With an attention-grabbing name like Damn Rebel Bitches – a scented homage of blood orange, hazelnut, pink peppercorn, clary sage and malt, to the fearsome females of the Jacobite uprisings who were given this nickname – it’s obvious that REEK Perfume are bursting with passion to portray inspiring women in fragrant form. A new niche house, proudly Scottish Molly Sheridan describes starting the brand so she could ‘…memorialise heroic, unapologetic women through scent. We want to celebrate our heroines.’ Damn right, and here at The Perfume Society, so do we!
Molly says wearing REEK scents should be ‘…an everyday rebellion, a reminder of female achievement, much of which has been forgotten.’ And when launching REEK, Molly knew what she wanted, but not how to make it (she doesn’t pretend to be perfumer), and so collaborated with with award-winning perfumer and fellow fragrance house founder, Sarah McCartney of 4160 Tuesdays. Following the success of their first fragrance, Damn Rebel Witches is soon to follow – handmixed and hand poured, the eau de parfums are ‘…inspired by the lives of the women who inspire us.’
Using unconventionally honest images (completely un-photoshopped images of women that celebrate beauty in all forms, including some of Molly herself) and deliberately provocative names to make people think a little more deeply about how women have been classified – often by their scent and the things a ‘virtuous women’ is supposed to smell of – throughout the centuries, we were already intrigued by their Instagram account, and so were thrilled to meet up with Molly and get to know her by asking for her five favourite smells…
1 – Chanel No 5: ‘The reason I’m picking this is because at every stage of my life, a lady of significance to me has worn it. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t have an older relative, or teacher, for example, who hasn’t worn it! It’s one of those absolute staples, a smell that everyone knows. It’s a classic – I wouldn’t wear it myself, but I love the smell of it on other people. Especially when they wear too much – I love that!’
2 – Elnett Hairspray: ‘It always reminds you of somebody or a particular time in your life when you used it. One whiff and you’re straight back there! And it’s just got this really distinctive smell – something that I can’t quite put my finger on or even describe – but it’s so evocative…’
3 – Petrol: ‘I love the smell of petrol, and I find that a lot of perfumes I like to wear has something like that in the scent for a split second – I’m not sure what it is, exactly, but something that reminds me of it and draws me to it. I want to keep smelling it to get more, more to get the petrol smell back. Weirdly I find that with both fragrances and food – the things I like most have something that reminds me of petrol.’
4 – 4160 Tuesdays Maxed Out: ‘Ohhh… it smells like chocolate limes to me. For ages this was the only perfume I wore, and I wouldn’t wear it during the day, but for some reason I like wearing it at night. Even if I’m just staying in.
5 – Bread: ‘It’s one of those smells that’s the same everywhere in the world. You can be in India or Paris and it all smells the same. Bread is one of those habitual smells that’s so comforting, and makes you hungry to smell it, even if you’re weren’t beforehand. I really like the fact that bread has such a social history, too – it’s a staple of life, we talking about “breaking bread” with people or say something’s “the best thing since sliced bread”. I went to Italy with my little sister and asked her what her favourite thing about the holiday and she said ‘The bread and butter!’ which just about sums it up for me.
Can I just say, I think these are absolutely brilliant questions to throw at someone! It’s so psychological… and I really like not having time to ruminate on the answers, otherwise you’d come up with some perfectly balanced list of things you’re supposed to say. Not like me – petrol and Elnett, haha!’
Now REEK are adding a second scent to their celebratory fragrance line – this time, paying respect to the many women who were considered witches just for making their own herbal remedies, speaking their mind or simply not playing by the rules.
While REEK’s first scent is mixed in memory of the firey Jacobite women, Damn Rebel Witches commemorates witches burnt at the stake, those prosecuted today for witchcraft and people who identify as witches. Placards at this year’s women’s march declared ‘we are the granddaughters of the witches you didn’t burn’. At REEK we look to the past to inspire our present. There is no better way to evoke memory than through scent – these women and their struggle must not be forgotten…’
Damn Rebel Bitches, £75 for 50ml eau de parfum (or £25 for 7.5ml) – Damn Rebel Witches 7.5ml available later this month, prior to the Halloween release of the full-size.
Buy them at reekperfume.com
Molly interviewed by Suzy Nightingale