Did you know that Chanel offers a Scent Matching Experience? Nor did I. But I recently had the opportunity to try this out at their new store in Battersea Power Station. It is available at any Chanel store worldwide where they stock the Les Excusifs range. It can be done as a walk-in, but booking is recommended.
I thought I should do some swotting up on the Chanel range beforehand. There are an astonishing number of fragrances. Yet how many can you name beyond No5, Coco and Allure? There are eighteen in the Les Exclusifs range alone. Each reflecting part of Coco Chanel’s life. Her birth sign was Leo, hence Le Lion, and the animal became her totem. From the notes and descriptions, I’d thought I’d picked out a fragrance ideal for me and was curious to see if the Scent Matching would pair me with this.
I sat down in the boutique with the lovely Sam. After some initial chat, she asked me if I had any notes I particularly liked, which I do, its always amber fragrances that work for me. Do I have any hobbies? I used to play a lot of sport, these days I am a keen spectator. Was I looking for something every day or a special occasion? I wear what I want, whatever the occasion. Sam then took a walk around the store and returned with three blotters.
The first was an instant hit. All the amber warmth I love cocooning and caressing the skin. Sensuous and rich.
The second was beautiful. It still had the amber voluptuousness, but it just wasn’t quite right for me – too bold maybe.
The third choice is always a wild card. I was instantly transported to playing fields – fresh, lush, green grass under my feet, a clear blue sky overhead with warm rays of bright sunlight shimmering down.
I could then choose one of the three. Being right-handed, Sam then massaged my right forearm and hand with Chanel body oil, sprayed both left and right wrists with my choice. The difference in tone and depth of the fragrance with the body oil is significant, boosting the silage and longevity.
What a wonderful way to spend an hour or so, nosing through perfumes picked to suit you. Which did I choose? The wild card, of course. Sam said it’s uncanny how many customers do – perhaps it is because the staff are all so knowledgeable on their products and pinpointing a perfume that can enhance aspects of a customer’s life. And what were those fragrances? Coromandel, Mademoiselle Intense and Les Exclusifs Eau de Cologne.
I left very happy with a new fragrance that I would not have selected on my own – and, no, none of these were the one I chose from the notes before I’d sniffed them. So do take advantage of this free service and find a Chanel fragrance perfect for you.
During the greyest months of the year, when life seems dormant and waiting, there is one little glimpse of brighter times to come – a whiff of hope on the frosty breeze – in that cheering moment we first spot a snowdrop. Yes, that might sound clichéd, but I defy you to smother a smile when you see one. Delicately scented with a lightly honeyed, creamy almond kind of smell, the latin name ‘Galanthus‘ means ‘milky flower’, and this tiny bloom has gathered centuries of fragrant folklore around its origins, continuing to inspire perfumers with its transcendent prettiness.
Native to Alpine regions, where they thrive amidst the cold, mountainous climes; snowdrops are believed to have first appeared in the British Isles when they were brought there by monks. It’s rather nice to imagine them tenderly tucked in religious robes while they travelled, but however they first arrived, they took root in the frozen winter soil of this country, and in our souls, somehow. Perhaps we were seduced by the mythology – stories passed down through generations, such as the legend recounted on the snowdrop-centric website snowdrops.me: ‘when you listen closely,’ they explain, ‘you can hear their bells ringing, trying to wake up nature from its winter sleep.’ Even more beautiful is the ancient German tale re-told on The Creative Countryside blog:
‘At the beginning of all things when life was new, the Snow sought to borrow a colour. The flowers were much admired by all the elements but they guarded their colour’s jealousy and when the Snow pleaded with them, they turned their backs in contempt for they believed the Snow cold and unpleasant. The tiny humble snowdrops took pity on the Snow for none of the other flowers had shown it any kindness and so they came forth and offered up to the Snow their colour. The Snow gratefully accepted and became white forevermore, just like the Snowdrops. In its gratitude, the Snow permitted the little pearly flowers the protection to appear in winter, to be impervious to the ice and bitter chill. From then on, the Snow and the Snowdrops coexisted side by side as friends.’
I’ll be the first to admit the smell of snowdrops isn’t effusive, it doesn’t billow through the woods as a scented cloud harkening Spring; but though tenderly scented, it’s the symbolism of this flower that so inspires perfumers, I think. And to which we feel drawn – perhaps likening ourselves to the ‘brave’ flower having clung on through icy conditions, and having managed to immerge, even through the frozen ground. A triumph of beauty over adversity that’s also evoked in writer Vikki Bentley’s poem, which was penned in conjunction with the launch of Anglea Flander’s Lawn fragrance:
These gauzy mornings
there’s a reason why you push your bed pillow-close
to the open window so that the cool, the light
bathes you awake five o’clock and eager
to leave diseased dreams and watch
the calm, silver sheet of the
dawning lawn catch the
unhurried tumble of
a petal’s feather curl
for in the blink of that first, not-quite time
you still believe in the lightness of your footfall
stepping out onto the fresh, the wet
beneath your soles, between your toes;
inhaling silver, tasting green as
each liquid call in the chorus
trickles down to touch the
newness in you
until the truth of the day scorches through
Quietly scented (to us) they may be, but that smell acts as a clarion call for potential pollinators. The composition of the snowdrop’s fragrant waft depends on the type of insect it wants to attract. The honeyed kind attract bees (and us), but because the snowdrop is a fairly recent inhabitant on British shores, the scent they exude can also be a wordless cry to a species not available here. So, not all snowdrops have a smell that pleases the masses. Explains the National Plant Collection of Galanthus at Bruckhills Croft in Aberdeenshire on their snowdrops.me blog (where you can purchase several varieties of the flower): ‘The species Koenenianus is often described as having a smell of animal urine or bitter almonds, so perhaps has evolved to attract pollenating beetles in its native North-Eastern Turkey?’
Focussing on the tenderly honeyed side of their scent (thank goodness), perfumers tend to use a blend of notes to evoke these seasonal flagposts of hope in their fragrances – boosting their brightness, smoothing the edges, radiating anticipation. Such is the alchemy of a fragrant composition, we might be smelling lily-of-the-valley or bluebell accords (also imagined evocations) or the dewy green of violet leaf. Creamy white musks are often used to create that elegant shiver of the flower, or a whisper of cool woodiness wafting an imagined breeze to shake their bells. Conversely, the sense of snowdrops may be borrowed to add pale shafts of sunlight within the darkness of a scent, the contrast emboldening the harmony of the whole blend.
So, while you may not pick up a bottle and confidently declare ‘Aha! I detect snowdrops!’ we can quite willingly succumb to the romance of the story, and cling on to the feeling of hopefulness each of these fragrances grant the wearer…
Shay & Blue Black Tulip £55 for 100ml Contrasts abound as white chocolate swathes spiced plum, but before gourmand-avoiders back away, it’s not overtly sweet – think of it more like the silky ‘mouth-feel’ amidst swathes of bright snowdrops and creamy cyclamen. The dark heart hushes to wood shavings, curls of chocolate still falling like snowflakes.
‘A note of grassiness in the air and a promise of flowers to come, snowdrops & woodland bulbs are making an entrance. It feels as if it’s time to wear a fresher note in fragrance too. For the first time this year I instinctively reached for my bottle of Lawn, yearning for the dewy galbanic freshness that later warms on the skin like the mid day sun.’ – Kate Evans [Angela Flander’s daughter, now perfumer for the house]
Angela Flanders Lawn£75 for 30ml eau de parfumKate learned perfumery at her mother’s knee, taking over the house after Angela died, with this dew-speckled, dawn-struck scent her first offering. ‘Lawn marked a new start for me as a perfumer’, she explains, ‘and is therefore a most appropriate scent for the time of year when we feel ready to embrace the promise of a new season.’
The glacial gust of the central white floral accord – Tunisian jasmine and orange flower absolute – is crisp with snapped green stems, Lyn Harris creating a dampened breeze of iris and carrot seed atop drenched mossy notes on a frosty, woody backbone of spikier juniper. The scented personification of a sanguine elegance, you’ll float.
Dawn Spencer Hurwitz’s calone-based ‘snow accord’ imagines the backdrop for the owl’s scented swooping: ‘A thick carpet of silver envelops the landscape, untouched but for the dazzling reflection of the sun.’ Icy mint, lily of the valley and coconut drift to snowdrops and sap-filled galbanum, softly feathered by the moss-snuggled base.
A portrait of a frozen stream in perfumed form, snowdrops and freesia are lapped by lychee water, peony petals and jasmine hinting at warmer days, clementine blossom a burat of happiness amidst misty, crystalline musks. Then, the smooth teakwood base is whipped through with fluffs of creamy vanilla for an ambient blanket of calm.
Looking for pocket friendly perfumes that smell fabulous but won’t break the bank? They’re the holy grail at any time, but most especially in January – the bleakest time of year – when we most need a little something to perk ourselves up.
Perfume has come to mean so much to so many more people these last few months – we can use it revive flagging spirits or grant us some courage when we need it most. A quick spritz can swathe you in comfort and soothe frazzled nerves, transport you instantaneously to somewhere else in the world or reanimate a long-forgotten memory of happier days.
But perhaps you’re like us and have just paid your tax bill (hello reality) and though you’re not feeling flush, still really, truly, desperately need SOMETHING NICE to look forward to?
Never fear! We have selected some of our favourite fragrant treats – perfumed pick-me-ups that wont break the bank but still smell utterly wonderful. There’s nothing over £50 here, but you’ll still smell – and feel – like a million dollars…
Berdoues Avoine & Coquelicot£25 for 100ml eau de toilette
The cool intrigue of cardamom is warmed with a tingle of saffron and the soothing softness of oats before the fresh bouquet of poppy, jasmine, lily of the valley and violet peek through – a heralding of spring. Sublimely powdery heliotrope swirls with creamy almond, a glimmer of amber and delicate white musk: comforting as cashmere.
Dsquared2 Green WoodGift Set RRP £44, currently £35 for 30ml eau de toilette
Invigorating lemon and aromatic santolina are sprinkled with spicy bourbon pepper, while suave cedarwood and vetiver ripple to the verdant breeze of cypriol; the base resonates with deeply warming notes of ambrox and musk. Although marketed as a ‘masculine’, this is for anyone who wants to feel like they’ve been for a head-clearing walk in the forest.
Miller Harris Lumière DoréeRRP £14, currently £9 for 9ml eau de parfum
Neroli has to be one of our all-time favourite notes – it feels like wearing sunshine – here celebrated with the golden fizz of bergamot, a luminescent jasmine and delicously honeyed orange flower. Luminous amber and reasuringly clean musks makes this a sheer delight, in every sense oif the word, and a so-welcome burst of happiness, bottled.
Yardley Daisy SapphireRRP £20, currently £16.00 for 50ml eau de toilette
Close your eyes and remember what summer felt like – waking up to blue skies, leaving the house without worrying about an umbrella or a coat… Now let the delightful flurry of green leaves and apple flutter to the heart of hyacinth and white rose before drying down to snuggle of sandalwood and musk in the base. Instantly cheering on the dullest days.
Perfumer Antoine Maisondieu invites you on a sunny road trip through the American West. Along the imaginary open road, with the roof down, you’ll encounter notes of bitter orange, juicy pear, cactus flower and gardenia, concluding your journey with notes of Joshua tree and musky Ambroxan. And we adore the apothecary-inspired new bottle!
No round-up of pocket friendly perfumes would be complete without the iconic 4711 – it’s often reached for on hot days, but don’t wait ’til summer to experience the mood-enhancing whoosh! Colognes take on a new aspect in the cooler months; the classic lemon, rosemary, lavender and neroli notes feel like sunlight filtered through unfurling leaves. escentual.com
The trend-fuelled worlds of fashion and fragrance have been hand-in-glove for centuries – quite literally by 1656, when the perfumery and leather industry had become intrinsically linked, the fashion for exquisitely crafted gloves, popularised at court by Catherine de Medici, somewhat at odds with the disgustingly pungent reality of curing leather in urine. So, the Corporation of Glove-makers and Perfumers – the ‘maître-gantiers’ – (master glove-makers/perfumers) was formed in France, importing ingredients from all over the world to scent the gloves; with acres later given to growing and distilling them, such was Queen Catherine’s passion for perfume, and an entire industry was born in Grasse.
Since then, where fashion has led, so fragrance has followed – and just as hemlines go and up down, and silhouettes dramatically alter from era to era, so too do scented ‘shapes’ change with time. And perumers have long been inspired by fabric in their creations – a peculiar thing, you may think, as most fabrics don’t have their own distinct smell. Yet as we imagine a white sheet drying in sunshine, or the plush eroticism of velvet stroked beneath our fingers, we can also imagine the scent these textures might have. Such is the alchemical magic that fragrance can create – an overlapping of the senses, and in this first of two parts looking at fragrances inspired by fabrics, we pay homage to scents evoking satin, cashmere, leather and cotton…
Satin drapes. It clings to the body. It moves in the most sensuous way… And you definitely need to try draping yourself in this from prolific and gifted ‘nose’ Francis Kurkdjian. We’d call this an after-dark fragrance, one for oudh-lovers, for sure – but busting any prejudices against that ultra-woody material, for in Francis’s hands it never, ever overwhelms. We’re getting Turkish delight – a sugar-dusted rosiness that blends Bulgarian rose essence with Turkish rose absolute, while genuine Laotian oudh melts into benzoin from Siam, and the sweetness owes much to a soft, powdery accord of violet and vanilla in the heart. There’s almost a chocolate-y element swirling seductively around the patchouli, while the oudh underpins everything with its animalic smokiness. Mesmerising.
Maison Francis Kurkdjian Oud Satin Mood £200 for 70ml eau de parfum harveynichols.com
Tom describes Iridium as ‘the fragrance equivalent of charcoal coloured cashmere.’ We always enjoy a description that makes you imagine a smell from a texture and colour, don’t you? And this really is a cool-toned cashmere, exuding effortless chic with all the powdery sophistication of precious iris concrète, but granted a strong silvery spine. The iris is dosed with carrot seed to amplify the dry, root-y yet so-refined character, and the synthetic note of Iso E Super wafts forth a deliciously grown-up gourmand ‘your skin but better’ dry-down – the kind that has people asking ‘what’s that delicious smell?’ and a secret smile is stifled when you know it’s you… Now also available as an extrait formula, poured at 71% strength, for even longer lasting enswathement.
Reminding us of our beloved leather jacket, a stack of books or the wood-panelled, boozily infused surroundings of a members’ only club, leather fragrances evoke a particularly voracious and luxurious sensuality, favouring deep base notes that linger the whole day long. Russian leather fragrances have a long heritage, the intense smokiness of birch the vital scent ingredient giving ‘Russian’ leather it’s characteristic smell. Here, Molton Brown curl swirls of smoke through a Siberian pine forest, infusing leather-bound books with a campfire’s glowing ember scent. Magnificently done, it’s an especial pleasure in colder weather, though I love layering it at times with a rose that needs some extra oomph.
Molton Brown Russian Leather £60 for 50ml eau de toilette
Buy it at moltonbrown.co.uk
Like burying one’s nose in sunny-day line-dried linen, a gust of pure, clean ozonic notes greets us at this fragrance’s first spritz, only made more refreshing by a rush of watery notes and pinch of ginger. Mint and green accords carry this clean and fresh feeling into the fragrance’s heart accord, which then softens into florals, cushioned by skin-like musk and vetiver. Magically capturing the comforting sensation of crispness, and featuring elegant white lilies, floral cotton accords and a vanilla-speckled, benzoin-infused amber glow in the mix: this is one to spray when you need to be reminded of home, of lazy sundays and lie-ins and snuggling up in bliss. (See below to get a luxury try-me size!)
CLEAN Reserve Warm Cotton [Reserve Blend] £82 for 100ml eau de parfum spacenk.com
Warm Cotton was the perfect addition to the Luxury Layering Discovery Box – featuring THIRTEEN layerable scents and three fragrant body treats to try at home for £19 (£15 for VIPs) – use it to freshen up a perfume without resorting to the usual citrus, to soften a scent you feel is too harsh or simply to luxuriate in the sebsation of that clean, soft white fabric dried in the sunshine.
Whether vintage or modern – evoking an era or an archetypal fabric – the fingers of fashion are still firmly within those fragrant gloves, and together they work their alchemical magic to embolden us: seducing several senses while enhancing our own sense of who we are – or whomever we want to be that day…
New research shows car scents could even play a role in keeping drivers alert and preventing accidents…
Anyone who’s stepped into an Uber with a particularly pungent smell – either thanks to the novelty-shaped air freshener dangling from the mirror, or perhaps the previous occupant’s on-the-go lunch or personal hygiene regime – will be aware how imporant car smells can be: for passenger and driver alike. Now, a new study shows those car scents could, in fact, help save lives.
Experts at the University of Sussex exposed drivers during the test to rose, lemon, and civet – measuring their responses to each. The experiment was performed in a simulated driving rig, with scientists having connected a spraying device to the center of the steering wheel, which released a fragrance when the test vehicle approached any danger, such as an unpredictable driver on the road, or cyclist ahead of them.
Apparently, the study revealed that a waft of rose reduced simulated car crashes by an incredible 64 percent, and the musky smell of civet was also found to reduce the number of accidents, this time by 46 percent. All in-car scents can help keep drivers alert to dangers around them, but these two proved the most effective by far – something to keep in mind when choosing your next car-diffusing fragrance, perhaps?
Luckily, when reaching for a scent to keep your car fresh (and your senses awake) times have moved on from the inevitable traffic-light and tree-shaped mirror swingers – now fine fragrance brands have produced fabulous looking diffusers that more resemble ornaments than functional items: you’ll definitely want to keep these on display and topped-up with your favourite fragrances…
The Un Air de Diptyque car diffuser looks resembles an Art Deco radio, using an innovative system of cold diffusion to waft your chosen fragrance. Simply attach to the car ventilation to diffuse one of seven iconic scents: Baies, Ambre, Figuier, Roses, Orange Blossom, Ginger and 34.
Looking for all the world like heirloom pocket watches, these stunningly engineered diffusers have interchangeable scents to be paired with the pomanders and mood (and journey) dictates. ‘Along the Plain of Castelluccio’ whisks you ‘Alongside a mosaic of flowering ochre, violet and vermilion, no Grand Tourer of Italy can remain immune to the bouquet of cypress and spring meadow lavender that rises up from the roadside…’
DS & Durga now create niche fragrances for your travels – Big Sur After Rain incites freshness with ‘rain water in eucalyptus groves off Highway 1,’ Portable Fireplace invites cosy, homely vibes with birch tar, cedar and pine, while Holy Ficus invokes ‘the revered fig tree of Siddhartha’ with cardamom, fig and saffron. Each fragranced card comes in a scratch-and-sniff envelope, so feel free to scent your luggage, wardrobe and life in general.
Life is a journey, enjoy the ride with this car perfume based on the energising scent of sweet orange and cedarwood. The fragrance lasts up to 6-8 weeks and is activated by the air flow from your car’s fan. The car perfume comes with a stylish wooden holder that can be reused when you purchase a perfume refill.
There are many bloggers we admire at The Perfume Society, and occasionally, we like to feature some of our favourites to share with you here. Thomas Dunckley – a.k.a. The Candy Perfume Boy – is a longtime friend, award-winning writer and fellow contributor to The Scented Letter magazine. Along with a wealth of fragrance expertise he brings a completely refreshing and totally down-to-earth voice to the perfume world, offering his opinions and providing information in a way that’s not only accesible but makes us want to rush out and try all the things he’s mentioned.
And so, get ready to add to your ‘must sniff’ list, as we look back to the most interesting scent trends The Candy Perfume Boy saw in 2017. Which of these have you tried and loved, and which, we wonder, will continue to shape the face of fragrance throughout 2018…?
‘We’re officially in quarter four of 2017 and what a year it has been. By my count there has been at least 20 million fragrance launches this year, but I do have a tendency to exaggerate. In truth it has felt like a particularly busy year, with lots of behemoth launches from equally gigantic brands. I also think it has been a phenomenally good year for perfume and I’ve fallen in love with more than a handful of wonderful fragrances already. But this post is not a retrospective of the year – you can have that at the annual Candies (my fragrance awards) in December, no this is something a little bit different.
As we’re heading towards the end of this year I thought it would be a good idea to do a quick recap of the big perfume trends we’ve seen this year. I’ve certainly noticed a handful of key themes over the last 12 months and it’s kind of fascinating to look back at them at this point in the year. So in this post you will find four trends that have populated the perfume landscape in 2017. These are just my thoughts however, and I’d be more than happy to hear about any trends you’ve identified too!
Let’s kick off by talking about sandalwoods because if there is any material I’ve seen lots of this year, it’s sandalwood. I’m used to the note being treated as a gateway to the exotic, with spicy, creamy and warm facets that lead one to think of ambrée opulence. This year however, there seems to be somewhat of a shift in the olfactory lexicon of the sandalwood, with a much more minimalistic approach that sees the more intimate, softer and fresher sides of the material showcased in all their glory.
Firstly let’s take a look at Molecule 04 and Escentric 04 by Escentric Molecules, both of which showcase the sandalwood material Javanol. In Escentric 04, the traditional fragrance composition of the pair (rather than Molecule 04 which is simply Javanol in alcohol) we see a fresh, almost metallic sandalwood paired with grapefruit and cannabis to create a sharper tone. It’s a wonderfully fresh take on a note that hasn’t really known freshness before.
This year Juliette Has a Gun created Sunny Side Up, a sunny, beachy fragrance that did not focus on aquatics or florals and instead showcased a rather sexy sandalwood note. The presentation of the note was intimate, nutty and creamy, with a salty skin-like vibe that brought out the sexier vibes of sandalwood. There was even a delightfully rosy take on sandalwood from Comme des Garçons in the form of Concrete, which felt plush yet dry and smooth at the same time.
So sandalwood definitely has been the note of the year and I hope we’ll see more intriguing takes on it in the year to come.
Androgynous not Unisex
One trend that has really piqued my interest appears to be in its infancy. So far I’ve only noticed two fragrances that have done this, but I expect that we will see more over the next year. The trend is brands referring to their fragrances as ‘androgynous’ or ‘gender fluid’. Now, if you’ve been following this blog for a while you’ll know that I’m all for removing gender labels on scents, because anyone can wear anything that they want to. I’m also a pretty liberal guy and I’m very much in support of gender identities that are non-binary or otherwise. So I see this all as a very good thing.
With the rise in discourse around gender identity it seems that brands are cottoning on to this and are using these terms to replace the description of unisex. Katy Perry described her latest fragrance, INDI, as being “androgynous” as opposed to unisex and Guerlain launched Lui with mention of gender fluidity in the press release and a description of a scent that is “not entirely feminine, nor truly masculine”. I’m totally here for this and hope that maybe, just maybe, we’ll start to do away with gendered labels on fragrance entirely. Wishful thinking? Probably!
Decent Celebrity Scents
This trend technically started in 2016 with SJP Stash by Sarah Jessica Parker, but one scent does not a trend make – four however, do. A year or so ago there were numerous articles in the beauty press about how celebrity fragrances are dead and that consumers are no longer buying them. In that year next to no celebrities launched a new fragrance and with any kind of reality ‘star’ launching a scent, it really did feel as if we had reached ‘peak celebrity’ in terms of fragrance. Well now things are a little different and this year alone we have seen three celebrity launches that are far removed from the sickly sweet fruity florals that lead one reaching for the Gaviscon – these celebuscents are unique and actually rather good.
First off we have Shawn Mendes Signature from dreamy, put a poster of his face on your wall, singer/songwriter Shawn Mendes. Created for all of his fans, whether they be a boy or a girl, Shawn Mendes Signature is a well put together woody gourmand that feels as if it has been made with thought and links to the singer’s roots and personality. Then there’s Katy Perry’s INDI, an effortless woody musk that wears like a second skin, and finally we have Xyrena’s Scented by Willam (which I vow to review soon), a drag queen known for her acerbic wit and controversial appearance on RuPaul’s Drag Race. Scented is really quite beautiful – a violet-tinged iris with woods and musk that channels shades of Tauer’s discontinued Pentachord White. Each of these celebrity fragrances is really good and it’s refreshing to see such care, attention and quality applied to fragrances which so often have simply been a cash cow to complete a celebrity’s brand.
It seems as if celebrities now know that they have to work a little bit harder to sell a scent. They can’t just release yet another fruity floral in a clingy bottle and call it the Emperor’s New Clothes – they actually have to make it smell good. With the continuing rise of nice and luxe, people are willing to spend more money on a bottle of perfumer, but they’re going to buy less bottles, so whatever they buy must be interesting. Celebrities have caught on to this. The biggest thing though – they actually need to be a celebrity, ain’t nobody gonna buy Eau de Tan Mom any more.
Crowd Pleasing Concoctions
What do Mon Guerlain, Gabrielle de Chanel, AURA by Mugler, Twilly d’Hermès and Scandal by Jean Paul Gaultier all have in common? Well, first and foremost they all launched in 2017 – and let’s face it, each is an absolutely massive release from some of perfumery’s biggest brands. 2017 will definitely go down in history as the year of the launch (the mainstream feminine pillar launch if we want to get specific) and these five big brands have pulled out literally every stop to make their olfactory mark on 2017. They’ve recruited big stars like Angelina Jolie (Mon Guerlain) and Kristen Stewart (Gabrielle), and have created visually stunning bottles that range from glass hearts formed in the Emerald City (AURA) to carriage lanterns topped with little bowler hats (Twilly), not to mention a pair of legs falling out of a taxi (Scandal). In the case of two of these launches, the fragrances are the first feminine pillars from their respective brands in quite some time. It has been quite the year for launches, indeed – launches that are eye catching and nose catching for many.
But the trend we’re talking about here is not the simple fact that these brands have all had big launches, no, the trend is specifically in reference to a commercial theme that has run through each and every one of them. There’s no use beating around the bush – all five of these launches are very commercial and whilst there may be some interesting work going on inside the bottles, such as the super-radiance of Gabrielle’s floral notes, the clash of smoke, vanilla and jungle greenery in AURA, and the ginger-tuberose shock of Twilly, the overarching feel of these fragrances is that they were created to appeal to a wide audience. Even MUGLER, who are renowned for their divisive compositions, could be accused of a less polarising approach with their latest output. They all smell great but they lack a sense of boldness in their signatures.
So why is this happening? Are consumers buying less? Are they moving away from mainstream to niche? If so, why aren’t these fragrances more daring? That’s a lot to answer, but I wonder whether it has something to do with the level of investment these brands have to inject into the development, marketing and visual impact of a new scent. Perhaps they are worried about their return of investment? Take Guerlain for example, they have funnelled millions into the launch of Mon Guerlain and just to be sure that the scent would resonate with consumers, they tested it as a boutique exclusive (the new discontinued Mon Exclusif) prior to its launch.
So who knows why the big brands are being commercial? They’re getting the packaging and concepts right, that’s for sure, so let’s just hope that in 2018 they will bring a little bit more innovation to our noses. I know that my nose is waiting with great anticipation.’
We’ve all done it. Clung like a limpet to a favourite fragrance because a loved one told us we smelled wonderful, or we happened to be wearing it on a particularly auspicious day and have come to believe it was blessed by the gods – but would you wear your favourite outfit every single day, whether rushing to work, attending a glamorous party or travelling to an exotic location in? You might adore a particular food, but would you want to eat the same meal for the rest of your life?
There’s nothing wrong in having a ‘signature scent’ per se – something you’re known for wearing and family members can smile as they smell – but constantly wearing the same fragrance can mean you get so used to it that you actually stop smelling it properly. Your nose becomes so attuned to that same old scent that it ‘skips’ over those once-glorious notes and moves on to more exciting things in your environment.
Perhaps you’re a little nervous about what to try – the choice these days can be completely overwhelming (even for us!) so you have our sympathy. But never fear. We have an ingenious way of gently nudging you out of your comfort zone and in to a whole new world of fragrant discoveries…
There’s no need to ditch that favourite altogether – simply type the name of it in to our Fragrance Editor program (named FR.eD for short) and it will whizz through thousands of possibilities to pick six new perfumes for you try!
The really clever thing is, these aren’t merely based on similar notes to your favourite fragrance, but emotions and words used in the briefs perfumers were given when creating them.
There’s a brand new favourite – maybe even several scents – out there with your name on it, just waiting for you to take the first spritz…
Whatever you choose, everyone here at The Perfume Society wishes you a very Happy New Year!
Written by Suzy Nightingale
The story of Alford & Hoff follows two athlete chums who met at college in America who happened to share a passion for scent and skin care – even though they were mercilessly teased for it in the locker roms – through their incarnation as business entrepreneurs and onto launching their own incredibly successful skin care, luxury fashion and accessories and now fragrance line. Barry Alford told us how their latest scent, No. 3, is ‘every day sexy’, and inspired by a unique (and rather bizarre!) industrial product. Intrigued? We certainly were, and wanted to know his five favourite scents, too. It soon became clear: Alford & Hoff are not your average fragrance house…
As Barry explained, ‘Alford & Hoff is basically a brand that’s about two buddies who were at college together and wanted to start their own gig. We didn’t know what we wanted to do, but we wanted to work together. Eventually we decided on a men’s skincare brand. I know that might seem unlikely, but we were the only two guys in our collegiate football team who were doing all the grooming and getting all the flack. As soon as I saw he had the same fragrances as me – I’m talking Drakkar and Farenheight, here – I knew I was going to be friends with him. I thought, finally, someone else who understands’
Super-savvy, they talked about starting a business together, but ‘…Jefferson [Hoff] went into the financial market on Wall Street. And when we gained success we were both spending more on our products – we just loved them. We still had these dreams of starting a business together, and knew it had to be something we were passionate about. Through my medical contacts I met a plastic surgeon and he helped us brand a male skincare line backed by his expertise and we got into Neiman Marcus on the back of that’
The male grooming market may have moved on in leaps and bounds these days, but Alford & Hoff were way ahead of their time, and that led them into the world of fragrance. ‘I think we were successful because we were two former athletes that were making it okay for guys to take care of themselves. We wanted to venture further and decided to launch a fragrance – which we were always so in to and still were! – and that became our Signature fragrance. It actually started to out perform our skincare line, and when in 2009 the economy crashed we decided to pull back and focus on that. It carried us through. We’ve done a lot of work but now are proud to say in many stores our fragrances are on the shelves next to Tom Ford and John Varvatos, not because of some borrowed glory off the back of another line, but because they’re great fragrances.’
Discussing the fact that for years, men have been under catered-for in fragrance, Barry agreed, saying he felt ‘guys are becoming way more sophisticated, they want more than just a sports splash, a deodorant or something their mom gave them, they want to choose it themselves and they’re hungry for knowledge! And the feedback we get is that more men are after fragrances that not everyone else is wearing. I mean let me give you some statistics. We’re in the top twenty five percent of fragrance brands in stores at the moment based on sales. That’s pretty major for a small, niche company like us!’
Choosing the right ‘nose’ is essential for any fragrance house, but Barry and Jefferson wanted someone they could have a really close working relationship with. ‘Rodrigo Flores-Roux has done all of our fragrances. We knew how good he was, that he’d worked on so many great brands, but didn’t choose him just for his reputation. We really hit it off, and to have that first fragrance be FiFi nominated in the first year just proved how well it worked! No. 2 was lighter and fresher I guess, perhaps more traditional, more towards the sportier end of the market. But this third one is something really different.’
You can say that again. Having sniffed it – a soaring medley of citrus that quickly deepens to something altogether deeper and sexier – we were astonished to hear that ‘…it’s inspired by days selling medical equipment. I know that sounds completely bizarre but please stay with me!’
‘I used to spend a lot of time in the operating room, consulting with surgeons during a procedure. 80% of my business was craniotomies, meaning I’d be working with neurosurgeons, and one product in particular was a cranial bone cement. And this putty, when you mix the sodium solution with the powder, it just makes the most beautiful smell. And everyone in every operating theatre I’ve ever been in says the same thing, for over ten years. “Oh my god I love the smell of this stuff!” I mean they gather ’round to smell it. So that’s what we tried to do with this fragrance – tied to metallics and aldehydes and a blend of vetivers’
‘Rodrigo got this bang on, first go. He delivered a masterpiece I think. I know he was just so inspired to be working from such a bizarre inspiration and it really triggered his creativity. I mean, I know industrial has been done in the niche world, but I don’t think anyone has done craniotomal cement before!’
Having learned of their unique inspirations and varied backgrounds, we could only guess that Barry’s five favourite smells (something we’re always intrigued to ask perfume people about) would be equally ecclectic. And we weren’t far wrong… 1. Gasoline – When my mom would go to pump gas I’d stick my head out the window of the car and love the smell! It does something to my throat, but I compare it to what they call the “drag” in fragrance. You know when you get this dry smell and just can’t stop inhaling? 2. Fresh cut grass – It reminds me of my football days, the peak of the season, being surrounded by people I love and having fun. 3. Halloween costumes straight from the packet – Another bizarre one, I know! But it’s just a fantastic smell, freshly unwrapped from the plastic. 4. Scotch tape – Its so unique and different, I’d recognise it anywhere and I guess those kinds of smells are comforting somehow. I think I have a really heightened sense of smell – I pick up on things others don’t. 5. The monsoon season in Arizona – When its rains in late summer after its been so hot in the desert. It’s unbelievable, and it’s sweet. I really want to use that in a fragrance. It’s gorgeous. I guess I’ll have to get Rodrigo out there to smell it for himself!
Alford & Hoff No. 3 £75 for 100ml eau de toilette
Exclusively at Harrods
Written by Suzy Nightingale