I-SPY Scents: 50 Fragrances You Need to Try (Part 2)

Because we all get stuck in our scent ways sometimes, or only focus on shiny, new launches, we created a guide to Fifty Fragrances You Should Try (or at least sniff) in a lifetime.

Seeking out and smelling these scents helps build a library of scent knowledge. Some are over a century old, others created by ‘rising star’ new houses in the fragrant firmament. Among them, you’ll encounter scents that changed the course of perfume history – and you may even recognise their olfactory echoes in many newer launches you go on to try.

You can read Part One here, but if you’ve already limbered up your noses, let’s take a look at the last twenty five names on our list – and remember that list could well have been five times as long! We simply chose some to give you a great overview of the olfactory timeline and fragrant landscape you should explore…

[P.S: We’re thrilled the longer version of this article, which appeared in our 50th issue of The Scented Letter magazine, is up for a Jasmine Award!]

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. Jimmy Choo £62 for 60ml eau de parfum jimmychoo.com

Feminine, empowering and instantly game-changing, in 2011 those who clamoured for the stunningly glam shoes suddenly wanted to wear Jimmy Choo on their wrists (and necks, décolletage, behind knees…) Olivier Polge leant his mastery of ingredients to creating this fruity Chypre that tempts with tiger orchid, toffee and Indonesian patchouli. One to wear while dancing on tables.

 

 

 

 

 

  1. Jo Malone London Lime, Basil & Mandarin £110 for 100ml Cologne

When the now-iconic scent first whooshed its way into the perfume world in 1999, we were still in recovery from an era of powerful ‘room-rockers’. Inspiring countless Cologne-esque copies from others who’d not predicted this fragrant about-face, none can beat the original zesty, feel-good zing of just-squeezed citrus with handfuls of torn basil and thyme leaves still warm from the sun.

 

 

 

 

  1. Jovoy Psychédélique £145 for 100ml eau de parfum 

The ultimate tribute to the Sixties: an intoxicatingly intense patchouli fragrance that’s dark and smoky, twisted through with the golden gleam of amber, and a no-brainer for any patch-lovers to swoon over (as we often do). A glorious example of a ‘phoenix’ perfume house – restored way beyond its former 1920s glory, now also an indie treasure trove of shops for fellow scent obsessives.

 

 

 

 

 

  1. Kenzo Flower by Kenzo from £42.99 for 30ml eau de parfum

Kenzo’s new bloom for the millennium, it’s the imagined the scent of a poppy – one of those so-elusive flowers we adore but which remain frustratingly ‘silent’ and scentless in nature. Step forward the artistry of perfumery, in the hands (and nose) of Alberto Morrillas, and this 2000-launched scent now celebrates over 20 years of powdery, violet-tinged, hawthorn-dusted beguilement.

 

 

 

 

 

  1. Lalique Encre Noire £25.23 for 100ml eau de toilette

Perfumer Nathalie Lorson excelled herself in 2006 with this love song to the scent of vetiver. Smouldering, inky, bone dry, and slightly dangerous, it wraps the wearer in a cloak of woody cypress, fluffed a little at the edges by cashmere, and ruthlessly seduces with a lover’s neck caress of still-cool muskiness. We dare any sex to wear this and not cast a spell over all in its trail.

 

 

  1. Lancôme La Vie Est Belle £65 for 30ml eau de parfum 

In 2012, this free-spirited fragrance first sashayed its way on the world’s scent stage, embodied by Julia Roberts in the advertising campaign, created by a trio of top-notch noses (Anne Flipo, Dominique Ropion and Olivier Polge), and reportedly with 5000 trials in the making. Full-bodied iris is the star, swagged by radiant orange blossom and jasmine, the fruitiness shot through with praline.

 

 

 

 

  1. Le Labo Santal 33 £157 for 50ml eau de parfum

Since 2011, whole cities have become scented by Santal 33, such has been the popularity of this creamy, dreamy, woodsy perfume story. It’s some story. Former L’Oréal executives Fabrice Penot and Eddie Roschi already had 10 scents to Le Labo’s when Santal changed everything. Starting life as a candle, perfumer Frank Voelkl made it ‘deeper, more comfortable’ and created a must-sniff cult classic.

 

 

 

 

 

  1. Maison Francis Kurkdjian Baccarat Rouge 540 From £150 for 30ml eau de parfum

A modern classic, created for the 250th anniversary of the iconic crystal house in 2015. Luminous and sophisticated, Baccarat Rouge 540 lies on the skin like an amber floral and woody breeze. A poetic alchemy, the aerial notes of jasmine and tingling, warm radiance of saffron carry intriguing mineral facets of misty ambergris and woody tones of freshly cut, brown sugar-sprinkled cedar.

 

 

  1. Maison Margiela Replica By the Fireplace £55 for 30ml eau de toilette

Captured in an apothecary-style bottle, with a label echoing the designer’s clothing tags, each Replica fragrance evokes familiar scent memories and moments linked to specific locations. In 2015 we were beckoned to a French alpine fireside, delicious chestnut cocooning pink pepper and clove, contrasting with warm notes of cashmere and orange flower for cuddle-me-closer woodiness.

 

 

 

 

  1. Marc Jacobs Daisy £68 for 50ml eau de toilette

Jacobs’s playful yet sophisticated attitude is reflected in his love of fragrance and most especially this wildly successful scent of 2007. The essence of a youthful spirit, sunny, happy and free, the airy simplicity and charming bottle topped with oversized daisy cap has become iconic. With numerous international awards to its name, each new ‘spin’ on Daisy delights us afresh.

 

 

 

 

  1. MEMO Paris Irish Leather £230 for 75ml eau de parfum

Collating an olfactory album of scent memories, husband and wife founders Clara and John Molloy (via perfumer Alienor Massenet) have distilled huge charisma into this aromatic, honeyed leather, inspired by Clara’s ancestral roots. Swathing green freshness in a somewhat animalistic spirit, the chill of frosted juniper and clary sage is soon smouldered by the warmth of an open fire.

 

 

 

 

 

  1. Miller Harris Scherzo £110 for 50ml eau de parfum

Tasked with creating a fragrance to conjure up F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Tender is the Night, Mathieu Nardin’s 2018 artistic interpretation is an ode to darkness and light. Blood orange, davana and golden olibanum collide in a kaleidoscopic splash of brightness, while shadowy dark roses mingle with patchouli and oudh. Tinged with sweetness, this artistic endeavour allows your inner child to dance.

 

 

 

 

  1. Molton Brown Black Pepper £120 for 100ml eau de parfum

This iconic sizzle of a scent was ahead of its time by several decades, evolving from bodywash in the 80s to perfumer Jacques Chabert’s personal fragrance in 2001, and finally into the grateful public’s hands (and wrists). The pepper’s enhanced by lemon and ginger up top, dark green herbs in the heart – a true wake-up call to get you going any time you need a fragrant boost of energy!

 

 

 

 

 

  1. Mugler Angel From £65 for 25ml eau de parfum

An olfactory ‘shock’ when it launched in 1992, with its unashamedly unique, good-enough-to-eat candyfloss, bold berries and an unprecedentedly high concentration of 30% ultra-rich, woody patchouli. Mugler’s childhood funfair vision, brilliantly interpreted by Olivier Cresp and Yves de Chiris, will be among the stars, forever. Manfred Thierry Mugler, 1948–2022, R.I.P.

 

 

 

 

 

  1. Narciso Rodriguez For Her £59 for 30ml eau de parfum

This eau de parfum version in the soft pink bottle (as opposed to the black EDT) was created by Christine Nagel and Francis Kurkdjian in 2016. Echoing the feminine strength of Rodriguez’ empowering designs, the rose and peach melt seamlessly into a softly simmering amber and signature musk base. Seriously sexy in the most unfussy, unbuttoned way, it still makes our hearts beat faster.

 

 

 

 

  1. Nina Ricci L’Air du Temps £33.50 for 30ml eau de toilette

The first fragrance love affair for so many, it’s hard to believe this first came out in 1948, though the twin doves atop the cap (symbolising peace) make perfect sense. Perfumer Francis Fabron swathed a delicate bouquet in airy aldehydes, the clove-like spiciness of carnation and a dusting of violet and iris. Classically classy, did you know it’s worn by Clarice Starling in ‘Silence of the Lambs’?

 

 

 

  1. Ormonde Jayne Woman From £90 for 30ml eau de parfum

Socrates drank black hemlock to poison himself, but Geza Schoen used it in 2002 for a quite different effect, oodles of the absolute lending mysterious shadows to a dusky forest, otherworldly whispers amidst the verdant undergrowth, all set against the backdrop of a violet-streaked, vetiver rich, amber-tinged, sunset. It could easily conquer your heart (and anyone near).

 

 

 

 

 

  1. Penhaligon’s Halfeti £190 for 100ml eau de parfum

Inspired by a small Turkish village famed for its roses, perfumer Christian Provenzano coaxes baskets of the blooms to radiate in the hot sun. Steeped with spices, the nutmeg and oudh sweep in clouds across supple leather (and often, onto the streets, actually wafting from Penhaligon’s boutiques). That distinctive amber woodiness in the base has ensured its smash-hit status since 2015.

 

 

 

 

 

  1. Prada Infusion d’Iris £125 for 100ml eau de parfum

From the moment it launched in 2007, Daniela Andrier’s scent gained cult status. smooth and crisp all at once, cleverly reminiscent of clean linen and warm skin, neroli and mandarin make for an airy introduction to which Andrier’s fused an exquisite tapestry of elements – accenting green galbanum, cedarwood and vetiver with the almost bread-like buttery-softness of iris. Sheer genius.

 

 

 

 

  1. Robert Piguet Fracas £175 for 100ml eau de parfum

Created in 1948 by the indomitable Germaine Cellier, this remains the tuberose against which all others must be measured. Emphatically voluptuous with a heady coolness, this deliberately divisive, Baroque floral has apparently been beloved, among others, by Rita Hayworth, Brigitte Bardot, Courtney Love and Isabella Blow. In other words: shrinking flowers need not apply.

 

 

 

  1. Ruth Mastenbroek Signature From £70 for 30ml eau de parfum

British perfumer Ruth’s own memories of her life in England and her exciting travels abroad formed the basis for her first scent, fittingly named Signature for the way it so perfectly becomes part of you. A distinctively timeless Chypre that’s laced with luscious pineapple, the oakmoss and patchouli base become a warm sunshine-infused hug whenever required.

 

 

 

 

 

  1. Serge Lutens Féminité du Bois £110 for 50ml eau de parfum

Originally launched by Shiseido in 1992, during his creative tenure there, this fragrance came with him for the launch of his own ground-breaking niche perfume house, HQ-ed in Paris’s Palais-Royal, just a few years later. The genderless woody fruit accord gives us a forest of dry cedar swathing a superbly spiced plummy, lipstick-y violet.

 

 

 

 

  1. Tom Ford Black Orchid £140 for 50ml eau de parfum

An instant cult classic from its 2006 launch, famed for the seductive black truffle-infused orchid, rum soaked plums, gleaming, burnished ylang ylang and the silky, lingerie-like stroke of sandalwood and vanilla in the base. Darkly delish, devilishly moreish, Tom Ford smoothly bridged the gap between out-there edgy niche and luxe designer dreaminess. We’re still here for it.

 

 

 

 

 

  1. Viktor & Rolf Flowerbomb £65 for 30ml eau de parfum

In 2005 Viktor & Rolf veritably exploded onto the scent scene, with this immediate blockbuster putting the edgy and rule-breaking Dutch design duo firmly on the fragrance map. Traditional note structures were cast aside by Carlos Benaïm, Olivier Polge and Domitille Bertier; instead, overlapping floralcy entwined with a milky muskiness. Still the bomb.

 

 

 

 

 

  1. YSL Opium £65 for 30ml eau de parfum

In 1977 the world was seduced by this audaciously named fragrance; still controversial today, back then it caused a scandal. The opulent swathe of ambrée vanilla, by perfumers Jean Amic and Jean-Louis Sieuzac, was still shocking us in 2000, when Sophie Dahl’s infamous naked ad saw portrayed her experiencing an Opium-induced olfactory ecstasy. (As well she might.)

 

Written by Suzy Nightingale

Exclusive Chanel film: Olivier Polge & new face of Coco Mademoiselle, Whitney Peak

Whitney Peak is the new face for Chanel Coco Mademoiselle, and we are delighted to bring you an exclusive behind-the-scenes film of Whitney visiting in-house perfume creator, Olivier Polge

 

A talented actress who completely embodies the spirit of Coco Mademoiselle – and echoes the revolutionary, fashion-forward sense of Coco Chanel’s ethos – Whitney filmed much of the footage of this behind-the-scenes visit herself. In this utterly-engaging film footage, she was excited to discover the ingredients that make Coco Mademoiselle so beguiling, and exactly why the fragrance is so iconic. As you will see, during her tour of his office, and the legendary Chanel perfume lab; Whitney also put Olivier’s nose to the test…

 

 

OLIVIER POLGE – CHANEL IN-HOUSE PERFUMER-CREATOR

How would you describe the composition of the COCO MADEMOISELLE fragrance?

At CHANEL, we create fragrances based on ideas and visions. COCO MADEMOISELLE reflects this ethos, which translates to a certain abstract quality that goes beyond a list of ingredients. COCO MADEMOISELLE reveals the scent of a bold, free woman, combining the brightness of vibrant, sparkling citrus with a sensual, modern patchouli note that has been fractionated and refined. Soft jasmine and rose accords lie at the heart of the fragrance.

Tell us about the fractionated patchouli that makes COCO MADEMOISELLE so unique.

Patchouli is a very important and distinctive element of COCO MADEMOISELLE. This particular patchouli is fractionated using a technique that was developed by CHANEL and that revolutionized the way fragrance is created. It allows us to refine the raw material so that only the purest fractions remain. This lends it an elegant, sophisticated feel.

 

 

 

 

What makes COCO MADEMOISELLE so special and timeless?

When it was first released, COCO MADEMOISELLE defied convention in a way that was ahead of its time. In the early 2000s, when fresh and light fragrances were very much in style, COCO MADEMOISELLE brought more intense scents back into fashion.
Its abstract nature has enabled it to transcend the era in which it was created, like all CHANEL fragrances. COCO MADEMOISELLE is not the expression of a single ingredient, but rather of a style. And as Gabrielle Chanel said: “Fashion goes out of fashion. Style never.”

How would you describe COCO MADEMOISELLE to someone who has never smelled it before?

It can be difficult to put a scent into words. When I smell COCO MADEMOISELLE, there is something vibrant about it. It evokes a feeling of effervescence. It makes me think of a young woman who is expressing herself freely, moving as if wind was blowing around her. To me, it always feels full of life and energy.

 

 

 

 

In your opinion, what role does fragrance play in our everyday lives?

Fragrance has an extraordinary ability to evoke things in people and recall memories from their lives; it’s one of the aspects of my job that I enjoy most. Fragrance reaches us on a very intimate level, and I think that is what makes it so powerful. I often hear extremely personal stories about cities people lived in, memories of loved ones—we have so many anecdotes about fragrances. We tend to personify them.

Fragrance is a connection to the world around us, a way of portraying ourselves to the world; it expresses our personality just like the clothes we wear or our mannerisms. Fragrance reveals yet another facet, something that cannot be conveyed any other way.

 

 

 

 

What words come to mind to describe Whitney Peak?

Whitney is a free-spirited, joyful young woman as well as a very talented actress. She is the embodiment of COCO MADEMOISELLE.

 

 

Chanel Coco Mademoiselle £126 for 100ml eau de toilette
chanel.com

I-SPY Scents – 50 fragrances everyone should sniff

From bestsellers to treasures from niche names, Suzy Nightingale suggests 50 fragrances we think you should be sure to sniff out – and what better time to begin than in National Fragrance Week?

 

Those of us who love fragrance are always seeking out the new, the exciting, the just-launched. But it’s sometimes easy to overlook the exquisite creations that are right under our noses. Think of the following as akin to one of those i-SPY books we loved as kids, in which we’d patiently check off lists of ‘must-see’ birds, cathedrals, native shrubs or whatever fuelled our childhood passions.

In The Scented Letter Magazine, issue 50, we published a longer article called ‘50 Fragrant Icons‘, which we are THRILLED to say has made the shortlist of finalists for a Jasmine Award!

[PSST! Sign up here so you get every copy of the magazine sent to your inbox for free!]

Here, we present the first half of those 50 fragrances we believe you simply must seek out (we’ll be sharing the second half of the scent list next week) with direct links so you can explore and find out more. Now, get those blotters ready (and note down those you like the sound of so you can tick off your own 50 fragrances I-Spy list…

 

 

  1. 4160 Tuesdays The Sexiest Scent On the Planet Ever (IMHO) £55 for 100ml eau de parfum 

Founder and perfumer Sarah McCartney created this in 2013 as a bespoke fragrance for a VIP event, with a journalist present declaring it to be ‘the sexiest scent ever!’ And thus, a star fragrance was born. Hints of citrus, smooth vanilla, soft woodiness and musky ambergris form an unassuming but undeniably addictive blend that will have you exuding the sensuality of its name.

 

  1. Acqua di Parma Colonia £58 for 20ml eau de Cologne

A timeless symbol of Italian chic, Colonia dates from 1916 and was first used to scent gentlemen’s handkerchiefs. With fragrant fans including Cary Grant, David Niven, and Audrey Hepburn, it’s as if you’ve wandered into an Italian sunlit idyll. Sicilian citrus, bergamot, lemon, sweet and bitter oranges infuse your soul with golden sunshine, the warm base cashmere soft. Bliss, bottled.

 

 

 

 

 

  1. Angela Flanders Precious One from £32 for 10ml eau de parfum

Awarded Best New Independent Fragrance 2012 by the Fragrance Foundation UK, this was London-based perfumer Angela Flanders’s homage to her daughter, Kate. An even more special tribute given Angela’s passing, and Kate taking on the role of perfumer. The exquisite floral accord rests on a base of softest oakmoss, layers of smoky vetiver unfurling their classically cool, deeply intriguing charms.

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. Bvlgari Eau Parfumée au Thé Vert £81 for 75ml eau de Cologne

Setting the trend for green tea-infused scents, this chicly refreshing fragrance launched in 1992. The pared-back elegance of cool herbaceousness (cardamom atop citrus and coriander) is down to master perfumer Jean-Claude Ellena. An olfactory haiku, the citrus segues seamlessly to the lucent lily of the valley, jasmine and rose heart, the tea effortlessly steamed in musky woods. Genius.

 

 

 

 

 

  1. Byredo Flowerhead £135 for 50ml eau de parfum

Although this made its debut in 2014, founder Ben Gorham had the idea six years previously ‘when I gave my cousin away at her Indian wedding.’ Capturing the vision of an Indian bride’s hair covered in floral decorations, perfumer Jérôme Épinette’s creation pulses with tuberose, wild jasmine, rose petals, Scandinavian lingonberry and Sicilian lemon on a suede-wrapped amber base.

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. Calvin Klein CK ONE £48 for 100ml eau de toilette 

The world’s love for Calvin Klein clothing, accessories and fragrances was at its peak in the 90s, the revolutionary fragrance hitting the shelves in 1994 and immediately making its mark, with $60 million global sales in three months. Ultra-fresh, a first-of-its kind unisex eau de toilette, the Steven Meisel ads starring Kate Moss perfectly evoked its insouciant, aromatic aquatic sexiness.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. Carolina Herrera 212 NYC £49 for 30ml eau de toilette

Carolina Herrera de Báez (Carolina Jr) joined her mother’s empire in 1996, just one year later launching this ‘spirit of New York, bottled’ scent, having grown up amidst an artistic landscape of impeccable style and a ‘language of aromas.’ Alberto Morillas wove a youthful exuberance into airy gardenia and jasmine, the soft, musky sandalwood dry-down a testament to vibrant, urban modernity.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. Cartier La Panthère £62 for 35ml eau de parfum

Brilliant in-house perfumer Mathilde Laurent is everyone’s girl-crush: a woman’s woman who suffuses the house’s heritage with so-cool yet achievable stylishness. Embracing tart fruitiness with gardenia, rose and ylang ylang atop an animalistic purr of patchouli, oakmoss and leather, this gracefully rebellious ‘symbol of freedom’ was a modern classic the moment it first miaowed in 2014.

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. Chanel No5 £65 for 35ml eau de parfum

Recognisable the world over by bottle alone, this iconic fragrance celebrated its 100th birthday last year. Back in 1921 (and ever since), what really set No5 apart was its abstract construction. Legend has it that perfumer Ernest Beaux put an ‘overdose’ of aldehydes (sparkling, Champagne-like notes) in the bottle; while we’ll never know if that was true, the rest is fragrance history – and its future!

 

 

 

  1. Chloe £84 for 50ml eau de parfum

Already known for their flirty, feminine womenswear, Chloe’s debut scent launched in 1975 under the umbrella of Karl Lagerfeld. When time came to create a signature for a new generation, it needed to embody the fresh, confident femininity that’s in Chloé‘s DNA. Thus in 2008, Amandine Clerc-Marie and Michel Almairac dappled delicate peony with a cool, dewy fruitiness for a fluidly graceful go-to.

 

  1. Clarins Eau Dynamisante £39 for 100ml spray

Long before today’s natural beauty trend, 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. Hydrating, toning, and revivifying via essential oils of lemon, patchouli, petitgrain, ginseng and white tea, it’s immediately mood-lifting.

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. Creed Aventus £210 for 50ml eau de parfum

CREED‘s most celebrated fragrance became a true sensation on its launch in 2010, an unusual pairing of succulent pineapple and smoky birch with further fragrant juxtapositions of blackcurrant and rose, apple and jasmine. Inspired by the dramatic life of Napoleon, it’s become (and remained) a blockbuster for its inventive, unapologetic drama and unconventional boldness of spirit.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. Dior Eau Sauvage £69 for 50ml eau de toilette

Christian Dior’s scented legacy has endured long beyond his too-short lifetime. To follow legendary Miss Dior and Diorissimo, in 1966 Edmond Roudnitska was entrusted with this zingy yet ethereal, utterly enthralling cologne-style creation. His clarity of composition – bright, crisp lemon and verdant herbs up top, balanced by a handsomely dry vetiver base – remains a wardrobe must-have.

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. Diptyque Philosykos £125 for 100ml eau de toilette 

Making fig fabulously fashionable in 1996, Olivia Giacobetti lapped the crunchy, vegetal nature of fig leaf with a silky milkiness that spoke of humid exoticism and fragrant escapes. Rippled with coconut, comforted by the pencil-shavings note of cedar’s woodiness as it warms, we know many a perfumista who reached for this during lockdowns, and will be wearing for decades to come!

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. Escentric Molecule 01 £50 for 30ml eau de parfum

In 2006, the idea of having a fragrance containing but a single, synthetic ingredient was startling. Maverick perfumer and founder Geza Schoen admits he thought, ‘This one will appeal only to the artists, the freaks, the outsiders.’ He was wrong; the world went crazy for the ISO E Super – that warm, fuzzy comfort of nuzzling your lover’s neck and leaning in for more, more, more.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. Estée Lauder Youth Dew £55 for 67ml eau de parfum

Launched in 1953, this had a clever dual-purpose: ‘…a bath oil that doubled as a skin perfume.’ Because although it was then considered déclassé for a woman to buy her own fragrance, as Esteé Lauder herself once said, ‘it was feminine, all-American, very girl-next-door to take baths…’ This spicy floral simmers with incense and rich (almost cola-esque) resins: the scent of subversiveness!

 

 

 

 

FLORAL_STREET_ELECTRIC_RHUBARB

 

 

 

  1. Floral Street Electric Rhubarb from £28 for 10ml eau de parfum

This British fragrance house has blown us away with their fun, modern take on fragrances, the charmingly luminous effervescence of Electric Rhubarb a case in point. Perfumer Jérôme Épinette [the nose for all their scents] created this in collaboration with the Royal Horticultural Society. Think summer days sipping Prosecco – rhubarb’s fizz, sea salt and white flowers an enlivening, joyous jolt.

 

 

  1. Floris Chypress from £17 for 10ml eau de parfum

Chypre is one of the most classic fragrance families, but in 2017, Floris gave it a swoon-worthy twist, with sunshine-filled neroli dancing with the soapy brightness of bergamot, lemon and sweet orange until the heart proffers a floral bouquet. Then, as the lights dim and flicker, a va-va-voom yet never cloying vanilla, transparent muskiness, amber and patchouli are chicly revealed.

 

 

 

 

Frederic Malle's Portrait of a Lady perfume

 

 

 

 

  1. Frédéric Malle Portrait of a Lady from £138 for 30ml eau de parfum

Once Monsieur Malle took the step of putting perfumer’s names on the bottles, these once-hidden noses became olfactory rock stars. Dominique Ropion had crafted iconic fragrances for years, but with the overtly sensual, dark rose, berries and sinuous patchouli of 2010’s ‘POAL’ (as it’s oft known), he created the decadent scent trail of many a perfumista, and Malle’s bestseller.

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. Giorgio Armani Si £65 for 30ml eau de parfum

Giorgio Armani describes as ‘my tribute to modern femininity, an irresistible combination of grace, strength and independent spirit.’ It’s a masterful ‘reinvention’ of that so-classic Chypre family for a contemporary new audience. Captivating the senses with its three accords – fruity cassis nectar, a modern Chypre accord, and light musky woods – it’s sophisticated yet utterly unfussy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. Goutal Eau d’Hadrien £143 for 100ml eau de parfum

If there was an award for ‘Most Mentioned Signature Fragrance by Celebrities’, Goutal’s Eau d’Hadrien would probably win the gold medal – and with good reason. In a timelessly intriguing, deceptively simple take on freshness, mouth-watering citrus, ylang ylang and sparkling, soapy aldehydes evoke Annick’s beloved Italian garden. Way ahead of its time in 1981, it’s just as relevant now.

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. Guerlain Shalimar £69 for 30ml eau de parfum

Incredibly over 100 years old. Its creator Jacques Guerlain’s reign lasted 65 fragrance-filled years and included many a masterpiece (Mitsouko, how we adore thee!) Imagine here a silky pair of 1920s pyjamas worn with heels to a party, citrus swirled with honeyed, night-blooming flowers, powdery iris on a vanilla-plumped base, incense on the breeze: the perfect perfumed romance.

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. Hermès Terre d’Hermès £71 for 50ml eau de toilette

Master perfumer Jean-Claude Ellena’s back catalogue could likely fill a list of ‘50 fragrances you should try’ in its own right, but the standout success of this when it launched in 2006 has shown no signs of slowing. Why? It’s the so-structured woodiness that’s riven with vivacious grapefruit, the sheer spices enlivened by a suavely handsome, distinctly flinty vetiver. Sublime.

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. Issey Miyake L’Eau d’Issey £46 for 20ml eau de toilette

Reinventing the scent of water to become chicly covetable, as only Issey Miyake truly could. The beautiful transparency of lotus flower and freesia is rippled through with lightly handled lily, rose and carnation; perfumer Jacques Cavallier then delicately dusted peony petals and rested the composition on a smoothly woody base tickled by a swirl of white musk. It still whispers, beguilingly.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. Jean Paul Gaultier Le Male £42.50 for 40ml eau de toilette

Created by now well-known fragrant maestro Francis Kurkdjian while fresh out of perfumery school, it was quite the olfactory debut in 1995. Taking the outlines of a traditional fougére, the lavender and mint are salt-licked and distinctly salacious, while vanilla, almond-like tonka bean and orange-blossom are positively addictive, and the cumin naughtily skin-like. Ahoy there!

 

Jasmine Awards 2023 Finalists (and why we’re squealing with joy!)

The Fragrance Foundation Jasmine Awards 2023 finalists have just been announced, so if you heard a high-pitched sound and dashed to check your fire alarm batteries didn’t need changing – worry not: it was merely the sound of The Perfume Society team squealing with joy!

The Fragrance Foundation says: ‘Launched in the UK in 1990 the Jasmine Awards are recognised as the most prestigious journalistic awards in the beauty industry. They recognise and reward the talents of journalists & visualisers whose difficult task it is to translate the complex art of perfumery into words and pictures.’

We are thrilled to have FIVE nominations this year, for articles published in our magazine, The Scented Letter (sign up to get your FREE digital copy, here, if you’ve not done so already), and for our blog. Amidst such talented company as the other incredible nominees, and with so many submissions the prestigious judging panel had to work their way through, we are full to the fragrant brim with gratitude for this recognition, and send huge congratulations to ALL of the finalists…

 

Jasmine Awards 2021

Practical Guide:

The Scented Letter magazine50 Perfume Icons, by Suzy Nightingale

The Scented Letter magazineAny Colour, So Long As It’s Green, by Jo Fairley

The Scented Letter magazineTime to Spray your 5 a Day, by Suzy Nightingale

@FabulousmagHow to Smell Expensive (Without Breaking the Bank), by Tara Ledden

 

 

The Jasmine Awards 2021

 

Short Piece:

Perfume Society blogChapter & Verse: fragrances inspired by literature, by Suzy Nightingale

The Scented Letter magazineIt Takes Me Right Back (To the Hardware Store), by Jan Masters

@CountryandTownHouse – The Green, Green, Grasse, by Jan Masters

@BeautyMatterofficial – Safety in Numbers: The Henry Rose Team on a New Era of Ingredient Transparency, by Carla Seipp

How to Spend it (Financial Times)Help, I’ve Been Discontinued… by Mark C O’Flaherty

 

 

The Jasmine Awards 2021

 

Creativity:

Instagram, All The Perfumes I Wore Last WeekSali Hughes

Instagram, Desert Island (little) Spritz with Poppy du ParcqAlice du Parcq

Instagram, Desert Island Spritz, My Top 10 Guerlain FavouritesAlice du Parcq

Instagram, Slutty PerfumesSali Hughes

@OnTheScentPodcast, Scented Story Time & Perfume Prescriptions (Episode 56) – Suzy Nightingale & Nicola Bonn

 

 

The Jasmine Awards 2021

 

 

Rising Star:

@FabulousmagHow to Smell Expensive (Without Breaking the Bank), by Tara Ledden

Harrods (Instagram Stories)Trending Oud Scents to Try Immediately, by Shannan Sterne

Harrods MagazineWhat’s the Hype?, by Nateisha Scott

 

 

Meanwhile, we are also excited to share with you the HOT OFF THE PRESS just-launched edition of The Scented Letter magazine, which you can have sent straight to your inbox by signing up here, and purchase gorgeous glossy print copies of, here!

Get #smellfie ready for International Fragrance Day – Tuesday 21st March!

Get your #smellfie ready to post on Tuesday 21st March to celebrate International Fragrance Day and you could be in with a chance of winning FABULOUS fragrance bundle worth over £500!

[Prize draw only open to U.K. residents because of postal restrictions, sorry! But we love seeing how many people around the world take part each year.]

Ever since we first came up with the #smellfie concept we’ve been asking people to celebrate their favourite fragrances on this day, with bloggers, celebrities and perfume lovers from around the world getting involved by posting. Because it’s not about competing (although of course the prize is lovely) – it’s about showing how much fragrance truly means to us, and sharing that perfume passion.

 

 

This year we have ONE bumper bundle of fragrance worth over £500 for our most favourite entry. (Sadly, we are unable to ship outside the UK, so the winner will be chosen from UK residents.)

If you’d like some inspiration, the theme for this year is ‘finding the new you’ through your fragrance, be it mysticism or a journey of self-discovery – how does your fragrance make you feel? Interpret this how you wish – or not at all –will you be devilish? Or daring? Or demure? Or dreamy? Or dynamic?

Please spread the word and share the love with friends, family and colleagues around the globe on this delightful day of perfume appreciation.

What is a #smellfie? A selfie with your favourite fragrance. It’s that easy.

 

 

 BE AS FUN & CREATIVE AS YOU DARE!

In past years, some people have gone to town and dressed in all manner of incredible costumes or clever shots, but they don’t have to be complicated – we just love seeing your faces and hearing a little bit about why you chose that fragrance.

 

 

How to post on TUESDAY 21st March 2023:

On Instagram: hashtag #smellfie and tag @theperfumesociety in your photo

On Facebook: hashtag #smellfie and tag @ThePerfumeSociety in your photo

 

We can’t WAIT to see which fragrances you choose for your #smellfie on Tuesday, March 21st! – don’t forget to use that hashtag, and @ to make sure we see them all. Until then, we’ll be wondering which of our scents to choose…

By Suzy Nightingale

Green with En Vie – verdant, leafy, joyful fragrances

Just when we thought the grey drizzle would be here forever, (just as we do every year around this time), suddenly there’s a green gasp of true spring in the air – a verdant pop of buds bursting, and a euphoria induced simply by looking at delicate, lime-coloured leaves unfurling.

Rather wonderfully, that new-leaf obsession is sometimes referred to as a ‘chlorophyll rush’, and it does almost feel as though we’re drugged with the joy of revival, so greedily do our eyes drink in the green, the newness of things, signs of life – of hope – re-emerging. In fragrances, green may be expressed as freshly-cut fleshy stalks in a florist’s shop, that insistent quickening of the blood in all living things as the sap rises.

 

 

As a colour, we have a peculiar relationship with green. As well as being the colour of spring, it can be classed as an unlucky colour that ‘belongs to the fairies’ and other mythological forest-dwellers, or the unsettling Pagan figure of ‘the green man’. It’s the ‘green-eyed monster’ of jealous rage, and the ‘green fairy’ of Absinthe addiction, too. Conversely, green can mean lucky – being associated with clover/shamrocks and St Patrick’s Day celebrations; or naïve, raw, young and inexperienced, and more recently, natural, organic – and indicating a belief in sustainable living.

 

 

As a smell, ‘green’ can brashly thrust or softly beckon, depending on the perfumer’s proclivities. The ultimate ‘green’ note in fragrance is called galbanum. It’s been used for centuries – millennia, actually, dating back to Biblical times, with the ancient Roman and Greeks burning galbanum-laden incense sticks, scenting their baths, adding to soothing skin balms, and also as a personal perfume.

Woody yet alive with the smell of clean, damp earth and the icily pure air of a mountain forest, galbanum essential oil is obtained via steam distillation of resin from the umbelliferous plant Ferula galbaniflua, native to Iran, Turkey and some neighbouring countries, and from a near-relative, Ferula gummosa. The plant looks a little like fennel and angelica, with a starburst of yellow flowers – but slice the stalk, and out oozes a milky juice, released by the plant to heal itself.

Other notes used to evoke this breath-of-fresh-air-through-an-open-window include green teagrass, herbs, vines and leavesviolet leaf, for instance, provides an intriguing, almost mystical verdancy of woodland walks, while an accord representing tomato leaf is more astringent, slightly bitter, but evokes in many of us blissful childhood memories of greenhouses, and exploring a garden with all your senses. Geranium leaf, meanwhile, is lemony, quite potently fruity/herbaceous or even camphorously minty. Cassis (blackcurrant) is the distilled absolute of the blackcurrant buds and leaves, a.k.a.  bourgeons de cassis (say it ‘boor-shon da cassee’): a light, fruity, woody note with a slightly animalic edge adored by those of us who appreciate its musky undertones – assiduously avoided by those who detest what they perceive as ‘tom cat’ notes in perfumes.

 

 

When cassis is used unapologetically stridently within a fragrance, and particularly when mosses and earthy patchouli are used to ground the composition; it can take on the more vintage air of a ‘green chypre’ – fragrances that are less Laura Ashley springtime picnic and more Wickerman meets Working Girl in nature. (I think if the music video for Radiohead’s song If You Say The Word were scented, it would be a wonderfully weird green chypre. Have a peek, above, if you’ve no idea what I’m talking about.)

Whichever shade of green scent you feel most drawn towards, I urge you to seek out some of my suggestions here, because they can freshen up your fragrance wardrobe and drag you by the collar out of the grey blah or blanketing wintery perfumes you’ve perhaps become accustomed to. Get some of that chlorophyl rush going with these…

 

 

 

SISLEY – L’EAU RÊVÉE D’HUBERT

An utterly sublime shot of cool, garden air to shake off the cobwebs. The geranium here is incredible quality, slightly minty, with a hint of rosiness (they call it ‘the male rose’ for its more textural, herbaceous furriness) and wrapped in savoury, peppery, grounding shiso leaf, papyrus and loamy patchouli.

£81 for 50ml eau de toilette harrods.com

 

 

 

VYRAO – I AM VERDANT

Sprouting forth greenery with every spritz, this sings of spring from the get-go, with cyclamen joyously bursting through the undergrowth, swags of moss-bedecked ivy draping the powdery comfort of iris, and bergamot bolstering the brightness of orange flower absolute. The kind of scent that just makes you beam.

£135 for 50ml eau de parfum selfridges.com

(Try a sample in the Vyrao High Five Set for £79)

 

 

 

LALIQUE_IMPERIAL_GREEN

 

LALIQUE LES COMPOSITIONS PARFUMÉES – IMPERIAL GREEN

Glorious greenery rendered luxurious, neroli is co-distilled here with ‘a secret molecule’ to amplify its fresh facets, while Ambroxan (the ‘secret’?) adds lengthening shadows in flower meadows. All anchored by grassy vetiver essence and the pared-back, almost aquatic green clarity of Patchouli Heart, it’s a grower.

£190 for 100ml eau de parfum lalique.com

 

 

 

 

CONTRADICTIONS IN ILK – NATURE

Imagine a city at sunrise, dew-speckled wildflowers shoving through cracks in walls and pavements, nature staking its claim via tangles of green ivy, sudden shocks of orange marigold, magnolia trees in private gardens, geraniums and nettles nestled on pathways, earth’s scent, keeping us (somewhat!) sane.

£165 for 50ml extrait de parfum SHOP

(Try a sample in the Contradictions in ILK Discovery Set for £48)

 

 

ERIS_PARFUMS_GREEN_SPELL

 

ERIS PARFUMS – GREEN SPELL

Living up to an ULTRA green promise, vibrant mandarin is squeezed over sharp blackcurrant absolute with Iranian galbanum and violet leaf absolute thrusting of snapped stalks and sap-drenched blooms. Tomato leaf shines with photorealistic phosphorescence, while narcissus and fig leaf nestle and nurture the base.

£115 for 50ml eau de parfum saintecellier.com

Written by Suzy Nightingale

Spring Scent-Scape Your Home

With a new season unfurling on the breeze, tender leaves poking through (sometimes still frosted) soil and buds, well, budding; we’re joyously welcoming spring and using the opportunity to change-up the way we’re scenting our homes. We feel, since lockdown and with so many still Working From Home, that most of us now understand that candles certainly aren’t just for Christmas or the colder, darker months anymore.

Nowadays, we adore punctuating the hours by lighting differing scented candles to match the season (and our mood), and perfuming our homes with diffusers, incense and yes – even pot pourri is having an olfactory moment once again!

Here, we offer suggestions for how to layer your home fragrances, and point you toward some that feel so-right for right now – casting off the heavier, swaddling scents we’ve loved and lived with the last few months and getting ready for lighter, brighter perfumes wafting as we WFH…

 

How to Scent-Scape:

Expert Maxine Brady says: ‘Scent Scaping is an up and coming trend I’ve seen really grow the last few months. It’s about using aroma and scents to zone our homes, either room by room or during differing times of the day. I like using a different fragrance in the morning to evening. I like decorating a home with candles and diffusers, and arrange them much as I would art in a room, to bring them to life. I never think a room is finished until I put a candle on my sideboard.

Lately our homes have been our whole world – that’s a lot of pressure on our surroundings, and it’s hard to set boundaries, so using home fragrance allows me to transfer from a work space feel to a more homely escape. It’s a very clever way to balance our mental health as well as making our homes smell beautiful.’

 

Use your nose as well as your eyes to decorate your home. Perhaps a hallway is where you put a lovely diffuser to welcome your guests and having it smell gorgeous at all times? As a decorating tool, home scents are a really clever way to bring up & coming trends into your home without changing all the furnishings! Use complimentary coloured vessels to your wallpaper or furnishing colours. People are loving sharing #shellfies on social media.

Use aroma to mark the changing seasons. Fresher sunny scents in summer, and warmer woodier scents in colder seasons. Changing those scents and bringing them into your house really helps stop one day blending into another. According to John Lewis, the average online searches for home scents went up by 600%. For diffusers, the searches were up by over 1000% A candle is an instant pick me up when you need a treat.” Michelle: “I like to use home fragrance to enhance my mood or to change up my mood.”

Create an indoor garden bringing the outdoors in. We know home plants have become incredibly important – the flow between spaces can be between your garden and indoors. Dot plants and succulents around a diffuser – reuse the containers when empty as plant pots or the diffusers as mini vases.

Press the reset button with the power of scent. After a busy and stressful day, it can be hard to mark a line between weekdays and your weekends – reclaim your home and say the weekend starts now. Clear away work things, laptops from tables, shove the kids toys in a box and light a candle as a scene-setter and mood re-setter.

Maxine Says: ‘All these tips are ideal if you rent rather than own, because you’re unable to change wallpaper and paint, or sometimes even furnishings, you can make the space your own by stamping your personality with home scents…’

What We’re Burning:

 

 

La Montaña Cloud Burst £39 for 220g

Spring showers are, of course, a feature of the weather this season, but Cloudburst is inspired by the mountainside after a summer storm, when the rain clouds part and strong sunshine lances through, stirring up a heavy mist of fragrance. In this haze, notes from our herb garden mingle with fresh citrus from our lemon and lime trees, along with the signature fragrances of the wild mountainside. We’ve always thought of this as a sister fragrance to First Light; in First Light it’s all clarity and freshness, whereas Cloudburst seems older and wiser – but just as beautiful.

 

 

La Montaña Wisteria £39 for 220g

We have a long history with wisteria, from the flower-festooned walls in Granada on our first wedding anniversary to the wisteria we tried to grow in a pot next to our front door in England. But now (finally!) we have it growing abundantly in our garden here in Spain and it’s a divine scent that says ‘home’ to us. Wisteria is a stunning, one-of-a-kind fragrance anywhere, but when it’s flowering in pure mountain air, the beauty of its perfume is life-affirming.

STORIES Nº.01 Bougie Parfumée Scented Candle Trio £95 for 3 x 70g

Stories No.1 was the transformative beginning of founder Tonya’s healing journey through scent and travel, telling ‘the uplifting story of sorrow transformed into beauty, of the dark yielding to the light.’ So, woodiness and amber swoons with swirling blossom notes on a breeze. A limited edition, sustainably made, scented candle trio, inspired by the individual top, heart and base notes of STORIES Nº.01 Eau de Parfum – reflecting the top, heart and base notes of STORIES Nº.01 fragrance; inspired yet not identical, with some creative tweaks.

STORIES Nº.02 Bougie Parfumée Scented Candle Trio £95 for 3 x 70g

For 02, Tonya reached further back in her fragrant memories to recollections of her own childhood, evoking joyful days spent in her grandfather’s garden. ‘In the greenhouse, rose bushes stood among orange trees, on which blossom and fruit grew in tandem,’ Tonya recalls, with pots of patchouli lining the patio, which she had the sensation and scent memory of rubbing the leaves on to her wrists. In this trio, you will discover plumes of perfumed garden memories which bring the outdoors in so, so beautifully.

 

Written by Suzy Nightingale

Fragrances For… Mother’s (and others!) Day

This Mother’s Day we’re not only celebrating mothers (as many can have fractured relationships or, through loss, find this day difficult); but suggesting we honour any of the women who have been mother-figures to us. These are women who’ve guided you, given you hugs when you most needed them, and who you know you can turn to when things get tough. What better way to say ‘Thank you!’ than with one of these gorgeous fragrances…?

 

 

CARINE ROITFLED Carine (Limited Edition)

A wearable hug of patchouli, vetiver and cashmere will wrap around the lucky person who receives this so-chic, yet ultra-comforting scent, while in the heart a bouquet of white flowers sprinkled with pink pepper unfurls. This feels like a fragrant embodiment of the strength of women, and within this love-bedecked limited edition flacon, your message (in a bottle) will be treasured all the more.

Exclusively in-store at Harrods

 

 

ACQUA DI PARMA Signatures of the Sun Magnolia Infinita

Magnolia continues its reign as one of the key ingredients du jour, in a radiant floral that envelops you in sumptuous, sun-speckled kindness. Breathe in luminous citrus elements of orange and lemon before the encounter between sambac jasmine and magnolia, rose and ylang ylang, in the heart. Skin-warmed, Magnolia Infinita reveals sensuous undertones of musk and patchouli. Seriously lovely: what a gift!

From £212 for 100ml eau de parfum selfridges.com

 

 

 

BVLGARI Rose Goldea Blossom Delight

Yet again, Alberto Morillas casts a spell here, proffering a gorgeous bouquet of violet leaf, rosebuds, rose petals and lily of the valley, underpinned by white musks. That apparent simplicity, however, belies an audacity: this is not one for shrinking violets (or even shrinking rosebuds, come to that), but an elegant, empowering floral for a woman utterly at ease in her skin, as unabashedly feminine as a fragrance can be.

£104 for 75ml eau de parfum fenwick.co.uk

 

 

 

JIMMY CHOO I Want Choo Forever

We’re loving the trend of a dark shade of cherry fruitiness rippling through the fragrance world right now. Encased in the mossy softness of the base notes, this offers a juicy juxtaposition with rose – a glamorous garnish to the cocktail of the composition, the initial hit of which is a boozy, black cherry liquor. Who better than to gift this scent to than whichever (seriously glam, we’re guessing!) woman inspired you most?

£47 for 40ml eau de parfum theperfumeshop.com

 

 

 

 

ANGELA FLANDERS Precious One

This exquisite jasmine/tuberose, which gradually softens to a green chypre, won a Fragrance Foundation Award for Best New Independent Fragrance in 2012. Now, through her talented daughter, Kate Evans, who took on the house and role of perfumer after her mother’s passing; Angela’s legacy endures. This is a beautiful fragrance to wear at any time, but how even more precious to gift to your ‘mum’ figure, now…

£75 for 30ml eau de parfum angelaflanders-perfumer.com

International Women’s Day – Five Fabulous Female Perfumers *and* Founders

For International Women’s Day this year, we’re celebrating some of the incredible women who are not only perfumers, but who’ve founded their own independent houses; who haven’t merely survived one of the most difficult times in living memory for small businesses, but are, quite frankly, thriving!

There’s no doubt things have changed a lot in recent years.

There are reportedly more women now joining the famous French perfumery school, ISIPCA, than men – an about-face for the time women in the perfume industry were either not employed at all, or remained somewhat faceless behind-the-scenes as their male peers were lauded as genius perfumers in gleaming white lab coats, then the respectable (and respected) face of fragrance.

The perfume world – and all fragrance fans – have many pioneering women to thank for the centuries they spent, tirelessly working their way to the top. So, for International Women’s Day, here are just a few strong, creative, amazing women we’d like to put our hands together for – and whom we should all celebrate, not just today, but every single time we spritz…

 

 

Maya Njie

Maya Njie (pronounced ‘Maia N-Jai’) has diverse familial and artistic roots, having been born in Västerås Sweden, with a West African heritage, and moving to London in her teens where she went in to study at the University of the Arts. Weaving together these threads via the medium of the senses, Maya began experimenting with smell alongside the the visual mediums of colour and photography. Gaining global fans around the world, and offering Pocket Size perfumes, we are thrilled to welcome Maya Njie at The Perfume Society, and know you’ll adore exploring her creations.

 

 

Ruth Mastenbroek

Ruth was born in England, spent some of her childhood in America, and graduated with a Chemistry degree from Oxford University. Having been classically trained in Grasse, she’d studied alongside brilliant perfumers such as Olivier Cresp, who created Angel, and Jacques Cavallier who created the Jean Paul Gaultier ‘Classique’ fragrance. Having travelled extensively, and been president of The British Society of Perfumers; Ruth launched a capsule collection of scented products before weaving scent memories we could all wear. Ruth’s perfumes are shamelessly romantic, but still with a contemporary edge, and we’re always thrilled (and proud!) to wear them.

 

 

Emmanuelle Moeglin Experimental Perfume Club

Completing her extensive training at the French perfumery school of ISIPCA, Emanuelle worked as a Scent Design Manager for various global fragrance brands, then become an independent perfumer based in London. Wanting to make the fragrance world more inclusive, she runs incredibly popular workshops which led to her own expending line of so-clever, utterly wearable (alone, or to mix your own signature) exceptionally exciting scents; and now (since lockdown) opened the world out further by crafting perfume courses online, suited to every level of experience.

 

 

Sarah McCartney4160 Tuesdays

I didn’t want to make perfume as a child; I wanted to be a witch,’ says Sarah McCartney, founder and perfumer of the gloriously unconventional 4160 Tuesdays. Having written a novel about perfumes, readers asked if she could create the scents she’d invented, ‘This turned out to be impossible – and pretty expensive – because no one was making exactly what I wanted, so I started another quest to see of I could make them instead.’ And so she rolled up her sleeves and did just that. Always inventive, collaborating with artists, appearing at festivals – here energy and creative output is astounding.

 

 

Nancy Meiland

Apprenticed to one of the UK’s experts in custom perfumery, Nancy began her career training with that esteemed perfumer and creating bespoke fragrances for private clients. Many might have stuck to that path, but Nancy dared to chase her dream and make it reality – all the while, dividing her time between town and country and raising a family. Now with her own exquisite artisanal line, and a beautiful boutique in Brighton, she has the knack of conjuring emotional responses with lyrical fragrances that are contemplative yet so effortlessly sophisticated. And yes, she still makes custom fragrances for clients, too!

 

Written by Suzy Nightingale

John Bailey – A Fragrant Epitaph

It was with great sadness we learned that John Bailey, former President of The British Society of Perfumers and renowned artisan perfumer of The Perfumers Guild, died on Wednesday 22nd February 2023.

John was one of the kindest and most insightful men in the entire fragrance industry. He was generous with that extensive experience and vast knowledge, too, and could always be relied on to help us with research – often throwing in scented snippets of information that made us gasp. Jo Fairley, who co-founded The Perfume Society, and counted John as a dear friend, commented:

‘John was a life force within the industry, and his passion for perfumery was unrivalled. Those of us who knew and respected him will miss him – and his scented missives! – very much.’

The British Society of Perfumers statement read:

As one member of the society put it: ”John was the beating heart of the British Society of Perfumers”. He joined the society in 2009 and was president from 2012 to 2014. He was only the second President to take on two years at the helm after Robert Favre in 1963.

During his Presidency John was the driving force behind the writing and publication of the book celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the BSP. He remained active on Council and organised several recent events including the visit to the lavender farm in 2022.

John was the first to receive the title of Honorary Ambassador to the Society. He took on this role with gusto, giving new members a warm welcome and keeping in touch with friends of the Society. He had a passion for the history of perfumery especially in the UK and researched a number of brands. His career in perfumery included working for Stafford Allen, Naarden International and RC Treatt. This wealth of experience lead him to found his independent consultancy; The Perfume Guild in 1981.

With sorrow for his passing and joy for a life well lived.💔’

 

 

You can read our review of that brilliant book in the link, above. It’s utterly essential reading for anyone interested in perfumery, and yet represents a scented slice of his encyclopedic knowledge.

Some years ago, Jo Fairley and I had the great pleasure of spending a day with John at his home, in order to interview him for our #ShareMyStash feature for The Scented Letter Magazine. It was a joyous day of sniffing and reminiscing which we will never forget, and we can think of no better way than for us all to remember John than to share that piece with you, here…

 

 

‘Barbara Cartland had me fragrancing her bookmarks and scenting her letters’

‘It’s not about what’s in the bottle ­– it’s also the stories and the people behind them’

 

[This feature was originally published in issue 28 of The Scented Letter Magazine]

Celebrating his 90th birthday this year, John Bailey has had an unrivalled professional career – spanning an incredible seven decades of scent. As you might expect, along the way, this fragrance expert, scent historian and behind-the-scenes consultant to leading brands around the world has amassed quite a collection – which he shared with Suzy Nightingale…

Photos: Jo Fairley

 

There’s nobody quite like John Bailey. It isn’t just the sky blue eyes, still twinkling mischievously as he enters his 10th decade. It isn’t simply the way he lavishly perfumes the handwritten letters he still likes to send (including, regularly to The Perfume Society). And it isn’t just the length of his career which makes John unique in perfume circles, but the breadth. He began as a ‘lowly laboratory assistant’, as John puts it, apprenticed at the age of 14, and worked his way through all the key companies in the perfume world.

Later, he rose to become Dame Barbra Cartland’s ‘personal perfumer’ and found his own fragrance house, The Perfumers Guild, to create bespoke fragrances for a select clientele. More recently, he held the role of President of the British Society of Perfumers. Quite simply, if the British perfume world had a national treasure, John Bailey is it.

And when John sent us a photo of his ‘summerhouse’ (a very precisely-packed shed at the bottom of the garden, filled with his perfume stash), The Perfume Society’s co-founder Jo Fairley and decided we couldn’t wait any longer to hop on a train and see John on his home turf.

From the moment we stepped into John’s car – fragranced by one of his own beautiful blends, wafting through the air filters – we realised that perfume pervades every area of his life. Over tea and biscuits, served by his wife Sheila in an immaculate conservatory (a congratulatory diamond wedding card from Her Majesty The Queen propped on a side table), John chuckled as he reflected on the timeline of his professional life, ‘I think the way to explain it to you honestly is that my career has evolved rather than been planned.’ And evolve it most certainly did…

 

John Bailey and his beloved wife, Sheila

 

Humbly reflecting that he ‘wasn’t much good at anything at school… my sister was the brainy one,’ it was John’s parents who gently nudged him to become an apprentice to John Richardson & Co, an old-established firm of manufacturing chemists, druggists and distillers in his home town of Leicester. ‘They made everything, pills, potions, lotions, tinctures, veterinary preparations; lozenges…’

It all began with those humble lozenges – which he spent his days hand-making exclusively for the Brompton Hospital London. ‘The mixture was kneaded and prepared with a specific percentage of the essential oils – things like English peppermint oil –  then rolled, cut out and stamped. An apprentice like me would have to re-do that again and again, weighing them exactly. If the weight wasn’t right, it meant the dosage of the essential oil wasn’t correct. Later, I discovered it’s t’s exactly the same technique when you’re weighing out ingredients for perfumes. You have to be accurate.’

Soon it became clear that John’s passion lay in the botanical/aromatics side of the business. As he explains: ‘In those days pharmacies would bulk buy fragrances which they’d pour into their own bottles to sell.’ The chemists shops frequently bought them from the same supplier they sourced lozenges and other medicinals from – and before long, John was learning how to blend perfumes.

The next step of John’s career was ‘very good fortune’, he reflects. He joined a renowned retail chemist, Cecil Jacobs, who’d set up shop beneath the Grand Hotel, Leicester. Jacobs’s subsequent takeover of an ancient apothecary allowed John to be trained in every single aspect of sales, marketing, sourcing ingredients, the merchandising and making of fine fragrances, cosmetics and toiletries. (There’s probably nobody in the entire perfume universe who’s had so rounded a training.) Perhaps his greatest stroke of good fortune was meeting a fellow employee, however – Sheila, with whom he has three daughters.

From there, it was a leap to the old-established Quaker company of Stafford Allen (SAS), growers and distillers of essential oils. ‘I spent months in every single department there before they sent me out as their technical representative. I never stopped learning. It wasn’t like today when to become a perfumer you are required to go to ISIPCA or do specialised training,’ John reflects. ‘This was learning on the job.’

Interestingly, this gives him great respect for the growing number self-taught niche perfumers around today. ‘To my mind there’s no point getting on your high horse and saying, “well these people haven’t been trained at such and such a place” – because that was often the old way, too!’

He clearly remembers the time when the role of ‘evaluator’ was devised – the individuals whose role is as a bridge between client and perfumer, to-ing and fro-ing to ensure the brief is fulfilled to their satisfaction. ‘It was much to the disgust of the perfumers, who thought “who the hell are these people coming in and telling us to tinker with our formulas?”’

From 1979-1981, he then went to work for the fragrance house RC Treatt, setting up a perfumery from scratch. To the distress of John and his team, however, out of the blue the whole venture was axed – and for the first time he found himself out of a job. ‘But it gave me the push to go independent’, John asserts. ‘I thought right, that’s it, I’m never working for anyone again. So I launched my company, The Perfumer’s Guild…’

John’s first bespoke perfume was for the Royal National Rose Society – a quintessential English rose scent, simply called Society, with the first bottle going to Penelope Keith, then to Felicity Kendal and other celebrities who’d had roses named for them.

His next client? None other than Dame Barbara Cartland – she of the pink frocks, the fluffy dogs and the Rolls Royce. (Later, also stepgrandmother to Diana, Princess of Wales, through the marriage of her daughter Rayne to Earl Spencer.) Having read a newspaper article in which the eccentric, bestselling romance authoress bemoaned the decline in standards of perfumery, John wrote her a letter offering to make a scent specially for her. It went down so well that he was retained – like a modern-day Jean-Louis Fargeon to Marie Antoinette, perhaps – to create all the fragrances in her wardrobe. The first perfume he made for Dame Barbara had the suitably Cartland-esque name of Scent of Romance – ‘an Oriental, very decadent and rich. She also had me fragrancing bookmarks and scenting her letters.’ On one occasion, he recalls, he even found himself being announced at a foreign reception at a five-star hotel by a uniformed footman as ‘Mr John Bailey, Ambassador to Dame Barbara Cartland!’

 

 

John was one of the first Western perfumers to use oudh – and shows us a magnificent gold metal chest, containing a pile of this precious Arabian wood. Never resting on his laurels, it turns out he was also involved in reviving the prestigious British perfume house Atkinsons, via his friend Michael Edwards (author of Perfume Legends and the perfume industry ‘annual’, Fragrances of the World). Michael introduced him to the new Italian owners, when they’d bought Atkinsons into their fold. ‘He said to me: “These people have lost a lot of their history and they’re not sure what to do with this treasure” – so I became the officially-appointed researcher, before the relaunched. I’m thrilled that they’re now going to open in Burlington Arcade – literally just around the corner from where this perfume house first started.’

But leaving aside his fascinating personal history, we were also here to see John’s collection. So John led us to the summerhouse in which he stores his jaw-dropping stash, glass cupboards and shelves groaning with everything from Potter & Moore Lavender to Esteé Lauder Dazzling Silver, an original Youth Dew, Army & Navy Eau de Cologne, Triple Extract Wood Violet and more. ‘I’ve no idea how many bottles I’ve got. Several hundred I guess. It’s not always about what’s in the bottle – for me the bottles themselves hold a fascination, the stories and the people behind them.’

Back in the house, Jo and I had to ask if Sheila (who fuelled us with tea, biscuits and mini mince pies throughout the interview) was equally into perfume. Her throaty chuckle and candid answer – ‘Well, to be honest with you I’m not that bothered about it, these days!’ – made us laugh, as did her affectionate assertion that John was ‘obsessed with fragrance’.

At first, John attempted to deny this. But then this gentleman and scent scholar looked around the otherwise immaculate house, with its study crammed with what must be every fragrance book ever written, its huge factices (oversized display bottles) and countless perfume flacons from every era on display. (Never mind that shed itself.)

‘Well, alright,’ he finally smiled, ‘I suppose you could say I’m obsessed…’

 

JOHN’S TOP 10

Or rather, 11. Because after seven decades in the perfume business, it seemed churlish to deny John Bailey an extra ‘pick’…

Atkinson’s 24 Old Bond Street ‘A wonderful relaunch and redesign – they’ve been so clever with the flask.’

 

Chanel ‘From the aesthetic point of view, their simplicity is absolutely brilliant. All they’ve had to do is tweak the bottle over the years – because it’s perfection.’

 

Coty (lots of vintage treasures) ‘We have a friend who was a flight engineer for Concorde and he found this bottle for me at a flea market in Ludlow. Very similar to the vintage Molton Brown, isn’t it?’

 

YSL Opium ‘The bottle designer Pierre Dinand told me many years ago, when I was working with him, that only a few of these original necklaces were produced and so I treasure this.’

 

Guerlain Mitsouko ‘One of the greatest fragrances ever created.’

 

Cartier Panthère ‘An absolutely unique bottle design.’

 

Clarins Eau Dynamiste ‘A very good example of a fragrance perfectly suiting the brand. A tonic scent that’s kind of a twist on Eau Sauvage.’

 

Jean Paul Gaultier Le Mâle ‘Brilliant packaging and bottles – so outrageous putting it in a tin! The fragrance that launched Francis Kurkdjian’s career, of course.’

 

Miss Dior Original ‘Such a cherished name. I worked with the perfumer Jean Carles’ son, Marcel, at one time. I think I still have a copy of the original formula for this, somewhere!’

 

Givenchy Ysatis ‘Stunning bottle – another Pierre Dinand special.’

 

Perfumer’s Guild ‘Aside from “Society”, we used family names for the perfumes – including those of our daughters.’

 

John Bailey – In our scent memories forever.

R.I.P

 

Written by Suzy Nightingale