British niche brands we love

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.

We also love to bring you our own, carefully curated niche selections, and you can try samples from all these British brands mentioned in our Niche Collection II Discovery Box, so we invite you to test their fragrant wares at your own leisure.

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.

Gentle Fluidity – Maison Francis Kurkdjian’s new duo

‘Same note, two identities…’ So says perfumer Francis Kurkdjian – (pronounced coor-shone, by the way) at the end of the mesmerising film for his new fragrance duo of Gentle Fluidity. Scroll down to watch it, here, and find out how you can get samples of BOTH to try at home…

The idea was to create two fragrances that smell very different – using exactly the same notes but crafting them in such a way, the scents evolve their own distinct characters.

Such elegant playfulness can be said to be something of a signature for Kurkdjian throughout his lustrous career; begining straight out of perfumery school and slap bang into composing his first commercial scent, then aged just 25: Le Mâle for Jean Paul Gaultier.

An instant success and still a best-seller, fragrance fans and perfume industry peers could already see this was a special ‘nose’, setting out to do something different, with an insouciant dry humour and ultimate sophistication. From there, young Francis set about creating Iris Nobile for Acqua di Parma, Lanvin Rumeur, multi-award-winning Elie Saab Le Parfum, and a duo of fragrances for the newly-revived Carven perfume house, among many others. Finally, in 2009, he got to found his very own house, Maison Francis Kurkdjian, near the Place Vendóme in Paris; and his subsequent creations have wowed the fragrance world ever since.

Talking of what creative freedom owning his own Maison affords him, Francis told us ‘…it is my way to express what I think about the world of fragrances, it is my take on luxury. It is nurtured from my background as a perfumer and a composer, my artistic sensibility and sensitivity.’

Put quite simply: the man’s a genius. And we don’t say that lightly.

You can read much more about his upwardly-mobile career and other fragrances on our page dedicated to Maison Francis Kurkdjian, but in the meantime, let us introduce you to his two newest fragrant launches – the Gentle Fluidity duo…

The inspiration: ”Working the ingredient to express its full potential and meeting the challenge of composing two different eaux de parfum with the same notes: juniper berries, nutmeg, coriander, musks, ambery woods and vanilla. The Gentle Fluidity duo was born of the perfumer’s imagination to offer two distinct olfactory silhouettes, for her or for him.’

gentle Fluidity Gold Edition £150 for 70ml eau de parfum selfridges.com
‘In gentle Fluidity’s (gold) generous, enveloping trail, we can find coriander seed essence and an overdose of musks and vanilla. The floral, spicy note of coriander seeds brings, just like musks, ethereal volume and a lingering trail. In the base notes, the gourmand, reassuring notes of the vanilla accord enhanced by the ambery woods reveal a radiant, bright silhouette.’

Gentle fluidity Silver Edition £150 for 70ml eau de parfum selfridges.com
‘In Gentle fluidity (silver), nutmeg and ambery woods are dominant and release a vibrant, comfortable trail. As for juniper berry essence, it leads to an ascending, ultra-fresh, aromatic note, similar to a “gin frappé” effect, balanced by the dry, slightly balmy, spicy notes of nutmeg. The base notes reveal ambery wood facets ranging from sweet and enveloping to powerful and dry.’

It’s really quite remarkable how unique they both smell – the Gold version warmer, a more snuggle-up-and-nuzzle-me type scent, perhaps, which is sure to be a hit for anyone who adores a more decadent, sensual side of perfumes. For the Silver edition, we find an unexpected freshness, a luminescence that shivers beguilingly and feels like wearing a lace shawl spun from dew-speckled spiderwebs. And yet, we must remind ourselves, these are the same ingredients…

It’s a useful reminder that we should never merely glance at a list of perfume notes and assume we know what something will smell like – it depends entirely on how and where the perfumer has used them in the composition; how they react to the other notes around them, the rate they evaporate on the skin depending if they’re used dominantly in the top, heart or base notes. So many factors can utterly transform how a perfume smells on your skin.

And so then – how to choose between them? Well we’re thrilled to offer you the opportunity to try samples of BOTH the gentle Fluidity Gold AND the Gentle fluidity Silver in our Launches We Love Discovery Box – among over a dozen new fragrances we’ve curated for you to explore at home!

Launches We Love Discovery Box £19 (£15 for VIP Club members)

We’re pretty sure whichever of the Maison Francis Kurkdjian fragrances you fall for, it will be just the start of your love affair with this always-exciting niche house… and we cannot wait to see (and smell) what comes next.

Written by Suzy Nightingale

 

Latest Launches

Fresh off the shelves and ready for sniffing, we present the fragrances we’ve been trying most recently. From empowering or coffee-infused to an elegant pastoral scene; invoking a notorious pair of jail-breaking lovers or inspired by beloved drag queens – the perfume world is certainly never boring, darling…

MISSGUIDED
BABE DREAMS
A juicy fizz of bergamot, pink pepper and red fruit accord veritably bursts from the bottle – which looks for all the world like a classy energy drink, suitably enough. Velvety rose powdered with orris and violet is further cushioned by a plumptious base of patchouli, sheer amber and creamy vanilla. A sweet-tinged Chypre that many a modern miss would surely love to wear, look out for the other Babe infusions similarly promoting self-confidence in fragrant form.
£28 for 80ml eau de parfum
theperfumeshop.com

XERJOFF
GOLDEN DALLAH
Exploring that universal sigh of relief from enjoying a hot beverage, and incorporating the historic trade routes of the coffee trade itself, Xerjoff begin a new collection with the release of this fragrant evocation. Dallah is an overtly feminine offering, entwining sumptuous rose with a haze of incense, sprinkling hazelnut, cocoa and tonka for a deliciously sweet nibble, infused with Cambodian oudh and amber to enhance the toasted coffee beans. Ravishingly more-ish!
€235 for 50ml eau de parfum
xerjoffuniverse.com

XYRENA
CHOICES BY TATIANNA
It isn’t every day that news of a drag artist’s debut fragrance crosses our desks – but we’re here to share everything and anything that comes our way. Pop artist, drag perfumer and ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’ star Tatianna teamed up with LA fragrance house Xyrena to confect this aquatic signature scent, a fusion of sea salt and water lily, sharpened by lemon, key lime and tangerine, warmed by ozone, cedar and musk. Breezy, yes – but glam (naturally).
£47.40 for 50ml extrait de parfum
xyrena.com

DUSITA
ERAWAN
What an elegantly hazy scent this is, with high-pitched notes of petitgrain and lily of the-valley drifting into a cool breeze of Haitian vetiver. Pissara, Dusita’s founder and perfumer, blends Siamese nobility with fine French perfumery traditions, all inspired by beloved late father’s poems. So sweet hay steams in the early morning mist, then drifts of herbaceous clary sage embrace cedar, oakmoss and vanilla. It feels like wearing a whisper: quiet, but hopeful.
£168 for 50ml eau de parfum
lessenteurs.com

EX IDOLO
LOVE & CRIME
Based on the true story of a once-notorious couple – basically the Bonnie & Clyde of Boston burglaries in the 1900s – founders Tanya and Matthew Zhuk immortalise their daring prison break. This darkly delicious gourmand evokes May Coyle hiding a saw in a cake, enabling her beau, Thomas Howard, to escape. Pink pepper juxtaposes red mandarin, icing sugar dusts a floral bouquet and star anise spikes natural cocoa in the base of this quirkily wonderful concoction.
£95 for 30ml eau de parfum
At Fenwick Bond Street

Fabulous Floral Street! The affordable niche house shaking the petals of the perfume world

When we first encountered Floral Street, suffice to say we were blown away by their concept – and oh boy did they deliver in the execution of the fabulous new spins on floral fragrances, and within their standalone Covent Garden store.

Our co-founder, Jo Fairley, has known Michelle Feeney for longer than either of them care to admit – back to Michelle’s time at the Estée Lauder Companies, and then at the helm of revolutionary tanning name St Tropez. So when she announced she was unveiling a fragrance line ‘built on the streets of London’, we were rather thrilled by the whole idea and the stunning reality…

Floral Street’s fragrances are as far from your granny’s florals as it’s possible to get – each created by the star perfumer Jérôme Épinette, who is known for his mastery of natural ingredients. As Floral Street put it: ‘These are bunches – not bouquets. Ingredients, not notes. And it’s about ease, modernity and joy.’ Michelle adds: ‘My mission is to bring fine fragrance to the modern female – so that she might build an entire fragrance wardrobe, which can express the many facets of who she is.’

At the heart of each fragrance is a specific flower (sourced by the legendary fragrance house Robertet) – but each creation brings an unexpected twist,   treated in a way that brilliantly ignites the senses. Take Wonderland Peony, which not only features armfuls of that flower, but pink berries and violets, Anything but cutesy, it’s given a woody-balsamic warmth by cedarwood, alongside vetiver.

London Poppy is ‘a love letter’ to the capital city, ‘a city that sees the sun through the crowds’. Bright as a sun-filled London morning, it bursts into life with Florida orange and Sicilian lemon, a marine note adding a splash of seaspray to the neroli, jasmine sambac and apricot blossom at London Poppy’s heart, before the base of hinoki woods, black amber and cedarwood ventures forth.

The fragrance which has scent critics and beauty editors most excited, perhaps, is Chypre Sublime: an utterly modern take on this sophisticated fragrance family, blending incense with Damask rose absolute, midnight violet, pink pepper and geranium, on a stunning base of benzoin, labdanum and olibanum which – as Floral Street nails it – ‘offers a resin-soaked wood table for the flowers to perch on. A fragrance for musicians, painters and poets.’

Perfumistas have recently been gravitating toward the daringly delicious Ylang Ylang Espresso: A strikingly modern and supremely wearable blend of red rose, ylang ylang and jasmine resting atop a soothing cloud of just-brewed coffee, fresh cream and Sichuan pepper – sustainably harvested from the foothills of the Himalayas. ‘A fragrance to get lost in’ they say, and oh how we love to do just that.

What’s more, all the packaging is recylable and sustainable, and the boxes have been cleverly designed to be used as seed trays, instead of being thrown away! You can read more about the ethos behind the brand on our page dedicated to Floral Street.

We could wax-lyrical about the entire collection, but the very best way is for you to try these exciting new ways to wear floral on your own skin (or to give as the perfect gifting experience). With that in mind, we’re so happy to be stocking the Floral Street Discovery Set, where you can try all 8 fragrance for just £14!


Written by Suzy Nightingale

Fish & fragrance?! Sarah Baker Perfumes pops up at Fin & Flounder

It’s quite possibly one of the most unusual Christmas pop-ups we’ve seen, but niche luxury perfume brand Sarah Baker Perfumes is collaborating with Fin & Flounder, the premium fishmonger and oyster bar on Hackney’s fashionable Broadway Market.

On Saturday 8th and 22 December, Sarah Baker Perfumes and Fin & Flounder will be offering the public a Christmas special package deal: a luxury Sarah Baker fragrance of their choice, six oysters and two glasses of champagne for £120 (the fragrances usually sell for £120 on their own, so this represents a bargain for shoppers who like to be lavish!) In addition, the fragrances will be available to purchase separately at £100, and a range of fragrances in handy travel atomisers at £20 – perfectly sized for stocking-stuffers.

[NB: Those of you not already familiar with Sarah Baker can read all about her journey to founding her own niche house in the recent Fashion, Fragrance & Feminism issue of The Scented Letter Magazine, in which she kindly invited us into her studio to gaze in wonder at her fabulous personal fragrance collection (a must-read for fans of ultra-niche scents!) for #ShareMyStash]

While this Christmas collaboration might seem a peculiar one for perfume, it came about when artist and founder Sarah Baker was creating a new image for the launch of her ‘Motif Collection’ in Belgium in November. Baker wanted ‘…to create a campaign image referencing the Flemish traditions of 17th-century still life paintings as an homage to the city.’ In keeping with this tradition of memento mori paintings, she sourced the best quality—and best looking—fish from Fin & Flounder, already being a fan of the fishmonger’s beautiful window displays.

‘After the massively positive response to the image we created in Antwerp, it seemed only fitting to go back to the source and do something with Fin & Flounder since their fish are really such an integral part of what makes the image work,’ explains Baker.

The fishy collab also makes more sense when you know the theme behind her latest release, Atlante, ‘With its sea-breeze fresh combination of notes —yuzu, seaweed and ambergris—inspired by the wild ocean.’ Shoppers visiting Fin & Flounder will be among the first to try this new fragrance. And if you can’t make it own for the next two Saturdays’ full-on boujee fish and fragrance experiences, you’ll be able to buy all the Sarah Baker Perfumes at Fin & Flounder during its usual weekday opening times until 22 December 2018.

Written by Suzy Nightingale

Thanks for the Memoize…

Scent and memory are thoroughly entwined – every time we smell something new, it’s filed away in our olfactory memory bank; and every time we smell something familiar, tiny pulses fire-up long-forgotten places, people, experiences we didn’t even know were stored so deeply within us. Niche fragrance house Memoize London took this scientifically proven ability and wove their own stories in scent: each fragrance a specific memory and emotional response, bottled…

We are thrilled to be able to introduce you to this remarkable house in the form of a Discovery Set – truly the best way to get to know any house you’re not already familiar with – or even find new favourites hidden within a collection you thought you already knew well.

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. As her mother was ‘an avid collector of unusual scents’, perfumes were almost indelibly linked to scented snapshots of Holly’s childhood memories. ‘A French holiday in the sun, a ride across the waves by boat, venturing through trees in a garden of ferns and Laurels…’ The album of scent memories was filling up fast.

It was in 2011 that Holly could truly begin to follow her dream, joining a prestigious niche fragrance brand and pursuing a career in the industry. But after seven successful years, it was time to start thinking about reaching further, using her love of fragrance and design with the expert knowledge she’d gained, and finally launching her own brand. Holly says she ‘knew immediately’ what the concept should be: sharing the very memories that launched her own fragrant career, while helping perfume-lovers explore their own scented memory bank.

And now, you can share that memory bank while adding to your own scented fantasies, with the Memoize London Discovery Set!

What you get in the box:

Tristitia – The essence of calm, relaxation and pure leisure. Reminiscent of of a lazy Sunday morning, cocooning you in floral and vanilla scented sheets, no need to rise, the amber is keeping you warm…

Avaritia – The essence of insatiability, opulence and unquenchable desire. The first time you dare to think you can have exactly what you want, the need for something that is all yours.

Era – The essence of passion, provocation and power. Lose control of your emotions with this powerful fragrance; reigniting the fire within you, evoking deep seated memories within.

Superbia – The essence of self-confidence, self-love and self-worth. An overwhelming feeling of pride, joy and delight. Recalling a first day of school, the pruned rose bushes, games in the woods, the leather strap of a satchel, a mother’s proudest moment…

Luxuria – The essence of lust, seduction and intoxication. Memories of the first moment of interaction, where desire and passion consumes you. Your skin will tingle with luscious blackcurrant, tuberose and the warmth of musk will captivate you.

Gula – The essence of pleasure-seeking and self-indulgence. A fragrance of sumptuous vanilla, absorbing orange, rich clove and delicate lavender. Gula is an immeasurable mix of thought provoking scents providing unrestrained gratification for your appetites, desires, or whims.

Invidia – The essence of insatiable desire to want, to have, to be who you want to be. Envious and aspirational, your mind takes you on a sub-coconscious journey through the memories from your childhood; always wanting what you can’t have – sweet vanilla ice cream, caramels, tobacco….

Black Avaritia (Limited Edition) – The essence of indulging all of your wants and needs in abundance. Travelling through the rich and woody tones, takes you back on a journey to a foreign land. The warmth on the skin is reminiscent of the sun kissing your skin.

Try the entire collection in the Memoize London Discovery Set £57 for 8 x 2ml eau de parfum

It’s our mission at The Perfume Society to bring you as many of these try-me sizes as possible, so you can do just that: try them (for several days) in the comfort of your own home. Not only is this the recommended way of wearing a new fragrance – giving yourself time to truly experience every nuance of its character before you make up your mind – but we are also very aware that not everyone happens to live within a stone’s throw of a niche boutique or London store stocking these scents. So why not have a browse for a gift (or treat for yourself) in our Luxury Perfume House Sets…?

Written by Suzy Nightingale

A nose around Jovoy Mayfair – niche fragrance heaven!

It’s coming up for Jovoy Mayfair‘s first birthday, so what better time to celebrate their arrival in the UK than by having a nose around, seeing what’s new, and thanking heaven for this niche haven in the heart of London…?

(PS: Our VIP Club Members are being offered a generous 15% discount at Jovoy between until 24th October 2018click here see how to claim this exclusive offer, though you’ll have to use your V.I.P. log-in to view it.

The opening of Jovoy on Mayfair’s Conduit Street in 2017 was definitely a cause for corks popping. Those of you lucky enough to go scent shopping in Paris will surely have come across Jovoy there – it opened in 2006 on the rue Castiglione – where it proved a game-changer in fragrance retail: a destination for perfumistas (from around the world, nowadays) showcasing perfume houses which had, until then, been largely unavailable.

Jovoy was the ‘baby’ of François Hénin, who previously worked exploring the olfactive riches of Vietnam, distilling raw ingredients for the perfume trade. François had his finger on the quickening pulse of the fragrance world, sensing a shift away from the ‘signature scents’ and more traditional, classic houses Parisians had tended to wear in the past.

One of the things we love best about Jovoy Mayfair is the ‘staff picks’ wall – think of it a little like those windows and display shelves in bookshops where the knowledgable staff pick out new and unusual things they think you’ll love. It’s such a great place to start sniffing, especially if you’re a little nervous about walking into a niche boutique for the first time (or simply don’t know where to begin!)

Jovoy are also happy to decant some of your favourite new finds into small sample bottles, so you can try them at home and properly get to know them – a fantastic service that we’re sure means many come back to buy the full size.

Here’s a few new scents you may find there, currently…

Jovoy say: ‘The latest perfume from Arte Profumi explores vetiver. Itself a highly prized and valuable raw material, Sine Tempore uses two different vetiver extractions (Haiti and Java) along with subtle does of lime and cardamom to shoot the root through with an insistent and citric, green note.’

Arte Profumi Sine Tempore £215 for 100l eau de parfum

 

Jovoy say: ‘Hoja de Cuba is another in Berdoues’ series of Grand Crus perfumes, one that takes its cues (as the title insists) from the streets of Havana, the tobacco fields and the Cuban cigars so synonymous with them. A blend of tobacco from Turkey, allspice from Jamaica and vetiver from Haiti.’

Berdoues Hoja de Cuba £67 for 100ml eau de parfum

Jovoy say: ‘Rock ‘N’ Rouge is a game of looks exchanged between a ballerina and a member of the audience. Temptation pierces through the gloom in the theatre and Eros shoots his keenest arrow. Desire cuts across the stage and rolls like a thousand fiery marbles out towards the theatre stalls. There, in the glare of the first change in the lights, the star’s eyes set fire to those of the man who observes. And, as though by magic, all the rest of the audience disappears. He and she are the only ones who remain, without knowing each other, without ever touching. United by seduction, they are unconscious protagonists of a feline pas de deux, charged with electricity.’

THoO Rock ‘n’ Rouge £220 for 75ml eau de parfum

Did you know Jovoy also have their own amaaaazing candles (presented in glass domes within a scarlet red vintage style hatbox affair? Well now you can also get them in a customisable box: choose four fragrances (making 64 possible combinations). ‘Create your own candle set choosing one or several fragrances among the four classic candles by Jovoy: Ambre 1er, Datcha, Gardez-Moi and Marron. Each black coffret case is populated of four 80g red candles, each with approx 20 hours of diffusion. The hardest part will be to choose how many of each.’

Jovoy Custom Candle Set £80 for 4 x 80g

While we touched on the subject of nerves earlier, let’s be real about this. Not everyone feels confident about striding in to a ritzy scent shop. We’ve spoken to lots of our loyal readers and even VIP Club Members who still can feel a bit dubious about going in any fragrance shop alone.

Rest assured, Jovoy Mayfair excel at making you feel comfortable – there’s zero pressure, they’re happy to let you browse or give advice where required, and there are pots of blotters and pencils dotted all over the place, to encourage spitzing (and of course writing the name of the fragrance on the blotter so you don’t shove it in your bag and forget which it was, later… You all do this, don’t you? *waggles eyebrows*)

Downstairs, there’s a comfy sofa for relaxed wrist-sniffing situations, and a more private ‘frgarance fitting’ experience should you wish, as well as a fragrance dispensing machine and exhibits of rare (and sometimes priceless!) perfumes to make your jaw drop.

We’ve hosted several events at Jovoy since they opened, including a remarkable alcohol and fragrance pairing evening (which was every bit as wonderful as that sounds) and, most recently, our co-founder Jo Fairley interviewing maverick perfumer Geza Schoen about his Beautiful Mind Series fragrances. Sp, do keep an eye on our Events page to join us on another occasion.

Incidently, Jovoy have their very own Private Label fragrance range – for Jovoy is actually a revived and re-imagined fragrance house that once scented the bohemian A-List of 1920s Parisian bohemians. You can read about the history of Jovoy on our page dedicated to them.

In the meantime, we encourage you to venture forth into independent fragrance retailers and see an array of scents you’d never even dreamed existed! rom Neela Vermeire to Atelier Flou, L’Essence du Bois to Olfactive Studio, Jacques Fath to Perfumer du Monde, via Volnay, Jeroboam, Aedes de Venustus, Eight & Bob, Masque Milano and so many more (with a growing number of store exclusives, too).

Jovoy Mayfair 21 Conduit Street, London W1S 2XP

Written by Suzy Nightingale

The Beautiful Mind Series

The Beautiful Mind Series celebrates women for their intelligence and creativity – indeed, when creating the house, perfumer Geza Schoen (perhaps best known for his best-selling Escentic Molecules fragrances) wanted this concept to inspire the very fragrances themselves.

We still see photographs of beautiful women used everywhere in advertising, to sell everything from salads to scents, but how refreshing that The Beautiful Mind Series actually bothers to dig far deeper than superficial looks.

During our recent event at Jovoy Mayfair with Geza Schoen and one of his muses – the astonishing Memory Grandmaster, Christiane Stenger – our Perfume Society VIP Club Members got to hear first-hand how they collaborated to create a fragrance that celebrated brain power and women’s strength and particular talents (more of which, below). But The Beautiful Mind Series wanted to dig deeper still, interviewing a number of other thought-provoking and successful women from various backgrounds, and have just published a series of blogs with a thought-provoking series of successful women drawn from various backgrounds and disciplines.

Subjects include the Anglo-American actress, Lucy Boynton (playing Freddie Mercury’s love interest in the upcoming biopic, Bohemian Rhapsody), a talented tatoo artist called Saira Hunjen, Liv Little – the guiding force behind brilliant magazine by and for women and non binary people of colour, gal-dem; and Zowie Broach, Head of Fashion at the Royal College of Art.

The Beautiful Mind Series explain that the series of blogs ‘…aims to highlight achievements of a broad spectrum of quite simply brilliant women who aim to have a profound impact on modern society. Artists, scientists, costume designers, film makers, feminist activists, photographers, poets and playwrights are just some of our subjects.’ And the blogs are put together by a female duo of writer, Susan Irvine, and photographer, Susannah Baker-Smith.

Accompanied by tender, intimate portraits of the women they interviewed, we’re utterly thrilled that fragrance houses are just starting to see the potential for celebrating fascinating – and real – women we can all relate to or be inspired by: an exciting subject we explore at length in the latest just-published Fashion, Fragrance & Feminism issue of our magazine, The Scented Letter.

As for the The Beautiful Mind Series fragrances? Well of course they are beautiful, but a nuanced story-telling depth of complexity that’s a distinct move away from the more minimalist tendenacies of Escentric Molecules…

Volume 1: Intelligence & Fantasy is the first of the series – a fabulously vibrant floral that boasts a heady heart of tiaré absolute – the dreamily exotic, waxy Tahitian gardenia, celebrated as the flower of affection and adored for its intoxicating aroma. Think of a balmy summer breeze as you stand and gaze at the setting sun, skin still warm from the heat of the day, your whole body relaxed but your mind focused and alert to every aspect of your surroundings.

Grand Master of Memory Christiane Stenger was the muse for Schoen here – a voluptuously decadent fragrance dedicated to women gifted with exceptional skills. Magnolia bud, bergamot, mandarin, and Schinus molle (pink pepper) co-exist with freesia and apricot-like osmanthus. Rose oil melds into addictive hedione with oodles of that tiara absolute slowly drifting to a woody, cashmeran base.

Inspired by Russian ballerina Polina Semionova, Volume 2: Precision & Grace is the second of the series – ‘I was fascinated by what goes on in the mind of a great dancer while she’s dancing,’ explains Schoen, ‘in the precision she must have to express the grace.’

Upliftingly fruity with a juicy, crisp freshness that makes the mouth water, the Williams pear and plum notes are a direct reference to the dancer’s childhood childhood memories of the Russian countryside, with a heady embrace of jasmine blossoms, sandalwood and pink pepper twirling throughout. Resting on a softly, musky base, we think it’s wearable year-round – making even the most serious-minded perfume-lover imagine donning a gauzy gown and joyfully pirouetting through a flower-strewn orchard at dusk.

The Beautiful Mind Series Volumes 1 & 2 £95 for 100ml eau de parfum
Try them at Jovoy Mayfair

Excuse us while we find our ballet shoes and go memorise every book in the library – while happening to smell incredible, of course…

Written by Suzy Nightingale

Gourmande Jayne: Ormonde Jayne get figgy with it

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

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

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

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

Gourmande Jayne Baked Figs with Goat’s Cheese

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

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

Written by Suzy Nightingale

[Recipe and photos by Linda Pilkington]

Map of the Heart launch White Heart v.7

We’re huge fans of Australian niche house Map of the Heart here at The Perfume Society – from their stunning bottles to the beautiful fragrances inside (each with a seam of sandalwood as their signature), and the creatively engaging imagery – everything they do truly represents a feast for all the senses.

Having just flown back from Pitti Fragranze, the annual fragrance trade show in Florence, and fresh from our first-sniffing of their latest launch, we’re thrilled to be able to share with you White Heart v.7 – The Heart of Love. Scroll down to read our review, and watch the film…

The first thing that struck us was the purity of the bottle, how all the features of the sculptural shape really stand out with the matte finish (a first for the house), and we noticed everyone who came to their stand tenderly stroked the texture as they held the flacon. [N.B: Texture and colour (or the absence of colour) is a hugely emerging trend from what we saw at Pitti.]

Sarah Blair, co-founder of Map of the Heart, told us that White Heart v.7 ‘is all about love: its power and dualities. That love can be hot / cold, tender / wild, innocent / knowing, everything or nothing…’ So the white can be the starkness of juxtaposed emotions, or the blank page on which to write your own story. Fascinatingly, Sarah also explained a deeper inspiration for the white, because ‘…it’s about the purity of emotion, and possibilities. When you refract white light it splits into a rainbow, and at the time we were creating this, we had the equality vote in Australia, so the symbol of rainbows was really important to us.’ The matte finish became the obvious choice, too, because of its ability to ‘draw you in, to make you want to pick it up and hold it, to feel that connection.’

Emotional connections and the imporance of touch are all very well, but of course we were most excited to get our noses on it at last! We’re happy to report it was worth the wait.

What does it smell like? Well, there’s a whoosh of freshness, a cold breeze that tickles like just-poured Champagne bubbles as the exhilarating opening launches French lavender, aldehydes and cardamom and feels like an unsuppressable giggle of pure joy. Into the brightness a bold red umeboshi (Japanese salt plum) accord languorously seeps to fill the space with an almost-booziness – the mad intensity of love that overtakes sense, always. We’re drawn back to purity as sandalwood swirls through radiant gardenia, a natural oud resonating gently in the base like a softly comforting hug that lasts for hours.

Map of the Heart White Heart v.7 £150 for 90ml eau de parfum
Exclusively at harrods.com

PS: Have you tried the other Map of the Heart fragrances yet? The enticing warmth of saffron-infused milk opulently laps within Map of the Heart Gold Heart, and you can try a sample of it in our luxurious Velvet Collection Discovery Box (currently on sale from £19 to just £12, so snap one up while you can!)

Written by Suzy Nightingale