Feel the Mugler AURA as 'botanical meets animal'

ANGEL, ALIEN, A*MEN and now… AURA. Invited to the press launch of Thierry Mugler‘s latest perfume in the alliteratively fragrant lineup, we just had to sniff out this place where ‘botanical meets animal’, all housed in the most gloriously decadent green bottle that resembles something from The Wizard of Oz’s Emerald City.
Intrigued? Join us as we get up close and personal in a steamily-scented jungle…
Created by the fantastically talented foursome of perfumers, Daphné Bugey, Marie Salamagne, Amandine Marie and Jean-Christophe Hérault, working together on the project under Mr. Mugler’s guidance; this is the first major new fragrance launch for Mugler since Womanity in 2010. No wonder the perfume world has been holding its breath in anticipation of this latest – Mugler are known for their groundbreaking (some may even say deliciously weird) perfumes that cause olfactory ripples and, eventually, become absolute icons.

Mugler describe the new fragrance as being a place ‘…where animal dominance meets the power of plants. A divine, new concept of femininity – a call to follow your instinct and obey your senses, to tap into your deepest desires and unleash the inner force waiting to break free.’ Well, goodness. But what exactly does Aura smell like? To be honest, we’re just not entirely sure! Greenly sweet yet freshly smoky, it’s an harmoniously blended scent that’s difficult to define and a definite all-day wrist-sniffer your nose keeps going back to for another hit of gorgeous peculiarity.
Let’s try to nail this down…
Thierry Mugler says: ‘Aura is the irresistible charm unleashed by the fragrance’s allure…’
The tang of rhubarb leaf melts into the intriguingly named – and rather mysterious – ingredient named ‘tiger liana’. Trying to pin down exactly what this magical note may be proves tricky as it’s a top-secret and apparently never used before in perfumery, but having assiduously sniffed, we think the uniquely green woodiness must be (in part) down to this… But the surprises aren’t done with, yet, for a soft breeze of orange blossom seemingly floats above a cannopy of trees before plunging down to the creaminess of bourbon vanilla and earthily smooth and fur-coat like warmth (and exclusive molecule) ‘Wolfwood’ in the base. A hazy sap-laden mist that swoops and glides, this is something you absolutely have to smell – and give time for the oddness to kick-in. Perhaps not a room-filling perfume bomb that will divide the crowds in the way ANGEL and ALIEN certainly have – there’s perhaps a less obvious, deep level of olfactory intrigue at play here, and one that’s well worth your while exploring…

Thierry Mugler AURA from £49 for 30ml eau de parfum
Available nationwide from 30 June 2017
Written by Suzy Nightingale

Perfume: A Sensory Journey Through Contemporary Scent opens at Somerset House… follow your nose!

The perfume world has been abuzz with news of the Somerset House summer exhibition –always a treat, this one had fragrance fans practically fainting with pleasure at the mere prospect…
Perfume: A Sensory Journey Through Contemporary Scent seeks to explore modern perfumery in an artistic setting – bringing together (hashtag alert) #PerfumePioneers renowned for their challenging, ground-breaking work. Treated to a press preview yesterday, we packed into the East Wing Galleries and couldn’t wait to follow our noses…

10 landmark fragrances greet visitors in the first room of the show

Somerset House say: ‘These pivotal perfumers have been carefully selected by Curator Claire Catterall and Lizzie Ostrom, the fragrance writer also known as Odette Toilette, for the creativity and ingenuity they bring to their work. Whether self-taught or classically trained, each perfumer within the exhibition challenges a long-held convention in scent-design – from creation and communication, to gender and good taste – pushing their craft in daring olfactory directions.’
The 10 perfume provocateurs in the exhibition are a veritable who’s-who of contemporary perfume: Daniella Andrier, Mark Buxton, Bertrand Duchaufour, Olivia Giacobetti, Lyn Harris, Antoine Lie, David Seth Moltz, Geza Schoen, Andy Tauer and Killian Wells… We could list all the perfumes featured but don’t want to spoil your scented surprise, because as you walk in you’re handed a blank sheet for impressions. And knowing what they are definitely shapes your impressions.
The room setting for Daniela Andrier’s Purple Rain for Prada

So what can you expect? Well, again, we don’t want to give too much away – this truly is an exhibition where you need to encounter the scents first hand (well, nose). But during your fragrant travels you will encounter rooms reflecting the inspirations of the scents in their design – from the heat of the desert to the wild Scottish Highlands, with a lover’s boudoir (ooh la la!) followed by a trip to a Catholic confessional, and even a water theme-park! Each fragrance is experienced in a differing, uniquely interactive way, and taken out of context (with no bottles or perfume notes guide) you really are forced to challenge your expectations and concentrate on the smell alone.
It’s not all about the newness, though. Homage is paid to the classic perfumes that have shaped the way we feel about fragrance, fittingly arrayed in the first room you come to – an olfactory time-travel through ten of the most trailblazing scents of the time, one for each decade of the 20th Century.  Beginning with the legendary L’Origan de Coty (1905) – a hallmark perfume, now out of circulation, but specially recreated by Coty for the exhibition – this whisk through the ages ends with ck one (1994), the original ‘unisex’ fragrance that gave us the whole ‘clean’ scent trend.
An original bottle of Coty’s iconic L’Origan

At the end of the exhibition there’s even a mini perfumers’ lab, complete with noses going about their business of carefully creating fragrances, weighing the materials and more than happy to explain the process and let you sniff as they do.
A working Givaudan lab has been transplanted to Somerset House

Following our noses all the way to glorious gift shop, we must admit swooning somewhat at the plethora of perfume books, scented postcards (genius idea!) fragranced pens – with, we’re delighted to report, many of the fragrances available to buy.
Blogger/journalist Persolaise makes sure to exit via gift shop

If the world of fragrance used to be a stuffy old secretive place, we believe the past few years have seen a tide-change, with perfumers stepping out from their laboratories and becoming superstars in their own right. The Somerset House exhibition is a fragrant tour de force that continues this wave of accessibilty: the very ethos of The Perfume Society, in fact!
The organisers worked in association with Coty and Peroni Ambra, with additional support from Givaudan and Liberty London – clearly many hours (weeks, months… years!) have gone in to making this a feast for all the senses.
We cannot urge you enough to go along and sniff for yourself.
Perfume: A Sensory Journey Through Contemporary Scent 21st June – 17th September 2017/tickets £11 (or £9 concessions)
Somerset House, East Wing Galleries
Written by Suzy Nightingale
Pictures by Jo Fairley
A confessional has been created for Bertrand Duchaufour’s incense-rich Avignon

Paints and a classroom have been chosing as the setting for Andy Tauer L’Air du Désert Marocain

Etienne de Swardt – État Libre d’Orange's maverick founder reveals his five (somewhat saucy…) favourite smells

Renowned for their controversial names and inspirations, Etat Libre d’Orange actually encompass all manner of fragrant tastes – yes there’s the off-the-wall uber niche scents, but we find the majority are utterly wearable, perfectly beautiful fragrances that definitely deserve to be sniffed, worn and adored…
The latest to join the scented throng came about due to a collaboration with scent expert and critic, Chandler Burr – no stranger to controversy himself, it seems a happy match – but, we wondered, how did the relationship between Etat Libre d’Orange and Chandler Burr begin? Meeting with self-proclaimed ‘trouble-maker’ and founder of ELDO, Etienne de Swardt, is a rare opportunity, so we were thrilled to get up close and personal with him as he revealed You or Someone Like You to the British press; and began by asking him just this question…
‘Chandler has been a friend of ELDO for something like eight/nine years – he was very involved in the perfume we did with Tilda Swinton, Like This. We were impressed with his involvement in the perfume industry – his technical and journalistic experience, and I was a true fan of the name, You or Someone Like You. So I said, Chandler, one day we have to do a perfume when you stop being a perfume critic and move on to the other side of the mirror of the perfume industry! I said he could be the creative director and appoint any perfumer he wanted to create it. So he did this perfume as his vision of Los Angeles – for a woman who does not exist.’
Part of the mischievousness so beloved by fans of ELDO involves never playing by the rules or doing the expected. As such, the exact notes of the latest fragrance are kept under wraps. But why was this? Etienne takes a deep breath – presumably having been expecting this question: ‘We decided, mostly because of Chandler and his beliefs, not to disclose the ingredients. We say – perhaps somewhat arrogantly – that if you want to know what’s inside You or Someone Like You, it’s probably not for you… This is something like a piece of art that’s far beyond subjectivity.’
(Pssst! You can try You or Someone Like You in our next Discovery Box, keep an eye on the website for details of when it launches!)
So what does it smell of? Well, one spritz and we’re in the mood for Mojitos, the zest of fresh lime, mint and ice cubes clinking. The scent of freshly cut grass, wild roses rambling in shady nooks, patches of sunlight glinting from dewdrops of a just-watered herbaceous border… we catch wafts of clean washing hanging in the balmy breeze, ice-cream sodas and fluffy cashmere throws. Soaringly fresh, it somehow fills your head with light…
So now, what else but to ask this fragrance maverick his five favourite smells? We’re always fascinated to discover how psychologically revealing this can be, and certainly weren’t disappointed with Etienne’s answers. Having been asked the question and taking a few moments to gather his thoughts, Etienne took a sip of his drink, leaned back in his velvet chair and held court, his first choice – It had to be! – completely unexpected. And other choices… well, of course controversy came a-knocking…
1. Food in planes: ‘I have to start with a smell I don’t like, because when I was a kid I was living in New Caledonia, and the flight to visit Europe was twenty five hours long – just awful – so it’s like a Proustian moment but with negative thoughts. Whatever you eat it all smells the same, as soon as you open the aluminium, so to me it’s the strongest smell memory because it reminds me when I was lost in the air for so many hours… It’s such a strong memory, though, and I am always taken right back there.’
2. Dogs: ‘I especially love the smell behind their ears, as well as the coat. I was born the Year of the Dog in 1970, so I’m a true dog lover. It cools me down, calms me, when I can smell a dog and it just grounds me. And we all need that, you know? We rush around so full of anguish, and we need something to just smell and feel grounded again.’
3. Oakmoss: ‘I love this smell – I reboot myself in the forest with my wife and family, I like to jog there and when it rains I love to stand near an oak tree and pick up the oak moss and smell it and feel that connection to nature.’
4. Guerlain Jicky: ‘I truly believe in past lives and this smell connects me to my grandmother. I believe we are nurtured by the dead people and by the force of other spirits. Fir this reason, it is my samsara – not Samsara the fragrance, but MY samsara…’ [the cycle of death and rebirth to which life in the material world is bound, according to Sanskrit belief].
5. Sea notes/Semen: ‘This is a little bit naughty and pornographic…’ Etienne grins, his eyes flashing with mischief, ‘but I love the border in between attraction and repulsion. That notion of Secretions Magnifique [ELDO’s infamous fragrance evoking semen, sweat and blood] is very much me. Deep-rooted. You know the French poets Baudelaire and Rimbaud were talking about sexuality and La Mer which could be La Mère – the sea or the mother, the place we all are born, where we all come from. So for me sea notes, from an oyster to human secretions, it’s that bridge between attraction and repulsion…’
Étienne interviewed by Suzy Nightingale

Literary meditations in fragrant form with Walden Natural Perfumes…

Fragrant inspirations are diverse as the perfumes composed for them, but we’ve noticed a particular leaning toward the arts – literature, painting and music – in recent years.  Walden Perfumes are no exception, the house being named after Henry David Thoreau’s seminal work and the fragrances themselves inspired by certain passages within it.

Walden was written partly as a guide for meditation, and can be seen as a handbook ‘…for simple living in natural surroundings.’ Fittingly, the fragrances are 100% natural, and each carries a quote on the back of the box, a creative whisper of suggestion as to the perfume inside. And we couldn’t wait to browse their fragrant library…
Soaringly beautiful, a mega-hit of ylang ylang swoons into a buxom bouquet of iris and jasmine garlanded in swags around amyris and oodles of tonka bean. Finalist for ‘Best Natural Beauty Product’, Natural & Organic Awards Europe 2017, this is a creamy, dreamy, romantic delight.

A Little Star Dust, £40 for 50ml eau de parfum
An intriguing melange of the freshly zesty and totally tropical, citrus bursts forth with all the sparkle of a just-poured cocktail, exotic flowers dancing in the breeze with cool, herbaceous lavender. Like a joyous celebration of the sunshine and the shade, this twirls exuberantly.

Castles in the Air, £40 for 50ml eau de parfum
A frolic through a forest of wild flowers, roses climb and tumble through boughs of trees as jasmine entwines the branches and iris goes native in the shady nooks. Sliced through with shards of bergamot citrus like sunlight appearing through the verdant canopy above, it’s perfect for summer.
Two Eternities, £60 for 50ml eau de parfum
Capturing that petrichor scent of just-after-the-rain freshness when the world seems to pause and breathe a sigh of relief, the sharpness of petitgrain is followed by a cool heart of earthy vetiver and a whisper of patchouli swirled amongst the creaminess of amyris.

The Solid Earth, £50 for 50ml eau de parfum
Opening with a spicy kick of black pepper, this is woody all the way up to 11 with warm amber tingling the senses in the heart of cedarwood followed by a smooth flourish of resinous amyris segueing to freshly sharpened pencil-ness of sandalwood. Vigorous yet comforting.

A Different Drummer, £50 for 50ml eau de parfum
Walden Natural Perfumes are available at lovelula.com

Perhaps literary-inspired perfumes highlight our need to not necessarily simply escape to a wonderland in troubled times, but to use artistic measures to put them in context and reflect? Whatever the aim, we cannot help but be thrilled that finally, perfumery is being seen once again as an art form to rejoice in!
Written by Suzy Nightingale

Perfume your papa! A fragrant feast of ideas for Father's Day…

We’re banishing all dated ideas of fuddy-duddy fathers’ here at The Perfume Society, with a carefully curated selection of scents to present to your dear ol’ dad. From the vibrantly refreshing to the downright delicious – we absolutely guarantee one of these scents will garner you more ‘perfect offspring’ points than a basic pair of socks… plus, read on for how to WIN a whole swag bag of scented goodies for your dad, courtesy of Kenneth Cole!
Ormonde Man just exudes exoticism, including notes of black hemlock , vetiver, cardamom and juniper berries resting on a resinously musky base. Infused with a touch of oud oil, it’s definitely one for creative chaps with their minds on higher things. A mystical miasma that’s full of charm – if your dad’s an armchair philosopher, let him waft through the library on a wave of sophisticated ambience.

Ormonde Jayne Ormonde Man, £110 for 50ml eau de parfum
Buy it at ormondejayne.com
Nuit de Issey Bleu Astral offers a whole new meaning to ‘night light’ with a fragrance that shoots for the stars.  Lime and coriander shimmer celestially in the top notes as soft leather meets the aromatic sweet woodiness of gentian. With a darkly glimmering base of warm amber and cool vetiver, it’s a whole galaxy of other-worldliness, bottled. We think dads who appreciate something that’s classically inspired but with a classy, contemporary twist will be reaching for this and thanking you for aeons.

Issey Miyake Nuit de Issey Bleu Astral, £43 for 75ml eau de toilette
Buy it at johnlewis.com
M03 is composed entirely of one ingredient – an aroma-chemical named vetiveryle acetate – that somehow conveys every single facet of the vetiver root. Sparkling sunshine swoops to newly mown lawns and welcome shade. Digging deeper we get earthiness, lush undergrowth fresh from a monsoon and a final soft balminess that feels like a long, cold glass of gin and tonic after a long day. Why not try this alongside its scent ‘twin’, E03, in our fantastic Men’s Edit box of carefully curated scents (and two grooming goodies – one of them full-size!) so he’s really spoilt for choice…?

Escentric Molecules M03, £72 for 100ml eau de parfum
Buy it at libertylondon.com

The Black Rose (yes – roses for men are definitely a thing. Get with-it, grandpa!) is a stunning evocation of the mountains of Saudi Arabia. Composed by perfumer Pierre Constantin Gueros, think shimmering mirages in steamy air scented with oppulent Taif roses and sprinkled with pink pepper. Warmly ambrée in the base, it’s a trail of vanilla, musk and patchouli-infused amber, for a journey he’ll definitely want to follow.

Trussardi The Black Rose, £77.50 for 100ml eau de parfum
Buy it at harrods.com
Silver Mountain Water is a soothingly composed cool breeze of a scent, hand-picked by our fragrant friend, The Rare Tea Lady, who described it as having ‘…a milky sweetness on the skin – so it needs something elegant, smokey and masculine behind it. There’s actually a smoke note in Mountain Silver Water, but to bring it out I’d suggest a Keemun tea.’ So how about paring it with a pot of that delicious Rare Tea Company Keemun brew for a gift that really keeps on giving?

Creed Silver Mountain Water, £108 for 75ml eau de parfum  Buy it at selfridges.com

Musc Impèrial is directly inspired by the Majestic Hotel & Spa Barcelona and the suites “impériales” in which Atelier Cologne founders Sylvie Ganter and Christophe Cervasel stayed, coupled with the vibrancy of the Catalan capital. Effervescently intriguing, it pairs herbaceously smoky clary sage with bergamot and a warm waft of musk for a father who likes to travel in the most elegant way.

Atelier Cologne Musc Impèrial, £110 for 100ml eau de parfum
Buy it at Atelier Cologne
Black Bold is inspired by the characteristic ‘boldness of New York life,’ featuring a chilly blast of cedar leaves and nutmeg with a complex background breeze of lotus flowers and a hint of incense being burned in a loft appartment. Smoothly balanced woodiness harmonises violet leaves and misty ambergris on a softly sueded base – for the metropolitan man-about-town who’s at home wherever he leaves his hat…


Kenneth Cole Black Bold £40 for 50ml eau de parfum
Buy it at houseoffraser.co.uk
Written by Suzy Nightingale