Synthetic Jungle – Frédéric Malle in conversation with Anne Flipo

It’s a jungle out there – an incredibly refined, ultra-green, 1970s-inspired one, thanks to Frédéric Malle and perfumer Anne Flipo‘s latest creation: Synthetic Jungle eau de parfum.

We were lucky enough to be part of the virtual launch event for Synthetic Jungle, where Fréderic and Anne discussed the inspiration behind the fragrance, and exactly how the composition came together. And Frédéric was  particularly keen, as you will see,  to make the point that synthetics are a vital and creative component to the fragrance industry, not some dirty little secret that fragrance houses should seek to obscure from public view…

Fréderic Malle: I had an idea about revisiting ‘green’ perfumery, and thought Anne was the perfect candidte for that. She’s very good at starting points. We looked together at formulas from the past.

One we thought particularly interesting was Private Collecion by Estée Lauder. This was our starting point. Working with Anne was like two musicians jamming together. We were very comfortable together, with common interests, a common language. There was no fear!

Anne Flipo: At the beginning I was a bit stressed because I had to understand how he works. But it was immediately very easy, he works the way I do. Everything was possible, but I wanted to organise the floralcy around the greenness. I chose lily of the valley.

Frédéric: The paradox, that people don’t often understand, is that to create a natural smell we need synthetics. Each synthetic note is part of the puzzle. I chose this paradoxical name to remind people how perfumery functions. And to show that what man makes is often as interesting as nature. …

Anne: When I choose the ingredients, (I work with over 400), the green note, for example, is very different to the colour itself…

Frédéric: There’s a difference between a smell and a perfume. Between a flower and a fragrance. A fine fragrance has to feel like it’s coming out of you, not worn on the skin.

Anne: I wanted it to smell like this jungle was coming out of you. The chypre accord helps it last on the skin, it balances the formula.

Frédéric: When Anne added the lily of the valley it was a huge turning point, it was the key. And then the dampness comes from Patchouli.

 

 

Frédéric Malle: Interesting perfumery really started at the end of the 19th century, because there were some synthetics available. Perfumery as we know it today has big doses of synthetic, and furthermore, if you want to recreate nature you need synthetic.  The name, Synthetic Jungle, is a way of opening the debate, I love nature, it needs to be preserved, don’t get me wriong; but this idea that everything from nature is great and everything from man is awful is a new kind of facism.

Anne Flipo: Making the formula very short was important to me, overdosing some ingredients – there’s a lot of cassis, overdoes of floralcy, not so many base notes volume-wise. They’re present, you smell them, but the construction is very modern.

Frédéric: Sometimes you have contrast. The patchouli and oakmoss is a black background, but it’s not dirty. A lot of the fragrances from the 1970s smelled dirty. This smells carnal, but not dirty. There’s a distinction.

Anne: I’m so proud and so happy to be part of the Frédéric Malle family.

Frédéric:Yes, look, she’s a completely transformed woman! [laughter]

Anne: Well, we really had the chance to challenge each other further during this.

Frédéric: It was a challenge, yes, but Anne has a great sense of humour and that’s really important. It’s like dancing, making perfumes; deep concentration, but also deep relaxation…

 

Frédéric Malle Synthetic Jungle from £38 for 10ml eau de parfum
fredericmalle.co.uk

Synthetic Jungle is brave in many ways. For one thing, it has the word ‘synthetic’ in the title, at a time when there’s much so-called ‘green-washing’ – the implication that fragrances and cosmetics are ‘toxic’ if they aren’t all-natural, when in fact many essential oils are potentially more harmful and less environmentally sustainable to produce. For another, intensely green fragrances aren’t always the easiest to love. But Frédéric Malle has always been about the quality of the fragrance first, allowing the perfumer’s talents to shine through. And oh my, how Flipo shines in Synthetic Jungle…

What does it smell like? Bitter green crunchy stems and sticky sap – it’s very chic French Chypre from 1970s snogs a Cologne and goes wild, hacking through undergrowth, with vibrant bursts of tart, mouth-puckering blackcurrant, fuzzy tomato leaves examined under a microscope. WHOAH BLACKCURRANT GOES NUCLEAR! Everything gets HUGE AGAIN! Rolled in soft moss and seed spores to dampen the edges, the fruitiness gets warm, viscous, jammy.

Synthetic Jungle is the Indiana Jones ride at Universal Studios, or a missing scene from Honey I Shrunk the Kids as shot by a Vogue photographer in 1976 (a steamy greenhouse becomes a surreal cartoon jungle and everything’s impossibly glamorous). You emerge with berry stained lips and leaves in your hair, covered in grass stains and grinning wildly.

By Suzy Nightingale

Nose – the ‘smell good movie’ revealing the scent secrets of Dior perfumer, François Demachy

Nose is a more than a documentary following Dior perfumer François Demachy, it’s a paean to the raw ingredients of perfumery, and the hardworking people who grow and harvest the ingredients around the world.

Having first premiered at the 2020 Tribeca Film Festival, the film has just been released – watch the trailer, below, read our review and find out where you can watch…

 

 

Dior describe it as ‘A true “smell good movie” Nose sheds light on one of the most secret jobs in the world.’ And while we mostly remainly quarantined, what a wonderful way to travel by your nose it is.

‘Perfumes are a language everyone understands, but few people can speak’ Demachy explains as he sits in his office, filled with endless bottles and piles of books, later commenting that ‘For me, a perfume is a land of sharing.’ Fascinatingly, when asked what his first ever perfume was, he reveals ‘The first thing I did was a perfume intended to whet the appetites of bovine, so they would eat the fodder.’ Quite a leap to his life, now, and yet in this film we get to see how he works with the growers of the materials he so loves, eventually whetting all our appetites with their distilled passion.

In Sulawesi, Indonesia, Demachy travels for three days to visit the patchouli plantations, and says for him, it was the most rewarding part of filming Nose.

‘We took a small plane, then a four-wheel drive, followed by a hike through a few isolated villages in the middle of nowhere. That in itself was already an enjoyable adventure, but then there was this magnificent reward at the end, and I finally got to see my favorite ingredient in its natural environment, on these steep slopes… It’s quite moving to see this… This is where it all begins for perfumery.’ François Demachy remarks as he watches the freshly picked patchouli being washed (and having covered his arms in the fragrantly oily residue).

Fragrance writer Eddie Bulliqi makes an apperance at several points during the film, discussing the links between music and fragrance, and the creative process; but again, it’s the growers who are most celebrated in Nose, even more than the often romanticised life of a great perfumer.

From the idyllic fields of jasmine and rose in Grasse, we meet the women who own the land and discover exactly how hard it is to work those so-pretty fields. And we hear from Patrick Lillis, a ‘Celtic ambergris broker’ from County Clare, Ireland. As the wind and rain lash the shore, Patrick and his dog walk beside the broiling sea, and this gruff-voiced, sou’wester-wearing man waxes lyrical on the magic of ambergris in perfumery.

‘It’s a personal taste thing, you know?’ he says, while sniffing a white (and therefore older, stronger) lump of the precious material. ‘It’s quite a profound, animatic smell… Some people say it adds another dimension to perfumery, that a normal perfume is 2D and this is 3D. It’s the best natural fixative for perfume, and it’s oleophilic – it grabs hold of the oils. But it also does another thing which is a little bit magical: it transforms other fragrances.’

Simply put, Nose is a feast for the senses, and a much-needed way for us to feed the wanderlust we’re all experiencing. Gorgeous, swooping shots of landscape and sumptuous close-ups of dew-speckled flowers accompany this portrait, that goes beyond the work of Demachy, and invites the viewer to fall as passionately in love with the world of perfumery as he and all the people behind the scenes so obviously are…

Nose is now available to rent or buy on Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV and Google Play.

By Suzy Nightingale

Safe scents: a perfumer explains

Safe scents – what are they, who checks, and what processes do fragrances have to go through?

It’s such a minefield, and there is much misinformation floating around the internet and social media, of late, regarding the topic of ‘safe scents’. So we welcome the ‘open door’ approach many perfume houses and perfumers are now taking, making the public more aware of what goes on behind-the-scenes in not only creating a fragrance, but ensuring its safety.

Perfumer Pia Long, from  the fragrance creation house and expert consultancy, Olfiction, recently created some images, while she was working on a new creation for a client – ‘…the creation in question being a sparkly citrus eau de toilette with a very high percentage of natural materials.’ (Because yes, even if a fragrance is 100% natural, it still has to be checked. Just because an ingredient is deemed ‘natural’, it’s still a chemical and it still needs to be safety checked).

Pia has been noticing more comments on social media from consumers, who, she explains ‘…say (wrongly) that there are no safety considerations for fragrance prior to it going into a product, or that natural is always safe and synthetic is always not (also wrong).’

So, Pia took some screenshots of ‘the stuff I have to be fluent in,’ and wanted to share them with the public because she thought, ‘Maybe it’s time we perfumers start to show you a little more than nice photos of us in our swish laboratories or eccentric offices; or maybe just seeing content from brands is not enough these days.’

We all love seeing those ‘sneak peeks’ into perfumers’ labs, or the harvesting of fragrant crops, but while that content is incredibly enjoyable to see, it doesn’t address the misinformation regarding fragrance safety. So while it’s fantastic to learn more about what Pia terms ‘the artistic and olfactive side of our work,’ she reminds us that not also talking about the various stages a fragrance goes through ‘…can make our contribution minimised.’

These images are from Pia’s ‘first sketch of a formula’. It’s vital she goes through this process for any kind of fragrance she creates – whether that will be a fine fragrance or to scent another product, because, she tells us:

‘I want to make sure the formula is compliant before I do any more to it. We are sometimes requested to do more than 100 modifications to a fragrance. We have to do the safety calculations each time. When the fragrance is signed off, it’s then off to (further) stability and safety testing.’

 

Basically, Pia wants to get the message across that if you are buying a perfume or fragranced product that has been supplied by a professional perfumer or perfume house, ‘they will be following IFRA guidelines.’

IFRA  – the International Fragrance Association – was formed in 1973, with a mission ‘to represent the collective interests of the industry and promote the safe use and enjoyment of fragrances around the world.’ And as for those guidelines, IFRA says that, ‘The IFRA Standards ban, limit or set criteria for the use of certain ingredients, based on scientific evidence and consumer insights.’

We’d love to see more of these insights from perfumers. While not as romantic as seeing them strolling through lavender fields, such conversations are a vital reminder of the huge amount of work that a fragrance entails. And clearly explained topics of safety and science go hand in (scented) glove with the questions consumers are (rightly) asking about sustainability and inclusivity – topics we cover in depth in the Beyond Fashion & Fragrance edition of The Scented Letter magazine, if you’d like to read more…

By Suzy Nightingale

Les Parfums – charming new French comedy film about a ‘nose’: watch the trailer here!

Les Parfums (‘Perfumes’) is a just-released and utterly charming French film following the life of a feared and reclusive ‘nose’, and her troubled realtionship with her new chauffeur.

The English-subtitled film is a gentle comedy, but takes a serious (and very well presented) look at the life of a perfumer, and it has been released in the U.K. Now showing at selected Curzon cinemas,  it’s also on Curzon Home Cinema (to stream at home, for those of us not near one of the venues or who prefer to watch from the comfort of our homes).

Curzon Home Cinema says: ‘Anne Walberg (Emmanuelle Devos) is a master in fragrance who has fallen from grace amongst the upper echelons of the perfume industry. However, her skills are still in demand from companies looking to mask the smell of their odorous products. Over the years she has become selfish and temperamental. When she hires Guillaume (Grégory Montel) – a down on his luck chauffeur with too many points on his license and a rocky relationship with his young daughter – they strike up an unlikely friendship. Together they look to repair their lives and create a new signature scent to return Anne to her previous fame.’

Our review:

There are so few films about perfumers and our sense of smell, and we were thrilled to discover this new movie more than lives up to expectations. Following the rather hapless chauffeur, at first, Guillaume’s first clue to the trials and tribulations ahead with his new client is when she sniffs him, names the brand of his cigarettes and, when he offers her one, throws the packet out the car window. Other clues to her profession (and her character) come when Ms. Walberg demands that he help her change the sheets in a hotel room, declaring: ‘They use a fabric conditioner full of galaxolides for that “clean” smell. I hate it!’
Asked to recreate the smell of an ancient cave to diffuse at a tourist attraction, Ms. Walberg takes Guillaume along with her, rubbing the walls. ‘Mineral, earthy, camphor, touch of moss… Iris root’ she bids him write down in her notebook. Later, she asks him to smell something she’s created on a blotter. He complains that he doesn’t know what it smells of, but she gently encourages him to say whatever thoughts come to mind. ‘Trust yourself.’ Before we know it, Guillaume is in the supermarket, sniffing various shower gels – under the watchful gaze of a bemused security guard. ‘Something quite mellow…’ he says, as the guard shuffles closer, clearly unused to such behaviour in Aisle 5.
The extent of of Walberg’s’ fame is revealed when she smells Dior J’Adore on a waitress and casually tells Guillaume she created it. (In fact, it was composed by perfumer Calice Becker in 1999, but this is a fictional film, after all). Later we learn that, after she became famous with her photo adorning the cover of magazines, she ‘began to lose (my) nose.’ She thought that ‘with my experience of blending I could do it from memory.’ But after making a mistake, her confidence in composing fine fragrance was truly troubled and Devos lost her contract. Her sense of smell came back, but ‘the perfume world is small,’ and so with her reputation struck down in flames, she stuck to smaller, industrial and functional fragrance jobs while avoiding the public gaze.
Suddenly, Walberg loses her sense of smell again. Terrified, she decides to part ways with her pushy agent and, under the treatment of an anosmia specialist – who describes the condition as when ‘The nose and the brain stop working together,’ she begins her journey back into the fragrance world. But can this chauffeur with ‘a good nose’ actually help her recover her reputation and heal his own life…?
Les Parfums is a wonderful evocation of that joy of sharing a love of fragrance, of watching someone develop and explore their own sense of smell. And it’s also a healthy reminder that anosmia – losing one’s sense of smell – can be a terrifying and life-changing experience, even if you don’t happen to be a perfumer. A gentle film that’s slow in pace but nonetheless completely gripping because of the sensitive character portrayal by the two leading actors, there’s some stunning shots of the French countryside and those Parisian streets we miss so much, too. A paean to the world of perfume and the gift that is our sense of smell, we say this is a must-watch for anyone who loves fragrance.

Now we’ve caught your interest, watch the trailer, below, and allow yourself to fall for Les Parfums’ charms…

Written by Suzy Nightingale

Bodyguard hand sanitisers: made by French perfumers (you’ll LOVE how these smell!)

There are so many hand sanitisers out there now, but when we were looking for a special extra gift to pop into our Treat Box, we wanted something that would be incredibly useful and smelled beautiful (of course we did!)
So as soon as we heard the BODYGUARD Protect hand sanitisers are made by French perfumers at an atelier in Provence, we knew we had to get our noses on them. Let’s face it – if we have to use them every day, we’d rather our hands smelled fabulous. And this is a fragrant ritual we can get behind.
Founder Celia Nicolosi explains:
‘Our heritage and all our expertise comes from creating fine fragrances in Provence, France. We use traditional techniques passed down through generations that take time and patience to deliver.
Our BODYGUARD anti-bacterial hand sanitisers are fragranced with a fresh Eau de Cologne formula, with each bottle made in our own L’Atelier in Manosque, Provence, this allows us to maintain the quality standards of our product. Our formula is also incredibly gentle on your hands, this is because we use a very high grade moisturising glycerin, which we don’t filter so that you receive all the added goodness to care for you hands.’

 

As we’ve discussed before, fragrant Colognes were traditionally used for health purposes – the alcohol was cleansing to the skin and many of the ingredients added additional anti-bacterial properties (though people didn’t realise that, then. They simply thought pleasant smells warded off sickness).

The BODYGUARD anti-bacterial hand sanitiser contains a powerful 70% alcohol formula with moisturising properties, to cleanse and calm your hands, each beautifully scented in four unique fragrances, and priced at £4.95 each.

Which will you choose as a daily fragrant pleasure…?

MORINGA BLOSSOM
The gentle clean scent of the tropical moringa flower subtly enhanced with violet and a touch of cedar.

MARINE
A breezy sea fragrance, of fresh Mediterranean bergamot, with a hint of woody cedar and musc.

COCONUT
Our coconut fragrance is an irresistible, dreamy, exotic cocktail of coconut, vanilla, jasmine and amber. A holiday must have!

CITRUS
Bursting with orange, bergamot and lemon, this classic citrus fragrance is awakened with notes of lavender and epice.

bodyguardprotect.co.uk

Meanwhile, if you’d like to try the always reviving Citrus Bodguard Protect Hand Sanitiser as an extra goody in our fragrant Treat Box, you can buy the whole box of THIRTEEN perfumes and two scented treats for just £23 (or £19 if you’re a VIP Club Member)

By Suzy Nightingale

Wet Dog: a malodorous mystery solved by perfumer Christophe Laudamiel

We’re currently loving exploring ScentCulture.tube – a website offering ‘an incisive look at a research project that reveals the secrets of creative practice in perfumery.’ So how do perfumers solve a mysterious scent mystery when working on their composition?

‘In most cases, a perfume is meant to be a pleasurable odour,’ the ScentCulture piece begins, ‘Technically, it is a mixture of essential oils, aroma compounds, and solvents used to provide an agreeable scent. Yet, the process is more complex than often explained.’

 

 

In a fascinating film called Wet Dog: Chasing the Villain, offering a unique insight into (okay, we’re calling it) one of the most inventive and brilliant perfumers working today; we get to see how Christophe Laudamiel works with raw materials and traces the mysterious presence of sudden appearance that’s certainly less than ‘pleasurable’…

Together with fellow perfumer Christoph Hornetz, during the development of ‘a jewel-like perfume’, they suddenly discover ‘…an unpleasant facet, an annoying animalic note. Laudamiel calls it a “wet dog” that only appears after some delay. The two perfumers are puzzled. The phenomenon seems to be really special, if also undesired. They investigate the composition, ingredient by ingredient. In the end, the detective search for malodor delivered a suspect for which Christoph Hornetz had noticed the same unexpected effect in other previous instances.’

 

 

We wont spoiler it for you, but the chemical compound they trace it to is actually often described as ‘tropical coconut, tonka bean and tobacco’. So how do we get from delicious to dawg? The clip linked above tells the detective story of that puzzling perfume mystery…

Written by Suzy Nightingale

Carlos Benaïm – one of the most charming ‘noses’ we’ve ever met – talks scents…

When Carlos Benaïm landed from New York on a flying visit, we settled down into a pair of leather chairs and asked him to share his scent memories.

One of the perfumers we’ve been most charmed by in all our years of hanging out with ‘noses’, Carlos is a veteran of the industry, with so many fragrances to his name: the blockbuster Viktor & Rolf Flowerbomb (with Olivier Polge and Domitille Bertier), Boucheron Jaipur Bracelet, Bulgari Jasmin Noir, Calvin Klein Eupohoria and Ralph Lauren Polo – among many others we’ve worn, loved or admired. More recently, he’s created for Frederic Malle, including the airily fresh and so-wearable Eau de Magnolia, as well as the sublime modern classic Icon for Dunhill.

His appreciation of scents and smells started early. ‘As a young boy I would often accompany my grandfather to the marketplace in Tangier and I remember the smells of the spices and fruits, oranges, peaches, melons and apricots – they are engraved in my memory…’

When summing up his career, we also love these words from Carlos: ‘There’s an old Arab saying: whatever is not given, is lost. That’s how I’ve tried to live my life and my career.’

What is your first ‘scent memory’?
The scent of my grandmother’s kitchen, cinnamon, mixed with sugar and other sweet smells. She’s someone I was very close to growing up in Tangiers, in Morocco; I was raised there, although my background is Spanish. I left Morocco at 17 to study chemical engineering and then at 23 went to Paris and New York, studying to be a nose alongside head perfumers Bernard Chant and Ernest Shiftan at International Flavors & Fragrances – I never went to a ‘classical’ perfumery school and for me, it was more like an apprenticeship.

What are your five favourite smells in the world?

  • Orris (iris) – an elegant smell; there’s something so cool (temperature-wise) about it that I really like.
  • Sweets and baking smells and chocolate – because I have a sweet tooth, and I’m often caught with something sweet!
  • Smells that remind me of my mother: Femme and Mitsouko – I always recognise both of those smells right away, which brings back wonderful memories.
  • Fruits. I love the smell of fruits, particularly raspberries and peaches, pineapple, cassis, blackberry, blackcurrant. There is nothing like the smell of a fresh-picked French raspberry; they taste and smell completely different to the ones you can buy in New York – so much more perfumed…
  • Tobacco. This is the smell of my grandfather; he used to have snuff tobacco, and my father who was a pharmacist used to perfume it, either with a violet perfume or a geranium aroma. It was a very rough tobacco from Morocco and that combination was very haunting, blended with those sweet notes. I use it a lot in fragrance as a note; I used to smoke when I was young and fortunately I stopped, but I do like a little ‘hit’ from using tobacco.

And your least favourite?
I hate the smell of garbage – but that’s an obvious one. Actually, I don’t like the smell of cats and dogs. We don’t have animals because my wife is very allergic to them – but I don’t like their scent, either.

What is the fragrance you wish you’d created?
The great Guerlains: the Mitsoukos, the Shalimars… My grandmother used to wear Shalimar. Those are magnificent, absolutely wonderful, with their mossiness – not just oakmoss, but the other mosses, which we’re restricted from using so much these days.

Is creating a fragrance ‘visual’ for you, as well as something that happens in the nose/brain? Is a mood-board helpful?
Everything is helpful for me. A fragrance is a mood, it’s colour, it’s form – and so it’s definitely visual as well; I build up a picture in my mind, and start trying to bring it to life. It’s a process that takes several months.

Do you have a favourite bottle, from those which have been used for your creations?
I’m very fond of the Ralph Lauren Polo bottle, which is also very significant for me because it was my first success. I also love the bottle for Flowerbomb.

Does your nose ever switch off!
As a perfumer, you can switch off being in ‘work mode’, to a ‘not actively searching’ mode. When my nose is ‘on’, I’m sensing the environment, I’m interested in the smells around me, I’m trying to put my effort into understanding what’s going on in, say, that particular flower. But I like to relax, too, and my nose relaxes at the same time.

What is your best tip for improving a person’s sense of smell?
Be interested; that’s really the key. Pay attention and try to ‘fix’ smells in your mind by putting words to them. That’s how a perfumer starts; you smell everything, and you can’t remember abstract smells so you have to label them – I would smell something and think, ‘ah, that’s the wood in my grandmother’s house’ – and that’s how I’d be able to remember it…

 

Ralph Lauren Polo Red Rush: Exclusive Q&A with perfumer

We caught up with Olivier Gillotin, the perfumer behind Ralph Lauren’s Polo Red Rush fragrance, for an exclusive Q&A and a sneak peek behind the scenes of his inspiration for creating the scent…

Q1. What was your inspiration behind POLO RED RUSH?

In designing the Polo Red Rush fragrance, I was inspired by the acceleration, elation and intensity during the very beginning of a race. I wanted to translate the rush of those never-ending first seconds into the fragrance. To achieve this vision, it needed to bring an immediate, intense freshness. Two ingredients inspired me at first: red mandarin for an impulsive, crispy start, then fresh mint for its energizing power.

Q2. How would you describe the way POLO RED RUSH smells?

I like to describe Polo Red Rush as an energetic red water – a fresh water tinted with crisp, energizing red notes. The citrus top notes (red mandarin, red grapefruit, lemon and pineapple) complement the spearmint mid note for an immediate fresh effect. The scent evolves on the skin with facets of red saffron while orange flower adds a masculine watery fluidity. Finally, a vibrant burst of roasted red coffee is streamlined with Cedarwood, bringing a new sleekness and elevating the background with an enamoring trail of woody musk.

Q3. How does POLO RED RUSH fit into the POLO RED franchise?

Polo Red Rush takes the franchise to the next level, capturing the sensations of speed, seduction and freedom. With its fresh, invigorating and surprising association of citrusy mint and cedarwood, Polo Red Rush perfectly rounds out the Polo Red portfolio.

Q4. What are the main differences between POLO RED, POLO RED EXTREME AND POLO RED RUSH?

Polo Red Rush is a crisp, energetic new interpretation of the original Polo Red. It elevates a spiced, cool watery freshness and bold red citrus profile. Spearmint from Morocco joins as a new bracing and dynamic element. Coffee notes play a supporting role to enhance a sleekly sensual dry-down with cedarwood and musk.

Q5. How did you choose the key notes for POLO RED RUSH? What makes the olfactive structure so intriguing?

Polo Red Rush masters a high proportion of saffron that is paired up with citrusy mint. I chose to elevate saffron for its unique and vibrant character able to unveil a fascinating fresh-spicy facet. Mint – saffron is an unusual and surprising association that creates a fresh yet intense and refined energy. Both ingredients fit perfectly well and complement each other.

Q6. Were there any special techniques or stand-out ingredients used to achieve your vision for POLO RED RUSH?

The creation process has been a construction – deconstruction “game”. My original intention was to design the ultimate experience of fresh energy for the Polo Red thrill-seeker. After translating this idea into fragrance, I deconstructed the formula to clearly identify and highlight its best facets – crisp and citrusy mint, cedarwood, saffron. I then removed all unnecessary ingredients to maintain the most relevant ones and to develop the fragrance in a fresh, unique and refined way.

Q7. What makes POLO RED RUSH so crisp and energizing?

Polo Red Rush has everything of a fresh water putting the emphasis on citrus and mint. In addition to that, I highly elevated saffron, as a powerful red spice imbued with fresh intensity and a key ingredient for the franchise. The combination of citrusy mint and saffron create this unique crisp and energizing freshness.

Q8. You’ve often described how the color red inspires you. How did you channel that inspiration into an entirely different olfactive experience for POLO RED RUSH?

For each Polo Red fragrance, I ensured that the smell brought to mind the color red. Polo Red and Polo Red Extreme respectively focused on the symbolic of seduction and power. With Polo Red Rush, I wanted to explore another strong and explicit meaning: energy. It inspired me to design a red water acting like a booster. This red water needed to be olfactively infused with the positive and stimulating energy of the color to be able to master a never ending rush.

Ralph Lauren Polo Red Rush £55 for 75ml eau de toilette
Try it at debenhams.com

Nose to nose with Sophie Labbé & Signorina Ribelle

Sophie Labbé spent her childhood between Paris and the Charente-Maritime area of France, encountering contrasting smells: the odours of a capital city, against the scents of the countryside, living to the rhythm of grape-picking and harvesting, swept with a salty breeze…

She studied at IPSICA, Paris’s perfumery school, and at the Givaudan Perfumery School in Geneva for six months. In 1992 she joined IFF as a junior perfumer, where Sophie has worked on so many famous fragrances (many of which you’re bound to have owned and adored). Most recently, she’s noted for her Signorina creations for Italian house Salvatore Ferragamo, and we caught up with her to find out about the inspirations behind the latest in the lineup, Signorina Ribelle.

Psst! And you can WIN a trio of Signorina fragrances if you enter our prize draw, HERE!

 What was your inspiration behind the new Salvatore Ferragamo Signorina Ribelle fragrance?

Sophie Labbé: For this new perfume everything started from the idea of this duality between an addictive Italian ingredient and a daring way of life. I must say for each Signorina you have an interesting combination of an iconic flower in perfumery with a twist of a hint of something addictive, and very Italian.

So, for this Signorina Ribelle I wanted to work with an addictive Italian heritage and a new iconic flower, the iconic flower is a specific ylang ylang heart that has been crafted especially for Ferragamo, with a delicious Italian gelato accord. Ribelle has an adventurous heart, addictive and exotic flowers that leads on to an addictive base with the delicious gelato accord and a hint of coconut milk.

 How did you work with Ferragamo to create the scent? What was your working process like?

The creative process for this scent, I wanted to have an iconic flower but in a modern way. For instance, if you think of the first Signorina eau de parfum it was a combination between jasmine and panna cotta, for Misteriosa it’s orange blossom and blackberry, so for Ribelle I really wanted a new iconic flower.

The ylang ylang flower is a traditional flower in perfumery but here we developed an exclusive heart, that makes it very modern. This heart of ylang ylang, developed for Ribelle, emphasizes the creamy and solar facets.

I wanted to signify the adventurous personality of this Signorina so I paired it with two other flowers. You have Jasmine Sambac from India, fearless, feminine and voluptuous, and then you have the Madagascan ylang ylang – a unique fractionization for Ferragamo – which is solar and sweet. Then frangipani flower; very exotic, solar and almond-like.

I represented the Signorina girl, who loves being with her friends, within a sisterhood, with these three flowers. It also represents the multicultural aspect of this perfume, with each of them coming from different parts of the globe.

For the top notes, it’s a luminous expression of freedom with the juiciness of the mandarin, the fieriness of the pink pepper ­– and the mouthwatering feeling of the pear, that is like a stolen kiss. And in the base, I used the vanilla gelato accord, which is my tribute to her Italian heritage.

You know the Signorina Family so well, what empitomises the Signorina girl to you?

For me the Signorina world is an endless source of inspiration and creativity. Every new launch is the opportunity to tell another part of her story, another facet of her personality, the DNA of Signorina is built around this relationship between an iconic flower and an addictive Italian ingredient. For me the Signorina girl is always chic and cheeky. The addictive note always adds a cheeky twist in the fragrances. I would say that Ribelle is very unique, she loves to be with her girlfriends, she’s adventurous and loves to be within a kind of sisterhood, which is very true to the girls of nowadays…

We were thrilled to include a sample of Signorina Ribelle in our fashion-forward #FROW Discovery Box so you can try it for yourself at home. One of thirteen incredible fragrances, the box is yours for just £19 (£15 for VIP Club Members).

Salvatore Ferragamo Signorina Ribelle £50 for 30ml eau de parfum
Try it at thefragranceshop.com

Givaudan perfumer Calice Becker, Knighted!

In France they don’t just honour perfumers with prize certificates, they actually award them with knighthoods! We’re thrilled to learn that Calice Becker, Vice President Perfumer and Director of the Givaudan Perfumery School, has been honoured by receiving the French médaille de Chevalier dans l’ordre des Arts et des Lettres for her significant contribution to the arts through perfumery.

Having created many of what we’re sure are your favourite fragrances – from Tom Ford’s Velvet Orchid to Dior’s J’Adore, L’Occitane Terre de Lumieré and hundreds more besides, we say it’s about time, too, and highly well deserved!

The prestigious honour was presented in Paris by Sylviane Tarsot-Gillery, Director of Artistic Creation at the Ministry of Culture for the French government.

Givaudan say: ‘Calice is an exceptional, award-winning perfumer having created some of the world’s most recognisable fragrances of our time.  She’s an extraordinary leader in the global perfumery community serving as the President of the International Society of Perfumer-Creators and also a dedicated advisor for aspiring young talents.  She joins the small number of perfumers who have been recognised by the French Ministry of Culture with this honour.

In 1985, Calice began her perfumery training at Roure in Grasse which led her to Givaudan where she has passionately contributed as a perfumer for almost 40 years. She was appointed to the prominent position of Director of the Givaudan Perfumery School in 2017 where she leads the training and development of future perfumery artists. She combines her passion for sharing her knowledge of creation as well as her constant quest to enhance the creative process.

Calice’s creative success is unique in its breadth across the United States and Europe where her fragrances have marked eras and defined brands.  Her creations include international classics such as: Monsieur Balmain by Balmain, Tommy Girl by Tommy Hilfiger, J’adore by Dior, Ambre Eccentrico by Armani Privé, Dylan Blue by Versace, and select By Kilian fragrances.

Calice Becker said: ‘I am truly honoured and gratified to receive this honour from the French Ministry of Culture.  I feel privileged to join the small group of perfumers who have been recognised and I am especially pleased of the recognition it brings to celebrating the heritage of perfumery today.’

Maurizio Volpi, President of Givaudan’s Fragrance Division said: ‘Calice’s passion for perfume creation and dedication to training young perfumers is an inspiration to all of us at Givaudan.  This honour celebrates her remarkable career in perfumery and her leadership in the industry.  We congratulate her for this magnificent, highly deserved achievement.’

In fact, this is the second time a Givaudan Perfumer has received this accolade – the brilliant Daniela Andrier, Vice President Perfumer, attained the same honour in 2012. And we’re stringing out the bunting and waving the flags to celebrate this double female success in the perfume world!

By Suzy Nightingale