Perfume in popular culture

Perfume in popular culture used be represented as something of a frippery, a subject to sneer at. Then there’s those endless pieces proclaiming that £4.99 ‘dupe’ bottles of scent are ‘exactly the same’ as classic fine fragrances (yeah, okay). But more recently, this eye-rolling attitude appears to be changing for the better.

Certainly it seems to be (albeit slowly) if you cast a glance at some of the most-loved television shows we’ve all been streaming of late. We couldn’t help noticing the subject of fragrance – perfumery and bottles as an art form, and our sense of smell in general – is coming up more frequently.

Here’s three of the major scent mentions we spotted most recently, with direct links to watch online…

 

Blown Away: Series 2, Episode 6: Scents & Sensibility [Netflix]
In the same sort of stable as successful reality series like Bake Off, Sewing Bee and The Great Pottery Throwdown; ‘Blown Away’ proved a huge hit for Netflix a couple of years ago. The latest season once again showcases the artistry and immense skill in glass blowing, and of course we LOVED the focus on perfume bottles in this episode. We’ll even forgive the much-overused perfume pun title.

Katherine Gray, professor at the California State University and resident evaulator describes the challenge to the contestants, saying that: ‘Over the course of the last 5,000 years, perfume flacons have transformed from really simple containers to elaborate and ornate works of art.‘ In this episode, they must design and hand-blow their own glass bottles, while keeping in mind, as perfume designer and guest judge, Michel Germain says: ‘A successful perfume is more than just the scent. The bottle has to draw people in, spark interest and tell a story.’ And the results? They’ll definitely blow you away…

 

Grayson’s Art Club: Series 2, Episode 1: Family [Channel 4]
Rebelliously lovable artist Grayson Perry and Philippa (psychotherapist, author and his wife) invited members of the public to express their feelings in artworks for a physical exhibition to be held in Manchester Art Gallery. During the various stages of both major #lockdowns in the U.K. these programmes have been an absolute joy. Interestingly, the first episode of the latest season includes a significant scent-related piece. As Grayson scrolls through the submissions, he comes across a photograph of hand-labelled bottles. These turn out to be a collection of fragrances designed by the artist Suzanne Bull.

‘It’s a family collabroation,’ she explains to Grayson during a Zoom call. ‘I did a creative task to collect the smell of your favourite person. So I texted all my family, going “what’s your favourite smell? I’m doing an art thing.”‘ Grayson asks Suzanne ‘what really appeals to you about trying to evoke your family with smells?’ She replies that she’s not seen some of her family for more than a year, ‘…but it’s like they’re here with me in the room.’ Grayson seems struck by this concept and remarks ‘That’s such a brilliant idea because it brings home the physical experience, doesn’t it?’ Ironically, Suzanne can’t actually smell them at the moment as she had Covid, but it was clearly an important exercise for her – she still feels they evoke her family and loves keeping their smells nearby.

 

Antiques Roadshow: Christchurch Mansion 2 [BBC1]
Always a soothing warm bath of a show, our ears pricked up at mention of a special perfume bottle a member of the public wanted one of their resident antique experts, Judith Miller, to take a look at. A mother and daughter duo explain how they came to own this precious fragrant family heirloom. ‘I got it a couple of years ago from my mum and dad for Christmas,’  the daughter begins, recounting the history and how her dad went shopping ‘forty or fifty years ago’ to find the perfect present for his wife, when he came across the exqusite piece and ‘loved it so much that he bought it for my mum.’

 

Miller reveals the stunning little scent bottle was probably made around 1760 and said it was possibly the work of famous engraver and porcelain decorator James Giles, who was ‘absolutely top of the tree.’ It is always interesting to look at the faces of the people when they’re told how much the piece is worth, and we’re wondering if it crossed the mother’s mind she might like to reclaim the perfume bottle gift she so generously passed on to her daughter… We won’t spoil the show by saying how much it could sell for, here, but suffice to say Father Christmas was VERY generous that year. The daughter, it turns out, has ‘a number of scent bottles’ on display in her home, and this one will be kept in the centre ‘as the pièce de résistance!’

And if you’re after even more fragrance talk filling the airwaves, have a look at some of the Perfume Themed Podcasts we rounded up recently. Perfume in popular culture: a fragrant renaissance, do we dare hope…?

By Suzy Nightingale

Colourful fragrance feeds to follow

Colourful fragrance feeds on Instagram are lighting up our life right now – most especially as we’ve just published the latest edition of The Scented Letter magazine with the theme of ‘Perfume’s Bright Future.’

 

 

Because fragrance truly has been brightening the darkness of the last year for so many of us – both literally and metaphorically – and we now know that colour, emotions and scent are not only metaphorically linked, but scientifically proven. Changing the colour of the bottle, packaging or juice inside can drastically alter our perception of how a perfume smells to us. And, as you will discover in this biggest ever issue: fragrance designers have mapped out your mood, sometimes long before the first drop of an ingredient has been added to the composition.

But really it all comes down to that immediate uplifting appeal that bright colours and the right fragrance can have – a whizz, bang, pop! of rainbows bursting forth from our phone screens just make everything seem jollier, somehow. And how we’ve needed that of late.

Here are some of our favourite multi-hued, must-follow fragrance feeds on Instagram, for whenever you need to smell in full colour...

dr.elle.perfume
A perfume collector based in the U.K., Dr. Elle’s account is a brilliantly curated glimpse at her incredible collection – displayed in a rainbow of colours. Fascinating to see the colours en-masse, to spot rare bottles and be entranced by her impeccably arranged flatlays!

 

anillustratednose
In her ‘spare time ‘from working in science, Nafia is a talented artist who renders some favourite fragrances in hand-drawn illustrations. Often surrounded not only by their literal colours, but those the scent evokes for her, adding another sense to seeing them on screen.

 

yura_perfume_collection
A perfume collection of dreams, we wonder how many bottles Yura has in total, with snippets such as ‘Photos of a few months ago. And have collected 300 bottles more after that…’ Exquisite flacons, usually arrayed by house, showing their full scent spectrum.

 

suzys__niche_fragrance_reviews
No not my collection (I wish!) but this Suzy shows her ‘passion for fine fragrance expressed through reviews and photos.’ Wonderfully evocative and so-colourful backdrops give another vibe to her really great descriptions of how the particular perfumes make her feel.

 

markus.ebrahim
Anyone who keeps fragrance bottles in a cocktail cabinet is right up our street, and Markus describes himself as a ‘perfume extremist’, whose Instagram also serves as a scent diary. A rapid response nurse for the NHS, his feed is full of color, wit and personal reflections.

 

fragrance.obsession
Exploring both niche and more mainstream designer houses, colourful flowers and themed layouts are often employed to accompany her lovely reviews (sometimes even matched with nail polish too!) We love her trays of monthly scent sellections as well: so organised!

 

alltheperfume
Sarah has an extraordinary collection we’ve previously shared in The Scented Letter magazine’s #ShareMyStash feature, having visited her home and seen the beautiful bottles for ourselves! Gorgeous photos and thoughtful reviews of often more affordable houses.

By Suzy Nightingale

 

 

 

Ask Uncle James – our new ‘agony uncle’ James Craven solves your perfume problems

We’ve a brand new team member for you to welcome – our agony uncle, James Craven (a.k.a. ‘Uncle James’). We asked you to pour out your perfume problems, Cologne conundrums and scented setbacks to him in The Scented Letter magazine, and with his years of experience and expert eloquence, he has answered!

‘Helping a client to find the perfect scent requires the combined skills of a psychologist, palmist and priest’ James always (half) jokes, and his career has been defined not only by the vast knowledge he’s gleaned over the years he’s worked in retail as a fragrance expert, but his ability to ‘match’ people to their perfect perfume and answer any number of queries.

 

 

The Perfumed Agony Uncle column debuts in the latest ‘Perfume’s Bright Future’ edition of our award-winning magazine, The Scented Letter, (free to VIP Subscribers, also available to purchase in glossy print form and via International Online Subscriptions) but we wanted to share some of his words of wisdom with you here, too.

Truly, what James doesn’t know about perfume could probably be written on the back of a stamp. His advice is gold dust, and so we’re sprinkling some of that here for you (along with many scented spritzes, of course!)

Where should I apply perfume so that it lasts? I know Marilyn Monroe apparently said she sprayed it wherever she wanted to be kissed, but I’m more interested in smelling fabulous all day! 

Uncle James says: ‘Crucially, apply to the pulse points of the body: these radiate heat, thus intensifying the expansion of perfume. But also spray on clean hair: being porous, hair is an excellent retainer and diffuser of scent. (If you’re worried about the alcohol in a perfume drying out hair, try one of the many, many hair fragrances which have been launched in the past few years.

Spray on washable natural fibre clothing and dab perfume on the eyebrows and ankles – yes, really! (They certainly do that in France, where they surely know a thing or two about the delights of parfum.) But please also understand that perfume is a poignantly fleeting pleasure : like a lovely piece of music it enchants and then it fades. Reapplication is a gracious and seductive ritual, not a chore. Enjoy it!’

Is it true that fragrances are seasonal and, if so, which styles of fragrance are best for spring?

Uncle James says: It’s certainly understandable that anyone might want to celebrate the emergence from an especially grim winter with a new scent for a ‘new you’. If you want to personify spring in your own aura, then try leafy greens (see the question below), light woody colognes and fresh florals that echo the stirring natural scents outside. You should always wear what excites and pleases you, and the start of a new season is a great time to kickstart exploring new scents, ingredients and fragrance families.’

Do you have a scent query you need solving? Don’t forget to add your questions for James in the form, below, for the next issue…

Ask James Craven (The 'Perfume Agony Uncle')

Your questions for James Craven, The Perfume Society's 'Perfume Agony Uncle'
  • Could it be 'how do I know when a fragrance suits me?' or 'How can I make scent last longer on my skin?' or even 'Which fragrance should I wear to make me feel invincible?!'
  • (You can remain 'anonymous' if you wish, but please make up a nom de plume so we can separate questioners!)

 

By Suzy Nightingale

Fragrances for ‘when this is all over’ – soothing scents + party perfumes

How often have you heard the phrase when this is all over during the past year? Well, the “when” is soon – at least in the U.K. with the government’s ‘roadmap’ for easing restrictions seeing the return of shops and outdoor hospitality services reopening on Monday, April 12th.

However, while our hearts may be full to bursting at the prospect of seeing loved ones we’ve missed for so long – there’s some real anxiety in the mix, too.

Because we know the ‘new normal’ (ugh, another saying that needs to get in the sea) is still far from resembling what our lives looked like in those hazy ‘before’ days, when many of us (perhaps lazily) took our freedom foregranted. To travel, to meet a friend for coffee, to hug them when we arrived – blimey, just to walk into a shop! And things will remain strange for some time. So we’re going to need some extra help, still, to get through this together.

 

 

If you’re feeling anxious about mixing in public again, you’re certainly not alone. The medical website patient.info has a great article with tips to combat stress in a post-Covid world, quoting psychologist and well-being consultant Lee Chambers, who says of course we’re all still worried, because ‘Over the course of the past 12 months, there has been significant change to adapt and acclimatise to.’ and explains: ‘Without a clear future anchor and the ability to create a longer-term plan, we lack the ability to prepare, and the constantly changing rules lower our tolerance to uncertainty.’

We know that so many more of you have been finding comfort and great mental-health support from scent during lockdown. It stands to reason we’ll need a fragrant anchor to help us get through the next few months as well. So, here are some soothing scents to help calm your nerves and help you feel grounded, but also some party perfumes for when the celebratory spirit strikes and you need an instant spritz of glamour.

Whatever your mood, there’s a fragrance to match or counteract, if needs be. Think of them as bravery: bottled. For when this is all over? For right now, or whenever you need them…

 

 

Nancy Meiland Gaia £45 for 30ml perfume attar
A beautifully nurturing scent delievered via a handy rollerball. A nuzzle of jasmine wrapped in warming nutmeg, brightening bergamot and a soft breeze of blue lotus on a caressing base of cedar and sandalwood.

 

Vines House Parfum Signature Story £75 for 30ml eau de parfum
Founder Rebecca Harrison shares her signature scent ‘for a mood of composure and contentment’ – a veriutable hug in a bottle. Cool lychee snuggles with ginger lily in a whisper of warm amber-rippled vanilla.

 

Angela Flanders Bleu de Chine £79 for 50ml eau de parfum
Swathe yourself in the hush of dry lavender, grounding patchouli aged for extra depth and the woody heart of bois de rose. Inspired by vintage Chinese textiles, it’s immediately comforting yet effortlessly elegant.

 

 

Histoires de Parfums 1899 £35 for 15ml eau de parfum
With a pop of Champagne corks flying, the bohemians emerge from the clubs of Paris into the dazzling lights of the city. The fizz of bergamot and juniper floats on orange blossom ablaze with amber in the vibrant base.

[Try a sample in our Scented Retreat Discovery Box]

 

HERMES_LOMBRE_DE_MERVEILLES

Hermes L’Ombre de Merveilles  £75 for 50ml eau de toilette
Perfumer Christine Nagel encourages us to ‘see the world from new and marvellous angles’ via contrasting light and shade. Shimmering tops notes swirl to black tea and simmering tonka.

 

Kierin NYC Nitro Noir £65 for 50ml eau de parfum
Mathieu Nardin’s powerhouse gourmand/floral positively swings its hips, with ripe berries swirled through rich patchouli and dusted with orris for a hypnotic, individualistic ‘hurrah!’

[Try a sample in the Kierin NYC Discovery Set]

Whether you need soothing or a chance to celebrate, there’s a whole world of fragrances out there to support and reflect how you’re feeling (or would like to feel). If you’re still wondering what would be the best scent to suit your mood, take a look at our genius Fragrance Finder. Simply type in the name of a fragrance you love and it will suggest six others, thanks to the so-clever personality-matching algorithm…

By Suzy Nightingale

Escentric Molecules M+ exclusive webinar launch (watch here!)

Escentric Molecules M+ is an incredible NEW trio, incorporating their iconic Molecule 01 with iris, mandarin and patchouli, respectively, for the most fabulous fragrant results. Now, you can purchase your own M+ Discovery Set and sniff-along online…!

We just know you’re going to fall (hard) for all three of these Escentric Molecules M+ fragrances, and what better way to introduce them than let Geza guide your nose while you exolore them on your own skin…?

 

 

As if we weren’t excited enough at hearing of the M+ range, imagine the squeals of delight when we learned Escentric Molecules had chosen to launch them LIVE with us, during a webinar in which Geza Schoen, the genius perfumer and founder of the house, talked through the M+ fragrances with our co-founder, Jo Fairley, and our subscribers. Those who’d purchased tickets were sent an M+ Discovery Set and a Zoom link, to join in the live sniff-along.

As you can imagine, those tickets and boxes sold out in record time (this was a rare opportunity after all!) but we’re so happy to inform you those M+ Discovery Sets are available to purchase, and we’re sharing the sniff-along video, below – so whenever you purchase your box, you can open and explore with Geza and Jo in your own time, woohoo!

 

 

During the video, Geza shares his inspirations, explain how he chose the ingredients to pair with Molecule 01 for the new M+ collection, and reveal his passions for the world of perfumery, and answering some of the many questions our subscribers wanted to ask him.

 

Escentric Molecules M+ discovery set

 

Molecule 01 + Iris  Geza says: I have had a long-standing love affair with iris. Every Escentric fragrance has an iris note somewhere in there. To me, iris is luxury. The iris pallida absolue I’ve used here is one of the most expensive ingredients in perfumery. You can find iris extracts for way less than that. But they do not have the great and subtle beauty of this absolue. It’s radical to put this much in a fragrance. The sillage is fantastic. This is a bomb, but a subtle bomb.

Molecule 01 + Mandarin  Geza says: ‘Mandarin is all about the instant hit. It’s so alive, the way it radiates off the skin with that citrus zestiness. But there’s more to mandarin, it’s very fruity and aromatic as well. It’s a beautiful ingredient. Its transparency means that it vanishes quickly. I’ve touched it up with a little extra shading to extend it, adding a mandarin ingredient used in flavourings to give it super-juiciness. Then as it begins to fade, Molecule 01 syncs in, bringing a warm, erogenous feeling to play with that zinging freshness. That’s unusual – for a topnote ingredient like Mandarin and a base note like Iso E Super to dance together naked like this, without other notes coming between them. And then the mandarin is almost gone and you are left with the elevated simplicity of Molecule 01.’

Molecule 01 + Patchouli  Geza says: ‘Patchouli is a unique natural. Unlike 99% of perfume ingredients, we associate it with a particular period, with the sixties and seventies and that bohemian spirit. It has a cool, rather aloof woodiness to it. I love it for its moody beauty. I’ve  used two qualities of patchouli here. The biggest chunk is Patchouli Coeur which is a very clean, soft patchouli oil fraction with the camphor-like top note removed. I have also included a patchouli oil from Indonesia to round it out with a little bit of a top note. The result is a sophisticated, clean patchouli that pairs fantastically well with Molecule 01.’

Escentric Molecules M+ Discovery Set £20

By Suzy Nightingale

Scent themed podcasts we’re listening to for spring

Scent themed podcasts seem to be bursting forth like so many buds blossoming, and we’re here for it! When we began recommending perfumed podcasts to listen to a couple of years ago, there really were only a handful around. Now? A whole bunch we’re adding to our ‘subscribe’ list for spring.

Exploring our sense of smell, reviews of new launches and retrospectives with perfumers and fragrance house founders alike, here’s some more direct links to listen, grab a cuppa and some precious ‘me time’ with…

 

An Aromatic Life: Interview with Christophe Laudamiel
Exploring our sense of smell from angles including science, art, literature, movies and health, host Frauke Galia seeks to ‘…shed light on this beautiful sense and increase its profile in a culture dominated by sight and sound.’ With fascinating guests providing insight into wine smelling, aromatherapy and even ‘why we have two nostrils, not just one’, Frauke recently interviewed brilliant perfumer Christophe Laudamiel for the second part of ‘The Art of Perfumery’ (and we highly recommend listening to the first, too).

 

The Sniff: Interview with Kingdom Scotland
Fragrance blogger Nicola Thomis loves taking a deep dive in to all things fragrance and scent related, and in this episode she gets to know Imogen Russon Taylor, founder of the unique Scottish fragrance house of Kingdom Scotland. During their conversation, the two discuss the latest release ‘as well as delving into the influence that Scotland has on their perfumes’ and the intriguing role the Royal Botanic Society of Edinburgh archives have played in inspiring the brand and their scents.

 

Heston’s Journey to the Centre of Food: ‘Heston Smells’
This podcast series invites listeners to hop on board for an exciting trip ‘with the world’s most creative chef, as he explores the amazing hidden secrets within our simplest ingredients,.’ It’s well known that Heston is obsessed with smell and has worked with perfumers and scientists previously to incorporate that sense into his epic food concepts. Here he’s interviewing author Harold McGee on the launch of his new book, Nose Dive (which we recently reviewed, here). A jaw-dropping tome (and it’s a big ‘un!), it reveals the chemical components that make up familiar (and bizarre) smells that surround us.

 

 

The Smell Podcast: Interview with psychologist Dr. Kathrin Ohla
Katie Boateng is an ‘acquired anosmic’ who became anosmic ‘after suffering a post-viral infection that lasted for weeks in late 2008/early 2009.’ She explains that ‘The goal of the podcast is to spread awareness and to make sure that you know, you are not alone in your anosmia journey!’ With Covid-19 having caused a new awareness on the psychological implications of a loss of smell, there’s no better time to tune in. This latest episode being a conversatioj with psychologist, Dr. Kathrin Ohla, and an explanation of how to use ‘GCCR’s Smell & Taste Check.’

 

Every Little Thing: Skewed Smells – A Weird COVID Mystery
Another smell-related podcast in this series (and proof the pandemic is getting everyone talking about our least explored sense), this time with a caller’s personal story. ‘Leña had COVID-19 last October and temporarily lost her sense of smell. As it started to come back, she noticed something strange — fruity things smelled like burnt hair and condoms. Where are Leña’s mystery smells coming from? Rhinologist Simon Gane fills us in on COVID-related smell loss.’

 

Perfume Philosophers: Spring Forward with Floral Street
Fragrantly obsessed friends co-host a podcast ‘about all things that smell good.’ From scented candles they love to explorations of new (to them) fragrance houses and even explaining their love for the smell of marshmallows, this episode is all about their personal first impressions of the Floral Street perfumes. A British house that has recently gone stellar in the United States (thanks to being stocked at Sephora), we’re glad to see the scents from this indie house are getting worn around the world.

 

Pinot & Perfume: Kilian Vodka On the Rocks
‘Do you love perfume?’, host Sarah Chacon asks. ‘How about wine (or any alcohol bevvie)?’ (okay, you have our full attention). ‘If you answered “yes” to both of those questions, YOU’RE IN THE RIGHT PLACE.’ Hurrah for that. Each week ‘everything relating to perfume: reviews, news headlines, trends in the industry, and even some educational tidbits (what exactly IS musk, anyway?)’ are discussed – ‘all while sipping on a little sumpin’ sumpin’.’ This time, it’s the refreshing beverage-inspired fragrance of Kilian Vodka On the Rocks that’s tickling her fancy.

 

Mary Portas: On Style: Lizzie Ostrum interview
Talking about ‘the power of style’, guru Portas waxes lyrical with the help of several guests on how to celebrate yourself (and ‘travel through space and time’) through the medium of exploring your personal style. On this episode, one iof the guests is our good friend, fragrance expert and author, Lizzie Ostrom (aka ‘Odette Toilette’) to discuss invisible style, and how ‘Scent is intrinsically linked to memory, and we examine the way it has brought us closer to the people and places we’ve missed in lockdown.’ They also look at ‘how the perfume market fared during the past 12 months, and get some tips from Lizzie on choosing a signature scent online.’

 

Outspoken Beauty: On the Scent Epidose 2
Senior Writer, Suzy Nightingale is once again ‘On the Scent’ with experienced beauty broadcaster and co-host, Nicola Bonn. ‘Suzy is a fragrance expert who describes scent like no one I’ve ever met,’ Nicola says [thank you!] and during the episode they chat about ‘some of the most exciting and incredible fragrances on the market and Suzy also does a fragrance prescription service, answering all of the fragrance dilemmas that you’ve been sending…’

Fancy some more fragrant listening? Simply type ‘podcasts’ in the search bar and even more hours of scented musing will be yours to while away the hours with!

 

Happy Birthday Chanel! N°5 – 100 years of celebrity

We’re ready to celebrate in more ways than one, not the least by saying Happy Birthday, Chanel. Incredibly, N°5 is celebrating 100 years of being adored by celebrities and fragrance fans the world over. We urge you to join in by spritzing some, now, while watching the fragrantly-themed full-length film and resting your eyes on gorgeousness awhile…

‘Its name is universally renowned. Its wake, a revolution. Its bottle, an unmatched masterpiece,’ says Chanel. ‘Created in 1921, N°5 is the best-known perfume in the world. The new episode of Inside CHANEL looks back over 100 years of celebrity.’

 

Delving deeply into just what makes it so enduringly special, Chanel explains that:

‘From the start, N°5 threw habits and conventions to the wind. At the beginning of the 1920s, Gabrielle Chanel had already changed people’s views on fashion by suggesting a new allure. Her first perfume is consistent with her pioneering designs, simple yet well thought through. Revolutionary in its composition, N°5 is also the first perfume imagined by a woman for women.’

Marilyn Monroe © Chanel

 

N°5 has spawned many iconic scent memories over the decades, ‘Whether it be Marilyn Monroe turning it into a myth by confessing she only wore a few drops in bed, or Andy Warhol screen printing it as a pop art icon.’ And did you know – N°5 was the perfume to be advertised on TV!

 

Chane N°5 © Chanel

 

The visual images accompanying N°5 have always been swoonsome, too (just cast your eyes around this page for proof) – inspiring some of the greatest names in photography and cinematography — including Helmut Newton, Irving Penn, Ridley Scott, Jean-Paul Goude or Baz Luhrmann — and has truly ‘become a visual symbol that has never lost touch with the contemporary creative scene.’

 

Marion Cotillard © Chanel

 

The muses have been meticulously chose over these years as well – only those women who can emody the character of the fragrance without overshadowing it, such as Catherine Deneuve, Carole Bouquet, Nicole Kidman or (current ‘face’) Marion Cotillard have been ‘…among the ambassadresses who, by their spirit and modernity, lift N°5 into the eternal feminine pantheon for posterity.’

 

Happy Birthday, Chanel! © Chanel

 

From being included in museum exhibitions to countless scent memries we all share, we certainly agree that ‘It is a perfume which, like a coat of invisible armor, gives the strength to face life. Backed with its 100 years of celebrity, N°5 will always be one step ahead.’ That’s why we chose to continue the celebrations, while asking trend forecasters and fragrance experts how they think Chanel N°5 will sashay forth in the next 100 years – with a stunning spread in the just-published Perfume’s Bright Future issue of The Scented Letter Magazine.

 

 

VIP Subscribers can view online for free, or you can purchase glossy print copies, here, and International readers can buy a year-long online subscription, here.

However you choose to celebrate, we feel it’s time to spray on N°5 with abandon and shake our fragrant tail feathers as we look to our own futures with an increasing sense of joy…

By Suzy Nightingale

Clive Christian Matsukita – a fragrant history, revived

Clive Christian has been searching through the Crown Perfumery Company archives to research ‘some of the most infamous scents from this revolutionary British perfume house; loved by the aristocracy, politicians, artists and actors of the Victorian era and beyond.’

Select perfumes, we’re told, will be ‘uncovered from history, taking inspiration from a unique heritage whilst remaining true to the Clive Christian traditions of concentration, complexity and a dedication to using the finest ingredients.’

 

 

Matsukita was inspired ‘by a fabled Japanese princess who awed the Victorian royal court with her elegance and grace’ – first launched in 1892 by Crown Perfumery, and heavily advertised with lavish, hand painted illustrations.

Today, Matsukita ‘has been reimagined to capture this illusive elegance.’ A deliciously woody chypre, there’s an invigorating freshness wafting around the top notes to keep this breezy and beautiful. Green bergamot, pink pepper and intriguing nutmeg swoop to the floral, woody heart of Chinese imperial jasmine infused with with smokey black tea. The smoke dispersing to reveal an amber-rich base swathed in whisper-soft musk add further to the ‘sense of mystery and grace’ they hoped to capture of the original.

 

Clive Crown Collection Christian Matsukita £325 for 50ml eau de parfum
Available at harrods.com

 

Such a fragrance deserves a fitting presentation, and Clive Christian explain that, ‘The presentation case showcases the unique history, with an archive image hidden for discovery beneath each bottle. The symbol for this new collection is none other than the delicate motif of the Crown Perfumery Company, a symbol guarded by the perfume house as a sign of excellence and perfume quality. As with all Clive Christian perfumes each bottle is topped with our signature crown stopper, a sign of perfume prestige since 1872.’

While fragrance lovers have been swooning at the scent and its packaging, we also lost our hearts completely to the charmingly illustrated film to accompany the launch of this contemporary itteration, which we’re thrilled to share with you, below…

 

Perfume Bottles Auction 2021 – the rare, unique & ravishing!

The annual Perfume Bottles Auction is the most important date in the diary for serious scent bottle collectors around the world. Every year, stunning examples of artistic fragrance flaçons are meticulously sourced and offered to bidders, and it’s a chance to see some of the rarest bottles outside of a museum.

Since 1979, organiser and founder of The Perfume Bottles Auction, Ken Leach, has been working ‘to create public and corporate awareness of the artistry to be found in vintage perfume presentation.’ His antique shop’s show-stopping merchandise ‘has served as a source of inspiration for glass companies, package designers, and celebrity perfumers, before ultimately entering the collections of perfume bottle enthusiasts around the globe.’

Like last year, thanks to the pandemic the auction will be held online on May 1st 2021 – though this offers the opportunity for everyone to join in. The circumstances have made sourcing items more challenging, but Mr. Leach says, although he’s not been able to travel ‘…as I normally would to view collections, fate smiled and among this year’s consignments are some of the rarest and most unusual items I’ve seen.’

 

 

The stunning print catalogue – highly collectable in itself, and an invaluable resource for fragrance fans and historians alike – is now available (and can be sent worldwide).

Mr. Leach is pictured, above, with some of the most important items, and walks us through them, below. Get set to swoon…!
DeVilbiss & Osiris
‘Exceedingly rare 1928 DeVilbiss figural dragonfly perfume atomizer with a pre-sale estimate of $6,000 to $8,000.  Also in this photo is the all important Osiris by Vinolia with a pre-sale estimate of $30,000 to $40,000
Paul Poiret Rosine
‘1919 Rosine Aladin perfume bottle in elaborate box signed Mario Simonis ’19. The box graphics depict Paul Poiret as a Persian King in an imagined Orientalist tableau, the base covered in authentic Moroccan fabric. Pre-sale estimate $2,500-3,500.’
Hoffmann
‘Spectacular 1920s Heinrich Hoffmann Czechoslovakian black crystal perfume bottle with Austrian decoration by Turriet & Bardach. Pre-sale estimate $4,500-5,000’
 
Isabey Lalique
‘1924 Rene Lalique for Isabey A Travers la Voilette (Through the Veil) perfume presentation in collaboration with Alix Ayme. On the box cover and seen through a veil, a beautiful woman smelling a bouquet of flowers is detailed. The lustrous box is finished to appear lacquered while the veil pattern is printed in metallic ink, allowing the embossed flowers to appear to pierce through the veil. Pre-sale estimate $3,000-6,000′
Powder Box
‘1920s Rare Galleries Lafayette “Terre de Retz” highly detailed figural “Pirate Ship” powder box. Pre-sale estimate $1,500-2,000’
Lalique Olives
‘1912 Rene Lalique et Cie. “Olives” clear glass perfume bottle molded with convex oval cabochons, matching stopper. Pre-sale Estimate $600-800’
Ballerina
‘1940’s Marie Earle Ballerina perfume bottle presentation includes a covered plaster ballet shoe stand box. Advertisements for this perfume read “Ballerina perfume for dancing souls.” Pre-sale estimate $3,000-4,000′

Schwarzlose Berlin – the heritage fragrance house that survived war by being one step ahead…

From piano-maker to perfumer, the historic Schwarzlose Berlin have been selling scents since 1856, beloved by the royal courts of Europe and Chinese Emperors alike. This always-innovative perfumery has survived war, inflation and changing tastes by always being one step ahead, but their name still may not be known to many. Let’s put that right…

It all began when entrepreneurial piano-maker Johann Friedrich Schwarzlose decided to branch out and establish his own drug store at Markgrafenstrasse 29, beginning with production of perfumes.

 

 

Quickly establishing himself, his next venture to take over the distinguished fragrance manufacturer Treu & Nuglisch in 1858. The company had been purveyor to the Court, and now the aristocracy flocked to the new fragrance shop. By 1897, Schwarzlose had taken on a business partner, Franz Köthner, and together they traded with the added title: ‘Purveyor to the Court of His Majesty the Emperor and King’. Indeed, a flacon found in a collection of Emperor Pu Yi confirms their formidable reputation had already reached as far as China.

Always attuned to the latest innovations, Schwarzlose was quick to adopt the new scientific advances which were then rocking the perfume world, by combining blends of naturals with man-made aroma molecules – discoveries akin to creating a new musical note or gifting a previously unseen colour to an artist. As the J.F. Schwarzlose history documents, ‘Although fashion around 1900 still calls for perfumes imitating the natural fragrance of a blossom as closely as possible (lilies of the valley, violets, roses, or lilac are the dominating scents of that time) the art of composing olfactory fantasies becomes increasingly important.’

Their continuing renown for combining heritage quality with contemporary tastes meant that by 1902, with Ernst Köthner, grandson of Joachim Friedrich Schwarzlose, now sole owner; the company had begun expanding further in foreign markets worldwide – Spain, Asia and Australia just some of the locations their products are sought-after. Continuing their innovative ways, around the turn of the century, they launched their first perfume vending machine to the English-speaking world, with the automat promising ‘to dispense ‘Perfume Soap-Powder’ in the four different fragrances: ‘Eau De Cologne’, ‘Rosa Centifolia’, ‘Lilaflor’, and ‘Melati Radja’ onto a handkerchief held in front of it.’

The crippling inflation of the early 1930’s saw many established houses go under, but luckily J.F. Schwarzlose survived – testament to their wise business-handling and fine perfumery skills. In fact, they’re able to move into a modernised store located on Leipziger Straße 113 in the September 1930. They continued to thrive for well over another decade, but another war was looming, and their fragrant fate was not so kind, this time…

 

 

In 1944 the J.F. Schwarzlose factory and shops were bombed and totally destroyed. That might have been the end of the tale – another proud perfume house lost to history – were it not for the resilience of one Anni Köthner, who restarted the business, first in Hamburg, then moving back to its true home city, Berlin. But the shadow of the Berlin wall now loomed, in 1961 splitting locations of the company East and West Germany, impacting on the business, which ceased trading once again in 1976.

 

 

But what a phoenix this fragrance house is – because the story isn’t finished. In 2012, packaging designer Lutz Herrmann and communication expert Tamas Tagscherer revived it under the name J.F. Schwarzlose Berlin – enlisting brilliant perfumer Véronique Nyberg as the ‘nose’.

Today, this new guard remains ‘in close contact with the last heir to Schwarzlose, Jutta Jank-Trabant, who is delighted to find the brand on display again… and is always a welcome guest in the new office of J.F. Schwarzlose Berlin. And how utterly joyous this important perfumery was saved once again! Now thriving afresh, the modern-day fragrances of J.F. Schwarzlose harness the grandeur of their heritage, and all they learned through history, but still stay true to leading the fashions rather than merely following them.

We think this heritage name deserves to be celebrated the world over – a house that’s so proudly continued and re-invigorated their fragrant catalogue with the most modern innovations. So now, we urge you to continue the Schwarzlose Berlin story by trying their wonderful scents for yourself…

By Suzy Nightingale