Kierin NYC Interview with Founder Mona Maine de Biran

As I walk towards the location to interview Mona Maine de Biran – founder of new niche fragrance house Kierin NYC – brightly coloured electronic adverts radiate from various London bus stops en-route, showing their perfume bottles with labels individually designed by fragrance fans.

‘Something about Kierin NYC is really resonating with people it seems,’ says Mona, absolutely beaming at the pop-up launch where people could design their own bottle labels, print them out and create their own bespoke flacon to keep forever. This innovative and inclusive approach defines the ethos that Mona made sure Kierin remains true to, along with their decision to be completely cruelty free, vegan friendly and to support social groups who mean a lot to them.

‘Diversity and inclusion are core to the brand and not just presented as an afterthought. Kierin NYC is a brand for young people of all ages, colors and nationalities,’ they state proudly on the website. Inclusive of everyone then, but aimed particularly at a younger market who are searching for something extra, other than just a nice smell in a bottle that means nothing about who they are. For Mona, this means inviting people ‘…to be inspired, not defined or confined, by fragrance.’

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 an insightful lifestyle blog, ‘Manhattan Minds’, also becoming the champion of the successful TV talent show ‘Star Search’. Her husband and co-founder, Didier, worked for over twenty years with with the prestige houses of Chanel, Prada, Bvlgari and Carolina Herrera among the many names on his extensive CV. With Mona’s passion for fragrance and story-telling, ‘he helped me see that this was an opportunity to create our own fragrances to tell those real stories of the city, rather than those stylised celebrity-driven tales you might see in Sex and the City.

We wanted to delve deeper in to what makes Mona tick – why it was so imporant to her to keep Kierin NYC real, and close to her heart…

What makes Kierin NYC different, do you think?

Mona: ‘There are so many brands that are ostensibly for young people, and yet the images they project are so stereotypical, still – they haven’t moved on with the audience who are, they hope, wearing them. You have the perfect woman on a beach, someone up a mountain or in the fields in France. And while I love the fields of France, this doesn’t really tell my story of living in New York. I wanted to actualise my “now” as an urbanite – and I think so many people want to do that, to be more present, to have their own reality reflected in the brands they choose.’

What is it about fragrance that’s so important to you, and what power do you think it gives the wearer?

‘Perfumes are something that universally, viscerally connect with people, You know, they can move your mood. I’ve always wanted to have a voice and wanted to empower people, and with Kierin NYC we can share a voice, to power people olfactorily. And fragrance tells other people your story anyway, unconsciously, we’re radiating these messages all the time!’

You’ve worked with brilliant young perfumer Mathieu Nardin for the initial four fragrances – why did you choose him?

‘We wanted to work with someone who was an up-and-coming talent – we had the opportunity to work with any of the Robertet perfumers, and we loved the way they worked, with such quality and sustainable ingredients – but because Mathieu is so understanding of what we do, and the way we do it, it just works.

We didn’t want to present him with a list of notes to include, we wanted to give him a space to use his creativity to the full. So we started with pictures, mood boards, and he immediately knew what he wanted to use to shape that in to reality. He begins with about twenty different versions, and we then work with him to edit those, so we see ourselves as co-creators in that sense.’

Will Mathieu be the perfumer for future fragrances?

‘Well we didn’t want to be a brand that just had one identity, and one signature – it’s all about diversity, right? So with these four I think his signature is a woody accord you can notice throughout. For the next two we’ll be working with a different perfumer, to give another voice, another view, and that’s the way we want to grow…’

 

The bottles and imagery are very distinctive, can you tell us how they reflect Kierin NYC’s personality?

‘These four are very Pop-Art inspired, but we’re also working with another artist for the next three fragrances – two new fragrances and a limited edition – and they’ll be more graffiti in style. We’ll be sticking with the rainbow palette though, because again that rainbow’s all about “we are one” and that’s imporant to us. The graffiti artist is an imigrant and so for the limited edition we’ll be working with him to include notes from his own culture, working as a team with the perfumer to include his voice within the fragrance.

What does “niche” mean to you, now?

‘I just don’t think you can call yourself “niche” if you have twenty fragrances coming out every year which are no sooner on the shelves than they’re discounted, discontnued and in a bargain bin somewhere, or completely unavailable. How can people connect with them? They don’t have time!

I don’t want to be one of those brands that comes out with a new fragrance every fortnight, I think that’s exhausting for consumers too. So we want to make sure the stories we’re telling focus on authenticity and integrity for everyone involved. We also wanted to make sure we’re accessibly priced, so everyone can get an opportunity to try fine, niche fragrance. I understand the imporantance of those ultra luxury brands, but that’s not who we are.’

Finally, we always like asking – because it’s so revealing! – what are your five favourite smells in the whole world…?

Cambodian incense – I’ve travelled a lot, so the things I love are often smells I strongly associate with places. The smell of this, which the monks burn in the temples, just opens my mind and takes me straight back there.’

A Californian cliff edge – I lived in California as a little girl, and there’s nothing better than sitting on the edge of a cliff and looking out to sea. In Santa Cruz there’s a very specific sea salt scent, the waves crashing on the shore and the spray mixing with the breeze.’

Frédéric Malle fragrances – In Barney’s there’s refrigerated rooms you can go in to smell the scents, and that was my awakening, in the year 2000, of what niche fragrance could be, and I felt more fragrantically “woke” I suppose! I hadn’t yet met my husband, but going there and smelling these incredible fragrances really showed me what niche can do. And they were like nothing else, so unique.’

My children as babies – I know a lot of people say that, but oh that smell, it’s definitely one of the most important for me. It’s about our connections with people we love, isnt it?’

New York – When I think of where I live now, I genuinely connect it with my own fragrances, I feel like I’m there when I wear them, it’s a connection with home, so that has to be a success, right?!’

So which KIERIN NYC story will you choose to wear and tell? Feeling sluggish and in need of uplifting? 10 a.m. Flirt is a juicy, green take on fig that feels clean, a go-anywhere scent filled with waxy gardenia and cashmere-soft wood to perk up the soul on grey days and revel in happiness year-round. Another cheering pick-me-up is found in Sunday Brunch – luminous bergamot and sparkling lemon atop a soothing brew of Earl Grey tea and soft, sunshine-y jasmine.

Santal Sky, meanwhile, swathes you in a comfort blanket of cardamom-flecked, creamy sandalwood, a wearable serenity for stressed commuters and desk-bound office workers with decadent saffron-speckled vetiver to delight you ‘til dawn, and far beyond. (All of these fragrances are impressively long-lasting.) Perhaps the most impactful, though, is Nitro Noir – 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.

Whichever story through scent you choose, we’re sure you’ll want to explore the whole Kierin NYC range for different moods, and to suit whoever you are that day…

Kierin NYC fragrances £65 for 50ml eau de parfum

Try them at The Perfume Shop

By Suzy Nightingale

The scent of spring at Les Senteurs

The beautiful Les Senteurs Belgravia boutique is currently bursting with blossoms – swagged with the most stunning flowers (currently ‘spraying’ forth from a huge perfume bottle outside!) and drawing Instagram selfie-hunters and scent lovers the world over.

There, they regularly host Meet The Perfumers events, allowing guests to discover some of their most unique and captivating houses in a truly privilleged way – by meeting the very people who founded the brands, and the perfumers who create their scents (often the founders and perfumers being one and the same in niche, artisanal fragrance houses!)

We were honoured to be invited to their most recent meet-and-greet, to hear first hand how the houses were launched, and the inspiration behind their fragrances, on this occasion Jeroen Oude Sogtoen and perfumer Frederik Dalman of Mona di Orio, Margaret Mangan and perfumer Meabh McCurtin of Cloon Keen, and Sylvaine Delacourte of Sylvaine Delacourte Paris (formerly Creative Director with Guerlain).

The discussion ranged from asking the brands how they began, ‘what is niche now?’ and ‘what does luxury mean in perfume?’ through to smelling some of their incredible creations – all displayed on the large, tiered table at the front of the shop (kind of a ‘lazy Susan’ for scent, which we desperately wish we owned!)

With spring very much in the air, we couldn’t resist also asking them what smells instantly mean spring for some of them…

The wonderful young Irish perfumer, Meabh, immediately replied, “Wisteria! It’s just everywhere this time of year and I love it’, and when we asked her to explain what it smells like to her… ‘Creamy, spicy, with a definite warmth at the centre. There’s something about that smell that just makes me feel happy, it’s a comforting scent. And of course it looks so cheering when everything else is a bit grey.’

For Sylvaine, her favourite scent of spring also revealed the next note to be explored in her forthcoming new collection of fragrances – each collection focusing on one main ingredient and exploring the incredibly differing characters that can be coaxed from that starting point. ‘For me it has to be orange blossom. It reminds me of being in Morocco when it’s everywhere in the air, in your food… I have four candles coming, one for each season, and for spring of course I chose orange blossom for those happy memories.’

Indeed, Sylvaine loves orange blossom so much she revealed it will be that next raw material she works with. ‘One of my perfumes will be leather with orange blossom… I cannot wait for you to try it, to see how different it can be.’ And for the future, Sylvaine will be experimenting by working on something entirely different… ‘I want to to use a note a don’t like. I wont say what it is now. I don’t hate it – for me that would be impossible – but I really don’t like it. I want to challenge myself!’

These events are a complete privillege to attend – there’s nothing quite like hearing directly from the perfumer and the founders of a house to get a more complete understanding – and new found love – for their work, and what they’re trying to accomplish.

Even when the perfumers aren’t there, it’s always worth making a trip to Les Senteurs, because (as all the houses noted) nothing competes with talking to experts in perfumery – like the incomparable James Craven, the scent archivist of Les Senteurs – if you’re looking to learn more about perfume, or just to try a new scent for spring. You really couldn’t be in better hands…

Les Senteurs, 71 Elizabeth St, Belgravia, London SW1W 9PJ

By Suzy Nightingale

British niche brands we love

There’s a plethora of British niche perfume houses to be excited about these days – how many have you heard of and got to try thus far…?

Niche-lovers have surely never been so well served as right now – there’s a continuing bubble of enthusiasm in the rise and rise of niche perfume brands; and thrillingly, British houses are surging in popularity, much of it spread by word-of-mouth.

The personal recommendations are from hushed whispers of industry-insiders right through to fans declaring their love through social media. These houses are ‘indies’ (independently owned) and don’t have access to huge marketing budgets; so we wanted to share and celebrate just some of those our noses are currently loving…

 

 

Holly Hutchinson founded Memoize London in 2016, but her heart started beating faster for fragrance far earlier – at the age of seven, to be precise. On her birthday, she was gifted her very first set of miniature perfumes… the way many of us are reeled in to the world of fragrance fever! Following a career at a prestigious perfume house, Holly branched out to create her own niche brand, believing that perfumes should evoke memories, so drawing on her own, such as ‘a French holiday in the sun, a ride across the waves by boat, venturing through trees in a garden of ferns and Laurels…’

 

There’s eight fragrances, currently, from the provocative, smoky passions of Era to the lazy Sunday morning of Tristitia, cocooning you in floral and vanilla scented sheets with an amber snuggle. One of our favourites has to be Superbia – created for self-confidence, encompassing rose bushes, the smell of a leather satchel and a mother’s proud hug.

 

 

From 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, Anima Vinci was born. That insightful and passionate founder is Nathalie Vinciguerra, and her background as creative CEO of what many consider the first true ‘niche’ house, L’Artisan Parfumeur, along with British heritage house Penhaligon’s, gave her great grounding (and the best contacts) in the business. ‘Anima Vinci is the creative expression of my strong belief in the power of fragrance,’ she says, ‘and the positive effect it can have on your heart, mind and spirit. I believe that scents have the power to immerse us in the universe’s energy and nature’s beauty.’

With Rose Prana you’re fully immersed in the rose fields of Grasse, smelling the earth below the bushes abundant with fresh, almost raspberry-scented Rose de Mai blooms, and a sense of the sky above. Jasmine Ylang is symbolic of divine hope with sandalwood and frangipani, a holiday for the soul; while Wood of Life is our go-to de-stress scent – a meditative whisper of mint atop sublimely smooth palo santo, sandalwood and vetiver. It’s truly other-worldy and totally wonderful to wear.

 

 

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. Perfumer and founder Keshen Teo has worked tirelessly to ensure his scents have this aesthetic quality as well as the ethical purity they strive for. As he explains: ‘The intrinsic complexity of naturals means you have to work hard to keep things well structured and balanced,’ because it’s vital the fragrances are stunning on first sniff. ‘I like the challenge of this,’ he smiles, going on to admit: ‘We know that sometimes people buy Prosody London without even realising they’re organic and 100% natural. I’m perfectly happy with that!’

Their voluptuously feminine Jacinth Jonquil entwines hyacinth with that mesmerising jonquil itself – think daffodils in sunshine, a crispness to the air like the first breath of spring, flecked with juniper berries and nestled on a softly woody base. Mocha Muscari uniquely blends the richness of coffee with a surprisingly seductive twist of mango, jasmine and lavender on a base of black agarwood and sandalwood, and Rose Rondeaux is decadently laden with fresh raspberry and juicy blackcurrant, dusted with iris and warmed with patchouli: all of them all-natural, and all-beautiful to wear.

 

 

Angela Flanders was a fragrant phenomenon: an woman with a life-long passion for perfume, who was still working – and creating beautiful scents – into her eighth decade. Now, through her daughter, Kate Evans, Angela’s legacy endures… From her career as a television costumer designer to opening a store in the heart of the bustling Columbia Road market in 1982, the perfect restoration of a Victorian shop featured bowls of scented pot pourri made by Angela, beautiful fabrics and all manner of desirable things. The pot-pourri fragrances were so popular, customers begged her to make room scents and perfumes, and Angela’s world soon became exclusively fragrant as her perfume selection grew notoriety – Precious One, an exquisite jasmine/tuberose that softens to a green chypre – winning a Fragrance Foundation Award for Best New Independent Fragrance in 2012.

From the golden tobacco and spice of Ambre Noire to the perfect white flower wedding fragrance of Bouquet D’Amour, Angela excelled at seamlessly blending precious ingredients. Now, inspired particularly by her mother’s history with and love of fabrics, Kate uses those years spent at her side (learning the craft of perfumery and often advising) to continue their line of so-unique scents. Lawn captures the smell of crisp cotton sheets drying in a dewy floral-scented summer breeze, while the more recent Taffeta evokes decadence with heady hyacinth, soft iris and a fruity rose. What’s more, it’s up for another Fragrance Foundation award this year, so the family talent fully blooms.

 

 

Modernist Fragrance founder, John Evans, entered higher education, as he says, ‘late and non-traditionally’. Embarking on what he calls ‘an accidental corporate career’, trying his hand as a successful novelist before finally settling on his sense of smell to guide him. ‘My dad installed and restored wooden floors,’ John recalls, ‘early memories of fresh cut pine and newly sanded mahogany. Somewhere along the way these merge with the smells of church, incense especially, when I was an altar boy – capped off by a six week spell in hospital when I was five years old and all sorts of odours pervaded my life.’ Travelling to Grasse, he immersed himself in the techniques of fine perfumery, painstakingly experimenting with building his own irreverantly mischevious compositions.

Designed to be genderless, they’re inescapably memorable but never allow the integrity of the wearer’s character to be compromised. So for The Modernist, expect succulent citrus, then greenness dripping with juice, freesia , a hazy flicker of dry frankincense and labdanum before a smoothly woody base. In Nihilism, get ready for a majestically bombastic rose that’s up close and personal with icy aldehydes and a definite sense of a furry embrace in the bezoin base; and for Geist, lemon freshness is suffused by a seamless blend of honeysuckle, musk and gentle amber. Transformative and complex, utterly intriguing, these will all keep your nose hooked all day.

 

 

For the founder of Stories by Eliza Grace, Tonya Kidd-Beggs, being born into the heart of Northern Ireland’s ‘troubles’, and struggling to come to terms with thinking about the future for her children, curated each blend’s inspiration as a personal testament to the power of fragrance in her own life. And Tonya’s own appreciation of fragrance began early. As she recalls: ‘My grandmother’s pearl necklace hung on my tiny neck and I rubbed one of her furs across my cheek. It was laced with Chanel No.5. I breathed in the scent of a woman I would never know. A courageous businessperson who paved the way for Northern Irish women to succeed in a male-dominated market place.’ Named for her twin children (Eliza and Grace), inspired by precious memories, the fragrances feel remarkably like part of your own life as soon as you wear them.

Stories No.1 is all luminescence: bergamot, grapefruit and orange blossom leading to the deep, warm embrace of cedarwood, with delicate touches of jasmine, heliotrope and a fig-tea accord along the way. Ultimately, snugglesome amber swaddles sandalwood and the earthy cool of the so-grounding vetiver. For Stories No.2 Tonya drew on childhood memories of her grandparents’ garden, and it evokes the exuberance of running barefoot on dew-flecked grass, exploring flowers face-first, curls of tobacco smoke exuding from a steamy greenhouse. So special, and so personally evocative to experience.

 

 

The worlds of whisky and fragrance have much in common, believes founder of Kingdom Scotland, Imogen Russon-Taylor. After a distinguished career in the aromatic world of Scotch whisky, Imogen has now gone on to create her own fragrance house – incredibly, the very first to be based in Scotland. 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.’ And thus was born her vision to ‘bottle Scotland’ – using perfume to share old narratives in brave new ways, tapping into the rich stories associated with perfume and natural ingredients in Scotland.

Composed in a thoughtfully contemporary way, they unfurl as fragrant tales alive with possibility. Gusting with outdoorsy botanicals and fresh bergamot, in Portal verdant florals rest on a forest floor of shady vetiver and soul-soothing aromatic pine; while for Albaura the landscape’s conjured through the freshness of snow and ice, blended with berries and botanicals in a scent that is bold, fresh and independent in spirit. Metamorphic‘s geology is composed by black pepper, tobacco, incense, minerals and rose absolute infused with a splash of whisky and amber-rich leather. Before long, Kingdom Scotland will be a fragrance name on the lips of perfumistas-in-the-know, far beyond that country’s borders…

We like to offer as many opportunities to try new niche brands as possible, and are aware that (unless you live within walking distance of a niche perfumery) it can be really difficult to try samples for yourself. That’s why we offer the chance to explore these houses through their own Discovery Sets in our online shop,  – a selection of niche brands we think deserve to be celebrated and available for everyone to try.

We also love to bring you our own, carefully curated niche selections, and you can try samples from all these British brands mentioned in our Niche Collection II Discovery Box, so we invite you to test their fragrant wares at your own leisure.

If you love niche, here’s a teaser to keep your eyes peeled and your nostrils primed, as we have a VERY exciting and ultra-exclusive Limited Edition Niche Discovery Box worth OVER £75 (but costing you FAR less!) coming your way TOMORROW (Friday 26 April)… It’s expected to sell-out quickly, so do be sure to grab yours ASAP.

Latest Launches

Fresh off the shelves and ready for sniffing, we present the fragrances we’ve been trying most recently. From empowering or coffee-infused to an elegant pastoral scene; invoking a notorious pair of jail-breaking lovers or inspired by beloved drag queens – the perfume world is certainly never boring, darling…

MISSGUIDED
BABE DREAMS
A juicy fizz of bergamot, pink pepper and red fruit accord veritably bursts from the bottle – which looks for all the world like a classy energy drink, suitably enough. Velvety rose powdered with orris and violet is further cushioned by a plumptious base of patchouli, sheer amber and creamy vanilla. A sweet-tinged Chypre that many a modern miss would surely love to wear, look out for the other Babe infusions similarly promoting self-confidence in fragrant form.
£28 for 80ml eau de parfum
theperfumeshop.com

XERJOFF
GOLDEN DALLAH
Exploring that universal sigh of relief from enjoying a hot beverage, and incorporating the historic trade routes of the coffee trade itself, Xerjoff begin a new collection with the release of this fragrant evocation. Dallah is an overtly feminine offering, entwining sumptuous rose with a haze of incense, sprinkling hazelnut, cocoa and tonka for a deliciously sweet nibble, infused with Cambodian oudh and amber to enhance the toasted coffee beans. Ravishingly more-ish!
€235 for 50ml eau de parfum
xerjoffuniverse.com

XYRENA
CHOICES BY TATIANNA
It isn’t every day that news of a drag artist’s debut fragrance crosses our desks – but we’re here to share everything and anything that comes our way. Pop artist, drag perfumer and ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’ star Tatianna teamed up with LA fragrance house Xyrena to confect this aquatic signature scent, a fusion of sea salt and water lily, sharpened by lemon, key lime and tangerine, warmed by ozone, cedar and musk. Breezy, yes – but glam (naturally).
£47.40 for 50ml extrait de parfum
xyrena.com

DUSITA
ERAWAN
What an elegantly hazy scent this is, with high-pitched notes of petitgrain and lily of the-valley drifting into a cool breeze of Haitian vetiver. Pissara, Dusita’s founder and perfumer, blends Siamese nobility with fine French perfumery traditions, all inspired by beloved late father’s poems. So sweet hay steams in the early morning mist, then drifts of herbaceous clary sage embrace cedar, oakmoss and vanilla. It feels like wearing a whisper: quiet, but hopeful.
£168 for 50ml eau de parfum
lessenteurs.com

EX IDOLO
LOVE & CRIME
Based on the true story of a once-notorious couple – basically the Bonnie & Clyde of Boston burglaries in the 1900s – founders Tanya and Matthew Zhuk immortalise their daring prison break. This darkly delicious gourmand evokes May Coyle hiding a saw in a cake, enabling her beau, Thomas Howard, to escape. Pink pepper juxtaposes red mandarin, icing sugar dusts a floral bouquet and star anise spikes natural cocoa in the base of this quirkily wonderful concoction.
£95 for 30ml eau de parfum
At Fenwick Bond Street

How to shop for men’s fragrances? Spread the love this Valentine’s Day (and beyond)

Are you looking to treat the man in your life with a new fragrance for Valentine’s Day, or a chap who’s just exploring the fragrant world for himself, those endless shelves of scented posibilities can seem daunting. Follow our guide of how to start sniffing out a brave new world…

If you’re buying a scented present:

Don’t leave it to random chance – that could go wrong. Better to tell him that something exciting’s on the way and treat him to a selection box of new scents – take a look at some of the suggestions, below. And first, ask yourself this:

Can the man in your life still wear, with no shame, the same jeans he was wearing aged 17? We’re hardly ones to judge, but we’re betting most could not – and even if they could, that it would be really quite inadvisable for them to do so.

Why, then, do some poor chaps keep getting given the same old scent they’ve been using since they were first shaving?

What type of a chap are you buying for?

Age, character, hobbies and career are all pointers, but can never be an absolute guarantee of what he’ll prefer – he might just surprise you (and himself!) Masculine fragrances have moved on somewhat since the ‘splash it all over’ one-size-fits-all sporty-fresh-or-nothing days. Now there are ‘gender fluid’ fragrances categories, and men are offered opulent orientals along with sophisticated fougéres; addictive gourmands, bigger, bolder Colognes and even floral-forward scents that smell utterly incredible on a man’s skin.

Where to begin?

We have put together the ideal starting point with a selection of Discovery Boxes, specially curated with a range of fragrances to suit all tastes – from classic and designer names to cult, niche houses they’ll love to explore.

The Men’s Edit Discovery Box £19 (£15 for VIPs)

A new season is approaching – and this is time for any man to switch heavier winter scents to a new fragrance wardrobe. We curated this selection especially for chaps looking to find something new, so there’s something for every man (and plenty of ‘borrowable’ finds) – including Bentley, Parfums de MarlyCristiano Ronaldo and TWO duos from cult brands – Escentric Molecule and Clive Christian – among others. This is a thrilling collection to sniff your way through, and with two added extras from Penhaligon’s and Aromatherapy Associates, this box is worth over £40 to begin with, and is priceless when you discover that new favourite…

 

Niche Collection II Discovery Box £19 (£15 for VIPs)

Our first Niche Collection sold out in record time, so we’ve chosen even more scents this time, including a 7.5ml of Anima Vinci Neroli Wisdom. Alongside treasured houses such as Amouage and Atkinsons we’ve included exciting newness from Parterre, Stories by Eliza Grace, Memoize, The Modernist, Tom Daxon. But it doesn’t stop there… We added skin-loving treats for chaps who know that pampering is self-love they can take part in, too. Keep your face glowing with the recent GOLD AWARD winning skinSense Overnight Leave on Mask (WORTH £8.50) – and ensure your hands smell and feel wonderful with the bestselling Balance Me Super Moisturising Hand Cream (WORTH £10).

Miller Harris La Collection Voyage Pour Lui – was £70 NOW £35!

A versatile selection of Miller Harris’ best selling male scents, what an opportunity to try something from this always wonderful British fragrance house. Inspired by dreamy journeys conjured with every spritz, each of the three fragrances come in luxurious 14ml travel sizes, and are presented in precious miniature versions of their full size bottles. Miller Harris Étui Noir – suede-like leather is supported by the woods and powder of iris. Miller Harris Vetiver Insolent – bergamot and cardamom is balanced against black pepper and balsamic elemi. Miller Harris Feuilles de Tabac – an addictive blend of rich woods, honeyed tobacco leaves and hot spices.

If you’re treating yourself:

It’s best to try a whole range of differing fragrances – that way you can narrow down exactly what it is your nose is loving best. With each of our boxes, some of which you can explore above, we’ve created Smelling Notes to guide you through the process, but here are some handy tips to keep in mind:

– Try the fragrance on a blotter (also known as a perfume ‘spill’); these should be available on perfume counters – and when you buy a Discovery Box from this site, you’ll find a handy pack of blotters already inside.

– Write the name of the fragrance on the blotter, otherwise you’ll definitely forget it, later (and chances are, that one’s bound to be the best!)

– Wait a few minutes for the initial alcohol and the top notes to subside – a lot of people take huge whiffs immediately and then complain ‘it smells of alcohol/hairspray!’ Let it dry a little, first. At this stage you may be able to eliminate one or more, if they don’t appeal – but it is really the heart notes and the lingering base notes which you will live with, and which are crucial.

– You really need to smell a scent on your skin! Remember: blotters are a useful way of eliminating no-hopers and lining up possibilities, but they’re not really enough to base a perfume purchase on. We’ve lost count of the number of scents that didn’t particularly appeal at first-sniff, but which a few minutes/hours later we realised we adored. Fragrances are made to be worn on and warmed by skin, not paper…

– Ideally, try no more than two at a time on the skin – one on each wrist. We don’t believe fragrance-shopping should be rushed, but we all live busy lives. You can try one more, on the inside of an elbow – the elbows also happen to be good pulse-points.

– Try to live with a fragrance for several hours, or better still, a whole day/evening) before you part with your cash. That might mean getting a sample, if it’s available in store (or exploring the Fragrance Discovery Boxes). Try to wear the scent more than once if you’re properly testing it: mood, weather and what you’ve eaten can all seriously change how a fragrance works on your skin, and how you feel about it.

– Spray a darker-coloured scarf or inside of a jacket lining, too, and sniff it later. That way, it still warms with your body heat, but you’re not everwhelmed by it. And you can take it off!

Book a fragrance consultation if you’d really like to make a special occasion of it. Many fragrance houses and department stores now offer this service, some of them are completely free and others you have to pay for (but it’s usually redeemable against purchase). Have a look at our round-up of some of these services; we originally wrote it for people wanting wedding fragrance consultations, but it applies whatever the occasion!

When you’ve fallen in love, only then go back and make your purchase – or flag-up to loved ones which ones you liked most, so they know for future gift-worthy occasions…

Written by Suzy Nightingale

Girls Just Wanna Have Fern: 5 modern fougères forging the way

When science meets art, fireworks happen, and so it is in fragrance, with the question of ‘what should a man smell like?’ seemingly answered by perfumer Paul Parquet for Houbigant in 1882. The conclusion? A fern. Now, this once traditionally masculine smell is a hot topic in fragrances marketed to women or perceived as ‘gender fluid’, for those leafy ferns have come a long way…

The problem for Parquet was, ferns don’t exactly smell of anything much. His technological developments created a whole new fragrance family – fougère roughly translates to ‘fern-like’ – say it ‘foo-jair’, with the ‘j’ a little soft, almost ‘foo-shair’.

When you think of a fern, what smell comes to mind? Misty woodlands, verdant undergrowth still wet with morning dew, a sense of stillness and contemplation, leafy green shoots pushing their way through a forest floor? Whatever you imagine, that smell memory was originally encapsulated by Houbigant’s Fougère Royale – created in 1882 and much copied by those who clamoured to achieve a measure of its success.

Called the ‘greatest perfumer of his time’ by no less than Ernest Beaux, the creator of Chanel No. 5, Parquet can be said to have been the first perfumer to truly understand and appreciate the use of synthetic aroma materials in fragrance composition. First used as mere substitutes for naturally derived raw materials, Parquet saw a chance to use them as unique smells in their own right – alchemically poetic creations that sought not to mimic the natural world but to add to it – to improve on perfection. He was a fragrant revolutionary, and that revolution continues to this day.

So what did the traditional fougère consist of? Oak moss, geranium, bergamot, sometimes lavender and amber, and (most notably) synthetic coumarin form the main structure. But how many outside the industry would be able to describe coumarin’s smell?

Found in natural sources such as the toasted almond-esque tonka beans, the essential oils derived from cinnamon bark and the spicy cassia plant; coumarin cannot really said to be a sum of those parts. So what does it smell like?

Complexly layered, imagine the scent of sweet hay drying in the sunshine with a slight waft of warm horse; a cold glass of fizz sipped on newly mown grass, a fine cigar fresh from the humidor, even an unadulterated cookie dunked in warm milk – all of these things and not one in particular, truly something ‘other’ – the scientist’s hand working in harmony with the artful perfumer to amplify the magical realism in its synthetic form. The skill of the perfumer is to take these ingredients and transform them into something we think we already recognise – a swathe of leafy green ferns in a woodland setting, in this case – sparking scent memories and creating new ones to fill the gaps.

If you haven’t yet explored this fragrance family, now is the perfect time to begin. This in-between time of seasons, when we crave some freshness but still require depth and interest to the scents we choose, is ideal for seeking out something new to try, and that traditional structure has some interesting notes added for contemporary interest.

Here’s a selection of some more modern fougères – regardless of gender – to get your noses in touch with. Let your fragrant fougère journey begin…

Although classified as a leather (the clue’s in the name) MEMO actually describe this as ‘a frozen fougère’, and I wholeheartedly agree. It’s minus the oak moss (many moderns are) but features a whole host of frosted herbaceous greeness, with basil, rosemary, clary sage and mint amidst snow-covered drifts of ferns, pine needles, tonka bean and a deliciously dry, woody-leathered base.

Memo Paris Russian Leather £205 for 75ml eau de parfum
harveynichols.com

In this 100% natural perfume, Simone de Beauvoir’s novel is brought to life; the lingering scent of a questioning glance that shakes your soul, warm as a cat curling bare legs, shivering as the fur tickles. A composition of contrasts, we have geranium, basil and lemon rubbing up against Indonesian clove and nutmeg; a sticky patchouli slinking into the cool dryness of vetiver, with a lick of amber rich labdanum nuzzling oak moss and cedar to finish

Timothy Han Edition Perfumes She Came to Stay £120 for 60ml eau de parfum
timothyhanedition.com

Reminiscent of rifling through a forgotten cove of personal treasures, leather-bound diaries reveal sketches of ferns and dried flowers pressed between the pages, bundles of love letters are tied in faded silk ribbons, a lipstick kiss on a foxed mirror, silk scarves with a mingled scent of powder and the faint tang of a gentleman’s Cologne. Mint, lavender, juniper berries and black pepper are swathed in layers of rose and ylang ylang; curls of tobacco expiring into vanilla and cocoa.

4160 Tuesdays The Lion Cupboard from £50 for 30ml eau de parfum
4160tuesdays.com

Inspired by the river that runs through the heart of Keyneston Mill, where this UK house uniquely grow and distil many of the ingredients they use; this is a bare-foot meander through clover-strewn lawns, a budding freshness in the air signifying Spring. Squeezes of lemon and lime shot through with bergamot, mint and lemon-thyme are layered on herbaceously dry clary sage and soft orange flower, as an aromatically dreamy wisp of incense encircles oak moss in the langourous base.

Partere Run of the River £95 for 50ml eau de parfum
parterreatkeynestonmill.com

A bright young thing, in a gown too sheer to be decent, dances the night away at a discreetly riotous nightclub. Surrounded by velvet ropes, garlanded by blossoms, she sleeps until noon. Based on the traditional composition, it’s far from historic smelling – the geranium, oak moss, coumarin and bergamot are naughtily nudged in the ribs by a rather wanton orange blossom, given a shot of luminescent freshness with neroli and snuggled in a bosomy amber.

Mugler Fougère Furieuse £140 for 80ml eau de parfum
harrods.com

By Suzy Nightingale

CHANEL Chance gets Eau Tendre with eau de parfum

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…]

Written by Suzy Nightingale

Explore your Fragrance Wardrobe

What to wear?! We curated an extra special selection of scents for our Fragrance Wardrobe Discovery Box – eleven (count ’em!) perfumes to shake you out of the doldrums and get you excited to explore fragrances you perhaps hadn’t thought about trying before!

We all get stuck in a rut sometimes, constantly reaching for the same or very similar things – from a clothing stash or Fragrance Wardrobe – by means of habit rather than active choice. But you wouldn’t want to wear the same outfit every single day, even if you loved it. The idea of a ‘signature scent’ is a bit old hat nowadays, plus your nose gets used to fragrances if you wear them 24/7, so it’s good to change up your style and try something new.

Here’s a tempting selection we bet you wont have tried all of, from just-launched designer names and new niche to a revived classic we’re totally swooning over.

In the Fragrance Wardrobe Discovery Box, try these olfactory outfits on for size…

 

EFFORTLESS CHIC:

Cartier Carat – Luminescent modern floral with a dazzling fresh bouquet of violet, lily, hyacinth and honeysuckle
Calvin Klein Women – Sparkling floriental hugging green eucalyptus with soft magnolia petals atop reassuringly soft white musk
Elizabeth Arden My Fifth Avenue – Stylish floral radiating crisp citrus, violet leaves and amber-warmed woods

LAIDBACK COOL:

Tory Burch – Unfussy (almost tomboy-ish) floral, a lush bouquet shot through with soothingly cool vetiver
Juliette Has a Gun Moscow Mule – Fresh cocktail with a kick of ginger, lime and apple on an unexpectedly sexy, woody base
Thierry Mugler Aura – Thrillingly original oriental, hibiscus seeds, Tiger LianaTM, and iris for tropical leafyness infused with mist
Marc Jacobs Daisy Love – Radiant gourmand floating on crystalised cloudberries, swathed in cosy cashmere

GOING ‘OUT’ OUT:

La Perla Classic – Seriously sensual chypre throbbing with Indian carnation and spiced roses on an oakmoss base
Jimmy Choo Fever – Lusciously juicy floriential with black plum, vanilla orchid, jasmine and heliotrope
Anna Sui Fantasia – Delicious gourmand swirling cassis and pink pomelo with raspberry praline and cedarwood

BIG DAY/SPECIAL OCCASION:

Oscar De La Renta Bella Blanca – Succulent white floral freshened with pear juice, gauzy layers of jasmine and peachy musk

There’s also two fabulous beauty extras: a STUDIO 10 Lip Perfecting Balm Gloss in a lustrously blushed coral together with a gorgeously modern chypre in the form of Molton Brown Jasmine & Sunrose Shower Gel (30ml). So get building that wardrobe!

For a mere £19 (£15 for VIP Club Members), you can consider wearing something different and exciting, comfortingly cool or fabulously opulent every single day (or night) for nearly two weeks!

PLUS! Anyone who buys The Fragrance Wardrobe Discovery Box is entered into a prize draw to win a full-size version of one of the fragrances featured! 

We think this would be a great gift for a fashionista friend, or someone who’s nervous about branching out of their fragrance comfort zone, along with hardened perfume lovers already anxious to delve into this bumper box of delights, of course.

So now, the question wont so much be ‘what can I wear?’ but more ‘what can I wear NEXT?!’

Written by Suzy Nightingale

 

French Connection Femme/Homme: we’re hooked!

We were lucky enough to be invited to the launch of the French Connection Femme & Homme fragrances last week, and were seriously impressed at their sophisticated (yet pocket-friendly) duo…

French Connection’s in-house team worked on the project with renowned perfumers Philippe Romano and Corinne Cachen as the noses, and flipping their roles so that Philippe worked on Femme and Corinne on Homme – resulting in a dynamic, contemporary take on a ‘male’ and ‘female’ pairing.

Quite frankly, we’d be happy to wear them both. Seek them out in-store at French Connection now, and also at Boots nationwide.

So… how do they smell?

French Connection Woman/Femme is all come hither creamy jasmine with a lusciously juicy mandarin and crisp apple up front with hints of luminescent neroli, then a dry-down that gets all smoochy with soft musk and warm amber. Impressive staying-power, too – we could still smell this wafting in our hair the following day!

French Connection Femme from £14.99 for 30ml eau de toilette
Try it at Boots

French Connection Man/Homme is dark and moody, a contemporary fougère that’s cool and shady with frosted sage, green violet leaves and lavender mossy-ness. The base is smothered in sandalwood with an addictively gourmand touch of tonka bean that’s sure to prove an all-day wrist-sniffer (or neck snuggler).

French Connection Homme from £14.99 for 30ml eau de toilette
Try it at Boots

Written by Suzy Nightingale

Map of the Heart launch White Heart v.7

We’re huge fans of Australian niche house Map of the Heart here at The Perfume Society – from their stunning bottles to the beautiful fragrances inside (each with a seam of sandalwood as their signature), and the creatively engaging imagery – everything they do truly represents a feast for all the senses.

Having just flown back from Pitti Fragranze, the annual fragrance trade show in Florence, and fresh from our first-sniffing of their latest launch, we’re thrilled to be able to share with you White Heart v.7 – The Heart of Love. Scroll down to read our review, and watch the film…

The first thing that struck us was the purity of the bottle, how all the features of the sculptural shape really stand out with the matte finish (a first for the house), and we noticed everyone who came to their stand tenderly stroked the texture as they held the flacon. [N.B: Texture and colour (or the absence of colour) is a hugely emerging trend from what we saw at Pitti.]

Sarah Blair, co-founder of Map of the Heart, told us that White Heart v.7 ‘is all about love: its power and dualities. That love can be hot / cold, tender / wild, innocent / knowing, everything or nothing…’ So the white can be the starkness of juxtaposed emotions, or the blank page on which to write your own story. Fascinatingly, Sarah also explained a deeper inspiration for the white, because ‘…it’s about the purity of emotion, and possibilities. When you refract white light it splits into a rainbow, and at the time we were creating this, we had the equality vote in Australia, so the symbol of rainbows was really important to us.’ The matte finish became the obvious choice, too, because of its ability to ‘draw you in, to make you want to pick it up and hold it, to feel that connection.’

Emotional connections and the imporance of touch are all very well, but of course we were most excited to get our noses on it at last! We’re happy to report it was worth the wait.

What does it smell like? Well, there’s a whoosh of freshness, a cold breeze that tickles like just-poured Champagne bubbles as the exhilarating opening launches French lavender, aldehydes and cardamom and feels like an unsuppressable giggle of pure joy. Into the brightness a bold red umeboshi (Japanese salt plum) accord languorously seeps to fill the space with an almost-booziness – the mad intensity of love that overtakes sense, always. We’re drawn back to purity as sandalwood swirls through radiant gardenia, a natural oud resonating gently in the base like a softly comforting hug that lasts for hours.

Map of the Heart White Heart v.7 £150 for 90ml eau de parfum
Exclusively at harrods.com

PS: Have you tried the other Map of the Heart fragrances yet? The enticing warmth of saffron-infused milk opulently laps within Map of the Heart Gold Heart, and you can try a sample of it in our luxurious Velvet Collection Discovery Box (currently on sale from £19 to just £12, so snap one up while you can!)

Written by Suzy Nightingale