Today Berlin stands as one of the world’s foremost production sites of contemporary art. In 2005 it became the first continental European city to be named a City of Design by UNESCO and Berlin produces one of the most popular biennials on the global arts calendar. Berlin’s creativity spans across various media from photography to music, where artists like Kraftwerk pioneered a new genre of electronic audio. In recent years, German perfumery has taken a seat of prominence in a creative field that has traditionally been dominated by the French. Perfumers such as Geza Schoen and Mark Buxton (British/German) are talked about in the media, and perfume brands such as Escentric Molecules and Biehl Parfumkunstwerke are extending their global reach. On a recent trip to New York, I discovered another German perfume line called J.F Schwarzlose Berlin, which is sold by Aedes de Venustas in Greenwich Village. Although the Schwarzlose name has existed in perfumery for well over a century, the brand has a unique position, offering contemporary perfumes that link back to Germany’s perfumed past.
The J.F. Schwarzlose Story:
The story of J.F. Schwarzlose begins in 1856 when piano-maker Joachim Friedrich Schwarzlose opens a drugstore for his four children, Max, Franz, Hedwig … Read More »
Soho and Greenwich Village are some of my favourite areas of New York City. Unlike Upper Manhattan where life takes place behind doors, dutifully guarded by doormen and concierges, downtown life is much more visible on the street. Down in Soho, life pulsates to the vibrant rhythm of clacking high heels on pavement as women of all ages and nationalities shop their way from one designer boutique to the next. Soho is the perfect place to perch in a café window and watch as life unfolds around you. North west of Soho, Greenwich Village works at a slower pace. At the turn of the 20th century the Village was a bohemian enclave and provided affordable accommodation to the city’s great writers and artists. Then came the beatniks and later, musicians and songwriters inhabited the area’s tenement buildings. The Village’s bohemian past still lingers, even if Bleeker Street has been gentrified and today’s real estate prices prevent anyone without a sizable income from calling the Village home. Sprinkled between Bleeker Street’s international designer residents you can still find the odd record store selling second hand vinyl and vintage clothing boutiques.
I started this Scent Adventure at the Magnolia Bakery on Bleeker Street. … Read More »
Akkad is my personal favourite from the trio of perfumes known as Lubin’s Talismania Collection. The perfume takes its name from the Mesopotamian city Akkad, which dates back more than 2000 years before Christ. Archaeologists are still unsure of the ancient city’s exact coordinates and place it somewhere along the banks of the Euphrates River in modern day Iraq. Akkad’s most famous sovereign was Sargon, a powerful and mythical leader who unified Mesopotamia during the 55 years he ruled (2334 to 2279 BC).
Sargon’s mother was a priestess and needed to bear her son in secret. Unable to keep the child, she placed her newborn in a basket made of bulrushes and set him adrift on the Euphrates River. The parallels between this story and the story of Moses are uncanny. Aqqi, a royal gardener found the infant amongst the river marshes and raised him as his own. Under the watchful eye of the goddess Ishtar, young Sargon succeeded the king, establishing his seat of power in Akkad.
Ishtar, the Goddess of Love and War, had a reputation for being fickle with her lovers and often treated them cruelly. The only man that was able to maintain the goddess’s affection was Sargon … Read More »
For Lubin’s Talismania Collection the house took leave from Paris and set off on three intrepid journeys, which resulted in new Lubin perfumes for 2012, Korrigan, Akkad and Galaad. The binding thread that weaved these different experiences together was not one of geography, nor were these perfumes linked by the use of a common perfume ingredient or note. Instead, each perfume had its own distinctive signature, built around the stories of ancient mystics. Korrigan was the most playful of the three. The name was borrowed from the mischievous elf-like creature passed down as ancient Celtic legend. Korrigans were mythical fairies, said to have inhabited moors and wooded areas of Brittany, Ireland, Scotland and Wales. They could shape-shift and used magic to bring men under their spell. It was supposed that a Korrigan was originally a pagan druidess. Men, if you have read this far, I should reassure you that this is not a perfume designed to make you smell like a fairy! The inspiration behind the perfume came from the magical beverages Korrigans were said to have made. Their pagan festivities required many scented potions distilled from harvested spices, flowers and seeds. These potions became offerings during the Gaelic festivals … Read More »
When I began collecting perfume my main aim was to find ones that I simply enjoyed wearing. When I began writing What Men Should Smell Like I became interested in the stories behind perfumes. This helped me discover many of the historic houses and their perfumes, most of which were not no longer popular with someone of my age but I enjoyed their old-world charm. I learned that the first perfume I wore, Yves Saint Laurent’s Pour Homme, belonged to the fougere family of fragrances. This led me to discover the original 19th and 20th century fougeres and houses such as Houbigant and Guerlain. For me, perfume history was like a jig saw puzzle. Fitting one piece into the puzzle led to the discovery of the next piece. I read about the French Court of Marie Antoinette and her perfumer Jean-Louis Fargeon. This story led me to Lubin. Pierre-Francois Lubin was a student of Fargeon and I read of how the perfumer went on to establish a successful career in Paris, making Lubin one of the most prestigious names in early 19th century perfumery. The brand experienced continued success into the 20th century but was in serious decline by the … Read More »