The garden of a space station, the experience of being a bee tasting a flower’s nectar and the transmogrification of drinking hot chocolate through ‘forbidden fruit’ to become a Eurovision diva…
Not exactly your average inspirations behind a range of perfumes, that’s for sure! But as we were to discover, when invited to attend the launch of the IFF (International Flavors & Fragrances – one of the world’s leading innovators and creators of scent, for pretty much any perfume house you care to mention) exclusive collection – this wasn’t exactly your average launch…
Making our way to the sixth floor of Harrods to their Salon de Parfums, the press were abuzz with a slightly squeal-ing fandom not often witnessed at fragrance launches – and with good reason. Harrods had managed to persuade IFF to bring their much-envied Speed Sniffing event to the UK at last – a once-yearly occasion in which their top perfumers are given completely free-reign to create a perfume with no regard to a brand brief, cost of ingredients or mass-market requirements.
Basically, it gives some of the most creative people in the industry a chance to explore inspirations they’d otherwise never get a chance to – a perfumed playground in which to frolic with sheer abandon.
Usually, these Speed Smelling events are top-secret and open only to select members of the French press, granting them a mere seven minutes in which to listen to the perfumers talk about their creations, sniff them, ask a quick question and move on to the next.
‘We want you to think of this in the same way as a ‘speed dating’ session…’ Judith Gross, (Global Director of Fragrance Innovation at IFF), explained while holding aloft a large bell such as one may find in a hotel lobby.
Having strictly set out the rules, telling us we absolutely must leave the perfume we were engaged in sniffing when prompted to by her ringing of said bell; Judith added with a wry smile ‘…and I do hope you are going to be better behaved than the French press usually are!’
Split into groups of three, we began the scented trail, noses a-quiver, and facing the Speed Sniffing as though it were an Olympic trial (and we think it should be – they used to have poetry in the Olympics, so why not perfumes?)
The perfumers showcasing creations within the coffret reads like a Who’s Who of the fragrance list of fame… Some of you may not have heard directly of the perfumers themselves, but you will most assuredly have already worn something they have made – look up the ones we have previously interviewed (further noses being added all the time) or search for the others, and you’ll find a jaw-dropping list of renowned fragrances they’re behind.
Included in the coffret:
1. Alexis Dadier – The misty fir-balsam scented breeze surprisingly oozes glamour with boozy ‘forbidden fruits’, cocoa powder and iris for his muse: cross-dressing musical icon, Conchita Wurst!
2. Anne Flipo – Beeswax melts into narcotic floral nectar for a honey-drenched trip to the centre of the flower itself.
3. Dominique Ropion – A refined reconstruction of the Taif rose (using no Taif itself). Elegant, subdued – petals on ice.
4. Alienor Massenet – Homage to the work of Danish sculptor Olafur Eliasson, a stylised, highly faceted citrus that exudes light and space.
5. JC Herault – A cloud of fluffy yellow mimosa at the Massif du Tanneron (near Grasse) awed Herault to capture its upliftingly fresh yet dusty charms.
6. Loc Dong – An ode to his grandfather’s herbal dispensary in Vietnam, natural Cinnamon essence smoulders through ambroxan, cashmeran, and Iso E Super.
7. Nicolas Beaulieu – Aged green coffee beans shipped through a monsoon – smoky, creamed with cardamom, laced with jasmine and sprinkled with sesame.
8. Sophie Labbe – Wondering what the greenhouse of a space station would smell of, Sophie fills hers with mandarin, spices, basil, vetiver and ozonic musk.
9. Domitille Bertier – Taking a chlorophyllic adventure to the Amazonian rainforest, an overdose of steamy green foliage, moist earth and white flowers.
10. Nelly Hashem – Textured sexiness in a velvet-lined boudoir – peachskin flirts with a floral bouquet-holding, tobacco-smoking, leather-corset-wearing minx.
11. Juliette Karagueuzoglou – Holding the geranium leaf up as an overlooked ingredient, shining as frozen sherbert – floral yet herbaceous and glistening.
Exclusive to Harrods Salon de Parfums, this is the very first time any Speed Sniffing collections have been made available to purchase within the UK. With a very limited supply, we suggest getting in early for your own speed sniff-a-thon. Housed in a white leather box containing notes from the perfumers, information about the Speed Smelling concept and the perfumes themselves – it’s a rare opportunity to smell some of the most uniquely intriguing fragrances you’re ever likely to get your nostrils near…
IFF Speed Smelling Collection: £100 for eleven fragrances
Buy it at Harrods Salon de Parfums
Written by Suzy Nightingale