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!’
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…
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…
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 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.’
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.’
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.’
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 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.’
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.’
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’OfficieneUniverselle Buly 1803 €150 for 200ml Eau Triple
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.
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!
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…
When we were curating the Limited Edition Niche Discovery Box, we wanted to include the most exciting niche fragrances we’ve come across lately. It can be really difficult to find these houses if you don’t happen to live in London or near an independent perfumery – and even if you do, it would take ages to seek out all these scents – FOURTEEN in all! – so we’ve saved your legs and done all the pre-sniffing to find the hottest niche brands right now…
Have a look here to read all about the fragraces, with three huge luxury size samples and the entire contents worth over £75, but costing you only £23 (or just £19 forVIP Club members ); but right now let’s focus on why we think you should be excited about exploring these niche houses, now.
One of the things that truly sets a ‘niche’ house apart is their founders hands-on approach – and the unique personalities they bring to their brand’s creation. At The Perfume Society, we truly believe perfume lovers want to know more than merely ‘this is new’ – it’s one of the reasons we started! – and that’s why we dedicate entire pages to houses’ histories, from tracing heritage and discovering why they’ve embraced niche, to finding out what makes their founders tick, and what drives their perfume passions…
Showcasing fragrances created by some of the world’s most renowned perfumers, Anima Vinci is 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. 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.
Oh, what a wonderful fragrant story this is: a traditional British perfume house, restored to its glory in the 21st Century – with the 2013 niche-focused relaunch of Atkinsons fragrances. A sleeping beauty of a tale, actually, interwoven with the names of heroes and heroines, princes and dandies. And as if that wasn’t enough, a rags-to-riches story, too.In spring 1799, an enterprising young man named James Atkinson set forth from the wilds of Cumberland for London. In his suit pocket were recipes for fine fragrances and toiletries he’d created himself. And next to him sat a generous amount of rose-scented bear grease balm. (Yes, really.) Even more extraordinarily, next to the balm sat a real, live bear who – so the tale goes – was utterly devoted to James…
One of the city’s newest niche perfume house, BDK has its roots firmly in Paris’s perfumed history, while its design is even inspired by an iconic Parisian building. Unlike the names Guerlain, Creed or Dior, Benedek isn’t one you’d immediately associate with perfume. But in its own way, 29-year-old David Benedek‘s family has also played a pivotal role in sharing the love of French fragrance within France and beyond its shores.
There are few fragrance houses still as ‘relevant’ after almost 200 years as the wonderful Paris-based house of E. Coudray – which can trace its roots back to the reign of Louis XVIII, no less, and the year 1822. The Paris-born founder was a doctor-chemist, Edmond Coudray (the ‘E’ in E. Coudray), who went on to enjoy a spectacular career, creating eaux de Cologne, pomades, creams and soaps for the crowned heads of France, Italy and England – including Queen Victoria, for whom the perfume ‘Reine Victoria’ was made. Now enjoyed by niche fragrance-lovers who appreciate their unerring quality and dressing-table worthy bottles, no wonder this heritage house is proudly thriving.
Fragrance du Bois
With their headquarters in Paris and a number of privately owned sustainable plantations in Asia, Fragrance Du Bois are world experts in the protection and harvesting of oudh – sometimes known as ‘liquid gold’. And they have mastered the blending of this fabled ingredient, using some of the best ‘noses’ in the world. Fragrance Du Bois are, quite unashamedly, so oudh-obsessed. And are we surprised? Derived from the dark resinous wood of the Aquilaria tree, oudh (often spelled ‘oud’) is an utterly fascinating material – a resin that occurs in less than 7% of trees, in the wild. Which explains why the material is so precious – and, sought-after. And not all oudh, it transpires, is harvested with the focus on sustainability that Fragrance Du Bois are renowned for.
Juliette Has a Gun Romano Ricci has perfume in his DNA. His great-grandmother was the legendary couturier Nina Ricci and his grandfather Robert was creator of the equally iconic L’Air du Temps. He launched Juliette Has A Gun in December 2006: a brand devoted to women, offering a new type of elegance within niche perfumery: ‘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. “Gun” essentially symbolises the liberation of women towards men… And sometimes with an aftertaste of revenge.’
Kingdom Scotland Imogen Russon-Taylor has created the very first Scottish fragrance house – capturing the history and majestic landscapes of her home country in a portfolio of utterly contemporary fragrances…The worlds of whisky and fragrance have much in common, believes Imogen Russon-Taylor. And she should know: after a distinguished career in the aromatic world of Scotch whisky, Imogen has now gone on to create her own fragrance house – the very first to be based north of the border. ‘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.’
Merchant of Venice
When the princess Teodora Ducas – daughter of the Emperor of Byzantium – married the Doge Domenico Selvo in 1060, it can be said the grand Venetian tradition of perfumery (and the accompanying products with which the royal court liked to adorn themselves) truly began. Later centuries would come to see Venice as a centre for the art of European perfumery – a vibrant city that never shied away from revelling in the finer things life has to offer. Surrounded by such beauty, it seems only natural the aristocrats would wish to look – and smell – just as fabulous. Skip forward several centuries to 2011, and the Vidal family – already renowned in the world of perfumery for more than a century – decided to pay homage to this glorious cultural tradition.
It’s easy to look back and think the timing was spot on,’ says John Evans, founder of Modernist Fragrance and (perhaps somewhat surprisingly) former financier. ‘That was true to a degree,’ he admits, ‘but the rest was like anything you’re passionate about: hard work, perseverance, some setbacks, a bit of luck.’ Through books, involvement with industry organisations, meetings with perfumers, as well as a research to Grasse – global epicentre of perfume creation – he immersed himself in the techniques of fine perfumery, painstakingly experimenting with building his own compositions. ‘Time and space change once compounding begins,’ John explains, ‘like being enthralled by something you’re writing or reading.’
Rising star fragrance house Prosody London believe that plants are more than just useful ingredients on which we rely, saying ‘they are the basis of human wellbeing, the silent friends without which our planet would be bare and our lives unthinkable…’ 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… Taking the beauty of plants – their stems, leaves, petals, and even the their cycle of growth and maturing beauty – as their guiding inspiration, Prosody London talk passionately about how ‘some of the earliest cultures saw plants as a grammar, a code and a cosmology.’
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 fragrances, made by world-renowned perfumer Jacques Chabert, evoke the idyllic setting and, in strictly limited, hand-numbered bottles, are truly ‘niche’.
Parle Moi De Parfum Michel Almairac has created award-winning, world-renowned blockbusters for just about every perfume house you’ve ever heard of. And now, to the delight of perfume-lovers, he has launched his own fragrance house (with his family) – and opened a boutique in Paris’s Le Marais. His astounding CV encompassing a literal A-Z of perfumes from Dior Fahrenheit to Le Labo Ambrette 9, via Gucci Rush, Chloe Eau de Parfum (2007), Bottega Veneta Eau de Parfum (2011), Burberry for Woman and Burberry for Men – and so the list of hundreds goes on. But Michel found that he was having literally to shelve his most treasured creations because they didn’t quite work for the corporate briefs. He could never forget about them, however – and sometimes would take a scent home for his family to smell. Now these ‘lost’ fragrances have been completed, and are available for you…
Enigmatic, talented and exceptionally creative – it’s no exaggeration to say that Serge Lutens helped pioneer ‘niche’ perfumery. He once told an interviewer that ‘Morocco gave me the taste of perfume. It is very difficult to detach the olfactory sense from the other senses; however, I can say that before my arrival in Morocco in 1968, this fifth sense was largely fallow for me… The aroma of Morocco is linked to a form of life that allows you to be an individual in a dense crowd. The crowd here is a movement, a sound, a laugh, a game. By the end, smell was united with the other senses…’ Today, he lives in Marrakech, Morocco: a city of colour, exotic fragrances and mystery – the place where he discovered the creative potential of the world of scents. And the rest of the world waits eagerly, always, for his next olfactory vision, his next scent ‘dream’.
I grew up in fragrant surroundings,’ Tom Daxon recalls. That’s something of an understatement, for Tom began sniffing around the business as a child, when his mother – creative director for a leading fragrance and cosmetics name for over 30 years – ‘would often give me new shower gels to try, fragrances to sniff.’ Where Tom’s story may diverge from most is that he was lucky enough to accompany his mother on many of her working trips to Grasse, the epicentre of perfumery – aged just four, on that first visit. Truly modern, other-worldly, imbued with texture, beautiful ingredients and a wealth of creativity, they’re modern luxury redifined.
Whichever of these fragrances you most enjoy exploring in your Limited Edition Niche Discovery Box, we defy you not to fall madly for at least one, and begin a life-long love affair with these niche houses that we feel everyone deserves to try…
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…
The sixth annual Art and Olfaction Awards recently took place at the majestic Oude Kerk building, right in the middle of Amsterdam’s thriving and eclectic Red Light District. There, the gathered audience of perfumers, artists, journalists and fragrance afficionados were just as eclectic, honouring the absolutely thriving artisanal sector of scents – beyond the much bandied-about term ‘niche’ – celebrating the art of perfumery and the people who make it happen.
We’re always fascinated to see the winners list and to share it with a wider audience, as although you may not recognise all the names, seeing who the ‘golden pears’ were awarded to is a way of tapping in to what’s going on in the roots of perfumery today and may well shape what you wear in the months and years to come…
By Hiram Green Perfumes (The Netherlands)
Perfumer: Hiram Green
+ Brand Website
Powder & Dust
by SP Parfums (Germany)
Perfumer: Sven Pritzkoleit
With: Yana Lysenko Tommelise
+ Brand Website
by American Perfumer (USA)
Creative Director: Dave Kern
Perfumer: Dawn Spencer Hurwitz
+ Brand Website
by Ryan Richmond (USA)
Creative Director: Ryan Richmond
Perfumer: Christophe Laudamiel
+ Brand Website
SADAKICHI AWARD FOR EXPERIMENTAL WORK WITH SCENT
Diary of Smells: Glass Ceiling
by Josely Carvalho (Brazil)
Perfumer: Leandro Petit
+ Project Website
AFTEL AWARD FOR HANDMADE PERFUME
Maderas de Oriente Oscuro
by PK Perfumes
Perfumer: Paul Kiler
THE SEPTIMUS PIESSE VISIONARY AWARD
This year marks the fifth anniversary of the pioneering London Craft Week, and we’re thrilled to see so many scented events are included! From sniffing bespoke fragrances inspired by ‘rebels and reprobates’ to multi-sensory experiuences and the world’s first ‘sleep bar’, there truly is something for everyone to explore…
From 8-12 May 2019, hundreds of venues across the capital will participate in ‘a five-day celebration of global creativity – its biggest, boldest and most ambitious event to date.
More than 240 makers, designers, brands, artists and galleries from 15 countries will participate over the course of the week, inviting the London public to a packed programme of exhibitions, hands-on workshops, talks, creative experiences and one-off events.’
Of course our eyes (and noses) were immediately drawn to the fragrance-themed events in particular, and so we’ve included a selection to whet your appetite, below.
Rebels & Rogues: Creating Bespoke Perfumes Beaumont Hotel – A collaboration between The Beaumont and individual perfumiers; Ormonde Jayne, Paul Schutze, Penhaligon’s, Experimental Perfume Club, Cire Trudon, Floris, and 4160 Tuesdays who were asked to create a bespoke perfume creation – personal or ambient, in any format (candle, body spray, oil) – based on the theme of Rebels and Reprobates, inspired by one of the people depicted in The Lotos Room, the hotel’s Private Dining Room. Exhibition runs 8 – 12 May 10:30 – 20:30, no booking needed: FREE.
Sleep Bar at the anatomē store
Celebrating Crafted at Bergdorf Goodman’s New York and London Craft Week sees the launch of the ‘anatomē sleep bar’. A collaboration between the anatomē nutritionist and aromacologist alongside visual artist Joao Zabaleta.
‘We live in an agitated and often uncertain world, politically and socially. Most of us are digitally savvy, but our attachment to social media and online living has tended to make us more rather than less anxious in daily life. The pressures and stresses of our busy lifestyles take their toll on our bodies and minds and a good night’s sleep has been one of the key casualties. As numerous scientific studies suggest, the importance of sleep has been overlooked for too long and doctors are now serious about getting us to sleep better. Healthy living requires restful sleep as part of the daily routine.
We’ve worked with the best nutirtionists, aromacologists and nutritionists to create this unique sleep map. The anatomē Sleep Bar at a is here to help you achieve just that and a worlds first launching at ‘B’ store at Bergdorf Goodman followed by out store in London. We’ve created a bespoke customer experience that tailors our x4 Recovery + Sleep aromatherapy oils to individuals’ needs in helping to ensure a more restful sleep, night after night. The cities of New York and London that never sleep will now sleep more soundly with a bespoke, unique oils to support your rest.’ Piccadilly of London, 8 – 12 May, & ‘Crafted’ at Goodman’s ‘B’ Store, 5TH Avenue NY NY, 27 & 28 April 2019, no booking needed: FREE
Scented Candle-making Masterclass with Earl of East London
Learn the art of candle making with Earl of East London at their flagship store, bonds. Kings Cross. Alongside this, take part in bath salt workshops in celebration of their new Japanese bathing-inspired line, and enjoy a collaboration with Japanese ceramic curators Gallery Eclectic. Exhibition, 8 – 11 May 10:00 – 20:00, 12 May 12:00 – 18:00; Workshop, 8 May 11:00 – 12:30, 11 May 10:15 – 11:45. Tickets £45, booking required.
Made to Measure, the Ultimate Bespoke Fragrance Experience at Burlington Arcade
Penhaligon’s Made to Measure is a programme created exclusively for Penhaligon’s with Fabrice Pellegrin, featuring four exquisite pure perfume bases: chypre, woody, amber and oriental. Once you have selected your preferred base, personalise the scent with the addition of one of four raw and beautiful essence signatures: Rose Cetefolia Absolute, Oud Wood Essence, Iris and Sandalwood. Sit back and relax with coffee, tea or champagne, while your Penhaligon’s Made to Measure fragrance is blended and bottled in front of you. Demonstration, 8 – 12 May 10:00 – 17:00 Booking necessary via [email protected], only 10 places per day available, tickets £400
Do have a look at the full programe for London Craft Week – we’re sure whichever scented or crafty session you choose, you’ll be learning and exploring skills and creating memories that will last a lifetime…
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.
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