Experimental Perfume Club have launched a LAYERS pop-up lab at Selfridges, London, where customers can now design their own bespoke fragrance from almost endless combinations and have it blended instore, just for them! It’s one space, but with two scent experiences – and it’s shaping the future of fragrance as we know it…
The Formula Library
How it works: ‘Create individual blends using our six LAYERS Eau de Parfums in multiple combinations, you can compose over 50,000 unique, personalised fragrances. Our LAYERS App features an in-house algorithm which enables us to understand your personal tastes, before recommending 3 possible formulae that match your unique olfactory profile. You can either choose your favourite blend from the shortlisted selection or customise the fragrance further with the help of our Fragrance Curator. Once you choose your final blend, our Fragrance Curator will formulate your unique fragrance in front of you. And, for the ultimate bespoke touch, you can choose a name for your fragrance and a personalised label for your 50ml bottle.’
The Refill Fountain
How it works: ‘Being eco-conscious has always been at the heart of what we do and we strive to source and manufacture responsibly. Our goal is to reduce unnecessary packaging and waste and enable loyal consumers to reuse their packaging again and again. Our first refill service will be available exclusively at the LAYERS lab at Selfridges, London. A place where you can reduce your carbon footprint by bringing back a bottle of your empty 50ml fragrance to be refilled for a reduced price. Looking after both your pennies and the planet.’
Emmanuelle Moeglin, founder and perfumer of Experimental Perfume Club, said: ‘We love to provide unique olfactory experiences for consumers who are becoming more and more invested in what goes into their products. The LAYERS pop-up lab will take our bespoke perfumery offering to the next level with more formula choice than ever before where customers will be guided in creating their own bespoke fragrance. We are also proud to be a company striving for sustainability with our perfume refills, and are one of only a few perfume brands offering this eco-friendly service.’
If you can’t make it to Selfridges to experience the fragrant fun first-hand, don’t fear! You can get the feel for layering up the fragrances in your own home by trying the Experimental Perfume Club Blending Boxes for £90 – fine fragrances to wear alone or blend at home to your own bespoke formula, with all ingredients and instructions included.
‘A set of three pocket fragrances and a personal blending bottle. Choose three fragrances from across the collections to customise your own fragrance; one Top, one Mid, one Base eau de parfum. Follow one of the suggested blends or let your imagination run fly!’
Acqua di Parma have long been known as the go-to for stylish gents who wish to be wonderfully fragranced, and now Selfridges add to the experience by opening a brand new Acqua di Parma Barbiere space, for an exquisitely scented grooming experience – and just in time for Christmas, too!
Located next to the Men’s Beauty Workshop in their Oxford Street store, Barbiere promises to be ‘…an intimate and refined yet relaxed space where the modern man can indulge in the ritual of a traditional Italian shave, pick up his grooming essentials, and discover the Acqua di Parma fragrant universe.’
Marrying the brand’s signature yellow in soft furnishings with luxurious woods and that innate Italian style – we think it looks distictly Wes Anderson in character – it’s a welcoming place to take a few minutes to unwind, be pampered and experience for yourself some of the wonderful (and heavenly scented) products they offer. Even better: to have someone else do all the hard work for you!
Services will include a proper Italian Traditional Shave (£45) which takes 30 minutes and involves cut-throat razors, hot towels and a soothing Colonia aftershave; a Prestige Shave (£59) for 50 minutes, with facial and eye massage, full consultation and double-shave (for ultra-smooth chops!); various hair-cutting / beard-wrangling options and any number of fabulously indulgent treat packages.
The perfect way to ease yourself into the festive season, have a pre-NYE spruce-up or to give as a thoughtful gift idea, the Acqua di Parma Barbiere experience will be open from 17 December 2018, at Selfridges, 400 Oxford Street, London.
With bottles that wouldn’t have looked out of place on Marie Antoinette’s dressing table, the French perfume house Parfums de Marly definitely have that aristocratic je nes se quoi about them, and the bottle for their latest fragrance, Delina Exclusif, may be the most ravishingly regal of all!
It’s to the famous ‘perfumed court’ of King Louis XV we are transported to… Parfums de Marly say: ‘The XVIIIth Century was the indisputed reign of King Louis XV. France was the flagship of fragrances, with Grasse and Paris as its leading places. Everyday, the king requested a different scent for his apartments and streams of aromatic scents sprang from the royal fountains. Renowned for its scent extravagances, the court was named “la cour parfumée” (the perfumed court). The best fragrances of all time were invented during this era by the king’s dedicated perfumer ‘Jean Fargeon’.’
You can read more about that perfumed court, the history and inspiration behind the house of Parfums de Marly, on our page dedicated to them. But for now, let’s hit the (fabulously decadent) bottle…
The delicate pale matte-pink puts us in mind of rosebud lips and faintly flushing cheeks, and topped with a silken rope swag – tassled of course – it hints at the beguilingly feminine fragrance within…
Described as a grown-up twist on the original (which launched last year), the top notes shimmer with bergamot, pear and lychee (in place of the fruitier rhubarb) before descending elegantly to a veil of smokily refined incense, amber and vanilla in the base. From ten minutes in we found it transformed from a come-hither look across a ballroom to a swish of heavy satin across the polished wood and then a full-on candlelit encounter and the aftermath, with powdered wigs askew.
One to be worn by budding Courtesans and those well-versed in the language of fans, we feel – and firmly plant ourselves in this category. Parfums de Marly Delina Exclusif £210 for 75ml eau de parfum
Exclusive to Selfridges
Written by Suzy Nightingale
What comes to mind when you picture concrete? Urban cityscapes are bound to be involved, but for design-led style leaders, Comme des Garçons, they always like to play with traditional expectations, and their latest fragrance is anything but conventional (but oh-so wearable, we’re glad to report!)
We had the pleasure of being present at the press presentation of CONCRETE – the new CDG scent launching today and exclusively first available at Selfridges. ‘A versatile material finds an unpredictable form’, they say, and from the pleasingly tactile concrete-clad bottle that will age as flagstones do – leaving a part of yourself imprinted every time you touch it – to the intriguingly soft juice inside (as we said: unexpected!) we have to concur…
So what does CONCRETE smell like? Well there’s the CDG signature of peppery notes, though this time very much white pepper, we’re thinking… then a mineral-ic waft of slightly metallic mistiness, but the framework here is bound to the rich, soothingly creamy essence of sandalwood and the most transparent rose, created by synthetic rose oxide – a molecule that turns old-fashioned rose on its head and adds acres of crystaline lightness and air to the mix. CDG say that ‘…layers of resinous warmth are lacquered with metallic seams’ – by which we understand that the scent smells somehow both warm and cold at the same time. And it really does! We’re super-impressed and see this as a totally sharable fragrance you could easily wear every day.
CDG are renowned for collaborating with ground-breaking contemporary artists and Graham Hudson has been working with the house for 10 years, this time creating an exclusive installation in the Beauty Hall (and window) of Selfridges, Bond Street.
Comme des Garçons CONCRETE has been imagined as a kind of love story in scent and its artistic expression through all the senses. Music plays on records as sculpted figures and textural shapes abound. The installation is only up for a week, so do pop along and see it while you have the chance!
Perfumery may have its roots in the Middle East, but when the history of perfume is written hundreds of years from now, the founder of The Fragrance Kitchen will have done its bit to keep that fascinating, scent-centric part of the world a focus of its ongoing story.
After a pop-up appearance a couple of years ago, The Fragrance Kitchen is now back at Selfridges with a more permanent spot in the new Fragrance & Candle Space – and its founder and driving force, Sheikh Majed Al-Sabah, will be making an appearance there tonight (21st July 2016) between 8–9.30pm.
The super-cool sheikh is the grandson of the 10th emir of Kuwait, who became the darling of designers the world over via his fashion boutiques. A few years back, he decided to move into perfumery – a life-long passion – putting a very 21st Century spin on scent.
Few perfume houses are as active on social media as TFK; when Sheikh Majed Snapchatted a video of himself at a previous personal appearance in the Oxford Street department store, the counter was rammed. (On Instagram, TFK also has a pretty wowzer 17,000+ followers.) But while he may be something of a ‘pop star’ of perfumers, his passion is 100% real, and goes all the way back to childhood.
‘My grandmother taught me how to blend oils when I was a child,’ he explains; that’s where his passion for ingredients like oudh and rose can be traced back to. ‘She was a very humble lady, who just passed away,’ the sheikh told us. ‘She was a very good cook and I always say: good cooks are good noses, and if you know what goes with what, perfumery needn’t be scary…’
Growing up, friends and family would ask the sheikh to create fragrances for them – and later, Tom Ford (whose designs he had very successfully distributed) did the same: Arabian Wood, the fragrance Sheikh Majeed created for the designer, is apparently a bestseller in that range around the world.
The pace of The Fragrance Kitchen – whose inspiration is ‘East Meets West’ – is as fast as it gets in fragrance. Imagine a new launch, every six weeks or so, somewhere in the world. ‘We experiment. Some fragrances become part of the permanent collection, others are more fleeting.’ The fragrances are blended at home in Kuwait and ultimately produced in Grasse, where he travels several times a year: this is fine French perfumery, but from a Kuwaiti brand.
Each stockist for The Fragrance Kitchen – and here, that’s exclusively Selfridges – will offer perfumes that are nowhere else in the world; the Oxford Street store’s first ‘TFK Special’ was the woody-leathery Spike Odyssey, inspired by the David Bowie song. Right now, among the 60+ scents on The Fragrance Kitchen’s counter, you’ll find two new exclusive additions created to mark the celebration of Eid. You can read the evocative stories for Bindi Ballet and Bindi Twist below. (On our scent wishlist, meanwhile, are Naughty Patchouli and Amber Alert…)
But when the Sheikh breezed into town a little while back, we asked him to share with us his five favourite smells – always a very revealing exercise. Before we share with you the story of his new fragrances, here’s what Sheikh Majed Al-Sabah shared with us… 1. Fresh bread – ‘specifically, French bread from bakeries in France, where I spent a lot of time as a child and a teenager; any time I pass by a bakery, I’m lost…’ 2. Brewed coffee – ‘I love the smell but ironically I don’t drink it; I’m very much a tea person, but I love the smell of fresh-ground or fresh-brewed coffee.’ 3. Ta’if rose – ‘I went to Ta’if and did research into the unique roses there, and it’s fascinating; what makes Ta’if rose unique is the process of making the oil, which is still the traditional, old way using the old copper alembics.’ 4. The forehead of a newborn baby – ‘I have three daughters (Noura, Fadila and Miriam, who are 18, 16 and 12), and I just love the smell of babies. It’s the most amazing smell in the world.’ 5 Arab Spring – ‘It’s the fragrance I am most proud of for The Fragrance Kitchen, and also one of the most popular, a fusion which includes many different flowers which bloom in the most challenging desert conditions…’
And now, those two new unveilings…
Top notes: bergamot, lemon, pink pepper Heart notes: myrrh, heliotrope, amber, styrax Base notes: patchouli, musk, moss, cedarwood, solar notes
‘His head lay on her stomach and she stared at the leaves on the tree above as she eased back into the wild grass. The breeze enveloped them in a cocoon of warmth and it was days like these she wished would last forever. He rolled over to face her and stroked her arm with the tips of his fingers. She closed her eyes and concentrated on the light pressure his fingertips made as they moved across her wrist and into the palm of her hand. Her began using two fingers to mimic the stride of a person walking up and down her arm. She giggled as the childishness of the act, but she enjoyed this light-hearted side of him. He began to move is fingers into a dance and they skated up and down her arm. Eyes closed, she imagined a nimble ballet dancer, floating lightly over the boards of a stage, casting shadows under the glare of the theatre lights. The tiny dancer on her arm twirled and moved as the pressure increased and decreased. She could see the glistening of the dancers face, the expressions of her body moving as she flittered about like a sparrow. Whirling and falling gracefully like a sycamore leaf coming to earth, the ballet dancer’s feet traced a beautiful and peaceful pattern all the way from her shoulder to the tips of her fingers. She felt the ballet dancer twist and turn and played out a wondrous world in a glamorous theatre under that tree. She would always remember this afternoon enveloped in natures warm blanket relishing the dance of her imaginary performer, unable to be touched by anything in the outside world.’
Top notes: green notes, bergamot, aldehydes, peach Heart notes: jasmine, rose, white flowers, basil, citrus Base notes: pine, solar notes
The air was as crisp and biting as the night was dark. The wind took her breath away as a strong gust blew across her face and her cold bitten hands clutched tighter at her coat. The river rushed below her feet as she made her way across the bridge. There was no one about, the city was sleeping and she felt as she were the only person in the world awake. She wasn’t ready to go home and leaned over the railing to watch the water crashing below. In the distance she heard the bellowing of ship and she strained her eyes in the dark to detect the direction of the sound. In the distance she could see the red and gold lights of the fishing boats twinkling against the blackness of the night. The dancing lights were mesmerizing as the bounced back and forth on the currents. Her thoughts were suddenly lost and the lights blurred. Her eyes began to see the lights as jewels and colours, dancing on the fabrics of dresses as the swirled around the feet of dancing women. She heard the drums, the beats of her native India, and she was swept up in the rhythm. The jewels turned and plunged and were taken into the music in her ears. She could feel the humid air on her face and smell the dust kicked up by the movement. The beat intensified and her eyes followed the glistening jewels until suddenly they were extinguished by the blackness of the night. Brought back to reality, she reached her icy hand up to her cheek, still flushed with memories of her faraway home.’ The Fragrance Kitchen from £110-220 for 100ml eau de parfum
Find them at Selfridges
Written by Jo Fairley
We were utterly thrilled when Selfridges London asked The Perfume Society to host the prestigious opening party to celebrate their brand new Fragrance & Candle Space. Located on the ground floor of the department store, it’s a brave new sensorial world of scent exploration, offering a unique space in which to discover all manner of exciting brands, and some houses that were even new to us! Tickets had been eagerly snapped up – and with 100% turnout on the evening, clearly we weren’t the only ones anxious to experience this new olfactory arena…
The new department is spacious, elegantly modern in design and is set to expand even further later in the year when the back of the department is fully opened up. Currently housing the candle and home fragrance collection of Lola James Harper – one of our favourites ever since we first visited their press launch earlier this year and soon with their incredibly evocative fine fragrances to follow; we also spied the exquisitely revamped L’Artisan Parfumeur, the intriguing, music-inspired Justbox, the oft’ swooned over (and we certainly sniffed out why) The Fragrance Kitchen (their Spike Odyssey scent is a world exclusive) and So Oud. But seriously, you need to head there pronto to check out the full range of fabulousness.
As glasses clinked and bubbles sipped, our Co-Founder Jo Fairley gave an introductory speech welcoming our VIP Subscribers to the event, and we led groups around key stands in the venue whose founders and brand representatives had honoured us by travelling to Selfridges especially for the party, talking about how they began, what their fragrances are inspired by and behind-the-scenes info of their processes.
From Linda Pilkington (who began Ormonde Jayne literally at her kitchen table), to one of the iconic (arguably first ever heroes of niche) Frederic Malle team; from the charming and so-talented founder of Lola James Harper, Rami Mekdachi; and onwards to the ever-wonderful Diptyque (complete with a travelling trunk of fragrant goods we lusted over for some time…)
Of course there was plenty of sniffing, and our groups were reluctant to tear themselves away from each stand – it’s staggering to see (and smell) the hundreds of hard-to-find fragrances on offer there. On leaving, guests were handed the incredibly generous goody bag – honestly, it had to be seen to be believed. We heard gasps of delight as people opened theirs – provided by brands mentioned, above, for our party, containing a number of fragrant treats to check out at home. But as we left, the tills were still ringing with ticket-holders snapping up their scents of choice – a prospect made all the more agreeable by the £25 gift voucher also included in the goody bag!
If you’re reading this and feeling slightly sick that you couldn’t make it or hadn’t been quick enough to secure a ticket, may we suggest you take some time out to saunter down to Selfridges and sniff out the new Fragrance & Candle Space for yourselves? You’re bound to come away with a list of must-have perfumes to lust over, at the very least.
Want to join us at future scented soirées? Why not become a VIP Subscriber – or gift a subscription to a fellow scent-lover? Only £25 for a full year, not only will you be invited to equally fabulous and exclusive events and in-depth workshops – you get a complimentary introductory Discovery Box of scents to explore (plus any others you decide to buy will be available at our special VIP rate); on-going special offers and discounts in some of your favourite stores and access to the downloadable version of our award-winning magazine, The Scented Letter, too! It’s kind of win-win-win-win…