Our favourite perfume podcast took a bit of a hiatus – some scented breathing space, if you will – but now Fume Chat is BACK for a second season of fun, facts and fragrant memories!
If you’re a new listener, really all you need to know is that Fume Chat is hosted by long-time friends and fragrance experts, Nick Gilbert and Thomas Dunkley. Nick is a fragrance evaluator, co-founder of scent consultancy Olfiction, and has frequently appeared on radio, television, and in print media sharing his insights on the fragrance industry. Thomas is perhaps better known as The Candy Perfume Boy – a multi-award-winning writer for several websites and publications along with his own blog, now working with Nick and perfumer Pia Long at Olfiction, as well as a fellow contributor to our The Scented Letter magazine.
So, between them, there’s very little Nick and Thomas don’t know about fragrance – from behind-the-scenes of creation and working with ‘noses’, to retail training and through to reviewing their own shelf-groaning collections of scent. We’re not quite sure how they find time to also work on their own podcast, but we’re awfully glad they do – as you will be when you give Fume Chat a listen.
This second series is a good place to start for new listeners as well as long-term audio addicts, because in the first episode, our hosts discuss their perfume origin stories – how on earth they got into this weird and wonderful world of fragrance – as well as sniffing out some new scents to sniff. Later episodes will follow a similar path to the first series (which we urge you to go back and binge on) with special guests, ‘Battle’ episodes (where Nick and Thomas put two favourite fragrances up against each other and argue their case for which should ‘win’ the battle), and hours of factually interesting, inspirational and most importantly fun fragrant chat.
We have two warnings, though….
1: be prepared to have your scented shopping list grow exponentially.
2: be prepared to have the catchy theme tune in your head for the rest of the day/week/month.
The main thing for Fume Chat is to make the world of fragrance accessible for everyone – something we at The Perfume Society wholeheartedly agree with and constantly work towards – and oh guys, it’s good to have you back!
There are many bloggers we admire at The Perfume Society, and occasionally, we like to feature some of our favourites to share with you here. Thomas Dunckley – a.k.a. The Candy Perfume Boy – is a longtime friend, award-winning writer and fellow contributor to The Scented Letter magazine. Along with a wealth of fragrance expertise he brings a completely refreshing and totally down-to-earth voice to the perfume world, offering his opinions and providing information in a way that’s not only accesible but makes us want to rush out and try all the things he’s mentioned.
And so, get ready to add to your ‘must sniff’ list, as we look back to the most interesting scent trends The Candy Perfume Boy saw in 2017. Which of these have you tried and loved, and which, we wonder, will continue to shape the face of fragrance throughout 2018…?
‘We’re officially in quarter four of 2017 and what a year it has been. By my count there has been at least 20 million fragrance launches this year, but I do have a tendency to exaggerate. In truth it has felt like a particularly busy year, with lots of behemoth launches from equally gigantic brands. I also think it has been a phenomenally good year for perfume and I’ve fallen in love with more than a handful of wonderful fragrances already. But this post is not a retrospective of the year – you can have that at the annual Candies (my fragrance awards) in December, no this is something a little bit different.
As we’re heading towards the end of this year I thought it would be a good idea to do a quick recap of the big perfume trends we’ve seen this year. I’ve certainly noticed a handful of key themes over the last 12 months and it’s kind of fascinating to look back at them at this point in the year. So in this post you will find four trends that have populated the perfume landscape in 2017. These are just my thoughts however, and I’d be more than happy to hear about any trends you’ve identified too!
Let’s kick off by talking about sandalwoods because if there is any material I’ve seen lots of this year, it’s sandalwood. I’m used to the note being treated as a gateway to the exotic, with spicy, creamy and warm facets that lead one to think of ambrée opulence. This year however, there seems to be somewhat of a shift in the olfactory lexicon of the sandalwood, with a much more minimalistic approach that sees the more intimate, softer and fresher sides of the material showcased in all their glory.
Firstly let’s take a look at Molecule 04 and Escentric 04 by Escentric Molecules, both of which showcase the sandalwood material Javanol. In Escentric 04, the traditional fragrance composition of the pair (rather than Molecule 04 which is simply Javanol in alcohol) we see a fresh, almost metallic sandalwood paired with grapefruit and cannabis to create a sharper tone. It’s a wonderfully fresh take on a note that hasn’t really known freshness before.
This year Juliette Has a Gun created Sunny Side Up, a sunny, beachy fragrance that did not focus on aquatics or florals and instead showcased a rather sexy sandalwood note. The presentation of the note was intimate, nutty and creamy, with a salty skin-like vibe that brought out the sexier vibes of sandalwood. There was even a delightfully rosy take on sandalwood from Comme des Garçons in the form of Concrete, which felt plush yet dry and smooth at the same time.
So sandalwood definitely has been the note of the year and I hope we’ll see more intriguing takes on it in the year to come.
Androgynous not Unisex
One trend that has really piqued my interest appears to be in its infancy. So far I’ve only noticed two fragrances that have done this, but I expect that we will see more over the next year. The trend is brands referring to their fragrances as ‘androgynous’ or ‘gender fluid’. Now, if you’ve been following this blog for a while you’ll know that I’m all for removing gender labels on scents, because anyone can wear anything that they want to. I’m also a pretty liberal guy and I’m very much in support of gender identities that are non-binary or otherwise. So I see this all as a very good thing.
With the rise in discourse around gender identity it seems that brands are cottoning on to this and are using these terms to replace the description of unisex. Katy Perry described her latest fragrance, INDI, as being “androgynous” as opposed to unisex and Guerlain launched Lui with mention of gender fluidity in the press release and a description of a scent that is “not entirely feminine, nor truly masculine”. I’m totally here for this and hope that maybe, just maybe, we’ll start to do away with gendered labels on fragrance entirely. Wishful thinking? Probably!
Decent Celebrity Scents
This trend technically started in 2016 with SJP Stash by Sarah Jessica Parker, but one scent does not a trend make – four however, do. A year or so ago there were numerous articles in the beauty press about how celebrity fragrances are dead and that consumers are no longer buying them. In that year next to no celebrities launched a new fragrance and with any kind of reality ‘star’ launching a scent, it really did feel as if we had reached ‘peak celebrity’ in terms of fragrance. Well now things are a little different and this year alone we have seen three celebrity launches that are far removed from the sickly sweet fruity florals that lead one reaching for the Gaviscon – these celebuscents are unique and actually rather good.
First off we have Shawn Mendes Signature from dreamy, put a poster of his face on your wall, singer/songwriter Shawn Mendes. Created for all of his fans, whether they be a boy or a girl, Shawn Mendes Signature is a well put together woody gourmand that feels as if it has been made with thought and links to the singer’s roots and personality. Then there’s Katy Perry’s INDI, an effortless woody musk that wears like a second skin, and finally we have Xyrena’s Scented by Willam (which I vow to review soon), a drag queen known for her acerbic wit and controversial appearance on RuPaul’s Drag Race. Scented is really quite beautiful – a violet-tinged iris with woods and musk that channels shades of Tauer’s discontinued Pentachord White. Each of these celebrity fragrances is really good and it’s refreshing to see such care, attention and quality applied to fragrances which so often have simply been a cash cow to complete a celebrity’s brand.
It seems as if celebrities now know that they have to work a little bit harder to sell a scent. They can’t just release yet another fruity floral in a clingy bottle and call it the Emperor’s New Clothes – they actually have to make it smell good. With the continuing rise of nice and luxe, people are willing to spend more money on a bottle of perfumer, but they’re going to buy less bottles, so whatever they buy must be interesting. Celebrities have caught on to this. The biggest thing though – they actually need to be a celebrity, ain’t nobody gonna buy Eau de Tan Mom any more.
Crowd Pleasing Concoctions
What do Mon Guerlain, Gabrielle de Chanel, AURA by Mugler, Twilly d’Hermès and Scandal by Jean Paul Gaultier all have in common? Well, first and foremost they all launched in 2017 – and let’s face it, each is an absolutely massive release from some of perfumery’s biggest brands. 2017 will definitely go down in history as the year of the launch (the mainstream feminine pillar launch if we want to get specific) and these five big brands have pulled out literally every stop to make their olfactory mark on 2017. They’ve recruited big stars like Angelina Jolie (Mon Guerlain) and Kristen Stewart (Gabrielle), and have created visually stunning bottles that range from glass hearts formed in the Emerald City (AURA) to carriage lanterns topped with little bowler hats (Twilly), not to mention a pair of legs falling out of a taxi (Scandal). In the case of two of these launches, the fragrances are the first feminine pillars from their respective brands in quite some time. It has been quite the year for launches, indeed – launches that are eye catching and nose catching for many.
But the trend we’re talking about here is not the simple fact that these brands have all had big launches, no, the trend is specifically in reference to a commercial theme that has run through each and every one of them. There’s no use beating around the bush – all five of these launches are very commercial and whilst there may be some interesting work going on inside the bottles, such as the super-radiance of Gabrielle’s floral notes, the clash of smoke, vanilla and jungle greenery in AURA, and the ginger-tuberose shock of Twilly, the overarching feel of these fragrances is that they were created to appeal to a wide audience. Even MUGLER, who are renowned for their divisive compositions, could be accused of a less polarising approach with their latest output. They all smell great but they lack a sense of boldness in their signatures.
So why is this happening? Are consumers buying less? Are they moving away from mainstream to niche? If so, why aren’t these fragrances more daring? That’s a lot to answer, but I wonder whether it has something to do with the level of investment these brands have to inject into the development, marketing and visual impact of a new scent. Perhaps they are worried about their return of investment? Take Guerlain for example, they have funnelled millions into the launch of Mon Guerlain and just to be sure that the scent would resonate with consumers, they tested it as a boutique exclusive (the new discontinued Mon Exclusif) prior to its launch.
So who knows why the big brands are being commercial? They’re getting the packaging and concepts right, that’s for sure, so let’s just hope that in 2018 they will bring a little bit more innovation to our noses. I know that my nose is waiting with great anticipation.’
Fume Chat is one of our favourite podcasts (for the uninitiated, think of podcasts as online radio shows you can subscribe to and download to listen later), from the offset aiming ‘…to have fun with fragrance – after all, it’s just perfume, so why it take it so seriously?’ Regular hosts Nick Gilbert and Thomas Dunckley (a.k.a. fragrance blogger The Candy Perfume Boy) may be perfume experts in their own right, but they genuinely bring a sense of the joy of discovery along with down-to-earth accessible information to their weekly show.
Most episodes sees the fragrant twosome sniffing exciting new scents both old and new or discussing topics relevant to the world of perfumery – a brilliant recent episode was dedicated to Aroma Chemicals (or Synthetics) and exploring what the giddy hell they actually are and where best to sniff them out.
Our favourite episodes have to be the ‘Battles’, in which Nick and Thomas each bring to the table their favourite examples of a particular perfume genre. Often they’ll get a guest to decide the outcome (and overall winner of the battle!) and the latest – The War of the Roses –featured none other than our very own co-founder and editor, Jo Fairley as the judge. We wont spoil the surprise, but suffice to say it was a close battle and you’ll be wanting to scatter rose petals at the feet of the victor…
Do go and have a listen by clicking the Fume Chat logo, above – who do YOU think will win? – and have a pad handy, because the way Nick and Thomas so breathlessly describe their favourites makes us want to go and sniff (and douse ourselves in) them immediately…
(If you’re not an Apple user, you can find the Fume Chat RSS feed here).
Written by Suzy Nightingle
To roll in the New Year, fragrance experts, friends and now regular Fume Chat ‘podcasters’ (think of podcasts as radio shows you can listen to online, if you’re new to the term!) Nick Gilbert and Thomas Dunkley (aka The Candy Perfume Boy) decided to look ahead to all things fragrant for 2017 and ponder on the perfumes we’ll all be using in the months to come.
In this sixth episode, the fragrant twosome muse on questions including…
– Who will release a perfume in a bottle of their face?
– Will oud ever die? – What scent can be described as ‘Rosa Dentata’?
[Photo via Olfactaria’s Travels perfume blog, showing Nick and Thomas on a previous perfume-sniffing outing…]
Presented in their trademark down-to-earth but entirely knowledgable way, it’s a great listen (as always!) and we think their friendly discussions definitely encourage an ever-growing list of perfumes to seek out and try for yourselves.
We suggest you settle down with a cup of tea, put your feet up and listen to the episode here. You can catch up with any shows you may have missed, too!
The special guests for the Christmas edition of Love to Smell are Thomas Dunkley, freelance fragrance consultant and blogger a.k.a ‘The Candy Perfume Boy‘ and… us (well, our Senior Writer Suzy Nightingale) and we couldn’t have been more thrilled to be invited! Scroll down to see the episode right here…
We’ve been watching Love to Smell since it began, hosted by the long-time friends and now business partners Nick Gilbert and Pia Long teaming up to air their views, news and fragrant expertise in a chatty, sometimes (deliberately) silly but overall completely encouraging way. And that was the inspiration, really, behind the whole show – a way to present perfume as friends talking, recommending their favourites and discussing new launches.
Basically, Love to Smell is all about what we believe in: getting people to go and smell more perfumes, to widen their comfort zone of spritzable smellies and not to be afraid of the oft’ confusing lingo of the fragrance world – the very reason The Perfume Society was set up by our co-founders Jo Fairley and Lorna McKay in the first place: bridging the gap between brands and the people actually buying the perfumes, of bringing perfume alive in a (hopefully!) deeply fascinating yet completely accessible manner.
And so of course when Nick and Pia asked if we’d like to be one of the special guests for the festive fragrance extravaganza, we donned tinsel (not usually a hair accessory we favour, but hey, we went with it,) jumped on the train with two of our current favourite perfumes (as requested) and a soft toy we’ve had since childhood (we didn’t refer to these in the the episode, but if you look carefully you can see Suzy’s sadly ragged Rabby Rabbit all crumpled and shabby on the shelf behind) and spent a day as their guests.
We really hope you enjoy the episode – our shopping list certainly grew after we sniffed the fragrances Thomas had chosen – and you can view the whole thing by clicking the link below…
And if that’s whetted your appetite, you can watch all of the back episodes on the Love to Smell YouTube channel, too.
Finally, we hope your scented Santa brings all the perfumes on your list, and wish all our fellow fragrance addicts a very Happy Christmas!
We perfume-lovers are greedy types – ever hungry for more fragrance in all its forms: spritzing on layers of it, daily (obvs), surrounding ourselves with scented candles, reading books on it, watching shows [like Love to Smell on YouTube] about it and, now, listening to perfume-themed podcasts to-boot. More is always more, with us, and so of course we eagerly listened to the first ‘Fume Chat episode when it launched a couple of weeks ago…
Hosted by fragrance expert, writer and independent consultant Nick Gilbertand his long-time perfume blogging pal, Thomas Dunkley [aka, award-winning The Candy Perfume Boy]; ‘Fume Chat is a conversation between two highly knowledgable (and very funny) friends that you really feel part of as you listen. And for those of you who haven’t ventured into the world of podcasts yet, think of them as online radio shows that you can download and listen to whenever you wish. Particularly useful for tedious train journeys, we find!
The first episode is more of an introduction to the sorts of topics they hope to be covering, with Nick and Thomas picking some of their favourites from recently launched perfumes in their extensive wardrobes, and talking more generally about what they personally like to wear. The second episode, just released this Sunday, is themed around what will be an on-going feature: a fragranced duel.
For each of these special shows, a perfume house is chosen – this time it was COMME de GARÇONS – and sees our hosts each picking three of their favourite examples, playing a kind of game of “smelly Top Trumps” before having a scented smack-down to agree on a winner.
As Thomas explains, the whole idea behind the show is to be informative but in a really enjoyable, relaxed way: ‘Fume Chat aims to have fun with fragrance – after all, it’s just perfume, so why it take it so seriously? We’ll be sniffing exciting scents, both new and old, battling head-to-head to see who can pick the best fragrances, and discussing many topics related to the smelly aspects of this wonderful world.’
We’re certainly looking forward to hearing more from our scented friends, the perfect way to ease yourself into a new week over a lazy Sunday breakfast while dreaming of all the new scents you want to sniff. Anything that encourages people out there and exploring more perfumes gets our vote, and can we just say, we love the catchy theme tune, too!
Depending on their equally busy schedules, new episodes of ‘Fume Chat will be ready to listen to on a fortnightly basis, and they’re really simple to listen and subscribe to. Simply go to their page on iTunes or, if you’re not an Apple user, you can find the ‘Fume Chat RSS feed here. You can also follow ‘Fume Chat on Twitter to join in the conversation, and pay a visit to their Facebook page.
Written by Suzy Nightingale