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…
When Carlos Benaïm landed from New York on a flying visit, we settled down into a pair of leather chairs and asked him to share his scent memories.
One of the perfumers we’ve been most charmed by in all our years of hanging out with ‘noses’, Carlos is a veteran of the industry, with so many fragrances to his name: the blockbuster Viktor & Rolf Flowerbomb (with Olivier Polge and Domitille Bertier), Boucheron Jaipur Bracelet, Bulgari Jasmin Noir, Calvin Klein Eupohoria and Ralph Lauren Polo – among many others we’ve worn, loved or admired. More recently, he’s created for Frederic Malle, including the airily fresh and so-wearable Eau de Magnolia, as well as the sublime modern classic Icon for Dunhill.
His appreciation of scents and smells started early. ‘As a young boy I would often accompany my grandfather to the marketplace in Tangier and I remember the smells of the spices and fruits, oranges, peaches, melons and apricots – they are engraved in my memory…’
When summing up his career, we also love these words from Carlos: ‘There’s an old Arab saying: whatever is not given, is lost. That’s how I’ve tried to live my life and my career.’
What is your first ‘scent memory’?
The scent of my grandmother’s kitchen, cinnamon, mixed with sugar and other sweet smells. She’s someone I was very close to growing up in Tangiers, in Morocco; I was raised there, although my background is Spanish. I left Morocco at 17 to study chemical engineering and then at 23 went to Paris and New York, studying to be a nose alongside head perfumers Bernard Chant and Ernest Shiftan at International Flavors & Fragrances – I never went to a ‘classical’ perfumery school and for me, it was more like an apprenticeship.
What are your five favourite smells in the world?
Orris (iris) – an elegant smell; there’s something so cool (temperature-wise) about it that I really like.
Sweets and baking smells and chocolate – because I have a sweet tooth, and I’m often caught with something sweet!
Smells that remind me of my mother: Femme and Mitsouko – I always recognise both of those smells right away, which brings back wonderful memories.
Fruits. I love the smell of fruits, particularly raspberries and peaches, pineapple, cassis, blackberry, blackcurrant. There is nothing like the smell of a fresh-picked French raspberry; they taste and smell completely different to the ones you can buy in New York – so much more perfumed…
Tobacco. This is the smell of my grandfather; he used to have snuff tobacco, and my father who was a pharmacist used to perfume it, either with a violet perfume or a geranium aroma. It was a very rough tobacco from Morocco and that combination was very haunting, blended with those sweet notes. I use it a lot in fragrance as a note; I used to smoke when I was young and fortunately I stopped, but I do like a little ‘hit’ from using tobacco.
And your least favourite?
I hate the smell of garbage – but that’s an obvious one. Actually, I don’t like the smell of cats and dogs. We don’t have animals because my wife is very allergic to them – but I don’t like their scent, either.
What is the fragrance you wish you’d created?
The great Guerlains: the Mitsoukos, the Shalimars… My grandmother used to wear Shalimar. Those are magnificent, absolutely wonderful, with their mossiness – not just oakmoss, but the other mosses, which we’re restricted from using so much these days.
Is creating a fragrance ‘visual’ for you, as well as something that happens in the nose/brain? Is a mood-board helpful?
Everything is helpful for me. A fragrance is a mood, it’s colour, it’s form – and so it’s definitely visual as well; I build up a picture in my mind, and start trying to bring it to life. It’s a process that takes several months.
Do you have a favourite bottle, from those which have been used for your creations?
I’m very fond of the Ralph Lauren Polo bottle, which is also very significant for me because it was my first success. I also love the bottle for Flowerbomb.
Does your nose ever switch off!
As a perfumer, you can switch off being in ‘work mode’, to a ‘not actively searching’ mode. When my nose is ‘on’, I’m sensing the environment, I’m interested in the smells around me, I’m trying to put my effort into understanding what’s going on in, say, that particular flower. But I like to relax, too, and my nose relaxes at the same time.
What is your best tip for improving a person’s sense of smell?
Be interested; that’s really the key. Pay attention and try to ‘fix’ smells in your mind by putting words to them. That’s how a perfumer starts; you smell everything, and you can’t remember abstract smells so you have to label them – I would smell something and think, ‘ah, that’s the wood in my grandmother’s house’ – and that’s how I’d be able to remember it…
Well we told you it was limited, but we had no idea they’d sell this quickly! If you’re wanting to try a superb selection of truly intriguing Limited Edition Niche fragrances, you’d best act fast as this could be your last chance…
For a deep-dive in to the wonderful world of the Limited Edition Niche Discovery Box, we’ve put together our iconic Smelling Notes online – exclusive to The Perfume Society – in which we take you through the notes you can expect to smell, an evocative description of each fragrance we’ve included in the box, a look at the history and inspiration behind each house, and a fun (but highly educational) list of questions to ask yourself while sniffing them.
But really, time is of the scented essence, here, so we’d best give you a shorter run-down so you can choose to buy before this box goes, forever!
P.S: Thank you, Sam, writer of the perfume blog I Scent You A Day for sharing this picture (we’re always thrilled when you send us pics of our perfume boxes ‘in the wild’ as it were!)
As you can see, it’s brimming over with a fab selection of scents to try at home, and here’s what you get:
Anima Vinci Sesame Chān 7.5ml eau de parfum (full size £150 for 100ml) Atkinsons Mint & Tonic 2ml eau de parfum (£130 for 100ml) BDK Parfums Rouge Smoking 2ml eau de parfum (£150 for 100ml) E. Coudray Musc et Freesia 1.5ml eau de toilette (£65 for 100ml) Fragrance du Bois Oud Vert Intense 2ml eau de parfum (£295 for 50ml) Juliette Has a Gun Liquid Illusion 1.7ml eau de parfum (£200 for 75ml) Kingdom Scotland Metamorphic 2ml eau de parfum (£110 for 50ml) Merchant of Venice Blue Tea 5ml eau de parfum (£180 for 100ml) Modernist Geist 2ml eau de parfum (£150 for 50ml) Parle Moi de Parfum Une Tonne de Roses / 8 2ml eau de parfum (£98 for 50ml) Parterre Run of the River 2ml eau de parfum (£95 for 50ml) Prosody Rose Rondeaux 2ml eau de parfum (£135 for 50ml) Serge Lutens Santal Blanc 1ml eau de parfum (£110 for 100ml) Tom Daxon Laconia 4.5ml eau de parfum (full size £105 for 50ml)
The Limited Edition Niche Discovery Box also contains two divinely fragrant extras…
Cochine White Jasmine & Gardenia Smoothing Hand Cream 5ml (full size £14 for 50ml) Cochine Tuberose & Wild Fig Smoothing Hand Cream 5ml (full size £14 for 50ml)
The phrase ‘modern classic’ is bandied about a lot in the fragrance world, but what does it mean, and which of these fragrances should you make time to get know, now…?
A modern classic essentially denotes a fragrance that has made such a mark, it’s become part of people’s scent memories already, a perfumed page in their own story, perhaps even spawning several new editions which are scented spins on the original. For a classic to be born, we really need a great back story – a heritage that evokes trust, while still having something new to say.
Lancôme is one of the most recognised names in the beauty and fragrance world, but did you know they were launched by an employee of the legendary François Coty – Armand Petijean founding the house in 1935, and the name inspired by the romantic ruins of a castle, Le Château de Lancosme? Their now world-famous rose symbol evokes the rambling roses that grew around the grounds of the castle, like something from Sleeping Beauty’s fairy tale.
How fitting, then, that rose featured as the scent of their first pink/red lipstick, initially sold in 1938 and remaining a bestseller for over three decades, and of course features in the iconic Trésor… First launched in 1990, legendary perfumer Sofia Grosjman wove rose through hypnotic heliotrope, sun-warmed fuzzy apricots and a powdery haze of orris – a timless, evocative, and unashamedly fromantic evocation with every spritz.
The Cacharel story began in 1958, when Jean Bousquet – who was qualified as a tailor – created a collection of ready-to-wear clothing and accessories in Nimes, where he worked in a tiny studio. He named the company after a small duck, locally known as the ‘cacharel’. (Bousquet was literally born into the fashion industry: he was the son of a sewing machine seller.) His very first collection was a smash – and Bousquet soon moved to Paris. When French Elle featured a Cacharel seersucker shirt on its cover on 8th November 1963, the world woke up to this stylish, wearable line – which was soon showcased in department store windows around the globe.
From its early days, Cacharel was a brand that young women longed to wear: and, along with women of all ages, still very much do! The sheer white floral beauty of Anaïs Anaïs has kept it on the fragrant bestseller list since 1978, with The Perfume Shrine blog calling it ‘one of the most influential perfumes in history…’ and we absolutely concur. Sparkling bergamot, hyacinth, honeysuckle, orange blossom and a great, green gust of galbanum swoon to a heart of lily, lily of the valley, rose, ylang-ylang, tuberose, carnation, before cedarwood, sandalwood, amber, oakmoss, incense and vetiver, deliver its long-lasting, utterly unforgetable trail.
Cacharel Anaïs Anaïs £30.50 for 30ml eau de toilette
Buy it at debenhams.com
Yves Saint Laurent‘s career began at the tender age of seven years old, when he began designing clothes for his sister’s dolls, expressing a natural talent and indulging a dream of fashion design. A decade later, he’d enrolled on a graduate fashion course at college, winning both 1st and 3rd prize in the prestigious International Wool Design competition at only 18 years old. His talent was showcased to the world and a young Saint Laurent was offered the role of haute couture designer for the House of Dior, later opening his very own couture house, still aged just 21. 1962 saw the dawn of the Yves Saint Laurent brand and his masterful couture creations for the rich and famous. But clothing was never the only way Yves Saint Laurent wanted to dress women, and fragrance soon followed…
Wanting to pay tribute to the city that had always loved and supported him, and where his dreams had taken flight – in 1983, Yves Saint Laurent launched Paris: a quintessential floral fragrance for the woman in love in this magical city, and another created by accomplished perfumer Sophia Grojsman.The jofully exuberant scent of a rose in full bloom, Paris sparkles with armfulls of fruity, raspberry-like rose entwined with violet, bergamot, a gentle dusting of iris, and a smooth, vanilla-rich, woody dry down. While many more know the iconic Opium, you really must make room to try Paris, too!
Yves Saint Laurent Paris £62 for 50ml eau de parfum
Buy it at boots.com
He’s been called ‘the man who invented red carpet dressing’ – and since the 1970s, Giorgio Armani’s easy elegance, with its sensual European simplicity, has had a stellar following. Armani started his career as a display assistant and buyer for the famous Italian department store group, La Rinascente. He moved on to designing for Nino Cerruti, and in 1970 launched his own pieces – notably men’s leather bomber jackets. Armani’s designs were a world away from the suited look Italian menswear was known for – using softer, cooler fabrics like linen, and unconstructed tailoring – and changed the face of fashion forever.
Armani Code for Women was launched in 2006 and became an instant hit: just effortlessly evokes all the elegance of a Giorgio Armani red carpet dress. Orange blossom – so quintessentially feminine, one of the truly noble perfumery ingredients – plays at the heart with a radiantly chic sambac jasmine amplifying the elegance, then a deliciously decadent swoon into a base of Madagascan vanilla and honey, offering a wonderfully soft embrace you’ll want to sink in to.
Armani Code for Women £42 for 30ml eau de parfum
Buy it at johnlewis.com
Ralph Laurenvirtually invented the idea of ‘lifestyle’ – and as Vogue put it when writing about the designer, ‘his story is the story of the American dream’. Born Ralph Reuben Lifshitz in the Bronx in 1939, from a humble Jewish immigrant background, Ralph Lauren (he changed his name while still a teenager) never even went to fashion school. He actually studied business science, and spent time in the Army, before breaking into fashion. Among his iconic designs, of course, is the celebrated ‘Polo shirt’, the bestselling item of Ralph Lauren clothing. (Beyond that, research has identified the Polo pony as the second most recognised symbol in the world, after Coca Cola!) From that moment, he began to influence the worlds of fashion, homewares and fragrance, showcasing everything he created in that so-desirable ‘lifestyle’ way.
Safari is just as wearable today as when legendary perfumer Dominique Ropion composed it back in 1990. In its beautiful, cut-crystal silver-capped bottle, Safari was inspired by America’s spirit of freedom and adventure, and ‘the call of the wild plains’ – a bracing gust of green galbanum breezing to juicy blackberry, mandarin and airy hyacinth. In its heart, be seduced by a gorgeous bouquet of rose, narcissus, jasmine and honey – and as you gather round that camp-fire at the end of the day (or wherever you happen to be, when those base notes emerge), enjoy vetiver, moss, tonka bean and resinous styrax.
We hope this little fragrant trip down memory lane will urge those of you who wore and loved these to rediscover their delights – and all the scent memories they will surely evoke from the first spritz. And for those who have yet to try them, we welcome a new generation of what (we’re pretty sure) will be a lifelong love affair with at least one of these duly-deserved ‘modern classics’… now which will you try first?
The Chanel Les Eaux de Chanel Le Voyage fragrance set is just the most desirable scent package to pack, for so-chic travellers who know they’ll need more than a couple of fragrant hits along the way.
Each of the fragrances evokes times and places that were precious to Chanel – snapshots of scent memories captured in olfactory form. Presented in a trio of travel-friendly 50ml bottles, the set includes three postcards to send to people you wish were there (perhaps you might wish to really want to rub their noses in the fact they aren’t!) and a darling little pouch to carry your chosen bottle around in for the day.
If you absolutely cannot wait to set sail with these scents (and who can blame you?) then take a moment to watch Chanel’s swoon-worthy short films to set the scented scene for each…
Paris-Venise: ‘1920. Gabrielle Chanel fell under the spell of Venice – the glimmer of the Byzantine mosaics and precious gems of St Marks Basilica inspired the design of her first jewellery collections. Between freshness and sensuality, PARIS-VENISE evokes this legendary city that marks the boundary between East and West.’
PARIS-VENISE is a composition of shadow and light, in which essence of neroli illuminates the warm tones of an oriental accord with notes of vanilla and tonka.
Paris-Biarritz: ‘1915. Gabrielle Chanel was taken with the sporty, fashionable atmosphere of Biarritz, where she opened her first couture house next to the casino, the luxury hotels and the beach. Inspired by the pure air of the Basque coast, PARIS-BIARRITZ captures the energy of this founding city in a fragrance full of lively freshness.’
Vibrant and delicate, Sicilian mandarin highlights the radiance of a lily-of-the-valley accord. A lively fragrance that’s as refreshing as a splash of sea spray.
Paris-Deauville: ‘1913. Gabrielle Chanel opened her very first fashion boutique in Deauville. The marinière striped shirt, tweed, and jersey: Deauville marked the beginning of a simple, bold style that has become iconic. Inspired by the bucolic landscapes along the Normandy coast, PARIS-DEAUVILLE is a fragrance inspired by the fresh air.’
Teaming the aromatic green facets of basil with the sparkling top notes of Sicilian orange, PARIS-DEAUVILLE unleashes a lively, naturally radiant freshness.
Altogether, we think this trio form what are quite possibly this season’s most covetable jet-set selection, and the only question remains: which will you use most often, whenever you feel the need to escape with fragrance this summer (and beyond)…?
Chanel Les Eaux de Chanel Le Voyage £195 for 3 x 50ml eau de toilette
If you were a CHANEL perfume, which would you be, and what would it reveal about your personality? For fragrance lovers, the perfumes we wear inevitably become part of our personalities – invisible messages that may give passers-by clues to your character, inviting intrigue; or they may serve as a scented cloak, beneath which you can protect yourself from the world’s gaze. For CHANEL, ‘…fragrance is considered and composed as an invisible item of clothing.’
Gabrielle Chanel’s vision and perfumer Olivier Polge’s contemporary interpretation of it are woven through each of what they rather wonderfully call ‘olfactory garments’ – adhering to Chanel’s vision that went beyond fashion and trends. We love that CHANEL is exploring this theme of asserting your presence, expressing your personality and creating your style with the scent you choose to wear that day. We certainly find that’s how we wear perfume – do you want to magnify the mood you’re in or change it completely? Do you ‘match’ your scent to your outfit and your plans for the day, or use it to give a hint at what lies beneath…?
The new campaign uses deliciously dreamy imagery – bodies dressed in shadows or bathed in sunlight, interwoven with archive clips of skilled artisans at the atelier, of vintage fashion shows, and the iconic image of Marilyn Monroe insouciantly entangled in white sheets, all with Vanessa Paradis lending her voice as narrator. And even if you don’t undertstand the French commentary, goodness it just sounds divine! We’re delighted to share the film with you, below, so dive in to the glamour…
The first chapter in this narrative is named “I am an idea”, presented as a scented ‘manifesto’, and laying the foundation for CHANEL fragrance creation, as they say in their own words…
‘I AM AN IDEA
A CHANEL perfume is an idea Grasped, developed, expressed Like an item of clothing Imagined, assembled, tailored.
A CHANEL perfume is a precious material A fabric woven from images, spun from landscapes.
A CHANEL perfume is a play of shadows and light Which reveals nudity and protects intimacy A set of jewelry and an abstraction A suit of armor and a construction. A CHANEL perfume is an invisible negligee, one that Marilyn chose to adorn her nights.
A CHANEL perfume is the scent of the self Reminiscence of childhood.
A CHANEL perfume is a style, an allure An elegance, a signature. An item of clothing.
A CHANEL perfume is a perfume that chose me For what I am, for what I want. A perfume that says “I.”
I AM A CHANEL PERFUME.’
So now, we wonder… which CHANEL perfume would you be…?
When we were curating the Limited Edition Niche Discovery Box, we wanted to include the most exciting niche fragrances we’ve come across lately. It can be really difficult to find these houses if you don’t happen to live in London or near an independent perfumery – and even if you do, it would take ages to seek out all these scents – FOURTEEN in all! – so we’ve saved your legs and done all the pre-sniffing to find the hottest niche brands right now…
Have a look here to read all about the fragraces, with three huge luxury size samples and the entire contents worth over £75, but costing you only £23 (or just £19 forVIP Club members ); but right now let’s focus on why we think you should be excited about exploring these niche houses, now.
One of the things that truly sets a ‘niche’ house apart is their founders hands-on approach – and the unique personalities they bring to their brand’s creation. At The Perfume Society, we truly believe perfume lovers want to know more than merely ‘this is new’ – it’s one of the reasons we started! – and that’s why we dedicate entire pages to houses’ histories, from tracing heritage and discovering why they’ve embraced niche, to finding out what makes their founders tick, and what drives their perfume passions…
Showcasing fragrances created by some of the world’s most renowned perfumers, Anima Vinci is the creative expression of one woman’s strong belief in the power of fragrance and the positive effect it can have on your heart, mind and spirit. With a background at the very first ‘niche’ perfumery house – and years at the creative helm of one of the UK’s most historic fragrance names – Nathalie Vinciguerra brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the table. But it’s her passion for authenticity and sustainability within the world of fragrance that finally drove her to create Anima Vinci.
Oh, what a wonderful fragrant story this is: a traditional British perfume house, restored to its glory in the 21st Century – with the 2013 niche-focused relaunch of Atkinsons fragrances. A sleeping beauty of a tale, actually, interwoven with the names of heroes and heroines, princes and dandies. And as if that wasn’t enough, a rags-to-riches story, too.In spring 1799, an enterprising young man named James Atkinson set forth from the wilds of Cumberland for London. In his suit pocket were recipes for fine fragrances and toiletries he’d created himself. And next to him sat a generous amount of rose-scented bear grease balm. (Yes, really.) Even more extraordinarily, next to the balm sat a real, live bear who – so the tale goes – was utterly devoted to James…
One of the city’s newest niche perfume house, BDK has its roots firmly in Paris’s perfumed history, while its design is even inspired by an iconic Parisian building. Unlike the names Guerlain, Creed or Dior, Benedek isn’t one you’d immediately associate with perfume. But in its own way, 29-year-old David Benedek‘s family has also played a pivotal role in sharing the love of French fragrance within France and beyond its shores.
There are few fragrance houses still as ‘relevant’ after almost 200 years as the wonderful Paris-based house of E. Coudray – which can trace its roots back to the reign of Louis XVIII, no less, and the year 1822. The Paris-born founder was a doctor-chemist, Edmond Coudray (the ‘E’ in E. Coudray), who went on to enjoy a spectacular career, creating eaux de Cologne, pomades, creams and soaps for the crowned heads of France, Italy and England – including Queen Victoria, for whom the perfume ‘Reine Victoria’ was made. Now enjoyed by niche fragrance-lovers who appreciate their unerring quality and dressing-table worthy bottles, no wonder this heritage house is proudly thriving.
Fragrance du Bois
With their headquarters in Paris and a number of privately owned sustainable plantations in Asia, Fragrance Du Bois are world experts in the protection and harvesting of oudh – sometimes known as ‘liquid gold’. And they have mastered the blending of this fabled ingredient, using some of the best ‘noses’ in the world. Fragrance Du Bois are, quite unashamedly, so oudh-obsessed. And are we surprised? Derived from the dark resinous wood of the Aquilaria tree, oudh (often spelled ‘oud’) is an utterly fascinating material – a resin that occurs in less than 7% of trees, in the wild. Which explains why the material is so precious – and, sought-after. And not all oudh, it transpires, is harvested with the focus on sustainability that Fragrance Du Bois are renowned for.
Juliette Has a Gun Romano Ricci has perfume in his DNA. His great-grandmother was the legendary couturier Nina Ricci and his grandfather Robert was creator of the equally iconic L’Air du Temps. He launched Juliette Has A Gun in December 2006: a brand devoted to women, offering a new type of elegance within niche perfumery: ‘The innocent Juliet of Shakespeare is transposed to the 21st Century with a gun… Metaphor for the perfume, weapon of seduction, or simple accessory of bluff. “Gun” essentially symbolises the liberation of women towards men… And sometimes with an aftertaste of revenge.’
Kingdom Scotland Imogen Russon-Taylor has created the very first Scottish fragrance house – capturing the history and majestic landscapes of her home country in a portfolio of utterly contemporary fragrances…The worlds of whisky and fragrance have much in common, believes Imogen Russon-Taylor. And she should know: after a distinguished career in the aromatic world of Scotch whisky, Imogen has now gone on to create her own fragrance house – the very first to be based north of the border. ‘Both whisky and perfume are produced by traditional distillation methods,’ she explains. Both evoke a complex sensory experience and both rely upon the innovative use of ingredients or flavours to distinguish themselves from competitors.’
Merchant of Venice
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. Later centuries would come to see Venice as a centre for the art of European perfumery – a vibrant city that never shied away from revelling in the finer things life has to offer. Surrounded by such beauty, it seems only natural the aristocrats would wish to look – and smell – just as fabulous. Skip forward several centuries to 2011, and the Vidal family – already renowned in the world of perfumery for more than a century – decided to pay homage to this glorious cultural tradition.
It’s easy to look back and think the timing was spot on,’ says John Evans, founder of Modernist Fragrance and (perhaps somewhat surprisingly) former financier. ‘That was true to a degree,’ he admits, ‘but the rest was like anything you’re passionate about: hard work, perseverance, some setbacks, a bit of luck.’ Through books, involvement with industry organisations, meetings with perfumers, as well as a research to Grasse – global epicentre of perfume creation – he immersed himself in the techniques of fine perfumery, painstakingly experimenting with building his own compositions. ‘Time and space change once compounding begins,’ John explains, ‘like being enthralled by something you’re writing or reading.’
Rising star fragrance house Prosody London believe that plants are more than just useful ingredients on which we rely, saying ‘they are the basis of human wellbeing, the silent friends without which our planet would be bare and our lives unthinkable…’ With a green ethos that flows through every fragrance, Prosody London take equal delight in their scents being so beautifully composed, so harmoniously sophisticated, that many people don’t even realise they are – gloriously, unashamedly – all natural and organic… Taking the beauty of plants – their stems, leaves, petals, and even the their cycle of growth and maturing beauty – as their guiding inspiration, Prosody London talk passionately about how ‘some of the earliest cultures saw plants as a grammar, a code and a cosmology.’
When David and Julia Bridger decided to combine the ruling passions of their lives – art, gardens, travel and perfume – and gather a team of experts (literally) in their field, they set in motion a series of events that is poised to change the face of British fragrance forever. And put Parterre on the map… Embracing the concept of ‘from seed to bottle’, David and Julia not only set out to to grow, harvest and distil many of their own ingredients – but they also had a longing to try growing crops that had never before been grown on British soil. (Even including – astonishingly – vetiver.) The fragrances, made by world-renowned perfumer Jacques Chabert, evoke the idyllic setting and, in strictly limited, hand-numbered bottles, are truly ‘niche’.
Parle Moi De Parfum Michel Almairac has created award-winning, world-renowned blockbusters for just about every perfume house you’ve ever heard of. And now, to the delight of perfume-lovers, he has launched his own fragrance house (with his family) – and opened a boutique in Paris’s Le Marais. His astounding CV encompassing a literal A-Z of perfumes from Dior Fahrenheit to Le Labo Ambrette 9, via Gucci Rush, Chloe Eau de Parfum (2007), Bottega Veneta Eau de Parfum (2011), Burberry for Woman and Burberry for Men – and so the list of hundreds goes on. But Michel found that he was having literally to shelve his most treasured creations because they didn’t quite work for the corporate briefs. He could never forget about them, however – and sometimes would take a scent home for his family to smell. Now these ‘lost’ fragrances have been completed, and are available for you…
Enigmatic, talented and exceptionally creative – it’s no exaggeration to say that Serge Lutens helped pioneer ‘niche’ perfumery. He once told an interviewer that ‘Morocco gave me the taste of perfume. It is very difficult to detach the olfactory sense from the other senses; however, I can say that before my arrival in Morocco in 1968, this fifth sense was largely fallow for me… The aroma of Morocco is linked to a form of life that allows you to be an individual in a dense crowd. The crowd here is a movement, a sound, a laugh, a game. By the end, smell was united with the other senses…’ Today, he lives in Marrakech, Morocco: a city of colour, exotic fragrances and mystery – the place where he discovered the creative potential of the world of scents. And the rest of the world waits eagerly, always, for his next olfactory vision, his next scent ‘dream’.
I grew up in fragrant surroundings,’ Tom Daxon recalls. That’s something of an understatement, for Tom began sniffing around the business as a child, when his mother – creative director for a leading fragrance and cosmetics name for over 30 years – ‘would often give me new shower gels to try, fragrances to sniff.’ Where Tom’s story may diverge from most is that he was lucky enough to accompany his mother on many of her working trips to Grasse, the epicentre of perfumery – aged just four, on that first visit. Truly modern, other-worldly, imbued with texture, beautiful ingredients and a wealth of creativity, they’re modern luxury redifined.
Whichever of these fragrances you most enjoy exploring in your Limited Edition Niche Discovery Box, we defy you not to fall madly for at least one, and begin a life-long love affair with these niche houses that we feel everyone deserves to try…
Karen Elson’s Birthstones by Duffy is a new limited edition collection for Jo Malone London, featuring the most beautiful bronze bottle caps inlaid with birthstones. Just the most perfect gift for the Jo Malone lover in your life, or something to treat yourself to, perhaps?
The Birthstones collection has been a personal project for the pair – Elson being a brand ambassador for Jo Malone London, and British jeweller Duffy renowned for creating beautiful, contemporary and totally desirable designs from original vintage pieces.
Having long dreamed of designing an iconic cap for a fragrance flacon, Duffy said this collaboration allowed him to flex his creative muscles by trying something completely different. ‘I’ve always wanted to make a bottle top, either for a drink or a fragrance. It was a challenge to work with an object I’ve never worked with before. It seemed like a natural pairing as Karen and I had already known each other through family connections,’ he explained.
Elson, meanwhile, has always felt a particular affinity with birthstones, revealing ‘What I love most is that they seem so charming and precious, and the idea of being able to create something coveted and collectible was really important to me.’
Each cap has been individually handmade by British jeweller Duffy in his London studio, and will be £250 per individual Birthstone Cap. Simply find the one that matches the colour of the birthstone and ’embellish your signature scent, in all its crowning glory’ by selecting the cap to purchase alongside any of their 50ml and 100ml Colognes. Choose whatever you like, but with a Birthstone Collection cap, you can truly make it your own…
If anything can revive flagging spirits, it’s the sniff of a new CHANEL fragrance – this time the classic Chance fragrance getting reinvigorated with a new interpretation of Chance Eau Tendre in eau de parfum form.
One glimpse of the gloriously colourful advertising campaign, and we rather think you’ll be joining us in wanting to whirl around in a pretty sugared-almond coloured skirt, while performing joyful dance moves on a velvet chair! OK, given that it’s January and we’re all still easing our way back to reality, perhaps it’s better to enjoy watching it, below, instead…
So what can you expect from this new addition to CHANEL’s scented wardrobe? Well, each evocation of Chance takes on a special character of its own, while of course adhering to the spirit of the original. So, let’s think back to when Chance was first launched back in 2002 – the name, as always was no mere chance in itself: it was chosen because, as CHANEL remind us:
‘Chance is a way of being,’ said Gabrielle Chanel, who believed in her lucky star as much as she cultivated it. With confidence and determination, Mademoiselle seized this chance throughout her whole life. Attentive to all the signs that marked her path, a woman who loved chance encounters and the unexpected, she smiled at fortune and fortune smiled on her in return.
With four current versions of that original, it’s not simply about adding power to a perfume by increasing its strength, or adding freshness to what was already there – each transition marks a new fragrant chapter in the life of the fragrance.
CHANEL say: ‘With CHANCE EAU TENDRE Eau de Parfum, perfumer-creator Olivier Polge, in cooperation with the CHANEL Laboratory of Fragrance Creation and Development, reinterprets the floral-fruity signature. More intense, more enveloping, this version expresses a radiant and confident femininity. Its oral heart accentuates the fullness of exotic jasmine absolute, enriched with an essence of rose that shines a soft light at the center of the composition.
More feminine than ever, this oral equation is draped in just the right dose of smooth and creamy white musk notes to create a clean, cottony effect. Immediately illuminated by the tangy whirl of the grapefruit-quince accord, CHANCE EAU TENDRE Eau de Parfum brings a feeling of absolute tenderness. Delicate and profoundly poetic, this new composition evokes a woman whose joy and inner glow gives her instant charm.’
To visually express this new fragrant interpretation, the gold neck takes on a silvery hue for the eau de parfum, and in many ways, wearing it feels like a whole new fragrance. The notes are beautifully rounded, like layers of tulle or the petals of a flower, enveloping you in waves of deliciousness that seem to float around you in a fragrant cloud. A softly powdered elegance follows your every step, but that opening zing of the grapefuit and quince really adds energy and lifts the composition to above and beyond, and so it never feels heavy or too swaddling to wear all day.
Really, it’s just the thing for this time of year – characterful, of course, and with a depth that feels comforting, but with enough get up and go to shake you from the doldrums. So what are you waiting for? Let’s get those pastel skirts on* and twirl to our heart’s content!
*[Though we might be adding something longer that a crop-top, while it’s still a bit chilly…]
Acqua di Parma have long been known as the go-to for stylish gents who wish to be wonderfully fragranced, and now Selfridges add to the experience by opening a brand new Acqua di Parma Barbiere space, for an exquisitely scented grooming experience – and just in time for Christmas, too!
Located next to the Men’s Beauty Workshop in their Oxford Street store, Barbiere promises to be ‘…an intimate and refined yet relaxed space where the modern man can indulge in the ritual of a traditional Italian shave, pick up his grooming essentials, and discover the Acqua di Parma fragrant universe.’
Marrying the brand’s signature yellow in soft furnishings with luxurious woods and that innate Italian style – we think it looks distictly Wes Anderson in character – it’s a welcoming place to take a few minutes to unwind, be pampered and experience for yourself some of the wonderful (and heavenly scented) products they offer. Even better: to have someone else do all the hard work for you!
Services will include a proper Italian Traditional Shave (£45) which takes 30 minutes and involves cut-throat razors, hot towels and a soothing Colonia aftershave; a Prestige Shave (£59) for 50 minutes, with facial and eye massage, full consultation and double-shave (for ultra-smooth chops!); various hair-cutting / beard-wrangling options and any number of fabulously indulgent treat packages.
The perfect way to ease yourself into the festive season, have a pre-NYE spruce-up or to give as a thoughtful gift idea, the Acqua di Parma Barbiere experience will be open from 17 December 2018, at Selfridges, 400 Oxford Street, London.
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