We’re so thrilled that the iconic BBC Radio 4 programme Desert Island Discs – now superbly hosted by Lauren Laverene – managed to catch up with our co-founder of The Perfume Society and editor of The Scented Letter Magazine,Jo Fairley; and we’re not quite sure how they managed it, because she is (to put it mildly) a busy woman.
One minute she’s putting pen to paper about scented subjects, the next she’s giving a talk to encourage small-business owners, putting together another volume of The Beauty Bible book, or jetting off to Australia with Green & Black’schocolate (which she began with her husband, Craig Sams). Throughout every venture, Jo has believed in listening to her gut feelings, and going with what she’s passionate about (which is why perfume and chocolate feature so highly!)
Jo was over-the-moon to be asked on one of her all-time favourite radio shows, and says that ‘it was an absolute joy and a hoot to do,’ revealing that the team were ‘drinking tea and nibbling Green & Blacks while the back room crew got completely and joyously wired on their bars!’ Before listening to the show, Jo said, ‘I will probably break the Guinness World Record for breath-holding while listening (from behind the sofa)’ and comments over all the years of listening, she must have ‘mentally composed my playlist 1000 times (haven’t we all?) but let me tell you, when it comes down to it, selecting just eight tracks is REALLY HARD.’
We’re sure you’ve got a list of tracks you’d sail away with, so have a listen to Jo’s selection – and the fascinating interview with Lauren, all about Jo’s background, how she started in magazines and her advice for anyone starting a business…
What a year it’s been – with more new launches than ever before, new houses causing major ripples of excitement, niche brands breaking new ground and most of all, a firm sense that the scent of optimism is the air for all things fragrant… and constantly re-affirming exactly how much we love our jobs!
But with so much to choose from, what would you say are your scented highlights of 2018? We could honestly have picked twenty things each, but when absolutely forced to choose, we asked Co-Founders of The Perfume Society, Jo Fairley and Lorna McKay, along with Senior Writer Suzy Nightingale and Head of Social Media Carson Parkin-Fairley, to list some of theirs…
• Visiting the rose harvest with Anima Vinci was an absolute dream, and a day which will live on in my scent memories forever. It was such an honour to meet the people who own the rose fields, pick the flowers and transport them to be processed; to hear about how long it takes, their worries for the future of the fields in France, but most of all to follow a fragrance from field to flaçon. If I close my eyes, I can still smell those piles of petals, and am transported there every time I spray that finished perfume…
• Having my mind blown by smelling ingredients at the launch of Ostens. Using these fabulous quality LMR ingredients – and, uniquely, making them available to the public in single form or blended into eaux de parfums – Ostens are daring to do something new in the fragrance retail space. They truly give perfume-lovers the respect they’re due. I had the pleasure of following the journey of founders Christopher Yu and Laurent Delafon, finally interviewing them at their launch for The Scented Letter Magazine. Genuinely one of my favourite moments of the whole year was seeing the joy and pride in their faces – and oh my god, getting to smell that Jasmine Absolute!
• When Jovoy Mayfair opened in Conduit Street, I actually squealed a little with happiness, as this was one of my favourite shops in Paris for niche perfume – but on my own doorstep! The staff are so friendly and welcoming, and there’s so many brands there to explore, all beautifully displayed and with pots of blotters and pencils arrayed ready for your sniffing adventures. They recently celebrated their first birthday, and it was such a pleasure to see how they’ve grown, how they support smaller houses, and to be there to celebrate with them.
• The complete revamp of Les Senteurs – London’s first independent has been such a treat to witness – their gloriously dramatic floral-bedecked frontage is surely one of the most Instagrammed sights in London this year – and within, there’s a whole world of fragrant expertise to enjoy. It’s where you can find fragrance archivist James Craven – one of the nicest gentlemen you could ever meet and with a host of fragrant anecdotes to keep you entertained. I think it’s so vital to suppoort these indie businesses, now more than ever, and I particularly love their Meet the Perfumer events, where you can enjoy a glass of bubbly while sniffing something new.
• The Chelsea Flower Show launch of Floris A Rose For… What more perfect setting could there be for the launch of a rosetastic new fragrance – from Jermyn Street’s fabled fragrance name – than the Grand Marquee at event which is the highlight of the floral calendar? A-swirl with deep, velvety roses and underpinned by lashings of patchouli, A Rose For… can also be personalised with the name of the person it’s given to. (Even if it’s A Rose For… You!)
• Lunch with The Lauder Family – an amazing get-together with all the members of the family whose doyenne, Estée Lauder, changed the face of fragrance with the launch of Youth Dew (originally a bath oil, that meant women could guiltlessly buy it for themselves rather than waiting for a birthday and a ‘special’ bottle of perfume). Leonard, Ronald, Aerin, William and Jane Lauder were all present – and the attention to detail was quite astonishing, from the Union Jack powder compacts which were the table gifts through to the monogrammed ribbons tied around the Christmas crackers.
• A visit to the Diptyque archive in Paris – I’ve spent lots of time on Eurostar this year (file under: ‘it’s a tough job’, etc.) but a real highlight was being the first to see the beautifully revamped upstairs rooms above their boutique at 34 Boulevard Saint Germain where Diptyque stores the artwork, fabrics and other souvenirs of their 60 years in business. It was completely fascinating to see early designs for the logo and discover scents that no longer feature in the collection (but which are surely ripe for revival!) V.I.P. Club Members can read the full story in our current edition of The Scented Letter, here…
• The Chanel No.5 ‘Red’ dinner at Annabel’s– to celebrate this show-stopping incarnation of the iconic Chanel No.5, which got all dressed up in red for a limited edition season. The Berkeley Square nightclub was all dressed up in red, too – and it’s always fun to rub shoulders with the likes of Amanda Harlech, superstylist Sam McKnight and Lily-Rose Depp, don’t ya know?
• Stepping inside the Guerlain fragrance laboratory at their HQ with Thierry Wasser. I don’t really need to add anything to that, do I…?
Here are just a few of the fragrances which give me the ‘feel good factor’ for 2018, and while wearing them have had people actually stop me in the street to tell me how great I smelled and ask the name of what I was wearing. I think any perfume lover really lives for these moments, and it always gives me a thrill when it happens! [Lorna tells us she’s even been cuddled and sniffed by strangers who were so enraptured by her perfumes, but we can assure you it was all consensual]
• Miller Harris La Feuille – worn alone and adding to lots gives a personalisation and different edge to many smells – LOVE it!
• Liz Earle No 15 – honestly, people ask me every time I wear it ‘where can I get it?’ rather than what are you wearing … big difference.
• Highlight of the year –the amount of times I have used Fragrance Finder to solve a person’s search for their next fragrance or one they can’t buy anymore. People are amazed it really works! It thrills me when people discover the world of perfume .
• I have great pride in being part of The Scented Letter Magazine, which I know perfume lovers all over the world read, as well as many industry professionals and perfumers. I have a little cry when I see each issue in print!
• The launch of Tonka 25 by Le Labo – I’ve never had a signature scent, and probably never will – too much choice, too many wonderful smells, and why would I limit myself? – but if I did, Le Labo’s Tonka 25 would be pretty close to it. Never having thoroughly delved into the brand, I was invited to interview one of the founders this summer, and was utterly delighted by their latest scent, Tonka 25. Don’t be fooled, this is no tonka scent, no sweet nuttiness here. All dark Cedar Atlas, rich resins and addictive woods. It feels shadow-like, smouldering, inky. And I love it.
• The Anya Hindmarch diffuser – nothing brings a smile to my face quite like the Anya Hindmarch candles. I remember going to the first launch, discovering their irreverent ingredient lists (teenage romance and regrettable tan lines feature amongst Italian bergamot and Tunisian Orange Blossom) and being blown away by the fun of it all. So you can imagine how my heart leapt once I found out there was diffusers. Housed in a funny-faced pot with reed diffusing sticks that look like pencils, they are the most covetable item that’s come by my desk in a while.
• Interviewing Christine Nagel for Hermes – A personal highlight was interviewing the perfumer of my teenage fragrance love, (Narciso for Her by Narciso Rodriguez) Christine Nagel. Not only was she an absolute pleasure to talk with but I came away being sure she had the best job in the world. In her role as in-house perfumer for Hermes, she has complete freedom in the scents she creates, she seemed so happy, so content. I often think about perfumers as a kind of artist for hire, and so seeing one who creates freely is not only a rarity, but also a immense pleasure.
• The Beautiful Mind Series event for The Perfume Society, which we hosted with Geza Schoen at Jovoy Mayair, provided me with countless insights into both the fragrance world and the mind of this maverick perfumer. His answers were thoughtful, witty and composed. He was approachable and affable and it’s always refreshing to meet a legend who is as nice as pie. But most of all it was a pleasure to be surrounded by so many engaged and interested perfume people. Fragrance is a small world full of big passion and it is a wonderful feeling bringing people of mutual appreciation together.
Fume Chat is one of our favourite podcasts (for the uninitiated, think of podcasts as online radio shows you can subscribe to and download to listen later), from the offset aiming ‘…to have fun with fragrance – after all, it’s just perfume, so why it take it so seriously?’ Regular hosts Nick Gilbert and Thomas Dunckley (a.k.a. fragrance blogger The Candy Perfume Boy) may be perfume experts in their own right, but they genuinely bring a sense of the joy of discovery along with down-to-earth accessible information to their weekly show.
Most episodes sees the fragrant twosome sniffing exciting new scents both old and new or discussing topics relevant to the world of perfumery – a brilliant recent episode was dedicated to Aroma Chemicals (or Synthetics) and exploring what the giddy hell they actually are and where best to sniff them out.
Our favourite episodes have to be the ‘Battles’, in which Nick and Thomas each bring to the table their favourite examples of a particular perfume genre. Often they’ll get a guest to decide the outcome (and overall winner of the battle!) and the latest – The War of the Roses –featured none other than our very own co-founder and editor, Jo Fairley as the judge. We wont spoil the surprise, but suffice to say it was a close battle and you’ll be wanting to scatter rose petals at the feet of the victor…
Do go and have a listen by clicking the Fume Chat logo, above – who do YOU think will win? – and have a pad handy, because the way Nick and Thomas so breathlessly describe their favourites makes us want to go and sniff (and douse ourselves in) them immediately…
(If you’re not an Apple user, you can find the Fume Chat RSS feed here).
Written by Suzy Nightingle
We are absolutely thrilled to be packing our bags and heading north of the border in March for two stunning Perfume Society events in Edinburgh.
On Friday 13th March, we will be hosting an evening event at the George Street flagship store for Jo Malone LondonTM, to celebrate Britain’s defining eras in scent with five new limited edition Colognes. Among other activities here’ll be Hand & Arm massages – and you can have your Jo Malone box personalised with a wax seal.
Jo Fairley and Lorna McKay from The Perfume Society are looking forward to meeting you, along with Jo Malone Global Fragrance Ambassador Chris Wyatt. Tickets are £25 and include Champagne, canapés and a goodie bag. To book and to find out more, click here.
And Jo and Lorna will be up bright and early next day (Saturday 14th March) to host two How to Improve Your Sense of Smell Workshops at the historic Riddles Court, in Edinburgh’s Old Town. These events are exclusive to our VIP Subscribers, who may bring a guest for just £15 to enjoy the 90-minute workshop, refreshments and a goodie bag. Find out more…
We so look forward to seeing you in Lorna’s home country!