The Fragrance Room – Harvey Nichols new perfume place to be!

Harvey Nichols Knightsbridge have just opened a fabulous NEW fragrant hang-out: Exclusives and boutiques and workshops, oh my! We got the low-down on this exciting new scent space within the department store, now with a whole host of new houses to explore in DOUBLE the room…

Harvey Nichols have long had a passion for perfume – often showcasing niche brands that never dreamed of being stocked in such a world-famous store, finding the most unique names that are hard to find anywhere else along with their curated selection of the finest fragrance houses this planet has to offer perfumistas. With innovative art installations and all manner of fragrant events already under their belt, and an array of gorgeous shop-in-shop boutiques queing up to join in the fragrant fun – it was time to expand the space and really commit to a larger integral fragrant experience. Behold: The Fragrance Room

 

 

Bigger, better, bolder than ever before, this new department has now been unveiled and includes over 100 fragrance houses, including in-store boutiques from Creed, Maison Francis Kurkdjian, Serge Lutens and Kilian. With a roll-out of inclusive, immersive experiences for customers, the new concept will include a sensory fragrance discovery wall – to help customers navigate the often tricky fragrance families – boutique activations, including fragrance workshops with the Fragrance Foundation to celebrate National Fragrance Week and opportunities to meet brand founders and perfumers through interactive events and partnerships.

 

 

Jo Osborne, Director of Beauty and Concessions at Harvey Nichols, said that because fragrance has been such a significant part of their business, since the 2016, they’ve taken the decision to massively expand their fragrance offering.

‘…we have outgrown the current area but are fortunate enough to move to a space double the size. The new department allows us to offer some of our bestselling brands an opportunity to create their own boutique space and the rest of the department to curate unique and fine fragrances from across the world, which we know our customers will love. We are excited to work with new and existing brands to offer exclusive activities, such as expert consultations and welcome various brand founders such as Francis Kurkdjian and Geza Schoen.’

The first phase is already open, and when fully complete at the end of this month (March 2020), the space will be a whopping 1,600 sq ft – showing exactly how important fragrance is to Harvey Nichols. And that’s great news for all of us who love perfume, don’t you think?

Harvey Nichols say: ‘With a portfolio of UK exclusive brands including Maison Crivelli, 28 87 Barcelona, V Canta by Terenzi, Ormaie Paris and Ella K, the deapartment will be home to a library of fragrance brands from across the world.’

Additional fragrance houses joining Harvey Nichols for the first time include Hermessance, Nassomatto, Parfums de Marly, D.S. & Durga and Initio, among others.

We don’t know about you, but our shopping (and must-sniff) list just got a LOT longer…

By Suzy Nightingale

Kierin NYC Interview with Founder Mona Maine de Biran

As I walk towards the location to interview Mona Maine de Biran – founder of new niche fragrance house Kierin NYC – brightly coloured electronic adverts radiate from various London bus stops en-route, showing their perfume bottles with labels individually designed by fragrance fans.

‘Something about Kierin NYC is really resonating with people it seems,’ says Mona, absolutely beaming at the pop-up launch where people could design their own bottle labels, print them out and create their own bespoke flacon to keep forever. This innovative and inclusive approach defines the ethos that Mona made sure Kierin remains true to, along with their decision to be completely cruelty free, vegan friendly and to support social groups who mean a lot to them.

‘Diversity and inclusion are core to the brand and not just presented as an afterthought. Kierin NYC is a brand for young people of all ages, colors and nationalities,’ they state proudly on the website. Inclusive of everyone then, but aimed particularly at a younger market who are searching for something extra, other than just a nice smell in a bottle that means nothing about who they are. For Mona, this means inviting people ‘…to be inspired, not defined or confined, by fragrance.’

Following a successful international modelling career – which allowed Mona to traverse the globe and visit remote, exotic locations – returning to New York, Mona turned her experience into an insightful lifestyle blog, ‘Manhattan Minds’, also becoming the champion of the successful TV talent show ‘Star Search’. Her husband and co-founder, Didier, worked for over twenty years with with the prestige houses of Chanel, Prada, Bvlgari and Carolina Herrera among the many names on his extensive CV. With Mona’s passion for fragrance and story-telling, ‘he helped me see that this was an opportunity to create our own fragrances to tell those real stories of the city, rather than those stylised celebrity-driven tales you might see in Sex and the City.

We wanted to delve deeper in to what makes Mona tick – why it was so imporant to her to keep Kierin NYC real, and close to her heart…

What makes Kierin NYC different, do you think?

Mona: ‘There are so many brands that are ostensibly for young people, and yet the images they project are so stereotypical, still – they haven’t moved on with the audience who are, they hope, wearing them. You have the perfect woman on a beach, someone up a mountain or in the fields in France. And while I love the fields of France, this doesn’t really tell my story of living in New York. I wanted to actualise my “now” as an urbanite – and I think so many people want to do that, to be more present, to have their own reality reflected in the brands they choose.’

What is it about fragrance that’s so important to you, and what power do you think it gives the wearer?

‘Perfumes are something that universally, viscerally connect with people, You know, they can move your mood. I’ve always wanted to have a voice and wanted to empower people, and with Kierin NYC we can share a voice, to power people olfactorily. And fragrance tells other people your story anyway, unconsciously, we’re radiating these messages all the time!’

You’ve worked with brilliant young perfumer Mathieu Nardin for the initial four fragrances – why did you choose him?

‘We wanted to work with someone who was an up-and-coming talent – we had the opportunity to work with any of the Robertet perfumers, and we loved the way they worked, with such quality and sustainable ingredients – but because Mathieu is so understanding of what we do, and the way we do it, it just works.

We didn’t want to present him with a list of notes to include, we wanted to give him a space to use his creativity to the full. So we started with pictures, mood boards, and he immediately knew what he wanted to use to shape that in to reality. He begins with about twenty different versions, and we then work with him to edit those, so we see ourselves as co-creators in that sense.’

Will Mathieu be the perfumer for future fragrances?

‘Well we didn’t want to be a brand that just had one identity, and one signature – it’s all about diversity, right? So with these four I think his signature is a woody accord you can notice throughout. For the next two we’ll be working with a different perfumer, to give another voice, another view, and that’s the way we want to grow…’

 

The bottles and imagery are very distinctive, can you tell us how they reflect Kierin NYC’s personality?

‘These four are very Pop-Art inspired, but we’re also working with another artist for the next three fragrances – two new fragrances and a limited edition – and they’ll be more graffiti in style. We’ll be sticking with the rainbow palette though, because again that rainbow’s all about “we are one” and that’s imporant to us. The graffiti artist is an imigrant and so for the limited edition we’ll be working with him to include notes from his own culture, working as a team with the perfumer to include his voice within the fragrance.

What does “niche” mean to you, now?

‘I just don’t think you can call yourself “niche” if you have twenty fragrances coming out every year which are no sooner on the shelves than they’re discounted, discontnued and in a bargain bin somewhere, or completely unavailable. How can people connect with them? They don’t have time!

I don’t want to be one of those brands that comes out with a new fragrance every fortnight, I think that’s exhausting for consumers too. So we want to make sure the stories we’re telling focus on authenticity and integrity for everyone involved. We also wanted to make sure we’re accessibly priced, so everyone can get an opportunity to try fine, niche fragrance. I understand the imporantance of those ultra luxury brands, but that’s not who we are.’

Finally, we always like asking – because it’s so revealing! – what are your five favourite smells in the whole world…?

Cambodian incense – I’ve travelled a lot, so the things I love are often smells I strongly associate with places. The smell of this, which the monks burn in the temples, just opens my mind and takes me straight back there.’

A Californian cliff edge – I lived in California as a little girl, and there’s nothing better than sitting on the edge of a cliff and looking out to sea. In Santa Cruz there’s a very specific sea salt scent, the waves crashing on the shore and the spray mixing with the breeze.’

Frédéric Malle fragrances – In Barney’s there’s refrigerated rooms you can go in to smell the scents, and that was my awakening, in the year 2000, of what niche fragrance could be, and I felt more fragrantically “woke” I suppose! I hadn’t yet met my husband, but going there and smelling these incredible fragrances really showed me what niche can do. And they were like nothing else, so unique.’

My children as babies – I know a lot of people say that, but oh that smell, it’s definitely one of the most important for me. It’s about our connections with people we love, isnt it?’

New York – When I think of where I live now, I genuinely connect it with my own fragrances, I feel like I’m there when I wear them, it’s a connection with home, so that has to be a success, right?!’

So which KIERIN NYC story will you choose to wear and tell? Feeling sluggish and in need of uplifting? 10 a.m. Flirt is a juicy, green take on fig that feels clean, a go-anywhere scent filled with waxy gardenia and cashmere-soft wood to perk up the soul on grey days and revel in happiness year-round. Another cheering pick-me-up is found in Sunday Brunch – luminous bergamot and sparkling lemon atop a soothing brew of Earl Grey tea and soft, sunshine-y jasmine.

Santal Sky, meanwhile, swathes you in a comfort blanket of cardamom-flecked, creamy sandalwood, a wearable serenity for stressed commuters and desk-bound office workers with decadent saffron-speckled vetiver to delight you ‘til dawn, and far beyond. (All of these fragrances are impressively long-lasting.) Perhaps the most impactful, though, is Nitro Noir – a powerhouse contemporary Chypre/floral that positively swings its hips, with ripe pink berries swirled through rich patchouli and dusted with powdery orris for a hypnotic, individualistic hurrah.

Whichever story through scent you choose, we’re sure you’ll want to explore the whole Kierin NYC range for different moods, and to suit whoever you are that day…

Kierin NYC fragrances £65 for 50ml eau de parfum

Try them at The Perfume Shop

By Suzy Nightingale

Ruth Mastenbroek: A Working Nose

‘Scent is my life.’  Says perfumer Ruth Mastenbroek. Quite simply, she explains that ‘The fragrance is the essence of my art.  It is my signature…’

Ruth Mastenbroek was born in England and graduated with a Chemistry degree from Oxford University. Having trained in the late 70s and then worked as a perfumer in the UK and Netherlands with Naarden International (who later became Quest and is now Givaudan – one of the largest perfume suppliers in the world); Ruth worked in Japan and in the perfume capital Grasse before returning to England to work for a small compan. There she created fragrances for up-and-coming brands like Kenneth Turner and Jo Malone – including her now infamously successful Grapefruit candle. But finally Ruth knew she wanted to set up her own perfumery company, Fragosmic Ltd., in 2003 – the year she became president of The British Society of Perfumers.

In 2010 Ruth launched her capsule collection of scented products featuring her signature fragrance – RM – and also became the first to use the ground-breaking micro-encapsulation technology… in a scented bathrobe!

Ruth launched her second fragrance, Amorosa, in May 2012 at Les Senteurs in London. Her range is now sold in more than 25 exclusive shops in the UK, as well as in the Netherlands and Nigeria. Her fragrances are astonishingly well composed, but more than smelling beaituful, they capture whole worlds and stories in every bottle.

We’re thrilled to be stocking this incredible discovery set of fragrances in the Ruth Mastenbroek Collection for you to try at home. From the smoulderingly sensual to the classically chic, with sunshine, smoky green unisex to travel memories and joyous moments captured in every bottle, we truly believe there’s something for everyone to enjoy. Why not treat yourself (or a loved one) to a whole new world of exploration…?

Ruth Mastenbroek Collection £17.95 for 4 x 2ml eau de parfum

Ruth has long been a friend of The Perfume Society, so we thought it was about time we caught up with her and found out exactly how she goes about making her fragrances, as part of our series of exclusive interviews with perfumers, called The Working Nose

Is there any such thing as an average day for you? What’s your routine?

Ruth Mastenbroek: It’s not quite as rigid as that. What tends to happen is that I get ideas overnight, and then I can try them out in the lab the next morning. I do enjoy writing out my formulas then, and feeling that then I’ve got the rest of the day to work through them. The way that I like to work has evolved over time. I knew from the beginning that I wanted to make a chypre, and the basic structure, but I wasn’t exactly sure what to do with it – there was a lot of trial and error and going back and forth between versions, but eventually I did get there with Signature.

With Amorosa, I knew I wanted to create a tuberose fragrance, because it was so incredibly different from what I’d done, so I wanted to explore. But it had to have something else, which became the ambery woody part of it. With Oxford and Firedance I had a starting point, but then I’d take a chunk out and try something else, to see how that affected the performance and character. It’s not as though I know exactly what’s going to happen when I put two things together. Obviously after forty years I know a lot, I have the experience, but you can never absolutely be sure until it’s done!

Do you keep a notebook with you to collect ideas – how do you keep a track of everything you imagine?

Well it honestly tends to be all in my head, the ideas are very vivid and I like to start working on them immediately, but over the years I’ve made so many different formulas, it’s all written down and I keep a note of every single addition or subtraction I experiment with. That way you have this back catalogue of things that you might not have a use for immediately, but which you know will prove vital at some point! My daughter thinks it’s hilarious that I still write everything down by hand. I still make a note of everything on the computer, but I prefer writing by hand. I do tend to have a lot of Postit notes around, scraps of paper with things that have occurred to me – an unusual combination that worked surprisingly well.

Are you inspired by pictures, textures or sounds at all?

For me it’s a very visual thing – I know some perfumers are synaesthetic and also inspired by sounds, and I can imagine that being very creative working with music, but I see them visually. I think of them texturally, too – very touchy-feely. When I think about my fragrances this way I can then sense what else I need to add to extend that feeling.

Do you need to work in complete quiet – do you shut yourself away when you’re working?

I very much prefer to be alone. I love working and creating on my own. Working from home a lot of the time I can do that. If you’re in a bigger office it’s much harder to do that, but I will always go and find a room where I can go and have some solitude. Otherwise there are too many distractions. I mean, sometimes it’s nice to be distracted, but I like to work methodically through something and just get it done.

When you’re composing a fragrance, are you strict about keeping everything very neutral around you? So not wearing any scented products at all?

Oh yes, you have to really. I mean you end up trying them on your skin of course, because you need to know how they perform, but other scents are very intrusive. Actually, I had one moment that really awkward – I was working for a company where they invited several perfumers to on a day trip to a bluebell wood, with the idea that each perfumer would then create a fragrance based on their personal impressions of it. Unfortunately, I made the mistake of wearing a sweater I’d worn previously had perfume on it. I just didn’t think. But when everything else is un-fragranced (and everyone else there!), boy do you become hyper aware of it. I learned my lesson that day.

What do you think of the rise in self-taught niche perfumers? Do you think it’s a shame they aren’t being trained in that strict way you were?

I think it opens up other routes. But, from what I understand, those who are self-taught are learning about ingredients they can get hold of. And actually that becomes a very limited palette. Whereas, because I had the great fortune to work for a big company, I had access to thousands of materials and had to learn them inside out. On the other hand, Im sure it’s making them really consider what they’re using and how they use it, because they don’t have that luxury. I am a great believer in training, but there just aren’t the places or opportunities for everyone to train the way I did. I guess I’m just glad I did it, you know, a hundred-million years ago, and so I can now rely on that breadth of knowledge and experience. Because in the end, that’s what colours every single fragrance I create…

Written by Suzy Nightingale

Explore Perfume: the perfect 'perfume starter' package, individually tailored by you!

At The Perfume Society we’re all about helping people discover and explore the fascinating and ever-changing world of fragrance. And for Christmas this year we’ve created the ultimate perfume starter pack to choose for anyone interested in all things that smell fabulous, no matter their age or level of scent knowledge…!
Anyone you gift with an ‘Explore Perfume’ Gift Package will not only receive one of our fabulous Discovery Boxes (personally picked by you – see our helpful guide, below), but ALSO a copy of our indispensable book, The Perfume Bible.

VIP price £30 / Non VIPs £35 / FREE P&P FOR ALL!

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Featuring a wide range of incredible fragrances chosen by us, each box is themed and features beautifully written postcards describing the perfumes individually, with information about the history of the house, the perfumer’s inspirations and questions inviting them to think more deeply about their experience of what they’re smelling. An intriguing exploration, indeed…
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1. Begin by personally choosing one of the carefully curated Discovery Boxes from this beguiling list:
For the Fashionista crazy about designer brands and luxury beauty, choose… Catwalk Collection Discovery Box
For the Travelista yearning for faraway places and the adventure of travel, they’ll love a… Jetset Discovery Box
For the Individualista with an interest in hard-to-find, cult ‘niche’ fragrances, it has to be… Secret Scentsations
For the Floralista who adores the romance of bouquets, pick our Beautiful Blossoms Discovery box
2. We will then add a copy of our book The Perfume Bible (RRP £25 alone!)
Co-written by The Perfume Society‘s Founders, Jo Fairley and Lorna McKay, and based on their combined (countless!) years of experience in the industry, this wonderful book is a must-read for every fragrance lover. An encyclopaedia of all things fragrant – from how to build a perfume ‘wardrobe’, to a line-up of the simply-must-sniff ‘100 perfumes to try before you die’ – the wealth of knowledge combined with stunning photographs makes for a truly incredible tome they’ll love having their noses buried in.
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For VIP Subscribers the ultra-special price for the ‘Explore Perfume’ Gift Package is £30 – be sure to log in to receive your exclusive price!
For non-subscribers, the price is £35, but both options come with FREE POSTAGE AND PACKAGING. Hurrah! (Alas we can’t ship to Ireland or overseas, because of ‘hazardous materials’ restrictions.)
The unique ‘Explore Perfume’ Gift Package is only available for a limited period – so, we suggest ordering yours now to avoid that sinking feeling of disappointment…
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Written by Suzy Nightingale

Juliette Has a Gun launch Into the Void – let's get deeper… our exclusive interview with Romano Ricci

Into the Void is the latest addition to the Luxury Collection of the ever-quirkily named and uniquely inspired Juliette Has a Gun – scented brainchild of self-taught perfumer Romano Ricci (great-grandson of the iconic Nina Ricci) and now at the helm of one of the original ‘niche’ houses that changed the face of the fragrance world.
Humorously titled they may be, but these are wonderfully wearable perfumes that invite you to explore all sorts of character facets…
Launching exclusively in Harrods, the intriguing Into the Void is… ‘Inspired by space, black holes, gravity and forces beyond our control, it is a perfume of dark energy.’
‘The harmony opens with an ultra woody cocktail, essence of guaiac wood, papyrus, cedar, norlimbanol, ambroxan, patchouli, to name but a few. Partly eclipsed behind this devastating veil, the black orchid absolute is yet vital to the balance blending with the Tonka bean and an infusion of liquorice, all its sensuality is brought forth into the composition. A cosmic fluid with golden reflections. Once released it hangs in the air like star dust in space, diffusing its gravitational power, invisible and yet so ravishing…’
Ravishing is the word. This is a deeply intense swirl of vivacious smokiness that beguiled us from the second we sprayed. We were lucky enough to be invited to the press launch, and there we caught up with the flamboyant Romano Ricci himself – firstly to ask about Into the Void, and then to plunge deeper…
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Romano Ricci: ‘We call them ‘black holes’ and ‘dark matter’ because we are the ones in the dark, not knowing much about them, grasping for information. It’s all so elusive, but we can feel the effects of these forces, we can see them, but we don’t know exactly how to define them. I’m just fascinated with these mysterious things, and that’s why I wanted to use that inspiration for Into the Void. It’s something that lurks deep within us all… wanting to know more.’
Tell us about your first smell memory?
‘I guess it was really one of Nina Ricci’s creations, which my grandfather wore. I’m not sure if it was a fragrance called Phileas, or my Grandfather wearing Signore Ricci – his house was full of the stuff, the soap the shower gel, the whole collection. It’s smelled really good, but I guess it can’t have been a best seller. It’s discontinued now. But I loved the smell of it.’
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When did you first become interested in working in the perfume industry?
‘Actually, I swore, myself that I would not go into perfumery, seeing the disaster it can make of family relationships – my father and grandfather were always shouting at each other! When you mix business and family it can be very dangerous, I think… But then the more I escaped it, the stronger it came back. The harder you try to get away the more violently you’re attracted to the thing you run away from, sometimes.’
What’s your favourite (and worst!) thing to smell right now?
‘It depends entirely on the time. If you’re asking me right now, the best at the moment, I’m very much into tuberose. I used to be a lot about Chypre, patchouli, then musk, transparency and now I’m so into tuberose. The three last luxury collections are about tuberose, the white flowers in Gentlewoman I adored… As for the worst, I really hate the smell of grapefruit. I think it’s just terrible, to me grapefruit essence smells like sweat.’
juliette-has-a-gun-gentlewoman-eau-de-parfum-for-women___2Is there one fragrance you wish you had created?
‘I have one fragrance I really love and keep coming back to. The original Narcisso Rodriguez, the first one. I have a weakness for it. It’s one of the very rare interesting mainstream compositions.’
It’s the 10th Anniversary of Juliette Has a Gun, what has changed in the perfume world since then…?
‘A lot. The whole world in fact. When I first started there were maybe four or five niche brands or in total ten brands that could be considered niche. Now there are, what, hundreds, even thousands? It’s incredible. I’m always looking at how we can expand but stay true to ourselves. It’s exciting. Challenging, exhausting… but it makes us stay on our toes. It means now that we employ a number of people and are larger than I thought we’d be, really – I think it’s a real challenge to be in charge of so many people, not only working for yourself. But it’s a challenge that drives me, too.
We have a humour about us at Juliette Has a Gun. I hate that seriousness of people who lack humour in this industry, it’s so boring! Perfume should express your personality, and hopefully the people who wear ours have a real fun side to them!’

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Photo by stylepocketbook.com

How many perfumes do you work on at any one time?
‘I find it’s usually good to work on two, side by side, which is also how we tend to release them. Because if you get too much into something you can lose perspective, wheras if you switch from one to another, you gain perspective on both. Your inner critic is the engine of the creation.’
Does your nose ever switch off?
‘No no, it’s always there. You know when I’m in the lab, I’m like a child in a toyroom. What’s next?! What can I do with this?’
When you’re creating a fragrance, how do you go about it? Do you use a mood board?
‘No it’s all about the smell, I don’t use visual stimulants for inspiration, it’s always the smell, and I know exactly how I want it to be, it’s just about getting there. There’s fifty ingredients I love the most, and I know very well how they combine, but I discover new ones all the time. It took me fifteen years to reach the stage where I just knew how the differing combinations would smell in my head, it takes time, but then the fun begins…
How can each of us go about improving our sense of smell?
‘It’s a lot about training. Even I re-smell all the ingredients all the time. And still I cannot tell you exactly if you make me smell a fragrance, what are all the ingredients in here? I’ll know some of them, but not all. You know, people should go and buy fifteen, twenty raw ingredients and just smell, smell, smell. Memorise them. Once it’s locked into your head it stays, but you can’t rush it, there’s no shortcut. It’s all about the training. Composing is another matter altogether, of course, but you can train yourself to memorise them at least.’
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Juliette Has a Gun Into the Void £200 for 75ml eau de parfum
Buy it exclusively at Harrods
Written by Suzy Nightingale

Pozzo di Borgo – it’s a family affair with perfumed portraits (past and present) captured in scent

When you’re a direct descendant of Xavier Givaudan – founder of the eponymous fragrance house, and therefore responsible for many of the greatest scents in the world – growing up with perfume practically running through your veins; it seems only natural the fragrance world would also beckon you forth. And when your childhood is spent living in a house bursting at the seams with creative, eccentric and loving family members – how natural, then to be inspired further, and create an olfactory family album…

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Pozzo di Borgo is a new fragrance house, launching with five fragrances exlusive to Les Senteurs in the UK – each of them based on one of Valentine’s family members, and created by collaborating with differing perfumers for each scent. Pozzo di Borgo explain they are ‘…an olfactory portrait of an ancestor or a living relation, creating fascinating links between past and present, interpretation and perfume. The fragrances showcase precious traditional ingredients in a revealing way.’

‘Valentine has the perfect background to create an intriguing scented gallery. Having grown up surrounded by fragrance, and habitually drawing on this olfactory intimacy, she has always had the motivation to create her own personalised fragrances. Named after the dates on which each family member was born, Pozzo di Borgo perfumes are contemporary readings of the past as well as characterisations of personalities we can all recognise. The bottles, at once classic and contemporary, are designed by Pierre Dinand, creator of the iconic Opium bottle.’

We caught up with Valentine Pozzo di Borgo during the launch at Les Senteurs to ask more about this intriguing – and so personal – project in perfume. What inspired her to begin…?

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‘I decided to do olfactive portraits of my family because I think you decide to wear perfume based on your character – who you are, who you want to be, where you are going… I used to live in a huge houseful of my family, all the cousins, grandparents, parents, it was crazy, but it gave me a lot of time to think about all their characters. For each member, they chose the inspiration for the fragrance, and I would say if I liked it or not, but really it was a direct dialogue between them and the perfumer. It was very important for me to choose the right perfumer for each project, based on my knowledge of their work – their unique styles had to fit the character of each family member. It was a very long process, as you can imagine!’
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When judging, and “capturing”, someone’s character in scent, all manner of problems must arise! But which has taken the longest, we wondered? Explains Valentine: ‘The perfume for myself was probably the most difficult for me personally. The first perfumer I chose was a friend, and he kept seeing me as iris, but it wasn’t really how I saw myself. In the end I went with Violaine Collas and said “this is how people keep seeing me – iris, but it doesn’t work I don’t think…” She also saw me in iris, interestingly, but mixed it with fig and musk and somehow that just worked!’

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The first creation is a celebration of Valentine’s 18th century ancestor, Carl Andrea Pozzo di Borgo, a Corsican politician and diplomat and one of the most colourful members of this ancient aristocratic family. This is a spicy citrus with warm, rounded base accords of Russian leather and cognac: Diplomatic, shrewd, eloquent, tenacious. Perfumer: Philippe Bousseton

o.3112027 Fevrier 1950
A tonic cologne with bergamot, patchouli, and neroli, with the Corsican additions of lavender, caraway, boxwood, and oakmoss. Inspired by Reynier Pozzo di Borgo: Creative, tolerant, sensitive, elegant. Perfumer: Pierre Bourdon

pozzo_di_borgo_19_mai_1957_119 Mai 1957
A scent of powerful yet elusive intensity. Evocative of the Corsican landscape of the family heritage, with the liquorice-like odour of the maquis, lavender, eucalyptus, vanilla, heliotrope, cistus labdanum, and peru balsam. A portrait of Alexandre Pozzo di Borgo: Intrepid, entrepreneurial, witty, sophisticated. Perfumer: Sonia Constant

101166142024 Octobre 1985
A scent for Valentine’s cousin Chinzalee – an aquatic and green aromatic scent of mint, grapefruit, and galbanum, with gourmand facets of rum and pear, and a suggestion of cucumber: Independent, spirited, enthusiastic, generous. Perfumer: Mathilde Bijaoui

23_janvier_pozzo23 Janvier 1984
Valentine’s own scent captures the enchanting contrasts of her character. Freshness, sophistication, and spontaneity are characterised in this luminous perfume of cardamom, petitgrain, coriander, fig, iris and musk: Discreet, energetic, audacious, enigmatic. Perfumer: Violaine Collas.

So what next for Valentine’s perfumed portraits – we wondered if every single member of her family is queuing up to be “captured” by a perfumer in scent? Valentine laughs, and admitted that is kind of what’s happening; but there’s one fragrance in particular that’s very special for her.

‘I’m working on the two next fragrances at once – one is for my cousin who’s in a wheelchair following an accident. In fact he has completely lost his sense of smell and taste, and that’s very challenging because we’re working on his olfactive memories, it’s very emotional… Everything is disconnected, he can only move his head, and it’s so complex trying to explore his smell memories and then recreate them – without him being able to smell them. We’re working with Sophie Labbé on it, and it’s fun but super personal…’

Pozzo di Borgo £99 for 100ml eau de parfum
Exclusive to Les Senteurs – available now in-store, and soon online.

Written by Suzy Nightingale