A mysterious perfume house run by a reclusive man, a fragrance inspired by Marilyn Monroe‘s minx-ishly tousled photo shoot alluringly wrapped in sheets and immortalized by Douglas Kirkland in 1961, composed by one of this century’s greatest perfumers – Dominique Ropion. The elements of intrigue are all there, and this latest launch by A Lab On Fire doesn’t disappoint. With a cheekily suggestive name like Messy Sexy Just Rolled Out of Bed, well, how could we resist a sniff…?
A Lab On Fire is a niche brand that delights in being shrouded in mystery, asking some of the most brilliant noses in the world to create the fragrances they have always dreamed of making, letting their imaginations and talents run wild. Founded by a chap called Carlos Kusubayashi, we are told he was born in São Paulo, Brazil, grew up in Japan, and now lives in Texas; that he’s variously worked in a car factory, as an apprentice to a ‘Master Kyoji’ in calligraphy, and contributed toward bringing Asian art to the Parisian art scene. But quite why he turned to perfume remains quite the mystery.
Clearly exploring his own creativity, though, he released an accompanying poem to evoke the spirit of Sexy Messy Just Rolled Out of Bed. How fitting to read it on National Poetry Day…
Simple, clean sunlight. Warmth from the sheets wrapped between my legs. Warmth from you lingers on my skin. I just rolled out of bed. The rest of the day, the night—what we can do together—depends on how the sun warms my body, how close I allow you to get, how we touch.
Kusubayashi adds ‘The pictures of Marilyn are the quintessence of being sexy, a way of entering into the intimacy of the great diva full of hopeful innocence. There is something magically vulnerable in these photos, the light, the atmosphere… And this is the initial inspiration which I asked the nose Dominique Ropion to capture in a bottle’.
And so how does this ‘morning after the night before’ scent unfold on the skin? The opening is a slowly unfurling blossom, an indulgently joyous yawn into the warm skin-like softness of rose petals and peach fuzz underpinned by smooth woods, milky musks and something suggesting the reason those sheets are rumpled…
It’s the olfactory embodiment of ‘I woke up like this’ déshabillé diva that looks effortless in a photo shoot, but in our experience is somewhat harder to attain! At least now we can keep this by the bed to spritz on some instant glamour…
Messy Sexy Just Rolled Out of Bed £90 for 60ml eau de parfum
Buy it at Avery Perfume Gallery
Written by Suzy Nightingale
Ah, the seductive allure of not quite telling the truth when it suits you far better to weave a little lie. Swedish niche brand AGONIST revel in the olfactory exploration of literary and cultural themes that play a large part in our lives, and with their latest fragrance, White Lies – which we were lucky enough to smell at Pitti Fragranze earlier this month – the truth may not always be out there… AGONIST say: ‘Like a white lie it entices you yet holds a promise of a deeper truth. With a fresh and tempting top of lemon, rasperry and lychee, it drags you in to a heart of jasmine, tuberose and heliotrope. The deep and sensual notes of patchouli, orcanox and vanilla in the base makes the composition truly unique and impossible to forget.’ Top notes: Lemon, rasperry, lychee Heart notes: Jasmine absolute, tuberose absolute, heliotrope Base notes: Patchouli, orcanox, vanilla
Founded by perfume-obsessed couple Niclas and Christine Lydeen, they share a love for fragrance, intrigued and fascinated by its power. As Niclas muses, ‘We started to think about themes and ideas. We wanted to show another side to this perception of clean Swedish design. We were more inspired by a poetic, darker and melancholic side of the Swedish culture and heritage.’
Continuing this darker exploration of poetic themes, White Lies takes you on a journey, slowly unravelling its multi-faceted nature as it warms on your skin. Explains Niclas, ‘White lies is a joyful and playful fragrance that doesn’t reveal itself at first, just like a little lie. It is a smooth sensation that becomes stronger. We wanted to create a scent that takes you to another dimension where dreams, stories and fantasies come to life. In the end it keeps its promise and becomes a symbol of truth, yet with some intriguing shades.’
Sweet at first – an Eton Mess of meringue swirled through puffs of whipped cream and sprinkled with tart fruitiness, like the lie itself, the further it goes the deeper it gets. As the floral heart blooms, so too does the base, reaching up and grabbing the blossoms with tendrils of resinous earthiness mellowed by the darkest, most delicious vanilla beans. You might say we found it rather difficult to resist…
An annual affair dedicted to showcasing artistic and artisinal fragrance houses to buyers, distributors and press from around the world, it’s always an eye (and nostril!) opening experience to visit glorious Florence and the Stazione Leopolda – an old train station repurposed as a huge and atmospheric conference and event venue.
Pitti Fragranze 2016 took place last weekend and marked the 14th successive year of the trade fair, with visitor and exhibitor numbers greater than ever, and we plunged into the seehing crowd with noses twitching to discover what was on offer this year…
We were thrilled to see many of our fragrance friends there, bumping into 4160 Tuesdays floral-bedecked founder and perfumer Sarah McCartney spritzing her Mystery of the Materials (scents with a story to tell) into teacups (how wonderfully British) for eager sniffers to discover, and causing much swooning by revealing the photograph of her much-admired helper Arthur McBain – an actor when not helping out at her Ealing studios, and currently starring as the model in her just-shot advertising photos. Sarah says customers have been known to write him fan-letters and apparently come over all peculiar when they receive a package with a note in from him. We couldn’t possibly comment…
Just around the corner, ‘fiercely independent’ Beaufort London were causing something of a buzz – appropriate given the honeycomb-themed decoration of the area – with their five uniquely maritime-inspired fragrances, including the latest launch, Fathom V – a fantastically other-worldly salty, ultra-green scent that puts us in mind of a Pre-Raphaelite Ophelia surrounded by flowers and giving herself up to the embrace of the icy depths…
In the same golden-hued area was dear friend to The Perfume Society, Andy Tauer, on great form as ever and here showing two new fragrances: Tuberose Flash (an iridescent and totally sparkling tuberose with zero screechiness) and the much-anticipated Au Coeur du Désert (think bestselling Air du Désert Marocain in extrait beauty!)
It was also a joy to bump into the lovely Atelier Des Ors founder and Artistic Director, Jean-Phillipe Clermont – you may recall we were rather excited when they launched in the UK – and sniff the exqusite new Iris Fauve – softly suede-y with a distinctly addictive edge.
We thought it was really interesting seeing a Japanese natural fragrance brand showing at the fair – Di Ser – not a culture historically known for their perfume brands, this one uses unsual oils and essences from around the world blended with fabulous quality native natural ingredients, thoughtfully composed and beautifully presented. Interesting, too, to learn that Japanese ladies have long scented their kimonos with delicate fragrances – as Middle Eastern cultures have wafted their robes with highly scented smoke…
Intertrade‘s room is always a must-visit, with their fingers on the perfume pulse of cool, edgy and just beautifully curated brands that carry genuinely interesting but always totally wearable fragrances, available at Avery Perfume Gallery. With the theme of ‘Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner’ they laid a huge table with coloured glasses and ‘place settings’ for each fragrance house. There we saw, and sniffed, new launches – some standouts being Blood Concept‘s gender-bending David Bowie-inspired XX and XY, AGONIST‘s incredibly evocative (and intriguingly named!) White Lies (so-new the bottles weren’t ready yet, but we snapped their previously released, soothingly smoky Hope), and the ravishingly sexy A Lab on Fire‘s cheekily named Messy Sexy Just Rolled Out of Bed…
You see absolutely everyone at Pitti, no matter where you are – and we met the marvellous Barbara Herman – vintage perfume expert and author of the book Scent and Subversion: Decoding a Century of Subversive Perfumes, in the cafe of all places! The perfect excuse for a quick sniffing session of Eris Parfums – a trio of frgrances Barbara worked with a perfumer to create, all based on interpretations of animalic ‘beasts’ (with huge glugs of beauty to balance). Irreverently opulent, glamorously modern with echoes of vintage va-va-voom. And we got a sneaky sniff of the 4th, equally show-stopping scent.
An real treat for cinephiles and fragrance fanatics alike was the private viewing of Perfume, a Certain Tradition – a film by Amsterdam-based Short Notes Portraits offering in-depth portraits of some of the greatest living perfumers – including infamously reclusive or seldom interviewed figures such as Pierre Bourdon, Michel Roudnitska, Frédéric Malle, Mark Buxton, uber perfume-collector George Stam (seriously jaw-dropping pieces!) and the iconically irreverent Serge Lutens… a roll-call of noses and creators that would intimidate many but which the Amsterdam-based company clearly relished the challenge of. A charming, witty and fascinating film, you can watch it on their website and we will be sure to keep you up to date with when the film is released on DVD – so watch this space.
With so much to see and smell, it’s really quite an overwhelming experience – and nigh on impossible to see absolutely everything – but though we were exhausted at the end, we managed to fit in a quit flit to Florence’s wonderful Sunday-morning vintage market. And – ever nosing around for interesting things – we came across a stall laden with vintage parfums, including the most humungous bottle of Lanvin‘s Arpege – sadly our of our pocket, but We Wear Perfume‘s Amanda Carr [NB watch out for the imminent issue of our magazine, The Scented Letter, featuring Amanda’s scent memories] snapped up the Bvlgari scented pencils.
Until next year, dear Firenze…
Written by Suzy Nightingale
When you’re a direct descendant of Xavier Givaudan – founder of the eponymous fragrance house, and therefore responsible for many of the greatest scents in the world – growing up with perfume practically running through your veins; it seems only natural the fragrance world would also beckon you forth. And when your childhood is spent living in a house bursting at the seams with creative, eccentric and loving family members – how natural, then to be inspired further, and create an olfactory family album…
Pozzo di Borgois a new fragrance house, launching with five fragrances exlusive to Les Senteurs in the UK – each of them based on one of Valentine’s family members, and created by collaborating with differing perfumers for each scent. Pozzo di Borgo explain they are ‘…an olfactory portrait of an ancestor or a living relation, creating fascinating links between past and present, interpretation and perfume. The fragrances showcase precious traditional ingredients in a revealing way.’
‘Valentine has the perfect background to create an intriguing scented gallery. Having grown up surrounded by fragrance, and habitually drawing on this olfactory intimacy, she has always had the motivation to create her own personalised fragrances. Named after the dates on which each family member was born, Pozzo di Borgo perfumes are contemporary readings of the past as well as characterisations of personalities we can all recognise. The bottles, at once classic and contemporary, are designed by Pierre Dinand, creator of the iconic Opium bottle.’
We caught up with Valentine Pozzo di Borgo during the launch at Les Senteurs to ask more about this intriguing – and so personal – project in perfume. What inspired her to begin…?
‘I decided to do olfactive portraits of my family because I think you decide to wear perfume based on your character – who you are, who you want to be, where you are going… I used to live in a huge houseful of my family, all the cousins, grandparents, parents, it was crazy, but it gave me a lot of time to think about all their characters. For each member, they chose the inspiration for the fragrance, and I would say if I liked it or not, but really it was a direct dialogue between them and the perfumer. It was very important for me to choose the right perfumer for each project, based on my knowledge of their work – their unique styles had to fit the character of each family member. It was a very long process, as you can imagine!’
When judging, and “capturing”, someone’s character in scent, all manner of problems must arise! But which has taken the longest, we wondered? Explains Valentine: ‘The perfume for myself was probably the most difficult for me personally. The first perfumer I chose was a friend, and he kept seeing me as iris, but it wasn’t really how I saw myself. In the end I went with Violaine Collasand said “this is how people keep seeing me – iris, but it doesn’t work I don’t think…” She also saw me in iris, interestingly, but mixed it with fig and musk and somehow that just worked!’
8 Mars 1764
The first creation is a celebration of Valentine’s 18th century ancestor, Carl Andrea Pozzo di Borgo, a Corsican politician and diplomat and one of the most colourful members of this ancient aristocratic family. This is a spicy citrus with warm, rounded base accords of Russian leather and cognac: Diplomatic, shrewd, eloquent, tenacious. Perfumer: Philippe Bousseton
27 Fevrier 1950
A tonic cologne with bergamot, patchouli, and neroli, with the Corsican additions of lavender, caraway, boxwood, and oakmoss. Inspired by Reynier Pozzo di Borgo: Creative, tolerant, sensitive, elegant. Perfumer: Pierre Bourdon
19 Mai 1957
A scent of powerful yet elusive intensity. Evocative of the Corsican landscape of the family heritage, with the liquorice-like odour of the maquis, lavender, eucalyptus, vanilla, heliotrope, cistus labdanum, and peru balsam. A portrait of Alexandre Pozzo di Borgo: Intrepid, entrepreneurial, witty, sophisticated. Perfumer: Sonia Constant
24 Octobre 1985
A scent for Valentine’s cousin Chinzalee – an aquatic and green aromatic scent of mint, grapefruit, and galbanum, with gourmand facets of rum and pear, and a suggestion of cucumber: Independent, spirited, enthusiastic, generous. Perfumer: Mathilde Bijaoui
23 Janvier 1984
Valentine’s own scent captures the enchanting contrasts of her character. Freshness, sophistication, and spontaneity are characterised in this luminous perfume of cardamom, petitgrain, coriander, fig, iris and musk: Discreet, energetic, audacious, enigmatic. Perfumer: Violaine Collas.
So what next for Valentine’s perfumed portraits – we wondered if every single member of her family is queuing up to be “captured” by a perfumer in scent? Valentine laughs, and admitted that is kind of what’s happening; but there’s one fragrance in particular that’s very special for her.
‘I’m working on the two next fragrances at once – one is for my cousin who’s in a wheelchair following an accident. In fact he has completely lost his sense of smell and taste, and that’s very challenging because we’re working on his olfactive memories, it’s very emotional… Everything is disconnected, he can only move his head, and it’s so complex trying to explore his smell memories and then recreate them – without him being able to smell them. We’re working with Sophie Labbé on it, and it’s fun but super personal…’
Pozzo di Borgo £99 for 100ml eau de parfum
Exclusive to Les Senteurs – available now in-store, and soon online.
We all love a scent trail, but most particularly when it’s a clue-strewn walking trail with possible prizes of Miller Harris perfume!
In an exciting-sounding event this coming Saturday, 4 June; Miller Harris will celebrate next week’s launch of two brand new fragrances – Lumière Dorée and Étui Noir – by staging a Treasure Hunt across London.
Starting in Covent Garden Market, perfumed participants will receive a special map and instructions for tasks across London, with the final destination being Bruton Street. Miller Harris state that you’ll need to take photos along your journey to take part – sharing them on Instagram or Facebook with the hashtag #MHShadowsAndLight
Those taking part are to receive rewards at each ‘check point’ when showing their photos to the Miller Harris store teams. And what’s more – the first ten people to fully complete the treasure hunt will win a 50ml fragrance of both Lumière Dorée and Étui Noir, before they have even launched! Miller Harris say: ‘Comfortably androgynous, one is a reflection, the other is its mirror image. Lumière Dorée is the golden aura that every morning enfolds the night. Etui Noir is the magic shadow that each night sets free the day.’ ‘Etui Noir and Lumiere Dorée are two sides of the same person: night and day, and dark and light. They work beautifully individually or layered as a pair, where they reveal new shadows and facets.’
We are always on the hunt for new fragrances, and love this idea of actually following a scent trail across London! Do let us know if you’re lucky enough to win, and of course what you think of the new perfumes. Indeed, we can’t wait to sniff them out ourselves… Miller HarrisLumière Dorée and Étui Noir will be launching on June 2nd at millerharris.com and at Miller Harris in-store.
Written by Suzy Nightingale
Abercrombie and Fitch have been a brand synonymous with gorgeous boys, polo shirts, muscly abs and horse riding, but not any more. To go with a brand new look they have in store, all slick shirts and modern cuts, they’ve released a new fougère fragrance for men, First Instinct.
Inspired by the fearless male, perfumer Phillipe Romano created First Instinct with the hopes of blending a contemporary fragrance that took the fresh facets of fougère scents and combined them with the warmth of orientals. And what he produced does just that.
First off, it breaks the mould with an unusual top note of melon; fruity notes are uncommon in male fragrances, and with good reason, but this melon blends beautifully with a gin and tonic accord to make for a sparkling and refreshing opening. Clean and crisp on the nose.
Moving on to an inviting heart of green and slightly aqueous violet leaves, there’s a touch of citrus that adds evermore to the freshness of the whole affair, it later trails off with a spicy but soft black pepper. The base is rounded off sweetly with cashmere woods, warm and rich amber, and sueded musk.
Housed in a sleek textured glass bottle that gives the affect of rippling water, we can picture it perfectly on the neck of a sea swept and sun-kissed man. We urge you to have a sniff.
Abercrombie and Fitch First Instinct £30 for 30ml eau de toilette
BeauFort London are one of the most intriguing brands we’ve seen in a long time, so imagine our excitement on discovering they’ve just released their latest fragrance – Lignum Vitae – into the wild blue yonder of the perfume world.
Having first encountered them before they’d even properly launched, sometimes you get a sixth-sense tingle the passion behind the perfume will carry a new fragrance house way further than they’d perhaps ever have imagined. This was certainly the case when we first got our noses around the unique triptych of fragrances that began their story – really, quite unlike anything else around, the ‘fume-heads, bloggers and fragrance-buying public agreed; with 1805 Tonnerre (featured in our Secret Sensations Discovery Box) subsequently chosen by Jo Fairley as the Most Exciting New Brand of 2015 in her TelegraphOnline column; praised by big-name glossies and highly respected tomes such as the Financial Times, alike.
Although perhaps not entirely smooth sailing (what new company’s launch is?) appropriately enough, these firecely independent, historically inspired yet utterly contemporary fragrances – named for the famous Beaufort Scale of measuring wind strengths – are themed around the turbulent history and intrepid spirit of the British isles, maritime history and notoriously shady characters who have shaped them. It was clear this niche line had quite an adventure ahead of them – indeed they have recently been lauded by critic Luca Turin as one to watch – and with the brand new fragrance Lignum Vitae just launched, it’s another exciting scent trail we were keen to explore…
BeauFort London Say: ‘Inspired by the innovative use of materials that allowed 18th Century clockmakers to construct the first truly accurate marine chronometers, Lignum Vitae combines elements of wood, metal and salt to produce a truly unique, transportive fragrance.
In combining unexpected and exotic raw materials, BeauFort London celebrates the innovative spirit which brought to an end the search for lost time, and permitted the safe passage of ships across the world.’
Discussing the various inspirations behind any BeauFort fragrance is like a masterclass in maritime history, literary appreciation and a philosophy 101 with a smattering of art criticism for good measure – but fascinating as these influences are, it’s important as ever to not forget the most important thing of all – what it smells like on your skin! Complex, perhaps even slightly unsettling (because of their singularity) to some, BeauFort are not about one size fits all crowd-pleasing sniff-alikes that put you in mind of such-and-such a scent you used to wear. So what does Lignum Vitae actually smell of…?
An immediate tang of salty air melts mistily to the scent of madeleines still warm from the oven – a Proustian almost-but-not-quite gourmand sense that feels as though it’s going to get huge, but within a while segues seamlessly to a citrus-tinged, freshly-felled woodiness and the silvered glint of cold metal that keeps the whole concoction bouyantly uplifted. Tenacious in perhaps a more tender way than its predecessors, Lignum Vitae is one of those true ‘scent journeys’ on the skin as it warms and settles. Having sprayed this in the early afternoon we could still smell it the next morning, where now it had dried down to a close, warm skin scent that was comforting but with a wonderful whiff of weirdness to it that you cannot exactly place. It seems to constantly fold back on itself, somehow – you think you have the measure of it and then it switches again, still retaining an image of its former self but with a new layer to explore. There’s a point about an hour in, when all the various threads seem to mingle into an intricate knot – you can trace each one, yet they have transmogrified into a new creation…
Were we to draw a map of this fragrance’s journey, we could cite the salt on the breeze, sweetness wrapped within a shady forest, misty darkness, warm skin huddled close against cool, mossy wood and the ever-present, slightly melancholy but ultimately intensely comforting echo of sweetness, wood and salt that carry you onwards to the trail’s end.
BeauFort London Lignum Vitae £95 for 50ml eau de parfum
Buy it at beaufortlondon.com (or see their website for other stockists)
Every year, fans of Jean Paul Gaultier‘s Le Male and Classique fragrances are treated to a new incarnation of the iconic bottles – always dressed to impress and collected by ‘fume-heads the world over, we think the comic-book inspired duo of Popeye and Betty Boop bottles may be the cutest yet, and with a tonque-in-cheek advertising campaign to match!
From a sassy comic book called Spinach & Stockings to flick through online, to adorable downloadable postcards, we totally heart the high spirits of it all – so in tune with Gaultier’s own wink-wink humour and a paean to the originality and way-ahead-of-their time nature of the scents themselves, now getting eau fraiche with extra ingredients added to the juice for the (hopefully) warmer months ahead…
‘A sexy fabric softener. A fragrance built on fabric softener accord; clean and fresh like an immaculate tank top ready to slip into. Created by perfumer Nathalie Gracia-Cetto. Neroli flower and mint enrich the base. Sage, a welcome and gentle gustatory ripple marries the Tonka bean, sandalwood and vanilla, the sensual base notes because a tank top is always sexy.’
Jean Paul Gaultier Le Mâle Eau Fraiche £54 for 125 ml eau de toilette
Buy it at The Perfume Shop
‘A torrid, sugar syrup. An unusual blend assembled around white flowers created by perfumer Daphné Bugey. Ginger, indivisible from Classique, is found as an overdose of gourmand: crystalline, reminiscent of a lemon sorbet; sharp, yes, but sweetened with sugar cane juice. Sugar cane, with a sensual edge from the Labdanum Neo. Vanilla is also present. But musk has the final word and rushes to let the brain know we’ll be back for more.’
Jean Paul Gaultier Classique Eau Fraiche £67 for 100ml eau de toilette
Buy it at The Perfume Shop
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