The Fragrance Foundation UK Awards 2021 – one, two, THREE reasons we’re celebrating!

We’re still reeling from the dreamlike evening that was The Fragrance Foundation UK Awards 2021. Quite apart from the overwhelming emotion of seeing everyone (in the flesh!) again, and celebrating the continued success of fragrance – at a time it became more important to our everyday lives than some could ever have imagined; at The Perfume Society, we had not one, not two, but THREE very particular reasons to pop the Champagne corks…

The Fragrance Foundation say: ‘Known as the ‘Oscars’ of the fragrance industry, the 29th annual Fragrance Foundation UK Awards 2021 took place at The Brewery in the City of London. With a room full of fragrance lovers, it was a wonderful celebration after the unprecedented of times of the last 18 months.

 

 

The event was hosted by TV Presenter Natasha Kaplinsky, Chairman of The Fragrance Foundation UK Annalise Fard, and its CEO Linda Key Jackson. During the evening recognitions were given for the astounding support given during the global pandemic, from producing hand sanitisers, face masks, or donating to charities. With quick thinking and acts of kindness we have all come together.’

And come together we did, dressed in our finery (and footwear other than slippers or trainers), many seeing colleagues and friends for the first time outside of a Zoom call since the start of the pandemic. It’s difficult to express the outpouring of emotion, the buzz of energy and pure joy that coursed through the venue. A glow that grew stronger still when the entertainment began and internationally acclaimed act Björn Again had people up and dancing, whole tables standing together and swaying, arms in the air, smiling and singing.

 

 

Emotions bubbled to the fore again when Chairman Annalise Fard gave a heartfelt speech to the memory of Jim Jackson, who sadly died earlier this year. Jim founded Aspects Beauty with his wife, Jill, and Annalise spoke fondly of his wit, hard work and commitment to the industry. As the entire room raised a glass in his tribute, there wasn’t a dry eye (or wine glass, which he would have approved of) to be found.

The event now encompasses The Jasmine Awards – often likened to the Oscars, but perhaps more accurately ‘The Pulitzer Prize of perfume writing.’ We’d already been thrilled to be finalists with six pieces shortlisted in four categories. Imagine the WHOOPS that went up, then, on discovering we’d won two of those four categories, AND a Special Recognition Award for an entire issue of The Scented Letter MagazineA Life in Scents!

This was a really important issue of the magazine for us, which we dedicated to everyone who’s lucky enough to work in fragrance – or who dreams of doing so. There’s so much that goes into taking a perfume from the spark of an idea, into the bottle and beyond. So for this edition we interviewed everyone from perfumers to distributors to the sales consultants  who slip our purchase into a carrier bag for us to enjoy. We were extremely moved by Head Judge, Catherine Mitchell, saying how vital The Scented Letter Magazine is for industry in siders and perfume-lovers alike, and how she wanted every career’s advisor in the land to read it. We agree! So, we’re making it available for you to read in full.

Click the link or picture, below, to read the entire issue for free, and then click the pictures to read each of the other award-winning pieces

 

 

HUGE congratulations, too, for our friends and colleagues who are the creatives behind the scenes in these incredible fragrance houses: perfumers, designers, marketing teams and retailers who went home clutching statuettes (Lalique, darling!) too. We raise a glass to each and every one of them, and urge you to seek out the scents behind their well-deserved wins…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Loudest whoops of the evening (apart from our own) we think were on the Floral Street table, and no wonder – the continued blooming of this innovative and, so importantly, eco-conscious independent British fragrance house is wonderful to see (and smell!) We were so proud, too, for Thomas Dunckley‘s sixth (!) award, and of Nafia Guljar, whose beautiful piece she wrote for The Scented Letter magazine on the scent of night blooming jasmine, and the precious memories it holds of her late father, was also shortlisted.

The Champagne may no longer be fizzing, but you can be sure our joy – and that of all the winners and worthy finalists – will be bubbling over for some time…

IFRA Fragrance Forum 2021 – Hidden Depths: Memory, language & the sense of place.

We’re always excited to attend the annual IFRA Fragrance Forum – a symposium of scent at The Royal Institution which delves deeper into current scientific research, bringing together experts from around the world who may never usually meet, but who all share the sense of smell as a common theme of their research.

This year, we’re even more thrilled, as it will be held in-person again (although online streaming options are available), the topic being Hidden Depths: Memory, language and the sense of place.

Even better news: YOU can buy tickets to attend!

Event details

IFRA says: “This year we celebrate our 10th Fragrance Forum which will be chaired by Professor Barry Smith, Director of the Institute of Philosophy at the Centre for the Study of the Senses. With Barry at the helm we will be exploring the many hidden depths of olfaction through a fantastic line up of speakers including:

Professor Noam Sobel from the Weizmann Institute in Israel – a leader in research relating to olfaction, he will be talking about some of his latest work.

Mr Peter Andrews, Consultant Rhinologist, Facial Plastic and Anterior Skull Base Surgeon, Royal National Throat Nose and Ear Hospital and National Hospital of Neurology and Neurosurgery. As the lead for smell in relation to long-Covid, Peter will be talking about post-infection olfactory disfunction, its wider impact and new ways we can tackle it.

Omer Polak, Studio Omer Polak, Berlin. Omer will talk about the multidisciplinary approach of his studio using a variety of projects that examine the use of the sense of smell as a tool for design through images, video, sound, and smell.

Professor Asifa Majid, Professor of Language, Communication, and Cultural Cognition Department of Psychology, University of York will be focusing on olfaction and language.

Dr Tom Mercer, Senior Lecturer in Psychology and Professor Sebastian Groes, Professor of English Literature, University of Wolverhampton will be talking about two studies they have done that provide new insights into the connection between smell, memory and place, and they highlight the value of exploring region-specific smells within the context of the Proust Phenomenon.

We look forward to seeing you at The Royal Institution as we explore the hidden depths of smell together.”

Ways to wear… vetiver

‘A sack of potatoes’ – that’s what legendary ‘nose’ Jean Kerléo told us to close our eyes and think of, when smelling vetiver. While hardly romantic-sounding, it’s SO true: fabulously earthy, damp, woodsy and smoky all at the same time. Just like a hessian sack of potatoes that’s been left at the back of your grandfather’s shed, when you peel back the drawstring and b-r-e-a-t-h-e it in.

It’s almost impossible to believe, actually, that this grounding, dry smell comes from the roots of a perennial grass – also known as Khus-khus grass – rather than a wood. Vetiveria zizanoides grows like crazy in marshy places and riverbanks in places that are drenched by high annual rainfall:  countries like India, Brazil, Malaysia and the West Indies (Haitian vetiver is probably the most famous of its type). In some hot places, vetiver is woven into blinds and matting, which are not only wonderfully fragrant as the breeze wafts through them or they’re trodden underfoot:  vetiver has cooling properties.

Used in perfumes since ancient times, vetiver’s more popular than ever and features very, very widely in the base of fragrances because it works brilliantly as a ‘fixative’ – and so far, nobody seems to have come up with a satisfactory synthetic alternative.

Creed‘s relationship with vetiver goes back a long way – it’s a fragrant note they have built several of their most iconic scents around, in fact…

Creed say: ‘Vetiver is derived from the Tamil word vettiveru – vetti meaning ‘to tear up’, ver meaning ‘root’. From its tropical grass roots in India over 400 years ago, it is now a highly sought-after ingredient by perfumers across the globe as they attempt to capture the essence of a sultry evening with smoky notes of oud, or the mysterious petrichor – the earthy scent arising when rain falls on dry soil.’

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‘Now found anywhere from India, Sri Lanka and Malaysia, to Haiti, Indonesia and Kenya, the vetiver in Creed fragrances is sourced from Haiti, which provides a resinous, slightly sweet variation of the oil. It is grown for up to a year and harvested in the dry season, when quantities of essential oil in the roots are highest, before bundles of its roots are taken to be distilled.’

 

 

‘As an oil, vetiver has a dry muskiness, with hints of leather and nutty notes.Suitably smoky, yet strangely fresh, it’s complexity and versatility, coupled with its fixative powers – no synthetic molecule can mimic it – has enticed perfumers since the 19th Century.’

 

‘Traditionally, it is only this fixative essential oil from the roots that goes into the making of a vetiver fragrance, to give it longevity. However, it is the combination of the fresh, green notes taken from the vetiver leaves and the rich heart, as well as the woody and earthy notes extracted from the roots that you will find in many fragrances from The House of Creed today.’

 

ORIGINAL VETIVER

Dramatically reinventing the traditional vetiver scent, The House of Creed is the only perfume house to infuse all three parts of the vetiver plant in one fragrance with Original Vetiver: the earthy root, the verdant leaves and the rich heart, for an alluring air of invigorating freshness. Grassy, citric notes dance over pepper before diving into the depths of the damp soil for a fresh, green scent that also retains the earthy and leathery characteristics of the complete vetiver plant.

RRP: £175 (50ml), £245 (100ml)

 

VÉTIVER GÉRANIUM

Capturing the majestic landscape of Indonesia’s vetiver adorned mountains, Vétiver Géranium is balanced with the soothing essence of geranium, to create a woody scent with an ethereal freshness that exudes from the vetiver plant and the earthy characteristics of the roots. Citric notes make a luminous debut, whilst rose, cedarwood, patchouli and Creed’s signature ambergris complement the vetiver found in the base, strengthening the fresh, aromatic offering of this fragrance from the Acqua Originale collection.

RRP: £220 (100ml)

 

 

 

BOIS DU PORTUGAL

Taking its name from the word ‘bois’ meaning ‘woods’ in French, this timeless and elegant Eau de Parfum captures a stroll through the forests of the Iberian Peninsula and the aromas that exude from the shaded forest floor in summer. Bottling the rich, woody and earthy air, Bois Du Portugal leans on a base of vetiver, combined with cedar and sandalwood to transport the senses. Citrus top notes spiral together with exotic dry spices for an uplifting opening to this otherwise rich, warm and refined fragrance.

RRP: £175 (50ml), £245 (100ml)

 

VIKING COLOGNE

The latest addition to Creed, Viking Cologne finds rich, woody notes of vetiver nestled into the base of this crisp and aromatic fougère Eau de Parfum. Recreating the energising freshness of a classic cologne, zesty citrus notes and pink pepper combine with warming herbals for an invigorating opening, but it’s the rich, woody base that provides a striking point of difference from traditional colognes. Sandalwood, frankincense, patchouli and cedarwood mingle with vetiver to create lasting depth and strength.

RRP: £175 (50ml), £240 (100ml)

Pssst! You can try a sample of Creed Viking Cologne in our Suave Scents Discovery Box… one of 13 incredible fragrances (plus two fab extras) for only £19 (VIP price) or £23 RRP!

 

Manos Gerakinis – the first Greek luxury niche perfume house

Manos Gerakinis is, quite incredibly, the first Greek luxury niche perfume house. With fragrances inspired by the history, art and mythology of the country, and radiating the poetry and passion of their founder – we think you’re going to love getting to know them…

Manos had an extremely prestigious career, managing the Harrods luxury department and working with designers such as Valentino, Alexander McQueen and Dolce & Gabbana. His job took him around the world, seeing (and staying in) some of the most opulent places and experiencing the best of the best. A dream come true, right? But something else was pulling at the strings of his heart. From an early age, Manos says he knew that fragrance was important, that ‘…every bottle is more than a mere perfume; it is a living olfactory experience, unique and mysterious.’

Growing up in Kavala, Greece, Manos’ childhood was already infused with the tales and traditions passed down through the generations of his family, who originated from Istanbul. He speaks of being surrounded by ‘the cultivation of saffron, tobacco, labdanum and honey’ and in an interview with the Greek City Times, divulged that his maternal grandmother played a huge role in his life. ‘She was a woman of high standards and aesthetics,’ he says. ‘She introduced me to the French “Savoir-Faire”, classical music and fine arts. I am blessed in a family that provided us with the stimulus to reach our full potential.’ This potential was further encouraged to develop through art – ‘a natural talent for painting together with history, philosophy and culture’.

 

 

Imbued with those fragrant memories and a respect for the ingredients grown and harvested in Greece, and the mythology surrounding many of them, Manos took a perfumed path by learning how to create fragrances – the very first being a signature scent for himself…

‘Creating my own fragrance was always in the back of my mind,’ he explains, ‘and once I was given the opportunity, I grabbed it.’  Delving further into researching and learning the technical side of the fragrance world, ‘My initial goal was to create a powerful scent that was able to captivate anyone in the room. I wanted an alluring scent, mysterious and poetic.’

He began curating a collection of exquisite essential oils and ingredients from around the world, and it took nine months to complete the first fragrance, Sillage Royal – a warm, woody, immediately evocative scent that, perhaps understandably, is the most personally resonant for Manos, being inspired by the picturesque city of Kavala he grew up in. Part of the Egyptian-Otoman Empire for hundreds of years, it became powerful through the production of tobacco, and the rose, saffron and spices further reflect his olfactory heritage, captured in a scented snapshot. Says Manos: ‘During this process I came to realise that I had a talent for creating beautiful scents,’ and buoyed by his success, the collection inevitably grew.

Rose Poetique is the first Manos Gerakinis fragrance I had the pleasure of experiencing myself. It’s a stunning evocation of the Damask rose, which the Greek poet Sappho described as ‘the pride of plants, and queen of flowers.’ This is a rose that drapes the skin as velvet does, relecting the texture of the petals themselves. It billows from the tart, fruitier aspect of the flower with rhubarb up top, to the resinous, romantic depths of the base – beautifully balanced with smooth labdanum, cashmere wood and vanilla. One for all rose-lovers to add their collection, for sure.

 

 

There are currently seven fragrances to explore in the collection – which you can read about on our new page dedicated to Manos Gerakinis Parfums – from delicate sophistication to swaggering sensuality, simplicity to extravagance. At every stage your senses will be enthralled, and as you explore, you’ll feel Manos’ ethos reverberating in each scent. Man’s greatest heritage is the pictures he collects and his memories,’ he says. ‘That doesn’t necessarily mean he has to travel, it means that he has to be open to collect beauty and then compose it into his own palette.’ And wearing a Manos Gerakinis fragrance, we’re sure you’ll agree, …allows the true beauty of the individual to emerge.’

By Suzy Nightingale

Fragrances celebrities wore on their wedding day (& how to find yours!)

So many wedding days were postponed or re-scheduled thanks to the pandemic, but now the nuptial season has truly kicked into gear again. Panic not – we’re here to help guide you to the perfect perfume, suggest some imaginative gift ideas for bridesmaids / groomsmen & wedding parties, and along the way learn which scents the stars have favoured for their own wedding days…

 

Grace Kelly commissioned perfume house Creed to create a bespoke scent to wear for her wedding to Monaco’s Prince Rainier III in 1956. The result was Fleurissimo – an elegant blend of sparkling bergamot atop the swooningly sophisticated floral heart – which you can still fall in love with today.

 

Princess Diana chose Houbigant Paris Quelques Fleurs for her 1981 wedding to Prince Charles. The heady bouquet of tuberose, jasmine, lily of the valley and rose evoked the fulsome flounces of her romantically designed gown, and the scent itself has continued to capture hearts since 1912.

Quelques Fleurs l’Original £50 for 30ml eau de parfum

 

Audrey Hepburn wore the fragrance her friend Hubert de Givenchy created for her in 1957, for second wedding (to Mel Ferrer). L’Interdit is a chicly luminous white floral shot through with intriguing, darker notes. Hepburn reportedly loved it so much, she refused to have it mass-produced, but it was finally released in the 60s (and reformulated for the present day version).

Givenchy L’Interdit £52 for 35ml eau de parfum

Always deeply interesting (and potentially psychologically revealing, we find!) to discover what they wore, but of course a fragrance is such a personal choice. Here’s some tips to set you on the path to a perfumed ‘happily ever after’…

 

– It’s vital to live with a fragrance for several hours (better still – an entire day) on your skin. That scent you spritz and immediately fall for may turn into something less than loveable as the notes develop.

– The very best way to try is in the comfort of your own home, with zero pressure, scroll down to our hand-picked selection of samples for you try, below (they’re perfect for bridesmaids gifts and wedding favours, too!)

– Try not to test more than a few fragrances at one time, because too many at once = a muddle (and you’ll likely forget which is which, anyway!)

– Following on from the previous point, when testing a fragrance, be sure to write down the name of it on a blotter or jot down on your phone. By the time you get home a pile of random bits of scented paper will mean nothing to you.

Scared to branch out? Type the name of a fragrance you already know you love into our Fragrance Finder, and we’ll immediately suggest six new scents we think you’ll fall for.

Don’t know where to start? Book a bespoke fragrance consultation as a couple (or on your own if you prefer) – we’ve listed seven scent sittings for you try, and many are completely free, so what do you have to lose?

– When you find a fragrance you love, consider following the fragrant theme through to your floral arrangements, colours, mini-versions (to give as bridesmaid gifts or wedding favours), and matching scented candles to use for table decorations… ?

– Getting married in a colder climate or later on in the year? Fragrance writer Viola Levy gave us her suggestions for the best Winter Wedding fragrances.

– Consider gifting your bridesmaids a beautiful box of try-me scents to make their choice from, such as the just-launched Eau So Fresh Discovery Box £23 / £19 for VIP Club Members

 

– Gift the Groomsmen a luxury box of hand-picked masculine fragrances that have been chosen to be ultra smooth & dapper, like the Suave Scents Discovery Box £23 / £19 for VIP Club Members

 

What’s YOUR Escentric Molecules 01 story? Win limited editions, here!

Can you believe that Escentric Molecules Escentric 01 and Molecule 01 are 15 years old this year? To celebrate, they’re planning to release a limited edition of these iconic fragrances, uniquely featuring YOUR stories printed on the bottles…

Over the years, Escentric Molecules have heard so many fantastic stories from people who fell in love because of the fragrances, or had a Sliding Doors moment of their lives utterly changing thanks to the fragrance they were wearing.  Now, they’re looking to collect these stories, and want to hear ‘…about the adventures had while wearing Escentric 01 or Molecule 01 – how you met your partner – a wild night from a chance meeting on a train to Brighton – being chased down dark wet streets in Clerkenwell, London, by someone desperate to discover what fragrance you were wearing.’

 

 

Escentric Molecules say:

‘We are asking you to contribute to the history of both fragrances and send us your stories.

We will select the 25 best, funniest or most outrageous ones and feature them on bottles.

The “story editions” will launch this autumn and the 25 winners with our favourite #moleculestories will not only have their stories featured on the bottle but will also receive a pair of limited editions and an invite to an online Q&A with Escentric Molecules founder, Geza Schoen.

Each bottle will also feature a QR code that will link to a story edition page on escentric.com featuring the winning stories.

Geza will also pick his favourite story and the winner will receive a one of a kind neon wall piece created from their story.’

 

 

This incredible opportunity to share your scent stories closes on August 15th, so you need to be quick! Hurry up and submit your story using the link below…

https://www.escentric.com/pages/story-edition-competition

Celebrating 100 years of Shalimar (and why we still love it)

It’s really quite incredible to think that Shalimar is 100 years old – having been first launched in 1921 – and that Guerlain‘s most romantic fragrance is still worn and adored to this day. If you’re already a fan of the fragrance you’ll know how special it is, but if you’ve never tried it… oh, you’re in for in a treat!

 

Jacques Guerlain – Guerlain Perfumer 1890-1955

‘A good perfume is one whose scent corresponds to an initial dream.’

 

 

The History: The most prolific of the Guerlain perfumers, Jacques’ rein lasted for an astonishing 65 years. He took over from his uncle Aimé in 1890 and was responsible for creating the ultimate signature of Guerlain, the ‘Guerlianade’: an accord which blends vanilla, bergamot, balsams, tonka bean, iris, rose and jasmine, and has been at the heart of (almost) every fragrance since the early 1920s. His most celebrated creations include L’Heure Bleu, Mitsouko and of course, the astonishing Shalimar, launched in 1921, which remains one of the bestselling fragrances in the world.

 

 

 

The flacon for Shalimar is almost as fascinating as the fragrance inside. Sometimes described as the ‘bat’ bottle (we hadn’t until now quite realised it resembled outstretched wings!), it is also said to resemble a basin that could be admired in the Mughal gardens in India, and was designed by another talented Guerlain, Raymond, with a dark blue stopper chosen to evoke Indian starry nights. The bottle won first prize at the Exhibition of Decorative Arts and Modern Industry in 1925.

 

 

Why perfumers love Shalimar: When we interview perfumers, we often ask which classic fragrance they wish they’d created or most admire. One of the most frequent answers? Shalimar, of course. Carlos Benaïm told us, ‘My grandmother used to wear Shalimar. It is magnificent, absolutely wonderful, with that mossiness – not just oakmoss, but the other mosses which we’re restricted from using so much these days…’ And Alberto Morillas – another nose often cited as one of the most talented perfumers working today – explained, ‘If you ask me what is the greatest fragrance ever created, I’d say Guerlain Shalimar. Some might imagine it’s old-fashioned but it’s also very modern. There are all sorts of contrasts inside it – but it works so well.’

 

Guerlain Shalimar £83 for 50ml eau de parfum selfridges.com

Why we love wearing Shalimar: Imagine a silky pair of 1920s pyjamas worn as daywear (or with heels, to a cocktail party) as uplifting lemon and bergamot swirl with honeyed, night-blooming flowers of heliotrope and jasmine. Beautifully rounded by powdery iris and cocooned in a comforting, vanilla-plumped base of patchouli, benzoin, ambergris, tonka bean, incense, vetiver, sandalwood and musk. To wear Shalimar is still the ultimate gesture of olfactive romance.

Quite simply, it’s a masterpiece that’s effortlessly glam. And it’s one of those perfumes that people will still be wearing and talking about in another 100 years, we reckon.

Many Happy Returns, Shalimar!

By Suzy Nightingale

 

Moresque – get your questions in for our Instagram Live event with founder, Cindy Guillemant!

We’re so thrilled to be hosting an Instagram Live event with Cindy Guillemant from the fabulous niche fragrance house of Moresque.

Get the date in your diaries now!

July 14th 2021 5pm (U.K. time) on The Perfume Society Instagram channel

We’ll be discussing the launch of TWO new Moresque fragrances on the Instagram Live event, but meanwhile, here’s a little bit more about this wonderful house…

Moresque Parfum was born from a sheer love of the intricacy of Moorish art and the passion for elegant but opulent perfumes by founder, Cindy Guillemant.

Right from the start, she says, her work has been driven by this desire to bring together Italian taste and Arabic charm. ‘I completed my MBA in International Business in Florida and built my career between Monte Carlo, Paris, Miami and Milan. I always used perfumes, but my grandmother instilled in me a real love for fragrances and provided me with knowledge that motivated me to delve into this industry.’

 

 

That familial connection resounds still in Cindy’s work, and she finds that ‘I still rediscover my grandmother’s knowledge even today with all the scents I collect from around the world through their volatile notes, essences and the most mysterious and profound flavours.’

So, what questions would YOU like to ask Cindy – about Moresque Parfum, the stunning bottles, their inspiration, her favourite ingredients…?

Moresque Instagram Live Questions

We so look forward to you joining us on Instagram at 5pm on Wednesday July 14th at 5pm U.K. time for this exciting event. Until then, we’ll be spritzing the scents and dreaming we could travel to all the places they’re inspired by…

Fragrances for… celebrations

Fragrances for celebrations have a certain pizzazz about them – a sparkle that sets them apart from the ordinary. Whether you’re celebrating a summer sporting win, seeing your loved ones again or simply getting through the 2020 / 2021 thus far; these scents will add the POP of Champagne corks in perfume form…

GIORGIO ARMANI SÌ EAU DE PARFUM INTENSE
It isn’t every afternoon you get to hang out with Cate Blanchett on Zoom, but for the launch of this intense, super-sophisticated incarnation of Sì, the Academy Award-winning actress was joined by perfumer Julie Massé to introduce this stunning Chypre-Oriental-fruity masterpiece. Sì’s signature blackcurrant nectar is paired here with armfuls of Ispartra rose and velvety davana, imparting serious va-va-voom, before your senses are enveloped by patchouli, benzoin and sustainably-sourced vanilla. Fabulissimo!
From £60 for 30ml eau de parfum intense
armanibeauty.co.uk

 

GUERLAIN MON GUERLAIN SPARKLING BOUQUET
A jewel-like bottle, a shimmering scent: in this latest addition to the Mon Guerlain family (which is expanding fast), a pear accord in the overture has been magnified to juicy, fruity, joyful effect, to sparkle ‘like a mischievously irresistible smile’, Guerlain promise. But the resonances of the original Mon Guerlain are apparent throughout – the floral heart, with its aromatic lavender flourishes, the jasmine scampering everywhere, the vanilla and sandalwood in the so-feminine base.
£70 for 50ml eau de parfum
guerlain.com

 

JIMMY CHOO I WANT CHOO
Juicy succulence explodes in a whoosh of mandarin and velvety peach, while jasmine gets twisted with red spider lily in the heart – a flirtatious pairing that sashays all the way to a scrumptiously warm, sweet benzoin-soaked vanilla base. It’s vivacious enough to boost your spirits, and effortless enough to grant you a cloak of ‘I just woke up like this’ glam. Think of it as your fragrant filter: everything’s better with it on!
£45 for 40ml eau de parfum
theperfumeshop.com

 

LANCÔME LA VIE EST BELLE SOLEIL CRISTAL
How we love seeing soleil in the name of a fragrance: a glimmer of sunlit hope and promises of outdoor living (without the blankets and hot chocolate). A solar brightness gives a new twist to the bestseller, here, via radiant mandarin, extravagant white flowers and a trail of Madagascan vanilla and patchouli, from Bali. And oh, the bottle’s spectacular, with a shimmering, almost holographic finish that echoes the luminosity of the scent inside.
From £29 for 15ml eau de parfum
lancome.co.uk

 

VALENTINO BORN IN ROMA YELLOW DREAM FOR HIM
And we think lovely for anyone! This feels like wearing the scent of yellow for sure – a zip of zest radiating sunshine as Italian mandarin and pineapple accord awaken the senses. Lusciously juicy – actual mouth-watering will occur – a surprising gingerbread accord captures your interest in the heart, the whole composition irresistibly smoothed by creamy, black speckled vanilla bean swirled through your coffee as you saunter through Rome’s streets, perhaps? From the Italian architectural bottle inspiration to the scent: we’re so there. (PSST! You might like to get your hands (and nose) on the Seasonal Scent Subscription Box…)
£75 for 100ml eau de toilette
boots.com

 

What IS a fougère? Pteridomania & the frenzy for fern fragrances

When describing types of fragrance, the term fougère can seem bewildering – both the meaning and how on earth to pronounce it.

French for ‘fern-like’, you say it ‘foo-jair’ (with the ‘j’ a little soft – almost ‘foo-shair’), when you think of a fern’s smell, what comes to mind? Whatever you think of, that smell memory is quite likely to have been influenced by Houbigant’s Fougère Royale – created in 1882 by Paul Parquet, and much copied by those who clamoured to achieve a measure of its success.

While we might imagine a shady-forest smell emanating from a fern, the majority aren’t fragrant to any great extent. And although the ingredients so key to Parquet’s original accord – oak moss, geranium, bergamot and (most notably) coumarin – are now collectively referred to as ‘fougère’ (often with lavender or other aromatic herbs thrown in for good effect), it’s the alchemy of the perfumer recreating that ‘natural’ smell memory: the whole woodland seemingly wafting from the bottle.

“Gathering Ferns” (Helen Allingham) from The Illustrated London News, July 1871.

Some time before Parquet’s fragrant foragings, ‘fern mania’ was sweeping the nation, and it caused an amount of worry when women began wandering, sometimes alone or – worse! – gambolling with groups of young man in the woodlands, in search of their charms… What business had women convening with nature outside of their perfectly manicured cottage gardens? Well, ‘Pteridomania’, meaning Fern Madness or Fern Craze was the term for this frenzy, coined in 1855 by Charles Kingsley in his book Glaucus, or the ‘Wonders of the Shore’. In it he sought to reassure anxious parents:

Your daughters, perhaps, have been seized with the prevailing ‘Pteridomania‘ … and wrangling over unpronounceable names of species (which seem different in each new Fern-book that they buy) … and yet you cannot deny that they find enjoyment in it, and are more active, more cheerful, more self-forgetful over it, than they would have been over novels and gossip, crochet and Berlin-wool.

So – society’s nerves soothed and the morals of females intact – the time was ripe for fern fragrances to unfurl; but it took a unique olfactory discovery to kickstart that particular perfume craze.

It was the extraction of coumarin ­– one of the first synthetics to appear in perfumery – which made the fougère such a landmark scent. But how many people outside the industry would be able to describe coumarin’s smell? Not many, I’m guessing.

A plate from The Ferns of Great Britain and Ireland, a book from the era of Pteridomania.

Coumarin is found in tonka beans and cinnamon, but also occurs naturally in bison grass and green tea. It’s classed as a ‘lactone’ – (milky, skin-like) – a complex molecule that’s the scent of sweet hay drying in the sunshine with a slight waft of warm horse; a cold glass of fizz sipped on newly-mown grass, a fine cigar fresh from the humidor, a warm cookie dunked in cold milk. All of these things and not one in particular: the scientist’s hand working in harmony with the artful perfumer to create a magical realism. Because the true skill of a perfumer is to take ingredients and transform them into something we think we already recognise, sparking those scent memories and creating new ones to fill the gaps.

In fact, Parquet was called the ‘greatest perfumer of his time’ by no less than Ernest Beaux, the creator of Chanel No. 5, and was the first to truly understand and appreciate the use of synthetic aroma materials in fragrance composition. Previously used as mere substitutes for naturally derived raw materials, Parquet saw a chance to deploy them as unique smells in their own right – adding structure, poetry and space within perfumes that sought not to mimic the natural world but to add to it, to improve on perfection. And so the fougère fragrance family was born.

Traditionally seen as a scent for the chaps – possibly sporting tweed and a monocle – in fact Guerlain’s masterpiece of Jicky, launched in 1889, is a more ‘feminine’ fougère (the first unisex scent, too) which ramped up the crackle of dry lavender, adding sweetly mown hay and toasted almond-like flourishes of coumarin. More recently, we’ve seen an increasing number of gender-fluid fougères striding forth – perhaps chiming with our collective urge to ‘return to nature’ during the pandemic; or simply an urge that preceded Covid-19, a perfumed riposte to political unease?

Whatever the reason, the resurgence of the fougère is to be celebrated. Cooling on steamy days, comforing in more inclement weather, these are the type of scent to boost your spirits while patting your hand and telling you everything’s going to be okay. Wander into the woodland yourself, awhile, and try these fougères – from classical forest to contemporary fairytale…

Houbigant Fougère Royale A sprig of herbs carefully tucked into the lapel of a herringbone jacket, the olive from a dry Martini sucked in a slightly lascivious manner while they’re looking the other way. £130 for 100ml eau de parfum libertylondon.com

Guerlain Jicky Somewhere between breakfast and midnight, fog-shrouded moorland; pale wool blanket clutched close, bare feet on flagstones, forbidden hipflask swigged reading Wuthering Heights. £96 for 100ml eau de toilette houseoffraser.co.uk

Yves Saint Laurent Kouros Freshly-scrubbed and shining with smooth words and practiced simplicity, but clean sheets cannot hide the indiscretion and animal instincts of the night before. £50 for 50ml eau de toilette theperfumeshop.com

Creed Viking Cologne A bountiful burst of freshness leads to explorations of verdant landscapes re-awakening; geranium, herbs, lavender and nutmeg atop glacial lakes reflecting shinshine. £175for 50ml eau de parfum  creedfragrances.co.uk

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Milano Cento HIM A woodland wander with someone dashingly Italian (who knows not to wear sandals with socks), the citrus breeze segues to an herbaceously dappled grove and aromatic amour. £49 for 100ml eau de toilette roullierwhite.com

4160 Tuesdays The Lion Cupboard Ferns pressed between pages of a diary, love letters tied in faded ribbons, a lipstick kiss on a foxed mirror, silk scarves with the faint tang of a gentleman’s Cologne. £55 for 30ml eau de parfum 4160tuesdays.com

Partere Run of the River A bare-foot meander through clover-strewn lawns, budding freshness in the air, lemon-thyme and clary sage encricled by a languorous caress of incense and oakmoss. £95 for 50ml eau de parfum parterrefragrances.com

By Suzy Nightingale