Growing up a stone’s-throw from Grasse – still regarded as the perfume capital of the world – it’s no surprise that Nejma‘s founder, Marie Lise Bischoff, has scent in her soul…
Already a devoted fragrance fan, it took a trip to the Far East for Marie Lise to truly be inspired. She then went on to work with some of the finest perfumers to create an extraordinary collection based aound a captivating Oriental fairy-tale and the founder’s love for the constellations of the stars.’
Marie Lise says that she ‘… had all these ideas for perfume but wasn’t sure how to go about making them a reality. I was again lucky to have good friends in the perfume business that could advise and help me, and I became fascinated by oudh – this was about 20 years ago, before it became so big in Europe.’
Referring fondly to the original fragrances as ‘… my seven daughters of fragrance’, in the fable we meet the heroine Nejma – ‘a woman of incomparable charm and beauty’ – who is captured by pirates and catches the eye of a certain Vizir who, deciding he is unable to live without her, asks her to be his wife. Nejma and the Vizir go on to have seven daughters, each of whom attempts to immortalise the essence of their treasured mother through scent…’
The Nejma universe began with seven (numbered) original fragrances – referencing the number of daughters in that fable, and each based on that precious base of oudh but blended with some of Marie Lise’s favourite ingredients from around the world. (They’re all wonderfully shareable, NB.)
We find sandalwood from Mysore, Ottoman rose, Egyptian sambac and jasmines from Arabia, all harmonising to explore and highlight the note in differing ways – a reference to the original fable they were inspired by, and the differing facets of the beloved mother Nejma‘s personality.
‘The name of Nejma also means a “good star”,’ Marie Lise goes on to explain. ‘I have always loved the stars, and I thought the word sounded beautiful. I find the different meanings of the word really interesting, and it just seemed so fitting to call my perfumes after this word.’
Explore the fragrances in depth, below. But – as a little preview – you’ll find Nejma One, a vibrant perfume with spicy top notes of thyme, roseberry and saffron leading to a floral heart of Bulgarian rose. Nejma Two is more subtle and delicate, fusing nuances of ylang ylang, white rose, clove and saffron in a modern and timeless accord.
Nejma Three, meanwhile, is a melody composed around the floral harmony of ylang ylang, cardamom and bitter orange supported by floral notes of Bulgarian rose and hibiscus, while Nejma Four opens on a fresh floral note, with essences of ylang ylang and geranium; Four’s heart is a smooth symphony of Egyptian jasmine, wild narcissus and Ottoman rose.
Nejma Five you’ll find fruity yet velvety and smoth, lively with notes of orange, bergamot, blackberry and nectarine before leading to a luxurious harmony of floral essences, while Nejma Six is reminiscent of a summer’s day, opening with the freshness of apple, pineapple and coconut before revealing a sweet and woody heart of incense, tonka bean and petitgrain. And Nejma Seven? Exploding in a dynamic combination of sparkling citrus fruits, it gives way to vibrant neroli, notes of cacao and coconut for a mesmerising sillage.
The original ‘magnificent seven’ have since been joined by KoEptYs, a woody-Oriental created by master perfumer Jean Neil and celebrating a daring partnership with artist Booba, linking two vastly different worlds – of artistic urban style and modernity, and Nejma‘s luxury perfume tradition. Written with a mix of lowercase and uppercase letters, the name highlights the key to success (K-E—Y-), and we’re told ‘these graphics are a homage to street art, the genre where Booba comes from and where his major influences are found.’
To create many of their fragrances, Nejma has enlisted the remarkable talent of Alice Lavenat, a young perfumer working for Jean Niel in Grasse, who entered the 2014 French Perfumers Young Perfumer of the Year Competition with a deceptively simple brief: create a fragrance with blackcurrant bud at its heart. 100+ young perfumers entered. The judges were blown away by Alice’s sparkling contribution and their decision unanimous: at the World Perfumery Congress in Deauville, Alice was awarded the prestigious prize. Having had the sense-drenching pleasure of sniffing the composition, so passionately based on Alice’s family heritage in Cognac – Marie Lise Bischoff knew this was the next rising-star perfumer (and perfume) to add to Nejma’s fragrant constellation.
Rounding out Nejma‘s exciting offering is the sumptuous-as-it-sounds Luxury Collection, its eye-catching white bottles contrasting with the original black flacons. In this line, up, encounter rich floral-fruity Le Merveilleux, gourmandesque Le Mystérieux (with its heart of oudh and cocoa absolute, everlasting flower and Damascene rose), sweet-floral Le Fabuleux and Le Sublime, the most elegant of floral bouquets, with good-enough-to-eat flourishes of dark chocolate, caramel and brown sugar.
Sitting in this Luxury Collection, with its gilded flacon, is Le Parfum d’Alice, which honours Alice Lavenat: a sparking floriental showcasing rhubarb, blackcurrant bud, peony, rose absolute, labdanum and Cognac.
We’ve a hunch Nejma’s journey won’t stop here. And we know for sure you’ll enjoy this particular magic carpet ride…