As part of our continuing feature, Fragrance Family Friday, today we’re burrowing knee-deep in shady ferns for Fougère…
For anyone who’s wondering, you say it ‘foo-jair’ (with the ‘j’ a little soft – almost ‘foo-shair’…) – we thought we’d start with that, because not only can some of the fragrance families be a bit confusing, even pronouncing them can get the better of us at times!
Now that’s out the way, let’s go deep into the shady undergrowth of this fabulous – and still-evolving – fragrance category.
Although there are many modern variations cropping up, a fougère will invariably feature lavender, geranium, vetiver, bergamot, oakmoss and coumarin in the blend. Fougère Royale as the first of them, from Houbigant in 1882. Fougère takes its name from the French for ‘fern’ – and to understand what these ferny, green fragrances smell like, here is an absolute classic, now thankfully revived in a heart-warming way, by Milano Centro…
Milano Centro HIM was showcased first at the Beauty International show at Olympia in June 1989, by business partners and interior designers Dean Tatum and the late Matthew Bright. Inspired by ‘the classic sophistication of all things Italian’, they launched with just one fragrance – Milano Cento HIM – a fabulous evocation of a fougère that smells like a cool, shady walk through a forest.
What does it smell like? Imagine citrus luminescence sparkling in the tops notes with bergamot and peititgrain, giving way to a herbaceously dappled breeze of rosemary, lavender and basil. As it warms, you’re swathed in the musky warmth of smooth sandalwood and suavely sprinkled spicy notes of clove, cinnamon and amber atop a darkly glimmering patchouli base.
When Milano Cento – the perfect, drop-dead sexy man smell – later disappeared from the shelves (as many fragrances do, alas…) it could have been a mere scent memory, if it wasn’t for Dean Tatum’s wife Valissa and son, Jasper. They had the idea to recreate a single bottle for Dean’s 50th birthday: the ultimate journey back in time. As any perfume world insider knows, however: it’s not that simple. ‘Trying to find someone to produce for us, in the small quantities we were after, was quite a challenge. It was only after we called a few stockists, who said they remembered the brand and asked when it was coming back, that we had the idea to relaunch it.’
We’re so glad they did. This is a fougère fragrance that smells classic in a timeless way, rather than simply reminiscent of the era it originates from – it’s grown-up, insouciant, perfect for any occasion.
When David and Julia Bridger decided to combine the ruling passions of their lives – art, gardens, travel and perfume – and gather a team of experts (literally) in their field, they set in motion a series of events that is poised to change the face of British fragrance forever. And put Parterre on the map…
Embracing the concept of ‘from seed to bottle’, David and Julia not only set out to to grow, harvest and distil many of their own ingredients – but they also had a longing to try growing crops that had never before been grown on British soil. Even including – astonishingly – vetiver.
FAMILY: Fougère TOP NOTES: ginger, lemon, bergamot HEART NOTES: clary sage, hyssop, blue hyssop BASE NOTES: vetiver, leather accords, amber
Those craving warmth should look no further than Parterre’s golden elixir, an evocative blend of all things radiant. Even the top notes of bergamot and lemon have been enriched with the tingle of ginger, softly melding into the hazy heart of camphorous hyssop and herbaceous clary sage.
To continue the story of this garen-centric house, the work that has gone into this project is nothing short of astounding. It begins with finding and restoring Keyneston Mill in the Dorset’s Tarrant Valley, bordered by the River Stour. There, a series of botanical gardens has been designed – hence the name, ‘Parterre’ – divided into ‘The Fougère Garden’ (with its ferns, lavender and mosses), the Padua Garden (roses, jasmine, geranium), and so on.
The planting expands into surrounding fields, with crop-scale ingredients, including rose geranium, mint, yarrow and the aforementioned vetiver. (Which we can report is incredibly smooth and pure: a vetiver lover’s dream!). For Julia and David, this is about ‘reinventing perfumery by taking it back to its roots.’ Parterre‘s motto: ‘Where creative botany meets artistry and the wild spirit of adventure.’
We think you’re going to want to explore this garden of fragrances quite thoroughly… You can vist Parterre’s Keyneston Mill gardens for a small £3 entry charge, and of course explore the Root of All Goodness in your own home, – along with twelve other fragrances – in our Niche Collection II Discovery Box!
Well we told you it was limited, but we had no idea they’d sell this quickly! If you’re wanting to try a superb selection of truly intriguing Limited Edition Niche fragrances, you’d best act fast as this could be your last chance…
For a deep-dive in to the wonderful world of the Limited Edition Niche Discovery Box, we’ve put together our iconic Smelling Notes online – exclusive to The Perfume Society – in which we take you through the notes you can expect to smell, an evocative description of each fragrance we’ve included in the box, a look at the history and inspiration behind each house, and a fun (but highly educational) list of questions to ask yourself while sniffing them.
But really, time is of the scented essence, here, so we’d best give you a shorter run-down so you can choose to buy before this box goes, forever!
P.S: Thank you, Sam, writer of the perfume blog I Scent You A Day for sharing this picture (we’re always thrilled when you send us pics of our perfume boxes ‘in the wild’ as it were!)
As you can see, it’s brimming over with a fab selection of scents to try at home, and here’s what you get:
Anima Vinci Sesame Chān 7.5ml eau de parfum (full size £150 for 100ml) Atkinsons Mint & Tonic 2ml eau de parfum (£130 for 100ml) BDK Parfums Rouge Smoking 2ml eau de parfum (£150 for 100ml) E. Coudray Musc et Freesia 1.5ml eau de toilette (£65 for 100ml) Fragrance du Bois Oud Vert Intense 2ml eau de parfum (£295 for 50ml) Juliette Has a Gun Liquid Illusion 1.7ml eau de parfum (£200 for 75ml) Kingdom Scotland Metamorphic 2ml eau de parfum (£110 for 50ml) Merchant of Venice Blue Tea 5ml eau de parfum (£180 for 100ml) Modernist Geist 2ml eau de parfum (£150 for 50ml) Parle Moi de Parfum Une Tonne de Roses / 8 2ml eau de parfum (£98 for 50ml) Parterre Run of the River 2ml eau de parfum (£95 for 50ml) Prosody Rose Rondeaux 2ml eau de parfum (£135 for 50ml) Serge Lutens Santal Blanc 1ml eau de parfum (£110 for 100ml) Tom Daxon Laconia 4.5ml eau de parfum (full size £105 for 50ml)
The Limited Edition Niche Discovery Box also contains two divinely fragrant extras…
Cochine White Jasmine & Gardenia Smoothing Hand Cream 5ml (full size £14 for 50ml) Cochine Tuberose & Wild Fig Smoothing Hand Cream 5ml (full size £14 for 50ml)
When we were curating the Limited Edition Niche Discovery Box, we wanted to include the most exciting niche fragrances we’ve come across lately. It can be really difficult to find these houses if you don’t happen to live in London or near an independent perfumery – and even if you do, it would take ages to seek out all these scents – FOURTEEN in all! – so we’ve saved your legs and done all the pre-sniffing to find the hottest niche brands right now…
Have a look here to read all about the fragraces, with three huge luxury size samples and the entire contents worth over £75, but costing you only £23 (or just £19 forVIP Club members ); but right now let’s focus on why we think you should be excited about exploring these niche houses, now.
One of the things that truly sets a ‘niche’ house apart is their founders hands-on approach – and the unique personalities they bring to their brand’s creation. At The Perfume Society, we truly believe perfume lovers want to know more than merely ‘this is new’ – it’s one of the reasons we started! – and that’s why we dedicate entire pages to houses’ histories, from tracing heritage and discovering why they’ve embraced niche, to finding out what makes their founders tick, and what drives their perfume passions…
Showcasing fragrances created by some of the world’s most renowned perfumers, Anima Vinci is the creative expression of one woman’s strong belief in the power of fragrance and the positive effect it can have on your heart, mind and spirit. With a background at the very first ‘niche’ perfumery house – and years at the creative helm of one of the UK’s most historic fragrance names – Nathalie Vinciguerra brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the table. But it’s her passion for authenticity and sustainability within the world of fragrance that finally drove her to create Anima Vinci.
Oh, what a wonderful fragrant story this is: a traditional British perfume house, restored to its glory in the 21st Century – with the 2013 niche-focused relaunch of Atkinsons fragrances. A sleeping beauty of a tale, actually, interwoven with the names of heroes and heroines, princes and dandies. And as if that wasn’t enough, a rags-to-riches story, too.In spring 1799, an enterprising young man named James Atkinson set forth from the wilds of Cumberland for London. In his suit pocket were recipes for fine fragrances and toiletries he’d created himself. And next to him sat a generous amount of rose-scented bear grease balm. (Yes, really.) Even more extraordinarily, next to the balm sat a real, live bear who – so the tale goes – was utterly devoted to James…
One of the city’s newest niche perfume house, BDK has its roots firmly in Paris’s perfumed history, while its design is even inspired by an iconic Parisian building. Unlike the names Guerlain, Creed or Dior, Benedek isn’t one you’d immediately associate with perfume. But in its own way, 29-year-old David Benedek‘s family has also played a pivotal role in sharing the love of French fragrance within France and beyond its shores.
There are few fragrance houses still as ‘relevant’ after almost 200 years as the wonderful Paris-based house of E. Coudray – which can trace its roots back to the reign of Louis XVIII, no less, and the year 1822. The Paris-born founder was a doctor-chemist, Edmond Coudray (the ‘E’ in E. Coudray), who went on to enjoy a spectacular career, creating eaux de Cologne, pomades, creams and soaps for the crowned heads of France, Italy and England – including Queen Victoria, for whom the perfume ‘Reine Victoria’ was made. Now enjoyed by niche fragrance-lovers who appreciate their unerring quality and dressing-table worthy bottles, no wonder this heritage house is proudly thriving.
Fragrance du Bois
With their headquarters in Paris and a number of privately owned sustainable plantations in Asia, Fragrance Du Bois are world experts in the protection and harvesting of oudh – sometimes known as ‘liquid gold’. And they have mastered the blending of this fabled ingredient, using some of the best ‘noses’ in the world. Fragrance Du Bois are, quite unashamedly, so oudh-obsessed. And are we surprised? Derived from the dark resinous wood of the Aquilaria tree, oudh (often spelled ‘oud’) is an utterly fascinating material – a resin that occurs in less than 7% of trees, in the wild. Which explains why the material is so precious – and, sought-after. And not all oudh, it transpires, is harvested with the focus on sustainability that Fragrance Du Bois are renowned for.
Juliette Has a Gun Romano Ricci has perfume in his DNA. His great-grandmother was the legendary couturier Nina Ricci and his grandfather Robert was creator of the equally iconic L’Air du Temps. He launched Juliette Has A Gun in December 2006: a brand devoted to women, offering a new type of elegance within niche perfumery: ‘The innocent Juliet of Shakespeare is transposed to the 21st Century with a gun… Metaphor for the perfume, weapon of seduction, or simple accessory of bluff. “Gun” essentially symbolises the liberation of women towards men… And sometimes with an aftertaste of revenge.’
Kingdom Scotland Imogen Russon-Taylor has created the very first Scottish fragrance house – capturing the history and majestic landscapes of her home country in a portfolio of utterly contemporary fragrances…The worlds of whisky and fragrance have much in common, believes Imogen Russon-Taylor. And she should know: after a distinguished career in the aromatic world of Scotch whisky, Imogen has now gone on to create her own fragrance house – the very first to be based north of the border. ‘Both whisky and perfume are produced by traditional distillation methods,’ she explains. Both evoke a complex sensory experience and both rely upon the innovative use of ingredients or flavours to distinguish themselves from competitors.’
Merchant of Venice
When the princess Teodora Ducas – daughter of the Emperor of Byzantium – married the Doge Domenico Selvo in 1060, it can be said the grand Venetian tradition of perfumery (and the accompanying products with which the royal court liked to adorn themselves) truly began. Later centuries would come to see Venice as a centre for the art of European perfumery – a vibrant city that never shied away from revelling in the finer things life has to offer. Surrounded by such beauty, it seems only natural the aristocrats would wish to look – and smell – just as fabulous. Skip forward several centuries to 2011, and the Vidal family – already renowned in the world of perfumery for more than a century – decided to pay homage to this glorious cultural tradition.
It’s easy to look back and think the timing was spot on,’ says John Evans, founder of Modernist Fragrance and (perhaps somewhat surprisingly) former financier. ‘That was true to a degree,’ he admits, ‘but the rest was like anything you’re passionate about: hard work, perseverance, some setbacks, a bit of luck.’ Through books, involvement with industry organisations, meetings with perfumers, as well as a research to Grasse – global epicentre of perfume creation – he immersed himself in the techniques of fine perfumery, painstakingly experimenting with building his own compositions. ‘Time and space change once compounding begins,’ John explains, ‘like being enthralled by something you’re writing or reading.’
Rising star fragrance house Prosody London believe that plants are more than just useful ingredients on which we rely, saying ‘they are the basis of human wellbeing, the silent friends without which our planet would be bare and our lives unthinkable…’ With a green ethos that flows through every fragrance, Prosody London take equal delight in their scents being so beautifully composed, so harmoniously sophisticated, that many people don’t even realise they are – gloriously, unashamedly – all natural and organic… Taking the beauty of plants – their stems, leaves, petals, and even the their cycle of growth and maturing beauty – as their guiding inspiration, Prosody London talk passionately about how ‘some of the earliest cultures saw plants as a grammar, a code and a cosmology.’
When David and Julia Bridger decided to combine the ruling passions of their lives – art, gardens, travel and perfume – and gather a team of experts (literally) in their field, they set in motion a series of events that is poised to change the face of British fragrance forever. And put Parterre on the map… Embracing the concept of ‘from seed to bottle’, David and Julia not only set out to to grow, harvest and distil many of their own ingredients – but they also had a longing to try growing crops that had never before been grown on British soil. (Even including – astonishingly – vetiver.) The fragrances, made by world-renowned perfumer Jacques Chabert, evoke the idyllic setting and, in strictly limited, hand-numbered bottles, are truly ‘niche’.
Parle Moi De Parfum Michel Almairac has created award-winning, world-renowned blockbusters for just about every perfume house you’ve ever heard of. And now, to the delight of perfume-lovers, he has launched his own fragrance house (with his family) – and opened a boutique in Paris’s Le Marais. His astounding CV encompassing a literal A-Z of perfumes from Dior Fahrenheit to Le Labo Ambrette 9, via Gucci Rush, Chloe Eau de Parfum (2007), Bottega Veneta Eau de Parfum (2011), Burberry for Woman and Burberry for Men – and so the list of hundreds goes on. But Michel found that he was having literally to shelve his most treasured creations because they didn’t quite work for the corporate briefs. He could never forget about them, however – and sometimes would take a scent home for his family to smell. Now these ‘lost’ fragrances have been completed, and are available for you…
Enigmatic, talented and exceptionally creative – it’s no exaggeration to say that Serge Lutens helped pioneer ‘niche’ perfumery. He once told an interviewer that ‘Morocco gave me the taste of perfume. It is very difficult to detach the olfactory sense from the other senses; however, I can say that before my arrival in Morocco in 1968, this fifth sense was largely fallow for me… The aroma of Morocco is linked to a form of life that allows you to be an individual in a dense crowd. The crowd here is a movement, a sound, a laugh, a game. By the end, smell was united with the other senses…’ Today, he lives in Marrakech, Morocco: a city of colour, exotic fragrances and mystery – the place where he discovered the creative potential of the world of scents. And the rest of the world waits eagerly, always, for his next olfactory vision, his next scent ‘dream’.
I grew up in fragrant surroundings,’ Tom Daxon recalls. That’s something of an understatement, for Tom began sniffing around the business as a child, when his mother – creative director for a leading fragrance and cosmetics name for over 30 years – ‘would often give me new shower gels to try, fragrances to sniff.’ Where Tom’s story may diverge from most is that he was lucky enough to accompany his mother on many of her working trips to Grasse, the epicentre of perfumery – aged just four, on that first visit. Truly modern, other-worldly, imbued with texture, beautiful ingredients and a wealth of creativity, they’re modern luxury redifined.
Whichever of these fragrances you most enjoy exploring in your Limited Edition Niche Discovery Box, we defy you not to fall madly for at least one, and begin a life-long love affair with these niche houses that we feel everyone deserves to try…
There’s a plethora of British niche perfume houses to be excited about these days – how many have you heard of and got to try thus far…?
Niche-lovers have surely never been so well served as right now – there’s a continuing bubble of enthusiasm in the rise and rise of niche perfume brands; and thrillingly, British houses are surging in popularity, much of it spread by word-of-mouth.
The personal recommendations are from hushed whispers of industry-insiders right through to fans declaring their love through social media. These houses are ‘indies’ (independently owned) and don’t have access to huge marketing budgets; so we wanted to share and celebrate just some of those our noses are currently loving…
Holly Hutchinson founded Memoize London in 2016, but her heart started beating faster for fragrance far earlier – at the age of seven, to be precise. On her birthday, she was gifted her very first set of miniature perfumes… the way many of us are reeled in to the world of fragrance fever! Following a career at a prestigious perfume house, Holly branched out to create her own niche brand, believing that perfumes should evoke memories, so drawing on her own, such as ‘a French holiday in the sun, a ride across the waves by boat, venturing through trees in a garden of ferns and Laurels…’
There’s eight fragrances, currently, from the provocative, smoky passions of Era to the lazy Sunday morning of Tristitia, cocooning you in floral and vanilla scented sheets with an amber snuggle. One of our favourites has to be Superbia – created for self-confidence, encompassing rose bushes, the smell of a leather satchel and a mother’s proud hug.
From the creative expression of one woman’s strong belief in the power of fragrance and the positive effect it can have on your heart, mind and spirit, Anima Vinci was born. That insightful and passionate founder is Nathalie Vinciguerra, and her background as creative CEO of what many consider the first true ‘niche’ house, L’Artisan Parfumeur, along with British heritage house Penhaligon’s, gave her great grounding (and the best contacts) in the business. ‘Anima Vinci is the creative expression of my strong belief in the power of fragrance,’ she says, ‘and the positive effect it can have on your heart, mind and spirit. I believe that scents have the power to immerse us in the universe’s energy and nature’s beauty.’
With Rose Prana you’re fully immersed in the rose fields of Grasse, smelling the earth below the bushes abundant with fresh, almost raspberry-scented Rose de Mai blooms, and a sense of the sky above. Jasmine Ylang is symbolic of divine hope with sandalwood and frangipani, a holiday for the soul; while Wood of Life is our go-to de-stress scent – a meditative whisper of mint atop sublimely smooth palo santo, sandalwood and vetiver. It’s truly other-worldy and totally wonderful to wear.
With a green ethos that flows through every fragrance, Prosody London take equal delight in their scents being so beautifully composed, so harmoniously sophisticated, that many people don’t even realise they are – gloriously, unashamedly – all natural and organic. Perfumer and founder Keshen Teo has worked tirelessly to ensure his scents have this aesthetic quality as well as the ethical purity they strive for. As he explains: ‘The intrinsic complexity of naturals means you have to work hard to keep things well structured and balanced,’ because it’s vital the fragrances are stunning on first sniff. ‘I like the challenge of this,’ he smiles, going on to admit: ‘We know that sometimes people buy Prosody London without even realising they’re organic and 100% natural. I’m perfectly happy with that!’
Their voluptuously feminine Jacinth Jonquil entwines hyacinth with that mesmerising jonquil itself – think daffodils in sunshine, a crispness to the air like the first breath of spring, flecked with juniper berries and nestled on a softly woody base. Mocha Muscari uniquely blends the richness of coffee with a surprisingly seductive twist of mango, jasmine and lavender on a base of black agarwood and sandalwood, and Rose Rondeaux is decadently laden with fresh raspberry and juicy blackcurrant, dusted with iris and warmed with patchouli: all of them all-natural, and all-beautiful to wear.
Angela Flanders was a fragrant phenomenon: an woman with a life-long passion for perfume, who was still working – and creating beautiful scents – into her eighth decade. Now, through her daughter, Kate Evans, Angela’s legacy endures… From her career as a television costumer designer to opening a store in the heart of the bustling Columbia Road market in 1982, the perfect restoration of a Victorian shop featured bowls of scented pot pourri made by Angela, beautiful fabrics and all manner of desirable things. The pot-pourri fragrances were so popular, customers begged her to make room scents and perfumes, and Angela’s world soon became exclusively fragrant as her perfume selection grew notoriety – Precious One, an exquisite jasmine/tuberose that softens to a green chypre – winning a Fragrance Foundation Award for Best New Independent Fragrance in 2012.
From the golden tobacco and spice of Ambre Noire to the perfect white flower wedding fragrance of Bouquet D’Amour, Angela excelled at seamlessly blending precious ingredients. Now, inspired particularly by her mother’s history with and love of fabrics, Kate uses those years spent at her side (learning the craft of perfumery and often advising) to continue their line of so-unique scents. Lawn captures the smell of crisp cotton sheets drying in a dewy floral-scented summer breeze, while the more recent Taffeta evokes decadence with heady hyacinth, soft iris and a fruity rose. What’s more, it’s up for another Fragrance Foundation award this year, so the family talent fully blooms.
Modernist Fragrance founder, John Evans, entered higher education, as he says, ‘late and non-traditionally’. Embarking on what he calls ‘an accidental corporate career’, trying his hand as a successful novelist before finally settling on his sense of smell to guide him. ‘My dad installed and restored wooden floors,’ John recalls, ‘early memories of fresh cut pine and newly sanded mahogany. Somewhere along the way these merge with the smells of church, incense especially, when I was an altar boy – capped off by a six week spell in hospital when I was five years old and all sorts of odours pervaded my life.’ Travelling to Grasse, he immersed himself in the techniques of fine perfumery, painstakingly experimenting with building his own irreverantly mischevious compositions.
Designed to be genderless, they’re inescapably memorable but never allow the integrity of the wearer’s character to be compromised. So for The Modernist, expect succulent citrus, then greenness dripping with juice, freesia , a hazy flicker of dry frankincense and labdanum before a smoothly woody base. In Nihilism, get ready for a majestically bombastic rose that’s up close and personal with icy aldehydes and a definite sense of a furry embrace in the bezoin base; and for Geist, lemon freshness is suffused by a seamless blend of honeysuckle, musk and gentle amber. Transformative and complex, utterly intriguing, these will all keep your nose hooked all day.
For the founder of Stories by Eliza Grace, Tonya Kidd-Beggs, being born into the heart of Northern Ireland’s ‘troubles’, and struggling to come to terms with thinking about the future for her children, curated each blend’s inspiration as a personal testament to the power of fragrance in her own life. And Tonya’s own appreciation of fragrance began early. As she recalls: ‘My grandmother’s pearl necklace hung on my tiny neck and I rubbed one of her furs across my cheek. It was laced with Chanel No.5. I breathed in the scent of a woman I would never know. A courageous businessperson who paved the way for Northern Irish women to succeed in a male-dominated market place.’ Named for her twin children (Eliza and Grace), inspired by precious memories, the fragrances feel remarkably like part of your own life as soon as you wear them.
Stories No.1 is all luminescence: bergamot, grapefruit and orange blossom leading to the deep, warm embrace of cedarwood, with delicate touches of jasmine, heliotrope and a fig-tea accord along the way. Ultimately, snugglesome amber swaddles sandalwood and the earthy cool of the so-grounding vetiver. For Stories No.2 Tonya drew on childhood memories of her grandparents’ garden, and it evokes the exuberance of running barefoot on dew-flecked grass, exploring flowers face-first, curls of tobacco smoke exuding from a steamy greenhouse. So special, and so personally evocative to experience.
The worlds of whisky and fragrance have much in common, believes founder of Kingdom Scotland, Imogen Russon-Taylor. After a distinguished career in the aromatic world of Scotch whisky, Imogen has now gone on to create her own fragrance house – incredibly, the very first to be based in Scotland. Both whisky and perfume are produced by traditional distillation methods,’ she explains. Both evoke a complex sensory experience and both rely upon the innovative use of ingredients or flavours to distinguish themselves from competitors.’ And thus was born her vision to ‘bottle Scotland’ – using perfume to share old narratives in brave new ways, tapping into the rich stories associated with perfume and natural ingredients in Scotland.
Composed in a thoughtfully contemporary way, they unfurl as fragrant tales alive with possibility. Gusting with outdoorsy botanicals and fresh bergamot, in Portal verdant florals rest on a forest floor of shady vetiver and soul-soothing aromatic pine; while for Albaura the landscape’s conjured through the freshness of snow and ice, blended with berries and botanicals in a scent that is bold, fresh and independent in spirit. Metamorphic‘s geology is composed by black pepper, tobacco, incense, minerals and rose absolute infused with a splash of whisky and amber-rich leather. Before long, Kingdom Scotland will be a fragrance name on the lips of perfumistas-in-the-know, far beyond that country’s borders…
We like to offer as many opportunities to try new niche brands as possible, and are aware that (unless you live within walking distance of a niche perfumery) it can be really difficult to try samples for yourself. That’s why we offer the chance to explore these houses through their own Discovery Sets in our online shop, – a selection of niche brands we think deserve to be celebrated and available for everyone to try.
If you love niche, here’s a teaser to keep your eyes peeled and your nostrils primed, as we have a VERY exciting and ultra-exclusive Limited Edition Niche Discovery Box worth OVER £75 (but costing you FAR less!) coming your way TOMORROW (Friday 26 April)… It’s expected to sell-out quickly, so do be sure to grab yours ASAP.
‘Same note, two identities…’ So says perfumer Francis Kurkdjian – (pronounced coor-shone, by the way) at the end of the mesmerising film for his new fragrance duo of Gentle Fluidity. Scroll down to watch it, here, and find out how you can get samples of BOTH to try at home…
The idea was to create two fragrances that smell very different – using exactly the same notes but crafting them in such a way, the scents evolve their own distinct characters.
Such elegant playfulness can be said to be something of a signature for Kurkdjian throughout his lustrous career; begining straight out of perfumery school and slap bang into composing his first commercial scent, then aged just 25: Le Mâle for Jean Paul Gaultier.
An instant success and still a best-seller, fragrance fans and perfume industry peers could already see this was a special ‘nose’, setting out to do something different, with an insouciant dry humour and ultimate sophistication. From there, young Francis set about creating Iris Nobile for Acqua di Parma, Lanvin Rumeur, multi-award-winning Elie Saab Le Parfum, and a duo of fragrances for the newly-revived Carven perfume house, among many others. Finally, in 2009, he got to found his very own house, Maison Francis Kurkdjian, near the Place Vendóme in Paris; and his subsequent creations have wowed the fragrance world ever since.
Talking of what creative freedom owning his own Maison affords him, Francis told us ‘…it is my way to express what I think about the world of fragrances, it is my take on luxury. It is nurtured from my background as a perfumer and a composer, my artistic sensibility and sensitivity.’
Put quite simply: the man’s a genius. And we don’t say that lightly.
You can read much more about his upwardly-mobile career and other fragrances on our page dedicated to Maison Francis Kurkdjian, but in the meantime, let us introduce you to his two newest fragrant launches – the Gentle Fluidity duo…
The inspiration: ”Working the ingredient to express its full potential and meeting the challenge of composing two different eaux de parfum with the same notes: juniper berries, nutmeg, coriander, musks, ambery woods and vanilla. The Gentle Fluidity duo was born of the perfumer’s imagination to offer two distinct olfactory silhouettes, for her or for him.’
gentle Fluidity Gold Edition £150 for 70ml eau de parfum selfridges.com
‘In gentle Fluidity’s (gold) generous, enveloping trail, we can find coriander seed essence and an overdose of musks and vanilla. The floral, spicy note of coriander seeds brings, just like musks, ethereal volume and a lingering trail. In the base notes, the gourmand, reassuring notes of the vanilla accord enhanced by the ambery woods reveal a radiant, bright silhouette.’
Gentle fluidity Silver Edition £150 for 70ml eau de parfum selfridges.com
‘In Gentle fluidity (silver), nutmeg and ambery woods are dominant and release a vibrant, comfortable trail. As for juniper berry essence, it leads to an ascending, ultra-fresh, aromatic note, similar to a “gin frappé” effect, balanced by the dry, slightly balmy, spicy notes of nutmeg. The base notes reveal ambery wood facets ranging from sweet and enveloping to powerful and dry.’
It’s really quite remarkable how unique they both smell – the Gold version warmer, a more snuggle-up-and-nuzzle-me type scent, perhaps, which is sure to be a hit for anyone who adores a more decadent, sensual side of perfumes. For the Silver edition, we find an unexpected freshness, a luminescence that shivers beguilingly and feels like wearing a lace shawl spun from dew-speckled spiderwebs. And yet, we must remind ourselves, these are the same ingredients…
It’s a useful reminder that we should never merely glance at a list of perfume notes and assume we know what something will smell like – it depends entirely on how and where the perfumer has used them in the composition; how they react to the other notes around them, the rate they evaporate on the skin depending if they’re used dominantly in the top, heart or base notes. So many factors can utterly transform how a perfume smells on your skin.
And so then – how to choose between them? Well we’re thrilled to offer you the opportunity to try samples of BOTH the gentle Fluidity Gold AND the Gentle fluidity Silver in our Launches We Love Discovery Box – among over a dozen new fragrances we’ve curated for you to explore at home!
We’re pretty sure whichever of the Maison Francis Kurkdjian fragrances you fall for, it will be just the start of your love affair with this always-exciting niche house… and we cannot wait to see (and smell) what comes next.
Miller Harris are one of our most-beloved British niche fragrance houses, and they continue to breathe colour and life into the classic perfumer’s art – complex fragrances ‘designed to tell vivid urban stories.’
They start with nature, with distinct greens and woods, with carefully sourced floral notes, iris from Florence, French violet leaf, jasmine from Egypt, Tunisian orange flower – but frame these precious botanicals in complex and unconventional ways, often inspired by artists, or more recently, urban foraging escapades and ever-cool, cult novels.
As Miller Harris puts it: ‘We honour nature by sourcing the finest raw materials and preserving the delicacy of our ingredients, then curate, combine and harmonise them to create perfumes that combine Parisian elegance with London’s eclectic street styles.’
We wanted to celebrate the fantastically diverse and always-exciting scents Miller Harris are producing, and so as part of our curated selection of Launches We Love Discovery Box, are thrilled to include samples of not one but TWO Miller Harris fragrances we think you’re going to love… Lost and Violet Ida.
Inspired by urban foraging, Miller Harris’s trio turned city greens into scents of dreams. Lost (in the city) is a celebration of that sharp pink ingredient, rhubarb, splashing fruity blackcurrants across a bed of wild rhubarb, rose and geranium. Earl Grey tea, crisp amber and musk settle in –but not before you’ve had your fill of bright fruits. It’s tart, fizzy and moreish – do prepare to have your inner child brought out by this one.
Brighton Rock’s big-hearted Ida Arnold is the muse for this proper-handbag, lipstick-kissed, buxom embrace of a scent. Think glamorously disordered dressing tables and delightfully déshabillé dames up to no good (but with best of intentions) amidst a powdery orris, carrot oil and heliotrope affair. The amber-rich and vanilla-infused dry down is something to snuggle up to and savour for simply hours, and we predict this will be a huge hit… Violet Ida £75 for 50ml eau de parfum millerharris.com
Before deciding which (we predict BOTH) of the Miller Harris fragrances you’ll be indulging in a full-size flaçon of, and exploring their delights in your own time – why not try them out at home in sample-size, in our Launches We Love Discovery Box – along with thirteen other scents, two scented shower gels and a full-size Nails Inc. nail polish (our extra gift to you), that’s worth £15 on its own?
Are you looking to treat the man in your life with a new fragrance for Valentine’s Day, or a chap who’s just exploring the fragrant world for himself, those endless shelves of scented posibilities can seem daunting. Follow our guide of how to start sniffing out a brave new world…
If you’re buying a scented present:
Don’t leave it to random chance – that could go wrong. Better to tell him that something exciting’s on the way and treat him to a selection box of new scents – take a look at some of the suggestions, below. And first, ask yourself this:
Can the man in your life still wear, with no shame, the same jeans he was wearing aged 17? We’re hardly ones to judge, but we’re betting most could not – and even if they could, that it would be really quite inadvisable for them to do so.
Why, then, do some poor chaps keep getting given the same old scent they’ve been using since they were first shaving?
What type of a chap are you buying for?
Age, character, hobbies and career are all pointers, but can never be an absolute guarantee of what he’ll prefer – he might just surprise you (and himself!) Masculine fragrances have moved on somewhat since the ‘splash it all over’ one-size-fits-all sporty-fresh-or-nothing days. Now there are ‘gender fluid’ fragrances categories, and men are offered opulent ambrées along with sophisticated fougéres; addictive gourmands, bigger, bolder Colognes and even floral-forward scents that smell utterly incredible on a man’s skin.
Where to begin?
We have put together the ideal starting point with a selection of Discovery Boxes, specially curated with a range of fragrances to suit all tastes – from classic and designer names to cult, niche houses they’ll love to explore.
A new season is approaching – and this is time for any man to switch heavier winter scents to a new fragrance wardrobe. We curated this selection especially for chaps looking to find something new, so there’s something for every man (and plenty of ‘borrowable’ finds) – including Bentley, Parfums de Marly, Cristiano Ronaldo and TWO duos from cult brands – Escentric Molecule and Clive Christian – among others. This is a thrilling collection to sniff your way through, and with two added extras from Penhaligon’s and Aromatherapy Associates, this box is worth over £40 to begin with, and is priceless when you discover that new favourite…
Our first Niche Collection sold out in record time, so we’ve chosen even more scents this time, including a 7.5ml of Anima Vinci Neroli Wisdom. Alongside treasured houses such as Amouage and Atkinsons we’ve included exciting newness from Parterre, Stories by Eliza Grace, Memoize, The Modernist, Tom Daxon. But it doesn’t stop there… We added skin-loving treats for chaps who know that pampering is self-love they can take part in, too. Keep your face glowing with the recent GOLD AWARD winning skinSense Overnight Leave on Mask (WORTH £8.50) – and ensure your hands smell and feel wonderful with the bestselling Balance MeSuper Moisturising Hand Cream (WORTH £10).
A versatile selection of Miller Harris’ best selling male scents, what an opportunity to try something from this always wonderful British fragrance house. Inspired by dreamy journeys conjured with every spritz, each of the three fragrances come in luxurious 14ml travel sizes, and are presented in precious miniature versions of their full size bottles. Miller Harris Étui Noir – suede-like leather is supported by the woods and powder of iris. Miller Harris Vetiver Insolent – bergamot and cardamom is balanced against black pepper and balsamic elemi. Miller Harris Feuilles de Tabac – an addictive blend of rich woods, honeyed tobacco leaves and hot spices.
If you’re treating yourself:
It’s best to try a whole range of differing fragrances – that way you can narrow down exactly what it is your nose is loving best. With each of our boxes, some of which you can explore above, we’ve created Smelling Notes to guide you through the process, but here are some handy tips to keep in mind:
– Try the fragrance on a blotter (also known as a perfume ‘spill’); these should be available on perfume counters – and when you buy a Discovery Box from this site, you’ll find a handy pack of blotters already inside.
– Write the name of the fragrance on the blotter, otherwise you’ll definitely forget it, later (and chances are, that one’s bound to be the best!)
– Wait a few minutes for the initial alcohol and the top notes to subside – a lot of people take huge whiffs immediately and then complain ‘it smells of alcohol/hairspray!’ Let it dry a little, first. At this stage you may be able to eliminate one or more, if they don’t appeal – but it is really the heart notes and the lingering base notes which you will live with, and which are crucial.
– You really need to smell a scent on your skin! Remember: blotters are a useful way of eliminating no-hopers and lining up possibilities, but they’re not really enough to base a perfume purchase on. We’ve lost count of the number of scents that didn’t particularly appeal at first-sniff, but which a few minutes/hours later we realised we adored. Fragrances are made to be worn on and warmed by skin, not paper…
– Ideally, try no more than two at a time on the skin – one on each wrist. We don’t believe fragrance-shopping should be rushed, but we all live busy lives. You can try one more, on the inside of an elbow – the elbows also happen to be good pulse-points.
– Try to live with a fragrance for several hours, or better still, a whole day/evening) before you part with your cash. That might mean getting a sample, if it’s available in store (or exploring the Fragrance Discovery Boxes). Try to wear the scent more than once if you’re properly testing it: mood, weather and what you’ve eaten can all seriously change how a fragrance works on your skin, and how you feel about it.
– Spray a darker-coloured scarf or inside of a jacket lining, too, and sniff it later. That way, it still warms with your body heat, but you’re not everwhelmed by it. And you can take it off!
– Book a fragrance consultation if you’d really like to make a special occasion of it. Many fragrance houses and department stores now offer this service, some of them are completely free and others you have to pay for (but it’s usually redeemable against purchase). Have a look at our round-up of some of these services; we originally wrote it for people wanting wedding fragrance consultations, but it applies whatever the occasion!
When you’ve fallen in love, only then go back and make your purchase – or flag-up to loved ones which ones you liked most, so they know for future gift-worthy occasions…
Valentines Day – love it or loathe it – is just around the corner, and it’s still the day that generates the most fragrance sales, peaking at 42% of all prestige beauty products sold. So if you’re thinking of splashing out on a scent for your significant other, follow our guide to ensuring success…
If you already know what they love
Great! Well done you. Why not have a look at matching products available, such as a gorgeously decadent bath oil, rich body cream or even a fragranced hair mist. It’s often possible to find travel-size versions of perfumes at this time of year, and if you really wanted to push the boat out – how wonderful it would be to book a couple of nights in a nice hotel or day spa trip, and add the ticket to the box of mini sizes in a golden envelope!
If you have no idea what they like
A pre-chosen selection box of scents showcasing a range of fragrances with differing styles is your saviour. First, think about their personality, their hobbies, the kind of books they see and films they love to watch.Then have a look at the list below and decide which category they most resemble. Then they can try them all home, taking time to choose their favourites from these stunningly packaged sets…
Are they a yoga lover – in to excercise as mindfulness, long walks or simply seeking inner peace and spirituality? Choose the Anima Vinci Discovery Set£15 (PS: It comes with a £15 voucher to buy a full size favourite!)
Are they a travel addict – keen to explore exotic climes, always seeking the sunshine and interested in sustainability? Choose the Sana Jardin Discovery Set £30
If you know what they usually wear, but they’d like something new
Well you’re off to a good start! Now all you need to do is type the name of that scent into our genius Fragrance Finder, and the clever algorithm – based on information we source directly from the fragrance houses and perfumers themselves – will suggest six new fragrances that, while different from the original you typed, share a similar mood, character or key ingredients.It really works!
If you just have no idea where to start
The best idea is to get a Discovery Box of fabulous mini sizes and samples from a wide range of fragrance houses, that way they can start exploring and trying them all in the comfort of their own home, and most importantly, in their own time. Each box is carefully curated to include something for all tastes – so they’re bound to fall for one of these!
Once they’ve found ‘the one’ (or perhaps several) you can then buy a full size, safe in the knowledge they’ve already fallen for it. And we’ve something to suit everyone:
The Velvet Collection £12 comes with a full size chocolate bar from Green & Blacks (so you’re alreadyon to a winner), and features a sumptuously seductive range of new, niche and ‘indie’ scents to try.
The Day & Night Discovery Box £19 includes luminescent, sunshine-filled and lighter style fragrances suitable for any day, and a number of deeper, darker scents to spritz for romantic meals or a night on the town.
The Fragrance Wardrobe Discovery Box £19 is a bumper selection of fragrances from designer fashion houses and cult brands, with a stunning suits-all lipgloss and lovely Molton Brown mini included as extra surprises.
The Treat Yourself Discovery £19 lovingly soothes and delights with body-care treats from Aromatherapy Associates, and whole host of wonderful fragrances, with something from classic houses to new niche.
When we first encountered Floral Street, suffice to say we were blown away by their concept – and oh boy did they deliver in the execution of the fabulous new spins on floral fragrances, and within their standalone Covent Garden store.
Our co-founder, Jo Fairley, has known Michelle Feeney for longer than either of them care to admit – back to Michelle’s time at the Estée Lauder Companies, and then at the helm of revolutionary tanning name St Tropez. So when she announced she was unveiling a fragrance line ‘built on the streets of London’, we were rather thrilled by the whole idea and the stunning reality…
Floral Street’s fragrances are as far from your granny’s florals as it’s possible to get – each created by the star perfumer Jérôme Épinette, who is known for his mastery of natural ingredients. As Floral Street put it: ‘These are bunches – not bouquets. Ingredients, not notes. And it’s about ease, modernity and joy.’ Michelle adds: ‘My mission is to bring fine fragrance to the modern female – so that she might build an entire fragrance wardrobe, which can express the many facets of who she is.’
At the heart of each fragrance is a specific flower (sourced by the legendary fragrance house Robertet) – but each creation brings an unexpected twist, treated in a way that brilliantly ignites the senses. Take Wonderland Peony, which not only features armfuls of that flower, but pink berries and violets, Anything but cutesy, it’s given a woody-balsamic warmth by cedarwood, alongside vetiver.
London Poppy is ‘a love letter’ to the capital city, ‘a city that sees the sun through the crowds’. Bright as a sun-filled London morning, it bursts into life with Florida orange and Sicilian lemon, a marine note adding a splash of seaspray to the neroli, jasmine sambac and apricot blossom at London Poppy’s heart, before the base of hinoki woods, black amber and cedarwood ventures forth.
The fragrance which has scent critics and beauty editors most excited, perhaps, is Chypre Sublime: an utterly modern take on this sophisticated fragrance family, blending incense with Damask rose absolute, midnight violet, pink pepper and geranium, on a stunning base of benzoin, labdanum and olibanum which – as Floral Street nails it – ‘offers a resin-soaked wood table for the flowers to perch on. A fragrance for musicians, painters and poets.’
Perfumistas have recently been gravitating toward the daringly delicious Ylang Ylang Espresso: A strikingly modern and supremely wearable blend of red rose, ylang ylang and jasmine resting atop a soothing cloud of just-brewed coffee, fresh cream and Sichuan pepper – sustainably harvested from the foothills of the Himalayas. ‘A fragrance to get lost in’ they say, and oh how we love to do just that.
What’s more, all the packaging is recylable and sustainable, and the boxes have been cleverly designed to be used as seed trays, instead of being thrown away! You can read more about the ethos behind the brand on our page dedicated to Floral Street.
We could wax-lyrical about the entire collection, but the very best way is for you to try these exciting new ways to wear floral on your own skin (or to give as the perfect gifting experience). With that in mind, we’re so happy to be stocking the Floral Street Discovery Set, where you can try all 8 fragrance for just £14!