During a grey, overcast morning (to match my state of mind), I’m trying one of Floraïku’s scents called First Dream of the Year. It’s a cheery concoction of grapefruit and orange blossom oils, as well as iris concrete absolute as the Floraiku assistant explains, “In Japanese it’s said the first dream of the year is the most important dream, as it indicates how the rest of your year will go. If you dream of egg plants, or the phoenix bird, or Mount Fugi it means you will have a very lucky year ahead of you.”Read More
I have to say, I’m not a huge fan of gourmande scents. If I have to choose between starter and dessert I’m a “chicken satay/prawn dumplings/soup of the day” kind of girl and the same goes for my perfume choices. I wrote a piece recently for the scented letter on my love for salty accords in scent, and although I’m not averse to the occasional sweet floral fragrance or four, the sugar rush a gourmande brings is borderline nauseating.
Or so I thought, until Juliette Has A Gun’s latest concoction was sent to me. The yellow and white bottle is as chip and cheery as an Easter chick. The contents inside are like the olfactory equivalent of a Ladurée macaroon as opposed to a slab of chocolate cake i.e. sweet and delicate enough without being overly sickly.Read More
There’s one designer whose perfumes I’ve always considered the very antidote of a “fashion house fragrance”. You know the sort – a campaign featuring some leggy doe-eyed whippet skipping through a meadow, whispering some inane comment about “being true to myself” whilst the end shot is her staring coquettishly at the camera while clutching the scent bottle. (The contents of which are inevitably some pear and Ylang Ylang blandless…) The same can’t be said for Bella Freud’s punchy, potent concoctions – as one would expect from such a fascinating character coming from such a creative and eccentric family.Read More
What real 'celebrity scents' actually smell like ...Read More
What do Queen Victoria and David Beckham have in common? Well, aside from a fondness for wearing black? Both can be counted among Creed fragrance's many famous fans. Beckham apparently wears Aventus - a bold number which comes swaggering in with patchouli and cedar, it has a loyal following among aspirational modern dandies (to go with their Ferrari F12 and Gucci loafers...). While the Queen Vic was presented with Fleurs de Bulgarie, a voluptuous concoction of Bulgarian rose and musks. Although we might be living in the age of ‘celebrity scent’ – Creed is one of those stunning, hitherto under-the-radar lines that celebrities actually do wear. They were the perfumery responsible for Grace Kelly’s wedding scent: Fleurissimo – as dreamy and feminine as Kelly’s famous ankle skimming skirts, while one of their best-sellers Green Irish Tweed, was originally concocted for Cary Grant.Read More
Patchouli has been given a bad rep over the years – dismissed as a hippie scent, you’re likely to find some form of oil being flogged from every other stall in Camden Market. Indeed, so strong are the connotations, one whiff makes you want to start singing “My Sweet Lord”, tambourine in one hand, spliff in the other.
But in fact, there’s so much more to this humble herb than covering up the smell of hash. It’s present in so many scents, whether nestled among oakmoss and labdanum to form the enveloping base of many chypre fragrances, or having a starring role in many modern classics (Tom Ford’s White Patchouli and La Labo’s stunning Patchouli to name but a few). You’ll know patchouli if you smell some – there’s nothing else quite like it, and the potency is second to none, giving it somewhat of a polarising, “Marmite” quality. We were very lucky to be invited by The Perfume Society to an evening they’d dedicated to exploring the history and use of patchouli – aptly titled “Patchoulimania” – to find out more.Read More
Perfume has changed a whole lot since the end of the 20th Century. Back then it was “celebrity scents” (ugh!) that was the perfume trend of the late nineties/ early noughties. Mass-market scents have taken a backseat as niche perfumery has come to the fore – together with the people responsible for concocting it. With customers wanting to know more information, where their perfume has come from, who has made it and what’s in it etc. the world of fragrance has become a whole lot more exciting and in-depth, offering the consumer a lot more than just a pretty smell and a celebrity marketing campaign.Read More
You can have a bit of a love-hate relationship with London’s department stores. The better known ones can feel a bit like an amusement park: lengthy queues, jostling crowds, bright lights – you get the idea. If you have the energy for all of this it’s great, but these aren’t places you want to frequent for some relaxing retail therapy.
Luckily there are some stores that are the antithesis of all of that – Fenwick’s being one of them. Tucked away on New Bond Street, as opposed to the busting Oxford Street or Knightsbridge, it’s less of a tourist trap and are all the better for it.Read More
The cologne has got a sophisticated update over the years – no longer just the scent equivalent of a cold flannel, they’ve become exquisite concoctions in their own right, with many perfumers giving them more of a punch and greater lasting power than ever before. Few brands do this better than Atelier Cologne, whose scents pack more of a punch than traditional colognes but still retain the same citrus components. Founded by husband and wife Sylvie Ganter and Christophe Cervasel, everything about this perfumery is bright and summery – from the bottles to the store decoration to the beautiful leather perfume holders, which customers can have engraved with their initials.Read More
When it comes to romantic perfumery, things really don't get much better than Lalique. The founder René Lalique is arguably responsible for the jewel-like perfume bottles that surround us today – our dressing tables have a lot to thank him for. He pretty much invented the concept of the “beautiful perfume bottle”, as opposed to the plain, medicinal style vessels fragrance used to be kept in. René was already a world-famed designer (considered the best Art Nouveau jewellery and glassware artisan in the world) before his neighbour Francois Coty approached him to create a bottle to go with one of his fragrances - and the rest is history. Perfume bottles became exquisite keepsakes, that people coveted as much as the contents.Read More
Before I start talking about this gorgeous Ormonde Jayne fragrance, I thought I’d take a brief detour as a nod to Mental Health Awareness Week. I know what you’re thinking – what does something as “frivolous” as fragrance have to do with that? Well, I for one think there’s a lot we can do to keep our own mental health in check, in which scent can play a vital role. (I could write a whole separate article on the mood-transforming powers of essential oils such as lavender, orange blossom and the like, but there are plenty of others that will probably explain it just as well.).Read More
If you're not familiar with Penhaligon's, they're a stunning boutique brand whose heritage stretches back to the 1800s. The scents themselves are equally intriguing - each as unusual and eccentric as the next, with many classic numbers among them (I'd recommend Blenheim Bouquet and Juniper Sling as two must-try-before-you-die concoctions).
Their boutiques are dotted all over the world, not least in London. I was lucky enough to be invited down to their Burlington Arcade branch to try their fragrance profiling service. This is basically match-making the person with their signature scent - and it's a great deal of fun and far better than aimlessly sniffing out the perfect perfume by yourself.Read More
The similarities between fragrance and music have been well documented. (When you think about the compositions of different “notes” and chords - or accords - that work well together, even though there isn’t any precise logic as to why this is.) So it’s understandable why indie fragrance range Jusbox, is inspired by different musical eras. Founded by brother and sister Andrea and Chiara Valdo, previous scents have paid homage to the likes of Bob Dylan and Freddie Mercury. Their latest creation Black Powder is an olfactory tribute to the infamous poster-boy of 90s grunge - Kurt Cobain.Read More
As much as I love Frederic Malle – I have to admit, I wasn’t sure about this latest one. Not that I didn’t like it, but it was so different from Malle's previous outings – where there's normally an intoxicating rose or a spiky citrus that knocks you off your feet (Eau de Magnolia and Lipstick Rose I’m talking about you…) Outrageous created by perfumer Sophie Grojsman (the nose behind YSL Paris, Calvin Klein Eternity and Lalique Lalique plus others) was a bit more … “hmm.” Which is not necessarily a bad thing. It just forces you to think a bit more about them.Read More
When you think of a classic scent from the 1920s, from one of the most famous historic fragrance houses in the world – you’d expect to find it in a select boutique or collectors’ website. You wouldn’t think you’d be able to buy it on the Boots website for just over a tenner … But that is the case with Coty’s L’Aimant. Dismissed as a cheaper version of Chanel No.5 (however many people have been lead to believe it the more expensive of the two in a blind smell tests), this 1927 creation deserves a place in the history books in its own right...Read More
From fresh citrus numbers to rich leathery concoctions to scents that smell like, erm ... roadkill. Les Senteurs boutiques in Marylebone and Belgravia have every possible perfume for every type of gent, presided over by perfume archivist and expert James Craven (one of the nicest chaps in the industry). It’s definitely worth a visit if you’re looking to update yours or your partner’s whiff of choice. We paid James a visit, first speaking about the history of men’s scents (which you can read here) before having a good old sniff around the shop itself with James as our effervescent guide.Read More
We were very sorry to hear of the recent passing of Lawrence James White, owner and founder of Dulwich fragrance boutique Roullier White. We had the pleasure of meeting Lawrence last year as his was the very first shop to be profiled on Scents and the City, and he was kind enough to show us around. In tribute we have reposted the original article.
Less of a perfumery, it's more like a shrine to some of the most exquisite scents from around the world...
If you're looking for something a world away from department store perfume halls, this is the place to visit. A treasure trove of niche, cult brands as well as historic perfumeries, it's a world away from the bland, homogenous 'designer scents' that are all mouth and no trousers.Read More
Luxury perfume off the beaten track ...Read More
A new age style junkie heaven ...
Imagine Edie Sedgwick were to open up a shop - Celestine Eleven probably wouldn't be too far off the mark. A gorgeous mix of high-end fashion, arty tomes, green beauty brands and new age literature, crystals and remedies. Located in Shoreditch (of course) it's the perfect spot for the more sophisticated hipster who is more likely to wear Isabel Marant than traditional vintage garb found in a Dalston car boot sale (although there a few gems to be found there admittedly).Read More
On the hunt for a perfect men's perfume or want to brush up on your knowledge of masculine scent? We return to the beloved perfume boutique Les Senteurs whose archivist James Craven has the definitive guide...Read More