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

Smell your way to wellness with Anima Vinci

Anima Vinci are a niche fragrance house with wellness at their core – not paying mere lip-service to a current trend, but building their scents around a central ethos of literally allowing yourself time to stop and smell the roses (and jasmine, Palo Santo, citrus, sesame seeds…)

With a background at the very first ‘niche’ perfumery house – and years at the creative helm of one of the UK’s most historic fragrance names – Nathalie Vinciguerra brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the table. But it’s her passion for authenticity and sustainability within the world of fragrance that finally drove her to create Anima Vinci. Starting her illustrious career in Paris at L’Oréal, over seven years, she ‘…acquired in-depth expertise in fragrance development and international launches.’

From 2006 until 2015, Nathalie was the Head of Fragrance Development for Penhaligon’s and L’Artisan Parfumeur – creating briefs and working directly with perfumers to create award-winning fragrances you’ll definitely have worn, including absolute classics like Penhaligon’s Juniper Sling. And it was Nathalie’s excellent working relationship with some of the best noses in the world that further prepared her for the massive leap in founding her own fragrance house, with a very particular aim in mind.

 

 

Nathalie genuinely believes in perfume’s power to uplift our senses, and to enhance our own ability to emotionally connect to our surroundings. ‘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.’

A devotee of yoga and meditation for over thirty years, Nathalie’s exuberantly expressed and enlightened concept can instantaneously be understood when actually smelling the beautiful bounty – with Rose Prana, for instance, you will find yourself 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, meanwhile, is an altogether more exotic journey – symbolic of divine hope in India – opulence tempered with lucidity, sandalwood and frangipani, a holiday for the soul.

‘Scent is the most sensational of senses,’ Nathalie explains. ‘The world opens up before me. I’m taken back to my past and propelled towards my future. Timelessly I return to a specific place. Memories take me to my Eden. I enjoy every breath of the world and look forward defiantly. I create fragrances that encourage you to embrace life. All you have to do is breathe.’

 

 

For me, personally, the most immediately transportive fragrance in their collection is Wood of Life. Built around the remarkably calming ingredient palo santo (a wood prized for its cleansing and spiritual properties, and burned in many religious and meditative practices), I genuinely feel my shoulders drop an inch when I spray it. And it’s one of those fragrances that just makes you smile and breathe deeply – just as Nathalie describes. It’s so soothing, like wearing an invisible cloak of perfumed protection, and incredibly useful on days you just feel overwhelmed, at work, on the tube, in a stressful situation at home – wherever you are. A notorious insomniac for pretty much all my life, I sometimes wear this to bed. I’m not going to pretend it zonks me out immediately, but smelling it while breathing deeply has definitely helped slow my overactive mind a while – it brings stillness: a perfume to hit the pause button with.

I cannot recommend the Anima Vinci fragrances highly enough – each one has been carefully composed in a collaboration between Nathalie and some of the world’s foremost perfumers, names like Thomas Fontaine, Christian Provenzano, Randa Hammami, Fanny Bal, Beverley Bayne and Michel Roudnitska. Basically a who’s-who of the fragrance world, and an indication of Nathalie’s prowess for connecting and working with these noses she’s spent her entire career communicating with.

But which of the scents will communicate most deeply with you, I wonder? Perhaps it will depend what mood you’re in and how you want to address it on that day – and now, wonderfully, you are able to try the entire collection at home with the Anima Vinci Discovery Set. Try EIGHT fragrances for only £20, and get ready for some self-care with scents. How are you feeling…?

 

 

Lime Spirit — Lime acts as a stimulating tonic for the mind and body. Lime pacifies your mood and boost brain power. It is a powerful ancient remedy for cleansing the aura and restoring self-confidence

Rose Prana — It benefits the heart chakra that is responsible for love, spiritual wisdom and mental clarity. Influences the central nervous system, boosts self-confidence, self – esteem and positive feeling. Strengthens the aura and stimulate the body

Jasmine Yang — Tonic and relaxant, it generates a positive reaction in the mind, enhances self-confidence, helps to change the mood and increase spiritual well being

Wood of Life — This elevating, soft, uplifting and sweet woody scent has been used for thousands of years for attaining illumination of mind, awaking self-love

Oud Delight — Illuminates the mind and fortifies the power of thinking. Increase the sense of strength, bringing in tranquillity, increasing cerebral functioning and strengthening the nervous system.

Tudo Azul — The potion to put a smile on your face.

Neroli Wisdom — A relaxing potion.

Sesame Chān — A potion to provide a zen state of mind.

We may be in the depths of winter still, but soon the seasons will change, the green bugs will burst open again, the sunshine will return – and in the meantime, why not treat yourself to some moments of scented reflection and calm, to revive and uplift or simply put a smile on your face? Whichever Anima Vinci fragrance you choose to wear, they’ll really help carry you through.

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

Juliette Has a Gun founder, Romano Ricci, reveals his five favourite smells…

Romano Ricci – founder of niche perfume house Juliette Has a Gun – was born to be creative, with roots in both fashion (his great grandmother was renowned couturier Nina Ricci) and perfumery (his grandfather Robert created the famous L’air du temps); but though grateful to his heritage, Romano was driven to make a name for himself and learn the basics for himself rather than resting on his laurels and hoping the prestige of the family name would carry him through.

Romano became an apprentice in the perfumery world, studying for four years and learning from the greatest noses, eventually persuading Francis Kurkdjian – a master of perfumery – to allow him to work with him. Juliette Has a Gun say: ‘In the creator’s mind, the innocent Juliet of Shakespeare is transposed to the 21st century with a gun… Metaphor for the perfume, weapon of seduction, or simple accessory of bluff, the “Gun” essentially symbolizes the liberation of women towards men…and sometimes with an aftertaste of revenge…’

Wryly humorous names like Another Oud, Mad Madame, Not a Perfume and Anyway, along with intriguing blends of notes are the hallmark of Juliette Has a Gun – a house that pays no regard to the traditional way of doing things just for the sake of it, but creating some truly great perfumes that have been blowing the socks off press and public alike since their launch in 2006.

And we are thrilled to now stock the JHAG Discovery Kit in our shop – filled with EIGHT NICHE FRAGRANCES, including a 4ml Not A Perfume, so you can explore layering all of these wonderful fragrances at your leisure (and pleasure). We think this kit creates a WONDERFUL GIFT and is perfect for when you are on the go. All yours to explore and treasure for only £25.

 

But before we wonder what your favourite smells of their Discovery Kit will be, we caught up with the stylish maverick Romano, and once cornered, got him to reveal the smells he just cannot do without in his life. What, we wondered, makes his nostrils quiver with delight?

Romano Ricci: My five favourite smells…

1. Tomato leaves ‘There is something about it. Without any explanation, I am just totally attracted and addicted to this poisoning green smell…’

2. Cetalox ‘This is one of my favorite ingredients, I even created a fragrance [NB: it’s called Not a Perfume] made 100% of it. I love the fact that some people can smell it and others cannot. It is the beauty of this pure ingredient.’

3. Castor Oil Plant ‘It reminds me my passion – car racing. Whenever I enter the garage of my racing team, I smell this odour which immediately puts me in a racing mood.’

4. Lavender ‘As a child we used to spend our vacations in our summer house in Grasse. It was called “la Renardiere”  and I loved it very much. It was surrounded by lavender fields. You could smell it all over the place. I should mention, though, that I kind of had a bad experience with the bees! So, it has a bad side to it too…’

5. Play-Doh ‘I used to love the smell of it as a child and still do, I am deeply jealous of perfumers like Demeter for instance, who created a fragrance around it!’

The scented spotlight: 3 niche houses you need to know

Not everyone happens to live near a niche perfumery (or even a department store with a diverse selection) – and even if you do, it’s sometimes overwhelming to work out where to even begin.

That’s why we like to highlight houses you might not yet have tried, or perhaps have been curious about but didn’t want to spring for a full bottle before you’ve even sniffed any of their fragrances. And this, dear friends, is why perfume samples are essential to fragrance lovers with noses hungry for more, more, MORE! (Scroll down to find out how to get your hands on these).

Today we’re going to focus on our pick of favourite fragrances from three niche houses, all of which you are able to try in the just-launched Precious Perfumes Discovery Box – containing NINETEEN fragrances. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves: which of this small selection of dazzling gems will your spotlight hit first…?

Jovoy Paris Amber Premier is a stunning evocation of velvety, swathing warmth, featuring rose, spices and (of course) the amber accord that gave the fragrance its name. Golden, glimmering it wraps your skin in deliciousness, and  you’ll be sniffing your wrist all day long.

Jovoy Paris Touche Finale plunges you into a world of glamour, fluffy mimosa brushing fruity rose, batting its eyelashes provocatively with flirty heliotrope. A re-interpretation of the classic Poudré, Jovoy describe it as ‘…a tribute to the seductive souls who each have their own rituals of preparation.’ Think dressing rooms, swansdown powder puffs and vintage lipstick. Mwah!

Widian Black I is an Arabian adventure of the senses, starting with a cool/ hot juxtaposition of cardamom, vivid cinnamon and languid drifts of incense as creamy sandalwood and smoky cypress lead you deeper into the journey. The deep and sensual base notes of musk and cedarwood really round this out, a perfect balance that leaves a lasting trail…

Widian Black II invites you to explore a secret garden filled with memories, blue skies beckoning you forth with notes of citrusy mandarin and lush plums swagged with roses. Smooth as silk sandalwood and soft musk whisper to a mysterious base of vanilla and moss, for a scented walk you’ll never want to end.

Widian Black III The third iteration of this opulent house opens with sparkling bergamot and an unusually fruity spearmint before utterly seducing you with supple, aristocratic leather (the ultra expensive kind) and a most elegant dry woodiness, almost transparent in its sophistication. Sweet vanilla, moss, and patchouli then become increasingly addictive as it warms with a throb.

Widian Black IV If subtle is your key to seduction, you’ll definitely be reaching for this graceful little number. Bergamot cuts through the sweetness of blackcurrant and plump prune as delicate rose petals and white flowers flutter to a downy base of vanilla and white musk infused with creamy leather and snuggly sandalwood.

Widian Black V Travelling back to the roaring 1920’s and Bright Young Things, immerse yourself in the breezy freshness of lemon and succulent peach sprinkled with spicy cinnamon. A flower garden at the heart proffers bouquets of tuberose, heady orange blossom and a solar accord (so trending!) on a refined, more-ish base of cedar, caramel and vanilla.

Fragrance Du Bois Oud Jaune is one of their best-selling scents, and you’ll soon discover why. Opening with wafts of exotic blossoms, you’ll dream to a breeze of monoi, ylang-ylang and luscious fruits before swooning to a heart of jasmine, orange blossom and white flowers.  And in Precious Perfumes you get a FULL SIZE Perfume Pen to try, worth £39 alone!

With the Precious Perfumes Discovery Box, you get an astounding NINETEEN niche fragrances in all, two of them alone worth £36 each, plus the full size FRAGRANCE DU BOIS PERFUME PEN worth another £39.To be honest, we’re not sure how we managed to fit so many in, so it would be madness not to get it (and some extra for presents) frankly. Hit that link to find out more and grab yours today!

Precious Perfumes Discovery Box £40 (£35 for V.I.P. club members). BUY IT NOW!

By Suzy Nightingale

Map of the Heart, the niche house pulling at our heart strings

‘It is everything pure, good and evil. It aches, it desires, it is who we are.’ This is how Map of the Heart co-founders Sarah Blair and Jeffrey Darling describe the human heart, and a clue to the inspirations behind the fragrances.

With a creative partnership in writing, design and film, it felt like a natural step to take that expression further in to fragrance – a wearable art form – borne out of their collective need to creatively explore ‘the full atlas of the senses’.

Proudly Australian, each fragrance by perfumer Jaques Huclier has a seam of sandalwood at its core, and it throbs life through the perfumed pulse of this niche house’s scents, using indigenously and sustainably sourced Santalum spicatum. Huclier says that for him, the smell is ‘woody and explosive,’ providing ‘a unique signature of sensuality, texture and deepness to the range—it’s the heart of the Hearts, a beat within the fragrances.’encompassing a passion for telling stories and their understanding that scent can transport the wearer just as words, images and films can whisk us to another world. And oh, those bottles!

 

 

Designed by the legendary Pierre Dinand to resemble an anatomical model of the human heart, each piece looks like it’s straight from a gallery of modern art. Each perfume has been carefully crafted to evoke a differing emotion – the perfumer translating the co-founders words and startling imagery in to the notes he uses, the bottle designer evolving the story through the colours that echo the theme. So you will discover that, gilded, brightly coloured or starkly monochrome, the flacons hold juices just as experimental. From burned bush land juxtaposed by snow, forbidden fruits, passion and the essence of bravery, the spirits of rebellion and attraction: all are unique, and utterly wearable.

Map of the Heart fragrances are £150 for 90ml eau de parfum from harrods.com, but we are thrilled to now stock the Map of the Heart Discovery Set in our shop – try the entire collection for only £25!

 

 

Clear Heart v.1 – Australian summer: surfing, swimming, hot days, cool breezes and the salt that hangs in the air promising more.

Black Heart v.2 – Smoky. Impolite. Dangerous. Its smoky heart of mysterious spices is shot through with shards of fresh eucalyptus and citrus to create an impolite mix of opposites.

Red Heart v.3 – Explosive. Seductive. Addictive. A composition of feijoa, tuberose and spices with sensual notes of musk and vanilla.

Gold Heart v.4 – Nurturing. Precious. Ancient. An exotic warm breeze that wraps around to protect and comfort.

Purple Heart v.5 – Brave. Instinctive. Triumphant. Inverting the olfactory pyramid by opening darker and then brightening.

Pink Heart v.6 – Mingles on the skin with the spiciness of the sumac accord and cistus absolute for a mesmerising ride.

White Heart v.7 – The ethereal and sharp opening of French lavender, aldehydes and cardamom coolly invite us into the vast landscape of love.

So now the only thing left for you to wonder is, which fragrance will pull on your heart strings…?

By Suzy Nightingale

REEK founder Molly reveals her five favourite smells…

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!’

Molly interviewed by Suzy Nightingale

Surrealism & scent? Visit this London gallery for your fragrant fix

Fragrance and art often go hand in paint-stained gloved, but at Dorothy Circus Gallery in London, you can get your fix of both. Now we must admit a penchant for visiting the gift shops of various galleries, but add some perfume and well, we’re heading there first, quite frankly!

A dream of opening a gallery was realised by art enthusiast, Alexandra Mazzanti – a niece of the Princess Alexandra Hercolani of Bologna, who was lucky enough to inherit some beautiful artworks from her grandmother. A fortunate beginning that was encouraged and imbued with the spirit for collecting by her mother, a classical pianist with a taste for 19th century paintings won at the many auctions they visited together.

An independent gallery dedicated to the art of surrealism, the Dorothy Circus space is an unsually intriguing place to put on your fragrfant map of the capital, with a spotlight on the Pop Surrealism movement that means the installations are ever-changing, and always worth a look. Originally, Mazzanti opened the first gallery in Rome in 2007, affirming the space as a must-visit hub of all that’s happening on the Italian art and cultural scene. Skip forward ten years, on the anniversary of their opening, and a charming little branch of this culturual window on the art world arrived as a pop-up in Notting Hill, before later moving to a permanent location in Marble Arch in 2018.

Alexandra clearly has a passion for perfume, as well as art – originally collaborating with master perfumer Lorenzo Dante Ferro for a perfume inspired by an artwork, but now their shop offers a small selection of niche fragrances, candles and room sprays by such scented luminaries as the brilliant (and often extremely hard to find) Maria Candida Gentile and Oriza L. Legrand. With perfumes often displayed on plinths, it’s certain Alexandra views them as art works in their own right (a debate that often rages throughout the fragrance community), but whatever your opinion, how wonderful to sniff out some new scents in such an unexpected setting…

Dorothy Circus Gallery, 35 Connaught Street, London, W2 2AZ

Opening Times: Monday – Saturday 10:30 – 18:30

By Suzy Nightingale

Buly 1803 at the Louvre

Eight masterpieces have inspired eight world-famous perfumers to create fragrances for L’Officine Universelle Buly 1803 – the ancestral beauty, fragrance, home and lifestyle brand revived by Ramdane Touhami and his wife and business partner, Victoire de Tallac.

Buly 1803 invited The Perfume Society to a private view of the fragrances alongside the artworks within the Louvre. Yes, a private view – no jostling crowds or security guards moving you along, just a small group of journalists wandering the magnificent building, the hallways echoing to the sounds of our footsteps, the smell of beeswax a clue to the wooden floors being polished, our voices hushed, reverential, as though we were in church.

Before we entered the sanctuary of art – and now, scent – we asked Victoire how the project had come about, and why, with the greatest respect, the Louvre had asked a (still relatively small) niche company to create the perfumes, when they could have had any number of famous French fragrance houses beating a path to their door. ‘I think they really wanted to collaborate with us because they’re still interested in working with modern artists, to show the power that art still has to inspire,’ she explained.

Inspirational indeed, when one considers the artworks arrayed here represent some of the most famous pieces in the world. As we walked by faces looking out at us from the golden frames or perched atop marble plinths, it felt strangely like visiting a gallery of dear friends, glancing in our wake.

One by one, we were led to particular pieces the perfumers had chosen as the inspiration for their fragrance. An art historian explained each work in great depth, with the perfumers standing by to explain their process, and of course to let us smell their final creations.

Describing how they had worked together, Victoire said that ‘Ramdane had a very clear idea of what he wanted to do, allowing the perfumers to pick the artwork and creating a perfume based on it. They had completely free reign, they could choose anything.’ Perhaps unsurprisingly, none of them chose The Mona Lisa – it would have been a bit obvious, it’s become the one painting most people in the world could probably name as being housed at the Louvre. And really, as you will see, there are far more beguiling oeuvre to become enamoured by…

Conversation in a Park – interpreted by Dorothée Piot

Gainsborough’s painting of courtly flirtations within an idyllic landscape inspired the perfumer, Piot, to add sharp, cooling touches of peppermint and bergamot to an imposing bouquet of Ottoman roses. One can almost hear the laughter, the stiff rustle of shot taffeta, a snapshot of shared intimacy that’s thought to be Gainsborough himself, with his wife.

Buly say: ‘Behind the green, sylvan curtain of a theatre of the tender touch, a ray of sunlight, redolent of berries and citrus, illuminates the temple of the soul. On a carpet of peppermint, the silky petals of the dress unfold like the heart of a rose; a flush rises to the cheeks. In the air, sweet nothings float.’

The Valpinçon Bather – interpreted by Daniela Andrier

The luminescent skin of Jean-Auguste Dominique Ingres’ Bather just glows from the canvas, and perfumer Andrier translates the glorious textures using a stimulating burst of citronella and orange blossom, embellished with rich patchouli and a smoky drift of incense.

Buly say: ‘Steam rising from marble sluiced with waves of heated water, dampened muslin wraps the shining limbs, delicately soaped; susurrations of the hammam. After bathing, resting on fresh sheets, the skin, still beaded with moisture, is chafed with lavender and orange blossom; now refreshed, its velvety pallor like an iris petal pearled by a mist of incense and musk.’

The Venus de Milo – interpreted by Jean-Christophe Hérault

Here, Héreault reconstructs the languid sensuality of the female form using an intoxicating combination of mandarin, jasmine and amber – a quietly imposing blend that seems to swoon on the skin rather than merely be applied.

Buly say: ‘Gentle white of jasmine, of neroli, of the matte and polished petals of magnolia, amber and sacred wood. Eternal, without past or present, the beauty of the marble goddess, elusive and notional, lifts up the soul with timeless bliss.’

The Lock – interpreted by Delphine Lebeau

Fragonard’s much-discussed painting provided Lebeau’s fragrant muse, seeking to evoke the sexually charged possible danger of the scene juxtaposed by the opulent velvet drapery, with a combination of lily and musk to create her bewitching scent.

Buly say: ‘Scent of the apple on the table, fruit carried to the lips like a kiss, to the neck, the breast. Ardent desire entangled in linen sheets, tousled hair, traces of the teeth on tender skin, its white musk scorched scarlet by love’s burning touch; the heady thrill of an illicit rendez-vous.’

Saint Joseph the Carpenter – interpreted by Sidonie Lancesseur

Georges de La Tour’s tender depiction of Joseph’s weather-beaten face, lit by candelight and looking with concern at the infant Jesus, is demonstrated by Lancesseur with a deep, resonant thrum of cedar wood suddenly illuminated by verbena, pink berries and vetiver.

Buly say: ‘The golden orange blossom and incense ignite in the amber night, humming with vetiver and cedarwood. In a censer, spices and dry herbs smoulder to keep the spirits at bay. A gesture is arrested, suspended in the face of epiphany. The divine aura illuminates the heart of the initiate, and banishes the darkness.’

The Winged Victory of Samothrace – interpreted by Aliénor Massenet

The emotional power of the iconic statue – found in hundreds of pieces, she was put back together like a jigsaw – has been given life in olfactory form by Massenet’s rich harmony of tuberose, magnolia and jasmine, enhanced by the warmth of myrrh.

Buly say: ‘Blown by a gale scented with citrus, in the perilous rush of the straits, the white bouquet of the salt-encrusted drapery wraps around the victorious effigy. At her marble feet, the waves, the incantations, the roses, the ocean of History and all her conquests; at her feet, the foundered hearts of heroes.’

Nymph With the Scorpion – interpreted by Annick Ménardo

Somehow making marble seem as supple as the female form, Lorenzo Bartolini’s sculpture does what it says in the title – the naked nymph perhaps regretting not donning a pair of shoes and she reaches for her freshly bitten foot. And Ménardo’s enticing bouquet of heliotrope and jasmine also sizzles with amber and musk.

Buly say: ‘The bitter kiss of the sting of almond prickles on the naked skin massaged with amber. Like quicksilver, the venom floods the veins, arrests the maiden’s glance, frozen in marble. The heart clouds with toxins, like the bloom of algae in a clear pond.’

Grande Odalisque – interpreted by Domitille Michalon-Bertier

The licentious gaze of Inges courtesan is reflected in Bertier’s alluring trail of exotic incense and pink pepper enhanced with intensely musky notes, to represent the reach-out-and-touch me textural deliciousness of the sitter’s pale skin and the luxuriously delicate draperies.

Buly say: ‘The musky, chilly satin of a shoulder, the sinuous curve of a hip or breast, gleaming in an alcove chased with brass, an Orientalist’s shrine, a dream of Eastern Promise. The pink pepper of the cheeks pricks the heart and, beneath the silken scarf, a perfume of incense suffuses the hair.’

We were so sad not to be able to include this incredible Buly/Louvre collaboration in the Perfume & Culture edition of our magazine, The Scented Letter – the project didn’t launch until after it had been published. But it certainly shows our fingers are firmly on the pulse of this artistic fragrant revolution. Get a huge dose of glorious artistic interpretations of perfume through the ages – from cinematic scents, to actors using fragrance to fully ‘become’ the parts they play, and a jaw-dropping collection of perfume art flaçons recently auctioned in America (one of which graces the cover). Along with your regular scent shots of news, interviews and all the latest reviews, the 60-page print magazine is available to purchase here.

What a complete honour – and how overwhelmingly emotional – it was to walk the hallowed halls of the Louvre in such a private party, and to smell such wonderful evocations of the artforms. In Eau Triple formulation (milky, hydrating and skin-friendly water-based), each truly pays perfumed homage to the iconic artworks. It was an experience we will never forget, and which we urge you to take part in by visiting the Louvre, and trying the scents on your own skin having seen the magnificent pieces yourself.

The Buly 1803 shop will sell all eight fragrances at the Louvre for one year only, along with candles, scented soap sheets, and fragranced postcards for the most chic ‘wish you were here’. So if you’ve always meant to go there, or hanker after another look at the Louvre’s incredible collection, then now would be the perfect time for fragrance and art fans to pay them a visit…

L’Officiene Universelle Buly 1803 €150 for 200ml Eau Triple

By Suzy Nightingale

Come into the garden with Parterre

When David and Julia Bridger decided to combine the ruling passions of their lives – art, gardens, travel and perfume – and gather a team of experts (literally) in their field, they set in motion a series of events that is poised to change the face of British fragrance forever. And put Parterre on the map…

Embracing the concept of ‘from seed to bottle’, David and Julia not only set out to to grow, harvest and distil many of their own ingredients – but they also had a longing to try growing crops that had never before been grown on British soil. Even including – astonishingly – vetiver.

The English-grown vetiver is key in their sublime scent, Root of All Goodness, which you can try a sample of in our Niche Collection II Discovery Box:

 

Root of All Goodness

FAMILY: Fougère
TOP NOTES: ginger, lemon, bergamot
HEART NOTES: clary sage, hyssop, blue hyssop
BASE NOTES: vetiver, leather accords, amber

Those craving warmth should look no further than Parterre’s golden elixir, an evocative blend of all things radiant. Even the top notes of bergamot and lemon have been enriched with the tingle of ginger, softly melding into the hazy heart of camphorous hyssop and herbaceous clary sage.

 

To continue the story of this garen-centric house, the work that has gone into this project is nothing short of astounding. It begins with finding and restoring Keyneston Mill in the Dorset’s Tarrant Valley, bordered by the River Stour. There, a series of botanical gardens has been designed – hence the name, ‘Parterre’ – divided into ‘The Fougère Garden’ (with its ferns, lavender and mosses), the Padua Garden (roses, jasmine, geranium), and so on.

The planting expands into surrounding fields, with crop-scale ingredients, including rose geranium, mint, yarrow and the aforementioned vetiver. (Which we can report is incredibly smooth and pure: a vetiver lover’s dream!). For Julia and David, this is about ‘reinventing perfumery by taking it back to its roots.’ Parterre‘s motto: ‘Where creative botany meets artistry and the wild spirit of adventure.’

We think you’re going to want to explore this garden of fragrances quite thoroughly… You can vist Parterre’s Keyneston Mill gardens for a small £3 entry charge, and of course explore the Root of All Goodness in your own home, – along with twelve other fragrances – in our Niche Collection II Discovery Box!

Niche Collection II Discovery Box £19 (£15 for VIP Club members)

By Suzy Nightingale