Niche fragrances for £50 and under! Indie (not spendy)

Cultivating a love for niche fragrances is a thrilling exploration of what those independent houses are creating – a bit like the catwalk shows in fashion, often showcasing exciting new trends years ahead of the mainstream. But, as many of us know all too well, it can become somewhat injurious to one’s wallet if you want to try several all at once (and we always, always do!)

Last week we suggested some that were Thrifty but Nifty, while this week we focus on the ‘indie’ or more artisanal scents that could be your next guilt-free perfume purchase. Because, yes, there are niche fragrance houses with more afforable perfumes for you try. So whether it’s your first foray into the world of ‘niche’, or you’re simply looking for a treat-to-self; here’s some seriously wonderful creations that wont make a huge dent in your budget, but could become your next fragrant fixation…

 

Skandinavisk Kapitel 12 £43.20 for 50ml eau de toilette
Celebrating the Scandinavian right of ‘freedom to roam’, let’s throw on a warm sweater and stride onwards through banks of purple heather and frosted thyme, foraging for berries and herbs nestled in hedgerows. That glorious just-snapped stalks fresh-airiness evokes leaf sap and spring just about to unfurl, a sense of freedom we so need, now.
skandinavisk.com

 

4160 Tuesdays Amberama £32 for 15ml eau de parfum
Sometimes you might just long for a bit of frivolity in a fragrance, one that smells good but doesn’t take itself too seriously, perhaps? Presenting an 80s girl-band-inspired scent that relishes the glow and longevity of amber with a fun raspberry / iris /sandalwood heart that gets woodier and warmer as it wears, but with no bananas to be found…
4160tuesdays.com

 

ånd fragrance Sånd £35 for 10ml parfum
If it was bananas you were after, find them (surprisingly) within this ode to sandalwood. A strikingly modern take on the ‘old dependable’ wood of perfumery, as they put it, this wraps you in the most comforting blanket of creamy, dry, cardamom-infused deliciousness; cuddling down to a rich, resinous base. One to wear when you so want a hug it hurts.
andfragrance.com

 

Maison Matine Warni Warni £50 for 50ml eau de parfum
Journeying through cosmopolitan cities encompassing diverse cultures, this niche French brand jofully encourage us to be ‘a bit daring every day’. Wearing this takes us somewhere warm, the smell of grass scorched by the sun and crickets chirping in the languid heat, a delicious orange-blossom breeze as you sip tea and contemplate the better things in life.
harveynichols.com

 

Floral Street Arizona Bloom £24 for 10ml eau de parfum
Perfumer Jérôme Épinette captures a feeling of freedom – something we’ve sorely missed, lately in our now even more tech-heavy lives. Queen of the Night flower is spiced by black pepper, lush with Balinese coconut and tethered by woody oakmoss; the amber-y desert-like dryness conveyed by salted musks. Truly one to make the heart soar!
floralstreet.com

 

Niche V Discovery Box £27 (VIP price £23) for 19 fragrances + 2 beauty extras
Because we understand you’re missing browsing, spraying and smelling, we curated a selection of some of the finest niche fragrances out there to try at home. Showcasing an incredible cross-section of what’s happening niche right now, you’ll find houses such as Trudon, Ostens, Moresque, Mihan Aromatics, Maison Matine, the entire Storie Veneziane by Valmont and Bentley Beyond collections, and always forward-thinking Molton Brown and DSQUARED2. It’s a whole niche perfumery experience from the comfort of your sofa – what’s not to love?!
Buy your Niche V Discovery Box here

And if after all that you’re still up for exploring more pocket-friendly niche perfumes, do have a browse of these Brand Setsniche fragrance collections from only £8

By Suzy Nightingale

City of roses – the perfume capital of India

There’s an ancient city that’s become known as the perfume capital of India. Roses, roses everywhere! If ever you needed an excuse to feast your eyes on beauty, these seemingly endless dull, grey days are immediately brightened by reading this fascinating report by Rachna Sachasinh for National Geographic.

‘For centuries Kannauj (pronounced kunh-nowj), in northeast India’s Ganges belt, has been crafting oil-based botanical perfumes called attar using the world’s oldest known distillation methods,’ the piece begins, and as you gaze in wonder at the carpet of pink blossoms – and imagine with great longing the glorious scent in the air – it’s not hard to understand how the fragrances produced from the Rosa damascena shrubs planted there were soon ‘Sought after by both Mughal royals and everyday folk in ancient India’s fragrance-obsessed culture’, so that the ‘Kannauj attar scented everything from wrists to food, fountains to homes.’

We are thrilled to see the region showcased in the national media, now, for their utterly wonderful roses and fragrances produced from them, because Amanda Carr had already travelled to the city of roses, and last year wrote an exclusive report on The Scents of India for our magazine, The Scented Letter, for which she was nominated for a Jasmine Award, and which you can read in full, here!

 

It’s worth reminding ourselves that rose fragrances have been worn by both genders for centuries, too – it’s only Western and European cultures who more recently classed rose as ‘female’, and something the fragrance industry has begun to overturn (thank goodness!) by introducing many more rose-centric scents marketed at men or classed as ‘unisex’. We’ve said it many times before but we’ll go on saying it: smells do not have a gender – they’re for everyone who wants to wear them!

 

Indeed, the more recent National Geographic feature goes on to describe how the rose fragrances produced in Kannauj have proved ‘Equally alluring to men and women,’ because the ‘attars have an androgynous quality. They strike intense floral, woodsy, musky, smoky, green, or grassy notes. Trotted out by season, attars can be both warm (cloves, cardamom, saffron, oud) and cooling (jasmine, pandan, vetiver, marigold).’

I am lucky enough to have a little bottle of the Gulab (Indian Rose) attar from the Saini Blends distillery she visited, and which Amanda very kindly gave me when she returned from her travels. I cannot tell you the utter bliss it has been to wear it – a soft but fully enveloping cloud of powdery, fruity petals that almost smells like Turkish Delight sprinkled with icing sugar. Sheer joy, and a constant comfort to sniff and be reminded not only of our friendship, but of the wider world, of places I want to travel to, of beauty itself.

If you are interested in learning more about attars, I cannot urge you enough to read Amanda’s feature in full – there’s even a section on how to tell the attars apart, and how to order directly from Saini Blends themselves. It’s vital we not only celebrate this ancient art (and the fact that rose fragrances did not bloom unbidden from Grasse, originally) but support those who still work there. Because, as Amanda reported for us, ‘the attar industry in Kannauj has fallen to around 100 artisan makers today, from over 700 at its peak…’

By Suzy Nightingale

Fragrant Film Club – scent-themed movies, documentaries and series streaming now…

We’ve scoured the internet for this Fragrant Film Club – a curation of some of our favourite perfume-themed movies, documentaries and TV series to watch right now.

So, if you’re about done with Christmas and need a way to fill the weird hinterland between festive or new year celebrations and the return to (whatever will be) ‘normality’ – here’s a scented selection box of fragrant treasures…

 

Perfume: Story of a Murderer Amazon Prime: rent for £3.49

‘With his incredible talent for discerning scents, Jean-Baptiste Grenouille (Ben Whishaw) is one of 18th-century France’s finest perfumers. He becomes obsessed with capturing an elusive aroma: the scent of young womanhood. His search takes a deadly turn, and when the bodies of 12 young females are found, panic breaks out, with families rushing to lock up their daughters.’

Based on the best-selling, and now infamous, novel by Patrick Süskind, this is one every fragrance-lover should watch. It’s remarkable not only for being filmed at all (many said the book could never be made in to a screen drama), but for changing the way fragrance was talked about in the media. Stunningly shot, utterly gripping, we of course urge you to read the book first, but do then see this and marvel.

If you’ve already seen the film, have a gander at the made for TV drama loosely based on the premis of the novel, but in a modern-day setting: Perfume (series) Netflix

 

Scent of a Woman Netflix

Telling the story of a preparatory school student who woefully takes a job as an assistant to an irritable, blind, medically retired Army officer, Frank, (magnificently played by Al Paccino) this is one of those films that helped highlight the importance of our sense of smell. In one memorable scene, Frank approaches the table where a woman sits alone, waiting for date. ‘You know, I detect a fragrance in the air,’ he says, ‘Don’t tell me what it is… Ogleby Sisters Soap?’ So, although not a movie about perfume per se, it’s a fantastic performance, and fun to look out for some well-known fragrance names he also detects along his adventures…

 

Perfumes (Les Parfums) Amazon Prime: rent for £4.49

We reviewed this charming film in full, here, but basically it’s the story of a reclusive, once-feared French perfumer and her new chauffeur. Though a gentle comedy, Les Parfums takes a serious (and very well presented) look at the life of a perfumer, and now this subtitled film has a wider release with Amazon, we hope many more of you will be able to see it. Certainly it’s a treat for the senses, and sadly such a rarity to see perfumery explored on screen in this manner. We particularly loved the scene in which Guillaume, the chauffeur, is discovering his newly-acquired appreciation for smell –  in the supermarket, sniffing various shower gels, under the watchful gaze of a bemused security guard. ‘Something quite mellow…’ he says, as the guard shuffles closer, clearly unused to such behaviour in Aisle 5. Delightful from start to finish.

 

Love Blossoms free with Amazon Prime

After a perfumer’s death, his daughter works to meet the production deadline for his company’s latest scent, which is complicated by the lack of an elusive ingredient.‘ Now we should really start by saying this a Hallmark movie, and as such has a certain look and feel to it that previous viewers of their oeuvre will recognise. That being said, this is the kind of whimsical film that one can happily curl up on the sofa with while eating your way through an entire tub of ice cream. Just don’t expect Süskind levels of olfactory detail, accept that everyone wears pastel and has perfect hair, and all will be fine.

 

The Perfume of The Lady in Black free with Amazon Prime

We must admit to not having watched this one yet, but it certainly sounds like an antidote to excessive Christmas schmaltz, if that’s what you’re looking for. ‘After her mother dies, a chemist begins to have strange visions of a mysterious woman in black applying perfume in a mirror, and of strangers who follow her everywhere.’ That’s the synopsis in brief, but further reviews reveal that it’s a surrealistic film, also described as an ‘incoherent and inconsistent slice of psychological horror.’ Nonetheless, it’s a plot that sounds intriguing enough to capture our interest, and we very much we get to find out what the mysterious woman in black’s perfume actually is!

 

The Women (1939) Amazon Prime: rent for £3.49

‘Mary Haines (Norma Shearer) can’t believe her husband’s having an affair with salesgirl Crystal (Joan Crawford). But when Sylvia (Rosalind Russell) and Edith (Phyllis Povah) deliver the gossip firsthand, Mary heads to Reno for a divorce. En route she meets Countess de Lave (Mary Boland) and Miriam (Paulette Goddard), who coincidentally is having an affair with Sylvia’s husband. Once in Reno, the Countess finds another beau, Sylvia shows up for a divorce and Mary plots to win back her man.’

Even though this really only has one perfume-related scene, we’re recommending this one mainly because it’s one of our favourite films EVER. And what a scent scene that is – set in the fragrance department of a classy department store, and featuring magnificently catty lines with Crawford as the predatory perfume counter gal. A stellar cast – made up entirely of women (practically unheard of even today, let alone in the 1930s!) – magnificent costumes and a gasp-inducing sudden switch to full-colour film during the fashion show sequence, make this more than worth your watching (on repeat).

 

Some years ago, the BBC made a fascinating doccumentary series about the perfume business, taking a deep dive into the creation of a fragrance, the revival of a perfume house (Grossmith) and interviewing perfume personalities such as Roja Dove and perfumers including Guerlain’s Thierry Wasser. Sadly the episiodes are no longer available on the BBC iPlayer website, though they are now available to watch on YouTube: Perfume (BBC Documentary series).

 

Emily in Paris (series) Netflix

Following a rather gauche… sorry. A ‘driven twenty-something American woman from Chicago, who moves to Paris for an unexpected job opportunity.’ Emily in Paris has seen equal parts love and hate in the many reviews that followed its release earlier this year. Whichever camp you fall in, it’s a lovesong to Paris and HOW we yearn to get that back there as soon as we’re able. And you know what? It’s actually not a bad look at the creation and marketing of a perfume, as we follow Emily’s hapless adventures as she’s ‘tasked with bringing an American point of view to a venerable French marketing firm.’

 

Birth of a Perfume (British Pathé, 1967) YouTube

YouTube is a treasure trove for archival fragrance adverts and wonderful little gems like this Pathé documentary on how fragrance is made. We might chuckle at the Stiff Upper Lip ‘Received Pronunciation’ of the voiceover, but it makes for a still very interesting look at Grasse, French perfumery and the technical side of perfumery still not often shown in such detail to this day. Click above to watch it now!

 

The Legend of Fragrance free with Amazon Prime

Another still on our ‘to watch’ list, this series certainly sounds like it ticks many (perfume) boxes for us… ‘During the Republican era, a family empire famous for making the best fragrances and incense must guard against those who are out to steal their secret recipes. Ning Zhi Yuan is the sweet young master of his family’s fragrance empire. An Le Yan is a determined young woman who is out for revenge against the Ning family. Zhi Yuan falls in love with Le Yan, but she only wants to infiltrate Zhi Yuan’s family to steal a valuable perfume formula. Le Yan’s true heart is drawn toward An Yi Chen, an inspector. But Xiao Hui, the daughter of a Japanese imperialist, is determined to capture Yi Chen’s heart at all costs. Can Zhi Yuan protect his family’s livelihood and his own heart?

 

Tee & Mo BBC iPlayer

Something for the little ones – perhaps inspiring a new ‘nose’ in your family? – this cheeky little cartoon follows the story of  Mo, who is ‘…upset when Tee accidentally breaks her favourite perfume.’ And indeed she might might be upset! ‘Tee is now determined to cheer her up by making her some new perfume from ingredients found around the house. Lucky Mo!’ Hmm. Well we’re sure that’s all whimsically delightful, but if Tee tried whipping up a batch of vintage Mitsouko from stuff he found around our house, we’re very much afraid he’d be out on his ear (having replaced the bottle and cleaned the carpet, thank you very much!)

 

At the time of writing, the new BBC drama series of The Black Narcissus have not yet aired, but you can watch them here when they do (starting Sunday, 27th December in the U.K. at 9pm, with the following two episodes airing in the same slot over the next two nights – Monday 28th and Tuesday 29th December 2020). Based on the aponymous Powell and Pressburger classic 1947 film, Black Narcissus, named after the iconic Caron fragrance and following the intense sensual awakening of a nun who dabbles with such vices as perfume and lipstick; this 2020 version stars the late Diana Rigg (in her last role) among an incredible cast; and promises to be an absolute must-watch.

Fancy even more fragrant viewing? A little while ago, I took a look at some vintage perfume adverts, in which a surprising number of movie stars made their televisual debuts. Or, for those seeking some scented chuckles, why not gawk at these hilarious retro men’s fragrance ads – featuring chaps being spoon-fed in restaurants, a hang-gliding man in danger of being whipped by his own moustache and an impromptu musical set outside a greengrocer’s. Ah, they don’t make ’em like that anymore.

We hope this Fragrant Film Club list provides a fragrant escape for those of you desperately searching for something new to watch – and a chance to re-watch some old faves for those of you who’ve already seen them. Whichever you choose, we suggest snuggling up, staying safe and perhaps locking the door for some blessed moments of me-time…

By Suzy Nightingale

 

 

Santa’s FREE gift… get your Secret Scent-er

By golly gosh it’s been a tough year, to put it mildl; so as a special present, Santa has a FREE gift for you all

This year, because we’d like to say a massive ‘THANK YOU!’ for your continued support – and as testament to just how important the role of fragrance has been, calming our nerves and bolstering our spirits in troubling times – Santa has decided to gift the Christmas edition of The Scented Letter magazine, FREE for you all to read.

One of the most hotly-anticipated issues each year is our bumper Christmas edition of the magazine – this year entitled Secret Scent-er – which incorporates all the usual news, reviews and in-depth features with the addition of a fabulously fragrant gift guide. Seriously drool-worthy, it’s a showcase for the very best scented gorgeousness that money can buy, from niche and indie brands to designer luxe.

We know that Christmas will be very different for many of you this year, and hope that you can find time to sit awhile, put your feet up and have your spirits lifted by all manner of glorious things arrayed in the 64 pages – normally only available to VIP Members and those who purchase the printed editions (scroll down for more info on how to get these).

Meanwhile, here are some of the perfumed highlights you can peruse in your FREE copy of The Scented Letter magazine

• In Extraits, Extraits, Read All About It!Persolaise explores the revival of perfume’s most precious form

 

• Can’t be with those you love over the holidays? Conjure them up with a spritz or a dab of scent, we suggest in Spraying Home for Christmas

 

• Like our favourite Christmas tunes, explains Viola Levy in Jingle Smells, certain fragrances never fail to deliver Christmas cheer

• I hopped on a Zoom with Santa for this issue’s Memories, Dreams, Reflections– smile as he shares centuries of fragrant recollections

 

• And of course, we’ve sniffed out the best presents, from glamorous gift sets to beautiful (scented) baubles in Your Fragrant Gift Guide 2020

• Plus as usual, we bring you all the Latest Launches, news, events – and so much more

If the free edition has tickled your fragrant fancies for more award-winning journalism, we can now take orders for a limited run of printed copies of all editions of our magazine, priced £12.50 to our VIP Subscribers (£15 to non-VIPs). And remember: you can buy an annual print subscription to The Scented Letter and also an International Online Subscription for the magazine, too!

Finally, no matter where you are, please know you’re not alone, and that the days will be lighter from now on. With much love, we’d like to wish you all a very HAPPY CHRISTMAS, and look forward to a far more peaceful (and perfume-filled) New Year, for all…

By Suzy Nightingale

Spraying Home for Christmas… scents we’re using to evoke loved ones

Christmas is always the most scented season, but this year the perfumes we spray have taken on an extra poignancy – many of us deeply missing mloved ones we cannot be this year because of the continuing pandemic, or who have passed away.

Fragrance can be a great comfort – and a way of connecting us, if only we chose the scent to spray that immediately evokes someone we’re so wishing we could be with right now.

For the Christmas edition of The Scented Letter magazine, we asked a number of our favourite perfumers, journalists and fragrance experts which scents they would be spraying this year, and who they’re missing most. We were so overwhelmed by the lovely – and often very emotional – reponses, that we didn’t have room for them all in the printed pages!

 

 

That’s why we want to share these beautiful scent memories with you, now; and wonder: whom would YOU most love to conjure with a single spritz right now, and what fragrance would you need to spray…?

 

Alice du Parcq – writer for Glamour U.K. / Space NK:
‘This Christmas I’ll be in a fume-cloud of Maison Margiela Replica By The Fireplace. It is the scent of roasting chestnuts on a roaring fire in a Chamonix ski lodge in 1971, so think toasted embers, plumes of silky sooty smoky, wood polish and the creamy, vanilla-spiked, nutty flesh of charred chestnuts. We did this as kids every winter at my parents’ house (which incidentally still looks like a 70s ski chalet) and watched my dad roll those glossy globes around a skillet until they crackled and split. My sister and I had scalded fingertips all season from the impatient peeling of the blackened chestnuts that were still too hot to touch. The fire was wild, ferocious and mesmerising, and the whole house smelt like fireworks and bonfires. I remember it vividly, and since we can’t all be together this year I’ll honour that memory with a daily spray of this magnificent and curious perfume.’

 

Sarah McCartney – perfumer & founder 4160 Tuesdays:
‘Usually we head north to York to see a collection of family and friends, play music and swap presents. I’m always delighted when my nephews put in a request for one of my fragrances at Christmas and their favourite is Invisible Ben. This is a blend of sandalwood, oranges, cognac absolute, musks and Ambrox, so it mingles with the atmosphere, a definite presence but not shouting for attention. It’s just like the lads themselves.’

 

Nicola Bonn – Outspoken Beauty podcast:
‘One of my best friends wears Chanel Chance. Smelling it and her never fails to make me happy. I always meet her at this time of year for drinks and celebrations and not being with her is so very sad. I’ll spritz this and have a virtual cocktail with her.’

 

Marcus Jaye, beauty & fragrance blogger / author a.k.a The Chic Geek:
‘This will date my childhood, but mine is Giorgio Beverly Hills. This is pure Pretty Woman, back-combed mum of the 1980s. Chuck in a soupçon of Elnett and I’m there.’

 

 

Olivia Jezler – fragrance innovation & technical design specialist, Future of Smell:
‘Both my parents always change their perfumes so its less about their signature scent… but the scent in their home over Christmas is always the NEST Holiday candle. I love it and for me that’s the smell of Christmas…combined with the pine of the Christmas tree!’

 

Professor Charles Spence – experimental psychologist / head of Crossmodal Research Group, Oxford University:
‘It would have to be smell of nardo – the flower that my (now) wife would always bring to airport when I arrived in Colombia… Which the web says is “Polianthes means “many flowers” in Greek. In Mexican Spanish, the flower is called nardo or vara de San José, which means “St. Joseph’s staff”. This plant is called as rajanigandha in India, which means ‘fragrant at night’. I didn’t realise it was a night-blooming one, but have since become very interested in night-flowering scented plants, so night flowering jasmine, which would have to be my second choice.’

Whomever you are missing, and whatever their favourite fragrance was, we hope you’ll be able to find great comfort and bring them home with your own personal scent memories, whenever you need them most…

By Suzy Nightingale

Scented candles we’re coveting

Scented candles have helped us stay (mostly) sane this year. A bold statement, but when we’ve spent more time than ever at home – working, raising families, interacting with partners or house-mates on a 24 hour basis or simply trying to get through the day alone – it’s been an easy way to instantly change a space, a vibe, with fragrance.

And it seems we’re not alone in this perfumed passion. Sales of fragranced candles, along with ‘premium food’ have been one of the mood-markers of 2020.

As The Guardian newspaper recently commented, ‘cold weather and coronavirus restrictions encourage Britons to hunker down for winter,’ reporting that what we’re been turning to are ways of making ourselves feels better, hence: ‘Sales of scented candles, potpourri and essential oils for diffusers jumped 29% in October, according to the research group Kantar.’

It makes sense. Candles can help us feel calm – not only for the scent, but focusing on the flickering flame awhile. They bring a feeling of warmth and comfort, a cosiness that’s been sorely needed as the temperatures in the U.K. plummeted and the darkness drew in. We’ve gone from tropical exoticism in the bathroom to torrid sensuality in the bedroom (or the kitchen, why not?). We’re using zingy scents to get us going in the morning, soothing smells to help us wind down of an evening, and traversing the world through our noses all the many, many hours in-between.

Because good grief, how we’ve longed for ‘newness’ – and the act of lighting a scented candle can genuinely shake you out of the doldrums!

Quite apart from how fabulous some of the containers look, and how good quality candles can contiunue to scent a room even unlit; they also make thoughtful gifts. But personally, we’re doing the ‘one for you, one for me’ rule with the following selection of some of our favourites to stock up on. Which will you give, and which are you coveting for yourself, we wonder…?

Ruth Mastenbroek Ancient Frankincense £55 for
Cosy as toasting your toes by a roaring fire, this is one to light, snuggle up on the sofa and read something unashamedly soothing with. Or kick back with a frivolously festive film. The warmth of frankincense, precious resins of myrrh and labdanum are tickled by pink pepper up top and swaddled in rich patchouli in the base. Aromatic notes of cypress and pine, meanwhile, remind us of walks through the woods – wrapped up in your favourite coat, savouring the frosty freshness of the air. Sublime!

(PS: Get your hands on a mini size of either Ancient Frankincense or the Rebel County candle as part of our sumptuous Indulgence Discovery Box, for £36 / £32 for VIPs)

Boujee Bougies Queen Jam £55 for 220g
Outrageously jam-y, this sashays up with bucket loads of berries – raspberries and bilberries, to be precise – and oodles of rose petals; that unctious stickiness shot through with flashes of tart green to prevent it being sickly. Olfiction perfumer Pia Long has created a stunning evocation of a Finnish preserve that feels equal parts grown up glam and giggle-inducing frolics. Check out their entire range via the super cute mini candles for £25 (buy one of each and you’ll get one free as part of their launch offer, while stocks last!)

Floral Street Sunshine Bloom £28 for 200g
A welcome shaft of sunlight for the duller days, this scented candle keeping the memory of summer vibes alive with luminescent notes of jasmine, creamy fig leaf (which smells like being on holiday – close your eyes and you can almost feel the sunshine, hear the waves…). Meanwhile, wild orchid, black pepper, incense and salted musks manage to be both delicious and vibrant. This is a solar scent that truly sparkles and recalibrates: a fragrant re-set for the mind, if you will.

 

La Montaña Siesta: £39 for 220g
We don’t know about you, but getting absolutely anything done right now seems to sap twice the amount of energy as usual. We could all dearly do with a daily siesta, but not all of us can make that space in our day. This candle cossets with lavender, juniper and thyme – an herbaceous breeze from a garden as you ‘close your eyes and imagine yourself drowsing on a hot afternoon, gently swinging in a hammock in the shade of a tree, with the crickets chirruping, and the sun-baked fragrances of the countryside lulling you to sleep.’ Oh we’re SO there…

Tom Daxon White Narcissus: £25 for 185g
A winter’s walk captured in fragrant form, here, with a bouquet of white flowers – gloriously heady narcissus and hyacinth – and the snapped-stalked freshness of galbanum and green violet leaf, which manages to temper the otherwise fabulously blowsy floralcy. Tendrils of cardamom-infused smoke drift drowsily through the cold, still air as gaiac wood and cedar smoulder on the shady vetiver base. One to gift those who are about done with cinnamon and eggnog and are checking the weather forecast, hourly, for the first signs of spring. That’d be us, then.

By Suzy Nightingale

Christmas gift ideas for men: fabulous, festive & fragrant…

Christmas gift ideas for men? It can be difficult, we know – and especially this year, when so many of us are apart from our loved ones. But worry not. You’ve come to the right place! We’re brimming over with scented suggestions that will have him feeling fabulous, festive, AND fragrant

 

Christmas gift ideas for men

The Super Man Discovery Box: £22 (or £18 for VIP club members!)

For super men everywhere, we’ve included independent perfume houses making their mark: recently launched ånd fragrance with sustainable and ethically sourced ingredients at the forefront, decadent Italian niche with Laboratorio Olfattivo and Jovoy with their new creation based on the Mayfair store 21 Conduit St. Also including newness from loved names including St Giles, Parfums de Marly, Ruth Mastenbroek, Floris, Caron,Initio, Atelier Des Ors, Kierin NYC and Anima Vinci. We also bring you TWO GROOMING PRODUCTS! FISH Memory Fish Flexible Gel (50ml), and the divinely scented beard savour WELEDA Skin Food (10ml). Up, up and a-spray…!

 

The Sharing Collection Discovery Box: £23 (or £19 for VIPs)

Yes, we know we’re using the word ‘men’ here, but some chaps perhaps aren’t as advanced in their tastes, fragrance-sharing wise, and will balk at anything not specifically marketed as ‘masculine’ scents. However, here’s a way to ease them in to the modern world – with so many fabulous ‘shareable’ creations being launched, we’ve decided to put our favourites in one beautiful box, for EVERYONE to wear. Niche perfume houses rarely categorise their creations as ‘male’ or ‘female’ – and there’s plenty here with newness from Goldfield & Banks, Kingdom Scotland, BDK Parfums, Vines House Parfum and Rook Perfumes. We also showcase classics such as Goutal Paris Eau D’Hadrien and Eight & Bob Egypt, along with fabulous discoveries from Initio and Atelier des Ors, plus two ‘unisex’ body treats. We won’t be at all surprised if he decides he DOESN’T want to share with anyone else. So maybe treat yourself to one as well?

 

Mihan Aromatics Discovery Set: £33

Mihan Aromatics are a true product of Australia – an up-and-coming perfume house from Down Under. Their luxury, all-natural scents capture the fascinating fragrance landscape of that vast country, created by uber-cool Melbourne couple Josh and Julia Mihan. (They’ve been likened to ‘the BYREDO of Australia…’) In this incredible line-up of gender-neutral fragrances, Josh and Jules combine native floral and spices – including Australian sandalwood, now being deployed by the fragrance industry as a sustainable alternative to Indian Santalum album. You can spray the ENTIRE COLLECTION in this divinely cool set, each one a very clear style; a lightness, a dreamy character, a mood. Try Mikado Bark, a mountainous arrangement of paper and unfamiliar books exude distinction and literary prowess. Or Petrichor Plains, conjuring up the drenching of earth and rock after a shower. Plus: a bonus ‘untitled’ fragrance, still in development, of which you get an exclusive sneak peek… HOW cool it that?!

Jovoy Discovery Set: £30

For chaps unashamedly into decadent scents, you can do no better than choose this collection. Jovoy has a fascinating history as a Parisian house, its customers were a ‘Who’s Who?’ of the Roaring Twenties. Then scent exporter and expert in raw ingredients, François Hénin, rediscovered and revived the fragrance house. So now we bring you this just-launched Discovery Set of FOURTEEN of Jovoy‘s fabulous, opulent fragrances. Created with master perfumers, it is bursting with OLFACTORY HERITAGE and beauty. From Ambre Premier, which layers unisex rose onto vanilla, musk and patchouli to La Liturgie des Heures, evoking the atmosphere of an old cathedral via incense, myrrh and labdanum – and with a dozen more to explore for yourself – each fragrance holds a place in time. Plus each set contains a 10% voucher redeemable against a full size Jovoy fragrance! Daring, decadent, divine: why not treat yourself or – someone close…?

We’ve man-y (sorry) many more fragrant sets with which to entice your senses, simply explore our shop for more ideas (and let us do the sending to save you going to the post office, if you prefer). No matter your budget or the man in your life’s tastes, we have Christmas, fragrantly covered

By Suzy Nightingale

Kingdom Scotland launch seasonal scent events online

Kingdom Scotland are launching a series of seasonal scent events online, and invite you to join the virtual party

Party season is upon us once again, but of course this year the festivities will have to be somewhat different. But we’re not letting that stop us! Perhaps more important now than ever before, it’s a great time to connect – to reach out and join in rather than feeling secluded and lonely, or like you’re missing out. So with this in mind, the brilliant niche fragrance house Kingdom Scotland have a whole host of magically transportive fragrantly themed activities for you this month. And they describe a rather tantalising roll call:

‘…perfumed journeys, whisky, gin & Champagne tastings, daring magic, Scottish pipers, Kilt & Sword dressing, historical storytelling and a diamond masterclass!’

The worlds of whisky and fragrance have much in common, founder of Kingdom Scotland, Imogen Russon-Taylor has always believed. And she should know: after a distinguished career in the aromatic world of Scotch whisky, Imogen went 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.’

 

 

Indeed, Kingdom Scotland excell at creating stunningly evocative moments in scent – using perfume to share old narratives in new ways, tapping into the rich stories associated with perfume and natural ingredients in Scotland. So sharing these online – at a time when many of us feel isolated by #lockdowns, Tier systems or otherwise – is particualarly pertinent.

For the fragrant festivities to be something everyine can join in, no matter where you are in the world, Kingdom Scotland have partnered with the luxury experience experts Beyond Curated and Scotland’s leading whisky-focused travel company, Maclean & Bruce.

To find out more and book your place, simply email [email protected]

By Suzy Nightingale

Luxury fragrance gifts to indulge with this Christmas – at pocket-friendly prices!

Luxury fragrance gifts needn’t break the bankDiscovery Sets are the way forward! Stunningly presented, ordered at the click of a button, easy to wrap at home or have sent straight to the lucky recipient: these boxes are the perfect presents for perfume-lovers

The joy of a luxury Discovery Set is the chance to indulge in the fragrances of ultra-luxe niche and designer houses, often giving your lucky gift recipient (or yourself, let’s face it) the opportunity to try the entire collection of a particular perfume house. Or, perhaps, allowing the luxury of sampling the scented wares from cult brands not everyone knows about yet.

Very few of us could go out and purchase full-size bottles of every brand we want to try – with these luxury gift sets, you can afford to wear every single one!

If you have someone who’s difficult to buy for, or you’re not quite sure exactly what kind of scents they like – gifting a whole range ensures they’ll fall immediately for at least one of the fragrances (and, in our experience, will come to love them all or enjoy sharing with a partner or friends).

To send to loved ones you can’t be with this year, or to treat yourself after a year of woe? Not going to lie, we shamelessly do the ‘one for you, one for me’ rule of Christmas shopping, and most especially this year. Think of the hours of bliss you’ll have! Trying all the fragrances for the first time, reading about the notes, the perfumers and history of the house (all the information you can find right here on this website, with our in-depth brand pages).

Luxury fragrance gifts are a fail-safe way of showing how much you care. Whichever of these you chose, they cannot fail to be utterly delighted…

Harvey Nichols & The Perfume Society Discovery Box £45
Your personal perfume shopping experince – without having to leave your sofa!

Harvey Nichols boasts one of the best fragrance halls in the world, and in the last few years have tirelessly worked to bring in many more niche and exciting artisanal houses. We were thrilled to be asked again to curate a box of some of our favourites with them! Twelve luxury fragrances from six houses in this one, showcasing the hotly anticipated UK launch of Atelier Materi and Maison Crivelli, alongside classically adored fragrances from Creed, you can explore THREE fragrances from EACH of these beautiful perfume houses. We’ve added generous MINIATURES with just-launched Juliette Has A Gun Lipstick Fever (5ml) AND Maison Francis Kurkdjian L’Homme À La Rose (5ml)! And lest we forget, the pièce de resistance is Ramon Monegal Flamenco (10ml) swathed in a golden fabric pouch for an extra hit of luxe.

 

The Indulgence Discovery Box £36 (or £32 if you become a VIP!)
Squeal-worthy miniature bottles & indulgence, bottled – for someone who deserves a treat.

Don’t you think you deserve to indulge in this gorgeous box of delights? It’s simply brimming with fragrant fabulousness, from the ENTIRE CARINE ROITFELD COLLECTION (former editor-in-chief of Paris Vogue, dontcha know, based on seven cities and seven imaginary lovers), to a trio of newness from Lalique, inspired by precious metals, we’re going crazy for. We’ve also included generous MINIATURES – inhale DEEP! – from our latest perfume house crush, Vines House Parfums Love Story (7.5ml), together with the so-modern beauty editor’s fave, Floral Street Chypre Sublime (10ml), the dinkiest darling bottle of the delightful Tocca Giulietta (5ml) and for some seasonal va-va-voom, the perfumista’s favourite: Versace Crystal Noir (5ml). PLUS new home fragrance from perfumer Ruth Mastenbroek, whose new candles we’re showcasing – you’ll receive either Ancient Frankincense OR Rebel County, and trust us, you won’t even WANT to leave the house…

 

Amouage Secret Garden Discovery Set £35
Say ‘I love you’ to a floral-lover, with a truly beautiful gift from one of the world’s top luxury fragrance houses…

AMOUAGE have been drawing on the ancient, alchemistic traditions of perfume-making, creating perfumes that are loved all over the world for over 35 years. This is a luxury perfume house with its finger on the pulse-point of what modern men and women want, so we are delighted to introduce the truly magical SECRET GARDEN DISCOVERY SET featuring FOUR NICHE FRAGRANCES inspired by the floral haze of secret gardens. Spray away the darkness with a joyful leap in to Spring (oh, yes please!) with every spray from Blossom Love, Lilac Love, Love Mimosa and Love Tuberose – each fragrance crafted using the finest oils and essences sourced from around the world. Dare we say: it’s better than a real bouquet and therefore makes a truly WONDERFUL GIFT either for yourself, or someone special. If they like glorious gardens, gasp at flowers and adore floral fragrances – they’ll love you forever.

 

La Maison J.U.S Discovery Set £30
Stylish, cool and so-unique: THE gift for artistic, eco-conscious fashion-lovers in your life!

Taking their name from their motto: ‘Joyau, Unique and Sensoriel’  (a ‘unique sensory jewel’), this ultra-cool niche French house delight in doing things differently. Using vintage bottles in bold, neon colours, allowing their perfumers free-reign and with everything eco-conscious – the fragrances are just are vibrant, but oh so beautifully wearable. Appealing to artistic types who like to tread their own path, the scents are seductively unique (genuinely, we love ALL ELEVEN!) From the salted amber of Ambraser, coffee and oudh of Coffeeze, Cuirissime‘s leather, violet and iris; zesty ginger and absinthe in Gingerlise and darkly daring leathery floral of Noiressence. There’s the whole rose (petals, thorns, humid air) of Rosamonda, sensual rose oudh and vanilla in SexyCrush or powdery soft rose in Sopoudrage to explore. SpringPop is green shoots, fresh cut grass and sea air, while Superfusion‘s silvery musk shimmers intriguingly, and UltraHot crackles with sensual saffron and incense. Oh wow, it’s a fragrant journey alright – and we’re re-using our pots for makeup brushes and pens!

 

Atelier des Ors Discovery Set £25
All that glimmers IS gold with this oppulent olfactory gift, exploring ‘haute parfumerie with poetry…’

This one’s a Perfume Society EXCLUSIVE (so you can guarantee they wont have this!) Atelier des Ors Discovery Set is truly a majestic perfume house: think decadent scents for perfume-loving grown-ups, created from the best quality ingredients the world can offer. (And the full-size bottles are like snow globes for grown-ups, a-sparkle with flecks of real gold.) Atelier des Ors will fan the flames of your fragrant desires, as Jean-Phillipe Clermont, founder of Atelier des Ors, explains: ‘In every civilisation, gold symbolises the pursuit of perfection and the quest of absolute.’ Get spraying for yourself and explore FIVE NICHE fragrances in this divine set, which you won’t find anywhere else. Aube Rubis is crisp, woody, inspired by the dawn, while Lune Féline captures the brilliance of the night sky and the moon in the most creamy, dreamy vanilla. Musc Immortel sparkles with grapefruit, iris and clary sage and Nuda Veritas swathes the skin in an airy, fresh and pure floral creation. Rose Omeyyade, meanwhile, is a breath-takingly sensual rose and oudh perfume that will make you sigh. We’ve swooned, many times, over all of these…

 

Ostens Discovery Set £30
The créme de la créme of ingredients + the world’s top perfumers = a luxury niche house of refined elegance.

Friends and business partners Christopher Yu and Laurent Delafon have been in the fragrance industry for over 20 years, founding United Perfumes (a prestigious fragrance distribution and development company) which afforded them unrivalled access to the finest ingredients and perfumers in the world, including extraordinary new extractions from LRM Naturals of ‘vetiver, rose, patchouli and more. We realised that if we loved those smells, then there were surely other people who’d feel the same way.’ Everyone in the fragrance world raves about these scents, and your recipient definitely will fall for…. Cashmeran Velvet cocooning with smoky woodiness, Cedarwood Heart grounding, while unexpectedly creamy and Jasmine Absolute – addictively heady, just-bloomed jasmine on a sultry day. Two patchoulis explore the note’s diversity: Patchouli Heart No.I a softer, warmer, and a more modern interpretation of the classic, while Patchouli Heart No.II  is fresher, aromatic and timelessly elegant. And, oh! Rose Oil Isparta – A rose is a rose…or so we thought until we smelt the unique scent of the Rosa Damascena from Turkey. Love at first sniff…

Why not buy the same box for you and a best friend you’re missing terribly? That way, you can schedule a Zoom meeting, get the wine in and some snacks on the go, and have a live smell-along together!

By Suzy Nightingale

 

 

Fragrant Reads – Guerlain The Prince of Perfume

Our ever-growing bookshelf of Fragrant Reads just got its first graphic novel – a unique take on telling the scented story of Pierre-Francois-Pascal Guerlain…

We’ve never seen a perfume house’s history played out in comic-book format before, and as a potted perfume biography of founder Pierre-François-Pascal; Guerlain – The Prince of Perfume, by Pierre-Roland Saint-Dizier is a delightful (if rather surprising) presentation.

Written with the help of Laurent Boillot, Guerlain President and CEO, Élisabeth Sirot and Hélène Schney, this is no mere child’s book (though we feel it would be an ideal gift for a younger reader interested in the history of fragrance). It’s well-researched and gives an historical overview of the French Revolution, as a backdrop to Pierre-François-Pascal’s story along the way.

 

 

 

We see him first in 1807 as he falls in love with smelling vanilla, herbs and spices in his father’s shop – memorising the way they smell. Later, Pierre leaves for Paris to work for Briard – already, then, an historic French perfume house – and, as his ambitions grow, learning soap and cosmetic-making, travelling the world as a salesman and working for various perfume and soap houses. As the back of the book’s blurb explains, ‘This young man, who will eventually become known as “Prince of Perfume” and the official perfumer of the European Royal Courts, does not yet realise that he will conquer the world of perfumes and pave the way for a dynasty of perfumers to come.’

 

 

Of course, given the format, it can never be the full story; but as a book of scented snapshots, its a charming and evocative portrait of not only the man who began the Guerlain family empire, but of the birth of modern perfumery, the political climate in France at the time, and a history of our changing tastes in perfume – and the way we shopped for them.

 

 

It can be difficult to find an English translation copy of the book, which we found on an online auction site, but a Kindle version is also available in the original French. Indeed, it may be best to pick up a French copy if you’re able to translate yourself – a great way to encourage French language development in someone interested in perfumery – as the English translation isn’t always perfect, here.

However, it’s a lovely thing to own, charmingly illustrated by artist Li-An throughout, and includes a written appendix detailing the hidtory more thoroughly, and explaining how the author was granted access to the extensive Guerlain archives (including original family letters) in the research. Over all, a fascinating addition to any perfume-lover’s bookshelf!

Buy it on Kindle [French edition] (Glénat) – Also available from second-hand book-sellers.

Want to know more? We suggest starting with our page dedicated to the history of Guerlain, and then exploring the History of Perfumery sections…

By Suzy Nightingale