International Women’s Day – celebrating female founders of fragrance houses

For International Women’s Day this year, we want to give a fragrant high-five to the strong women who’ve founded – and continue to successfully run – many of our favourite fragrance houses.

In previous years we’ve flagged up female perfumers we think you should know about, and we’ll be taking a look at fragrance houses run by mothers and daughters in a forthcoming Mother’s Day post; but for now let’s celebrate and support just some of the incredible and entrepreneurial women who strode their own paths in the world of perfume

 

Amy Christiansen Si-AhmedSana Jardin
A former social worker whose c.v. includes time with the Bill Clinton Foundation, the Robin Hood Foundation and the Cherie Blair Foundation; Amy set about ‘changing the world, one bottle of perfume at a time.’ Working with perfumer Carlos Benaïm, she sources ingredients via a women’s co-operative where, locally, they can now market orange flower water, candles made from flower wax, and compost made from the waste flowers.

 

Mona Maine de BiranKierin NYC
Following a successful international modelling career – which allowed Mona to traverse the globe and visit remote, exotic locations – returning to New York, Mona turned her experience into a successful  arts and lifestyle blog, before honing her passion for perfume and storytelling by launching her own. Wanting people to be ‘…inspired, not defined or confined, by fragrance’, the house celebrate ‘Diversity and inclusion… for young people of all ages, colors and nationalities.’

 

Mona KattanKayali
Huda Beauty have been wowing the world for over a decade, building an empire that went from a humble beauty blog to a blockbusting makeup and beauty business. Believing ‘scent is our most transformative part of our beauty routine, It has the power to completely change how we feel’, Mona and sister, Huda, are American-born to Iraqi immigrants, both now running their businesses from Dubai, embracing diversity and often opening up about the bullying they faced in childhood.

 

Annabella Fasano-Leslie & Holly HutchinsonContradictions In ILK
Creative Director Annabella is a free-spirited perfume-lover with a background in human psychology and eight years of advertising industry experience; while Holly was already known for her luxury niche line, Memoize London. Melding their skills and passions, Ilk embodies none of being summed-up by a single character trait, so why not play with perfume & layer people’s expectations of you?

 

Olivia da Costa  – Olfactive O
From Chelsea College of Art, Olivia went on to become fascinated by scent as a literary device in turn of the century novels, while then studying English Literature. The psychology of perfume led her to working her way up from shop assistant to buyer at John Lewis, and when a friend introduced her to a distinguished perfumer, the passion became reality in her personality led, story-telling scents.

 

Michelle FeeneyFloral Street
Following her time at the Estée Lauder Companies, then revolutionary tanning name St Tropez, the always enterprising Michelle Feeney unveiled a fragrance line ‘built on the streets of London’. With an ethos of sustainability, the vibrant fragrances celebrate florals in a so-modern way, and from a flagship Covent Garden boutique to huge success in Sephora, these bouquets are blooming.

 

Ruth Mastenbroek
Having discreetly created fragrances for many famous private clients, she made the famous Grapefruit candle for Jo Malone (which Jennifer Lopez loved so much, she bought 300 for her hotel room). The first perfumer to use advanced micro-encapsulation (in a scented bathrobe) she now has her own fabulous fragrances evoking treasured memories, perfectly balanced and captured forever.

 

Sarah McCartney4160 Tuesdays
Having written for LUSH for 14 years, Sarah studied essential oils, acquired a small kit of rare ingredients and made her first fragrance. She then wrote a novel about ‘a woman who makes perfume to remind people of a time when they felt happy’ and turned her hobby into a business. There are 4160 Tuesdays in the average lifetime, and Sarah squeezes the scented juice out of every single one.

 

Emmanuelle MoeglinExperimental Perfume Club
Completing her extensive training at the French perfumery school of ISIPCA, Emanuelle worked as a Scent Design Manager for various global fragrance brands, then become an independent perfumer based in London. Wanting to make the fragrance world more inclusive, she runs incredibly popular workshops which led to her own line of exceptionally exciting scents, including kits to make your own.

 

Nathalie VinciguerraAnima Vinci
From 2006 until 2015, Nathalie was Head of Fragrance Development for Penhaligon’s and L’Artisan Parfumeur – working with some of the world’s best perfumers on award-winning fragrances. This prepared her for the massive leap in founding her own fragrance house, with a very particular aim in mind: fragrances encouraging you to embrace life full force, just as she has, with optimism and joy.

 

Nancy Meiland
Apprenticed to one of the UK’s experts in custom perfumery, Nancy began her career creating bespoke fragrances, she took her dream and made it reality – all the while, dividing her time between town and country and raising a family. Now with her own artisanal line, she has the knack of conjuring emotional responses with lyrical fragrances that are contemplative yet so effortlessly sophisticated.

 

Rebecca HarrisonVines House Parfum
Having seen first-hand the amount of work that goes into the creation of a brand and already achieved a successful career in the beauty industry, Rebecca began her work in skincare, which ultimately led to fragrance, and planted the seeds of a new passion: to be a perfume creator. Living amidst vineyards gave her the creative spark to launch her own fragrance house, ‘with its roots in vines, both metaphorically and geographically.’

 

Rebecca RoseTo the Fairest
Inspired by storytelling and female strength, Rebecca first explored perfume via treasured vials from her grandmother. Later, still scent-obsessed, meeting fragrance expert Lizzie Ostrum encouraged her to launch her own company. Dedicated to giving back, Rebecca donates funds to charities, including a horticultural project working with vulnerable people; and during the pandemic, Head to Toe, who support people receiving mental health, community and social care.

Whichever of their perfumes you choose to explore, you will be amplifying and applauding the hard work and bravery of these female founders, every single time you spritz…

By Suzy Nightingale

International Women’s Day 2019: celebrating female perfumers

As it’s International Women’s Day, can we take a moment to collectively cheer the world’s first recorded chemist – a woman named Tapputi – and a perfume maker whose existence we only know about thanks to being recorded on a 1200 BCE Cuneiform tablet, found in Babylonian Mesopotamia.

Tapputi was granted the title “Belatikallim” which suggests she was regarded as a high-ranking scientist, and her role would have held great sway in both the Mesopotamian government and their religion, because she was overseer of the Mesopotamian Royal Palace.

But think of a perfumer or famous ‘nose’ now and, chances are, the picture that comes to most peoples’ mind is a man in a white lab coat, or – if you’re more romantically inclined – a man in a velvet jacket plucking rose petals at sunrise and being struck by artistic inspiration. My point is: it’s probably still a man you’re thinking of.

In the Fashion, Feminism & Fragrance edition of our magazine, The Scented Letter, we devoted the issue to looking back to the women we have to thank for shaping the way we smell today, and focussing on the current crop of women perfumers shaking up the scent world.

Here, we pay tribute to just some of these remarkable and talented women, and urge you to seek out their work as a way celebrating International Women’s Day 2019

 

Daniela Andrier’s CV now stretches endlessly: triumphs include Bottega Veneta Knot, the daring Maison Martin Margiela Untitled and Guerlain’s Angélique Noire – but the name which continually crops up on her list of creations is that of Prada. She clearly has a fantastic working relationship with Miuccia Prada, which has brought us such blockbusters as Prada Man (2006), Prada Candy (2011), and every single one of the Prada ingredient-focused Infusion series, so widely adored by bloggers and perfume-lovers alike.

 

 

Christine Nagel says the first time she met a ‘nose’, that’s what she knew she wanted to be. So she trained as a research chemist and market analyst, and in Paris, in 1997, launched a seriously distinguished career that’s included creations like the blockbuster Narciso Rodriguez for Her (with Francis Kurkdjian), Jimmy Choo Flash and Guerlain’s Les Elixirs Charnels collection. After several years at Jo Malone London, Christine joined Hermès, to work alongside the legendary Jean-Claude Ellena in 2014. When he retired two years later, Ellena named Nagel his rightful successor, and she took her place as the esteemed Head of Perfumery. Nagel’s pared-down style with innovative twists has composed Eau de Rhubarb Ecarlate, Galop d’Hermès and the much-admired recent addition of Twilly d’Hèrmes – some of the Hermès’ most critically acclaimed and commercially successful fragrances to date.

 

 

Mathilde Laurent is widely considered the ‘rock ‘n roll superstar’ of contemporary perfumery, having been encouraged to become a perfumer by a family friend who noticed from a young age she’d been ‘encountering the world nose first, whether to describe a plate of food or the atmosphere of a new house,’ as Laurent puts it. Trained at ISIPCA after gaining a degree in chemistry and physics, she put in a call to Jean-Paul Guerlain himself, asking for an internship. After three months, she was offered a permanent position and stayed for the next 11 years. Joining Cartier to become their in-house and bespoke perfumer, Laurent has tirelessly worked to promote the creative use of quality synthetics in modern perfumery, in order to ‘shatter the idea that the result had to be hard, abstract, aggressive.’ Her work is by turns contemporary with a classic touch, surprising yet ultimately, sublimely wearable.

 

 

Camille Goutal studied Literature at ‘A’ Level then took courses in art, photography and design at the Louvre Museum School. It led to a career in photography, but it was scent that ultimately beckoned. Her mother, Annick, had founded the now renowned house in 1981, being joined by equally talented nose Isabelle Doyen in 1985 and watching as the name spread like wildfire around the world. By the 1990s, the collection was in the ‘top five’ in leading department stores like Saks and Nieman Marcus. When Annick sadly passed in 1999 aged just 53, Camille – who’d been the inspiration for both the inspiration for both Eau de Camille, and Petite Chérie – the baton was passed from being muse to Aromatique Majeur: honouring her mother’s legacy while continuing to drive the house – now re-branded as Goutal – ever onwards, to the delight and relief of millions of fans worldwide.

 

 

Alice Lavenat was a young perfumer working for Jean Niel in Grasse. Entering the prestigious French Perfumers Young Perfumer of the Year Competition in 2014. Inspired by her family’s wine business, and creatively interpreting the brief of using blackcurrant bud, the judges’ decision was unanimous: Lavenat was awarded first prize. One of Jean Niel’s clients was Marie Lise Bischoff – founder of the perfume house, Nejma – and she’d not only smelled Alice’s fragrance and fallen in love with it, but was determined to nurture the talent of this young perfumer. Naming the creation Parfum d’Alice, her talents have developed Nejma’s incredibly successful fragrance collection, including a collaboration with a French rap star for KoEptYs, and an exclusive range of Extrait for Harrods.

 

 

Fanny Bal is apprenticed to none other than Dominic Ropion – regarded by many as one of the greatest perfumers of our time – who says her approach to perfumery is ‘curious, tenacious and bold’ and predicts she has ‘all the best qualities to become a great perfumer.’ Another ISIPCA alumni, going on to work at IFF, Bal’s currently storming the expectations of the fragrance world with Sale Gosse for Editions de Parfums Frédéric Malle (inspired by a mixture of bubblegum, cheeky ‘enfants terribles’, old-fashioned sweets and ‘doodles on the blackboard’). According to Malle, Fanny Bal is known for ‘constantly surprising her seniors’, and having recently smelled her utterly majestic (homage to) Hemmingway for Masque Milano (a trio of vetiver that had us swooning for hours), we say: watch this space. The name Fanny Bal will soon be on every fragrance fan’s lips, and her scents surprising your nose for years to come…

Written by Suzy Nightingale