Aesop is undeniably one of Australia’s most successful exports in the beauty industry. When Melbourne hairdresser Dennis Paphitis founded Aesop in 1987, he began by mixing essential oils into his colour treatments. He believed the concept could be taken further and he employed the help of a chemist to formulate a simple line of hair and body products. The premise of his line was the same, using fewer but better quality botanical ingredients. This ethos still holds true and today the brand is renowned for its natural grooming products, simple design aesthetics and unique retail spaces. Aesop is a praiseworthy example of how successful small businesses can grow into global brands without losing the unique identity they were founded on. I remember Aesop’s first retail store, which opened in 2004, the same year I moved to Melbourne from New Zealand. It was around the corner from my apartment in St Kilda. Sandwiched between a bakery and The Prince of Wales pub, I remember the long corridor-like store getting attention from pedestrians and weekend brunchers. The store’s employees would leave an aromatic hand balm tester just outside their door and a scent trail of essential oils wafting down Carlisle Street drew … Read More »
Amouage’s Library Collection is Christopher Chong at his most experimental. When I interviewed him in Sydney last year he described the collection as being his “couture.” As Amouage’s Creative Director of nine years, Christopher recently adjusted the brand’s compass and all new perfumes now include a more personal narrative. The next “cycle” emerged last year with the release of Journey Man and Journey Woman, and Opus IX is the first Library Collection perfume to imbibe the brand’s new spirit. Naturally my interest was piqued to smell Amouage couture reborn.
To create Opus IX, Christopher collaborated with Firmenich perfumers Nathalie Lorson and Pierre Negrin. Both perfumers come with impressive resumes and Negrin is no stranger to the brand having engineered a number of Amouage perfumes prior to Opus IX. This ninth Opus draws from Christopher’s passion for Opera. It is an art form that influenced Christopher’s perfumes before the Journey duo; the former student of opera dedicated Honour Woman to Madama Butterfly. The way Amouage perfumes are constructed could also be described as operatic with their rhythmic olfactory punctuation that separates notes into clearly defined scenes. Linear is not part of the Amouage vocabulary. The story of Opus IX is told in three scenes that form classic head, heart … Read More »
In April 2013 I published my first post about Arquiste perfumes, which was a review of L’Etrog, a perfume from the brand’s initial collection. Arquiste’s founder, Carlos Huber, was in Australia at the time and we talked about his brand’s story. Story telling is one of the elements I love about what Carlos does. Through the medium of modern perfumery, each Arquiste perfume takes its wearer on a journey through space and time. L’Etrog was set in the Mediterranean amongst the citron groves of medieval Calabria. The year was 1175. Collaborating with Rodrigo Flores-Roux and Yann Vasnier, two of Givaudan’s leading perfumers, Carlos made a perfume about the annual harvest of Calabrese citron fruit. It is a region of Italy that is famous for the quality of citrus fruit it produces. Bergamot from Calabria is of particular importance to the perfume industry. Using a number of Italian citrus oils, Arquiste’s L’Etrog showcased the natural beauty of this region. During these medieval harvests, farmers built temporary cabins out of branches and palm fronds. Here they slept before rising early in the morning to collect the harvest fruit. L’Etrog used woody notes to reference the palm frond cabins and a novel date fruit accord referenced a … Read More »
A decade on, Jean-Claude Ellena continues his work as Perfumer of Hermes. His mandate from the luxury French brand has always been to launch a new scent when he feels ready. In the time-pressured world of fashion and beauty, it is unusual for perfumers to have this level of freedom in their work. Cuir d’Ange is the 11th Hermessence perfume. Speaking with press last year when the perfume launched, Jean-Claude Ellena spoke about it being an idea he developed over a period of 10 years. When he was recruited in 2004, he visited a room in the Hermes atelier where leather is laid out in storage. It is a place where precious hides, tanned by master tanners, are stored in a controlled environment. Here they await transformation into some of the world’s finest leathergoods. He was enamoured by the scent of the tanned leather, which to his surprise smelled of flowers. Ellena often draws parallels between his work and the work of other artists. On this occasion, he drew a link to the world of literature and the words of writer Jean Giono, who in his autobiography, described his father working in his cobbler’s workshop, “making shoes in angel leather … Read More »
Launching this weekend at Esxence, Milan’s annual niche fragrance event, Pichola is the sixth perfume from Neela Vermeire Creations. Last year I interviewed Paris-based Neela. We talked about the perfume house she founded in 2012 that is an olfactory celebration of her Indian heritage and culture. Working with French perfumer Bertrand Duchaufour, Neela tells India’s rich and complex story by dedicating each fragrance to a particular time or place that has inspired her. For this latest perfume, the inspiration came to Neela when she attended a wedding anniversary in Udaipur nearly two years ago. I didn’t attend Esxence this year, so Neela kindly sent me a sample of Pichola and we exchanged some words so that I could delve deeper into the story behind her latest creation.
Pichola is everything I expect from Neela Vermeire Creations. Working with Bertrand, the pair has created a strong olfactory identity for Neela’s brand. When I interviewed Bertrand about his work as L’Artisan Parfumeur’s resident perfumer, he told me that he does not accept design requests from clients if they impose budget restrictions on the formula. Although Bertrand uses synthetic ingredients in all of his work, an aesthetic necessity of modern perfumery, I smell a lot of … Read More »
Last week I published an interview with B. Kristian Malbrum, the Norwegian founder of a new line of niche perfumes called Malbrum Parfums. Of the three extrait de parfums I discussed with Kristian, Tigre du Bengale was my favourite and I was grateful to add a bottle of it to my personal perfume collection. Aside from simply liking the way it smells, I was intrigued by the unconventional process Kristian followed to create these fragrances with French perfumer Delphine Thierry. Kristian told me that his starting point for a new perfume was the raw materials. He began without a concept, design brief or story. The perfume’s title and story came after the fragrance took form. For Tigre du Bengale, he wanted to explore the boundaries between spices and leather in a fragrance. Within that journey, the idea of a Bengal tiger’s skin and what that would smell like began to interest him. The spices he had selected for his composition related to the Bengal tiger’s homeland given they were all spices used to flavour Bengali cuisine. As the formula evolved, Kristian sensed the erogenous aspect of the fragrance. When I spoke with him he laughed and said, “The first thing that came to my mind … Read More »
This week at Esxence in Milan, newcomer Malbrum Parfums will unveil three new fragrances titled Volume 1. Founded in Norway by entrepreneur and scent artist, B. Kristian Malbrum, the collection is an interesting mix of Kristian’s unique Nordic style and French perfumer Delphine Thierry’s classically trained nose for detail and construction. I first met Kristian through Facebook. Since then, we have exchanged the occasional message over the months, discussing raw materials. At the start of the year he messaged me to say his first collection was complete and he asked if I would like to be among the first people to sample his finished work. Knowing he created his perfumes in collaboration with Delphine Thierry, I was naturally curious. I’m a big fan of the fragrances she created for Lubin and Rive Sud Interior. After smelling the Malbrum perfumes and Skyping with Kristian this weekend, we both agreed that his fragrances have Delphine’s signature as a perfumer. I also think Kristian’s rogue influence creates interesting dynamics in all three perfumes, which is one of the reasons why I like his collection so much.
Kristian’s interest in perfume began at the age of 8, when he convinced his grandmother to take him to a … Read More »
Almost a year and a half has past since I’ve written anything about Puredistance, one of Netherland’s premier niche perfume houses. This is because the brand has been quietly working on a new fragrance. In previous posts I interviewed Puredistance founder, Jan Ewoud Vos, and I explored his collection of Pure Perfume Extraits. My favourite is Puredistance M, a spicy leather-chypre created in collaboration with perfume guru Roja Dove. In late 2013 I was part of a group of bloggers invited to write about the launch of Puredistance BLACK. Earlier this month I received another package of precious cargo from Puredistance HQ containing the result of their past years work – Puredistance WHITE. The new fragrance will be previewed this week at Esxence in Milan ahead of the perfume’s official launch on April 20.
Great design often takes time and in this fast-paced world we live in, time is a luxury that many brands are willing to sacrifice. Luxury is at the core of the Puredistance ethos. Together with perfumer Antoine Lie, they worked for a year to refine and perfect the formula for WHITE. Lie is also the engineer behind Puredistance BLACK, so for me it is interesting to smell the two together … Read More »
Last year when Creed launched its new Acqua Originale collection of fragrances in Australia, I had the opportunity to speak with Erwin Creed who was in Sydney for the collection’s launch. We spoke about his role in the family business, a business that spans seven generations, going back to the mid 18th century. With perfume being the family’s primary activity, Erwin’s father, Olivier Creed currently holds the title of Creed’s Master Perfumer. Eventually this title will pass to Erwin, who currently oversees global distribution of his family’s perfumes. Although he has already authored perfumes for Creed, Erwin’s perfumer training is ongoing. He says he needs to learn how to think like his father, to understand how he creates perfumes. There is no fixed timeline for Erwin to succeed his father and his current training involves interning with a variety of perfume companies to learn the various aspects of his father’s role.
Asked to describe Creed in three words, he smiles and says decisively, “family, respect and quality.” Erwin goes on to say that quality of the raw materials Creed uses is very important. Part of his training is learning about different distillation processes and quality control so he can safe guard the … Read More »
Vetiver has been one of my favourite perfume notes for many years. Personal highlights from my collection include Chanel’s smoky Sycomore, The Different Company’s salty Sel de Vetiver, Christian Dior’s coffee-infused Vetiver, Frederic Malle’s Parisian Vetiver Extraordinaire and Guerlain’s archetypal Vetiver. I could go on listing more. When I heard Creed was launching a new vetiver fragrance to join its existing Original Vetiver, my interest was perked. Vetiver Geranium is part of Creed’s recently launched Acqua Originale collection, a series of five fragrances that have the freshness and radiance of eau de cologne with the tenacity of a more concentrated eau de parfum. Each fragrance is a short and focused essay, exploring raw materials gathered from around the world by Master Perfumer, Olivier Creed. The island of Java, one of the perfumer’s favourite destinations in Indonesia, inspired Vetiver Geranium. I was introduced to the Acqua Originale fragrances by Erwin Creed who was in Sydney for the collection’s Australian launch in December. As the son of Olivier Creed, Erwin is pegged to take over the family business when his father retires, placing him seventh in a family line of perfumers since Creed was established in 1760. Although his training to become a Master Perfumer continues, … Read More »