Fathers and father-figures come in all forms, but before we get on to gifting ideas: why do some of them keep getting given the same old scent for any occasion? Very likely the one they’ve been using since they were first shaving?
Okay. Some dads do ‘like what they know’, but perhaps that’s because they’ve never found out what they actually like?
Let’s change it up…
Tell him that something exciting’s on the way, and treat him to a discovery box of new scents (you can always buy the full-size of the one he loves most, later!) The joy of a curated Discovery Set is an exciting olfactory voyage into the unknown with all the inherent fear removed – think of it as an opportunity to sniff new things, niche brands you may never have tried, but with someone holding your hand a little.
The Smelling Notes we present with each of our boxes (which you can find by scanning the VR code) guide your thoughts, detail some of the ingredients and give a little background information on the fragrance house and their inspiration. You can then take a deeper dive into each scent on our dedicated brand pages, if you wish. But it’s up to you (or your recipient). It’s an adventure you are in charge of, and a Discovery Box uniquely allows you to explore a whole world of possibilities without making an expensive mistake.
Our just-launched Scented Gent Discovery Box is THE perfect gift for dads who could do with shaking up their scent wardrobe – or for anyone who feels it’s about time they refreshed their fragrances for the season ahead. A stunning hand-picked selection of both classic and new fragrances crafted for the stylish gent offers the opportunity to try each in your own time, from the comfort of your own home…
The Scented Gent Discovery Box is priced £19 + p&p* to VIP Club Members & £23 + p&p* to everyone else – be sure to log into your account to take advantage of the special VIP Club price. This fabulous collection of fragrances for him is something to relish.
Montblanc Explorer Platinum 2ml eau de parfum
Brioni Éclat 1.8ml eau de parfum
Floris No.007 2ml eau de parfum
Parfums de Marly Percival 1.5ml eau de parfum
Shay & Blue Dandelion Fig 2ml eau de parfum
TUMI Continuum [12:00] 2ml eau de parfum
Floral Street Black Lotus 1.5ml eau de parfum
Jimmy Choo Man 2ml eau de toilette
Bvlgari Bvlgari Man Rain Essence 1.5ml eau de parfum
Kenzo Homme Intense 1ml eau de toilette
Bentley For Men 1.8ml eau de toilette
If you think he’s ready to explore more, maybe add the Men’s Must Have Discovery Box to your cart, too? For just £15 (or £12 for VIP members) it’s a specially put together collection of some masculine and unisex (to be worn by anyone) fragrances featuring globally adored best sellers and some recently-launched scents from brands such as THoO, Jeroboam, DSquared2, Paco Rabanne, Bentley, Jean Paul Gaultier, Versace & Initio!
Dsquared 2 Wood2ml eau de parfum (full size £59 for 50ml)
Paco Rabanne Phanthom 2ml eau de parfum (£55 for 50ml)
Bentley Momentum Unbreakable 2ml eau de parfum (£69.50 for 100ml)
Jean Paul Gaultier Scandal Pour Homme 2ml eau de toilette(£69.50 for 100ml)
Jeroboam Oriento1ml eau de parfum (£90 for 30ml)
Versace Eros 1ml eau de parfum (£65 for 50ml)
THoO Never Ending 2ml eau de parfum (£190 for 75ml)
Initio Oud for Happiness 2ml eau de parfum (£190 for 75ml)
And if you think he’s now fully immersed into the fabulous world of fragrance (or will be, by the time he’s explored those two), we suggest it’s time to embrace the world of Brand Boxes – these are collections the brands themselves have put together, showcasing some of their most iconic scents, with names from all-time classic houses and ultra-trendy indie brands alike.
However you choose for it to begin, get ready for him to be nearly as addicted to fragrance as you are (especially whem the compliments start flooding in!) And hey – if that also means you get to ‘borrow’ some of his scents, way after Fathers Day? Win-win!
One glance at social media or magazines is enough to know that Summer is all about wedding fever, and instead of following the usual path of suggesting fragrances for those getting married, or their guests, this year we thought it would be far more interesting (and relevant for more people!) to look at traditional symbols of the first five wedding anniversaries and match them to gorgeously summery scents.
It doesn’t matter if you look at these to purchase for yourself, or as a gift for friends and family you know are celebrating – whatever the reason (even if there’s no anniversary at all), these fragrances are stunning enough to warrant your further investigation.
So, how did the whole wedding anniversary symbol thing begin? It is thought that wedding anniversaries have long been celebrated with particular symbols pertinent to the year being marked. The tradition is thought to have begun in the Middle Ages, which the wedding venue Gosfield Hall rather solemnly remind us is probably because ‘…in those days, a lot of people didn’t live long enough to reach these milestones, so it was something to celebrate if they did.’ Nowadays the embittered cynics among us might ponder if the tradition continues apace because many marriages don’t live that long, so every milestone is worth noting. But let us banish such poe-faced reflections and focus instead on the always happy-making topic of fragrance, instead. Here are the first five such milestones, with descriptions of the symbols via weddingplanner.co.uk, and suggestions for the most suitable scents to celebrate…
1st Wedding Anniversary – Paper
Scent Suggestion – Diptyque L’Eau Papier
‘One year of marriage is symbolised by paper because a new marriage is like a blank sheet of paper and still delicate. It also helps that it offers budget-friendly gift ideas, as a couple in the first year of marriage might still be managing their budget after the wedding!’
What is the scent of paper? That’s how every Diptyque creation begins: a blank sheet, a pen, ink, ideas. Fabrice Pellegrin was tasked here with conjuring up diluted ink and artistic brushstrokes. Powdery mimosa and white musks are mistily ethereal, with a rice steam accord adding to the sense of paperiness and roasted sesame for the inkiness. Alex Waline’s pointillist label completes a modern masterpiece that couldn’t be more Diptyque if it tried.
Scent Suggestion – Juliette Has a Gun Musc Invisible
‘Traditionally your second wedding anniversary is represented by cotton. This is because the threads of you and your partner’s lives are becoming ever-more interwoven, like making cotton (cute, right?).’
‘A fluffy scent as comfortable and unfussy as your favourite old jeans,’ Romano Ricci promises with this powdery-musk bliss. ‘As appropriate at work as on a casual date.’ We’d wear this anywhere, to be honest, it’s simply sublime to snuggle up to, dreamily blending radiant jasmine absolute with almost nose-tinglingly soft cotton flower, resting on a featherbed of soul soothing white musk. Want a scent to wear every day, not only for an anniversary or special occasion? This could be your new go-to.
‘No, that’s not why! Leather was traditionally used as a protective layer against bad weather, so the third anniversary is about security and shelter. Leather is also long-lasting, as your marriage will be.’
Deceptively nonchalant, this is a leather to wear when you want it to be your saucy little secret rather than up front and personal for all to see (and smell). The leather here is subtly slipped in to a bouquet of roses, with a background of lime, pink pepper, clary sage, juniper and a rounded, woody base. We see this being shared by couples who love a G&T, and enjoy communicating via exaggerated pouts and deftly arched eyebrows.
‘At four years your marriage is blossoming and ripening, so it is represented by fruit and flowers…’
Having worked with top neuroscientists to prove the efficacy of the way our brains react to the scents, this one proffers ripe cherries, green leaves, radiant jasmine and tuberose with a duo of roses feel like a wearable giggle of delight, the smooth, woody dry down a hug that keeps going. We also adore the the description the house gives this scent, saying it’s ‘A gesture of scented self-care that twists the traditional ideals of love…’
‘Wood is the symbol of a five-year marriage because of its source: trees. Trees are a symbol of strength, wisdom and time – all things a solid marriage has. Trees also have roots and at 5 years your marriage is now deeply established.’
Passionately luminous, this glows with happiness! Exclusively created with master perfumer, Maurice Roucel, this is the scent of exotic and unforgettable nights. Feminine, alluring and intriguing tuberose notes combine with rich leather and sandalwood in this intoxicating, utterly addictive fragrance. Inspired by travel and long summer evenings in the tropics, our unique fragrances capture the very essence of romantic escapism.
A budding trend for wearable, contemporary, even edgy rose scents has turned into a full-bloomed renaissance. Suddenly, rose scents are blooming everywhere, (along with our own late-blooming rose bushes here in the U.K. thanks to the washed-out, dreary Spring!)
Here, we celebrate some of our favourite modern takes on the ‘Queen of the flower’ fragrances…
Not very long ago at all, if you had a sneaking love of rose perfumes, chances are you might keep pretty schtum about it. Despite rose appearing in the construction of the vast majority of perfumes – a pillar, around which other fragrance ingredients entwine – in perfumistas circles, overtly ‘rose perfumes’ were perceived by many as a bit dusty, a bit boring, somewhat outdated, and best relegated to scented drawer-liners and grandma’s dressing table.
Indeed, James Craven, fragrance expert, and one-time archivist for London’s first niche perfumery, Les Senteurs, recalls that many customers who came searching for a new scent would begin their consultation by pronouncing, definitively: ‘Nothing with rose in it’. Customers had a preconceived idea of how a rose scent would smell, he says. But undeterred, and indeed without telling the customer what they were sniffing, James would nevertheless proceed to show them a fragrance with rose as a note.
‘Nine times out of 10, the rose scents would be the one they’d fall in love with,’ he says. (Though to be fair, it would have been pretty hard for him not to, since roses feature in at least 75% of modern feminine fragrances, and at least 10% of all men’s perfumes, too.)
Today, however, there is a serious rose resurgence in perfumery – and we aren’t talking ‘chorus line’ rose notes, but fragrances which put rose front and centre in the scented spotlight, in an utterly modern style. Roses don’t merely have to be seen as a ‘romantic’ scent style, now – or, of course, reserved for ‘feminine’ fragrances. We’re loving the more masculine takes, too.
One thing is perfectly clear – never have we seen so many new overtly rose-centric fragrances being re-embraced in such a flurry. The only problem you have is: which of these blooming rose scents will you seek out to try first…?
Chanel Les Eaux Paris – Paris
Recent recipient of The Fragrance Foundation Reader’s Choice Award, this dreamy rose scent pays homage to, ‘the vibrant and timeless Paris of Gabrielle Chanel; the authenticity of her character and the modernity of her soul.’ Sparkling with citrus and pink pepper, the Damask rose exudes an effervescent, contemporary kind of chic being so perfectly borne aloft on the radiance of those top notes.
A scorching interpretation of rose, in which smouldering leather tangos with rich Damask rose against a vibrantly glowing backdrop of patchouli, amber and warm waves of sensual oudh. Think of a summer party’s bonfire-smoke still clinging to your hair, pinpricks of starlight against a velvety sky and passionate kisses which smoulder nearly as long as this will on your skin.
Fresh and floral, yes, but with a sultry undercurrent resonant in the burning embrace of the ambreé’s character (which slowly reveals itself as it settles on bare skin). A caress of bright bergamot, lemon and cedar leaf trembles to the bouquet buried within the heart: that coriander-speckled rose rippled with jasmine, lily of the valley, magnolia, orange flower, then dusted with orris before the seductively woody base takes hold.
Inspired by a small Turkish village famed the world over 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 modern icon, smash-hit status never fades.
Talking of contemporary, perfumer Aurélien Guichard worked with cutting-edge neuroscience discoveries to create this almost jammy rose essence from Bulgaria that’s spiked with cool nutmeg, textured with labdanum’s supple, leather-like facets and another favourite partner of rose – patchouli essence from Indonesia. Edentiste suggests pairing with any of their ‘Lifeboost’ actives to ‘let your feelings rule…’
Luxury and niche fragrances are always lusted after, but of course can become somewhat injurious to one’s wallet if you want to try several all at once (and we always, always do!)
The problem is, this often leads people to try ‘dupe‘ fragrances (a nice word for ‘copy’ or ‘rip off’) when we are bombarded by companies aggressively advertising these copies on social media, which promise to be ‘as good as the real thing’ or saying ‘you’ll never know the difference’. It’s understandable some are (literally) duped this way – it sounds too good to be true…
And it is.
Luxury copies are often completely unregulated, using untraceable, unsustainable and inferior materials they can be made in unsanitary, sweat shop conditions, in huge vats of copycat smell-alikes, which may not have been fully safety tested, or have been adulterated with rogue ingredients and then passed off as being a ‘bargain’. Presented in such a way these companies suggest they are somehow doing you a favour, in fact, it’s daylight robbery – a theft of artistic ideas (often pretending to be the real thing by copying names and labels). And we have never once, in our combined decades of professional experience, found anyone, with any knowledge of fragrance, who has smelled the real thing and a knock-off dupe and not IMMEDIATELY been able to tell the difference. Fact.
Those in the know have found the way forward when we’re on a smaller budget. Luxury Discovery Boxes are the chance to indulge in the fragrances of niche and designer houses, often giving you the opportunity to try the scented wares from cult brands you’ve not heard of, or not everyone knows about yet. And, of course, not everyone happens to live near a niche perfumery (or feels brave enough to go in, even if you do). Very few of us could go out and purchase full-size bottles of every brand we want to try. Luxury boxes allow you to afford to wear every single one… and get to experience the real deal, made by perfumers, not thieves.
Where to Get Samples?
The best idea is to get a Discovery Box of fabulous mini sizes and samples from a wide range of luxury, niche and top-end designer fragrance houses. That way you can start exploring and trying them all in the comfort of your own home, before you splash out on a full size. This way, you also get to try things you may never have picked up to try in store (indeed, may never have heard of previously!) and have proper time to try on your skin.
Want to Explore More…?
Luxury Brand Boxes are the way forward. You may know you like one scent from a particular house, and are ready to be a bit braver and see what else they do. It’s a fantastic leaping-off point, actually, as many houses offer differing styles of scents while still retaining a kind of olfactory handwriting – the same way an artist will have a certain look to their work you can recognise, or a clothing designer tends to work with shapes or tones that suit you. So, when you’ve found one you love, do explore the rest in their collection (and obvs samples are the best way to do this without breaking the bank).
Rich, warm, luxurious and comforting, honey works wonderfully in fragrances to emphasise floral notes, or add touches of amberiness. And with the profusion of gourmand fragrances out there, honey-lovers can easily find themselves in sweet heaven. We love what the nose Christine Nagel has to say about this ingredient:
‘Honey has two facets – half devil, half angel. In Ambrée structures, it has a sweet, comforting effect, taking you back to childhood. But a small touch in a feminine structure can be extremely sexy…’
Are you already a honey-lover…? Then you’ll know that honey comes in so many different varieties, each taking their smell (and colour) from the flowers on which the bees that produce it have feasted. Orange blossom honey. Eucalyptus honey. Acacia honey: the variations are almost limitless, sometimes woody, flowery, herbal or even tobacco-y. The ancient Arab perfumers were the first to capture honey’s sweetness in perfumery, but today the honey featured is generally a synthetic note – one that’s drizzled sensually over quite a few fragrances in the past few years.
It’s over 15,000 years since man first harnessed bees’ busy-ness to produce this natural sweetener. (According to cave paintings in Valencia in Spain, anyway.) Symbolically, honey stands for ‘the sweet life’, prosperity, even immortality; the word itself comes from the ancient Hebrew word for ‘enchant’… When man and bee teamed together, it turned out to be a win-win situation: bees got a safe place to live (and a reliable food source, in the form of flowering crops) – and we got to harvest honey and beeswax in unbelievably impressive quantities: a single beehive can produce up to 200 kilos of honey each season.
Guerlain are known for their love of bees of course, featured in their utterly exquisite and iconic Guerlain Bee Bottles, which have been… ‘An icon for nearly 170 years: timeless, the Bee Bottle is more than a bottle, it’s a statement: a precious Guerlain signature and a craft symbol between tradition and modernity.’ What’s more, apart from using honey in their skincare and as a note in fragrances, Guerlain also fund a number of Bee loving projects to ensure the future of bees (and, therefore, crops – and humankind! For without the bees we are truly lost).
Guerlain explains: ‘First founded in 2018 and launched globally in 2021, Guerlain’s Bee School initiative was founded as a result of the brand’s ongoing mission to teach children about bees and how they positively affect our environment. Nearly 6,000 children in over ten countries have been able to learn about the various issues facing bees and biodiversity conservation. After discussions, question-and-answer sessions, workshops, and games to test their knowledge, each child receives a Bee School certificate at the end of the session. The programme encompasses meaningful initiatives and partnerships…’
With World Bee Day having been celebrated recently around the globe, and with summer scents in mind (now the weather finally seems to be playing ball), what better time to explore honey fragrances, with scents that evoke both the flirty innocent sweetness and the deeper, more ‘devilish’ side of honey’s character, as Christine Nagel so beautifully put it…?
Guerlain Aqua Allegoria Nettare Di Sole
A deliciously unusual icy floral honey absolute that sings of summertime, the magnolia, rose and Sambac jasmine bathed in honey, as if infused with the sun itself, and rippled with that deliciously cool note evoking dappled shade in a courtyard. Glorious to wear at any time, I especially adore wearing this when the heat properly simmers.
A really good introduction to how oudh can be used in a nuanced way – almost as a seasoning instead of the main flavour – this one is actually delicious (as in, if it came in a jar, I’d want to slather it on buttered toast and guzzle it, or perhaps slather myself in it and roll on a meadow). The dark, spiced honeyed note deepens as the oudh kicks in. Intensely nuzzle-able, there’s nothing whatever to frighten the horses, here.
[NB: Also available to sample as part of the Floris Private Collection set, for only £35, and including some of their most iconic scents].
Manos Gerakinis Methexis
The name ‘MEΘEXIS’ derives from ancient Greek, translating as ‘the communication between the divine and the human’. A feast for the senses, cocoa and honey luxuriously swathe fig, while blackcurrant ensures the perfect balance of sweetness, swirled into the reassuring woodiness of cedar. A sprinkle of cinnamon ensures this so-sophisticated, intoxicating indulgence of a scent is seasoned to perfection. Divine!
An absolute stunner of a scent, there’s a mellifluous segue between hypnotic floral notes of tuberose and ylang ylang, generously drizzled with honey that brings forth their headiness and makes them swoon into the dry, grassiness of vetiver and tea. Nestled in the base are deeper notes of leather, amber-y warmth and resins resting on smooth sandalwood and snuggly moss. Completely beguiling…
Created by master ‘noses’ Annie Buzantian and Ann Gottlieb, the sunny fragrance opens with a refreshing bouquet of green pear, juicy, ripe mandarin and a cool, fruity punch. Then at the floral heart you’ll find a composition of orange blossom, peach nectar and honeysuckle, followed by a warming base of that gloriously golden honey, creamy vanilla and silky woods. Scrumptious!
One of the perfumery world’s most distinguished figures, Master Perfumer Olivier Cresp has composed hundreds of your favourite creations, including Christian Dior’s Midnight Poison, Penhaligon’s Juniper Sling, Dolce & Gabbana Light Blue, Givenchy Gentleman and, of course, the utterly legendary Thierry Mugler Angel – a perfume which became all the more poignant this year with the passing of Manfred Thierry Mugler on 23 January.
Named a master perfumer in 2006, Cresp joined the Firmenich team in 1992 and was honoured with the title Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres from the French Ministry of Culture in 2012. In 2018 he was announced as the Fragrance Foundation’s 2018 Lifetime Achievement Perfumer Award recipient, and far from slowing down, he’s now launched his own fragrance house of AKRO with his daughter, Anais.
Suzy Nightingale recently had the privilege of sitting down with this paragon of perfumery and in an exclusive interview originally for our magazine, The Scented Letter (which you can also buy a gorgeous print copy of) and discovering exactly how he works…
When does your day start?
Olivier Cresp: I like to play tennis in the morning, then go to the beach in the afternoon… [laughs] No, seriously, I never really feel like I’m working because it’s my passion, that’s why I’m still working within Firmenich, and then my own projects with AKRO – that’s pure pleasure because we have no limits, we can dare. On a normal day, I get to the office around 9:30. I love that you’re interested in this! The other day I had someone filming me all day long, for a short video that will be edited down to three minutes. It’s interesting that people want to know how perfumers spend their days, now. The first thing I always do is talk to the other perfumers – ask how their evening was, have a coffee. Around 9:45 or 10am I open my laptop and then start working.
Where do you work?
I have a double job, in fact: working for them as Master Perfumer, based in Paris, and working for my own house, AKRO. I have assistants, FDMs (Fragrance Development Managers), sales teams, managers, any number of colleagues depending on the project.
How does your day break down?
My office is open, so I have the FDMs come to see me, followed by the evaluators and the salespeople. After that some customers call me. A new thing is the number of Zoom and Teams online meetings we do throughout the day – a few years ago this just didn’t happen, but since lockdowns, it can be three hours a day of talking to colleagues through this connection. When I’m working on my laptop, I try to concentrate myself on the projects I have open at that time.
How many fragrances might you be working on at any one time?
In the past, when everything was done by hand, I could only work on eight or ten fragrances a day. Now, with computer technology, I can send fifty formulas a day, sending them all over the world. There are perhaps twenty projects I’m working on at once, sometimes more. I prioritise the fragrances by dates and even hours for deadlines. I can be fast. You have to be! Depending on how quick you are, you can win or lose a project. To work fast you must have the experience and use your time well. Instead of doing hundreds of experiments, like I did at the beginning of my career, I now only need to do four or five – then I know exactly what to move in my fragrance formulas and it just works.
Do you compose fragrances mostly in your head? Do you write by hand or use a computer?
It’s a good question – perfumers are like writers, some prefer handwriting or dictating, others like writing straight on a computer. Twenty-five, what, even thirty years ago now, I used to do everything by hand and my calculator. I’d handwrite the ingredients and work out the percentages and the price for them, because you have to know that. Those days are long gone. Now we have special programmes that work those bits out for you. When I’ve written my formula on my laptop I send it straight to the robot, the robot compounds about 80% of the formula. Then I have my assistants who weigh and compound the missing 20%. As soon as I get the idea for my fragrances, I know exactly what ingredients I want to use.
The next step for me is to discover the correct type or best quality for that fragrance. In two or three hours it’s fixed in my head. From that point I think about what else it needs to create the atmosphere I want, so I might think about what could create some smokiness or an animalic note, for example. Sometimes the idea is easy, but then it’s not easy to find the right molecules to match that smell in your head. I try to be figurative, to catch the profile of what I want. The other day I had to create the smell of a marshmallow. I’d never done that before really, but in two or three experiments I had it. I knew I wanted orange blossom, I used some violet and some rose-y elements, then some praline and vanilla to make it smell edible. It must be logical. It’s a chronological story, and then I’m never lost that way – it’s kind of a red thread I’m following.
What kind of other inspirations do you look for, during your day?
I can be inspired by anything, but conversation is really important to me. I buy loads of magazines on all subjects, I really enjoy reading Figaro, but I get lots of feminine magazines especially. I also love walking, being in the forest, foraging, fishing, smelling the seaweed. I always carry blotters with me, so during the day I tend to jot down ideas on those, just in a few words.
Do you break for lunch – or eat at your desk?
After meetings and working on those, I like to meet colleagues for lunch around midday to 1pm. We always go out because there’s no canteen or anywhere you can food in the office. Perhaps a few times a year if I’m in a hurry I grab a snack and eat that at my desk, but that’s not funny to me, I hate it. I could also go to my house for lunch, because my house isn’t far away, so that’s always a possibility. I might walk there and stay an hour, make myself some nice food, have a change of scenery, then I come back and feel revived by that.
After lunch, how long do you work for – and what will the afternoon be spent on?
I always feel more energetic in the afternoons than I do in the mornings – probably helped by the lunch, inspirational conversations with colleagues and simply the change of scenery – so I feel I can tackle more difficult things then.
What time do you go home? Is that the end of the day, for you? Do you continue to think about the fragrances when you get home?
In the past I used to stay until 9pm, when I was younger I’d work at least twelve hours a day, but I don’t do that any longer. So, let’s say after lunch, from around 2pm I usually stay in the office until 7:30pm minimum, then I go back to my house and do some sport. I never work at home, not ever, otherwise my head would explode. Well, okay, sometimes when I’m fed up, I take my laptop and work from home instead of the office, but on these occasions I’m with my wife and we stay maybe a week in Paris and a week in the South of France, where we have a nice flat.
Seeing the sea, the luminosity of the area – being in Cannes, visiting the islands, the harbour, watching the boats coming in and out – it gives me such inspiration. My nose doesn’t switch ‘off’ as such, but we’re not going around smelling things all the time as a perfumer, not in the same way as when we work, I think it would be impossible to have a life.
Do you need to be in a particular mood, to create?
Not especially, but I do need to feel energised I suppose, I must feel passionate about what I’m doing because otherwise what’s the point?
How long does it take from concept to finished fragrance, in general?
I mean my initial concept can be done in two or three hours, but how long it then takes to come out as a finished fragrance might be two or three years! Ideally, a year and a half is enough to create a great fragrance. You see you have to wait until the year after that to be on the market. There’s one project, I don’t want to say for whom [he chuckles], but I’ve been working on it for eleven years. And it’s still going on!
Do you listen to music while you work, and if so, what kind – pop, jazz, classical…?
No, I can only concentrate in one thing at a time when I’m working. So I couldn’t even read a book or magazine with the radio on in the background, for example, I don’t do that thing of watching TV while you’re on your phone and half reading something else… I do find most of the perfumers like to have music on the radio or stream it from their smart phone, but for me the key is to focus.
Is a visual moodboard of inspirational pictures / colours helpful for you to create?
More and more clients send me pictures to look through. Before, I’d be sent a few piles of pictures a year, in hardcopy. Now it’s mainly digital they can easily create a moodboard, it’s a visual language. To see on the screen what they want is useful. But often they can turn out the same. You know: it has to be strong but easy to wear, pleasing to the market, something different, long lasting, another unique fragrance…
When I’m gathering inspiration for myself, I read through all the magazines that I buy, I like to first of all flick through in about ten minutes to get an overview and see the colours, colours really drive me. I like to keep my eye in, see what people are interested in. Sometimes I then see these images again in moodboards clients then send me, because they often use images they’ve found in magazines, so I like to know the context. Sometimes the inspiration they send is really good, it helps give me ideas more quickly.
What is the most number of modifications you’ve ever had to do, on a fragrance? And the least?
Some just happen really quickly. Dolce & Gabbana Light Blue, for example, I did in forty experiments, but I have some that are painful – the longer you’re working on something I feel it’s the worst for creativity because you can get lost. I’m lost, the client is lost. The entire concept can change, the name, if it’s feminine or masculine in style, literally everything.
How many materials do you have at your fingertips, to work with? And how many tend to be in your regular palette?
Out of 1500 main ingredients I have access to – though it’s what we call a ‘living palette’ and that can always be added to – I’m usually working with the same 400. This means I don’t have to smell them all the time, which might sound strange to some people, but I know them so well I know all the outcomes and possibilities of them. It takes you ten years to get to know them that well – to see, to feel, to touch, then just to know.
How much of your day (or perhaps week) is spent on your own work – creating new accords, working with materials that may have been offered to you by the ingredients houses, to ‘store up’ and use for future finished creations?
I don’t have that time generally. The only trésor time I have, to do exactly what I want, is with AKRO. The thing is, I don’t get to actually smell materials all day, I don’t need to do that anymore to write a formula, I will only then smell them to create a big step in that formula or change it somehow. When we get new molecules or ingredients and extractions to smell, that is always exciting, because I don’t know them!
Is there one fragrance you WISH you’d created, and why is it so special?
[Without hesitation] Shalimar. It’s what I’ve smelled in my family for years, I love the richness of the bergamot with the leather and vanilla, the benzoin. It’s magic! I created Champs-Elysés for Guerlain – with musk, mimosa, you know, very different. I loved it but it didn’t go so well. [He laughs] I created for them, anyway, and it was a great time. For a masculine, I’d loved to have created Dior’s Sauvage. Another all-time classic. What more can you ask for?
We are still absolutely BUZZING with excitement from The Fragrance Foundation U.K. Awards 2023, where over 500 guests and nominees gathered at The Brewery in the City of London, to celebrate the fragrance industry and our passion for perfume…
Having begun in 1992, and known as ‘the Oscars of the fragrance industry’, the Awards recognise ‘excellence within the fragrance arena, from Packaging, Advertising through to Best New Fragrance and Ultimate Launch’. With sequins and scent a-go-go it was surely the most glamorous (and definitely the best smelling) location in London!
Part of The Fragrance Foundation award ceremony now also includes The Jasmine Awards, which were launched in the UK in 1990, and 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.’
Before we get in to the Jasmines (scroll down to see the winners… including the award WE WON!) let’s take a breath and raise our glasses to the incredible fragrance awards winners – many of which are fragrant friends of The Perfume Society, and all of which we whooped with joy for…
We were ecstatic to see the talents of Ruth Mastenbroek on stage collecting the Perfume Extraordinaire award for Zephyr – a gorgeously luminescent and crisply shimmering breeze of a scent we adore. And you can try a sample of the award-winning scent in our Platinum Discovery Box!
And the loudest whoop of the evening was surely from the team at the Versace, when Eros Parfum won the People’s Choice Award!
Versace Eros Parfum is a flamboyantly jubilant modern fougere that exudes confidence via mint, lemon, apple and a unique smooch of tonka, geranium and ambroxan in the heart before woody notes, oakmoss and vanilla swirl the base. And you can try this award-winner as part of ourMen’s Must-Have Discovery Box!
Audrey Semeraro, founder of Edeniste, was absolutely glowing with joy to win the Newcomer award for her fabulously mood-enhancing fragrance house…
…as were we, having taken the decision to stock the entire Edeniste collection in our shop as soon as we smelled them, plus putting the Edeniste Vétiver Imaginaire as part of our curated Feel Good Fragrances Discovery Box.
With the announcement of every award, the room lit up with cheers – it’s such a mood of celebration for all, and for fragrance itself! Here are the other proud Fragrance Foundation Award winners who were also whooping it up during the evening…
Media Campaign: Prada, Paradoxe
Design & Packaging: Dries Van Noten, Soie Malaquais
Independent Fragrance: Angela Flanders, Leather Rosa
Interior Fragrance: Diptyque, Roses
Readers’ Choice: CHANEL, Paris-Paris
Newcomer: By Far
Innovation: Launch of Jo Malone London ‘Shining a Light on Mental Health Foundation’
Retailer of the Year: Harrods
Limited Distribution: Diptyque, Opsis Eau de Parfum
National Distribution: Gucci, Flora Gorgeous Jasmine EDP
Online Retailer of the Year: The Perfume Shop
Best New Fragrance: Prada, Paradoxe
Best New Fragrance Collection: Tom Ford, Enigmatic Woods Collection
Ultimate Launch: Frédéric Malle, Uncut Gem
Ultimate Launch: Prada, Paradoxe
We were also so pleased to see the previous Chair of the Fragrance Foundation, the hard-working and supportive Annalise Fard welcomed into the Circle of Champions (the Fragrance Foundation’s equivalent of the Hall of Fame) – such a well-deserved tribute for this incredible woman.
And it is always especially heart-warming to see the importance of brilliant consultants recognised, with Kenneth Green Associates’Nathan Macpherson La Maire receiving the award for Consultant of the Year Award for 2023. Bravo!
And now, let us take a moment to celebrate the Jasmine Awards section of the evening – a highly anticipated and incredibly prestigious collection of awards which receive hundreds of entries from the biggest names in publishing.
At The Perfume Society, we were so excited to be finalists with 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. It was a genuine THRILL to see The Perfume Society celebrated on the huge screens at the venue, among such talented company as the other incredible nominees and all the fragrance houses. And well, we only went andWON!
Rising Star: Fabulous, How to smell expensive (without breaking the bank) – Tara Ledden [NB: We couldn’t find this piece online, but you can read Tara’s other work for Fabulous here]
The prestigious judging panel had to read so many submissions, and we were full to the fragrant brim with gratitude for this recognition, and send huge congratulations to ALL the finalists, and to the winners, which we were over the moon to be among.
Until next year, fragrant friends, we’ll be wafting on a scented cloud!
Chanel have just announced that Timothée Chalamet will be the new ambassador of the Bleu de Chanel fragrance. It marks the 27 year-old’s first ever collaboration with a beauty or fashion label. His first ad campaign, shot by Mario Sorrenti, will be released in June followed by a short film directed by ‘friend of the house’ Martin Scorsese in the autumn.
Whilst it’s not necessarily earth-shattering news that a major fashion house is working with an acclaimed young movie star, Chalamet’s appointment feels like a progressive move for Chanel and an acknowledgment that depictions of modern masculinity are evolving. The French- American actor joins Chanel after the untimely death of Gaspard Ulliel, who was the first ever male ambassador for the brand and worked on campaigns for 12 years. Ulliel was a fine French actor but portrayed a more traditional example of what constituted ‘manhood.’ He was handsome, chiselled, strong and in the Scorsese commercial from 2010 was tortured by memories of a mysterious blonde woman. It’s 60 seconds of beautifully shot nightscapes, a moodily-lit press conference, two glamorous women, a pair of giant red lips and is Bond-like in its styling. It can be hard to get away from the idea that perfume campaigns are often about desire and desirability, but with Chalamet, Chanel have recruited someone that can bring something else to the party – sensitivity, duality and one hell of a range. This year alone we’ll see him play a young Willy Wonka, Bob Dylan and he’ll reprise his leading role in the sci-fi epic Dune: Part Two.
Feted by Kenneth Turan of the L.A Times, who said “he might be the male actor of his generation”, Chalamet is a press darling, has a fervent social media following (over 18M on Instagram alone) and is equally at home on the red carpet, the film festival circuit and the front row. Fashion is clearly important to him. He co-chaired the Met Gala in 2021 and was the first ever solo male star to grace the cover of British Vogue. Last year he famously wore a sequinned jacket from the Louis Vuitton womenswear collection to the Oscars ceremony and followed it up with an iconic halter neck jumpsuit at the Venice Film Festival. Stars like Chalamet, Lil Nas X, A$AP Rocky and Harry Styles are exemplars of a more nuanced and idiosyncratic kind of modern masculinity. One that is playful, irreverent and unafraid of doing things differently.
The announcement of actress Whitney Peak as the new face of Coco Mademoiselle (also the first black fragrance ambassador for Chanel) and the arrival of Chalamet signals a new era for Chanel fragrance campaigns. With Bleu de Chanel I’m hoping the brand take their cues from their new signing and imbue the work with boldness, vulnerability and beauty. Showing the modern man, redefined.
How do find the ‘true you’ and know if a fragrance suits you? This is one of the most frequently asked questions we get at PSHQ, and to be honest, it’s one of the reasons we launched (incredibly, nine years ago, now!)
One of the the best ways to really tap into that ‘true you’ and discover what you need from a fragrance on any given day is how it resonates with you – how it makes you feel, not just what it smells like.
From childhood, we are all conditioned to have individual smell preferences, and our response is based partly on our individual genetic make-up (our DNA), and partly on our life experiences. So: that crushed tomato leaf note that reminds you of a beloved grandmother and her greenhouse – or the jasmine that was growing round a door when you were poorly on holiday, and which you can hardly stomach. Technically, we all have an ‘olfactory fingerprint’, which is unique to us: it is our life’s experiences all locked away in our smell memory. In the same way that we each respond differently to different smells, we don’t all like the same pictures, or the same music. (And wouldn’t life be boring, if we did…?)
Your physical make-up can have an impact, but there are many, many exceptions… Please remember this is a very broad rule-of-thumb, and can also change with hormone levels…
Blondes with fair skin may find they are happiest with rich florals, as their skin may have a tendency to dryness, and subtle/citrus fragrances will evaporate quickly.
Brunettes / black hair often have medium/dark skin which tends to contain higher levels of natural oils, allowing scents to last longer; they may find Ambreés (deeper, more resinous) notes work well.
Redheads tend to have fair and delicate skin, and sometimes this turns out to be incompatible with perfumes dominated by green notes.
How to Find a Fragrance You Like:
We’ve previously published a piece on how to find a fragrance, where you will find all the tips and tricks you need to get your hands (and nose) on a selection of scents
But… Does it Suit Me?
Ask yourself this question, only, at first: Do you really like it? If so, then yes! We can never hope to please everyone with our scent choices, so our advice is, don’t even try.
Sometimes, though, when people ask this question it’s because the fragrance is out of their comfort zone. It’s completely true that some fragrances – particularly the bolder or more complex and unusual ones – can take longer to fall in love with. The most important thing is to give fragrances TIME on your skin – not just one spray on one day, then walking away if it doesn’t immediately grab you.
Other times, people ask this question if they simply can’t smell a fragrance on themselves very strongly. This might be because you’re ‘anosmic’ (unable to smell) some of the notes. This can happen with large molecule notes (like musk), and amazingly, scientists currently still don’t know why we can smell some things but not others. Or, it might be because you’re so used to smelling the same ‘signature’ scent that your nose has ‘switched off’, and doesn’t register it anymore.
The best way to find the ‘true you’ with fragrance…
…is to try several – try scents you’d never normally consider wearing, even those that feel so different they might be a little challenging at first. That’s why we started doing our Discovery Boxes nine years ago, and so love curating them to this day!
Really get to know the new fragrance samples – and yourself – by considering what it is you do or do not like about them. It’s just as useful to learn what we dislike, at times, rather than sticking with something safe but dull. Do you wish they were brighter, lasted longer, were bolder, smoother, softer…? Now you know a little of what you need, what the ‘true you’ requires, and you can ask an assistant in store, or search for those key words online.
It’s a starting point, and the beginning of a wonderful journey. Next, you might have learned of a brand you’d like to explore more of. And then you’re already in the midst of a wonderful journey…
Paper is something we have increasingly infrequent contact with in this relentlessly digitised world, and perhaps nearly as importantly, smell far less frequently in our every day lives. Could this be why perfumers are seeking to evoke the scent in the fragrances we wear?
There’s a functional sterility to the burgeoning ‘metaverse’ that’s abhorrent to sensorialists – those of us who revel in our senses, welcoming the smell and comforting caress of books and paper (and you know, food, fabrics, the infinitesimal layering of textures that IRL [In Real Life] offers us), as we might a lover’s touch.
For book (and printed paper) lovers, particularly; while E-Reader devices and scrolling on phone screens certainly have huge benefits – instantaneous access to literature is not to be, pardon the pun, sniffed at – but they lack the tangibility of literally burying your nose in a book, or feeling a piece of paper as you write on it (in pen! How very old school). Indeed, research shows that, while levels of comprehension are similar no matter how you read a text; people struggle to accurately recall events or timelines of a long story on a screen, as opposed to reading on paper.
The report concludes that it’s the ‘kinaesthetic feedback’ of holding paper in your hand that connects us to the perception of what we’re reading; that is, using our sensory organs to better locate and store vital information. I’ve previously written about the concept of vellichor – what makes the smell of old books so special – so want to widen that thought, here, to the more literal smell of paper itself.
‘…over a period of time, the compounds within paper [break down to] produce the smell. Paper consists of cellulose and small amounts of lignin(a complex polymer of aromatic alcohols). Paper that is even more fine contains less lignin than cheaper materials, like the paper used in newspapers.’
I would argue the smell of paper – old and mysterious or newly seductive – is also a huge part of our emotional intelligence, our interconnectivity, scent and memory combined.
In those ancient library type fragrances (which I still absolutely adore) it’s often the combined smell of crumbling leather bindings, dust and polished wooden tables that conjure a feeling of being in a particular space. But the smell of paper itself needn’t always be musty.
We might be in a shiny new bookshop, or have just cracked the spine of a sensorially satisfying weighty magazine. The paper might be that of an artist, awaiting the stroke of a brush, or of a writer’s virgin sheet, greedily thirsting for the first drop of ink…
Paper does have a unique smell. In those dusty old tomes it’s the breaking down of paper compounds that releases lignin (similar to vanillin, the primary component of vanilla, which has been proven to be a remarkably calming smell). In new paper, explains perfumer Geza Schoen, who once created a limited edition Paper Passion fragrance, in collaboration with Wallpaper* magazine; recreating the scent ‘was hard’ he admits. ‘The smell of printed paper is dry and fatty; they are not notes you often work with.’
Difficult though it may be to replicate, the smell of paper is something we yearn for, a comfort we crave in our hyper-digitally-connected yet progressively solitary lives. Comically satirising a future in which we’ve become so disconnected with paper’s scent that it repels us, author Gary Shteyngart’s novel, Super Sad True Love Story, imagines a time ‘Books are regarded as a distasteful, papery-smelling anachronism by young people who know only how to text-scan for data…’ as The New York Times review puts it.
Well, I’m very glad to say, we bibliosmatics are not there yet. The yearning to smell paper is still real, and these perfumes prove it…
Diptique L’Eau Papier
Rice steam accord melded with white musk cleverly evokes the paper’s creamy grain; drifts of mimosa tracing the outline of torn edges while deeper notes appear fleetingly, like freckled ink drops in water, punctuating the clarity with sheer shadows before the paper comfortingly subsumes.
A limited edition project in which participants imagined the smell of school, this pleasingly avoids boiled cabbage, instead exploring the heady rush of opening new books, cold air, pencil shavings and the textural thrill of fingers tracing wooden desks scarred with names, love hearts, learning.
Achingly soft, especially in the ‘Personal’ (most hushed) version, this suggestively whispers of stationery, passing a letter to someone, your fingertips barely brushing, but a gesture that says so much. The molecular wonder of ISO E Super sighs to skin’s warmth, an amber trail beckons.
Inspired by Spanish poet Gustavo Adolfo Becquer’s passionate poem, Rhyme 11, the paper of this perfume feels fresh with possibilities at first. Then, the cool kiss of mint is seduced by spices and Indian jasmine petals, a discovery of crumpled, tear-stained, love letters slipped under a mattress.
Playing with the power of words, monastic incense curls beguilingly, a trail of promise leading to the temple you seek. It could be a church, might be a library, but let us say instead we are in a bookshop, gleefully thumbing piles of temptations, a woody path of patchouli and potent escapism.