You are my sunshine: why solar scents are soaring

What do we mean by calling a scent solar ? Although not an official fragrance family, it’s a word we’ve seen increasingly used to describe a whole range of recent launches – but how can you capture this scent of’ sunshine in a bottle’ and why are these perfumes proving so popular right now…?

Filled with sunshine, radiant and sparkling, we might once have called these fragrances ‘fresh-floral’ or, more prosaically, ‘citrus’. But lately, we’ve felt that this is no more (solar) flash-in-the-pan, but the birth of a whole new fragrance family. And that doesn’t happen every day.

As with any trend, a new style or way of referencing scent doesn’t simply spring, unbidden, from nowhere. They tap into the zeitgeist, a feeling in the fragrant waters that reflects how we’re feeling as a society and, therefore, how we want to project ourselves. In a world that for so long has seemed dark and scary, perhaps it’s only natural we’re being ever-more drawn to scents offering an olfactory ray of sunshine.

Actual solar flares are intense bursts of radiation emanating from the sun that can affect radio waves and send your Google Maps haywire. In a fragrance, yes ‘solar’ denotes a feeling of sunshine – but with it a physical feeling of being uplifted, of turning our faces toward the light source, a perfumed purr of warm cat contentedness.

Citrus notes are vital, but in this new genre they differ from Colognes because solar scents are more multi-layered: mellowed by breezy blossoms, dappled with cooler herbs or touched with a tingle of sheer spices and warm woods.

So, why is ‘solar’ trending? Quite simply, we need something that goes deeper than a quick, zesty pick-me-up; beyond merely feeling momentarily refreshed. As Louisa May Alcott puts it in Little Women, ‘Some people seemed to get all sunshine, and some all shadow.’ And quite frankly, with the state of the world at the moment, aren’t we all weary of shadows?

So, why not soak yourself in these solar scents, look towards the light, and to let the sunshine in…?

 

Wear these solar scents for instant sunshine Escentric Molecules M+ Mandarin

Escentric Molecules M+ Mandarin £95 for 100ml eau de parfum
The super-juicy zing of fruity brightness becomes super-charged, an immediate mood-boster that feels like clouds parting and ends with a hug of ‘your skin but better’ softness. Sophisticated freshness that keeps on going (and helps you hang on to hope).

 

 

Sunny solar scents for summer Floral Street Arizona Bloom 
Floral Street Arizona Bloom from £24 for 10ml eau de parfum
Jérôme Épinette captures the heart-soaring feeling of freedom – something we’ve sorely missed – in this wide-open vista of a desert-like oasis. Queen of the Night flower’s spiced by pepper, lush with Balinese coconut, grounded by woody oakmoss and salted musks.

Maison Francis Kurkdjian Aqua Vitae Cologne Forte (2ml of all three new MFK eau de parfum are in Eau So Fresh Discovery Box, £23) Juicy, sun-drenched mandarin mixes with a sunny floral accord and brings to mind the warmest, glowiest early afternoon light, underpinned by the sensuality of the fragrances musk and sandalwood base.

  

ESTEE_LAUDER_BRONZE_GODDESS_AZUR.j
Estée Lauder Bronze Goddess Azur £44 for 50ml eau de toilette
Invigorating Sicilian lemon, Italian bergamot and Calabrian mandarin are shot through with sunshine and saltiness, neroli and orange flower showcased in shafts of sunlight, warming to blissfully sun-ripened fig, Ambrox, musks, coconut milk and cedarwood. Mais Oui!

 


Shay & Blue Mermaid Kisses (2ml eau de toilette is part of The Scented Retreat Discovery Box, £23)
The light, watery honeydew melon note is a pure juicy joy; think holiday cocktails on the shoreline at sunset, looking out to an endless horizon and all its possibilities, sun-warmed skin kissed by the cooler evening air and the excitement of tomorrow’s adventures.

By Suzy Nightingale

Fragrances for… a holiday in a bottle

Travel restrictions are lifting for some, but we’re still up for taking a holiday in a bottle at Perfume Society Towers. One of the most magical things about fragrance is its ability to transport us to far-flung climes, to give the feeling of sun-warmed limbs and that blissful mix of relaxation and excitement at exploring somewhere new. So if you can’t get away, get these…!

 

 

CALVIN KLEIN Eternity Summer
Another in the ever-evolving ‘solar floral’ fragrance trend we’ve previously noted, here gleaming bright sunlight glints through the zing of Italian bergamot and luminescent jasmine, while heat haze shimmers in the desert rose oil and tingling warmth of ginger. Echoing the sunset colours of the beautiful bottle, this ‘duality of summer days’ captures the watercolour-dipped radiance melting into evening, cool violet leaves, coconut water and vetiver whispering on still sun-warmed skin. Immediately evocative. £RRP TBC STOCKIST TBC

 

DIOR La Collection Privé Eden-Roc
We rather suspect that Dior’s resident perfumer, François Demachy, enjoyed even more than usual his ‘research’ for this fragrance, a hymn to one of the world’s most legendary hotels, on the rocky shore of the Côte d’Azur. Flooded with sunlight, it’s cooled and ruffled by a salty breeze, revealing an accord reminiscent of nothing so much as expensive suntan oil, suffused with jasmine and a touch of coconut. Truly the stuff of holiday dreams. From £99 for 40ml eau de parfum dior.com

 

GUERLAIN Aqua Allegoria Nettare di Sole
There is just so much anticipation, each year, for Guerlain’s fresh-in-every-way duo of Aqua Allegoria, always sophisticated, always breezy, always wonderfully escapist. The star of the show as ever is a central note of citrusy bergamot, this time wrapped in luminous white florals and aquatic notes and then drizzled tantalisingly in honey. Guerlain’s own description nails it: ‘A delicious icy floral honey.’ To which we can only respond: ‘More, please.’ £69 for 75ml eau de toilette guerlain.com

 

 
ACQUA DI PARMA Bergamotto di Calabria La Spugnatura
This limited edition is offered in a real treasure of a collectible, hand-crafted porcelain bottle – refillable, too, in line with AdP’s focus on sustainability. Imagine a fresh breeze, lightly rippling through the air, sun sparkling on the water, imagined here via the citrus refreshment of bitter orange, mandarin and grapefruit alongside that signature bergamot, with green galbanum and geranium and offering lasting impression of cedarwood and vetiver. £124 for 100ml eau de toilette acquadiparma.com

 

HOLLISTER Canyon Escape For Him
Perfumer Linda Chinery took inspiration from ‘…the spirit of the Hollister guy who is energised by his love of the unknown and adventure that is made even better when shared with friends.’ Black pepper and cardamom provide a tingle of contradicting temperatures – imagine a heat wave relieved by jumping into a lake as blue as the juice. Soothing sage and a refreshingly piquant note of Californian juniper beckons the oakmoss, amber-rich base. Worth a detour! £16.50 for 100ml eau de toilette very.co.uk

Perfume podcasts we’re listening to for summer

Summer is (mostly) in the air, so we’re going to be listening to even more perfume podcasts as we sashay forth in… (cross your fingers) actual sunshine!

Fragrance, smell and scent-themed podcasts are on the rise – and about time, too, we say, given the number devoted to our other senses. You can find our previous must-listen-to lists by typing perfume podcasts into the search bar, or see our previous post, here.

With 15 million+ (and rising) regular podcast listeners in the U.K. alone, have you added any of these to scent your airwaves…?

 

 

The Sniff perfume podcasts

The Sniff – Aurelien Guichard
Interviewing one of France’s top perfumers, who’s worked for Nina Ricci, Guerlain, Gucci, Issey Miyaki and many more, host Nicola Thomis talks to Guichard about coming from a family of perfumers, growing rose centifolia on his organic farm in Grasse, and founding his own house, Matiere Premiere.

 

Escentric Molecules perfume podcasts

Escentric Molecules MolecastNot According to Plan
‘Things did not go according to plan when Geza Schoen launched Escentric Molecules. They went ridiculously, spectacularly better.’ If you’ve not yet caught up with EM founder Geza Shoen’s podcast, it’s well worth your while diving in to his (always eccentric) world. Here he discusses why off-plan ventures for a perfumer / fragrance house often turn out the best.

 

 On the Scent perfume podcasts

On the Scent – The Icons
Previously part of Outspoken Beauty, On the Scent’s proved so popular it’s launched on its own podcast platform. In episode 6, co-hosts Nicola Bonn and our own Senior Writer, Suzy Nightingale, enter the world of some of the most iconic fragrances of all time; discovering their history, the huge statements that they made and why they’re still relevant now.

 

Smell Yeah perfume podcasts

Smell Yeah – Smell Loss & Dysfunction
Irene Plax is a former restaurant cook and cooking teacher, and ‘has always noticed aromas before other people.’ Here Irene investigates the psychology behind how smells touch every one of us, including those with smell loss or dysfunction, across a surprising number of industries.

 

Perfume Room perfume podcasts for summer

Perfume Room – What Makes a Fragrance ‘Easy to Wear’?
Hosted by comedian, dating expert, and perfume lover/advisor Emma Vernon, in this episode Emma chats with Rosie Johnston. Togtether they divulge their mutual love of white musk and chat about the inspiration behind each of the seven frags in Rosie’s collection, as well as some of her inspiration for future scents.

 

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

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

Get the date in your diaries now!

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

Moresque Instagram Live Questions

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

Fragrances for… celebrations

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Scent wellness tips for summer – Why changing your fragrance is good for your soul

Can you re-set your mood and enhance wellness with scent? Scientists say… yes!

Because changing your fragrance for something fresher when the warmer weather (finally!) comes around is not only a way of reinvigorating your scent wardrobe, but a way to actively improve your mental wellbeing, says Alfredo Fontanini, MD, PhD:

‘Each perfume is associated with different recollections and experiences. As you form new memories, older ones and emotions tend to fade. When you try a new perfume, you are trying an odor that has no associations, so it gives you the possibility to make new ones and write new memories.’

According to the neuroscientist, who’s chair of the department of neurobiology and behavior at Stony Brook University, and a co-director of its Neurosciences Institute; using a completely new scent helps us mentally draw a line under past experiences and start afresh.

In an interview with Elle magazine, olfactory expert Dawn Goldworm agreed, and spoke of people using fragrance to provoke memories – something we know first hand so many of you have been doing during the pandemic. Says Dawn:

‘Later in life, when you smell something, you are brought back to a specific moment or event. You remember how you feel.’ And she gives the advice that now is a good time to re-access your scent collection (even deodorants, shampoos and shower gels). ‘If it makes you feel good, you keep it. If it doesn’t, you change it,’ she suggests.

It makes complete sense. Because when you take a deep breath and inhale aroma molecules, they’re detected by the olfactory receptors in your nose and immediately stimulate some of the deepest, oldest parts of the brain – in ways that we’re only just starting to understand.

‘This process produces nerve impulses which travel to the limbic system, the part of the brain which is most concerned with survival, instincts and emotions. It’s thought by scientists the activity of the nerve signal passing through this region causes mood change by altering brain chemistry,’ says Christina Salcedas, of Aromatherapy Associates London. Our ability to smell ‘…is a window into parts of the brain related to core functions, like pleasure, emotion, and memory,’ agrees Jayant Pinto, MD, author of the study, an otolaryngologist (try saying that three times!) and head and neck surgeon at University of Chicago Medicine.

It turns out reaching for a fresher (and new to you) fragrance is more than simply pleasurable – it’s genuinely good for your mental health and wellness. We can get on board with that…

If you’re looking for a whole new summer scent wardrobe, the Seasonal Scent Subscription Box for Summer is your effortless, ready-curated collection. Lighter, brighter, filled with sunshine and allowing you to ‘travel with your nose’, these scents offer a chance to revel in the bliss of luminescent, uplifting fragrances.

If you already love a particular perfume but want to explore more, try our genius Fragrance Finder: simply type in the name and it’ll offer SIX new scent suggestions for you to try.

If you’re looking for something completely different, delve into one of our Discovery Boxesto find niche, luxury and new names.

It really doesn’t matter where you choose to begin – wiping the slate clean and starting afresh with a new scent for summer is one of the best (and easiest!) ways to re-set your mood and focus on wellness through fragrance…

By Suzy Nightingale

Fragrances for… feeling eau so sophisticated

Feeling sophisticated is in, not that it ever went away. Well, perhaps a little during lockdown. Now we’re (mostly) out of lounge wear and yearning for something a little more stylish, instead of squeezing into heels (we’ve not even tried) grant yourself an immediate hit of elegance and chic with these recently-launched scents. Sophisticated and effortless? Yes please!

 

 

CHANEL_LE_LIONCHANEL
LES EXCLUSIFS LE LION DE CHANEL
With a launch postponed from last summer, the fragrance world was on tenterhooks for the Olivier Polge’s Le Lion – but it absolutely does not disappoint. Au contraire, all hail to this absolute masterpiece: a smoky swirl of resinous, leathery labdanum, sweet vanilla, with bright flashes of bergamot for contrast. Purring on the skin for hours – at least till sun-up – this is a scent to be worn as we dance on tabletops. (Just watch us. And smell us.)
From £169 for 75ml eau de parfum
chanel.com

 

 

CLIVE_CHRISTIAN_MATSUKITACLIVE CHRISTIAN
MATSUKITA

There’s such a tale behind this woody-Chypre reimagination of the famous Crown Perfumery perfume, first created in 1892 and inspired by a fabled Japanese princess who wowed the Victorian royal court. Conjuring up that elegance, grace and mystery for a new generation are fresh top notes of pink pepper and bergamot, spiced by nutmeg, a floral heart of Chinese Imperial jasmine and smoky black tea, on a whispering base of amber, musk, mosses and woods.
£325 for 50ml eau de parfum
clivechristian.com

 

 

ESCENTRIC_MOLECULE_PATCHOULI.ESCENTRIC MOLECULE
M+PATCHOULI
Geza Schoen tells us that he loves patchouli for its ‘moody beauty’ and its cool, rather aloof woodiness. And do cast aside any notions of hippy-dippiness, please: here, he takes Indonesian patchouli oil and Patchouli Coeur, which has patchouli’s love-it-or-hate-it camphorous quality edited out via a process of fractionation, giving ‘a sophisticated, clean patchouli that pairs fantastically well with Molecule 01’. The perfumer’s words – but we couldn’t put it better ourselves.
£95 for 100ml eau de parfum
Perfume Society Shop

 

 

CARTIER_PASHA_EDITION_NOIRECARTIER
PASHA EDITION NOIRE LTD EDT
Classics reinvented are another definite trend for the year ahead, and Cartier’s iconic Pasha has a vibrant new edge with this limited edition. The green and citrusy freshness feels like the dawn of a new day, while the amber and cedar base is resonant yet ultra-fine. Interesting fact: the name comes from the ‘pasha’ onboard a ship – someone ‘who had the most charismatic personality, who stood at the helm and set the course.’
£94 for 100ml eau de toilette
cartier.com

 

 

PENHALIGONS_WILLIAM_PENHALIGONPENHALIGON’S
THE INIMITABLE MR PENHALIGON
Vetiver lovers: put on your smartest attire and sashay forth for a meeting with Mr. Penhaligon himself. We’ve been wondering when he’d make an appearance in the Portraits collection, and here he announces his presence with a distinguished blend of bergamot garlanded with jasmine in his buttonhole. The heart will have you pledging your affections, that cool vetiver encircled with cedar and curls of incense swirling to the base of ambrox, warm as his handshake.
£204 for 75ml eau de parfum
penhaligons.com

Choosing a fragrance for Fathers Day (or whenever!) Male scents we’re swooning over

Choosing a fragrance for Fathers Day (or, you know, whenever) can seem overwhelming, but the best way to match a particular chap to a certain scent is think about their personalities. So, ditch the old-fashioned ‘pipe and slippers’ image still portrayed on many a Fathers Day card and consider his character. Is he…

 

Timelessly Stylish?

 

If he fancies himself as rather dapper and wouldn’t dream of stepping outside the house in joggers and an old t-shirt, we think he’s likely to favour a classic but characterful fragrance. This collection was designed with such men in mind, but here at Perfume Society HQ we implore everyone to explore this divine collection and discover the timeless aromas loved by the stars of old Hollywood.

Created by Albert Fouquet, a member of the French aristocracy, who would surprise his loved ones with exquisite homemade perfumes, blended lovingly with the help of his family butler, Philippe. One evening in 1937, Albert met an American student named John F. K. mesmerised by Albert’s scent, John persuaded him to leave him a sample. The rest, as they say, is history…

Now you can get set to feel truly special by spritzing these timeless and decadent scents, six true icons in fragrant history ready for you explore.

Eight & Bob Iconic Discovery Set £20 for six fragrances

 

Eclectically Heroic?

Okay so he might not exactly be a caped crusader but he tries his best, and he’s your hero. If his taste mightbbe described as ‘changeable’ or he’s not really sure which style of fragrances he likes, this discovery box is your scent saviour! Filled to the brim with something to suit all, it’s for super men everywhere.

We’ve included independent perfume houses making their mark: recently launched ånd fragrance with sustainable and ethically sourced ingredients at the forefront, decadent Italian niche with Laboratorio Olfattivo and Jovoy with their new creation based on the Mayfair store 21 Conduit St. Also including newness from loved names including St Giles, Parfums de Marly, Ruth Mastenbroek, Floris, Caron,Initio, Atelier Des Ors, Kierin NYC and Anima Vinci.

We also bring you TWO GROOMING PRODUCTS! FISH Memory Fish Flexible Gel (50ml), and the divinely scented beard savour WELEDA Skin Food (10ml). Up, up and a-spray…!

The Super Man Discovery Box £22 / £18 VIP price for 14 fragrances + two extra gifts

 

Rebellious Rocker?

 

If he’s still firmly attached to his skinny jeans and faded band-t-shirts (or can sometimes be lost for hours playing along to vinyl rarities) chances are he’s not going to want to smell hum-drum and ordinary. Offering a true sense of olfactory rebellion, dance into this so-sassy collection, all of which should be worn with a devil-may-care attitude.

ROOK PERFUMES are the perfect meeting place between art and science – with more than a little rock ‘n roll in their DNA. They were launched by a frontline doctor/actor (yes, really), Nadeem Crowe, who became enraptured with the world of perfumery, who says ‘I feel totally comfortable with pipettes, beakers and weighing scales. The outcome, though, is a piece of art.’

Discover ALL THREE UNISEX FRAGRANCES, Undergrowth, Forest and ROOK. The latter was created by Nadeem for himself, inspired by his Middle Eastern roots, and described as a ‘diplomat dressed up as a punk rocker’. Nadeem loves to hear the stories of how his fragrances transport others – so let us know which transported you…? 

Rook Perfumes Discovery Set £15 for three fragrances

 

Modern Maverick?

If he’s slightly eccentric, obsessed by science or futuristic technology and always ahead of his time, he’s bound to appreciate the loving fragrance nerd-ery behind this iconic cult house. Perfumer and founder Geza Schoen is, himself, a bit of a maverick. If you’re new to the Escentric Molecules world, you should know that Geza was dedicated to trying something new – and it was seen quite shockingly brave, but caused a scent storm of interest.

The reason? Schoen shook up the perfume world by creating a scent with one ingredient – an aroma-molecule non-existent in nature, called Iso E Super. Now this molecule has been expertly blended with other ingredients to really ramp up the individuality.

Geza says: ‘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 topnote removed. I have also included a patchouli oil from Indonesia to round it out with a little bit of a topnote. The result is a sophisticated, clean patchouli that pairs fantastically well with Molecule 01.’

Escentric Molecules M+ Patchouli £95 for 100ml

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.’

Escentric Molecules M+ Mandarin £95 for 100ml

What is niche fragrance, and where do you begin…?!

So what is niche fragrance? That word is often flung around in the fragrance world, but sometimes we don’t stop to wonder about it. So what does that term actually mean, and where should you begin your fragrance journey…?

[Psst! Scroll down to find out how you can try well over £1,000 worth of niche fragrance – if you got the full sizes – for just £19!]

‘Niche’ perfumery began by referring to fragrances made independently, so not owned by a large brand. They can also be called ‘artisanal’, and because they were privately owned, often were able to take risks that larger, more corporately-inclined companies could not.

These smaller houses sometimes had a single person behind them – acting as founder, perfumer, Creative Director and PR person (and probably chief tea-maker, too!) The founder might also be self-taught in perfumery, rather than the traditional route of studying chemistry and then training at schools such as ISIPCA.

It might be useful to think of ‘niche’ fragrance as the catwalk of the perfume world. Unique ideas are celebrated, and might seem completely wacky or out-there, but actually tend to create trends that ripple down to the high street. Suddenly the ‘shoulder pads’ of the scent world are everywhere!

As niche houses became increasingly popular, some more established, larger houses began introducing more daring fragrance collections we also term as ‘niche’ – referring to the more artistic, less traditionally commercial style of perfumery rather than the size of the house itself.

But where can you begin discovering niche fragrances? At The Perfume Society we know that not everyone happens to live near a perfumery stocking niche scents (or even a department store with a diverse selection) – and even if you do, it’s sometimes overwhelming to work out where to even begin. What’s more, because of various lockdowns meaning we couldn’t even get to the shops – and new Covid-19 health protocols meaning testers aren’t readily available to smell in-store – it can be even trickier to actually get your nose on niche fragrance!

Trying a fragrance sample at home is the best way to truly discover if you love a scent – you need to live with it on your skin for several hours. A Discovery Set means you can try the entire collection from a niche fragrance house, and our curated Discovery Boxes allow you to smell things you’d perhaps never have considered (or not heard of) before.

Because we understand you’re missing browsing, spraying and smelling, in the latest we curated a selection of some of the finest niche fragrances out there to try at home. Click here for a detailed description of each scent, and on the names of the houses to read all about their individual histories. There’s no better way to begin your discovery of niche than right here.

In the Niche Collection VI you’re getting to try well over £1,000 worth of fragrance (if you had to buy them all as separate full-sizes to try) for less than the price of your average Deliveroo! This is what’s included…

 

ånd fragrance Sånd 2ml EDP 2ml eau de parfum (full size £35 for 10ml)
Atkinsons 24 Old Bond Street 2ml eau de cologne (£99 for 100ml)
Brioni Brioni 1.8ml eau de parfum (£70 for 60ml)
Eight & Bob Annicke 1 2ml eau de parfum (£55 for 30ml)
Initio Addictive Vibration1.5ml eau de parfum (£190 for 90ml)
Escentric Molecules Molecule 01 7.5ml eau de parfum (£36 for 30ml)
J.U.S Parfums Sexycrush 1.2ml eau de parfum (£165 for 100ml)
Lalique Noir Premier Plume Blanche 1901 1.8ml eau de parfum (£210 for 100ml)
Paco Rabanne Pacollection Strong Me 1.5ml eau de parfum (£65 for 62ml)
St Giles The Writer 2ml eau de parfum (£130 for 100ml)
A’Kin Cleansing Micellar Water 30ml  (£12.50 for 150ml)

The Niche Collection VI Discovery Box is priced £19 + p&p* to VIP Club Members (£23 + p&p* to everyone else) – be sure to log into your account to take advantage of the special VIP Club price.

If this is your first time trying a niche fragrance, read our tips on how best to smell a new scent. Basically, you need to give it time to develop on your skin. Often the niche fragrances can be more complex (or just very different to more everyday mainstream scents you might be used to) so they can take you on more of journey as they unfurl throughout the day.

We do hope this helps explains things about ‘niche’ fragrance a bit more. One thing’s for sure: wherever you begin your niche fragrance journey, we’ve a hunch you’re going to fall madlly in love with many of them along the way…

By Suzy Nightingale

Your scented summer reading list

If you can’t get away this year, at least we can enjoy planning a scented summer reading list. Have a look at what’s on ours… Now the weather’s playing nicely we can finally plan some outdoor activities, chief among which, for us, includes sitting in the sun (slathered in SPF, obvs) with a good book.

We’ve whole shelves full of Fragrant Reads and perfume-themed books for you to peruse, but here we’ve selected some favourites to entice your senses while (hopefully) finding time to relax in the sunshine this summer….

 

 

The Perfume Collector by Kathleen Tessaro [Harpercollins] waterstones.com

A novel after our own hearts (and noses) this ‘richly evocative tale is a ‘secret history of scent, memory and desire’ and begins in the 1950s with newly-married socialite Grace Munroe’s life being turned upside down by the arrival of a mysterious letter, naming her as the beneficiary of a woman called Eva D’Orsay, who, it turns out, was the darling of high society and a fragrant muse for perfumers in the 1920s. The journey of discovery leads Grace to the heart of the perfume world, travelling to Paris and exploring the life and death of this shadowy benefactor. Traversing decadently through the decades in New York, Monte Carlo, Paris, and London, as Grace finds out more, and indulges her own senses, she will be changed forever when forced to choose between the image of what society experts of her, and who she really is…

 

The Secret Ways of Perfume by Cristina Caboni [Black Swan imprint] foyles.co.uk

Granted a rare gift of a superior sense of smell, Elena’s passion for perfume has been passed down through generations of her family; but it’s a power that can all too often overwhelm her, as this ability means painful memories about her mother are carried on the breeze, and so she can never truly escape her past. When a betrayal destroys her dreams, fragrant events are set in motion when Elena’s best friend invites her to Paris, and she grabs at the chance to start afresh. Lured by the landscape, immersing herself in the world of scent once again, the ancient art of composing perfume beckons our protagonist. Searching for a secret recipe within her family’s historic archives, Elena’s new goal becomes the replication of a composition noone in her family managed to master. Having met a man who’s harbouring his own clandestine past; before long, she’s following the scent trail to discover all manner of mysterious. Because, ‘Remember Elena, perfume is the truth. The only thing that really counts. Perfume never lies, perfume is what we are, it’s our true essence…’

 

A Natural History of the Senses by Diane Ackerman [Vintage Books] amazon.co.uk

The title doesn’t do this justice: Ackerman’s writing is poetically exquisite and immediately evocative – exploring and explaining not just the sense of smell, but all the senses. In the first chapter – Smell – she looks at scent and memory, at roses, at sneezing, at the way our health (and what we eat) impacts on our body odour. Something to read that shakes the very foundations of how you’ll look at smell and fragrance. Although this book is over 20 years old, it’s timeless and deserves to be read by anyone with even a passing interest in smell and how it relates to our everyday lives. Thumbing through this (which we have a hunch you will do, many, many times over the years), you’ll learn answers to questions you never knew you had, and though of course we wish it was ALL about smell, with ‘dissertations on kisses and tattoos, sadistic cuisine and the music played by the planet Earth…’ think of the other four chapters as simply a gift with purchase that will similarly engage all your senses.

 

The Scent of You by Maggie Alderson [Harper Collins] waterstones.co.uk

‘I experience the world through smell – I always have’ it begins,  and we couldn’t agree more. Maggie was inspired to write this novel by spending time in our own Perfume Society office, attending launches and meeting perfumers, learning the history of perfume and developing a burning passion for it along the way. Central character, Polly, is a perfume blogger who loses herself in the world of fragrance while her own world falls to pieces around her – something many of us can empathise with. We love the fact Maggie was inspired to name her after falling madly for Vilhelm’s perfume, Dear Polly, and that she even created a blog and Instagram account for Polly to share her perfume reviews. Polly, having grown up surrounded by the beautiful perfume bottles of her ultra glam (ex-model) mother, and learning to explore the world by sniffing ‘…everything!’ she is now distracting herself with, among other things, ‘Guy, the mysterious, infuriating and hugely talented perfumer.’ We’re rather wondering who this may have been based on, as that description doesn’t sufficiently narrow it down…

 

Scents & Sensibility: Perfume in Victorian Literary Culture by Catherine Maxwell (OUP) blackwells.co.uk

Gathering the fragrant thoughts of luminaries from Oscar Wilde to H.G. Wells, don’t be put off by the scholarly look – it’s a sumptuous plunge that presents perfume as a character in its own right. And it will spark a whole new ‘must read’ list! Did you know that Victorian ladies were warned off wearing tuberose in case it caused involuntary orgasms, so headily narcotic was the aroma? Read about this and more in Perfume Society VIP subscriber Catherine Maxwell’s fascinating book, which also features the astonishingly scathing observations of Virginia Woolf, quoted from her diaries, on women who wore too much perfume. What she has to say about fellow author Katherine Mansfield’s chosen fragrance is one of the shadiest things we’ve ever read!

By Suzy Nightingale