Meet the Jo Malone London Gent – John Boyega

Following in the footsteps of the ‘Jo Malone London Girls’ –  Poppy Delevingne and Karen Elson – get ready to greet the new fragrant face and ‘Jo Malone London Gent‘: London born movie star, John Boyega.

Jean-Guillaume Trottier, Global President of Jo Malone London, explained they chose Boyega because, as a ‘…born and bred Londoner, John is intelligent, inclusive and witty. He shares our core values of generosity and creativity and is unafraid to speak his mind. His vivacity and whole-heartedness make him a wonderful fit with Jo Malone London and I am delighted to welcome him to the family.’

The boy from Peckham’s done well, that’s for sure: from recieving BAFTA’s 2016 Rising Star Award and the Chopard Trophy at Cannes, Boyega captured worldwide attention for his starring role as Finn, forst in Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens (which happens to be the highest-grossing US film of all time), and again in Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi (the highest grossing film, worldwide, of all time).

But it’s not just the big-hitters he’s known for, as Boyega has also graced indie smashhits such as Detroit and Attack the Block, now bringing his vibrancy, vigour and versatillity to the proudly homegrown brand, and along with redefining what it means to be a contempirary gent right now, Jo Malone London say he ‘mirrors our scents which always accentuate the surprising and the bold. Whilst known for being a huge presence and personality, Boyega himself values understatement and originality in scent.’

And we’re sure you’re going to want to know this gent better, so are delighted to share with you a Q&A, below, as well as a sneak peek at his first film for Jo Malone London…

What made you join the Jo Malone London Family?

John Boyega: ‘I love the creativity and storytelling element of Jo Malone London. It’s something I resonate with, it’s how I work best: with discussion, collaboration and down to earth honesty. Jo Malone London always delivers unexpected and unique ingredient choices and scents. It’s refined, but it’s surprising too. My life is the same, a subtle contradiction: my job, my profession, and then I still come home to this town, I still go to the supermarket late at night in my pyjamas. In some ways, everything’s changed, but then again nothing has.’

What is your relationship to scent?

‘Scent is part of my everyday style. My personal style is quite casual but I like to mix it up with interesting fits with Japanese influenced jackets, fitted trousers and chains. I like that I can change up my scent to suit my style. I’m guilty, I like to layer my fragrance. You can make some really interesting smells. If my life was a bottle of cologne it would be called: Conflicts and Success. A new Boyega line.’

What is your first memory of scent?

‘My first job was before school, I would deliver post, milk and sweets. And then I used to sell a bit at school. Sell a little bit of candies, Rockies, Haribo’s. So, my childhood smells like those old school sweets, those drumsticks, gobstoppers, spicy soup.’

What Jo Malone London products would you recommend?

Bronze Wood & Leather Cologne Intense is a solid favourite. It’s a really good scent. I like to wear it on a day-to-day basis. It doesn’t attract too much attention, but at the same time it gets people looking and smelling.
I also like a bit of oud; oud is a lovely smell.’

What do you look for in a script?

‘I look for a number of things in a script. But for me, the main thing is the character arc. I don’t want my character to begin and end the movie the same. I want a change, something different. Something that happens with the character, that means you have to go on an interesting journey with him.’

What’s your favourite part of being on set?

‘My favourite part about being on set is collaborating with the people. I’ve always watched films and never had clarity in my younger days on how the magic starts and is created. So, to be a part of that and witness it is the biggest rush.’

What is something you didn’t expect about being famous?

‘One thing I didn’t expect about being famous is the fact that some things don’t change. Sometimes you have to wait in the queue like everyone else and that’s fine. I mean, I guess I got told so many things about being famous I thought that everything was going to change for me. But I still go shopping late at night in my PJ’s. Nothing’s really changed.’

What wouldn’t you go a day without?

‘I won’t go a day without wearing a comfortable pair of socks. It doesn’t matter if they’re different socks because sometimes in the wash, things get confusing. But as long as they’re both comfortable. I’m cool. I also wear scent every day.’

What do you miss most about England when you’re not here?

‘Sometimes I miss the weather, because I want to put on a jacket. And not always be surrounded by blue skies and sun. I miss the moody faces, I can’t lie, there’s something about the reality and honesty that I like. I just miss London, I miss home.’

What’s the first thing you do when you get back to London?

‘The first thing I do is take a drive. I go back around South London, then drive around Crystal Palace, all the way around Dulwich, go down to Brixton. Just go for a drive, get the feel of the city, see what’s going on. Put the radio on. I just catch a vibe.’

So now, settle down, and get ready to see the Jo Malone Gent in action! (If you happen to have a bottle of Bronze Wood & Leather Cologne Intense nearby, you could always spray that all over for some multi-sensory cinema action, as now at least we know his current favourite fragrance…)

So for his latest – scented – starring role, expect to see Boyega further ‘navigate new territory, celebrating Britishness, storytelling and fragrance as he takes on a new kind of spotlight as the first Jo Malone London Gent.’

Come into the garden with Parterre

When David and Julia Bridger decided to combine the ruling passions of their lives – art, gardens, travel and perfume – and gather a team of experts (literally) in their field, they set in motion a series of events that is poised to change the face of British fragrance forever. And put Parterre on the map…

Embracing the concept of ‘from seed to bottle’, David and Julia not only set out to to grow, harvest and distil many of their own ingredients – but they also had a longing to try growing crops that had never before been grown on British soil. Even including – astonishingly – vetiver.

The English-grown vetiver is key in their sublime scent, Root of All Goodness, which you can try a sample of in our Niche Collection II Discovery Box:

 

Root of All Goodness

FAMILY: Fougère
TOP NOTES: ginger, lemon, bergamot
HEART NOTES: clary sage, hyssop, blue hyssop
BASE NOTES: vetiver, leather accords, amber

Those craving warmth should look no further than Parterre’s golden elixir, an evocative blend of all things radiant. Even the top notes of bergamot and lemon have been enriched with the tingle of ginger, softly melding into the hazy heart of camphorous hyssop and herbaceous clary sage.

 

To continue the story of this garen-centric house, the work that has gone into this project is nothing short of astounding. It begins with finding and restoring Keyneston Mill in the Dorset’s Tarrant Valley, bordered by the River Stour. There, a series of botanical gardens has been designed – hence the name, ‘Parterre’ – divided into ‘The Fougère Garden’ (with its ferns, lavender and mosses), the Padua Garden (roses, jasmine, geranium), and so on.

The planting expands into surrounding fields, with crop-scale ingredients, including rose geranium, mint, yarrow and the aforementioned vetiver. (Which we can report is incredibly smooth and pure: a vetiver lover’s dream!). For Julia and David, this is about ‘reinventing perfumery by taking it back to its roots.’ Parterre‘s motto: ‘Where creative botany meets artistry and the wild spirit of adventure.’

We think you’re going to want to explore this garden of fragrances quite thoroughly… You can vist Parterre’s Keyneston Mill gardens for a small £3 entry charge, and of course explore the Root of All Goodness in your own home, – along with twelve other fragrances – in our Niche Collection II Discovery Box!

Niche Collection II Discovery Box £19 (£15 for VIP Club members)

By Suzy Nightingale

Beautiful bluebells – springtime scents to fall for

Ah, bluebells: those nodding, beautiful five-petalled spring flowers that seem so quintessentially English – but actually flourish anywhere from here to northern Spain, with over 500 species in all.

Although described as ‘blue’, they can actually be tinged from white to pink, with blues from pale duck egg to deep, almost hyacinth in colour. These apparently delicate flowers – a.k.a. bellflowers – offer up an essential oil which has been described as reminiscent of a ‘clear spring day’. Stand in a bluebell wood, close your eyes and a delicate, green-floral haze will envelop and delight you: that’s what perfumers who work with bluebell are trying to recreate.

There’s surely few sights so universally pleasing as a swathe of blue that makes us catch our breath as we glimpse it through greenery on a woodland walk, or seen in a sudden flash from a train window. It’s a sign, too, that warmer weather is just around the corner, a heart-lifting reminder that things move on, and a moment to reflect on the passing of those seasons and perhaps a reminder: stop and smell the bluebells.

And so, we strongly urge you to seek out and spritz on one of these scents – just to take pleasure in these small, beautiful flowers and treasured moments that give us such joy. Follow the bluebell trail with us, now…

Light, airy and brimming with dew-laden florals, the uplifting top notes of bergamot and cassis are followed by a tender heart of jasmine, bluebell, lily of the valley, peony with a touch of peach-y sweetness; then the base soothes with creamy sandalwood, cedar, vanilla and musk. Just spray some English Bluebell on, close your eyes and let the enchanting scent dance on your skin like its ethereal inspiration.

Yardley Bluebell £9.99 for 50ml eau de toilette
yardleylondon.co.uk

Yardley also made the most heavenly film to show the inspiration for their Bluebell fragrance, and if you need to unwind and de-stress, we suggest you listen on headphones to be plunged into British springtime, with birdsong and bluebells all around. Completely glorious!

First created in 1978, there’s a bohemian, barefoot and running through the woodlands vibe to this perennial classic. An interwoven scent tapestry of hyacinth, lily of the valley, jasmine and rose entwine with that carpet of bluebells, a base of galbanum, clove and cinnamon adding a florist’s shop sense of just-snapped stalks, greenery tinged with just a touch of earthiness. It’s enough to make us want to dance away with the fairies.

Penhaligon’s Bluebell £100 for 100ml eau de toilette
penhaligons.com

Crisp, green leaves kissed with early morning frost, gently warming to a subtle, spicy glow of sunrise, blooming to a heart of surprising persimmon – a cream-lapped fruitiness that perfectly compliments the cool beginning of our journey. Whisper-soft white musk adds a powdery, feminine trail to the overall freshnness, a truly lovely, sparkling little gem that feels like wearing a Shakesperian sonnet.

Jo Malone London Wild Bluebell £94 for 100ml Cologne
jomalone.co.uk

Bluebell scents aren’t only to spritz – why not evoke those magical, dusky woodland glades within your own home? Here, the cutest glass vessel has beautiful illuatrations of bluebells and bumble bees (you can use it again when empty as a drinking glass, a pretty little vase or pencil pot). Meanwhile, enjoy the glow from the 100% natural plant wax candle, and all the wonderful fresh scents of dewy bluebells; or, as they delightfully put it, ‘nature coming back to life.’

Beefayre Bluebell Candle £18 for 200g
beefayre.com

Written by Suzy Nightingale

Floris River Dawn – hand-poured, By Request

Floris have released River Dawn, a limited edition fragrance of only 200 hand-poured bottles. Invoking shady streams and woodland walks, it’s definitely making us spring-ready…

Venturing out to explore the River Avon for their inspiration, the Floris perfumery team followed its meandering course as it begins in the beautiful, golden-stoned Cotswolds and as various tributaries merge, finalling flowing through Wiltshire on its way to the sea.

Edward Bodenham, Perfumery Director at Floris, spoke about their fragrant journey:
‘Historically we always launch our hand poured collection in late January, when winter is setting in but nature provides a few early signs of spring, particularly on our river banks. I love this time of year and whilst working on the ‘River Dawn’ scent with our team, it became clear that I wasn’t alone. Our rivers drive us on, providing tranquillity and uplifting our spirits, even in the harshest coldest winter, as the sun rises on a new day, they continue to shape our land, our geology, our industry and trade. They are a constant source of inspiration.

I recently walked along the banks of the Avon near Bradford Upon Avon. It’s a part of the world that for me encapsulates a huge amount of the beauty of our country. Interestingly our perfumer, Penny Ellis, who worked with me in creating this fragrance is a keen river swimmer who has swam sections of the Avon during these colder months which gave her huge inspiration when composing the scent.

We wanted to reflect the vibrant yet reflective tranquillity of flowing, shimmering water. How it feels to be in that raw environment. The natural beauty of the cold river bank, signs that spring is on its way as tea olives force through the cold, and snow drops appear in the shade of wooded forests, never far from the water. Most of all, we wanted to portray that emotion felt when rising before the dawn to see these landscapes completely unspoilt, before the world awakes. The river dwellers, fishermen, swimmers, rowers and those who still earn a living, working in harmony with its flow.’

Love at first sniff?
From the first spray, you’ll be transported to those gurgling tributaries with a crisp, galbanum freshness that speaks of green shoots bravely poking their heads above ground. Think fats buds just about to blossom, spiderwebs bejewelled with dewdrops, the cheering sight of snowdrops and hyacinths and a drift of spring’s first apple blossom in the air. Grounded with soothing sandalwood and delicately dusted with orris, this is the perect thing to wear when you want to celebrate that subtle shift in the seasons – not quite the end of winter, but good lord it’s almost in sight. A lightening of days and spirits, then, that make this a must-have (and a beautiful choice for any spring brides, we say).

Read more about the historic heritage of Floris in our page dedicated to their story…

Floris River Dawn £180 for 100ml eau de parfum
Only available at 89 Jermyn Street and florislondon.com

Written by Suzy Nightingale

Contemporary fragrance houses flying the flag

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. Club Members 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…?

Ruth Mastenbroek

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

4160 Tuesdays

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 Meiland Parfums

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

Marina Barcenilla Parfums

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

St Giles

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

 

Tom Daxon

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

BeauFort London fly the flag for British fragrance as Art and Olfaction Awards announced…

The fourth annual Art and Olfaction Awards were announced on May 6, and with a heady melange of strong candidates in the running as finalists, we were so thrilled and proud to see that BeauFort London won for their outstanding fragrance Fathom V in the Independent Category. In fact, though the awards ceremony were held in Berlin this year, we’re pretty sure you could have heard us whooping all the way from the UK!
Based in Los Angeles, the The Art and Olfaction Awards are designed to ‘…raise interest and awareness for independent and artisan perfumers – and experimental practitioners with scent – from all countries.’ More than simple recognition for the immense hours of hard work undertaken by these small and proudly independent fragrance houses, the award founders explain that, ‘by shining a spotlight on perfumery’s most outstanding creators, we hope to help generate support for independent practices in perfumery as a whole.’

We have long known and celebrated the importance of niche fragrance houses and the great influence they now carry for the designer brands and the trickle-down effect they have for the mainstream market. Those mega brands now showcasing “unisex” scents in paired-down bottles across the range, florals for men and unusual note combinations? All these trends began long ago in the niche world – think of them as catwalk couture influencing eventual high street styles.

Of course, before BeauFort London had even officially launched, we were championing the house based on love at first sniff of their historically inspired yet ultra contemporary scents, and you can read our interview with founder Leo Crabtree, here.
Read our page dedicated to the BeauFort London to find out more about their inspirations and our thoughts on some of the fragrances themselves, but for those of you who haven’t yet tried the (now award-winning!) Fathom V – get ready to have your senses beguiled. It’s one of the most incredible shared fragrances we’ve smelled for some time – a humongously green, tousled bouquet of flowers tossed into roiling waves as guns fire a salute, sinking in to salty, opaque waters cloaking hidden treasures in the shdowy depths… And you can try it for yourself at home in our Precious Perfumes Discovery Box.
We would like to extend our congratulations to all the finalists in this hotly contested year, and are busily reading up on some of the more artisinal houses we’ve not yet had the pleasure of exploring. So really, think of the entire list of finalists as your must-sniff guide to all that’s uber-cool right now in the perfume world.
And for 2017, the winners are…
ARTISAN CATEGORY WINNERS
Bruise Violet
by Sixteen92 (USA)
CD/ Perfumer: Claire Baxter
Presented by judge Luca Turin
Mélodie de l’Amour
by Parfums Dusita (France)
CD/ Perfumer: Pissara Umavijani
Presented by 2014 winner Tanja Bochnig
INDEPENDENT CATEGORY WINNERS
Altruist
by J.F. Schwarzlose Berlin (Germany)
CD: Lutz Herrmann / Perfumer: Véronique Nyberg
Presented by judge Matthias Janke
Fathom V
by BeauFort London (UK)
CD: Leo Crabtree / Perfumer: Julie Marlowe
Presented by judge Antonio Gardoni
SADAKICHI AWARD WINNER
Osmodrama Berlin / Smeller 2.0
by Wolfgang Georgsdorf (Germany)
Perfumer: Geza Schön
Presented by judge Ashraf Osman
CONTRIBUTION TO SCENT CULTURE AWARD WINNER
Christophe Laudamiel
Presented by founder Saskia Wilson-Brown
Written by Suzy Nightingale

A succinct history of scent: would you wear this "Queen's Delight" Elizabethan perfume…?

Imagine the excitement of smelling spices for the very first time, and then realising you could waft fragrantly (and flamboyantly – these were hugely expensive and kept in locked chests) smelling of success and radiating your wealth… The Elizabethan era saw an influx of exotic goods arriving from all over the world – including luxurious, never before seen perfumery ingredients – the valiant explorers bringing a bewitching treasure trove of scented materials to Europe. Men like think Vasco de Gama (1469-1524), Magellan (1480-1521) and Columbus (1451-1506) brought vanilla, pepper, Peru balsam, cardamom, sandalwood, clove, cocoa… Many were used for flavouring, but also found their way intro fragrant creations.
elizabeth-i
A growing trade with the East resulted in the transportation of living plants, too: orange trees (producing not just fruit, but that most romantic and innocent of fragrant blossoms), jasmine and rose. With perfect timing, the distillers were getting ever-more-expert: essential oils could soon be distilled from frankincense, pine, cedarwood, cardamom, fennel, nutmeg, agarwood (‘oud’ as we know it today), sweet flag, anise and more.
garden
Mostly, though, it is supposed that perfumes were still used to mask awful odours – which made lingeringly heady scents like tuberose, jasmine and musk particularly popular. Queen Elizabeth I beckoned Venetian traders to Southampton to offer their scented wares: it became fashionable to wear musk and rose scented pomanders and sachets, in particular.
Here’s another charming snippet from an Elizabethan recipe – remember, most of these fragrances would be made at home, and such recipes were often found in household books along with food and medicine recipes. Could you follow the instructions now, do you think? And more importantly – would you wear it if you could?
elizabethan-perfume-collage
Perhaps our noses are more atuned to complex aromas these days, with modern innovations meaning we can combine the best of nature with purer extractions and headspace technology (digitally analysing the scent of pretty much anything and allowing scientists to recreate the smell synthetically), but isn’t it fascinating how we can time-travel with our noses?
Now, why not continue your fragrant journey by exploring another fragrant era in our section devoted to the history of perfumery…?
Written by Suzy Nightingale