Jérome Epinette: A Working Nose

Had he not become a perfumer, Jérome Epinette says he’d likely have been a sommelier. Growing up in the famous wine region of Burgundy, he loves to attend wine tastings, comparing notes just as he does in perfume. And if it wasn’t wine, it could just as likely have been a food career that beckoned – in his spare time Jérome is an accomplished cook, particularly enjoying blending unique combinations of herbs and cooking traditional French dishes.

Luckily for us fragrance lovers, Jérome’s passion for perfume had also been realised at an early age – his mother worked in a fine perfumery, and he would join her there during school holidays to help out. Having earned a Master’s Degree in Biochemistry in Dijon, France and attended the Grasse Institute of Perfumery in Grasse, Jérome’s career really began when he joined Robertet’s Paris office in 2003 and was part of the U.S. team to launch the New York Creative Center in 2006, where he now lives.

Known for his love of exceptional quality naturals and how elegantly he blends them with the finest synthetics, you’ll very likely have worn and loved many of his creations already – houses from Atelier Cologne, Byredo, Frapin, Olfactive Studio to Vilhelm have fought for Epinette to be their nose. Now, Jérome has turned his talents to the self-proclaimed ‘upstart’ fragrance house of Floral Street, who won the Fragrance Foundation Retail Award 2019 and are wowing fragrance fans the world over with their contemporary spin on floral ingredients.

We had the pleasure of meeting Jérome at our Perfume Society event in their Covent Garden flagship store, just as Electric Rhubarb was launching – a fragrance collaboration with Chelsea Flower Show, and a fruity/floral like no other. Of course we couldn’t wait to ask this brilliant perfumer exactly what makes him tick, and how he goes about creating a fragrance.

Describe your office and how you like to work…

‘It’s a very neat, white office, a white wooden floor, everything very minimal. My desk is bright white, very clean, I try to keep very tidy as I can only work like that. I couldn’t have a pile of blotters tumbling everywhere and a mass of stuff around me, that would drive me crazy.

Usually my nose is more efficient in the morning, I start working at 8:30am and smell all of the drydowns from the night before, it’s only then you can judge their longevity or see which aspects need adjusting. You need that time for it to develop overnight, but you also need time to let go of thinking about it, to come to it fresh. A fresh mind and a fresh nose.’

How do you like to think about a fragrance – do you use mood boards, go for a walk, read, listen to music…?

‘For Floral Street we use mood boards, because Michelle [Feeney – Floral Street’s vibrant founder] is very visual, as is the brand. I get an immediate idea from the pictures and colours, and I work from there. I think I’m very lucky to go to work by walking. I have a 25 minute walk and that gives me time to set my head up for the day. It’s a treasured time to reflect. I couldn’t take the subway, that’s too fast.

When I go home I walk through Central Park, and I think about what I’ve done that day, but when I get home I switch everything off and just relax with my family. Although I do spray my wife with fragrances I’m working on… she’ll sometimes say “have you put that ingredient I don’t like?” There are some things she likes so much she wishes I wasn’t selling it! I can’t listen to if my family and friends like a perfume, as such, because I’m not making it for them, but I see how it works on different skins.’

What did you want people to experience when smelling Electric Rhubarb?

‘For me this is buzzy, it has an energy, there’s a luscious juiciness and then a surprising smoothness. It’s so important to try on the skin, only then do I know to push the wood or whatever tweaks I need to do. You need to follow the perfume, how it behaves. When you smell the ingredients, like the sandalwood I’ve used in this one for example, you only then get the creamy aspect, a silkiness that only happens when it radiates on your skin, the full evolution of the fragrance.’

What are your favourite ingredients, and why?

‘I have tonnes of flowers I love, but gardenia is one of my all time favourites – I have one on my terrace and I can smell it whenever I walk past, and I’m always transported – that’s why I chose it for Electric Rhubarb. In the woody character, I think part of my signature is using patchouli and sandalwood, I’d say I use these practically all the time, in differing ways of course, but every perfumer has their signature, and that’s definitely mine.’

What do you say to people who ask why you use synthetic as well as naturals in your perfumes?

‘I’d say we need both, it’s as simple as that. If you ask me tomorrow to make 100% natural perfume, that’s incredibly challenging to make it smell good – you have a much smaller palette for a start, and synthetics add a complexity, they allow you to link everything together, the beautiful naturals and the clever synthetics make something whole.’

Jérome Epinette interviewed by Suzy Nightingale

A peek inside Penhaligon’s Covent Garden home

Penhaligon’s opened their very first boutique in London’s fashionable Jermyn Street in1872 and have since gone on to open locations spanning the globe – you can read all about their fascinating history on our page dedicated to Penhaligon’s.

Instead of merely reproducing the same look in each store, Penhaligon’s work with the history and location of each building, making sure to reflect differing aspects and using unique materials and interior decor for every single one. And now, we’re delighted to take a sneak peek into their newly refurbished home in Covent Garden’s Wellington Street...

And you know, it really is just like walking into a home – albeit that of a fragrance fanatic! – with rich, gleaming wood floors, fixtures and finishes, and a supremely elegant style to the architecture. The space feels airy, yet with enough intimacy to ccomfortably explore the scents arrayed on the walls and a magnificent central display table.

We think there’s a Gerogian-meets-contemporary vibe to the whole store – clean lines preventing clutter, and allowing the eye (and nose) to rest on everything there is to explore. And with the ever-gowing range of family members in the Penhaligon’s fragrance wardrobe, you can be sure there’s something fo all tastes – from the more modern scents of recent years in the Portraits collection, right through to the vintage archival fragrances they made their name by, and have made British perfumery famous for generations.

Many Penhaligon’s store offer private Fragrance Profiling appointments, including Wellignton Street, where you will be asked a series of questions to match you to the perfect scent – a service they now offer online, too, for those not able to get to boutique – something many couples like to experience for their wedding fragrances, or to find a great gift for a loved one or mark a special occasion.

We love visiting perfumeries who make an effort to dress their spaces differently – gone are the days when everyone wanted idetikit, could-be-anywhere boutiques; and it’s always lovely to have a relaxed atmosphere to soak up the scents, don’t you agree?

Penhaligon’s: 41 Wellington Street, Covent Garden, London, WC2E 7BN

By Suzy Nightingale

CHANEL – ‘I Am a Perfume’ mini-film series: which would you be?

If you were a CHANEL perfume, which would you be, and what would it reveal about your personality? For fragrance lovers, the perfumes we wear inevitably become part of our personalities – invisible messages that may give passers-by clues to your character, inviting intrigue; or they may serve as a scented cloak, beneath which you can protect yourself from the world’s gaze. For CHANEL, ‘…fragrance is considered and composed as an invisible item of clothing.’

Gabrielle Chanel’s vision and perfumer Olivier Polge’s contemporary interpretation of it are woven through each of what they rather wonderfully call ‘olfactory garments’ – adhering to Chanel’s vision that went beyond fashion and trends. We love that CHANEL is exploring this theme of asserting your presence, expressing your personality and creating your style with the scent you choose to wear that day. We certainly find that’s how we wear perfume – do you want to magnify the mood you’re in or change it completely? Do you ‘match’ your scent to your outfit and your plans for the day, or use it to give a hint at what lies beneath…?

The new campaign uses deliciously dreamy imagery – bodies dressed in shadows or bathed in sunlight, interwoven with archive clips of skilled artisans at the atelier, of vintage fashion shows, and the iconic image of Marilyn Monroe insouciantly entangled in white sheets, all with Vanessa Paradis lending her voice as narrator. And even if you don’t undertstand the French commentary, goodness it just sounds divine! We’re delighted to share the film with you, below, so dive in to the glamour…

The first chapter in this narrative is named “I am an idea”, presented as a scented ‘manifesto’, and laying the foundation for CHANEL fragrance creation, as they say in their own words…

‘I AM AN IDEA

A CHANEL perfume is an idea Grasped, developed, expressed Like an item of clothing Imagined, assembled, tailored.

A CHANEL perfume is a precious material A fabric woven from images, spun from landscapes.

A CHANEL perfume is a play of shadows and light Which reveals nudity and protects intimacy A set of jewelry and an abstraction A suit of armor and a construction. A CHANEL perfume is an invisible negligee, one that Marilyn chose to adorn her nights.

A CHANEL perfume is the scent of the self Reminiscence of childhood.

A CHANEL perfume is a style, an allure An elegance, a signature. An item of clothing.

A CHANEL perfume is a perfume that chose me For what I am, for what I want. A perfume that says “I.”

I AM A CHANEL PERFUME.’

So now, we wonder… which CHANEL perfume would you be…?

Perfumed Plume Awards 2019 winners

It’s fragrance awards season a-go-go with The Fragrance Foundation UK Awards last week, but right now we’d like to cast our eyes over the pond to the prestigious Perfumed Plume Awards™ – an annual celebration of fragrance journalism now in its fourth year, and gaining ever more attention all over the world.

Held in New York, the ceremony (and what looked to be a fabulous perfumed party!) was held at The Society of Illustrators, which the founders and organisers, Lyn Leigh and Mary Ellen Lapsansky – both perfume industry veterans – agreed, for them the awards ‘…honour and recognise fragrance stories and the many talented writers and visualists who give the reader an inside view of the cultural, historical, scientific and personal approaches to fragrance design and what it takes to create an evocative scent.’

Winners were each presented with a signature Tiffany pen, but perhaps more than just the honour of recieving the award, The Perfumed Plumes are all about showcasing the incredible diversity of writers using fragrance as a theme – helping spread the scented word far and wide.

We’re always encouraging the sharing of these ‘perfumed stories’, and are delighted to bring you the list of 2019 winners, along with links to their fabulous fragrance writing. Congratulations to ALL the finalists and winners, we’re going to sit back, pour ourselves a cup of tea, and allow ourselves to fall under your scented spells…

Perfume Stories in Mainstream Media – Print – Magazines, Newspapers:
Chemical Romance” – New Beauty — by April Long

Perfume Stories in Mainstream Media – Digital – Magazines, Newspapers, Blog Postings, Webzines” A tie!
How Britney Spears Built a Billion Dollar Business Without Selling a Single Record
InStyle — by Rachel Syme

Fragrances of Film Noir: Scenting Five Femmes Fatales
ÇaFleureBon — by Despina Veneti, Sr. Contributor

New Category: ‘Short ‘n Sweet’ Perfume Stories – Print & Digital:
Blind FaithNew Beauty — by Brittany Burhop Fallon

Visualization of Perfume Stories — Print & Digital:
Travels in France, Part One: Everything Is Lavender” —The Fragrant Journey — by Cynthia Lesiuk

New Category: INSTApost — Perfume Stories on Instagram:
but_not_today” — The Plum Girlby Elena Cvjetkovic

Fragrance Book Award:
Spritzing to Success
With the Woman who Brought an Industry to Its Senses”— by Annette Green

by Suzy Nightingale

 

Fragrance Foundation Awards 2019

Last night the Fragrance Foundation Awards, aka the ‘Oscars of the fragrance industry’ were awarded at a glittering, star-studded evening that saw nominees and winners celebrating in full swing – surely the best-smelling crowd at any awards ceremony!

We began with an important reminder of just how much the fragrance industry brings to jobs and the economy of the UK… 7.1 billion of GDP, with 126,700 people employed, bringing in £2.2 billion of tax revenue and making up £7.5 billion of consumer spending.

Of course at The Perfume Society we’re constantly showcasing fragrance houses, both big and small, and the people behind the scenes of the industry, but it’s not often we get to showcase the fragrance heroes altogether, and to see so many friends in one place, so everyone was definitely in party mood!

We were thrilled to be invited, having won a Jasmine Award for our (now multi-award-winning!) magazine, the A-Z issue of The Scented Letter. Available free as a digital download for our VIP Club members, with print issues to purchase separately in the shop, and now with an International Online Subscription for only £20 for a full year of fragrant reading, we must admit we’re rather proud of our publication. Have a free issue of The Scented Letter by clicking on the cover, below…

Please do have a look at all the Jasmine Award Winners – we’ve linked to their winning pieces here – we were so honoured to be counted among them, and to share a table with them at the awards ceremony!

And now, on to the amazing winners of the evening. Drum-roll please…

Best New Media Campaign: Map of the Heart for White Heart – such a great achievement for this niche house! Read our review and watch the winning film, here. We put this fragrance in our first ever Niche Collection box, which sold out ages ago sadly, but have a look at our new Limited Edition Niche Discovery Box while it’s still available…!

Best New Media Campaign: Hugo Boss The Scent and Boss Bottled United – Groundbreaking award for this brand – the first time ever for a shared prize.

 

Best New Fragrance Design & Packaging: Carolina Herrera Bronze Tonka – stunning bottle and scent, we totally agree.

Best New Independent Fragrance Award: Cloon Keen for Roisin Dubh. Wow, a huge award for this beautiful Irish niche house, as judged by the Jasmine Winners. Read our review… and see why we loved it so much!

Best New Home Fragrance Product: Roja Parfums A Midsummer’s Dream. Completely dreamy, indeed, and such a beautiful theme for a candle…

Perfume Extraordinaire: Diptyque Fleur de Peau. What an incredible fragrance this is – we Jasmine winners judged this award completely blind, and we’re really not surprised it won.

Reader’s Choice Women: Chanel Coco Mademoiselle Intense – chosen by readers of the Evening Standard, this more powerful version of the classic perfume has proved to be a huge success.

Reader’s Choice for Men: Dior Sauvage eau de parfum. Another huge-hitter, as chosen by Evening Standard readers, and little wonder it’s been a worldwide best-seller.

People’s Choice Women: Chanel Coco Mademoiselle Intense – a double-win, and definitely a hit with fragrance lovers!

People’s Choice Men: Dior Sauvage – and another double-win! These two fragrances are killing it, and the perfumed public can’t get enough.

Newcomer of the Year: Map of the Heart! A hotly anticipated award, and another trophy for this Australian niche house. Their bottles have to be seen to be believed, total art pieces, and the fragrances are just divine. Congratulations!

Holiday Fragrance of the Year: Diptyque Sapin de Lumière scented candle. Just the most gorgeous scent, and oh that packaging. Yes please, all year ’round, we feel…

Innovation Award: Diptyque for their fabulous Mayfair pop-up!

New Fragrance in Limited Distribution: Alexander Mcqueen – only sold in ten retail destinations but lighting up the world of fragrance with their stunning scents and drop-dead-gorgeous bottles.

Best New Fragrance in Limited Distribution: Acqua di Parma Blu Mediterraneo Cipressa di Toscano – we’re always carried away by their holiday-in-a-bottle fragrances, and this one has us dreaming of those blue waters.

Online Retailer of the Year: The Perfume Shop – a new award in an ever-growing category, which was mystery shopped as well as voted for. Very well done!

Retailer of the Year: Floral Street. Wow, what an accolade! Huge success for this new house, and we’re so happy for them! Why not come to our incredible event with Floral Street, with their perfumer Jérôme Épinette jetting in to talk us through their latest fragrance…

Best New Fragrance Women: Diptyque Fleur de Peau – as voted for by Fragrance Foundation Members, they are having quite the win-win with this fragrance!

Best New Fragrance Men: Diptyque Tempo – their FIFTH win of the evening, also voted by Fragrance Foundation Members. Also, as ever, these fragrances are totally sharable, so the chaps needn’t think they’ve got dibs on this!

 

Ultimate Launch: Dior JOY – the biggest gong of the ceremony and Dior were having quite the night, wowsa!

Many, many congratulations to ALL the nominees and winners, we’d give everyone awards if we could, and what a special event to be part of celebrating. What a night! Some rather fuzzy fragrant heads around today, we’re betting…

By Suzy Nightingale

Get your skin summer-ready with scented treats

For the last couple of weeks the weather’s been all over the place – from sunshine to rain, wafty dresses to winter coats again, sometimes in a matter of minutes. However, we do know the time for baring limbs that have been swathed in layers looms large, and we’d like to indulge you with some of our favourite scented treats that can help prepare you…

In our Feel Good Box (our first collaboration with The Beauty Bible), we chose several award-winning and top-rated luxurious body products as extra treats to try alongside skincare and nerve-soothing must-haves AND a full-size Green & Blacks chocolate bar. We say: prep your skin, calm your spirit and indulge your senses all at once!

Molton Brown Rosa Absolute Sumptuous Bathing Oil
With notes of rose absolute, violet leaf, blackcurrant, raspberry, geranium, sandalwood and patchouli, infused with skin-silkifying oils of argan and Italian rose, this bathing elixir will veil your skin in a deep, velvety fragrance that clings to the body for a beautiful trail, as you emerge from the scented waters. This exquisite indulgence invites you to lie back and dream of rose bowers… And it happens to make the tedious task of shaving your legs a positive delight!

Percy & Read Heavenly Hydrating Body Wash
Breathe in refreshing top notes of citrus and apple, heart notes of lily of the valley and rose, and comforting base notes of cedar wood, amber and musk. This nourishing formula is blended with botanical extracts to help calm and soothe the skin. Honey extract and aloe vera, combined with glycerine and pro-vitamin B5, work to moisturise and nurture to leave skin feeling soft, hydrated and radiant.

Olverum Bath Oil
A unique and luxurious aromatic blend of essential oils which combine to ease stress and relax tension in both mind and body, bringing you back to your complete and natural self. Olverum Bath Oil is highly concentrated and only a teaspoon full (5ml) is needed per bath. Accordingly, virtually all the oil is absorbed by the skin leaving no greasy residue in the bath after use.

Temple Spa Peace Be Still Skin Calming Balm
A Gold Beauty Bible Award-winner in 2019, this sophisticated all-over balm deeply moisturises and softens, leaving skin silky to touch. It’s aromatherapy and skincare in one – with extracts of coriander, lemon, nutmeg, antioxidants and a fusion of relaxing Mediterranean essential oils and vitamin B5. A textured formula that sinks into the skin immediately, leaving it ultra-smooth and beautifully settled. Calming to skin, body and soul!

Try these with eight other fabulous fragranced products in the Feel Good Box, £19 (£15 for VIP Club members)

Skin Sense Overnight Leave On Mask
Sure, we should all use face-masks more often rather than hoping for instant perfection, but we’re human, we forget. This one can be slapped on and left overnight, a luxurious at-home treatment that transforms dull and lacklustre skin into a clearer and brighter complexion. Hyaluronic acid, hydrolysed proteins and synthetic polymers restore lost bounce to the skin – all with zero effort. Hurrah!

Balance Me Wonder Eye Cream
Too many late nights and jugs of Pimms to get in the summer mood? Reach for this! An award-winning cream packed full of ingredients to refresh, awaken and lift even the most sensitive of eyes. There’s a large dose of hyaluronic acid to provide the eyes with a shot of moisture and help to smooth away fine lines and wrinkles. Then, a blend of cucumber oil and witch hazel calms, brightens and works to reduce puffiness and inflammation.

Find these alogside eight stunning fragrances to try at home, in the Day & Night Discovery Box, £19 (£15 for VIP Club members)

 

Feeling scentimental? Remembering retro fragrance ads

The importance of nostalgia in fragrance shouldn’t be ignored – so often our memories are linked with the scents we wore way-back-when, and we’ve surely all been stopped in our tracks by catching a whiff of something a loved one was loyal to.

Here at The Perfume Society, we also like to wallow in the warmth of perfume adverts past – they can be, by turns, charmingly evocative or utterly hilarious. We’ve gathered a selection for you to watch to cheer up your day, and we’ll let you decide best which category they fall under. How many of these do you recognise or remember wearing…?

There’s a rather wild claim within this 1981 ad, that ‘drop for drop, Jōvan Musk has brought more men and women together than any other fragrance in history…’ which, um, we’re absolutely sure they could have backed up with stats… Anyway, there’s no messing about, here, and we’re left with no doubts about the power of scent to drive women to rub their hair over men’s faces.

We associate fragrance advertising with impossible glamour and aspirational lifestyles, but sometimes the men’s fragrances used to downplay this in favour of the all-too-obtainable – like this Blue Stratos TV ad from 1988. During what looks to be the crummiest date ever, a couple drive to the world’s most boring pier, get soaked in the rain and, presumably because things can’t get much worse, decide to hurl themselves into the sea, fully clothed. And who can blame them?

This woman will quite happily throw a bunch of roses over a railing and spray perfume straight in your eyes, because she’s… having a complete breakdown? No, silly. Because she’s IMPULSIVE! and UNPREDICTABLE! Well, perhaps, but we still think she comes across as one of those friends, who you can never safely invite to a wedding, because she’ll be causing A Scene – ‘it should have been meeeeeee!’ – and swigging straight from a wine bottle within minutes of arriving.

Is it just us, or do you think there’s something mildly skeevy about the way the man in this Stetson Cologne ad rubs the crown of his hat? It suggests a familiarity with headgear that had not previously occured, but perhaps he’d splashed some of his Cologne on it and was powerless to resist. A peculiar half-spoken, half-sung narration by the woman, too. Peculiar all ’round.

Spying someone gorgeous at a party, trying to subtly flirt across a crowded room, is a situation fraught with danger. But it’s all going so well for this woman – she’s chic, fun and poised with dignity – until she applies Tigress, quick-changes into a catsuit, spends several minutes fighting her way through the potted plants and breathes on her ‘prey’ in a quite unpleasant and off-putting manner. And this is why we should all have that friend who says, ‘No, Susan. You’ve had too many cocktails.’

On what looks to be the set of a 1960s Hammer Horror film, and wearing a nightdress that only adds to the impression, we are given life advice by a really quite terrifying woman who declares in a breathy, faintly sinister way, that her men must wear ‘English Leather, or nothing at all.’ We’d be straight on the phone to the police, to be honest, advising them to check under her patio for those who refused either option…

By Suzy Nightingale

New niche: now! Which of these does your nose know?

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 for VIP 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…

Anima Vinci 
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.

Atkinsons
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…

BDK Parfums 
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.

E. Coudray
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.

Modernist Perfume
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.’

Prosody
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.’

Parterre
When David and Julia Bridger decided to combine the ruling passions of their lives – art, gardens, travel and perfume – and gather a team of experts (literally) in their field, they set in motion a series of events that is poised to change the face of British fragrance forever. And put Parterre on the map… Embracing the concept of ‘from seed to bottle’, David and Julia not only set out to to grow, harvest and distil many of their own ingredients – but they also had a longing to try growing crops that had never before been grown on British soil. (Even including – astonishingly – vetiver.) The 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…

Serge Lutens
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’.

Tom Daxon
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…

By Suzy Nightingale

The scent of spring at Les Senteurs

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…

Les Senteurs, 71 Elizabeth St, Belgravia, London SW1W 9PJ

By Suzy Nightingale

Art & Olfaction Awards 2019 winners announced

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…

ARTISAN AWARD

Hyde
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

INDEPENDENT AWARD

Colorado
by American Perfumer (USA)
Creative Director: Dave Kern
Perfumer: Dawn Spencer Hurwitz
+ Brand Website

Rich Mess
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
Frederik Duerinck

CONTRIBUTION TO SCENT CULTURE AWARD
Sissel Tolaas

By Suzy Nightingale