What a year it’s been – with more new launches than ever before, new houses causing major ripples of excitement, niche brands breaking new ground and most of all, a firm sense that the scent of optimism is the air for all things fragrant… and constantly re-affirming exactly how much we love our jobs!
But with so much to choose from, what would you say are your scented highlights of 2018? We could honestly have picked twenty things each, but when absolutely forced to choose, we asked Co-Founders of The Perfume Society, Jo Fairley and Lorna McKay, along with Senior Writer Suzy Nightingale and Head of Social Media Carson Parkin-Fairley, to list some of theirs…
• Visiting the rose harvest with Anima Vinci was an absolute dream, and a day which will live on in my scent memories forever. It was such an honour to meet the people who own the rose fields, pick the flowers and transport them to be processed; to hear about how long it takes, their worries for the future of the fields in France, but most of all to follow a fragrance from field to flaçon. If I close my eyes, I can still smell those piles of petals, and am transported there every time I spray that finished perfume…
• Having my mind blown by smelling ingredients at the launch of Ostens. Using these fabulous quality LMR ingredients – and, uniquely, making them available to the public in single form or blended into eaux de parfums – Ostens are daring to do something new in the fragrance retail space. They truly give perfume-lovers the respect they’re due. I had the pleasure of following the journey of founders Christopher Yu and Laurent Delafon, finally interviewing them at their launch for The Scented Letter Magazine. Genuinely one of my favourite moments of the whole year was seeing the joy and pride in their faces – and oh my god, getting to smell that Jasmine Absolute!
• When Jovoy Mayfair opened in Conduit Street, I actually squealed a little with happiness, as this was one of my favourite shops in Paris for niche perfume – but on my own doorstep! The staff are so friendly and welcoming, and there’s so many brands there to explore, all beautifully displayed and with pots of blotters and pencils arrayed ready for your sniffing adventures. They recently celebrated their first birthday, and it was such a pleasure to see how they’ve grown, how they support smaller houses, and to be there to celebrate with them.
• The complete revamp of Les Senteurs – London’s first independent has been such a treat to witness – their gloriously dramatic floral-bedecked frontage is surely one of the most Instagrammed sights in London this year – and within, there’s a whole world of fragrant expertise to enjoy. It’s where you can find fragrance archivist James Craven – one of the nicest gentlemen you could ever meet and with a host of fragrant anecdotes to keep you entertained. I think it’s so vital to suppoort these indie businesses, now more than ever, and I particularly love their Meet the Perfumer events, where you can enjoy a glass of bubbly while sniffing something new.
• The Chelsea Flower Show launch of Floris A Rose For… What more perfect setting could there be for the launch of a rosetastic new fragrance – from Jermyn Street’s fabled fragrance name – than the Grand Marquee at event which is the highlight of the floral calendar? A-swirl with deep, velvety roses and underpinned by lashings of patchouli, A Rose For… can also be personalised with the name of the person it’s given to. (Even if it’s A Rose For… You!)
• Lunch with The Lauder Family – an amazing get-together with all the members of the family whose doyenne, Estée Lauder, changed the face of fragrance with the launch of Youth Dew (originally a bath oil, that meant women could guiltlessly buy it for themselves rather than waiting for a birthday and a ‘special’ bottle of perfume). Leonard, Ronald, Aerin, William and Jane Lauder were all present – and the attention to detail was quite astonishing, from the Union Jack powder compacts which were the table gifts through to the monogrammed ribbons tied around the Christmas crackers.
• A visit to the Diptyque archive in Paris – I’ve spent lots of time on Eurostar this year (file under: ‘it’s a tough job’, etc.) but a real highlight was being the first to see the beautifully revamped upstairs rooms above their boutique at 34 Boulevard Saint Germain where Diptyque stores the artwork, fabrics and other souvenirs of their 60 years in business. It was completely fascinating to see early designs for the logo and discover scents that no longer feature in the collection (but which are surely ripe for revival!) V.I.P. Club Members can read the full story in our current edition of The Scented Letter, here…
• The Chanel No.5 ‘Red’ dinner at Annabel’s – to celebrate this show-stopping incarnation of the iconic Chanel No.5, which got all dressed up in red for a limited edition season. The Berkeley Square nightclub was all dressed up in red, too – and it’s always fun to rub shoulders with the likes of Amanda Harlech, superstylist Sam McKnight and Lily-Rose Depp, don’t ya know?
• Stepping inside the Guerlain fragrance laboratory at their HQ with Thierry Wasser. I don’t really need to add anything to that, do I…?
Here are just a few of the fragrances which give me the ‘feel good factor’ for 2018, and while wearing them have had people actually stop me in the street to tell me how great I smelled and ask the name of what I was wearing. I think any perfume lover really lives for these moments, and it always gives me a thrill when it happens! [Lorna tells us she’s even been cuddled and sniffed by strangers who were so enraptured by her perfumes, but we can assure you it was all consensual]
• Maison Francis Kurkdjian Baccarat Rouge ALWAYS and every time.
• Miller Harris La Feuille – worn alone and adding to lots gives a personalisation and different edge to many smells – LOVE it!
• Liz Earle No 15 – honestly, people ask me every time I wear it ‘where can I get it?’ rather than what are you wearing … big difference.
• Highlight of the year –the amount of times I have used Fragrance Finder to solve a person’s search for their next fragrance or one they can’t buy anymore. People are amazed it really works! It thrills me when people discover the world of perfume .
• I have great pride in being part of The Scented Letter Magazine, which I know perfume lovers all over the world read, as well as many industry professionals and perfumers. I have a little cry when I see each issue in print!
• The launch of Tonka 25 by Le Labo – I’ve never had a signature scent, and probably never will – too much choice, too many wonderful smells, and why would I limit myself? – but if I did, Le Labo’s Tonka 25 would be pretty close to it. Never having thoroughly delved into the brand, I was invited to interview one of the founders this summer, and was utterly delighted by their latest scent, Tonka 25. Don’t be fooled, this is no tonka scent, no sweet nuttiness here. All dark Cedar Atlas, rich resins and addictive woods. It feels shadow-like, smouldering, inky. And I love it.
• The Anya Hindmarch diffuser – nothing brings a smile to my face quite like the Anya Hindmarch candles. I remember going to the first launch, discovering their irreverent ingredient lists (teenage romance and regrettable tan lines feature amongst Italian bergamot and Tunisian Orange Blossom) and being blown away by the fun of it all. So you can imagine how my heart leapt once I found out there was diffusers. Housed in a funny-faced pot with reed diffusing sticks that look like pencils, they are the most covetable item that’s come by my desk in a while.
• Interviewing Christine Nagel for Hermes – A personal highlight was interviewing the perfumer of my teenage fragrance love, (Narciso for Her by Narciso Rodriguez) Christine Nagel. Not only was she an absolute pleasure to talk with but I came away being sure she had the best job in the world. In her role as in-house perfumer for Hermes, she has complete freedom in the scents she creates, she seemed so happy, so content. I often think about perfumers as a kind of artist for hire, and so seeing one who creates freely is not only a rarity, but also a immense pleasure.