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 »
Cyber Garden by CoSTUME NATIONAL is co-founder, Ennio Capasa’s latest men’s fragrance. The idea is inspired by a tapestry of curated plants known as the CNAC Wall, one of three spaces in Tokyo’s Aoyama Complex, which houses the brand’s Japanese flagship boutique. CoSTUME NATIONAL commissioned botanist and artist Patrick Blanc to create a vertical garden, the largest of its kind in Japan, which hosts over one hundred species of plant life across a 12 x 3 metre vertical plane. Visitors are able to admire the wall whilst enjoying a drink at the long bar overlooking Blanc’s living installation. Ennio Capasa sees the Aoyama boutique as more than just a retail space, it is “a place of lifestyle and experience where aesthetic, art and nature find the perfect balance.” It is this utopian ideal, which seeds the idea for Cyber Garden. Capasa describes the scent as “the garden of the future.” The olfactory architect behind the concept is perfumer Antoine Lie, a name that is well established in both the niche and mainstream arenas of perfumery. Cyber Garden amalgamates these two worlds, pairing some easy-to-wear commercial notes and accords with some more experimental, avant-garde ones. Artistic perfumes are often marketed with … Read More »
Mouchoir de Monsieur (Gentleman’s Handkerchief) is one of the many chapters that form the fascinating story of French perfume house Guerlain. While the house’s most significant competitors have dwindled with age or they are no longer recognisable having changed ownership many times, Guerlain is a rare case, producing perfumes that have histories spanning a period of nearly two hundred years. Before 2008, the position of House Perfumer was always occupied by a Guerlain descendant and through this careful guardianship, a family style was established, namely the eponymous Guerlinade – a secret melange of tonka bean, resins, vanilla, bergamot, orris and flower extracts. It is a signature that can be found in almost every Guerlain perfume since Jicky (1889). In addition to this, each generation of Guerlain perfumer had his own individual style and Mouchoir de Monsieur comes from the house’s Belle Epoque era. It was created in 1904 by third generation perfumer, Jacques Guerlain. Although different in terms of olfactory structure, Mouchoir de Monsieur shares a similar dreamy, pastel-tone quality found in Apres L’Ondee (1906) and L’Heure Bleue (1912), which is characteristic of the perfumer’s style before World War I. Mouchoir de Monsieur elaborates on the structure of Jicky, a perfume … Read More »
I am hopelessly sentimental at the best of times and my interest in perfume provides me with endless opportunities to bath in this gooey sentiment. For me, travel is also a passion and often when I smell a fragrance purchased abroad, it has the power to take me back to the places I visited. Experience has taught me that this type of olfactory connection can be unpredictable. I intended Tom Ford’s Neroli Portofino to be my “Moroccan holiday scent” but for whatever reason, images of that trip do not flash before my eyes when I smell this opulent Eau de Cologne-inspired scent. Unintentionally I purchased a bottle of Chanel’s Sycomore during my first trip to New York, 6 years ago. To this day, the smell of Sycomore takes my mind back to that summer holiday. Like the days before digital photography when you never knew what your holiday snaps had captured until the roll of film came back from the developer, it’s after the arrival home when it dawns on me which of the fragrances I was travelling with has made a permanent impression. Last year I was again in New York and interestingly, despite buying numerous bottles of perfume, … Read More »
Iris Prima is the scent of the ballet as imagined by Penhaligon’s. The British perfume house worked with Master Perfumer and last year’s recipient of The Fragrance Foundation’s Lifetime Achievement Award, Alberto Morillas, to recreate the ballet in olfactory form. Conceptual perfumes are often interesting, particularly when the source of inspiration is experienced through one of the human senses other than smell. Such a fragrance can sometimes be too literal, like a garden-inspired fragrance that smells of roses, which wins no merit points for imagination. At the opposite extreme, over-ambitious ideas sometimes translate poorly, resulting in a sense of disconnection. Since Sarah Rotheram took over the role of Penhaligon’s CEO, the brand has developed a knack for storytelling. Whether it is creating an Indian travel story (Vaara -2013) or collaborating with so-hip-right-now London fashion designers Meadham Kirchhoff (Tralala – 2014), Penhaligon’s is telling new stories that reach out to a more diverse audience, breaking its slightly dusty and traditional mould. Another innovation is the slickly produced videos featured on the brand’s Youtube channel. Why rely on traditional media to convey your story when today’s social media puts you in direct contact with potential customers all over the world? I’m enjoying … Read More »
During the past three years that I have been writing about the perfumes I have collected, one of things I enjoy about the process of writing a review is the search for perfume notes that go unmentioned. When perfumes are launched, an olfactory pyramid is released by the perfume house or its marketing department. This is designed to guide the nose through the experience of the new scent’s prominent top, middle and base notes but the triangular diagram omits any mention of the perfume’s minor notes, perhaps to maintain a simple description and to avoid creating confusion. Beyond the pyramid, perfumers use additional notes that discretely shape the more prominent ones. A rose might be given radiance with an overdose of Hedione or given sparkle with a miniature cocktail of aliphatic aldehydes. These less perceivable “modifiers”, in turn, create uniqueness, making one perfumer’s interpretation of a flower, fruit or wood, different from another’s. When it comes to soliflores – French perfumery jargon for a perfume composed around a singular floral theme, I find that close inspection of the minor notes will often reveal a complex structure that parallels the complexity of any other multi-note perfume, debunking the myth that soliflores are simple … Read More »
Marine is an adjective that found its way into our perfume vocabulary during the early 1990s when it was used to describe the era’s refreshing watery, outdoorsy fragrances such as Cool Water and L’Eau d’Issey. Today the term has the same effect on perfume cognoscenti as throwing garlic onto vampires. Expect facial contortions and hissing noises. Why vampires have this reaction to garlic, I do not know, but the reason why many of today’s perfume obsessed are so adverse to this aquatic genre of perfumery is because most of us are still recovering from the thousands of Dihydromercenol and Calone laden fragrances that were launched over the past 15 years. On a side note, I’m curious to see if in another 15 years time, we will have the same seething reaction towards the popular men’s fragrances of today, which rely heavily on molecules such as Norlimbanol, Karanal and Boisambrene Forte for their woody-amber signature? But back to the marine theme- last year my curiosity was tweaked when Hermes announced the launch of a new fragrance called Epice Marine. Jean-Claude Ellena is one of my favourite perfumers and I had all confidence that the Nose of Hermes would not be presenting … Read More »
This week I have been writing about recently launched perfumes, created by Australian perfume house, Grandiflora Fragrance. If you don’t already know something about these perfumes, I recommend reading the posts I published about Magnolia Grandiflora Sandrine and Magnolia Grandiflora Michel, before reading this interview with Saskia Havekes, the author and florist behind Sydney’s Grandiflora brand. Last month I visited Saskia at her address in Sydney’s Potts Point, and below is an excerpt of our conversation about her latest adventure into the world of perfumery.
WMSSL: Flowers to perfumes – it seems like a natural transition but really, it’s not that common right? Tell me how this new adventure started?
Saskia Havekes: I have probably only ever bought myself one fragrance, which was Antonia’s Flowers, many years ago. It was before I worked with flowers and I was living in New York. I found a beautiful little store down in the Village and I’ll never forget finding it, smelling it and thinking that it smelled like a flower shop. Antonia Bellanca was a florist and she lived in the Hampton’s. All of that to me at that age just seemed so glamorous and amazing. And it was such a simple bottle. I … Read More »
* over three days, I am publishing posts about the recently launched perfumes by renowned Australian florist and author, Saskia Havekes. Her brand, Grandiflora, is based in Sydney and a couple of weeks ago, I spent time with her, listening to the story of how she created two perfumes, named after the perfumers who created them. Sandrine and Michel were created with great joy and also great sadness; Sandrine’s creator, perfumer Sandrine Videault, passed away in 2013. Yesterday I began publishing my own thoughts on these two new fragrances. My third blog post, which will be published tomorrow, is an interview with a very candid Saskia, who talked with me about her Scent Adventure into the world of perfumery.
Saskia Havekes now adds fragrance creator to her list of accomplishments. The florist and author had an idea to create a fragrance, which paid homage to her favourite flower and namesake of her business, (magnolia) Grandiflora. New to the world of perfumery, she talked about her idea with one of her clients, perfume expert Michael Edwards, who introduced Saskia to Sandrine Videault, a perfumer that studied under master perfumer, Edmond Roudnitska. Sandrine recalled her teacher saying, “a beautiful perfume is one which gives us … Read More »