Fashion critics say a great designer gives you what you want before you know you want it. Before Christian Dior launched Dior Homme in 2005, I did not feel a need for vanilla in the perfumes I was wearing. I was more interested in the fresh tonic notes of fragrances such as Frederic Malle’s Angelique Sous la Pluie and L’Eau de L’Artisan by L’Artisan Parfumeur. The first time I smelled Dior Homme, I distinctly remember my experience. The way IFF perfumer, Olivier Polge, cocooned his base of soft vanilla in iris and leather made immediate sense to me and Dior Homme felt instantly at home on my skin. The experience opened up a new world of possibilities, and lifted my self-imposed vanilla embargo. Not only did Dior Homme smell fantastic, it also reset the narrow boundaries of masculinity as defined by designer perfume brands. It spoke of freshness, modernity and sophistication, without being pretentious or cliché. Dior Homme’s innovation went hand-in-hand with the French couturier’s eponymous menswear label. In 2000, designer Hedi Slimane became creative director of Dior Homme. In the same way M. Christian Dior redefined women’s couture with his “New Look” collection of 1947, Hedi Slimane redefined men’s ready-to-wear in … Read More »
Guerlain’s Jicky is always eulogised as a symbol of change in perfumery. When Jicky was launched in 1889, it was heralded as one of the first perfumes to use synthetic raw materials and historians call it the first abstract perfume. Although Jicky smells of its composite parts, the overall composition is abstract; it is not trying to replicate the smell of anything that exists in nature. This was revolutionary thinking in 1889. The end of the 19th century was a time of innovation and creativity that nourished all art forms. In the year of Jicky’s birth, the Eifel Tower was inaugurated, Impressionism was in full bloom and the seeds of Modern Art were beginning to sprout. Riding the coat tails of La Belle Epoque, the French perfume industry enjoyed a renewed spirit; it was a time of optimistic effervescence and creative perfume houses made small steps that contributed to Jicky’s remarkable stride forward. In 1882, perfumer Paul Parquet created Fougere Royale, which was the blueprint for Jicky’s structure. Parquet’s structure was so remarkable, it is still used in men’s perfumery today and perfumes that borrow from it are classified under the term fougere. In the seven years that separated Fougere … Read More »
The story of La Parfumerie Moderne begins in the small resort village of Le Touquet-Paris-Plage on the northern coast of France. Overlooking the English Channel, Le Touquet was an early 20th century playground for holidaying British aristocrats and wealthy visitors from all over the world. Business thrived and grand hotels were built on a palatial scale to accommodate visitors. The most notable grand hotel was the Royal Picardy, built in 1929. It was advertised as the largest, most luxurious hotel in the world. For 20 years the Royal Picardy was the jewel of this affluent seaside village but these lucrative years were short lived. War and the Great Depression crippled business and the hotel fell into a state of disrepair. In 1951 it closed its doors forever.
Years later we meet the main character of La Parfumerie Moderne’s story. In the 1960s, Philippe Neirinck was a young boy. The son of hoteliers, he regularly vacationed in Le Touquet with his parents. The Neirincks spent time in one of the vacant palaces, which had closed to the public. While the adults amused themselves, these empty palaces became the playgrounds of children. Wandering from room to room, young Philippe would imagine the hotel … Read More »
At the start of the month I received samples of MiN New York’s recently launched Scent Stories Volume One, and over the past week I have been wearing, smelling and pondering over the eleven new perfumes. I have noticed sentiments increasing inside and outside the perfume industry, which are causing brows to be raised, followed by the comment “not another new niche perfume launch!” Niche is now a crowded space and I was very curious to smell what MiN New York’s Chad Murawczyk and Mindy Yang were serving up. As business partners, the pair own and operate one of Manhattan’s finest independent perfumeries. Their Soho boutique is a beautifully curated space, which supports the work of niche perfume’s foremost creative thinkers. How would the pair bring a fresh perspective to this densely populated market that thrives on newness? For one, the approach is different. Instead of allowing the collection to be distributed through multiple channels, this first volume of Scent Stories is available exclusively in the Americas from MiN New York. Small scale production plays into the way the collection is experienced, by appointment only from the Members Vault. Becoming a member requires registration. Applicants are evaluated not by wealth … Read More »
Last year when I met perfumer Rodrigo Flores-Roux, we spoke about many things. We spoke about his work as a Senior Perfumer at Givaudan, one of the world’s most successful producers of fine fragrances and we spoke about Arquiste Parfumeur, a highly acclaimed collection of niche perfumes that Rodrigo co-authored with his colleague and friend, perfumer Yann Vasnier. It was Arquiste’s owner, Carlos Huber, who kindly offered to connect me with Rodrigo when I visited New York. More often than not, perfumers work silently behind their clients and this meeting was a rare opportunity to talk directly with the man responsible for creating multi-million dollar fragrances for some of the most influential names in the fashion and beauty industry. High above the streets of Midtown Manhattan, Rodrigo’s office read like a resume of his career. His desk was filled with rows of neatly coded laboratory vials, modifications of projects he was currently working on. Finished bottles of Rodrigo’s work sat proudly along the sill of his office window. Amongst these bottles were some personal items, which had played a part in inspiring the perfumer. A brightly coloured piñata became a prop in a story about Rodrigo’s Mexican heritage and he … Read More »