Some might argue there’s a tendency for some fragrance houses to take themselves a little too seriously at times, but that accusation could surely never be levelled at Moschino! From bottles shaped like cleaning products to ones resembling Popeye’s gal pal, Olive Oyl, here we take a little look at their irreverant style…
It’s Jeremy Scott we have to thank for bringing back the fun into fragrance. Creative Director for Moschino, he infuses each scent with his own cartoon-like and cheekily mischevious personality – that exuberant, larger-than-life character seen across his fashion and accessories line, carried directly through into the Moschino fragrances themselves.
Scott delights in turning conventions on their head, and thus we see burger brands proudly emblazoned in patterns on sweatshirts, huge badges of retro-style, imediately recognisable advertising logos raised up to become iconic emblems in the fashion world. It follows, then, that Scott is the chap responsible for putting fragrance in traning shoe shaped bottles, inside teddy bears and even cleaning fluid type containers that might look more at home under the kitchen sink than on your dressing table.
Which scents should you seek out, and are you even saying their name correctly?! Read on for our guide to Moschino…
– Moschino is pronounced‘moss-keen-oh‘ (impress your friends who continue to say ‘mosh-sheen-oh’!) Listen to the clip, below, for further help…
– The brand was founded in 1983 by the late Franco Moschino (1950–1994), immediately standing out due to their eccentric, vibrant designs.
– Moschino is split into three sections: Moschino (Mens & Women’s fashions), Moschino Cheap and Chic (a sub-section of their womenswear), and Love Moschino (previously called Moschino Jeans). Fragrances are influenced by all three sectors.
– The first ever Moschino fragrance, Moschino For Women, was introduced in 1987 and since then there have been many iconic additions, including the latest Moschino Fresh Gold Couture (exclusive to The Perfume Shop), and the charmingly bonkers bottle of So Real Cheap and Chic Moschino.
– Moschino designed the outfits for the opening ceremony of the Turin 2006 Olympics.
– In October 2013, Jeremy Scott became Creative Director of Moschino, showing his first collection in the Autumn of 2014.
– 2014: the first time a teddy bear had masqueraded as a scent bottle. ‘I Am Not A Toy‘ perfume became an instant sell-out, drawing a queue which stretched round the Knightsbridge block. The bottle’s cuddly appearance belies the sophistication of what’s inside – but that element of surprise is typical of Moschino. You remove the teddy’s head to reveal the spray – and enjoy citrusy woody-floral top notes of juniper, mandarin, bergamot and spicy cardamom. Violet, hawthorn petals and lavender come together in its floral heart, and as the fragrance is skin-warmed, the base elements of cedarwood, sandalwood and vanilla beans develop a very huggable warmth.
– Fresh Couture uplifts with zesty mandarin and bergamot, before a raspberry juiciness and rich ylang ylang accord sweep in, adding intrigue. Delicate notes of osmanthus and white peony give away to an inviting accord of cedarwood, ambrox and white patchouli, in the dry-down. If that’s not enough to make you smile, the advertising campaign featured legendary supermodel Linda Evangelista in the role of most glamorous cleaning lady, ever.
– Scott’s Spring/Summer 2016 collection for Moschino featured bags in the shape of traffic cones, with a dress like a giant yellow feather duster, while the Spring/Summer 2017 show was a life-size collection of paper doll clothes. Fabulous!
– Many people collect Moschino perfume bottles, including the mini sizes. We are thrilled to offer you THE cutest miniature size of Moschino Pink Fresh Couture in a dinky 5ml bottle as part of the The Travel Edition Discovery Box. Featuring zesty pink grapefruit with succulent blackcurrant, floral notes of lily of the Valley, pomegranate, rose and pink hyacinth float cheekily atop a softly musky base that begs to be nuzzled.
– Some of the world’s best perfumers have got their noses into Moschino fragrances over the years. The line-up is a vertiable Who’s Who, and includes… Olivier Polge, Alberto Morillas, Nathalie Lorson and Olivier Cresp.
– For their latest launch, Cheap & Chic So Real, Moschino have once again drawn on the cartoon character of Olive Oyl for inspiration – and this has to be the most bonkers of those bottles yet! Olive Oyl’s been travelling the world, collecting awards and attending select soirées, they explain, now ready to make her 2018 appearance in an exclusive Moschino dress designed by artistic director, Jeremy Scott. The fragrance inside’s as cheeky as her outfit: bright, bitter orange cooled with a kiss of raspberry, mandarin and blackcurrant sorbet, pink peony, jasmine petals and magnolia blossoms irresistibly tumbling to a soft woody base. Adorably bizarre, the bottle’s already being snapped up by collectors, we hear…
As part of our ongoing Working Nose series, we were thrilled to meet up with one the busiest and most talented of perfumers – the incredible Bertrand Duchaufour.
We met with Bertrand at the launch of a new trio of fragrances for Miller Harris, for whom he created Hidden (On the Rooftops) as part of the Forage collection. Inspired by urban foraging and the joy of happenstance, these scents focus on seldom used ingredents which we may overlook or even tread on as we traverse our cities.
Miller Harris chose Bertrand along with fellow perfumer Mathieu Nardin (who made Lost (In the City) and Wander (Through the Parks), and you can read Part One of our perfumer interviews with Mathieu, here.
I began by asking Bertrand how he went about translating an original brief into a final perfume. How does that alchemical process actually begin…?
Bertrand Duchaufour: ‘Well this is my interpretation of foraging, and I think the original concept was to take the idea of humans foraging – you know, wandering through parks and gardens in cities and coming across this incredible array of plants, herbs and flowers we don’t normally stop to look at. In fact we came to London with the Miller Harris team and went foraging with a professional forager. It was really very eye-opening to take this practical trip as a creative exercise.’
So, did you end up using ingredients in Hidden that you’d never used before?
‘No not really, but here’s the interesting thing – although I’ve used all these ingredients previously, it depends on the way you work with them, how you make your accords, what else you put them with, and then you can make new smells that replicate the ones you were inspired by. As a perfumer it’s not always a matter of just writing a list of ingredients you come across and then using them to re-create a scene, because often that doesn’t work.
I try to translate certain plants and herbs I found, the smell that came from scrunching up their leaves, and it was really quite amazing to try and accomplish this. Foraging for me was something completely different, and for this fragrance I tried to look at it from the perspective of a bee. I imagine the route the bee takes, all the flowers they visit in that area. It’s a bee’s eye view of a city!’
‘I only recognised one plant I could eat while foraging, the Wild Garlic, which we also have in France – and I used that to make a homemade pesto!’
Why do you think we so often overlook the plants growing around us and think of exotic ingredients for fragrances?
‘Well I guess we are just not that curious! We tread on them almost every day, but we worship the expensive materials we don’t have access to.’
Do you have a set routine for working on a fragrance, or does this change depending on the project?
‘Too much focusing on just one project is never good as a perfumer, you get lost in it and can’t see clearly anymore. Spending all day long on one fragrance is not healthy. I’m always working on many things at the same time. Sometimes you just happen on an idea, it comes to you just like that [snaps his fingers] and those ideas are usually the best!’
Are there visual stimuli used to help with the creation of each perfume?
‘Sometimes yes, sometimes no. For Miller Harris they gave me a moodboard made up of photographs, and this is a starting point, I found it very inspiring because ideas start to form in your head right away. It gave me the idea of having the bee’s eye view, foraging from the bees, just from the photographs. I thought that because honey can taste very different depending on where the bee forages, the same should be true of this fragrance.’
Do you prefer to get up early in the morning to begin?
[Bertrand looks utterly aghast at the word “prefer” in regards to getting up early, so I modify the question as ‘Is there a time of day you work best?’]
‘Again, it depends with each project. I have so little time to just sit and think, so there is no going for a long walk to find my muse or anything like that! I work on perhaps twenty or thirty different fragrances at once, so sometimes you just have to get your head down and get on with it.’
People have the idea that any creative person must use the luxury of time to be inspired…
‘Maybe Jean-Claude Ellena can use the luxury of time – you know, wandering around his garden – especially now he is retired, but the majority of perfumers cannot!’
Miller Harris seem very good at allowing perfumers to interpret the brief in their own way. How do you find working like that?
‘It’s a different way of beginning, certainly, and really interesting, but in the end you still have to go through the same process, and so I always work the same way. You have a concept, and there are many ways to interpret even one word of a brief, or the way you are inspired by a picture. I like to talk about synaesthesia, the way these things cross over in our senses, the millions of ways we can each translate something. Synaesthesia is the art of making correspondence between one expression of a sense to another one, and it’s not that easy. For me a patchouli, for example, might be likened to violet or something purple. I might be convinced of that, but Mathieu might have a completely different idea. It always has to be personal.’
Miller Harris say: ‘High above the city, London is home to countless hives of diligent honeybees. A whoosh of fresh honeyed floralcy leads you to the crisp green privet of a HIDDEN rooftop garden. The hazy yellow sun warms new flowers, motes of pollen and seed buds dance lazily.’
Top notes: Bergamot, lime, angelica seeds, violet leaf absolute, clary sage, red berries, black pepper Heart notes: syringa, privet flower, pollen, honey, honeysuckle, Turkish rose oil, tea Base notes: vetiver, ambergris, sandalwood, driftwood, musk
Miller Harris Hidden (On the Rooftops) £95 for 50ml eau de parfum millerharris.com
Listing the BestUK Perfume Blogs from thousands available on the web, using search and social metrics to arrive at their finalists, Feedspot – who describe themselves as ‘the best place to read all your favorite websites in one place,’ – chose those they considered ‘…are actively working to educate, inspire, and empower their readers with frequent updates and high-quality information.’
The blogs they listed were ranked based on following criteria:
Google reputation and Google search ranking
Influence and popularity on Facebook, twitter and other social media sites
Quality and consistency of posts.
Feedspot’s editorial team and expert review
We work hard to bring you news and reviews, but also to share with you our expertise in an accessible, easy to understand (yet never patronising) way. Indeed, this is the very reason we started The Perfume Society! As Feedspot say…
‘Founded by award-winning fragrance writer and Green & Black’s co-founder Jo Fairley, and Lorna McKay (formerly beauty and fragrance buyer at Harrods, who also set up the Liberty Perfumery), The Perfume Society is devoted to helping everyone get the most out of fragrance – choosing and wearing – by deepening their enjoyment of this creative world, through events, workshops, on-line articles and much, much, more…‘
And that’s exactly it. We want everyone to feel included, their views valued. Although some blogs may get off on being snarky about more pocket-friendly perfumes or dictating which houses are ‘hot or not’, our ethos at The Perfume Society is to try and describe how certain fragrances make us feel, attempting to get you to try them for yourselves – on your own skin – before pre-judging with only a list of notes or what someone else already told you to think.
Fragrance is such a personal, intimate thing to experience. Some call it an art form (we certainly do), and our reactions are immediate, but can drastically alter over time. Time is key, we always say. Time spent smelling them, questioning yourself about what you can smell and how it makes you feel. Time spent researching the house a little more – learning about the perfumer, their inspiration, the story behind the scent – for a greater understanding.
Between this blog, our specially curated Discovery Boxes of samples and minis you can try at home and our award-winning magazine The Scented Letter (now available to read in print, online and around the world), we want to reach out to all you perfume-lovers out there. And can’t tell you how thrilling it is for others to see that we are!
You can actually smell the Anima Vinci roses in Grasse before you see them. I had been driven from Nice airport to the fields by renowned (and now independent) perfumer, Thomas Fontaine, and have to admit that, as we cruised along the motorway with the steeply exotic looking hills of Grasse surrounding us, I felt like I was (as the young people say these days) living my best life. As I opened the car door a wall of fragrance greeted me, an all-pervading scent that at times was tantalisingly sheer, carried away by a sudden breeze; but mostly hovered like an olfactory canopy, a ceiling of scent.
How to describe the fragrance? Centifolia roses are the epitome of dewy freshness, gathered in the early morning before the sun can evaporate the precious oils, and with a delicate ripe raspberry note flickering through a green, graceful core. Probably the best way I can make it manifest is to say they smell like their colour, but nothing can quite do justice to the experience of closing your eyes and breathing in that smell for yourself.
We were visiting the rose fields owned by a farmer called Mr Joubert, who looks exactly as you hope a French rose-field farmer would – frayed flannel shirt and skin long-tanned by his lifetime of hard work in those fields. In fact, I later learned that his family had owned them for centuries, his strong, careful hands expertly cupping the pale pink petals and quickly, so-gently, twisting them to come away as a full bloom. The buds are left on the bush and tomorrow, the process repeated until every petal has been safely gathered and taken in hessian sacks to what basically amounts to Mr Joubert’s garage. Piled en-masse, they’re weighed and transported within two hours to the place that processes them in to ‘concrete’, a solid (or sometimes semi-solid) product resulting from solvent extraction. When the concrete is washed with alcohol, it finally becomes what we know as an ‘absolute’.
Incredibly, it takes around 12 tonnes of fresh flowers to produce just one kilogram of rose absolute, the harvest season for Centifolia roses is only a few days – and what has been gathered represents that entire year’s crop. The back-breaking highly skilled work, the sheer amount of petals it takes to produce the final product and the risk of bad weather or disease affecting the quality explains why Centifolia rose absolute is one of the most expensive materials known in perfumery – currently, the price is between 15 000 / 20 000 euros per kilo.
Nathalie’s fingerprints are all over the perfume world – previously Head of Fragrance Development for Penhaligon’s and L’Artisan Parfumeur – but she’d always wanted to start her own business, where she could ensure the quality, authenticity and sustainability through every single stage of a perfume’s production. Every year she makes sure to personally visit the rose fields to assess the quality, to make sure the farmer is happy and to continue to build these vital relationships that, ultimately, shape the way we smell when we purchase that final bottle of perfume.
Wearing it now, I can be transported back to those sun-baked fields in a flash, and really that’s the power of perfume, isn’t it? To capture a moment for eternity, to gift us the experience of travelling back there with every eager spritz, to allow us to dream. But what does the future hold for precious, labour-intensive fragrant crops such as these?
Some farming families in Grasse used to own jasmine fields, too, Nathalie tells me, but the majority were forced to abandon them when companies found they could buy (lesser quality) jasmine far more cheaply, elsewhere. ‘Their children didn’t want to take on such work with such risk – they could make far more money through selling the land for property or even for “glamping”, or you know, they go and work in IT…’ Nathalie tells me.
Visiting these fields – meeting the producers first-hand – cannot help but drum home to anyone with even a fleeting interest in fragrance how vital it is to support these companies who genuinely care about that future. And so, the next time you reach for a bottle of what purports to be a ‘rose perfume’, do you know exactly where those petals grew? I guarantee that if you do, your pleasure at wearing it can only increase…
Anima Vinci Rose Prana £150 for 100ml eau de parfum
Ever wondered how the world’s most powerful (and glamorous) people actually smell? Well settle down for a tale that involves a president, his brother, a sarcastic socialite, a butler and a beautifully presented (we think very sharable) sensational scent…
The Story: ‘One night during the summer of 1937 in the French Riviera (Côte d’Azur), Albert Fouquet, a young socialite and perfume connoisseur, met an American student who was touring France: John F. Kennedy. Within minutes of being introduced, the vain JFK was captivated by the essence that Albert wore. John’s charm and congeniality persuaded Albert to leave him a sample of his cologne with a note at his hotel the following morning:
‘In this bottle, you will find the dash of French glamour that your American personality lacks.’
(The shade of it all! Rather daring to address one of the Kennedy’s in such a manner, but we guess if you were a particular kind of socialite, such cutting remarks were part of your stock in trade…)
Eight & Bob continue the story by describing how, on returning from vacation, ‘Albert received a letter from JFK thanking him for the fragrance and informing him of its success amongst his friends. He requested that Albert send him eight samples, “and if your production allows, another one for Bob”.
The order wasn’t fulfilled until Philippe, the family butler, found beautiful glass bottles in a Parisian pharmacy for the cologne to be housed in. Albert ordered several boxes with the same pattern as the pinstripe shirt that JFK was wearing when they met, and then labeled the bottles and boxes with John’s request: “EIGHT & BOB”.
A few months later, Albert began receiving letters from America with requests from various Hollywood directors, producers, and actors such as Cary Grant and James Stewart. Everyone wanted their very own piece of “EIGHT & BOB”.
In the spring of 1939, Albert died in a car accident near Biarritz (France). Philippe, the only person who could create and handle the orders, continued Albert’s legacy and in his final shipments hid the bottles inside books to prevent the Nazis from seizing the cologne.
The Fragrance: Decades later, thanks to the family of Philippe, the formula for “EIGHT & BOB” has been completely recovered, along with its carefully crafted production process. Once again, it has become one of the most exclusive colognes, worn and desired by the world’s most elegant men and women…’
Top notes: pink pepper, cardamom, lemon
Heart notes: violet leaf, labdanum, dry woods
Base notes: sandalwood, amber, vetiver
The Review: A warm tingle of pink pepper ripples through breezy lemon infused with the cool, aromatic cardamom. A whisper of green violet leaf cuts through the resinous sensuality of the heart, leading to a musky, woody trail that’s devastatingly suave. Think sneakers worn with an impeccable suit, tanned skin and crisp white shirts worn with minimal accessories and a dazzling, heartbreaking smile.
The Special Edition: To mark the 50th anniversary of Robert F. Kennedy’s death, Eight & Bob have partnered with the Robert F. Kennedy Foundation, ‘a prestigious and internationally recognised organisation managed by Kerry Kennedy, daughter of RFK.’ What’s more, they will donate a percentage of the revenue received from this special edition fragrance to the foundation, ‘as a tribute to RFK’s dream of a more fair and peaceful world.’
Eight & Bob RFK Special Edition £110 for 50ml eau de parfum
Buy it at harveynichols.com
The flags are flying, excitement is mounting, and everyone in the fragrance world is wondering which fragrances HRH Harry and (soon-to-be HRH) Meghan have chosen for their wedding…
But a more pertient question is to ask: how on earth should you go about choosing the perfect scent for your ‘big day’ (or any special occasion) anyway?
Follow our guide to choosing his and/or her scents to create an olfactory memory that will last a lifetime…
– 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…
If you can’t indulge yourself while choosing a wedding scent, when can you? Take time to sit back and explore these fabulous fragrance selections we’ve specially curated – bringing you an extensive range from cult niche houses to luxury designer, with iconic classics and a few scented treats to enjoy along the journey…
The whispered breeze of AmouageBeach Hut is perfect for seaside weddings, while Sana JardinBerber Blonde will whisk you to more exotic shores.
Fragonard Verveine will sparkle the whole day through and Estée LauderModern Muse Nuit is ideal to smoulder softly as dusk falls.
The Beautiful Mind Seriesduo celebrate intelligent, creative and inspirational women, as two perfumers for Miller Harris Tender and Scherzo uniquely interpret F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Tender is the Night.
Indulgent are here to help de-stress with : a sumptuous Heathcote & Ivory Lavender Fields Hand Cream (don’t forget those hands will be photographed close-up and on show all day, so pop this perfectly sized nourishing and relaxing cream in your pocket!) and from Aromatherapy Associates, Deep Relax and Support Breathe Bath & Shower Oils. Much needed, we sense…
An utterly delectable range of new fragrances, recently launched by founder Amy Christiansen Si-Ahmed, this stunning portfolio of perfumes reflect her life-long love of fragrance – nurtured on travels through the Middle East with her inspirational grandmother. A box of delights to discover for nomads, free-spirits and all those who love clasically composed yet contemporary scents. Close your eyes and bask in these…
Savage Jasmine Night-blooming jasmine, wrapped around intoxicating musk.
Sandalwood Temple Moroccan neroli oil, enveloped it in Atlas cedarwood, Haitian vetiver, creamy vanilla and East Indian sandalwood.
Tiger By Her Side Showcases Moroccan rose alongside Somalian incense and Indonesian patchouli.
Berber Blonde Filled with the light of Sana Jardin’s signature orange blossom, alongside Moroccan neroli oil and musk.
Celestial Patchouli Exotic aromas of patchouli, leather, cinnamon bark and Australian Sandalwood give way to the abundant warmth of rose, jasmine, osmanthus and Moroccan orris.
Nubian Musk A sensuously inviting blend of musk and vanilla, rose, jasmine, Moroccan grapefruit flower, Haitian vetiver and Australian sandalwood.
Revolution de la Fleur This is a sultry, sun-filled melody of Madagascan ylang ylang, Moroccan jasmine, frangipani, rose, vanilla and sandalwood.
An entire wardrobe of masculine fragrances for him to try before he buys (and for you to approve, perhaps?) there’s a wealth of choices from fresh and reviving, crisply stylish, designer favourites to ultra-luxe new houses to discover, and a FULL-SIZE face wash by cult male grooming brand, Heath! Also great for gifting to the Best Man or splitting in to wedding favours for hard-to-buy-for male guests…
Cartier L’Envol Sunshine diffused through golden droplets of amber, a canopy of forest trees with resinous, woody depth. Perfect for outdoorsy types and nature-lovers.
Cristiano Ronaldo CR7 Not only for football fans, a spritz echoing that first sip of whiskey, or sinking gladly into your favourite leather armchair in a gentleman’s club.
Coach For Men Thirst-quenchingly green with citrus enhanced by a herbaceous waft of coriander, sensuous geranium, fragrant cardamom and softly suede dry-down.
Dunhill Racing A nod to heritage gentlemen’s fragrances: citrus, lavender, pepper and musk, but a juicy twist of grapefruit, orange blossom and guaiac wood set this scent apart.
Ferrari Man in Red Thrill-seekers with a softer side should reach for a fruity-spiced opening, golden plum entwined with orange blossom and soothed by lavender.
Jaguar Black Chromite A flash of just-peeled mandarin, crisp tartness of green apple and a background of incense and patchouli add mystery and sophistication to the journey.
Jovoy Private Label Originally made for a client who just happened to be an Arabian prince, this one will have all and sundry swooning when they smell the woody, musky trail…
Kenneth Cole Mankind Nuzzle-up to succulently juicy fresh pineapple warmed by ginger and cardamom, tarragon and cinnamon enveloping vetiver on a greenly mossy base.
Missoni Parfum Pour Homme Head-clearing lemon leaves and pomelo dress up fougère notes of lavender, jasmine and herbs to a stylishly snugglish finish. A new go-to. (With matching shave balm & shower gel!)
Vince Camuto Homme Citrus and juniper = G&T, with Italian fennel, blue cypress and balmy lavender to soothe the nerves while taking a walk in the cool of the spruce trees.
For the ultimate in luxurious was to try a selection of fragrances – these don’t just look pretty (perfectly presented in a vintage hatbox-style gift box), all the Valeur Absolue scents were created specifically to evoke particular feelings. Featuring an incredible seven 14ml bottles, each flacon has semi-precious gems to further enhance the perfume’s emotion. And if you can’t quite stretch to the full collection, we suggest putting this on your Wedding List to enjoy exploring together long after the confetti has blown away!
Harmonie Takes you to a safe and invigorating place, serene and welcoming: a world of absolute harmony.
Confiance Offers intense and comforting aromas, from the tones of Bourbon vanilla and cedarwood.
Vitalité Develops around citrus and acerola: bold and resolutely optimistic.
Joie-Éclat Gets it spirit-uplifting power from essential oils of Florida grapefruit and Haitian vetiver.
Sérénitude Creates the essence of an empty beach, via floral and woody tones.
Sensualité Embodies the sensuality of a serene, beautiful and self-assured woman.
Rouge Passion Is a floriental with enchanting tonalities – alive, seductive and radiant.
Whichever fragrances you plump for, we wish you all the best of luck and a lifetime of happiness with The One (your other-half and the scents you fell for), and hope our guide has helped settle any scent-choosing anxieties!
Who can lay claim to being ‘the birthplace of perfumery’? France and Italy regularly duke it out for the title, but British scents have been going strong since 1730 – with whispers of Yardley London‘s heritage in fact going all the way back to the reign of King Charles I, supplying royalty with lavender-scented soaps. Sadly, these records were lost in 1666’s Great Fire of London, but many British houses have archives bursting not only with records of their fragrant wares, but the customers who bought them – including royalty, film stars and prime ministers along with the many millions who flocked to their historic doors. We chose to dedicate the latest issue of our award-winning online magazine, The Scented Letter, to these Best of British. (It’s available digitally to V.I.P. ClubMembers as a membership benefit as well as in print form.)
The emphasis is on heritage houses who have made our name and are still some of our favourites to this very day, with a selection of newer houses mentioned – including Miller Harris, Angela Flanders, Ormonde Jayne and Floral Street – all of whom have their own boutiques, where you can visit to stock-up on their perfumes, both historic and ground-breakingly new. The streets of London may not be paved in gold, but they’re filled with delicious perfumes…
To be frank, the feature was practically an entire book’s worth of material, and we still didn’t have room for every single one we’d have like to mention – which goes to show how many we have to be proud of. Also, we are thrilled that so many contemporary houses are continuing to fly that fragrant flag, being sold online and stocked in independent perfumeries that stretch the entire globe.
What better time, then, to continue our celebration of the diversity, ingenuity and creativity British fragrance houses display, and share with you a list of some contemporary houses your nose should definitely get to know…?
Born in England, graduating with a Chemistry degree from Oxford University, Ruth trained and worked as a perfumer in the 70s – both in the UK and Netherlands with Naarden International (which later became Quest and is now Givaudan – one of the largest perfume suppliers in the world…) Ruth then went to work in Japan and the perfume capital Grasse before returning to England to work for a small company, where she created fragrances for up-and-coming brands like Kenneth Turner and Jo Malone – including her Grapefruit candle. Setting up her own perfumery company, Fragosmic Ltd., in 2003 – the year she became president of The British Society of Perfumers, it was in 2010 that Ruth launched a capsule collection of scented products featuring her signature fragrance – RM – the first to use advanced micro-encapsulation technology in a scented bathrobe…!
Still creating bespoke fragrances for brands, Ruth’s own fragrances allow her to bottle memories, she says, ‘…of childhood in England and America – chocolate cookies, fresh earth, blackberries… Of Holland – lilies, narcissus, hyacinth and salty sea air… Of France – orchids, roses and wild herbs… Of Japan – cherry blossom, lotus and green tea…’ Believing that fragrance can uniquely move us, and with a wealth of knowledge at her fingertips; Ruth distills olfactory flash-backs into perfumes that everyone can enjoy and form their own, highly personal connections with. And with her latest, the sulty, smoking rose of Firedance, shortlisted for Global Pure Beauty and Fragrance Foundation Awards this year, we suggest you allow yourself the pleasure of connecting with them, too…
Quintessential scents Just launched, you can now indulge in a newly-chic box of emotionally uplifting scents. From the sparkling secret-garden fruitiness of Signature, through the romantic, rolling landscape of Umbria captured in Amorosa. A furtively-smoked Sobranie with notes of jasmine and cashmere evoke the dreaming spires of Oxford, while a classic rose is transformed with hot leather in Firedance, to become quite swaggeringly swoon-worthy. Have a chaise-lounge at the ready… Ruth Mastenbroek Discovery Set £17.95 for 4 x 2ml eaux de parfum
Available now in our shop
If we live till we’re 80, we have 4,160 tuesdays to fill, and so the philosophy of copywriter-turned-perfumer Sarah McCartney is: better make the most of every single one of them. Having spent years writing copy for other people’s products, and writing for LUSH for 14 years, Sarah wrote a novel about imagined perfumes that make people happy, with such evocative descriptions that readers began asking her to make them. Ever the type to roll up her sleeves and take on a new challenge, Sarah explains she’d ‘…tried to find perfumes that matched what I was describing, and they still weren’t right, so I set off on my quest to make them myself. I became a perfumer!’
Proudly extolling British eccentricity, the ever-increasing fragrances include Sunshine & Pancakes, which Sarah made to evoke a typical 1970s British seaside family vacation, opening with a burst of sunny citrus, with jasmine to represent sun-warmed skin – alongside honey and vanilla (the pancakes element). The Dark Heart of Old Havana is based on a 1998 trip to Cuba: brown sugar, tobacco, rich coffee, fruit, warm bodies, ‘alcohol, exuberance and recklessness,’ as she puts it. Maxed Out and Midnight in the Palace Garden were both shortlisted for the coveted Fragrance Foundation Awards 2016 in the ‘Best Indie Scent’ category, and an army of devotees now relish every day, scented suitably eccentrically. Quintessential scent Named for a comment made by a Tatler beauty editor who smelled it, a dash of bergamot, a soft hint of creamy vanilla, velvety smooth woods, musk and ambergris make for a dreamily decadent ‘your skin but oh, so much better’ affair. Like wearing a magical potion made of lemon meringue pie and fancy pants, if they don’t fall at your feet after a whiff of this, they aren’t worth knowing. 4160 Tuesdays The Sexiest Scent on the Planet Ever (IMHO) £40 for 30ml
Buy it at 4160tuesdays.com
Pssst! Breaking news: Fans of 4160 Tuesdays are a passionate lot, and kept asking Sarah when her next crowd-funded fragrance would be available, and so she’s teamed up with James Skinner, founder and designer at Dalliance & Noble, to make a matching scarf and perfume.
The fragrance is a soft, rich, lavish blend of iris, hay, honey, apricot, tobacco, vanilla, lily, almond, sandalwood and bergamot, and as we love scenting our scarves with perfume, we cannot wait to try this one!
They met in 2017 at the artisan trade show Best of Britannia in Brick Lane, then regrouped in Sarah’s 4160Tuesday’s West London studio to choose natural and synthetic materials. The result was a collection of aromas which Sarah took as inspiration for the fragrance, and she named it Truth Beauty Freedom Love, the rallying cry of the 19th Century Bohemian movement or artists, writers and free thinkers.
James illustrated the plants which the natural essential oils came from, and the wildlife they support. In the corners of the scarf he’s placed the aroma molecules which cast a perfumer’s spell on the blend to transform it from just a mixture of materials into an elegant, wearable fragrance. He designed the scarf in two colourways, and named it Eden’s Garden – a haven for fruit, flowers and wildlife. Crowdfunding prices:
100ml eau de parfum and silk scarf £175 (will be £300)
100ml eau de parfum £75 (will be £150)
30ml eau de parfum £40 (will be £75) Get in on the action here – but hurry, there’s only twenty days left to secure these special prices!
Nancy’s background as a bespoke perfumer began with her apprenticeship to one of the UK’s experts in custom perfumery, creating signature scents for those coveting ‘something highly individual and special…’ Before launching Nancy Meiland Parfums, her decade-long journey through fragrance had already included co-running the former School of Perfumery, acting as a consultant for independent perfume houses, working on collaborations with Miller Harris, and speaking on the subject of fragrance at events nationwide.
Now dividing her time between town and country (Nancy’s based in East Sussex), she explains that ‘the creative process of gathering sensory impressions and honing them into a formula is a vital one. Once a blank canvas, the formula sheet acts as a metaphor – and gradually emerges essentially as a kind of poem, with body, light and shade and a life of its own.’ It amuses Nancy, looking back, that she often had school essays returned to her emblazoned in red pen for being “too flowery”. ‘It figures!,’ she says. Thank goodness, say her extensive base of fragrance fans, in love with these portrayals of often traditional ingredients, composed with elegant modernity and beautiful harmony. Quintessential scent Definitely not your grandma’s drawer-liner, this is a rose in all its glory, with the entire plant evoked – pink pepper, for the thorns, stalky green galbanum for the leaves; geranium, jasmine, white pear and violet delicately sketching the tender bud. As Nancy observes: ‘I wanted to depict both the light and the dark shades of it, as opposed to this pretty, twee and girly rose that’s become slightly old-fashioned.” Rambling roses entwined with brambles, if this scent surrounded Sleeping Beauty, she’d never forgive that meddlesome prince for cutting it down…
Nancy Meiland Parfums Rosier £62.50 for 50ml eau de parfum
Buy it at nancymeiland.com
A rising star of perfumery, Marina Barcenilla is one of the talented ‘noses’ driving the strong trend towards natural perfumery. As the name may suggest, her birthplace may not have been in the UK – in fact she was born in Spain – but it’s where Marina chose to make her home, and to set up her now thriving perfume business. Marina recalls being intrigued by the aromatic notes in the Herbíssimo fragrances and in her grandmother’s lavender water.
Having always been fascinated and inspired by scent – when the chance came to branch out from her aromatherapy roots into the world of perfume, Marina rose beautifully to the challenge. In 2016 Marina won the coveted Fragrance Foundation (FiFi) Award for Best New Independent Fragrance with India. Against incredibly stiff competition, judged blind by Jasmine Award-winning journalists and bloggers, this prompted her to take the next step on her journey; her company – formerly known as The Perfume Garden – became Marina Barcenilla Parfums. But although the name had changed, the ethos remained the same – ‘to create the finest fragrances, using what nature has to offer.’ More awards followed, including a Beauty Shortlist Award for Patchouli Clouds, an International Natural Beauty Award, and the Eluxe Award for Best Natural Perfume Brand.
In 2017, for the second consecutive year, Marina won Best New Independent Fragrance for the opulent Black Osmanthus – which truly put her on the radar of journalists and perfumistas. From sourcing rare and precious aromatic essences from around the world to blending fragrances by hand in her own perfume studio, after years of study, Marina’s long-awaited olfactory journey to ‘rediscover the soul of perfume’ is off to a rousing start – and all from the suitably mystical base of Glastonbury. More than simply reaching for the stars, parallel to her perfumery career she’s also studying to become a Planetary Scientist and Astrobiologist, at the University of London; recently combining her twin passions by creating AromAtom – creating the imagined scents of space as a way to make space science more engaging for children – which Marina regularly tours through schools. What else can we say for this exciting house, but ‘up, up and away…!?’ Quintessential scent Silky-smooth sandalwood is enticingly laced with flecks of fragrant cardamom, dotted with coriander, huge armfulls of rose and woven with incense for an all-natural scent that’s soothingly spiced, earthily grounding and yet erotically tempting; so you’ll be wanting to dance barefoot (perhaps comletely bare) and wrap yourself around a Maypole, have no doubt… Marina Barcenilla Parfums India £130 for 30ml eau de parfum
Buy it at mbparfums.com
Rarely do founders of fragrance houses come with such experience, passion and dedication to the industry as Michael Donovan. With a career thus far helping stock the shelves of such cult fragrance-shopping destinations as Roullier White, running his own PR company, representing such luminaries as Fréderic Malle – every time we’ve met Michael, he’s been bubbling with enthusiasm about a perfume we ‘…absolutely must smell!’ or a nose who’s ‘a complete genius!’ And you know what? He’s always been right.
He’d been badgered for years by fragrance experts and enthusiasts alike to launch his own range, but the idea had tickled his brain for some decades before being fully explored as a reality. As Michael explains, the concept he just couldn’t let go of was to have a collection that truly represented ‘scents as complex as you are.’ And so, the St Giles fragrances have ‘…been created to stimulate and amplify the many different aspects of our character. This wardrobe of fragrances celebrates the parts that make us who we are, fusing the reality and the fantasy.’
And the nose he sought out to compose them just happens to be one of the greatest of our time. ‘The perfumes are made in collaboration with Master Perfumer Bertrand Duchaufour, whose vision I have long admired and whose friendship I cherish.’ Having spent many years working alongside Bertrand, but always in regard to his work for other houses, Michael admits he was ‘…extremely nervous’ about approaching him, but it turns out Bertrand was more than enthusiastic in his acceptance. The only question you need ask, now, is which fragrant character you want to embody, today… Quintessential scent Rosemary absolute – now proven to stimulate memory performance – adds an aromatic, drily green note while fresh ginger warmly fizzes alongside Champagne-like aldehydes, herbaceous clary sage and the uplifting, fruity zing of rhubarb. There’s a sigh of soft leather and frankincense at the heart, slowly sinking to the inky-tinged base of castoreum absolute, sandalwood, Atlas cedarwood and a salty tang of driftwood. Absolutely unique, you’ll want to cover yourself in it while seeking your muse, perhaps while enjoying a sip or three of something refreshing, wearing nothing else but a velvet smoking jacket and an enigmatic smile… St Giles The Writer £130 for 100ml eau de parfum
Buy it at stgilesfragrance.com
Recalling his childhood and growing up ‘in fragrant surroundings,’ Tom Daxon rather understates how perfume practically ran in his blood. Lucky enough to have a mother who was creative director at Molton Brown for over 30 years, and therefore ‘would often give me new shower gels to try, fragrances to sniff’ his scented destiny was sealed by frequently accompanying his mother on her business trips to Grasse.
There he met the father-daughter duo of Jacques and Carla Chabert, who’d variously worked for Chanel, Guerlain and L’Oréal, with Jacques the nose behind Molton Brown’s ground-breaking Black Pepper and Carla creating the hit follow-up, Pink Peppercorn. Having esteemed perfumers in his life from such an early age was a connection that would bravely – still in his twenties – lead Tom to launch a brand new British fragrance house. Clearly a chap who doesn’t like to hang around when he’s got a bee in his bonnet, by the end of that same year, he was already being stocked in Liberty.
Not a bad start, all things considered, and describing the impetus behind him starting his own line of fragrances, Tom says ‘I wouldn’t have bothered if I thought I couldn’t offer something a bit different.’ Uniquely intriguing, the entire range celebrates a luxurious kind of British modernity in their pared back, clean lines, the oils being macerated and matured in England for at least six weeks before they’re bottled here. Harnessing Tom’s Grasse connections but remaining resolutely British in their spirit, it’s just the beginning for this exciting house. Quintessential scent Lushly narcotic, it’s a hyper-realistic big-hitter – like sticking your entire face in a buxom bouquet, the better to get another dose of its lascivious charms. Using traditional, headily feminine notes like lily of the valley, carnation, rose and oakmoss might have become ‘vintage’ or even a bit old-fashioned smelling in the wrong hands, but the Chaberts and Tom vividly evoke just-bruised, silky petals with a futuristic drama that never fails to shake you out of the doldrums. Tom Daxon Crushing Bloom £105 for 50ml eau de parfum
Buy it at tomdaxon.com
With a strong heritage behind us, and many of those houses still not only surviving but thriving, it seems British perfumery is once again blooming with a fresh crop of forward-thinking (and often self-taught) perfumers shaking up the scent scene. No fuddy-duddy fragrances, these, they’re flying the flag not only for British niche perfumery, but for the art of fragrance itself. Hoist the bunting!
For further reading, we suggest getting your hands on a copy of British Perfumery: A Fragrant History by The British Society of Perfumers/£30 including UK delivery.
Written by Suzy Nightingale
An eternal Chypre floral that swirls sumptuously, Eau du Soir has a legion of fragrance fans who’ve long swooned after the scent, now Sisley have introduced the most gorgeous limited editon bottle evoking celestial fantasies… and the scent itself is based on one of the most romantic tales we’ve heard (read on, below, to find out more.)
The emblematic flacon is a deep black and lacquered, peppered with a shower of stars and planets, ‘…transporting us to the middle of a starry night where the heavenly bodies shine bright and whirl in a wonderful dance.’ Incredibly marking the 15th edition, Sisley presents Eau de Soir in this contemporarily chic new ‘outfit’ for devotees of the famous fragrance, but also to tempt new fans in to the fold. So let us tempt you further…
Perhaps their most iconic fragrance, Eau du Soir has been acclaimed as one of the most elegant examples ever created of the (intriguingly sophisticated) Chypre fragrance family.
‘A stroll in the gardens of Alcazar in Seville, Spain. As dusk falls, the seringa blossom exudes its fragrance. A floral Chypre whirldwind. Refined, elegant and timeless. An eau de parfum combining citrus freshness and floral sensuality underlined by elegant chypre notes.’
And nothing makes us feel more fully dressed-up than a Chypre – we could swear it adds a certain sashay to the way you move!
There’s also a wonderfully romantic story behind Eau du Soir: it was created by Hubert d’Ornano for his beloved wife as her personal scent, in 1990, before being finally released to the public and going on to be a global bestseller. We feel the celestial theme is perfectly suited, therefore, especially for this time of year – reminding us to gaze at the frosty stars and dream of sunshine… Sisley Eau de Soir Limited Edition 2017 £195 for 100ml eau de parfum
Buy it at John Lewis
Written by Suzy Nightingale
Can you imagine the smell of a cold knife? Of molten gold or hammered bronze? Not readily identifiable and posessing almost no scent of their own, yet we can easily conjure a metallic smell if we think about it hard enough.
Synthetic iris notes in a perfume or ambergris can be metal-like, in texture as well as the smell – providing a glinting sheen that cuts through a composition to render it otherworldly or luxuriously opulent, weirdly familiar or (depending how it’s handled) thrusting a literal backbone of steel in to the heart of a scent.
Metallic shine has reflected throughout beauty and fashion, and now the fragrance world has come to dip its fingers in the glistering pot. Always amazed at how perfumers can relay texture and temperature through intricate blends of ingredients, fragrances with metal notes may sound scary at first, here are six metallic scents that are beautifully worked and warming our cockles right now…
Inspired by the birthplace of classic chypre ingredients and copper sharing its etymology (kupros) with the island of Cyprus, it seems only natural to link the two. Shimmying beguilingly with bergamot and pink berries, the slippery liquidity of iris and resinous patchouli melt into the warmth of suede, extreme amber, ambroxan and addictively more-ish tonka bean absolute. Juliette Has a Gun Metal Chypre £220 for 75ml eau de parfum
Buy it at Harrods
Completing the trio of their precious metal inspired scents, the latest is pure sophistication with a haze of jasmine absolute, white musk and orchids – each petal seeming to unfurl with the heat of your skin. Gauzily gorgeous, you’ll certainly feel expensive, and expect to be enchanted for countless hours. Ormonde Jayne White Gold £375 for 120ml eau de parfum
Buy it at selfridges.com
Incredible how some ingredients absolutely smell of particular temperatures, and the warming gleam of precious gold has definitely been evoked here with sun-drenched mandarins and a cashmere soft woodiness that wafts elegantly the whole day through. We loved it when the weather matched and are enjoying even more, in nostalgia. Michael Kors 24K Brilliant Gold £42 for 30ml eau de parfum
Buy it at House of Fraser
The French have an expression: ‘Qui a de la platine‘ (literally, he who has platinum) that describes a brilliant and eloquent man, From the classic lavender/rosemary freshness of a fougére pepped up with pettigrain to a striking clary sage and geranium accord at the heart, our interest peaks at the ambery dry down. To be worn by smooth-tongued silver foxes, we feel. Chanel Platinum Égoïste £52 for 50ml eau de toilette
Buy it at chanel.com
Perfumer Alberto Morillas infuses Damask rose absolute and jasmin with billowingly soft white musk and tendrils of incense for the kind of opaquely resonant olfactory experience you’ll be wanting to wrap yourself in season ’round. Can a perfume smell both warm and gleamingly pink without being too girly? This one does so, effotlessly. Bulgari Rose Goldea £38.50 for 25ml eau de parfum
Buy it at johnlewis.com
Written by Suzy Nightingale
Over a year since it first threw open its doors, seven new boutiques have opened at Harrods prestigious Salon de Parfums, all the better to seduce your senses. So we thought it was time for an update. Armani Prive, Penhaligon’s and Burberry have settled into luxuriously appointed spaces alongside Bond No.9, Sospiro and Frédéric Malle (we loved the scent booth – what looks like a full-sized shower cubicle, in which perfume is sprayed and wafted for you!)
A worldwide exclusive sees the launch of beautifully presented, Japanese-inspired brand, Floraïku (above) – brought to you by the creators of MEMO, immersing visitors in a Japanese style tea ceremony as they learn about the fragrances and two layering scents the house call ‘shadows’ to amplify their individual characters…
Meanwhile, back at Armani Privé, you can be ushered through gilded doors to strecth out on a chaise lounge and invited to enjoy the immersive ‘Privé Experience’, relaxing as you breathe in gentle wafts of scent until you find your favourite.
Both Sospiro and Frédéric Malle will be offering personalisation and monogramming services within their boutiques, while perfumistas visiting Penhaligon’s and Bond No.9 will be able to create, to varying degrees, their own custom fragrance. Surely the ultimate gift…?
It may seem a bit of a marathon trek up the escalators to the Sixth Floor of the world-famous department store. (Although we’ve figured out a nifty short-cut: up to Fifth, through shoes, and up the final escalator).
But however you get there, and wherever you’re coming from, we promise you it’s worth the trip – particularly when you can browse and sniff in a completely unhurried manner (where else can you legitimately lie down and relax in a shop, without getting thrown out?!) and be treated to advice from true experts on-hand. Harrods Salon de Parfums is on the Sixth Floor at Harrods, Knightsbridge, London SW1X 7XL
Written by Suzy Nightingale
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