When one thinks of cologne - traditionally a citrus perfume with a light concentration of essential oils - you might think of something pleasant, nondescript and lemony My first encounter with it was on holiday in Turkey aged 12, one of the passengers on our bus generously offered a bottle of it around to combat the sweltering heat of about 30 people crammed into a 15-seater. Popular in Victorian times, the cologne was designed to provide a fresh burst to ‘mop up’ any sweat and counterbalance any heat-induced whiff...
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.
Their boutiques are in Paris, Nolita and Brookyn and they have recently opened up in Covent Garden, so we headed down in the balmy May sunshine to have a sniff around.
As well as the more traditional citrus colognes – the newly launched Clementine California (a grown up equivalent to The Body Shop’s beloved tangerine lip balm), their hugely successful Orange Sanguine and the bright sparkly Bergamot Soleil (all smelling like bottled summer, lazy afternoons posing by the swimming pool), there are other collections, which are the brand’s interpretation of popular scent notes. Try Jasmine Angelique – with Sicilian lemon, Somalian incense and a good glug of Egyptian jasmine, the latter one of the sexiest ingredients in perfumery. The delicately beautiful Mimosa Indigo with lilac, saffron and musk is another winner. And on the richer side of things Tobacco Nuit envelops the wearer in a spicy, smoky fug. Basically it’s not exaggeration to say there’s something for every type of perfume lover, from signature all-day scents to dazzling evening numbers and everything in between.
The shop is no less spectacular – it has the look of a traditional atelier with a cheery Mid-Century Modern vibe. Gorgeous touches include vintage paraphernalia (a bright orange typewriter, old-fashioned cameras and miniature bicycle to note a few) and retro-inspired floral wallpaper, together with a workstation where one’s leather perfume case can be personalised with metallic lettering. All housed among the historic arches of the Covent Garden piazza, it’s a great choice of location – that I imagine will be popular with the area’s many tourists, perfume fanatics and locals alike.
Atelier Cologne is located at 11, The Market Building (Covent Garden Piazza), London WC2E 8RA
020 7836 7353 / www.ateliercologne.com