St Giles

Joining the line-up of incredibly exciting new British perfume houses currently making a splash is St. Giles. Offering five fragrances created by maverick perfumer Bertrand Duchaufour, there is something for every fragrance-lover – and every character…

At The Perfume Society, we’re lucky enough to rub shoulders with some of the greatest movers and scent-shakers in the fragrance world – from universally renowned noses to heads of perfume houses, creative directors and the thousands of hard-working, passionate people who work behind-the-scenes to make sure you actually get to hold those fabulous flacons in your hands.

Along the way, we occasionally get to meet individuals who seem so fuelled by their zeal for fragrance they practically seem to glow from within. Michael Donovan is one such man. He has spent his life working tirelessly to seek out exciting brands and new perfumers from around the globe – bringing them to the shelves of cult fragrance-shopping destinations (including his own acclaimed store, Roullier White), running a leading perfume PR company, and representing such luminaries as Frédéric Malle.

At every encounter, Michael has been bubbling with enthusiasm about a perfume we ‘…absolutely must smell!’ or a nose who’s ‘a complete genius!’ And you know what? He’s always been right. Cue our extreme curiosity when Michael one day made an appointment to meet at The Perfume Society offices, to share with us news of his own perfume house. And as Michael explains: ‘St Giles is the result of my personal passion for fragrance, nudged and nurtured by some the greatest talents in the industry with whom I have worked over two decades.’

The nose he sought out to bring his vision to reality just happens to be one of the greatest of our time. ‘The perfumes are made in collaboration with Bertrand Duchaufour, whose vision I have long admired and whose friendship I cherish.’ It turns out Bertrand was more than enthusiastic – and it’s impossible to smell the finished creations without being equally enthused. (We can’t recommend too highly that you sniff them out in Selfridges, where they launched exclusively.)

Cleverly, each fragrance is imagined as a different character – an instantly recognisable archetype. ‘My fragrances are designed specifically to help people make a choice,’ he says. ‘Everyone needs an olfactory wardrobe. Gone are the days when everyone had just one perfume from cradle to grave. You need to choose fragrance the same way as you would choose clothes – occasion, season and mood.’

Michael wanted the ingredients to truly reflect each of the characters they evoked – and so in The Writer, alongside rosemary absolute – now scientifically proved to stimulate memory performance – you’ll find a drop of ink, in a fragrance that fizzes with fresh ginger and Champagne-like aldehydes, herbaceous clary sage and the zing of rhubarb, before soft leather and frankincense sigh to a woody base.

The Actress is ‘a celebration of feminine glamour,’ filled with giant Oriental lilies, jasmine, orchids and honeysuckle – like a bouquet tossed on stage. Intriguing ingredients add nuanced complexity: basil, lentisque pistachio and tomato leaf. The Stylist is a must-have for the ‘sartorially savvy’ – bitter orange, rum and mango absolute offer suggestions of cocktails quaffed in the private room of an atelier. Tamarind adds bite to the smoothness of Palo santo, its creamy, woody dry-down taking this effortlessly from jeans and crisp white shirt to an after-show party running dusk ’til dawn.

Of course it wouldn’t do not to flex the fragrance muscles of our masculine side, and the smoky, brooding sensibilities of The Mechanic with earthy patchouli suggests someone who doesn’t mind getting their hands (or anything else) a bit dirty, but juxtaposed by geranium. In fact there are contrasts throughout – caramel on leather, oakmoss on hot rubber, skin-like musk with balsamic styrax.

And should you find yourself craving opulence? The snapped-stalk freshness of galbanum, sherbet fruit fizz of pomelo, green lemons and ginger feels like a wake-up call to the senses in The Tycoon, before spices, celery, magnolia flower and tea add to the banquet. The classic base feels smoothly oiled, confident with patchouli, labdanum and oakmoss, all grounded by ‘an animalic castoreum that means big business.’

One of the greatest pleasures of using fragrance is a way of highlighting our own characters – or borrowing the assets of others we’d really like to be for a while – and the whole St Giles range offer the wearer a continual game of fragranced dress-up.

Quite simply: who would you like to be, today…?

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