The big cat toys were sprayed with Salome as part of their enrichment programme – strong scents encourage the cats to utilise natural tracking behaviours, but the Zoo’s stocks were running low. Step forward brilliant self-taught British perfumer, Liz Moores, founder of Papillon Perfumery, who explains that ‘After noticing that my Bengal cats go crazy for the smell of Salome I contacted Dudley zoo to see if we could test the reaction to this perfume with some big cats.’
Assistant curator Jay Hayward said ‘We squirted the perfume on monkey fist knots in the big cat enclosures and dabbed it on climbing frames too, and it really did get them excited!’
So what is it, exactly, about the fragrance that’s driving these wild cats, er, wild?
Well, the magic ingredient is – get ready for it – a natural material called hyraceum, which is the fossilised excrement and urine from the Cape hyrax. It’s collected from their latrines, completely without harm to the animal, and the perfume is completely cruelty free. Liz is the first to admit that ‘It sounds horrendous’ but before you run screaming, remember that many naturals used in perfumery smell hideous on their own but utterly sublime when worked into the scent. As Liz explains, ‘in isolation it smells heavily urinous, in a fragrance it lends a leathery, sensual affect with notes of warm skin.’
Lynx, lions, tigers and snow leopard have been savouring the scent, and having first sniffed a sample before it first launched in 2015, we can say these big cats clearly have good taste in fragrances. Salome is hugely seductive in every way – think hypnotic swags of orange blossom and Turkish rose laced with the sense of tangled sheets and warm bodies, all shot through with bitter orange to keep the senses dancing and great gusts of animalic furriness in the oakmoss-laden base, to keep those hips swivelling…
An avowed animal lover, Liz says she’s beyond delighted at the reaction of the big cats to her fragrance, and will be hand-delivering some more bottles of Salome to Dudley Zoo so she can witness it herself, adding: ‘My perfumes are worn by some exceptional people, but to see Salome being enjoyed by these beautiful big cats is something else.’
Finding her way to fragrance through the art of painting, natural perfumer Dawn Spencer Hurwitz is a leading light in the niche fragrance world with a devoted following of fragrance fans. From working at Boston’s renowned ESSENSE Perfumery, Dawn developed a particular talent for creating perfumes based on her fine art principles, and took the plunge to launch her own label, DSH Perfumes.
Anyone who has smelled Dawn’s scents can attest to the fact that they’re taking natural perfumery to another level – a subject we explore in-depth in the latest edition of The Scented Letter Magazine: Flower Power – now available online for International Subscriptions and in glorious print for those of you who prefer to be hands-on…
From the first time we got to smell DSH Perfumes for ourselves – and to meet the very engaging Dawn – during the Art & Olfaction gathering earlier this year, we have been haunted by their other-worldliness, the way that Dawn somehow transforms notoriously tricky (and often ‘muddy’ smelling) materials into something truly artful. But we wanted to catch up with Dawn to find out exactly how she crafts her fragrances so beautifully, and the challenges she faces when working with all-natural ingredients…
– Why do you love natural fragrance materials so much, and when did this love really begin?
Dawn Spencer Hurwitz: ‘I have loved natural materials from the very first; from the moment that I began working with perfumery materials (both natural and synthetic) I was immediately attracted to the incredible beauty/strangeness, depth, complexity, and intrinsic ‘quality’ of the naturals. You can feel the energy of the place that the materials were grown in and with each distillation method, some new facets come out from the plant itself. It’s almost like they speak to you if you want to listen. Of course, I love the beautiful things like Bulgarian rose, or jasmine sambac, neroli, santalum album, and so many others but I really love the strange, hard to use, and exotic naturals like choya nahk, cumin, seaweed absolute, or hyraceum, too.’
– Do you have a favourite natural fragrance material, or something you’re particularly enjoying using at the moment?
DSH: ‘That is a very, very difficult question to answer… kind of like choosing a favorite child. Oakmoss absolute was one of my absolute favorites from the very beginning and I’ve become a connoisseur of various oakmoss absolute materials over the years. There’s a surprising amount of variation with oakmoss. Natural sandalwood is also a long time favorite material but you know there are so many WONDERFUL naturals coming out on the market these days that it’s hard to choose a current favorite. The fact that natural ambergris tincture is now widely available is like a miracle to my younger self just starting out in perfumery, and it’s a truly lovely material to work with. OK, perhaps if I had to chose, in this very moment, I would have to say that tomato leaf absolute is rocking my world. I get a buzz each and every time I get a whiff of the stuff.’
– Do you think the public perception of natural fragrances is changing… have preconceptions and snobbery disappeared?
DSH: ‘I think that interest in natural perfumery is growing; for many reasons. Some people are more concerned with the materials used in their fragrances than the overall aesthetic or design of the perfume. Others actually find natural perfumes much more appealing, in a general way, than commercial perfume designs, which they find overwhelming. For the perfume lovers or aficionados, who are well versed in traditional perfume styles, many natural perfumes seem too dense, opaque, or muddy in comparison to the transparency that synthetics can provide in a design. The design challenges that working in an all natural palette presents is either in making very streamlined perfumes with perfect transitions from one note to another that is done using unusual materials choices or by interweaving a very intricate structure to make perfumes that feel complete and complex, but not opaque. Either way, the challenges are great and (fascinatingly) difficult, which is part of why I love the all natural palette.
Pictured above is the divine Mata Hari fragrance – one whiff of which and we were transported to a shimmering golden world of seduction by Chypre. The list of ingredients is huge, but it still retains the lightness of touch and a certain luminesence rarely seen without the use of synthetics, and which will surely turn natural naysayers into true believers at first sniff… Continues Dawn, ‘Having said all of that, there are many natural perfumes and perfumers who are creating clever, interesting, and unique fragrances that have the structural integrity and completeness to change many minds. I don’t think that preconceptions have disappeared but I do think that the plethora of new materials available to the natural perfumer should open many doors to encourage the ‘naysayers’ to come and try the genre again. They might be pleasantly surprised..’
Having just enjoyed one of the most wonderfully warm May Bank Holidays on record, can we now fully eschew the Winter woolies and toss aside our brollies for a while? Well, here’s hoping, and whatever the weather where you are, Tom Daxon had thoughtfully comissioned photographer Ben Quinton to capture the magnificence of London’s Magnolia trees in full-bloom…
These fabulously blowsy flowers are the inspiration behind one of Daxon’s most popular fragrances – Magnolia Heights – a silky, frilly, feminine fragrance we know many of you had already been reaching for even ahead of the first peep of sunshine, and which Tom Daxon describe as…
Endless magnolia lined avenues.
A perception of a magnolia tree in full bloom. Magnolia flower oil’s delicate, green, fruity facets are enhanced by gardenia and jasmine sambac, while ylang ylang and cedarwood recreate its cream like petals.
Tom Daxon Magnolia Heights £155 for 100ml eau de parfum
Buy it at tomdaxon.com
We’re also thrilled to now be able to offer you a Tom Daxon Discovery Collection, all the better to properly discover the scented delights of this innovative, contemporary niche and totally wearable fragrance house.
Tom Daxon is a rising star British fragrance name, championing scents inspired by the ingredients themselves. Tom Daxon grew up around fragrance; 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.’ So it was no surprise that by his mid-twenties, this perfume prodigy had already launched his own signature fragrance collection – which we invite you to explore.
Each shareable fragrance is meticulously created with perfumer Jacques Chabert (who, during his career, has spent time working on scents for Chanel and Guerlain).
The heart of artistic perfumery throbs strongly in Los Angeles, home to the Institute for Art and Olfactionsince 2012, and as founder Saskia Wilson-Brown explains, the pulse for perfumery is changing, too.
‘New, self-educated perfumers are thriving, the scents themselves are becoming progressively more audacious, and the art of perfumery as a whole is going through a deep re-examination.’ With this in mind, she launched the IAO as a means of support for perfumers and artists working in and exploring this medium, with the aim ‘…to highlight the innovation and artistry in perfumery, to instigate greater engagement with the art and science around scent, to juxtapose it with other creative practices, and to bring it into the big bad world.’
With an on-going diary bursting with creative, interactive projects, talks and workshops, each year the IAO celebrate independent perfumery with an awards ceremony – the fragrances blind-sniffed by an array of knowledgable judges – and the awards themselves (known as ‘The Golden Pears’) handed out at a differing city each year.
This time, celebrating their fifth year, it was London’s turn to host the awards, and you can see the list of the winners, below; but we were especially thrilled to attend this year’s twist – an ‘Experimental Scent Summit‘, which saw guest speakers from all over the world coming together to talk about their artworks dedicated to exploring our sense of smell. A full two days of talks, performances and discussions, you can read about what went on in greater detail here, but suffice to say we left truly inspired, and buzzing with ideas!
Do take time to have a look at the winners’ websites, and see what your nose might have missed…
[P.S: We must admit to cheering extra loudly for this one – Amanda’s a Perfume Society V.I.P Member! She’s visited us at two of our How To Improve Your Sense of Smell Workshops – one in London, and one in Hastings – and we shall be interviewing her shortly to find out the full story of this incredible win, so watch this space…]
Club Design by The Zoo
CD/Perfumer: Christophe Laudamiel
The highly acclaimed niche fragrance house Map of the Heart has (hoorah!) launched in the UK, exclusively at Harrods.
Map of the Heart is a range of six fine fragrances in the most exquisite anatomical-style heart flacons by the legendary bottle designer, Pierre Dinand – and truly they look like art pieces, straight from a gallery.
Each fragrance was conceived in Australia by founders, Sarah Blair and filmmaker Jeffrey Darling, with a heart of Australian sandalwood proudly throbbing through each of the creations by perfumer Jacques Huclier.
It’s a strong line-up, to be sure, and with the fragrances made in France using the finest materials, the range is now available in 80 selected stores worldwide, including their flagship store in Sydney. Each of the fragrances are unisex and conjure stories of both place and character: challenging and exploring the idea of ‘what it is to live’.
Sarah and filmmaker Jeffrey wanted Map of the Heart to draw on their ‘…passion for story and understanding that scent is as transporting and intoxicating as words, images and film.’ And my goodness, get ready to be transported. We think you’ll be charmed by their descriptions, impressed by the evocative, contemporary imagery and (most importantly!) blown-away by the scents themselves…
The iconic heart-shaped bottle is definitely eye-catching, the colours and finishes changed to reflect each of the fragrances, and it was chosen because it ‘…plays with the paradox of ugly beauty.’
Pssst! You can try Map of the Heart Gold Heart v.4 in our Velvet Collection Discovery Box – a warm gleam of comforting spices, be sure to indulge yourself with this one… Map of the Heart’s collection £150 for 90ml eau de parfum
At Harrods’ Salon de Parfums and harrods.com
Written by Suzy Nightingale
Mischeviously irreverant Etat Libre d’Orange were the fragrance house megastar fashion designer Roland Mouret chose to collaborate with on his first fragrance – Une Amourette.
We went along to a private launch in Mouret’s flagship Mayfair boutique to find out more, and it’s every bit as fabulously naughty as you might hope…
It may not be the first fashion designer/fragrance house collaboration, but it’s definitely the only one we know of where the designer suggests spraying it between your thighs! Mouret explains: ‘A seductive fragrance – it’s a powerful scent that makes and leaves its mark as you move. You’ll want to wear it at the pulse point between your thighs and as you walk, cross your legs… the warmth and friction unleash an aroma that will capture your attention through the most primitive sense : smell.’
Well, we can’t say we followed this advice at the launch itself (a fragrance ritual probably best undertaken in the privacy of your bedroom, we feel) but it’s a rather compelling suggestion and we may have to try this for ourselves. Courtesans were well known for employing similar scent-seduction tactics in the 18th Century, so perhaps it’s about time we gave it a go. Roland Mouret say: ‘Infusing the sweet smell of neroli essence with traces of cardamom, this sensual fragrance opens with spicy notes of pink peppercorn, before revealing an earthy undertone of patchouli oil enriched with vanilla, that gives this fragrance a tantalising fin.’ Intrigued? Why not watch the man himself explain more, as Roland Mouret talks about working with Etat Libre d’Orange…
Talking to Roland at the launch, he went on to explain that he wanted Une Amourette to smell like ‘the scent of the other [your lover] on your skin…’ We may have blushed. But what a perfect juxtaposition – the mingling of two people’s warm skin, along with a Cologne and a decadent perfume, in one scent. Mouret also talked about the scent memories of his childhood, growing up in France, the smell of chic people mingling with voluptuous bouquets of flowers and drifts of incense from the churches he attended.
On the more usual pulse point to test perfumes – our eager wrists – then, here’s how it smells:
It begins like a lover’s caress, the sense of entangled sheets and warm skin, unmistakable carnality with indolic white flowers and roses scattered across the bed. Bone dry, the spices make their presense known immediately, with cardamom lingering throughout and a peachy succulence and creamy vanilla peeping above the naughtiness, somehow rendering them all the more provocative, like a glimpse of bare flesh beneath velvet coverings. A cool breeze of iris feels infused with a metallic shimmer, and the opoponax (incense) smooths the way insouciantly for an animalic dry-down of akigalawood that lasts the whole day through. Roland Mouret Une Amourette by Etat Libre d’Orange from £82 for 50ml eau de parfum
Buy it at rolandmouret.com
Written by Suzy Nightingale
Our latest Discovery Box has to be the most sumptuously indulgent yet! The Velvet Collection has just launched, and we couldn’t be more thrilled to share a little more about it with you, here… Prepare to sink into a state of scented bliss!
One of the most incredible powers perfume has is to make us feel swathed in luxury, as though we could reach out and stroke it. So when describing a perfume, we borrow language that evokes how they make us feel when wearing them, and most often those words are textural – suede-like, supple leather, soft cashmere, crisp cotton… and the most luxurious of all: velvet.
So how perfect to use this utterly sumptuous word in the title of our latest Discovery Box – The Velvet Collection…
In our latest curated collection of fragrances and scented goodies – nine perfume samples, two extra beauty treats AND a full-size Green & Blacks Velvet Edition chocolate bar in this one! – ‘velvet’ becomes a stepping-stone into exploring a sensuously scented world. Velvet makes us think of joyous opulence, abundant allure; richly hued and silky to the touch, but with enough of a fur-like feel to make us purr contentedly. Reassuring to wrap around you and reassuringly expensive, velvet also reflects the light with subtle nuances and complexity of character.
We’re so privileged at The Perfume Society to meet and interview some of the top perfumers in the world, and we always ask them what we can do to improve our sense of smell, to enhance the way we perceive a perfume. We feed these tips back to our How to Improve Your Sense of Smell Workshops (see Events section for news of these), and the most consistent advice is that we should try to think of textures, colours and places to envisage and ‘fix’ a scent in our mind.
And we wonder: which of these will become your second-skin, the fragrance you want to reach out and stroke as you fix the scent-sensation in your mind…? Map of the Heart Gold Heart – a warm gleam of comforting spices Avery E – frosted red fruits swathed in swags of flowers Vince Camuto Amore – frozen clementines wrapped in amber Lalique Reve d’Infini – white roses powder-dusted by a swansdown puff Connock London Andiroba – rainforest fruits discovered in lush greenery Valeur Absolue Rouge Passion – precious flowers tingling with ginger Ruth Mastenbroek Firedance – scarlet roses smouldering shamelessly Floral Street Chypre Sublime – bohemian romantics artistically cavorting Atkinsons Pirates Grand Reserve – dashing cads plundering exotic goods
PLUS: the exquisitely scented and ultra-nourishing Cochine hand lotion (in White Jasmine & Gardenia) a handy travel-size of Philosophy’s iconic Purity 3-in-one-cleanser and Green & Black’s scrumptious new Velvet Edition chocolate bar!
All of this can be yours to try in the comfort of your own home – no high-pressure, zero hassle and the time to make up your own mind, and for just £19 (VIP price £15) + P&P
So we suggest you treat yourself, close the curtains and give in to the luxurious allure of The Velvet Collection Discovery Box…
Niche fragrance brand By Kilian are launching a capsule collection of perfumed lingerie, created in collaboration with French luxury brand Fleur du Mal, featuring By Kilian’s Love, Don’t be Shy fragrance. With Ambrée notes of orange blossom, iris, rose and amber, things are clearly going to get rather steamy…
Designer Jennifer Zuccarini worked with handcrafted lace from the Solstiss Lace Mill in Caudry, France, and the entire lingerie collection uses micro-encapsulation techniques to weave the garments with the fragrance, gradually released with the body heat and movement of the person wearing it. And with the additional help of any special friends, um… also enjoying the lingerie, one assumes!
‘There’s something intriguing and intimate about fragrance and lingerie that I’ve always wanted to explore,’ says Jennifer. ‘With this collection, we’ve been able to add an element of sensuality that enhances the experience of intimacy.’ So, what can you expect to be wafting forth while shimmying in your scented scanty things? By Kilian describe Love, Don’t be Shy, composed by perfumer Calice Becker, as follows:
Opening: As tender as orange blossom, as luscious as a marshmallow. Vibe: A fragrance with a sweet tooth, like when you love someone so much you just want to take a bite of them! Drydown: The amber base adds sensuality.
The collection features three curated sets: lingerie, accessories and pyjamas, with prices ranging from £360 to £620, they’re available at bykilian.com, KILIAN boutiques, fleurdumal.com and speciality boutiques worldwide.
Designed to last between four and five washes, once the initial fragrance has worn off, one could pick up a bottle of the perfume and continue the perfumed passion the traditional way. According to founder and Creative Director, Kilian Hennessy, Rihanna is a big fan Love, Don’t Be Shy – and as she certainly isn’t known for being backward in coming forward, we say pick up a bottle and spritz away (on lingerie, skin, hair, sheets, perhaps even your special friend…) to your heart’s content.
Globally renowned for their fine time pieces, Swiss watch-makers have long been considered the best in the world, with the house of Franck Muller now complementing their luxurious wares with an exquisitely made collection of fine fragrances…
Frannk Muller are famous for their ‘bold designs, creativity, originality and expertise to produce exclusive timepieces characterised by complicated movementscommissioned the UK fragrance house CPL Aromas to create the perfumes, working with leading perfumers, Beverley Bane (for those of you who attended our Perfume Society Patchouli-mania event, Beverley was the perfumer who spoke so engagingly about her work there!) Julie Pluchet and Dominique Preyssas. Beverley says: ‘The intricacies of watch making match the art of creating a fragrance. Perfumery creativity is about precision, balance and using the best quality materials available to produce exquisite fragrances. Franck Muller is dedicated to finding the best materials and the best craftsmen to create watches that push the boundaries in beauty and technology.
Fragrances are complex and precise creating a whole that is beautifully balanced, rounded and full of character. Each fragrance like a Franck Muller watch tells a story- from the best Italian citrus oils in the top note through to heart notes of hand-picked floral absolutes and finally exotic resins priceless and precious woods.
CPL’s Aromafusion technology links beautiful classic perfumery materials with modern cutting edge technology pushing the boundaries of perfumery, much like a Franck Muller timepiece.’
Encompassing five eau de parfums, each fragrance in the collection was inspired by a famous Franck Muller watch design, the bottles themselves following the Cintrée Curvex shape that is the brand’s trademark elegant silhouette. What’s more, fusing the finest raw materials with CPL Aromas’ unique and exclusive Aromafusion™ captive ingredients means that ‘…the fragrances can never be copied.’ Color Dreams – The wonderfully bright pastel colours of the lively dial inspired the perfumer to create a kaleidoscope of celestial notes evoking the East. Crazy Hours – The watch breaks all the rules of watchmaking – to reinterpret the way to look at time which inspired the perfumer to create an intense contrast of crispy citrus and a sensual wood accord to provide an unexpected sophistication. Double Mystery – This exuberant watch replaces the hands with jewels concealing time in luxury with distinguished elegance, which inspired the perfumer to create hidden richness and splendour using the most luxurious ingredients. Aeternitas – Is the most complicated watch in the world, and will keep time for 999 years. This inspired the perfumer to create a long-lasting and very complex perfume. Conquistador – The dark masculine character of this watch inspired the creation of an extremely sensual perfume with unorthodox authority. CPL Aromas say: ‘When master watch-makers meet master perfumers, both accustomed to working with complexity and precision, combined with beauty and fascination, the outcome was bound to be interesting…’
Vartan Sirmakes, co-founder and CEO Franck Muller Group, commented: ‘I am delighted to be launching the Franck Muller perfume, bringing together two masters of their respective fields, the union of the most creative worlds of Haute Horlogerie and Haute Parfumerie. A fitting partnership which also marks the 25th anniversary of unending development, craftsmanship and innovation, and truly represents the identity of Franck Muller.’ Frank Muller Parfums £170 for 75ml eau de parfum
Available at Jovoy Mayfair and now, Fortnum & Mason
Written by Suzy Nightingale
We’re rather thrilled the Art and Olfaction Awards are coming to London in April 2018! The awards (aka ‘The Golden Pears’) are a program of The Institute for Art and Olfaction, a non-profit organisation based in Los Angeles, USA.
An annual event showcasing the very best niche and artisan perfumes from around the world, independent perfumers and small-scale brands are invited to submit their fragranced wares (closing date is November 1st though, folks, so you need to get a wriggle on!) by filling in the online form, and then sending a 20ml bottle of the perfume for judging.
The rules are as follows…
‘For the 5th annual awards, we accept submissions from independent and artisan perfumers, and experimental practitioners with scent from all countries. Brands must be independently owned, or owned by a parent company with no more than four fine fragrance holdings in its brand portfolio. In the independent and artisan categories, we accept perfumes first released to market between January 1 and December 31, 2017. In the Sadakichi Award, we accept projects that had or will have their public début between December 1, 2016 and December 31, 2017.’
The Institute for Art and Olfaction say: ‘Awarded to just four perfumes and one experimental project a year, The Golden Pears is designed to raise interest and awareness for independent and artisan perfumers – and experimental practitioners with scent – from all countries. By shining a spotlight on perfumery’s most outstanding creators, we hope to help generate support for independent practices in perfumery as a whole.’
Submissions close: November 1st, 11:59pm PST
Physical submissions must be received on or before November 14th, 2017
Round one judging : November 14, 2017 – January 15, 2018
Round two judging: January 15 – March 1, 2018
Finalists Announcement at Esxence: April 5, 2018
5th annual Art and Olfaction Awards at The Tabernacle in London: April 21, 2018
Niche perfumery was once viewed somewhat sneeringly, but the larger brands have had to sit up and take notice in the last few years (indeed, acquiring a few of them along the way to add to their existing portfolios), because those brands have ploughed the way for new trends to emerge, a fresher breath of air that provides a barometer for the rest of the industry. Whether perfume-lovers are directly seeking out more unusual and under-the-radar brands because they ‘don’t want to smell like everyone else’, or perhaps we’re all just getting a little braver in our fragrance choices; it’s become clear that niche is the new black.
And we can’t wait to see what the awards uncover next…
Written by Suzy Nightingale
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