Ostens’ colourful creativity

Ostens have burst into the olfactory world by offering a unique concept in perfumery: granting perfume-lovers not only the right to at last smell exquisite ingredients in their own right (something only industry insiders had access to), but to buy them off the shelf (previously unheard of!) or try them in eaux de parfum, composed by some of the world’s top perfumers, to perfectly showcase that main ingredient’s charms…

‘I love that it’s you we’re speaking to about how all this started,’ smiles Christopher Yu – Managing Director of United Perfumes, one of the world’s most prestigious fragrance distribution and development companies, and now, co-founder of exciting niche fragrance house, Ostens. ‘You were there, at that LMR event we did with The Perfume Society…’ he continues, referring to an afternoon in which we’d invited VIP Club Members along with renowned journalists to experience the mind-blowing beauty of Laboratoire Monique Rémy – one of the world’s leading producers of natural ingredients for the high-end perfume industry, part of IFF, International Flavors and Fragrance.

Laurent Delafon is the other guiding force behind Ostens – CEO of United Perfumes, long-term colleague and like-minded friend of Chris, together they came to the realisation that something needed to change within the fragrance industry, because consumers deserved something more.

Offering a direct line from supplier and perfumers to people who crave exquisite quality perfume – a unique concept – was the propelling force for Ostens, making heroes of the ingredients and getting people excited about smelling them, in splendid isolation and then used within completely differing interpretations as part of an eau de parfum.

Tapping in to the current hunger for transparency in the beauty industry, Ostens explain, ‘In an age where we all want to understand better about craftmanship and provenance, Ostens gives you access to ingredients previously unavailable to consumers. Our aim: to celebrate and bring access to ingredients which lie at the heart of so many perfumes and to create sensory wonderment, open to all.’

And what wonders there are to explore! Smelling their Rose Oil Isparta / £65 for 9ml perfume oil – the highest concentration available – is like diving head-first into a mountain of freshly plucked petals, the vibrant, fruity scent declared by none other than Dominique Ropion as ‘the highest existing quality of rose oil.’ Used within the Impression Rose Oil Isparta eau de parfum / £145 for 50ml eau de parfum, Ropion has swathed those petals with labdanum, patchouli and Cashmeran, offering a velvety lick of alluring darkness. Fancy ramping up the rose to its fullest possible potential? Simply layer with that Rose Oil – or any of their other oils – to add your own unique signature or change up the character acording to how you feel that day.

What’s more, the oils aren’t meant to only be used with Ostens products. Chris and Laurent are realists, and they know people don’t live like that – how deadly dull it would be if we only ever wore one brand. They actively want to encourage people to experiment using them with perfumes they already own, and to tell them what combinations they’ve found really work. Thrillingly for us perfume lovers, Ostens want an ongoing conversation with the person who buys their wares, asking them what they’d like to see and smell next, what, exactly, is missing from their fragrance life, rather than dictating ‘trends’.

Ostens currently have a pop-up space in London at 62 Blandford Street, W1U 7JD, where they’ll be in residence until 28th February 2019, and we cannot urge you enough to visit while you’re able. There’s a reason fragrance experts and journalists have been buzzing since the launch, with several highly respected people we know, commenting to us that this was their ‘launch of the year’ and ‘the most exciting things we’ve smelled for ages…’

In their space, Ostens showcase one of the Préparation oils (currently Rose Isparta) on a plinth, with colourful synaesthetic backdrops of artwork created by their internal Creative Director, Mark Wilkie*. Stepping inside you are bathed in a coloured light that further represents the interpretation of the fragrance, and it feels like walking into the very heart of the scent itself. Walking through to the back room, you are then able to smell all of the ingredients and Impressions (eaux de parfum), trying them on your skin, layering as you please or simply smelling and delighting in them alone.

The whole experience is joyously like being a kid in a sweet shop once again, and if you’re looking to re-ignite your passion for perfume, or to explore and appreciate the world through your sense of smell, this is most certainly the place you need to be…

Having followed their fragrant journey from the very beginning, I was so delighted to interview Chris and Laurent at length for my Ostens feature in the just-published Stardust issue of The Scented Letter Magazine; so do go and indulge your senses fully by reading all about Ostens’ fragrant universe – most certainly sprinkled with something magical – and then smelling for yourself what all the fuss is about by visiting the boutique?

If you’re a VIP Club Member, you can download the entire issue for free by logging in to your account. Print copies can be purchased here, and we also offer International Subscriptions on electronic versions, for only £20 for a full year.

Written by Suzy Nightingale

*[In The Scented Letter, we mistakenly attributed the Ostens artworks to another artist, Philippa Stanton. In fact Philippa was the artist for a gin company also featured, elsewhere, in the magazine, and the two sections were accidentally mixed up. We do apologise for this editorial mistake – and we swear we hadn’t been at the gin!]

Oranges are not the only (fragrant) fruit…

We whooped for joy when the 2018 Jasmine Awards Finalists were announced, with several features from The Scented Letter magazine on that list!
We are sharing those pieces with you over the next few days – exclusive content which subscribers to the print and online editions only usually get to read.
This feature concentrates on one of the most important ingredients in perfumery (and one of the most misunderstood) – a tree that in fact offers several vital materials to the perfumers’ palette. But do you know your neroli from your petit grain? Senior Writer Suzy Nightingale went on a quest to find out…

Unilever disclose fragrance ingredients in a searchable database

If you’ve ever wondered exactly what ingredients are in the perfumes or fragranced products you already use or want to try, Unilever announced it’s going to be a lot easier to research their range. And it reveals some interesting facts. For example, did you know that the scent of the original Dove shampoo range is actually based on a traditional fougere fragrance type?

‘Take fougere fragrances notes for example – this consists of lavender, geranium and woody notes. If you use our Dove shampoo, you will recognise this scent.’

Going beyond current labelling requirements, Unilever will be disclosing all their fragrance ingredients online in Europe, starting with France and the UK, remarkably making it the first consumer goods company to disclose fragrance ingredients within the UK.

Individual product information will now be updated to include fragrance ingredients for home care and personal care products along with details about how they are used and the role they play in creating the fragrances that people know and love.

Unilever’s Chief Research and Development Officer, David Blanchard said, ‘We know how important fragrances are to people – they want products that make them look good, feel good and smell good. We’re excited to take the next step in our transparency journey, delivering on our promise to give people the information they need to choose the right products for them.’

‘People want to know more about fragrance ingredients and how we create scents for the brands they love. We’re happy to be making this information available online across Europe in 2018.’

Stating that transparency is important to them, offering customers a way to research products and ingredients they have an allergy to, Unilever have now listed the fragrance ingredients in a searchable database called What’s In Our Products, along with articles and features describing how the products are made and why certain ingredients are used or avoided where possible.

It certainly seems that transparency is the future, with the ‘clean labelling’ movement requesting easier to understand labels on all products and customers now used to being able to research a product at the click of a button. With perfumers’ names now very well known, their methods and inspiration revealed, it seems the ingredients they use will be next under the spotlight.

Written by Suzy Nightingale

Seasonal scented ingredients that make winter sparkle…

Frosty foliage glittering beguilingly is uplifting to the soul on wickedly cold mornings, and although our hearts (and hands!) may yearn for the warmth of summer, we can remind ourselves that the onset of winter also heralds some truly magical ingredients that are inexorably associated with the season.
We’ve listed four of our favourites, below, but where does your (cold) nose take you when the frost bites? Well, if you click on the names of the ingredients, you’ll be whisked to their fascinating and fact-filled individual pages, where you can also find a list of perfumes to try with that as the prominant note…
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Myrrh
Long associated with Christmas (one of the three gifts given to the infant Jesus),used in religious ceremonies and magical rites; myrrh is actually a gum resin, tapped from the True Myrrh tree, or Commiphora Myrrha, and originating in parts of Arabia, Somalia and Ethiopia. Tapping the tree to make small incisions, small teardrop-shaped droplets ‘bleed’ from the trunk and are left to harden into bead-like nuggets, which are then steam-distilled to produce an essential oil. Myrrh gets its name from the Hebrew ‘murr’ or ‘maror’, which translates as ‘bitter’. It’s earthy. It’s resinous. It’s intriguing. And it’s still a key ingredient in many sensual and iconic Ambrée perfumes today…
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Pssst! Read more about the fascinating history of myrrh, and how Jo Malone London have used this precious indredient in their soon to be released latest perfume, in our hot-off-the-press glossy magazine: The Scented Letter.
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Pine
There are good pine smells, and, well… horrid pine smells. If you’ve ever sat in the back of a taxi with one of those ‘Christmas tree’-scented cards dangling from the rear-view mirror, you’ll probably get where we’re coming from. But pine can also be wonderful crisp, spicy, outdoorsy and invigorating – and it’s been closely linked to perfume creation since the time of the early Arab perfumers, who liked it in combination with frankincense, in particular…
 
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Cinnamon
Spicily enticing, comforting and sweet, all at once.  Our love of cinnamon dates back thousands of years:  2000 years ago the Egyptians were weaving it into perfumes (though it probably originates way before that, in China). Because cinnamon bark oil is a sensitiser – and as such, you may ‘cinnamates’ on perfume packaging, as a warning – where natural cinnamon’s used, it’s likely to have been distilled from the leaves and twigs.  But it’s often also synthesised, adding a spicy warmth to Ambrées (and quite a few men’s scents)…
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Orange
Studded with cloves we can hang these ultra-Christmas-sy pomanders from our trees for an instant Yuletide hit. But where would perfumery be without orange…?  The blossom of the bitter orange tree (a.k.a. neroli, when it’s extracted in a particular way) is one of the most precious scent ingredients of all.  Bigarade, from the fruit of that tree, is another key ingredient in colognes, while its leaves give us petitgrain, another popular element in citrussy scents.  And then there’s orange itself (sometimes referred to as sweet orange, to distinguish it from the bitter, ‘marmalade’ variety.)
There are many more notes to discover and explore in our Ingredients section of the wbsite, so why not take a sensorial journey and follow your nose there, now…?
Written by Suzy Nightingale

Join us for an afternoon of tea and scent pairing with the Rare Tea Lady

The Perfume Society is delighted to invite you to a fascinating and delicious afternoon of tea and scent pairing with the Rare Tea Lady, Henrietta Lovell.

Our friends at the Rare Tea Company know good tea. (You can read about this fascinating and very ethical company and what they do here) So when we wanted to pair fragrances with their perfect matching teas for the Scented Letter, we knew who to turn to.

Now we’d like to invite you as part of a very small group to the Rare Tea Company’s Marylebone tasting rooms to sample teas that have been especially paired with fragrances that echo their notes – and you’ll hear first hand from the Rare Tea Lady herself about her thoughtful pairing process. We think you’ll leave with a new appreciation of tea – and a fresh way of looking at scent.

And at the end of the afternoon, you’ll receive a tea-based cocktail that will send you out into your Friday evening enlivened and refreshed, ready for the weekend.

Tickets are £20 – and you’ll each take home a 25g tin of a most delicious fine tea from the Rare Tea Company.


Date: Friday 13th May 2016
Time: 5.30pm – 7.00pm
Venue: Rare Tea Company, Marylebone Tasting Rooms, W1 (full address to be disclosed closer to the event)