The annual Perfume Bottles Auction is the most important date in the diary for serious scent bottle collectors around the world. Every year, stunning examples of artistic fragrance flaçons are meticulously sourced and offered to bidders, and it’s a chance to see some of the rarest bottles outside of a museum.
Since 1979, organiser and founder of The Perfume Bottles Auction, Ken Leach, has been working ‘to create public and corporate awareness of the artistry to be found in vintage perfume presentation.’ His antique shop’s show-stopping merchandise ‘has served as a source of inspiration for glass companies, package designers, and celebrity perfumers, before ultimately entering the collections of perfume bottle enthusiasts around the globe.’
Like last year, thanks to the pandemic the auction will be held online on May 1st 2021 – though this offers the opportunity for everyone to join in. The circumstances have made sourcing items more challenging, but Mr. Leach says, although he’s not been able to travel ‘…as I normally would to view collections, fate smiled and among this year’s consignments are some of the rarest and most unusual items I’ve seen.’
The stunning print catalogue – highly collectable in itself, and an invaluable resource for fragrance fans and historians alike – is now available (and can be sent worldwide).
Mr. Leach is pictured, above, with some of the most important items, and walks us through them, below. Get set to swoon…!
DeVilbiss & Osiris
‘Exceedingly rare 1928 DeVilbiss figural dragonfly perfume atomizer with a pre-sale estimate of $6,000 to $8,000. Also in this photo is the all important Osiris by Vinolia with a pre-sale estimate of $30,000 to $40,000
Paul Poiret Rosine
‘1919 Rosine Aladin perfume bottle in elaborate box signed Mario Simonis ’19. The box graphics depict Paul Poiret as a Persian King in an imagined Orientalist tableau, the base covered in authentic Moroccan fabric. Pre-sale estimate $2,500-3,500.’
‘Spectacular 1920s Heinrich Hoffmann Czechoslovakian black crystal perfume bottle with Austrian decoration by Turriet & Bardach. Pre-sale estimate $4,500-5,000’
‘1924 Rene Lalique for Isabey A Travers la Voilette (Through the Veil) perfume presentation in collaboration with Alix Ayme. On the box cover and seen through a veil, a beautiful woman smelling a bouquet of flowers is detailed. The lustrous box is finished to appear lacquered while the veil pattern is printed in metallic ink, allowing the embossed flowers to appear to pierce through the veil. Pre-sale estimate $3,000-6,000′
‘1912 Rene Lalique et Cie. “Olives” clear glass perfume bottle molded with convex oval cabochons, matching stopper. Pre-sale Estimate $600-800’
‘1940’s Marie Earle Ballerina perfume bottle presentation includes a covered plaster ballet shoe stand box. Advertisements for this perfume read “Ballerina perfume for dancing souls.” Pre-sale estimate $3,000-4,000′
In her novel, Secrets of the Lavender Girls (a book we recently added to our Fragrant Reads shelf of scent-themed tomes), Kate Thompson tells the tale of the women who worked at the Yardley factory during the war. But it turns out some of the stories she discovered suring her research were even more incredible…
‘I love archives and libraries,’ Kate Thompson shares on her Facebook page. ‘Carefully untying the cream ribbon of an old file and catching the scent of 80-year-old dust motes is a thrill. More than once I’ve found hours can slip away leafing through yellowed newspaper reports and witness accounts from the Second World War in the silence of a reading room…’
Revealing her passion for research, and the extraordinary stories she found during her time writing The Secrets of the Lavender Girls, Kate says that ‘nothing beats what historians calls ‘Primary Sources’ and what I prefer instead to call ‘Magnificent Women’.’
The utterly charming novel follows the fragrant history of Yardley, and the remarkable stories of the women who worked there. Though a fictional account, Kate’s genuine fondness for the real life women she found (and who shared their tales with her) truly shines through.
Unravelling the stories of the real-life women who worked at Yardley during the war, she received ‘a beautiful handwritten letter in the post.’
‘I was a wartime lavender girl, I read about your book in a magazine,’ wrote Joan Osborne. ‘Yardley was the most wonderful years of my life. I am now 91.’
The letter was from Joan, who’d desperately wanted to work at Yardley, telling Kate: ‘It must have been the glamour. I remember travelling from Stratford to Ilford on the bus and the conductor opening the window so everyone could smell the lavender blowing from Yardley. Carpenters Road, or Stink Bomb Alley was famous for its smells. Seven different types of air flowed down there depending on which way the air was blowing. I can still smell the lavender,’
Kate learned Joan was sent to work in the top floor perfumery department where she was given a broom to sweep the floor. ‘I thought, “I haven’t come here to sweep floors” so they moved me to bottle-filling where I was putting the skin and caps on bottles. They were losing so many girls to the services I don’t think they wanted to lose anymore, so they kept me sweet. I earnt eighteen shillings and something a week and my clocking in number was 157. I’ve still got the card.’
‘They were dangerous times, especially when the flying bombs started up, but being young I didn’t think that much about it. I was more upset by how cold it was in the factory, the heating was rarely on and we were always freezing. They used to give us cups of Oxo to warm us up. Least the room always smelt lovely from the lavender, freesia and April violets perfume.’
From piano-maker to perfumer, the historic Schwarzlose Berlin have been selling scents since 1856, beloved by the royal courts of Europe and Chinese Emperors alike. This always-innovative perfumery has survived war, inflation and changing tastes by always being one step ahead, but their name still may not be known to many. Let’s put that right…
It all began when entrepreneurial piano-maker Johann Friedrich Schwarzlose decided to branch out and establish his own drug store at Markgrafenstrasse 29, beginning with production of perfumes.
Quickly establishing himself, his next venture to take over the distinguished fragrance manufacturer Treu & Nuglisch in 1858. The company had been purveyor to the Court, and now the aristocracy flocked to the new fragrance shop. By 1897, Schwarzlose had taken on a business partner, Franz Köthner, and together they traded with the added title: ‘Purveyor to the Court of His Majesty the Emperor and King’. Indeed, a flacon found in a collection of Emperor Pu Yi confirms their formidable reputation had already reached as far as China.
Always attuned to the latest innovations, Schwarzlose was quick to adopt the new scientific advances which were then rocking the perfume world, by combining blends of naturals with man-made aroma molecules – discoveries akin to creating a new musical note or gifting a previously unseen colour to an artist. As the J.F. Schwarzlose history documents, ‘Although fashion around 1900 still calls for perfumes imitating the natural fragrance of a blossom as closely as possible (lilies of the valley, violets, roses, or lilac are the dominating scents of that time) the art of composing olfactory fantasies becomes increasingly important.’
Their continuing renown for combining heritage quality with contemporary tastes meant that by 1902, with Ernst Köthner, grandson of Joachim Friedrich Schwarzlose, now sole owner; the company had begun expanding further in foreign markets worldwide – Spain, Asia and Australia just some of the locations their products are sought-after. Continuing their innovative ways, around the turn of the century, they launched their first perfume vending machine to the English-speaking world, with the automat promising ‘to dispense ‘Perfume Soap-Powder’ in the four different fragrances: ‘Eau De Cologne’, ‘Rosa Centifolia’, ‘Lilaflor’, and ‘Melati Radja’ onto a handkerchief held in front of it.’
The crippling inflation of the early 1930’s saw many established houses go under, but luckily J.F. Schwarzlose survived – testament to their wise business-handling and fine perfumery skills. In fact, they’re able to move into a modernised store located on Leipziger Straße 113 in the September 1930. They continued to thrive for well over another decade, but another war was looming, and their fragrant fate was not so kind, this time…
In 1944 the J.F. Schwarzlose factory and shops were bombed and totally destroyed. That might have been the end of the tale – another proud perfume house lost to history – were it not for the resilience of one Anni Köthner, who restarted the business, first in Hamburg, then moving back to its true home city, Berlin. But the shadow of the Berlin wall now loomed, in 1961 splitting locations of the company East and West Germany, impacting on the business, which ceased trading once again in 1976.
But what a phoenix this fragrance house is – because the story isn’t finished. In 2012, packaging designer Lutz Herrmann and communication expert Tamas Tagscherer revived it under the name J.F. Schwarzlose Berlin – enlisting brilliant perfumer Véronique Nyberg as the ‘nose’.
Today, this new guard remains ‘in close contact with the last heir to Schwarzlose, Jutta Jank-Trabant, who is delighted to find the brand on display again… and is always a welcome guest in the new office of J.F. Schwarzlose Berlin. And how utterly joyous this important perfumery was saved once again! Now thriving afresh, the modern-day fragrances of J.F. Schwarzlose harness the grandeur of their heritage, and all they learned through history, but still stay true to leading the fashions rather than merely following them.
We think this heritage name deserves to be celebrated the world over – a house that’s so proudly continued and re-invigorated their fragrant catalogue with the most modern innovations. So now, we urge you to continue the Schwarzlose Berlin story bytrying their wonderful scents for yourself…
Patchouli might as well be called the ‘Marmite of the perfume world’ as those of us who fall firmly in the LOVE IT camp have our passionately held views matched only by those who devoutly HATE IT. But perhaps if you have always languished on the loathing side of the fragrant fence, you might have your mind changed by this book we’ve recently added to our Fragrant Reads bookshelves…?
Part of a series of extremely informative ‘naturals notebooks’ on some of perfumery’s key ingredients, written and published in conjunction with NEZ (the French olfactory magazine) and LMR (Laboratoire Monique Rémy – one of the world’s leading producers of naturals used in the fragrance industry); Patchouli is a fascinating read for anyone who wants to take a deeper dive into their favourite fragrance notes. As confirmed patchouli-heads, here at The Perfume Society, of course we had to begin with this one!
‘Once seen as a scent favoured by courtesans and hippies,’ NEZ explain (hello, yes, we feel seen) ‘patchouli has become a key ingredient in today’s perfumery. Its warm, woody and complex fragrance provides the perfect setting for fresher notes to run free, especially in chypre and oriental perfumes.’ (Two of our favourite fragrance families there, so yes and yes again). An easy read, it manages to walk that fine line between interesting snippets of fragrant facts and a more in-depth and technical look at the processes behind how patchouli is produced. Indeed, NEZ say they wanted to ‘Explore every aspect of this exotic plant, from botany, history, art, gastronomy, literature, agriculture and chemistry, to the perfumers who use it and the perfumes they create.’
FYI: If you’re looking to learn more about patchouli, do have a look at our always-useful Ingredients section.
We really enjoyed the quotes from perfumers who adore patchouli – Bruno Jovanovic saying that ‘…if magic had a scent, it would smell of patchouli!’ and describing why he chose some of the other notes he added to his composition of Monsieur for Éditions de parfums Frédéric Malle, ‘To clothe, enhance, envelope the patchouli so it could become a flagship fragrance in Frédéric’s catalogue.’ With diagrams of historical timelines and distillation techniques, along with reviews of key fragrances to try patchouli in, it’s a short but fact-filled book that’s great to dip in and out of rather than read cover-to-cover, perhaps.
Patchouli NEZ + LMR the naturals notebook, £15.99
Buy it from shymimosa.co.uk
There’s an ancient city that’s become known as the perfume capital of India. Roses, roses everywhere! If ever you needed an excuse to feast your eyes on beauty, these seemingly endless dull, grey days are immediately brightened by reading this fascinating report by Rachna Sachasinh for National Geographic.
‘For centuries Kannauj (pronounced kunh-nowj), in northeast India’s Ganges belt, has been crafting oil-based botanical perfumes called attar using the world’s oldest known distillation methods,’ the piece begins, and as you gaze in wonder at the carpet of pink blossoms – and imagine with great longing the glorious scent in the air – it’s not hard to understand how the fragrances produced from the Rosa damascena shrubs planted there were soon ‘Sought after by both Mughal royals and everyday folk in ancient India’s fragrance-obsessed culture’, so that the ‘Kannauj attar scented everything from wrists to food, fountains to homes.’
We are thrilled to see the region showcased in the national media, now, for their utterly wonderful roses and fragrances produced from them, because Amanda Carr had already travelled to the city of roses, and last year wrote an exclusive report on The Scents of India for our magazine, The Scented Letter, for which she was nominated for a Jasmine Award, and which you can read in full, here!
It’s worth reminding ourselves that rose fragrances have been worn by both genders for centuries, too – it’s only Western and European cultures who more recently classed rose as ‘female’, and something the fragrance industry has begun to overturn (thank goodness!) by introducing many more rose-centric scents marketed at men or classed as ‘unisex’. We’ve said it many times before but we’ll go on saying it: smells do not have a gender – they’re for everyone who wants to wear them!
Indeed, the more recent National Geographic feature goes on to describe how the rose fragrances produced in Kannauj have proved ‘Equally alluring to men and women,’ because the ‘attars have an androgynous quality. They strike intense floral, woodsy, musky, smoky, green, or grassy notes. Trotted out by season, attars can be both warm (cloves, cardamom, saffron, oud) and cooling (jasmine, pandan, vetiver, marigold).’
I am lucky enough to have a little bottle of the Gulab (Indian Rose) attar from the Saini Blends distillery she visited, and which Amanda very kindly gave me when she returned from her travels. I cannot tell you the utter bliss it has been to wear it – a soft but fully enveloping cloud of powdery, fruity petals that almost smells like Turkish Delight sprinkled with icing sugar. Sheer joy, and a constant comfort to sniff and be reminded not only of our friendship, but of the wider world, of places I want to travel to, of beauty itself.
If you are interested in learning more about attars, I cannot urge you enough to read Amanda’s feature in full – there’s even a section on how to tell the attars apart, and how to order directly from Saini Blends themselves. It’s vital we not only celebrate this ancient art (and the fact that rose fragrances did not bloom unbidden from Grasse, originally) but support those who still work there. Because, as Amanda reported for us, ‘the attar industry in Kannauj has fallen to around 100 artisan makers today, from over 700 at its peak…’
We have an ever-growing bookshelf of Fragrant Reads, and just added another lovely one to the collection. Far from just a pretty book about flowers, it’s a whole coded history with which to send secret messages…
Floriography by Jessica Roux, published by Simon & Schuster
We first heard tell of this book when listening to the always brilliant Dressed: A History of Fashion podcast, when they interviewed the author, teasing us with the information that it should be ‘Daffodils for your unrequited love, lavender for your sworn enemy…’
Exploring the secret, coded significance of various blooms through history, Jessica Roux presents a beautifully illustrated book of fragrant posy suggestions – from flowers to proffer a specific message to a prospective lover, to those one should an enemy… perhaps with a copy of this book, if you want to make sure your message gets through loud and clear?
Described as a ‘full-color guide to the historical uses and secret meanings behind an impressive array of flowers and herbs,’ there is such delight to be found its pages, and one cannot but help construct imaginary floral messages to foes or scandalously salacious love letters ‘written’ in this fascinating historical code! Something we particularly loved were the suggestions of what other flowers to pair, to add further layers of significance to a bouquet, rather than only describing each flower in isolation.
The language of flowers is centuries long, floral mythology and cultural significance reaching back as far as history itself; but it really hit its peak with the always nostalgic and whimsical Victorians in the 19th century, particularly in England and within the United States. In these times, the importance of etiquette could not be understated – and sending the incorrect bouquet might have resulted in faces as red as the roses you’d innocently gifted. We have to remember that really, such strict social guidelines were enforced to reign in any unwanted displays of open emotion (unthinkable!) and so such coded ways of communicating were commonplace. And yet, where strictness prevails, so too do romantic fancies entangle every possible method of expressing oneself…
The Victorians were notoriously harsh in their ‘rules’ about what types of fragrance (particularly women) should use, where they should apply it, how much and how often. You can read more about this – and other eras’ perfumed proclivities – in our dedicated section on Perfume History; but for full-on floral charm, the scented snippets researched and illustrated by talented artist Jessica Roux, makes this a wonderful book for any flower-lover – and you’ll surely be dropping the floral facts you’ve gleaned from it into conversations for years to come.
The publishers suggest this is a perfect gift, and we certainly agree, at any time of year – but how much more interesting that gift would be if accompanied by a meaningfully put-together floral arrangement, don’t you think? A thank you for friend who’s helped get you through this year, perhaps, or a thrillingly stylish way to communicate your displeasure? Rather depends on how nice the more challenging of relatives are to us during these trying times, doesn’t it…?
It’s selling super fast but at time of writing, it’s still available to buy from Book Depository here.
Our ever-growing bookshelf of Fragrant Reads just got its first graphic novel – a unique take on telling the scented story of Pierre-Francois-Pascal Guerlain…
We’ve never seen a perfume house’s history played out in comic-book format before, and as a potted perfume biography of founder Pierre-François-Pascal; Guerlain – The Prince of Perfume, by Pierre-Roland Saint-Dizier is a delightful (if rather surprising) presentation.
Written with the help of Laurent Boillot, Guerlain President and CEO, Élisabeth Sirot and Hélène Schney, this is no mere child’s book (though we feel it would be an ideal gift for a younger reader interested in the history of fragrance). It’s well-researched and gives an historical overview of the French Revolution, as a backdrop to Pierre-François-Pascal’s story along the way.
We see him first in 1807 as he falls in love with smelling vanilla, herbs and spices in his father’s shop – memorising the way they smell. Later, Pierre leaves for Paris to work for Briard – already, then, an historic French perfume house – and, as his ambitions grow, learning soap and cosmetic-making, travelling the world as a salesman and working for various perfume and soap houses. As the back of the book’s blurb explains, ‘This young man, who will eventually become known as “Prince of Perfume” and the official perfumer of the European Royal Courts, does not yet realise that he will conquer the world of perfumes and pave the way for a dynasty of perfumers to come.’
Of course, given the format, it can never be the full story; but as a book of scented snapshots, its a charming and evocative portrait of not only the man who began the Guerlain family empire, but of the birth of modern perfumery, the political climate in France at the time, and a history of our changing tastes in perfume – and the way we shopped for them.
It can be difficult to find an English translation copy of the book, which we found on an online auction site, but a Kindle version is also available in the original French. Indeed, it may be best to pick up a French copy if you’re able to translate yourself – a great way to encourage French language development in someone interested in perfumery – as the English translation isn’t always perfect, here.
However, it’s a lovely thing to own, charmingly illustrated by artist Li-An throughout, and includes a written appendix detailing the hidtory more thoroughly, and explaining how the author was granted access to the extensive Guerlain archives (including original family letters) in the research. Over all, a fascinating addition to any perfume-lover’s bookshelf!
Buy it on Kindle [French edition] (Glénat) – Also available from second-hand book-sellers.
Lipstick scents have always been a huge part of cosmetics’ glamorous allure – from the boudoir to the boardroom and beyond – but now you can also wear va-va-voom versions of the pucker-up in perfumed form…
With so many of us masked-up to the eyballs (literally), unless you find your perfect bullet-proof formula, an actual lip colour sadly seems more unneccessary for the time being. Fear not: fragrances that smell exactly like the most glamorous kind of vintage lipsticks are out there, and there’s something about that so-distinctive smell that really does give the same feeling of a vixenish vermillion or scarlet slick of courage.
‘I got that red lip classic thing that you like,’ Taylor Swift sings. But have you ever wondered exactly why so many classic lipsticks smell the same? ‘In France, until the Revolution, people of the court would spritz their wigs with a blend of crushed iris roots and rice powder. This “iris-y” sillage remained,’ Juliet Has a Gun tells us – diving deep into the history of scented lipsticks to celebrate the launch of their Lipstick Fever fragrance (read on for our review…)
‘Violet made its appearance later, at the end of the 19th century, in the first solid sticks, but became the norm in the 1920s when lipsticks were flavored with a violet candy aroma, which was fashionable at the time. As lipsticks came in contact with the mouth, the beauty houses tended to perfume them with comestible ingredients. And the harmonies of iris, violet and raspberry have the advantage of being rather lovely when you run your tongue over your lips…’
There’s no doubt about it – the lipstick is a powerful symbol of self expression, celebrating the strength of femininity – and the scent of a lipstick only adds to its charms. We’re reminded of special occasions, of borrowing our mother’s lipsticks as a child, and reaching into a handbag to swipe on a bit of spirit-lifting colour when you’re feeling anxious. So if you’re missing a slick of courage, why not dress yourself in these fabulously lipstick-inspired scents…?
Juliet Has a Gun Lipstick Fever Oh this is joyous! ‘Iris, Violet absolute and Raspberry. Enhanced with woody notes (Patchouli, Cedarwood) to give it a little refinement and to echo the leather of the handbag so often inseparable from it,’ they say. We say: contemporary gourmands just got all the more desirable. Its wonderfully frivolous to wear, a scented accessory to twirl through the streets in! £85 for 50ml eau de parfum harveynichols.com
Cartier Basier Fou ‘Mischievous and feminine soliflor whose delicious accents evoke the aroma of kisses with lipstick,’ Baiser Fou is developed by the in-house perfumer Mathilde Laurent, who chose the flower of orchid as the main ingredient. Playfully charming but exuding a gamine chicness nonetheless, this one’s a kiss-chase in a bottle. £76 for 50ml eau de parfumtheperfumeshop.com
Guerlain French Kiss We’re invited to succumb, with this scent, to ‘the charms of French Kiss, a glossy floral that celebrates the French art of kissing with a sexy rose, litchi and raspberry accord.’ The boudoir-inspired bottle echoes the scent itself – the kind of ultra refined va-va-voom only the French can do. Find yourself a chaise lounge, don your prettiest peignoir! £185 for 75ml eau de parfumguerlain.com
Histoire de Parfums 1889 Inspired by the luscious red lips of Moulin Rouge dancers, this shamelessly naughty scent evokes layers of frilly petticoats and a Carmine smile. Swirls of sugar melt in Absinthe, a sprinkle of cinnamon amidst a plumptious booziness calms to a warm-skin snuggle of soft musk and something vaguely pain-au-chocolat-ish in the base. From €38 for 15ml eau de parfumhistoiredeparfums.com
Frederic Malle Lipstick Rose Ralf Schwieger’s Hollywood glamor, ‘Lipstick Rose smiles at you, like a dash of lipstick with its rose and violet-flavoured candy scent.’ Grapefruit sparkles up the fragrance’s central rose note, while musk and vanilla, with a hint of vetiver and amber, smoothly drapes the base. Flirtatiously fabulous, it feels grown up yet prone to giggles. £180 for 100ml eau de parfumlibertylondon.com
Estée Lauder Modern Muse Le Rouge A pout-laden provocative contrast of distinctively different accords – rich roses drizzled by ripe fruits, with a seductive velvet creme. Its an intriguing kiss of a scent to seduce every day, described as ‘a true innovation in fragrance design, as complex and fascinating as the woman who inspires it.’ From £52 for 30ml eau de parfumesteelauder.co.uk
Have you ever wanted your own personal perfume shopper? Well now, The Merchant of Venice is offering you the experience from the comfort of your own home…
While we’d dearly love to be sauntering through the heart-stoppingly beautiful streets of Venice and sniffing the perfume wares in person – as we did on our magnicent trip to the birthplace of fine perfumery – The merchant of Venice has come up with a cunning way to bring us the luxury of a one-to-one expert scent consultation, but all without having to leave your own sofa.
During these strange days, it can be difficult to know where to begin when searching for a new scent, and so The Merchant of Venice want to offer ‘…a new type of sensory experience’ with which to ‘re-establish a human contact’ with customers, thanks to its highly professional consultants being made available via a virtual online personal shopping experience.
When the princess Teodora Ducas – daughter of the Emperor of Byzantium – married the Doge Domenico Selvo in 1060, it can be said the grand Venetian tradition of perfumery (and the accompanying products with which the royal court liked to adorn themselves) truly began. So when you experience a fragrance from The Merchant of Venice – it’s a nod to the very history of perfumery itself…
During your navigation of The Merchant of Venice website, they tell us, you will be able to ‘interact with specialists in a sophisticated presentation of the collections’ that will guide you in your choice of the perfect perfumes for you to try. So, from your home, you can ‘take advantage of a private, tailor-made and highly professional service as in The Merchant of Venice boutiques.’
We have had the great privilege of visiting The Merchant of Venice boutiques, and they are beyond expectations – each unique in character and stunningly presented (as are the perfumes, themselves).
During your online personal shopper consultation, you will have each fragrance thoroughly described, using its olfactory notes. But much more than that, your personal shopper will listen to your exact requirements, and give personalised advice ‘…to find the essence that best suits the personality of each person. A dynamic that has been refined over the years also thanks to the experience at the Perfume Museum at Palazzo Mocenigo in Venice’
And oh, when we can travel again, we urge you to visit the Palazzo Mocenigo – it’s the most incredible collection of perfume history we’ve ever seen – from the thousands of historic perfume bottles, to the imaculate reconstruction of a 16th Century perfumer’s workshop.
Back to the present day, meanwhile, the traditions continue. ‘The ability to describe the history and origin of raw materials is the basis and the starting point for communicating the great passion and history that lies behind each creation,’ The Merchant of Venice explains, and the first personal shopper to assist you will be Christian Waas.
‘He comes from a family of perfumers and has collaborated with several international perfumery houses’ they continue, and apart from his fluency in English and German, Christian was chosen for ‘his ability to combine in-depth knowledge of perfume with sales expertise, together with his passion for history and culture,’ and his inate ability to present this to you in an exciting, engaging way.
What on earth would princess Teodora Ducas have made of the fact that, 960 years since her marriage, future fragrance lovers around the world would be booking personal perfume consultations via a little magic screen they can keep in their pockets? It would surely have blown her mind. But the fact we still hanker after the magnificent scents made in Venice? We have a hunch she wouldn’t have been very surprised…
Comfort & Strength are feelings we’re all needing more of these days, and oh goodness, wearing the right fragrance really does help. But should you reach for something loud and proud or softly soothing…?
‘…Smell is a language of airborne shouts and whispers that travels across rooms. Smell is suggestive.’ – Sarah Knott, Mother: An Unconventional History (Penguin, 2019)
In the just-published Beyond Fashion & Fragrance edition of The Scented Letter magazine, I focus on the post-pandemic perfume landscape – reporting how fragrance sales actually grew during the first #lockdown, as people swathed themselves in familiar scents to comfort themselves; or tried a whole host of new fragrances to feel more alert and avoid associating their usual favourite with negative emotions. Similarly, the worldwide taste in perfumes seems to now vacillate between the big-hitter room-fillers and the altogether softer, more contemplative scents that remain closer to one’s own skin.
So which do you prefer? I know some days I crave the quietude of something gentle – an olfactory caress akin to wrapping myself in a cashmere blanket. At other times, I’ve desperately sought out scents to wear as a kind of fragrant armour against *gestures at everything* – some scented ‘backbone in a bottle’.
Whether its whispers or shouts you’re seeking, here’s a very small selection of fragrances I have been reaching for to scent my mood…
KAYALI VANILLA | 28
Creamy jasmine swirled through a cloud of vanilla is sheer bliss on the skin, a sensation of intimacy elegantly rendered in addictive tonka, musk and amber-rich patchouli sprinkled with brown sugar. £67 for 50ml eau de parfum
Olfactive O Skin
A soothing hush of ambrette seed, orris and magnolia unfurl from the sensation of cool, cotton sheets to a sweeter nuzzle of sun-warmed skin via beeswax absolute and sandalwood. An incredibly long-lasting hug – something we could all do with right now. £100 for 30ml extrait de parfum
L’Orchestre Parfums Pianao Santal
A lullaby of languorous warm skin wraped in silky sheets, the sandalwood, cedar and ethereal white musks feel milky, mystical and dream-like; finally caressed by caraway, carried like motes of dust. £129 for 100ml eau de parfum
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. £65 for 50ml eau de parfum
Punchy grapefruit and lemon are paired with juicy red fruits before the heart fizzes pink pepper and ginger: exhilaration guaranteed. Hinoki wood and musk in the dry down help ground you, confidently. £190 for 75ml eau de parfum
Proof that cashmere can be worn as armour, the original scent’s intensified to over three and half times the strength. Piquant juniper’s enfolded in layers of powery iris: silkiness draping the steely scaffolding. £245 for 50ml extrait de parfum
Quite apart from using scent to smell nice, trying a variety of fragrances also helps to deleniate the days, don’t you think? At a time when travelling is almost non-existant, we’re pining for new experiences. Trying an unfamilar scent can genuinely jolt you out of feeling quite so… trapped – opening the world as your olfactory oyster, if you like, to explore.
With that in mind, we have a wonderful selection of Discovery Boxes of samples and ‘try me’ sizes we’ve specially curated for you to try at home, as well as fabulous Brand Discovery Sets where you can sample the entire offerings of niche houses.
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