you to wear your perfumes with Pride this year, we’re showcasing some of the houses who are partnering with LGBTQIA+ charities and communities and celebrating your true self through the power of scent – something we like to celebrate every single day of the year!

 

 

 

 

The Jean Paul Gaultier Pride collection this year features a whoop of ‘Liberty, Equality, Sexuality! Two bottles, one inclusive fragrance created for everyone: discover the limited edition Le Male and Classique Pride – a colourful statement on the Classique and Le Male navy-striped sailor tops. Jean Paul Gaultier proudly supports the LGBTQIA+ Community through AKT. This year, The Fragrance Shop is also proud to partner with the charity AKT, who supports young LGBTQ+ people across the UK who are either homeless or living in a hostile environment. TFS will be supporting AKT by donating 5p of every in-store transaction to the charity, with customers able to donate an extra 25p with any purchase of the PRIDE collection in-store.’With heady blood orange and yuzu top notes, this unisex eau de toilette marches to a beat that is resolutely modern, quirky, and free-spirited, uniting all in its wake. A proud and celebratory floral citrus fragrance enhanced with orange blossom and neroli, and a bouquet of musky and sensual blond woods.

 

 

 

Shay & Blue have a really great History of Pride blog, and say: ‘As a company we are restlessly focused on inclusion and celebrating YOU. Our scents are for all genders. There are no outsiders, all are welcome, always and we support everyone’s right to express themselves fully.’

Explaining why this is so important to them, and how they put their money where their mouth is, Shay & Blue continue: ‘This is why we work with Mermaids, a charity which supports gender-diverse children and young people until their 20th birthday, as well as their families and professionals involved in their care. Mermaids offers support to reduce isolation and loneliness for transgender, non-binary and gender-diverse children, improves the social skills and self-esteem of young people and children and improves awareness.We are proud to support our customers on their identity journey so a percentage of all profits from sales of our 10ml fragrances are donated to our friends at Mermaids.’

 

 

Britney Spears: It’s over a decade since pop superstar Britney launched her Fantasy fragrance, with the scent winning many more fans than simply those who happened to love Britney already. Fantasy became a global best-seller, and we happen to know a number of perfumistas who happily wear the original alongside their wardrobe of niche and high-end fragrances.

To further celebrate and support the LGBTQ community Britney’s proved herself a longtime ally and supporter of, Fantasy Pride Edition highlights the love she’s shown the community (and they’ve shown her! Particularly as part of the Free Britney campaign), and the fact she received the 2018 Vanguard Award at the 29th Annual GLAAD Media Awards in Los Angeles, which ‘…recognises media professionals who have made a significant difference in promoting equality and acceptance of LGBTQ people.’

 

Inside the House of… Ruth Mastenbroek

As Ruth Mastenbroek puts it: ‘Very simply, my life’s work is fragrance. I am a “nose” – a perfumer, a former President of the British Society of Perfumers…’

RUTH_PORTRAITWe are head-over-heels in love with the brand new Zephr fragrance by Ruth Mastenbroek – so much, in fact, although it’s so new, we had to include it in our Best of British themed Platinum Discovery Box! (You can try it along with all the other goodies pictured below, for only £25 / £21 VIPs).

 

The fact is, over the years, Ruth has been very discreetly (read: secretly) commissioned by countless leading brands, creating stunning fragrances for men, women and for the home. Just a couple that we’re allowed to tell you about: Ruth’s worked with Kenneth Turner and Jigsaw. She’s responsible for the divine Life With a View collection, which conjures up different corners of the globe –  and for the famous Grapefruit candle for Jo Malone. (Jennifer Lopez loved that candle so much, she bought 300 for her hotel room…!)

What we’re happy to shout about from the rooftops, though, is her own portfolio of Ruth Mastenbroek signature fragrances – more on those, in a moment. ‘Our sense of smell is a powerful reminder of precious memories,’ explains Ruth.

Ruth once explained to The Perfume Society in an article for The Scented Letter that her own mother’s fragrance – Youth Dew – showed her that the choice of perfume can be such a personal statement. ‘My family had moved to America, the land of dreams, when I was small. My mother would have her hair done, once a week, and the scent of Elnett featured large… But Youth Dew can easily compete, with its spicy sweet intensity and huge power. Smelling it makes me nostalgic for a time of life that I cherish – and from childhood, I knew I wanted to be part of the world of glamour and fashion…’

Ruth later graduated from Oxford University with a degree in chemistry. Her first job? As assistant sales manager of the perfumery department at Selfridges. From there, she went on to train and work as a perfumer with Naarden International, in both the UK and the Netherlands. (It later became Quest, which is now part of the huge global perfume house Givaudan.) Ruth then worked in Grasse and in Japan before returning to England.

RM_SIGNATUREHer own company – Fragosmic Ltd. – was born the year Ruth became President of the British Society of Perfumers, in 2003, and in 2010 Ruth launched her own debut range of scented products. (Ground-breakingly, she was the first to use advanced micro-encapsulation in a scented bathrobe…!) Ruth Mastenbroek continues to create bespoke personal and home fragrances, for small and medium-sized brands – but today, you’ll see her own name on fragrances showcased in over 25 exclusive shops in the UK, as well as the Netherlands and Nigeria.

As Ruth explains, ‘Like any artist, in this case whose palette is scents, I have always sought that elixir: a unique fragrance that is a true expression of myself.’  The first, RM (her initials), was an exquisite, modern example of the Chypre family, ‘which has always been close to my heart…’ (Original packaging shown here).

What it captures, for Ruth, are ‘memories of childhood: gingerbread, fresh earth, blackberries. Memories of my life in England and abroad: Japanese jasmine, cherry blossom, lotus and green tea; Dutch lilies, narcissus, hyacinth and salt air. French orchids, roses and wild flowers… Memories of travels to exotic places: the spices and oils of Morocco, Sri Lanka and Thailand…’ To quote Ruth, ‘This palette has been my playground, my refuge, my source of inspiration. From it, I have created a scent that stands out above all others, one that I can truly call me.’

Italy Europe Rome city town Trevi Fountain July 2007 Europe tourists historical historic waterAfter a citrus-fruity overture of mandarin, blackcurrant, bergamot and pineapple (plus a twist of pink peppercorn), you’ll encounter fresh notes evoking hot afternoons in the garden. Gorgeous flowers bloom at the heart: rose, lily, jasmine – as she puts it, ‘the floral middle notes conjure up the radiant scents of the English garden, tempered by the sophistication of Japanese ikebana.’ (Which Ruth studied in Japan, NB.) The lingering base notes, of course, are a signature of Chypres: oak moss, sandalwood, patchouli. As she puts it: ‘Scent is my life. This fragrance is the essence of my art. It is my signature…’

Ruth Mastenbroek’s second fragrance is called Amorosa – and the inspiration, she explains, was falling in love… ‘In my case, it was my love affair with Italy, hence the name “Amorosa” which means “a woman in love…” The earth, the mountains and the Italian skies have been translated captured in an exquisitely scented liquid.’

A ‘green explosion’ opens the fragrance: touches of water melon, violet leaf and galbanum. At Amorosa’s heart, encounter an innovative new accord of tuberose – fresher and more modern – combined with tiaré flower, ylang ylang and jasmine, while elements of vetiver, patchouli and amber ground the fragrance and accent its sensuality. Her third creation, Oxford, was inspired by Ruth’s days as a Chemistry student at the university – capturing the essence of awakening and discovery.

 

 

Further fragrant chapters have unfolded, each capturing unique, emotionally evocative scenes in scented form, and from the simmering, smoky rose passion of Firedance to the uplifting tendrils of dawn’s first light in Dagian, the current collection of five has been joined by room diffusers and scented candles – one of which was created by Ruth’s son, Nic, who’s an apprentice ‘nose’, trained by Ruth herself (watch this space!) With daughter Claire now also part of the team, running the vital behind-the-scenes nuts and bolts of the business, Ruth Mastenbroek’s fragrance house is very much a family operation. Which is just the way she likes it. And if you don’t know her work, then it’s time you discovered this talented perfumer’s place in the fragrant universe!

ruthmastenbroek.com

Trending Now… Rhubarb!

Rhubarb, rhubarb, rhubarb… No, we’re not practicing being an extra in a film (it’s what they traditionally mutter while appearing to chat in the background, FYI!) – rhubarb is proving a hugely popular trend in perfumery, so let’s get to the crunch of this vibrantly fruity fragrance note.
We first started seeing rhubarb making a fizz around 2015, but now the note is hugely popular and has set its own scent trend. How come? Well rhubarb is one of the happiest notes in fragrance, its bright, zippy character is distinctive, fun yet with a properly grown up poise to it – it definitely feels more sophisticated than many fruity notes in fragrance.

While providing a modern twist to classic floral or citrus bouquets, it simultaneously has more than a whiff of nostalgia about it, too – most of us have fond childhood memories of eating it baked in a crumble, or just freshly picked, raw and dipped in sugar. 

 

Despite rhubarb’s unmistakable tartness, it manages to play very nicely with other perfumery ingredients – melding wonderfully with violet, jazzing up a rose or other fruity cocktail-like notes, and adding an energising ZING of freshness that’s perhaps more intriguing than your average citrus.
Says CPL Aromas Marketing Executive Aitana López de Carrión: ‘It’s a great note for providing those green, fruity and refreshing accords. As a fruity note, it works particularly well, as its not as sweet and sticky like mango or strawberry.’
The perfect addition to a summer scent wardrobe, here’s some fragrances resplendent with rhubarb that we’re loving right now…
 

 

Celebrating ‘home is where the heart is’, Molton Brown showcase a duo of star ingredients often grown in our own gardens, much beloved by us Brits. Perfumer Vanessa Prudent conjures comforting childhood memories of baking, a sprinkle of sugar and pink pepper dusting rhubarb’s crispness, the leaves swagged by armfuls of soft pink roses. Marrying crisp fruitiness to the cedar muskiness of the base via silky cream ribbons, it’s an elegant reverie, bottled.
Molton Brown Delicious Rhubarb & Rose
£85 for 100ml eau de toilette moltonbrown.co.uk
Or try a sample in the Exquisite Essences Discovery Box

 

 

 

 

FLORAL_STREET_ELECTRIC_RHUBARB

 

Inspired by happy summer days in the garden, sipping Prosecco with your nearest and dearest, this immediately joyous scent was created in collaboration with the Royal Horticultural Society. The unique combination of English rhubarb and sea salt give the white floral blend a much-needed jolt into the 21st Century, and it’s the perfect instant mood-lifter, much like said Prosecco (but thankfully this one won’t leave you suffering on the sofa the next day).

Floral Street Electric Rhubarb
£64 for 50ml eau de parfum floralstreet.com

 

 

 

 

Forget where you are, close your eyes and inhale as Nathalie Feisthauer’s fragrance takes you ‘to a terrace overlooking the Mediterranean Sea at sunset, with a “chill out” cocktail in hand’. Mixing fizzing citrus and mint, capricious rhubarb and orange blossom sway to a groove that throbs over the amber wood, incense and Haitian vetiver base. Aromatic electronica, interpreted by NIID in the accompanying musical track = laidback vibes resonating into the early hours.

L’Orchestre Parfums Electro Limonade
£129 for 100ml eau de parfum ab-presents.co.uk

 

 

 

Oh we’re so enraptured by this contemporary and so-wearable take on rose – one to wear when you want to add the sense of twirling in a gauzy shocking pink gown (worn with trainers) we feel. The bright rose is entwined with sharp blackcurrant for some edge, and the sparkling, zingy rhubarb exudes throughout. Aqueous peonies add dewiness, while those blackcurrants expose its greenness. Petals, stalks and stems: this is a nose in a rosebush. Rich, jam-laced Moroccan rose absolute adds depth, for a scent that sparks a child-like joy within. Now: twirl!

Experimental Perfume Club Rose Rhubarb

£98 for 50ml eau de parfum experimentalperfumclub.com,
or try it in the Experimental Perfume Club Discovery Set

 

 

 

If you think rhubarb in scent doesn’t spell sex appeal, this now absolute modern classic will make you think again. Yes, that familiar tang is there in the top notes, backed by some red berry sweetness. But perfumer Christine Nagel gives it some irresistible French allure, pairing the tartness with animalic white musks that lend a beautiful other-worldliness. The result is a bouquet that’s just as distinct and memorable as the brand’s more famous Eaux des Merveilles. A must have!

Hermès Eau de Rhubarbe Ècarlate
£87 for 100ml eau de Cologne hermes.com

Written by Suzy Nightingale