mNPA – China’s first niche perfumery awards

The passion for niche perfumes is growing worldwide, and fragrance houses have been telling us for some time that the Chinese market has been expanding. Once written off as only liking quiet or subdued scents, or outsiders assuming the majority of consumers don’t feel comfortable wearing personal scent at all, it’s fascinating to see that China have just held their first ever awards for niche perfumery: the mNPA

Set to become an annual event, the mNPA – Minorité Niche Perfumery Awards – is a collaboration between the niche Chinese fine fragrance and distribution company Minorité and Firmenich, the largest privately-owned fragrance and flavour company.

Minorité founder Song Yuan said ‘This is the first time we have held the awards for niche perfumes in China… We hope these awards will help Chinese consumers learn more about our local niche brands and inspire domestic perfumes.’ Paul Andersson, Firmenich China President, explained why China was the perfect setting for these awards. ‘Following the opening of our first Fine Fragrance Atelier in China in September last year, Firmenich’s participation in mNPA demonstrates our commitment to developing the fine fragrance industry in China. Firmenich is honored to support worldwide exposure for the outstanding fine fragrance players in China by leveraging our global network and our understanding of the local Chinese consumers and market.’

‘The awards encourage the creation of innovative fragrances with an artistic touch, based on a unique approach. The nomination jury included leading perfumers, senior fragrance critics and Key Opinion Leaders who were responsible for nominating the candidates and shortlisting the finalists for each award category. Winners were then chosen by public vote.’

And the winners were…

  • Best Independent Niche Perfumes 2019: Fig-Tea by Nicolaï; Hermann A Mes Cotes Me Paraissait Une Ombre by Etat Libre d`Orange; The Orchid Man by Frapin.
  • Best Niche Perfumes Affiliated with a Group 2019: Oolang Infini by Atelier Cologne; L`Ombre Dans L`Eau (EDT) by diptyque; Florabellio by diptyque.
  • Best Chinese Niche Perfume 2019: Insects Awaken by KONG BAI; Wind by UTTORI; Rosmanthus by O D’HORA.

 

 

These awards work both ways: showing the fragrances that are making significant scent waves in China while also showcasing home-grown Chinese niche houses that perhaps aren’t widely known about even in their own country. We applaud this initiative and would love to explore more truly niche fragrances from around the world, wouldn’t you? Anything that helps diversify our olfactive palate, and the voices and memories creating their own unique stories in scent, can only be a good thing.

Written by Suzy Nightingale

This fragrance is the bee’s knees – literally!

Scientists have discovered that certain types of bees actually create their own ‘perfumes’ in order to attract a mate. And what’s more, a niche brand has just launched a Bee fragrance that’s already creating a buzz…

A new article in Science Daily reveals that scientists at the University of California have discovered male orchid bees don’t sipmply flit among the flowers collecting pollen to make honey back at the hive – they’re also using their wings ‘…to disperse a bouquet of perfumes into the air.’ And their studies have concluded that ‘the aromatic efforts are all for the sake of attracting a mate.’

Associate Professor Santiago Ramirez, UC Davis Department of Evolution and Ecology, explained that while they already knew many animals produce pheremones, the unique factor for the orchid bee is that ‘the majority of their pheromones are actually collected from plants and other sources like fungi.’ Science Daily suggests that ‘Orchid bees are master perfumers,’ and goes on to explain that the scientists reserach suggests that ‘the perfumes males concoct are unique to their specific species’.

Ramirez,and recent Ph.D. graduate student Philipp Brand, from the Population Biology Graduate Group, have been studying the mating habits of orchid bees for some years, in the course of their studies, ‘unraveling the complex chemicals responsible for successful procreation.’ What they didn’t expext to find, though, was a brand new discovery that possibly explains the evolutionary divergence of bee species: environmental perfumes (and we’re not talking ‘clean’ or ‘green’ beauty claims here, folks!)

In the study, which was first published in Nature Communications, Brand, Ramirez and their colleagues set out their case to suggest that the evolution of sexual signaling in orchid bees can directly be linked to ‘a gene that’s been shaped by each species’ perfume preferences.’

Brand commented that, ‘Our study supports the hypothesis that in the orchid bee perfume communication system, the male perfume chemistry and the female preference for the perfume chemistry can simultaneously evolve via changes in a single receptor gene.’ And this could explain why a single species split into two distinct species that we knew were linked, but had no idea why they had diverged. Ah yes, the power of that scent sillage is strong, it seems, even for bees. But how did one bee’s perfume-making prowess suddenly woo more of the female bees to his partiular, er, honeypot?

 

Green Orchid Bee

 

Explains Ramirez: ‘Imagine you have an ancestral species that uses certain compounds to communicate with each other,” said Ramirez. “If you have a chemical communication channel and then that chemical communication channel splits into two separate channels, then you have the opportunity for the formation of two separate species.’

Do make time to read the full article in Science Daily – it’s a fascingating read, and yet another notch in our understanding of the power of smell. But let’s not only focus on fragrances that makes bees feel like getting busy (buzzy?) with it; we perfume-loving humans have a brand new sweet-smelling scent to explore that’s perfectly themed – and although not inspired by the reasearch, as far as we know, happens to be perfectly timed, too. The Canadian-based niche house of Zoologist have just launched the latest in their animal-centric scents: behold Bee

Perfumer Cristiano Canali has created a perfume that showcases luxurious amounts of labdanum, dollops of honey, a leathery orange blossom dusted with powdery mimosa, delciously rounded by nutty tonka and heady heliotrope.

Zoologist Bee, £195 for 65ml extrait de parfum (1ml samples £3)
Try it at Bloom Perfumery

So which honey-based fragrances are likely to get you buzzing? Read our page all about the history and use of honey as a fragrant ingredient, and discover other perfumes to try, for the scent perfumer Christine Nagel describes as ‘half devil, half angel…’

Written by Suzy Nightingale

Connock London’s win GOLD Pure Beauty Award

Connock London have just won GOLD for Best Niche Fragrance at the Pure Beauty Awards, and what’s more, they’ve popped up with a perfumed treatment space at Westfield London – the perfect place to explore their range of award-winning niche fragrances, candles, body-care luxuries and more. But fear not if you can’t make it there in person, for we have a wonderful suggestion for you to try samples of their scents without even having to leave your sofa…

At the very heart of this wonderful British brand is family. Amanda Connock inherited her passion for scent through her father, mesmerised by the wonderfully exotic and natural essences he would bring from his travels as an ingredient supplier to the fragrance world. Today her brand, Connock London, is a best-kept perfume secret – but one that’s shared by those-in-the-know, inspired by the love of and respect for nature, native folklore and travels.

Connock London Vittaveli is the fragrance that won Gold for Best Niche Fragrance at the 2019 Pure Beauty Awards. And we can see why. Inspired by the tropical beauty of the Vittaveli island located in the sparkling turquoise waters of the Maldives, it’s another fragrant destination we’re dreaming of escapin to by wearing the perfume. Elegant top notes of frankincense, geranium, spicy pepper berries and bergamot blend into a leafy green note reminiscent of the fruit of the Banyan Tree. A radiant floral heart of jasmine, pink rose, frangipani and gibiscus is warmed by a sultry base of sandalwood, vanilla orchid and delicate oudh notes.

Kukui Eau de Parfum is the signature fragrance of Connock London – and with a fascinating story. When customers fell in love with the scent of Connock London’s bodycare, they pleaded for it to be offered as a perfume – and thus, Kukui Eau de Parfum was born, to keep them happy. (And they are, they are!)
Beautifully blended to reflect the soul and beauty of the Hawaiian islands from which Connock London’s signature kukui oil is sourced, this elegant floriental is built around the gardenia flower and is complimented by ‘scent-sational’ floral notes of Moroccan rose, white jasmine and calla lily. The scent is further enriched with sandalwood, vetiver, white amber and layers of cashmere and sheer musks, completed with the rich bitter chocolate sweetness of vanilla absolute and tonka bean.

For further refreshing, you can’t do better than douse yourself lavishly in the gorgeously green Connock London Andiroba – here we travel to the mysterious natural beauty of the tropical Amazonian Rainforest. It opens with lush, leafy top notes which are enlivened with citrus accords of bergamot, lemon and Brazilian orange. A rich floral heart of iris and violet sits on a deep, earthy base of sandalwood, cedar and musk with a touch of lavender and Peruvian pink pepper.

We have a way for you to embrace the sunshine spirit of true luxury this house embodies – and no passport (or even train ticket) is required! Why not try for yourself at home, today?

The Niche Collection Three Discovery Box (£19 / £15 for V.I.P. Club Members) includes perhaps THE most raved about cult perfume: Kukui. Here, lavish amounts of that rose, jasmine, bergamot, lily and – most importantly – the waxy, dreamy magnificence of gardenia swirl into an immediate and bountiful floral bouquet that hits you as soon as you spray, seeking to to recreate the sense-delighting experience of visiting the island of Hawaii. We can practically feel the white sand between our toes when we wear this, so vivid is the sensation – and how wonderful to be able to wear something mood-lifting and life-enhancing in these often dark and dreary months.

Meanwhile, you can go to our page dedicated Connock London to read more about their history and inspirations, or pop along to their website to explore the full range. However you choose to try them, we feel sure you’ll fall under the scented spell, too, and will be joining those in the nose in your fragrant ravings!

By Suzy Nightingale

The Perfume Shop Pop-Ups: emotion-based scent shopping

Pop-up shops are quite the thing nowadays, and The Perfume Shop, the UK’s largest specialist fragrance retailer, has announced it will open a central London pop up shop for four days in October, rather excitingly offering scent shoppers the chance to select perfumes based on emotions rather than gender, notes or brands.

The Perfume Shop Say: ‘It is accepted that perfume can affect your mood, a simple spray can make you feel happy, romantic or energised.  On 25th October The Perfume Shop celebrates this transformative power of perfume with its first pop up shop to group products by emotion. This Shop of Feelings will celebrate how perfume can affect your mood, focusing on perfumes to make people feel Sexy, Calm, Invigorated or Happy.

For the first time perfumes will be grouped together to celebrate the way they make you feel, and the store’s experts will be on hand to guide customers through the different moods and perfumes on offer to help everyone discover something new.’

Cathy Newman, The Perfume Shop Marketing & Customer Experience Director, explained: ‘Ten years ago people walked into our stores and headed for the men’s section, or women’s section or just the brand they knew. Today’s customers are very different, they don’t shop by gender anymore, they want to explore different notes and be transported emotionally by their perfume.

“We can’t wait to hear customer feedback on the pop up shop in Covent Garden, and who knows this new way of shopping by feelings could be the future for fragrance.’

Non-london scent sniffers, do not despair! There are a smattering of other pop-ups around the country (see below), and hopefully more will follow in the future.

At The Perfume Society, we’ve long held with encouraging people not to pre-judge fragrances based on what the bottle looks like or the listed notes of a scent – blind-smelling is definitely the way forward, and hopefully this new concept of shopping based on how you feel (or want the fragrance to help you feel) will encourage other retailers to take braver steps.

The Pop Up Shop is only open for four days in central London from 24th to 28th October, and will display new and classic perfumes, as well as a selection of beautiful coffret and gift sets, so perfect for early Christmas shoppers.

Where to find them:

Regent Shopping Centre in Hamilton (opened 15th October)

The Avenue Shopping Centre in Newton Mearns (opens 19th October)

Maltings Shopping Centre in St Albans (opens 22nd October)

Covent Garden, 5 Great Newport Street (24th to 28th October)

Gourmande Jayne: Ormonde Jayne get figgy with it

Linda Pilkington, founder and CEO of London-based niche perfumery Ormonde Jayne, is never one for sitting still. Whenever we meet her, she’s dashing back and forth at 100 miles an hour, always brimming with creativity and new ideas, the latest being Gourmande Jayne

‘Gourmande Jayne’ is a natural extension of Linda’s scented world –  a blog ‘defining scent and good eating’ that features lifestyle tips, fashion and beauty, advice for gardeners, travel diaries as Linda hunts for new fragrance ingredients, how-to videos and deliciously scented recipes she’s constantly inspired by – showing the world how to bring fragrance into every area of life, to enhance to joy of every day. Quite frankly, we’re not sure how she find the time, but we’re awfully glad she does!

We’re especially loving the recipe for Baked Figs with Goat’s Cheese (and the serving suggestion – ‘serve warm with a glass of wine!’) which we first got to taste at the wonderful Ormonde Jayne Christmas Showcase (watch out for our Christmas issue of The Scented Letter Magazine for more new on the fragrant goodies in store!)

See the recipe, below, and watch Linda prepare hers by visiting the Gourmet section of the blog. We promise you it taste (and smells!) amazing, and it’s just the thing for warming your cockles when the wether’s a bit cooler, but you don’t feel quite ready for rib-sticking stews just yet. We’re holding off the donning of tights for a while, and holding on to thoughts of summer holidays by eating these, and quaffing wine while we’re at it. Only because it’s suggested, of course…

Gourmande Jayne Baked Figs with Goat’s Cheese

Ingredients:
Medium size figs
Soft goats cheese
Chopped walnuts
Chopped fresh sage
Clear honey
Salt and pepper

Instructions:
Preheat oven to 200 C – Cut off fig stems and cut an X at the top of fig half way down.
Using a teaspoon, stuff soft goats cheese into the fig. Sprinkle with the fresh fine chopped sage and chopped walnuts.
Drizzle with a little honey and small amount of add salt and pepper to taste.
Place in a baking dish.
Place in oven for about 5 minutes.
Serve warm with a glass of wine!

Written by Suzy Nightingale

[Recipe and photos by Linda Pilkington]

The Scented Letter Magazine

Well you’re here, so we’re going to take it as read that you enjoy reading about fragrance! But now imagine a glossy magazine filled to brimming with the very latest news, reviews, full-length features and exclusive one-on-one interviews with the best noses in the world.

Described as ‘a must-read’ by industry-insiders and fragrance-lovers alike, we are proud as punch of The Scented Letter Magazine, and it seems the feeling’s mutual…

With multiple Jasmine Awards (the fragrance industry’s ‘Oscars’, awarded by The Fragrance Foundation) and guest articles by fellow award-winning journalists, we take a theme for each issue and explore it in gorgeously unashamed detail.

Our ethos is that fragrance should be open to everyone, and so our readers range from people around the world who adore perfume, perfumers themselves, founders of fragrance houses and PRs hungry for news they just don’t get to read anywhere else.

Expert opinions, breaking news, fragrant reviews, stunning photographs and in-depth interviews – your glossily beautiful 60-page PRINT edition of The Scented Letter – The Perfume Society‘s acclaimed magazine will open the doors to the world of fragrance no matter what your experience.

A niche-lover who’s amassed hundreds of bottles in their collection or a perfume newbie: you’re all included, and welcome to explore this exciting world that’s just waiting for your fingertips…

Our latest magazine is The Alphabet Issue, taking an A-Z look at everything from Aldehydes to Madame Zed (Lanvin’s mysterious perfumer, who nobody can trace). Take a sneak-peek here!

 

All issues of The Scented Letter can be purchased individually for £15 (£12.50 for VIP Club Members) or back-ordered if you fancy a catch-up. But don’t risk missing out, treat yourself or loved one to an Annual Print Subscription – an entire year of fragrant reading for £75 (including P&P), to be read, referred to and admired many times (so we’re told!)

Written by Suzy Nightingale

 

Would you try 'Street Perfume' at a bus-stop….?

Commuters waiting for their ride at Los Angeles Mar Vista bus stop are being presented with a mysterious chrome cylinder, the inside glowing blue, and a sign that reads: ‘Try Street Perfume’…
Those brave enough to stick their hands inside get a spritz of a surprising scent created by Alan Nakagawa, in his tenure as Creative Catalyst Artist-in-Residence at the L.A Department of Transportation. But don’t be expecting something along the lines of Chanel No. 5 or Shalimar, for as Nakagawa admits, ‘They weren’t really designed for anybody to wear. They were designed to evoke conversation at a bus stop.’
And quite how that conversation might go is anyone’s guess, as the scents are all ultra-locally inspired,
Working with the agency’s Vision Zero team for a year, Nakagawa’s mission is to reimagine how people perceive the streets around them. Having already made art-filled zines and road-sign haikus, he was also ‘…obsessed with experimenting with something to titillate the nose.’
Anyone travelling to L.A in the next few weeks? Here are three of the weekly-rotating ‘Street Perfume’ scents you could try, if you dare…

Into Town: ‘It’s a plant, indigenous to the area, called California sagebrush. Back in the day when the caballeros were working really hard, and then they had a break, they would rub this plant all over their bodies because, you know, they wouldn’t bathe or anything,’ Nakagawa explains. ‘Then they would ride into town and do whatever partying they were going to do. I like the idea of this early form of perfume that the cowboys used in California that happened to smell good enough it would at least neutralize their stench.’
Economic Development: ‘There are a lot of things going on in Los Angeles, a lot of changes. Some call it gentrification, some call it economic development. I wanted that to be more of a fun smell. So it’s kind of a lavenderish smell at first, kind of musky, and then it quickly changes into a coffee smell with cocoa and vanilla. Everyone who smells it always starts giggling, which is what I wanted to evoke. I wanted to make it playful, even though the discussion happening currently is very toxic.’
Hollywood Springtime: ‘This one is very autobiographical because I’ve always had this thing about the four seasons, having been born and raised in Los Angeles,’ says Nakagawa. ‘I’m only aware of the seasons through the movies or television. I didn’t really see snow until I was an adult, for instance, and I only experienced autumn and orange leaves in post-grad…. I guess maybe I felt cheated when I was a kid. ‘Hollywood Springtime’ is going back to that thing about music. It’s a smell that has no base note, so it’s easy to forget what it smells like. When you smell it it’s like, Oh, this is very nice, it’s very springtime and flowery, it has a sweetness and a wetness to it. But after an hour you probably won’t remember what it smelled like because it doesn’t have substance.’
The bus stop is located at Centinela Avenue and Venice Boulevard, where the perfumes will be available to try throughout August. With a counter logging roughly 500 ‘arm-pokes’ in to the machine thus far, we rather hope something similar will make its way to the UK… and we’d be first in line to try!
Written by Suzy Nightingale
 

Want to work in perfume? The Perfumer's Story and Azzi Glasser have some exciting roles for you…

Two very exciting new opportunities have arisen to work within the very heart of The Perfumer’s Story and with scent mavern and fragrance designer herself, Azzi Glasser.
Surely the ultimate in contemporary cool, Azzi is an award-winning perfume designer who has created bespoke fragrances for the likes of Helena Bonham Carter, Jude Law, Kylie Minogue, Tom Hardy, Noomi Rapace, Orlando Bloom and Johnny Depp. With a staggering portfolio of artists, designer brands and celebrities who can’t get enough of her fragrances, the launch of The Perfumer’s Story collection gave rise to perfumes inspired – and to be worn by – those with ‘Character & Style.’

Azzi says: ‘We are looking for two talented people to join our team as Development Manager and also as a PA to join our creative, fast growing company.  We will send more details in response to applications…’
Those fragrantly obsessed and keen to work in this exciting industry are kindly requested to get in touch: Azzi@ThePerfumersStory.com
Written by Suzy Nightingle