We’re going on The Scent Trail – A Journey of the Senses

As we’re still not able to travel very far physically, so many of us have turned more than ever to fragrance as a way to ‘travel with our nose.’ Today we are traversing time and space with Celia Lyttelton‘s  beautifully written and so-evocative book, The Scent Trail, that follows her journey to discover the secret of scent…

Penguin say: ‘When Celia Lyttelton visited a bespoke perfumers, she realised a long-held ambition: to have a scent created solely for her. Entering this heady, exotic world of oils and essences, she was transported from a leafy London square to a place of long-forgotten memories and sensory experiences. And once drawn into this world, she felt compelled to trace the origins, history and culture of the many ingredients that made up her unique perfume…

And so began a magical journey of the senses that took Celia from Grasse, the cradle of perfume, to Morocco; from the rose-growing region of Isparta in Turkey, to the Tuscan hills where the iris grows wild. And after journeying to Sri Lanka, the home of the heavenly scented jasmine, Celia ventured to India, the Yemen and finally to the ‘Island of Bliss’, Socotra. Here she traced the rarest and most mysterious agent in perfumery, ambergris, which is found in the bellies of whales and is said to have powerful aphrodisiac qualities.

 

From the peasants and farmers growing their own crops, and the traders who sell to the great perfume houses, to the ‘noses’ who create the scents and the marketing kings who rule this powerful billion-dollar industry, Celia Lyttelton paints a mystical, sensual landscape of sights, sounds and aromas as she recalls the extraordinary people and places she encountered on her unique Scent Trail.’

We say: While on the quest for ‘the perfect perfume’, author Celia Lyttelton had a bespoke fragrance made by Anastasia Brozler in London, an encounter that set Lyttelton off on a tour of the world to trace the history and provenence of the ingredients used. From a collection of precious oils contained in an old wooden box to the growing, harvesting and distilling of the materials and exploring cultural responses and mythological beliefs surroung scent, this book is a must-have for anyone who wonders where, exactly their perfume originated. And what a tour to take! With new scent adventures beginning with sentences such as: ‘We arrived on a plateau of dragons’ blood trees and desert roses…’ you will doubtless be Googling far flung fragrant climes, just as we did, while reading this (and now knowing exactly what you’d do following a Lottery win!) Movingly written, and full of the insightful, utterly fascinating pieces of fragrant history that she collected along the way, this book is a deep-dive into perfume ingredients that will satiate your travel-lust until such time we may pack our bags and set off into the scented sunset…

 

 

Celia Lyttelton The Scent Trail: A Journey of the Senses, Bantam Books amazon.co.uk

Looking for a gift or just the next thing you need to get your nose in to? Have a browse of our ever-expanding selection of favourite books – some are exclusively about perfume, others are more scholarly tomes on the history and scientific advancements of smell and the senses; while others still follow a path of examining fragrant ingredients in poetic, funny or awe-inspiring ways. Every page is a journey in itself. What are you waiting for…?

By Suzy Nightingale

Subscription boxes are booming: here’s why (and how to get your scent samples sent to your home!)

Subscription boxes are so popular right now, and a recent consumer survey has discovered why. Quite apart from their findings, which we’ll report on below; we know this true as we’ve seen a HUGE rise in our own Perfume Society Discovery Boxes in the last year. Even more excitingly, we have launched our very own Seasonal Scent Subscription Box, for the many (many, MANY!) of you who’ve begged us to bring this out for years…

We all know the joy of getting a parcel in the post – mosty especially during various stages of #lockdown dreariness during the Covid-19 pandemic, which meant many of us relying on shopping online for our scent thrills. Even now, with stores having re-opened across the U.K. – purchasing a new perfume presents a particular set of problems:

– There are rarely any testers on display anymore, thanks to possible cross-contamination safety measures

– Even if you can get to an assistant to spray a scent on you, it’s not always great to make an instant decision in-store

– Although we think fragrance IS essential (obvs), if you’re worried about ‘non essential’ socialising, it can be intimidating to be shopping in crowded spaces again

– Where do you even begin if you’re not exactly sure which perfume to try next?Subscription box

With all these worries in mind, we launched our own Seasonal Scent Subscription Box. The perfect way to try a selection of scents appropriate for each season! There’s two options available – a flexible Quarterly Subcription: £18 a box, sent every three months, the ability to cancel at anytime; or an Annual Subscription: £68 a year with FREE postage and the ability to spread the cost. So now, what did the consumer survey find…?

‘According to a survey by Cosmetics Business, in partnership with Your Beauty Club, since the pandemic hit, 31.7% of customers who had previously bought a subscription service signed up to one during the pandemic; while 70% of those who said they had not bought a subscription beauty box before said they would now consider buying one.

Some 69% of shoppers agreed the culture towards subscription boxes has shifted since the Covid-19 pandemic began, which consequently shut most beauty retailers for many months, making it harder for customers to shop for their beauty staples.

The findings also uncovered that more than 74.2% of respondents believe buying a subscription box makes it easier to consume beauty products and 42.4% want a subscription box that offers a selection of products from different categories.

The main driver for signing up to a subscription service among consumers was for the thrill of receiving new products (55%), while 33.8% said they wanted to discover new beauty items.

 

Subscription boxes are booming (image via Canva.com)

Following that, 8% said they found a subscription service to be cheaper than buying beauty products individually, and the findings showed consumers were not willing to part with much cash for a subscription box.

Almost half of respondents said they would be willing to spend between £10 and £25 on a subscription box, with 37.6% only likely to pay up to £10.

Some shoppers, however, (12.6%) were prepared to pay between £25 and £50, and just 1.6% and 1.4% would spend between £50 and £75, and £75 to £100, respectively.’

We’re not at all surprised at these findings – even before the pandemic, we wanted to make it easier to get your hands (and noses!) on fragrances to try at home. It takes the pressure off, and more than that: actually living with a scent on your skin for several hours is the ONLY way to truly tell if if it suits you. Also, not everyone happens to live near an independent perfumery or a store that has a great selection of fragrance house.

So we say: why not sit back and let the perfume magic get posted to you at the click of a Scent Subscription Box button…?

By Suzy Nightingale

Ask Uncle James – Perfume problems? Our agony uncle has all the answers…

We’re so happy to have Uncle James (a.k.a professional fragrance consultant and expert, James Craven) on board with The Perfume Society. He’s the ‘agony uncle’ here to answer all your perfume problems and solve your scent woes…

In the first part of his answers to your queries, James explained where to spray fragrance to make it last longer and radiate on your skin, and how to go about choosing a ‘seasonal scent’. This time he’s been tapping away at his typewriter to help with questions about allergies and what fragrances might be best to start a budding 15 year old perfumista with.

Don’t forget you can ask your questions using the form below (scroll down) and they might get featured in the next edition of The Scented Letter Magazine. But for now, Uncle James, it’s over to you!

Uncle James Craven

I think I’m allergic to some fragrances as I get a rash on my skin and some make me sneeze. How do I find out what’s causing this, and any suggestions for how I can still enjoy fragrance? 

James says: Keep calm. Make a list of all the perfumes that you think have caused adverse reactions. Establish what notes they have in common by reading up on them online (I would of course point you in the direction of The Perfume Society), then by process of trial and error try to discover the ‘joker’ in the pack. The help of an experienced sales assistant in a sympathetic perfumery can be very useful here – and hopefully before very long at all, we will once again be able to venture into stores. Talking it over often clarifies matters no end and sudden enlightenment dawns.

Allergies come and go, often abruptly. Don’t automatically blame chemicals and synthetics: natural organic oils are now recognised as equally liable to be allergenic. Meanwhile you might still enjoy perfume as our ancestors did – anywhere but on the skin, so instead on scarves, the linings of coats, soft furnishings… And remember, sublime fragrances are all around us, not just confined to bottles.

Uncle James Craven

What styles of fragrance might be suitable for a 15-year-old who’s just starting to get into perfume? And how can I tell her to wear it so that it doesn’t overwhelm those around her? 

James says: Your young friend is lucky to have you. Most 15-year-olds love analysing themselves so encourage this young woman to do just that. Ask her to define her personality in her own mind, and then introduce her to the most empathetic sales consultant at your favourite perfumery. This maven – if worth her salt – will assist the young person in interpreting and expressing herself via a fragrance that fits like a handmade glove.

Youth is best showcased by light, subtle – but not necessarily naive –scents. We are all allowed a few garish fragrance mistakes as we develop our tastes, and perfume picking should always be fun. But I have found that most teenagers naturally actually tend to shyness and restraint when it comes to choosing and spraying fragrance.

I hope I have not grown cynical with the years – but the surest way to ensure an ingenue will NOT do something is to beg her to do that very thing. So maybe pass her the Giorgio and the Poison!

What questions have you always wanted to ask an expert? Put your perfume problems to Uncle James and he’ll get thinking…

Ask James Craven (The 'Perfume Agony Uncle')

Your questions for James Craven, The Perfume Society's 'Perfume Agony Uncle'
  • Could it be 'how do I know when a fragrance suits me?' or 'How can I make scent last longer on my skin?' or even 'Which fragrance should I wear to make me feel invincible?!'
  • (You can remain 'anonymous' if you wish, but please make up a nom de plume so we can separate questioners!)

Retro fragrance ads – moustaches, pot plants & lasers: oh my!

Retro fragrance ads have a certain nostaligic charm – we might remember them from our childhood – or occasionally downright hilarious (let’s just say that some age better than others…)

While some houses or perfumes slip through the mists of time and become names we forget altogether or perhaps spot at vintage fairs, others remain firm favourites and become scents that stood the test of time. Here’s a list of some of our favourites you can sit back and chuckle at if you will, or be propelled back into vivid scent memories via the magic of perfume’s ability to whisk us through time and space.

Prepare yourselves for moustaches, pot plants & lasers: oh my!

 

#moustachegoals for miles as our hero is seen splashing on Blue Statos Cologne one minute, and hurling himself into a hang-glider the next. We hope he waxed that ‘tache or he could give himself whiplash. And who’d have thought it? It turns out hang-gliding is the perfect sport to take up if you want to make eye-contact with female drivers – not something we’d have thought Health & Safety regs would approve of, but still. She can get a whiff of his Cologne even as he whisks through the air above her car (like a fragrant falcon), and they immediately decide to live together in a glorified wooden shack. We love happy endings.

 

Spying someone gorgeous at a party, trying to subtly flirt across a crowded room, has always been a situation fraught with danger. But it’s all going so well for this woman – she’s chic, fun and poised with dignity – until she applies Tigress, quick-changes into a catsuit, spends several minutes fighting her way through the potted plants and breathes on her ‘prey’ in a quite unpleasant and off-putting manner. And this is why we should all have that friend who says, ‘Yes, Susan. There is such a thing as “too many cocktails” and you’ve had them. I’m calling us a taxi.’

 

Shopping for men while picking up their vegetables for the week, two women perform an improptu musical outside a greengrocer’s, discussing what, exactly, constitutes ‘something about an Aqua Velva man.’ I’m not sure we ever quite get to the bottom of it, only that they must be ‘manly’ and ‘last all day’. With packaging that at first glance might be mistaken for men’s hair dye – or a devastatingly attractive fake Moustache In a Box – we can only guess how ‘fresh’ and/or ‘provocative’ the duo of fragrances actually smelled. Or perhaps it’s of secondary importance to the freshness of the veg?

 

On what looks to be the set of a 1960s Hammer Horror film, and wearing a nightdress that only adds to the impression, we are given life advice by a really quite terrifying woman who declares in a breathy, faintly sinister way, that her men must wear ‘English Leather, or nothing at all.’ We’d be straight on the phone to the police, to be honest, advising them to check under her patio for those who refused either option…

 

Lasers, leotards, smoke machines… could this be the dawn of the 1980s by any chance? This couldn’t be more thrillingly of its it time (1981 to be precise) if it tried, and we even have SCIENCE (along with some nifty robotic dance moves, which I’m pretty sure we’ll all be breaking out down the club this weekend) to back up their claims of ‘pheremones’ in every bottle of Jovan Andron, that are ‘guaranteed to attract.’ Attract what, we’re not quite sure. Stifled laughter?

In the mood for more retro fragrance vibes? Take a look at our feature in which we invited author Maggie Alderson to browse through the adverts of more recent years and see how men’s fragrance advertising has changed

By Suzy Nightingale

Colourful fragrance feeds to follow

Colourful fragrance feeds on Instagram are lighting up our life right now – most especially as we’ve just published the latest edition of The Scented Letter magazine with the theme of ‘Perfume’s Bright Future.’

 

 

Because fragrance truly has been brightening the darkness of the last year for so many of us – both literally and metaphorically – and we now know that colour, emotions and scent are not only metaphorically linked, but scientifically proven. Changing the colour of the bottle, packaging or juice inside can drastically alter our perception of how a perfume smells to us. And, as you will discover in this biggest ever issue: fragrance designers have mapped out your mood, sometimes long before the first drop of an ingredient has been added to the composition.

But really it all comes down to that immediate uplifting appeal that bright colours and the right fragrance can have – a whizz, bang, pop! of rainbows bursting forth from our phone screens just make everything seem jollier, somehow. And how we’ve needed that of late.

Here are some of our favourite multi-hued, must-follow fragrance feeds on Instagram, for whenever you need to smell in full colour...

dr.elle.perfume
A perfume collector based in the U.K., Dr. Elle’s account is a brilliantly curated glimpse at her incredible collection – displayed in a rainbow of colours. Fascinating to see the colours en-masse, to spot rare bottles and be entranced by her impeccably arranged flatlays!

 

anillustratednose
In her ‘spare time ‘from working in science, Nafia is a talented artist who renders some favourite fragrances in hand-drawn illustrations. Often surrounded not only by their literal colours, but those the scent evokes for her, adding another sense to seeing them on screen.

 

yura_perfume_collection
A perfume collection of dreams, we wonder how many bottles Yura has in total, with snippets such as ‘Photos of a few months ago. And have collected 300 bottles more after that…’ Exquisite flacons, usually arrayed by house, showing their full scent spectrum.

 

suzys__niche_fragrance_reviews
No not my collection (I wish!) but this Suzy shows her ‘passion for fine fragrance expressed through reviews and photos.’ Wonderfully evocative and so-colourful backdrops give another vibe to her really great descriptions of how the particular perfumes make her feel.

 

markus.ebrahim
Anyone who keeps fragrance bottles in a cocktail cabinet is right up our street, and Markus describes himself as a ‘perfume extremist’, whose Instagram also serves as a scent diary. A rapid response nurse for the NHS, his feed is full of color, wit and personal reflections.

 

fragrance.obsession
Exploring both niche and more mainstream designer houses, colourful flowers and themed layouts are often employed to accompany her lovely reviews (sometimes even matched with nail polish too!) We love her trays of monthly scent sellections as well: so organised!

 

alltheperfume
Sarah has an extraordinary collection we’ve previously shared in The Scented Letter magazine’s #ShareMyStash feature, having visited her home and seen the beautiful bottles for ourselves! Gorgeous photos and thoughtful reviews of often more affordable houses.

By Suzy Nightingale

 

 

 

Escentric Molecules M+ exclusive webinar launch (watch here!)

Escentric Molecules M+ is an incredible NEW trio, incorporating their iconic Molecule 01 with iris, mandarin and patchouli, respectively, for the most fabulous fragrant results. Now, you can purchase your own M+ Discovery Set and sniff-along online…!

We just know you’re going to fall (hard) for all three of these Escentric Molecules M+ fragrances, and what better way to introduce them than let Geza guide your nose while you exolore them on your own skin…?

 

 

As if we weren’t excited enough at hearing of the M+ range, imagine the squeals of delight when we learned Escentric Molecules had chosen to launch them LIVE with us, during a webinar in which Geza Schoen, the genius perfumer and founder of the house, talked through the M+ fragrances with our co-founder, Jo Fairley, and our subscribers. Those who’d purchased tickets were sent an M+ Discovery Set and a Zoom link, to join in the live sniff-along.

As you can imagine, those tickets and boxes sold out in record time (this was a rare opportunity after all!) but we’re so happy to inform you those M+ Discovery Sets are available to purchase, and we’re sharing the sniff-along video, below – so whenever you purchase your box, you can open and explore with Geza and Jo in your own time, woohoo!

 

 

During the video, Geza shares his inspirations, explain how he chose the ingredients to pair with Molecule 01 for the new M+ collection, and reveal his passions for the world of perfumery, and answering some of the many questions our subscribers wanted to ask him.

 

Escentric Molecules M+ discovery set

 

Molecule 01 + Iris  Geza says: I have had a long-standing love affair with iris. Every Escentric fragrance has an iris note somewhere in there. To me, iris is luxury. The iris pallida absolue I’ve used here is one of the most expensive ingredients in perfumery. You can find iris extracts for way less than that. But they do not have the great and subtle beauty of this absolue. It’s radical to put this much in a fragrance. The sillage is fantastic. This is a bomb, but a subtle bomb.

Molecule 01 + Mandarin  Geza says: ‘Mandarin is all about the instant hit. It’s so alive, the way it radiates off the skin with that citrus zestiness. But there’s more to mandarin, it’s very fruity and aromatic as well. It’s a beautiful ingredient. Its transparency means that it vanishes quickly. I’ve touched it up with a little extra shading to extend it, adding a mandarin ingredient used in flavourings to give it super-juiciness. Then as it begins to fade, Molecule 01 syncs in, bringing a warm, erogenous feeling to play with that zinging freshness. That’s unusual – for a topnote ingredient like Mandarin and a base note like Iso E Super to dance together naked like this, without other notes coming between them. And then the mandarin is almost gone and you are left with the elevated simplicity of Molecule 01.’

Molecule 01 + Patchouli  Geza says: ‘Patchouli is a unique natural. Unlike 99% of perfume ingredients, we associate it with a particular period, with the sixties and seventies and that bohemian spirit. It has a cool, rather aloof woodiness to it. I love it for its moody beauty. I’ve  used two qualities of patchouli here. The biggest chunk is Patchouli Coeur which is a very clean, soft patchouli oil fraction with the camphor-like top note removed. I have also included a patchouli oil from Indonesia to round it out with a little bit of a top note. The result is a sophisticated, clean patchouli that pairs fantastically well with Molecule 01.’

Escentric Molecules M+ Discovery Set £20

By Suzy Nightingale

Scent themed podcasts we’re listening to for spring

Scent themed podcasts seem to be bursting forth like so many buds blossoming, and we’re here for it! When we began recommending perfumed podcasts to listen to a couple of years ago, there really were only a handful around. Now? A whole bunch we’re adding to our ‘subscribe’ list for spring.

Exploring our sense of smell, reviews of new launches and retrospectives with perfumers and fragrance house founders alike, here’s some more direct links to listen, grab a cuppa and some precious ‘me time’ with…

 

An Aromatic Life: Interview with Christophe Laudamiel
Exploring our sense of smell from angles including science, art, literature, movies and health, host Frauke Galia seeks to ‘…shed light on this beautiful sense and increase its profile in a culture dominated by sight and sound.’ With fascinating guests providing insight into wine smelling, aromatherapy and even ‘why we have two nostrils, not just one’, Frauke recently interviewed brilliant perfumer Christophe Laudamiel for the second part of ‘The Art of Perfumery’ (and we highly recommend listening to the first, too).

 

The Sniff: Interview with Kingdom Scotland
Fragrance blogger Nicola Thomis loves taking a deep dive in to all things fragrance and scent related, and in this episode she gets to know Imogen Russon Taylor, founder of the unique Scottish fragrance house of Kingdom Scotland. During their conversation, the two discuss the latest release ‘as well as delving into the influence that Scotland has on their perfumes’ and the intriguing role the Royal Botanic Society of Edinburgh archives have played in inspiring the brand and their scents.

 

Heston’s Journey to the Centre of Food: ‘Heston Smells’
This podcast series invites listeners to hop on board for an exciting trip ‘with the world’s most creative chef, as he explores the amazing hidden secrets within our simplest ingredients,.’ It’s well known that Heston is obsessed with smell and has worked with perfumers and scientists previously to incorporate that sense into his epic food concepts. Here he’s interviewing author Harold McGee on the launch of his new book, Nose Dive (which we recently reviewed, here). A jaw-dropping tome (and it’s a big ‘un!), it reveals the chemical components that make up familiar (and bizarre) smells that surround us.

 

 

The Smell Podcast: Interview with psychologist Dr. Kathrin Ohla
Katie Boateng is an ‘acquired anosmic’ who became anosmic ‘after suffering a post-viral infection that lasted for weeks in late 2008/early 2009.’ She explains that ‘The goal of the podcast is to spread awareness and to make sure that you know, you are not alone in your anosmia journey!’ With Covid-19 having caused a new awareness on the psychological implications of a loss of smell, there’s no better time to tune in. This latest episode being a conversatioj with psychologist, Dr. Kathrin Ohla, and an explanation of how to use ‘GCCR’s Smell & Taste Check.’

 

Every Little Thing: Skewed Smells – A Weird COVID Mystery
Another smell-related podcast in this series (and proof the pandemic is getting everyone talking about our least explored sense), this time with a caller’s personal story. ‘Leña had COVID-19 last October and temporarily lost her sense of smell. As it started to come back, she noticed something strange — fruity things smelled like burnt hair and condoms. Where are Leña’s mystery smells coming from? Rhinologist Simon Gane fills us in on COVID-related smell loss.’

 

Perfume Philosophers: Spring Forward with Floral Street
Fragrantly obsessed friends co-host a podcast ‘about all things that smell good.’ From scented candles they love to explorations of new (to them) fragrance houses and even explaining their love for the smell of marshmallows, this episode is all about their personal first impressions of the Floral Street perfumes. A British house that has recently gone stellar in the United States (thanks to being stocked at Sephora), we’re glad to see the scents from this indie house are getting worn around the world.

 

Pinot & Perfume: Kilian Vodka On the Rocks
‘Do you love perfume?’, host Sarah Chacon asks. ‘How about wine (or any alcohol bevvie)?’ (okay, you have our full attention). ‘If you answered “yes” to both of those questions, YOU’RE IN THE RIGHT PLACE.’ Hurrah for that. Each week ‘everything relating to perfume: reviews, news headlines, trends in the industry, and even some educational tidbits (what exactly IS musk, anyway?)’ are discussed – ‘all while sipping on a little sumpin’ sumpin’.’ This time, it’s the refreshing beverage-inspired fragrance of Kilian Vodka On the Rocks that’s tickling her fancy.

 

Mary Portas: On Style: Lizzie Ostrum interview
Talking about ‘the power of style’, guru Portas waxes lyrical with the help of several guests on how to celebrate yourself (and ‘travel through space and time’) through the medium of exploring your personal style. On this episode, one iof the guests is our good friend, fragrance expert and author, Lizzie Ostrom (aka ‘Odette Toilette’) to discuss invisible style, and how ‘Scent is intrinsically linked to memory, and we examine the way it has brought us closer to the people and places we’ve missed in lockdown.’ They also look at ‘how the perfume market fared during the past 12 months, and get some tips from Lizzie on choosing a signature scent online.’

 

Outspoken Beauty: On the Scent Epidose 2
Senior Writer, Suzy Nightingale is once again ‘On the Scent’ with experienced beauty broadcaster and co-host, Nicola Bonn. ‘Suzy is a fragrance expert who describes scent like no one I’ve ever met,’ Nicola says [thank you!] and during the episode they chat about ‘some of the most exciting and incredible fragrances on the market and Suzy also does a fragrance prescription service, answering all of the fragrance dilemmas that you’ve been sending…’

Fancy some more fragrant listening? Simply type ‘podcasts’ in the search bar and even more hours of scented musing will be yours to while away the hours with!

 

Happy Birthday Chanel! N°5 – 100 years of celebrity

We’re ready to celebrate in more ways than one, not the least by saying Happy Birthday, Chanel. Incredibly, N°5 is celebrating 100 years of being adored by celebrities and fragrance fans the world over. We urge you to join in by spritzing some, now, while watching the fragrantly-themed full-length film and resting your eyes on gorgeousness awhile…

‘Its name is universally renowned. Its wake, a revolution. Its bottle, an unmatched masterpiece,’ says Chanel. ‘Created in 1921, N°5 is the best-known perfume in the world. The new episode of Inside CHANEL looks back over 100 years of celebrity.’

 

Delving deeply into just what makes it so enduringly special, Chanel explains that:

‘From the start, N°5 threw habits and conventions to the wind. At the beginning of the 1920s, Gabrielle Chanel had already changed people’s views on fashion by suggesting a new allure. Her first perfume is consistent with her pioneering designs, simple yet well thought through. Revolutionary in its composition, N°5 is also the first perfume imagined by a woman for women.’

Marilyn Monroe © Chanel

 

N°5 has spawned many iconic scent memories over the decades, ‘Whether it be Marilyn Monroe turning it into a myth by confessing she only wore a few drops in bed, or Andy Warhol screen printing it as a pop art icon.’ And did you know – N°5 was the perfume to be advertised on TV!

 

Chane N°5 © Chanel

 

The visual images accompanying N°5 have always been swoonsome, too (just cast your eyes around this page for proof) – inspiring some of the greatest names in photography and cinematography — including Helmut Newton, Irving Penn, Ridley Scott, Jean-Paul Goude or Baz Luhrmann — and has truly ‘become a visual symbol that has never lost touch with the contemporary creative scene.’

 

Marion Cotillard © Chanel

 

The muses have been meticulously chose over these years as well – only those women who can emody the character of the fragrance without overshadowing it, such as Catherine Deneuve, Carole Bouquet, Nicole Kidman or (current ‘face’) Marion Cotillard have been ‘…among the ambassadresses who, by their spirit and modernity, lift N°5 into the eternal feminine pantheon for posterity.’

 

Happy Birthday, Chanel! © Chanel

 

From being included in museum exhibitions to countless scent memries we all share, we certainly agree that ‘It is a perfume which, like a coat of invisible armor, gives the strength to face life. Backed with its 100 years of celebrity, N°5 will always be one step ahead.’ That’s why we chose to continue the celebrations, while asking trend forecasters and fragrance experts how they think Chanel N°5 will sashay forth in the next 100 years – with a stunning spread in the just-published Perfume’s Bright Future issue of The Scented Letter Magazine.

 

 

VIP Subscribers can view online for free, or you can purchase glossy print copies, here, and International readers can buy a year-long online subscription, here.

However you choose to celebrate, we feel it’s time to spray on N°5 with abandon and shake our fragrant tail feathers as we look to our own futures with an increasing sense of joy…

By Suzy Nightingale

Clive Christian Matsukita – a fragrant history, revived

Clive Christian has been searching through the Crown Perfumery Company archives to research ‘some of the most infamous scents from this revolutionary British perfume house; loved by the aristocracy, politicians, artists and actors of the Victorian era and beyond.’

Select perfumes, we’re told, will be ‘uncovered from history, taking inspiration from a unique heritage whilst remaining true to the Clive Christian traditions of concentration, complexity and a dedication to using the finest ingredients.’

 

 

Matsukita was inspired ‘by a fabled Japanese princess who awed the Victorian royal court with her elegance and grace’ – first launched in 1892 by Crown Perfumery, and heavily advertised with lavish, hand painted illustrations.

Today, Matsukita ‘has been reimagined to capture this illusive elegance.’ A deliciously woody chypre, there’s an invigorating freshness wafting around the top notes to keep this breezy and beautiful. Green bergamot, pink pepper and intriguing nutmeg swoop to the floral, woody heart of Chinese imperial jasmine infused with with smokey black tea. The smoke dispersing to reveal an amber-rich base swathed in whisper-soft musk add further to the ‘sense of mystery and grace’ they hoped to capture of the original.

 

Clive Crown Collection Christian Matsukita £325 for 50ml eau de parfum
Available at harrods.com

 

Such a fragrance deserves a fitting presentation, and Clive Christian explain that, ‘The presentation case showcases the unique history, with an archive image hidden for discovery beneath each bottle. The symbol for this new collection is none other than the delicate motif of the Crown Perfumery Company, a symbol guarded by the perfume house as a sign of excellence and perfume quality. As with all Clive Christian perfumes each bottle is topped with our signature crown stopper, a sign of perfume prestige since 1872.’

While fragrance lovers have been swooning at the scent and its packaging, we also lost our hearts completely to the charmingly illustrated film to accompany the launch of this contemporary itteration, which we’re thrilled to share with you, below…

 

Perfume Bottles Auction 2021 – the rare, unique & ravishing!

The annual Perfume Bottles Auction is the most important date in the diary for serious scent bottle collectors around the world. Every year, stunning examples of artistic fragrance flaçons are meticulously sourced and offered to bidders, and it’s a chance to see some of the rarest bottles outside of a museum.

Since 1979, organiser and founder of The Perfume Bottles Auction, Ken Leach, has been working ‘to create public and corporate awareness of the artistry to be found in vintage perfume presentation.’ His antique shop’s show-stopping merchandise ‘has served as a source of inspiration for glass companies, package designers, and celebrity perfumers, before ultimately entering the collections of perfume bottle enthusiasts around the globe.’

Like last year, thanks to the pandemic the auction will be held online on May 1st 2021 – though this offers the opportunity for everyone to join in. The circumstances have made sourcing items more challenging, but Mr. Leach says, although he’s not been able to travel ‘…as I normally would to view collections, fate smiled and among this year’s consignments are some of the rarest and most unusual items I’ve seen.’

 

 

The stunning print catalogue – highly collectable in itself, and an invaluable resource for fragrance fans and historians alike – is now available (and can be sent worldwide).

Mr. Leach is pictured, above, with some of the most important items, and walks us through them, below. Get set to swoon…!
DeVilbiss & Osiris
‘Exceedingly rare 1928 DeVilbiss figural dragonfly perfume atomizer with a pre-sale estimate of $6,000 to $8,000.  Also in this photo is the all important Osiris by Vinolia with a pre-sale estimate of $30,000 to $40,000
Paul Poiret Rosine
‘1919 Rosine Aladin perfume bottle in elaborate box signed Mario Simonis ’19. The box graphics depict Paul Poiret as a Persian King in an imagined Orientalist tableau, the base covered in authentic Moroccan fabric. Pre-sale estimate $2,500-3,500.’
Hoffmann
‘Spectacular 1920s Heinrich Hoffmann Czechoslovakian black crystal perfume bottle with Austrian decoration by Turriet & Bardach. Pre-sale estimate $4,500-5,000’
 
Isabey Lalique
‘1924 Rene Lalique for Isabey A Travers la Voilette (Through the Veil) perfume presentation in collaboration with Alix Ayme. On the box cover and seen through a veil, a beautiful woman smelling a bouquet of flowers is detailed. The lustrous box is finished to appear lacquered while the veil pattern is printed in metallic ink, allowing the embossed flowers to appear to pierce through the veil. Pre-sale estimate $3,000-6,000′
Powder Box
‘1920s Rare Galleries Lafayette “Terre de Retz” highly detailed figural “Pirate Ship” powder box. Pre-sale estimate $1,500-2,000’
Lalique Olives
‘1912 Rene Lalique et Cie. “Olives” clear glass perfume bottle molded with convex oval cabochons, matching stopper. Pre-sale Estimate $600-800’
Ballerina
‘1940’s Marie Earle Ballerina perfume bottle presentation includes a covered plaster ballet shoe stand box. Advertisements for this perfume read “Ballerina perfume for dancing souls.” Pre-sale estimate $3,000-4,000′