This week media gathered at Sydney’s prestigious men’s department store, Harrolds, to celebrate the launch of Creed’s most recent eau de parfum, Fleurs de Gardenia. Harrolds is the natural choice to hold an event like this, as the luxury department store, which caters solely to men, has long been a champion of Creed here in Australia. I remember discovering Creed through Harrolds almost 10 years ago in Melbourne. 10 years later the house has a local distributor, Agence de Parfum that ensures the brand is supported and made available to a wider audience, which is great news for Australia with its vast geographical spread; a point not many international brands clearly understand about Australian retailing.
Perfume expert and author Michael Edwards was present as the event’s guest speaker. Mary Poulakis, Harrolds cofounder and Nick Smart, founder of Agence de Parfum discussed their thoughts on the evolution of niche perfumes in Australia before handing over the floor to their guest.
For over two decades Michael Edwards has dedicated his professional life to cataloguing new perfume launches across the world. The Australian perfume expert now splits his time between Paris, Milan and New York in order to capture almost every perfume launch in his Fragrances of the World database, a system I myself use to categorise the perfumes I write about.
He is a gifted speaker (some talks he has given are on Youtube) and the book Perfume Legends he published in 1996 is considered to be an important literary work on perfume history. It is no longer in print so I couldn’t help but bring my copy along for him to sign. He wrote, “Clayton – What a pleasure to discover that you have this book. It remains my master work. All the best. Michael.”
With so much experience Mr Edwards has seen and documented everything relating to the world of modern perfume. Opening his discourse on the house of Creed, he reminisced about the birth of niche, a movement in perfume he felt was rare, an accident largely fuelled by the great American department stores, which needed to explore alternative product lines after the rise of the grey market cannibalised the mainstream brands they had invested so heavily in. When a bottle of YSL Opium could now be purchased for under $50 at a corner drugstore, America’s department stores had to come up with a new strategy to save their failing perfume sales. Niche played a big role in their answer.
But Creed existed long before supermalls dictated the expansion of American suburbia and Michael Edwards took his audience back to the brand’s origins in London during the mid 18th century. Within its 250 years of history, the house of Creed has served more than 10 royal houses, beginning with England’s Queen Victoria and soon after, the Empress Eugenie of France, a relationship that influenced the family to relocate to Paris. By the mid 20th century the Creed name was regularly associated with a new type of royalty, Hollywood stars.
Today Creed stands as one of the oldest family businesses in perfumery. More than 200 perfumes have been handed down from one generation to the next; currently, Oliver Creed and his son, Erwin Creed runs the family business.
Discussing some of the savoir-faire that makes Creed unique, Mr Edwards makes a point of highlighting the importance of maceration and maturation when bottling a fragrance. He uses Thierry Mugler’s Angel as an example; a fragrance known for its tenacity, which he says is not achieved by a high concentration of perfume oil, but by allowing the fragrance to macerate for over 20 days. Mr Edwards says Creed is one of the few houses that still place an importance on extending this process to allow the perfume molecules to fully merge and develop before product is released for sale. Another practice that makes Creed unique is their expertise in using tinctures. Traditionally, perfumers could add miniscule quantities of tinctured ambergris, civet or even jasmine to their alcohol. This outdated practise is still used in the house of Creed and assists in smoothing out and accenting their perfumes. Searching the world for exotic flowers and exceptional harvests, Creed has launched Fleurs de Gardenia in Australia.
Impressions of Fleurs de Gardenia
With this new addition, Creed maintains its reputation as a maker of classically beautiful floral perfumes. Like 2000 Fleurs and Spring Flower, Fleurs de Gardenia begins with a lush palette of fruits and floral notes. The greenness of gardenia is accented with galbanum resin and a refreshing burst of muguet. Roses, peonies and jasmine make this a rich and generous bunch of flowers and will dash the hopes of anyone wishing for a gardenia soliflore. Smelling Fleurs de Gardenia is a little like seeing the world through a soft focus lens filter. It is a happy world peering into this violet tinged glass flacon. The perfume is given some grounding with woody notes of patchouli, Virginian cedar and musk. For me it speaks of classic accords found in many of the great feminine perfumes that came out of the late 20th century, such as Givenchy’s Amarige, yet Creed have put a spin on this 21st century floral, transforming it into something relatable for young women of today.
Event Date: May 29, 2013
Venue: Harrolds, Westfield Sydney www.harrolds.com.au
Hosts: Harrolds in conjunction with Agence de Parfum www.agencedeparfum.com
Guest: Michael Edwards www.fragrancesoftheworld.com
Catering: Becker Minty firstname.lastname@example.org