Marina Barcenilla is a ‘rising star’ of perfumery, acquiring a shelf full of awards to her name. And she’s one of the talented ‘noses’ driving the strong trend towards natural perfumery…
In 2011 Marina Barcenilla launched The Perfume Garden, a small artisan perfumery based in Glastonbury. With a collection of six oil-based perfumes – alongside a selection of body oils, bath salts and sugar scrubs, originally blended to order – she has since seen her passion turn into an industry-acclaimed fragrance house.
Marina’s vision was for a return to more traditional ways of creating perfume. As founder and perfumer, she wanted to be involved in every aspect of the perfume creation process, from sourcing rare and precious aromatic essences from around the world to blending fragrances by hand in her own perfume studio. After years of study, she finally embarked on a long-awaited olfactory journey to ‘rediscover the soul of perfume’.
In 2016 Marina won the coveted Fragrance Foundation (FiFi) Award for Best New Independent Fragrance with India. Against incredibly stiff competition, judged blind by Jasmine Award-winning journalists and bloggers, this prompted her to take the next step on her journey – The Perfume Garden became Marina Barcenilla Parfums. But although the name had changed, the ethos remained the same – ‘to create the finest fragrances, using what nature has to offer.’
More awards followed in 2017, including a Beauty Shortlist Award for Patchouli Clouds, an International Natural Beauty Award for The Perfume Garden, and the Eluxe Award for Best Natural Perfume Brand. In 2017, for the second consecutive year, Marina won Best New Independent Fragrance for the opulent Black Osmanthus – which truly put her on the radar of journalists and perfumistas.
Marina’s decision to use only nature-derived ingredients in her own fragrances which carry the Marina Barcenilla Parfums name stems solely from a deep love of the complexity of natural aromas. Born in Spain, she remembers being intrigued by the aromatic notes in the Herbíssimo fragrances and in her grandmother’s lavender water, which is where her love of natural ingredients is rooted. She has always been interested in scent – and when the chance came to branch out from her aromatherapy roots into the world of perfume, Marina rose beautifully to the challenge.
Having always been fascinated by the way things smelled – and with a peculiar childhood obsession with imagining how objects that don’t have a scent ‘should’ smell – perfume creation became a way to express a creative and artistic side that had been hidden through much of Marina’s life. Using ingredients as building blocks for fragrance instead of for their aromatherapeutic qualities came easily to her – and it wasn’t long before Marina began to create bespoke fragrances for customers who had heard of her via word of mouth.
Alongside her own fragrance collection, Marina works as a nose creating perfume and skincare fragrance for other brands, and teaches natural perfumery to students from all corners of the world. She divides her time between London and her home in Glastonbury – and parallel to her perfumery career is also studying to become a Planetary Scientist and Astrobiologist, at the University of London.
Bloggers and perfume-lovers who discover her perfumes have been enraptured by them, meanwhile. India, in particular, seduced Sam Scriven of the IScentYouADay blog, who described it as ‘better than heaven or Arcadia…’ She writes: ‘India opens with orange flower, Indian jasmine, tuberose and roses. It’s a rich and heady floral opening, but there’s nothing light about this. The heady weight of this stunning opening accord is narcotic in its depth. It gradually segues into wood and spice that smells both earthy and authentic. The spice is like tarry resin, yet as the richness dies down, the sandalwood and cardamom emerge in a beautiful accord of aged, incense-infused wood. Think church pews but still with some bark left on…’
Explains Marina: ‘All my creations are inspired by personal experiences that I love to share – so all of the fragrances are accompanied by short stories that describe the inspiration behind them. I hope that these stories will help you to discover the soul of my perfumes – and that they speak to you in the same way that they speak to me.’
And as anyone who’s discovered them will tell you: they do. They do…