Renowned for their quirky jewellery and accessory designs, Tatty Devine are coming for us fragrance fans with their latest House of Tatty Devine collection. ‘This is the best email we’ve ever scent…’ their email header teased. And they weren’t kidding: we want them ALL!
Themed around vintage style perfume bottles, the collection comprises earrings, a brooch and two types of necklaces – all in their glossy, laser-cut, glitz-tastic style. Each vintage style perfume bottle piece includes the finishing touch of a beautiful pearlescent label, ‘etched and hand-inked to bear our logo, just like all the finest perfume houses.’
Attention to details like this are what sets Tatty Devine apart, and if you’re anything like us, we bet many of you are adding to your Christmas Lists right this very second! We will even forgive the ‘Ho-ho eau!’ pun on their website (mainly because we wished we’d thought of it first).
Alright, we must admit to swooning over any perfume-related accessories (see the Couture issue of The Scented Letter Magazine for more perfume-themed pieces) but there’s something super cute about the vintage style bottles rendered in an almost Pop Art kind of realism, don’t you think? The chunkier version of the necklace (below) also features the laser cut mirrors in yellow, blue, silver and shimmering micro glitter acrylic.
We also loved having a read of their accompanying blog, Making Scents with Rosie & Harriet, going behind the scenes with Co-Founders, Creative Director Harriet Vine and Managing Director Rosie Wolfenden, revealing the inspiration behind this unusual festive collection. Probing into their perfume habits and personal scent memories, it was fascinating to learn what Harriet and Rosie thought the House of Tatty Devine perfume would actually smell like, if it truly existed.
For Harriet, ‘There’s a real nostalgia: my attic, old photo albums, my Mum’s old dressing up clothes… You’ve got to get some classic Yardley Violet and Lily of The Valley in there too, my nan’s scent of choice. Oh, and geraniums growing in a greenhouse.’ While Rosie revealed she would add ‘…floral notes from violets in the garden and Ventnor Botanic Gardens’ big Magnolia and Mimosa trees! I was brought up in a hotel on the Isle of Wight and so there are accents of herbs and nutmegs from the kitchen, with a hint of Sherbert Dib Dabs after school.’
Many of us at Perfume Society Towers can already be be seen toting the Gin water bottle and Gin necklace (you can see where our interests lie) among others, but this new perfume bottle collection just got our hearts beating all the faster. You can bet we’re going to be accessorising Christmas outifts with these little pieces of wearable art – be that a little black dress for a ‘do’ or (let’s face it) our comfy pyjamas. Eau yeah!
With an attention-grabbing name like Damn Rebel Bitches – a scented homage of blood orange, hazelnut, pink peppercorn, clary sage and malt, to the fearsome females of the Jacobite uprisings who were given this nickname – it’s obvious that REEK Perfume were bursting with passion to portray inspiring women in fragrant form. A proudly Scottish niche fragrance house, Molly Sheridan describes starting the brand so she could ‘…memorialise heroic, unapologetic women through scent. We want to celebrate our heroines.’ Damn right, and here at The Perfume Society, so do we!
Following hot on the fragrant heels of the Bitch, the equally flagrant Damn Rebel Witches celebrated those women who dared to be different, and were punished for it. You can read a full review in our guide to bewitching Halloween scents, but truly this is a fragrance suitable for any time of year, and whenver you feel like asserting your strangeness.
Molly says wearing REEK scents should be ‘…an everyday rebellion, a reminder of female achievement, much of which has been forgotten.’
Using unconventionally honest images (completely un-photoshopped images of women that celebrate beauty in all forms, including some of Molly herself) and deliberately provocative names to make people think a little more deeply about how women have been classified – often by their scent and the things a ‘virtuous women’ is supposed to smell of – throughout the centuries, we were already intrigued by their Instagram account, and so were thrilled to meet up with Molly and get to know her by asking for her five favourite smells…
1 – Chanel No 5: ‘The reason I’m picking this is because at every stage of my life, a lady of significance to me has worn it. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t have an older relative, or teacher, for example, who hasn’t worn it! It’s one of those absolute staples, a smell that everyone knows. It’s a classic – I wouldn’t wear it myself, but I love the smell of it on other people. Especially when they wear too much – I love that!’
2 – Elnett Hairspray: ‘It always reminds you of somebody or a particular time in your life when you used it. One whiff and you’re straight back there! And it’s just got this really distinctive smell – something that I can’t quite put my finger on or even describe – but it’s so evocative…’
3 – Petrol: ‘I love the smell of petrol, and I find that a lot of perfumes I like to wear has something like that in the scent for a split second – I’m not sure what it is, exactly, but something that reminds me of it and draws me to it. I want to keep smelling it to get more, more to get the petrol smell back. Weirdly I find that with both fragrances and food – the things I like most have something that reminds me of petrol.’
4 – 4160 Tuesdays Maxed Out: ‘Ohhh… it smells like chocolate limes to me. For ages this was the only perfume I wore, and I wouldn’t wear it during the day, but for some reason I like wearing it at night. Even if I’m just staying in.
5 – Bread: ‘It’s one of those smells that’s the same everywhere in the world. You can be in India or Paris and it all smells the same. Bread is one of those habitual smells that’s so comforting, and makes you hungry to smell it, even if you’re weren’t beforehand. I really like the fact that bread has such a social history, too – it’s a staple of life, we talking about “breaking bread” with people or say something’s “the best thing since sliced bread”. I went to Italy with my little sister and asked her what her favourite thing about the holiday and she said ‘The bread and butter!’ which just about sums it up for me.
Can I just say, I think these are absolutely brilliant questions to throw at someone! It’s so psychological… and I really like not having time to ruminate on the answers, otherwise you’d come up with some perfectly balanced list of things you’re supposed to say. Not like me – petrol and Elnett, haha!’
Nothing captures a memory quite like scent, so indulge yourself with this week’s collection of latest launches. Give your heart to Louis Vuitton Coeur Battante and succumb to the beauty of Gucci Memoire d’une Odeur. Along the way enjoy Siclian lemons, Springtime in a Park and the vivid green of Floris Vert Fougère. Sheer bliss!
AERIN LIMONE DI SICILIA
Beaming us right back to summer, bare legs, chilled drinks and crystal clear seas, Limone di Sicilia squeezes the shimmering radiance of the Mediterranean into a rope-capped bottle. But as you’d expect from Aerin Lauder, this is way more sophisticated than a typical citrus, a sea breeze laden with bergamot, Italian mandarin, lemon primofiore rippling petals of muguet, Egyptian jasmine and Centifolia rose, with Ambrox and oakmoss adding pashmina-like warmth at its conclusion. From £150 for 50ml eau de parfum esteelauder.co.ukGUCCI MÉMOIRE D’UNE ODEUR
Roman chamomile punctured by bitter almond, whispers of honeyed jasmine, grey clouds of hushed musk and woods – the warm skin smoothness of sandalwood, the cold, dry pencil shavings of cedar. It smells faintly familiar, but not quite like anything else; bone dry, salty as a licked tear, soothing but ethereally so. Alberto Morillas has made a quiet masterpiece, designed to be shared. We’re warning you: there will be tussles in the bathroom, over this. £53.50 for 40ml eau de parfum johnlewis.comLOUIS VUITTON COEUR BATTANTE
Be still our beating hearts, for there is a new offering from Louis Vuitton’s masterful perfumer Jacques Cavallier Belletrud, which plays with ‘the constant contrast between darkness and light, freshness and sensuality. In the light corner, radiant and almost humid Egyptian jasmine and green narcissus, alongside crisp and juicy pear and aquatic Cascalone. But venture into the shadows and you’ll discover the fragrance’s dark Chypré character, expressed via moss and patchouli. Ravissante. £185.00 for 100ml eau de parfum louisvuitton.com MAISON MARGIELA SPRINGTIME IN A PARK
You’re walking through the streets of Shanghai, where a cool breeze shakes the cherry blossom on the trees. Dappled light shines through the branches and warms you a little. Springtime in the Park is like a perfectly crisp day; pears, bergamots and black currants drip onto aqueous blooms, lily of the valley and dewy roses, musks soften a woody trail and hint of vanilla adds sunshine. We’re fantasising of spring already. £96 for 100ml eaux de toilette harveynichols.com FLORIS VERT FOUGÈRE
An imagining of a fern in an English garden at twilight, Vert Fougère combines lavender and patchouli with galbanum for a green, damp, earthy beginning. Lingering sunlight is evoked via a bitter-citrus accord of bergamot, neroli and grapefruit, the encroaching darkness cut through with a sparkle of ginger. Finally, grounded with smoky cedar woods and soft cashmeres. Combining classic and modern elements, this is a verdant fougère to delight in. £120 for 100ml eau de parfum florislondon.com
We love falling for a new fragrance, and were delighted to have two to get up close and personal with in the just-launched duo for Him & Her, Tiffany & Love – two complimenary fragrances that honour their legacy of celebrating love and commitment.
A first exploration for Tiffany & Co. into the dual fragrance category – and the very men’s fragrance – they represent a fresh chapter for the house under the newly appointed creative direction of Reed Krakoff as Chief Artistic Officer.
Sharing the concept that two hearts (and noses) are often better than one, the scents were also composed by a duo of perfumers for each – Sophie Labbé and Nicolas Beaulieu of IFF with Tiffany & Love for Him, Honorine Blanc and Marie Salamagne of Firmenich for Tiffany & Love for Her. Each scent has a unique structure, but they both hero the unusual ingredient of blue sequoia, which if you’ve not experienced it before is majestically woody and long-lasting, with a foresty freshness.
For Him amplifies the aromatic aspect of sequoia, boosted by crisp juniper-cypress (a blend that’s an exclusive co-distillation for Tiffany) infused with ginger, mandarin and cardamom and some creamiy sandalwood and shady vetiver in the base. For Her unfurls from the opening of blue basil (another note developed exclusively for Tiffany), shot through with zingy grapefruit, softened by the sunshine of neroli and the sequoia married to the dryness of cedar and vetiver in the softly woody trail.
Inspired by Krakoff’s creative vision, the beautiful campaign was shot in the streets of New York by legendary photographer, director and artist Cass Bird – a stunning black & white homage capturing tender moments between real couples to celebrate this feeling of ‘commitment, acceptance and togetherness.’ Accompanying the campaign, Tiffany & Co. selected Grammy® award-winning music producer Mark Ronson and singer-songwriter King Princess to re-record The Turtles’ song “Happy Together,” as an ode to love.
Now, watch the video below, and get ready to fall in love, yourself…
Love it or loathe it vanilla is everywhere. Touted as the aroma found most universally pleasing, there are many who reel back in disgust at the mere mention of the ingredient. But vanilla doesn’t just smell like an explosion in a cake shop: it’s kind of magic, in flavour and perfume terms.
When we smell or taste anything, our ‘receptors’ constantly wipe those fleeting encounters to prepare for the next flavour or a smell. But when vanilla is added to food or fragrance, naturally-present vanillin (and other vanilloids, which we’ll talk about in a moment) work to ‘hold open’ our vanilloid receptors, slowing down this wiping process – which in turn gives us more time to perceive, experience and enjoy both scents and flavours. (Vanilloids are also found in cocoa, allspice, cinnamon, cloves, ginger and hot peppers – which partly explains why they’re all such ‘taste sensations’.)
Vanilla comes from the seeds of a dried pod from a climbing orchid-like plant which flourishes especially well in Madagascar; the very best quality of vanilla comes from the Île Bourbon, now known as Réunion. It gets its name from the Spanish word ‘vaina’ (meaning sheath or pod, and translates simply as ‘little pod’. (Strangely, the flower itself is scent-less.)
Perhaps because vanilla is the second priciest spice in the world, after saffron, the vanilla you smell in many perfumes today is synthetic vanillin: clever chemists have worked to mimic the real thing – although the most gifted noses will probably tell you that real vanilla is earthier, with touches of treacle and a touch of ‘booziness’.
We love this legend about vanilla which we found on the excellent Perfume Shrine blog. ‘According to the Australian Orchid Society, “Old Totonac lore has it that Xanat, the young daughter of the Mexican fertility goddess, loved a Totonac youth. Unable to marry him due to her divine nature, she transformed herself into a plant that would provide pleasure and happiness – that plant was the Vanilla vine. This reputation was much enhanced in 1762 when a German study found that a medication based on vanilla extract cured impotence — all 342 smiling subjects claimed they were cured.”’
Vanilla’s reputation as a powerful aphrodisiac endures, and it’s often present in ‘sexy’, come-hither fragrances, especially Ambrées and gourmand fragrances, as well as ‘girly’, ‘younger’ creations (and perhaps why vanilla naysayers have come to shun it).
Times have changed, and vanilla is used in all sorts of interesting, innovative ways within fragrances, now. I guarantee that none of these smell like cupcakes, so come on: it’s time to challenge your own perfumed preconceptions once again…
JULIETTE HAS A GUN VANILLA VIBES
This vanilla’s sliced through with a healthy sprinkle of sea salt, plunging us immediately to childhood memories of the beach, sandy picnics and sticky fingers hastily licked as ice cream melts. Natural vanilla absolute is noticeable in the opening, but take a while to drip fully to the orchid-laden heart – and all the while a transparency completely prevents the sweetness from overtaking, it’s the salt on centre stage: a tremulous sunshine-filled daydream that shivers in the breeze. £110 for 100ml eau de parfum harveynichols.com
PERFUMER H DUST
You need to move fast to catch this intimate and intriguing take on vanilla, for twice a year, like the scent couturier that she is, Lyn Harris unveils her seasonal offering of (mostly) new fragrances. Spring/Summer 2018 sees citrus Petit Grain, floral Suede, fougère Pink Pepper and woody-as-it-sounds Indian Wood in the collection. But the compulsive wrist-sniffer this time, for us, is this exquisite Ambrée – a gentle, powdery miasma of iris, raspberry leaf and orange flower, benzoin resin, opopanax, sweet musk and that deliciously dry vanilla. £130/£350 for 100ml At Perfumer H
ANNA SUI FANTASIA MERMAID
Like the sparkling light reflections that shimmer on the sea, Fantasia Mermaid weaves radiant ingredients together. Blood orange, mandarin and cooling cardamom make for an effervescent start. Aqueous blooms float together in the heart of this scent, with peony, jasmine and watery lychee. An incredibly uplifting floriental, soft wisps of spices are woven throughout, and the vanilla is a cushion for the other ingredients, not a smothering blanket. £40 for 50ml eau de toilette qvcuk.com
[You can try BOTH the Juliette Has a Gun and Anna Sui scents in our Globetrotter Discovery Box, £19 / £15 for VIP members, part of ELEVEN fragrances to try at home with extra beauty treats – perfect to take on you travels…]
VAN CLEEF & ARPELS COLLECTION EXTRAORDINAIRE RÊVE DE YLANG
Concocted around one of perfumery’s most noble ingredients, the ‘flower of flowers’, here we see how vanilla can whisper to a flower, and Rêve de Ylang captures the heady, exotic, intoxicating and spicy aroma of the ylang ylang flower being softly seduced. Perfumer Fabrice Pellegrin used an invigorating cardamom and a whisper of saffron to enhance the opulent spiciness and warmth of ylang ylang, while an aromatic vanilla and rich patchouli add depth. The result is a fabulous, ultra-luxe floral nectar, pierced with light. £260 for 125ml eau de parfum harrods.com
GIORGIO ARMANI SÌ EAU DE PARFUM FIORI
The gifted Julie Massé reinterprets Sì’s so-classic Chypre theme in a fragrance that bursts into life with sparkling green mandarin and blackcurrant – the familiar twin signatures of this contemporary classic – before white floral neroli unfurls its lush petals. As the temperature rises, prepare for an encounter with the vanilla – all diaphonous gown barely concealing the va-va-voom, leaving with a trail of white musk. From £54 for 30ml eau de parfum Armanibeauty.co.uk
Perhaps you’re thinking that, apart from the name of the first fragrance suggested, here, there’s no overt focus on vanilla, but that was the whole point of this post – to show just a fraction of the ways vanilla can surprise, cosset, whisper or seduce. To put it another way: we didn’t want to ram vanilla down your throat. But, we have to say, if you try some of these, we feel you’ll be reaching vanilla again and again – there’s a reason it has a reputation for being addictive, you know…
From the glacial cool of Montblanc to the stylish simplicity of Perfumer H and L’Artisan Parfumeur, we think you’ll be super (Cloon) Keen to try this week’s latest launches. It’s time to spoil yourself!
CLOON KEEN LÁ BEALTAINE
Named for the day spring moves into summer, this latest from the Irish artisanal house is a flurry of petals borne aloft on a balmy breeze. Bursting with a giggle of bergamot, mandarin and neroli, the luminescence never dims – quite remarkable staying power on the skin for an almost Cologne-like opening. Woozy shadows filter the heat-bloomed flowers to a languid haze of honeyed amber, leaving us breathless for sundresses, lemon sorbets and drowsy dreams. £120 for 100ml eau de parfum lessenteurs.com
L’ARTISAN PARFUMEUR BANA BANANA
Céline Ellena sought to create something intriguing and whimsical here, taking an unusual note of banana flower and placing it alongside jasmine, iris and violet flower, which she overlaid with nutmeg, ‘raw and biting, to create the sensation of the banana skin’. Tonka bean, musk and amber create a marvelously memorable trail – and this is one you need to get out there and smell, perfumistas. £115 for 100ml eau de parfum lartisanparfumeur.comMICHAEL KORS SPARKLING BLUSH
Pretty as a picture is this soft pink Ambrée-floral-woody, in its dazzlingly faceted bottle. We know full well how fragrance can boost confidence – and that’s just what Mr. Kors apparently in mind with this spirit-lifting, stand-taller, feel-a-bit-more-beautiful Ambrée-woody-floral fusion of pink pepper, cassis, bergamot, lychee, swags of rose petals, jasmine, frangipani and lily. What remains on the skin are the lovely, soft underpinnings of amber, vanilla, vetiver and sandalwood. From £29.99 for 30ml eau de parfum theperfumeshop.comPERFUMER H DUST
Twice a year, like the scent couturier that she is, Lyn Harris unveils her seasonal offering of (mostly) new fragrances. Spring/Summer 2018 sees citrus Petit Grain, floral Suede, fougère Pink Pepper and woody-as-it-sounds Indian Wood in the collection. But the compulsive wrist-sniffer this time, for us, is this exquisite Ambrée – a gentle, powdery miasma of iris, raspberry leaf and orange flower, benzoin resin, opopanax, sweet musk and vanilla, at once intimate and intriguing. £130/£350 for 100ml At Perfumer HMONTBLANC EXPLORER
Sending a fragrant (no-doubt beautifully written) invitation to scent adventurers, Montblanc offer an unconventional olfactory experience that flickers between woody, green and leather. Italian bergamot provides sparkle – a sip of champagne before the explorer sets off, perhaps – contrasted by Haitian vetiver that thrums earthily and feels grounding. Resinous patchouli adds great depth with the cold leather of the base. Yes, cold – this explorer’s halfway up a glacier, yet still so stylish. £33 for 30ml eau de parfum theperfumeshop.com
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. Flirtis 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…
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…
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.
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.
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
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
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
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