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.
Visiting their boutique on the well-heeled district of Mount Street in Mayfair, you might feel a bit of the celebrity sparkle yourself. There are polished glass surfaces wherever you look (that no doubt requires someone’s endless blood, sweat and tears to stay sparkling) and stunning bottle displays that wouldn't look out of place in the V&A. If you’re after a ‘special occasion’ scent, whether it’s a wedding (‘Love in White’ is apparently the current bridal scent du jour), divorce, anniversary or milestone birthday, this is the place is what the delights of buying perfume were made for.
Downstairs is the lounge where various creations are sampled until you settle on The One. Long-lasting and enveloping – these aren’t necessarily understated or directional perfumes in the manner of Byredo or Etat Libre D’Orange, but exquisite nonetheless (scent snobs be damned). The company is still a family affair, which has been in business since 1760. They started out solely on bespoke scents before branching out to bring their olfactory treasures to the masses. it’s still a labour of love with father and son Olivier and Erwin as the ‘noses’ at the helm since 1985. Hence they don’t enlist guest perfumers in the style of Penhaligon’s or Frederic Malle - which you might argue could take the brand in new and colourful directions. Yet these are still show-stopping feats of perfumery. And as the saying goes, “if it aint’ broke…”
“It’s got vetiver as the spine of it, but there's an awful lot more to this one. There’s a minty quality and a transparent musky quality, the sandalwood and almost a certain slightly edible note about it. Slightly salad-y even! It goes off in a lot of directions, it’s not scary, not threatening but very far from straightforward. It was enormously successful when it came out – it got dominated by Aventus and got forgotten a bit, but it’s always been a top seller with Creed.
“That’s why it’s a very good intro point to the Creed scents, then you can build up from this. When I was training for Creed, I discovered that they’re big glowing complicated scents and if you jump in too fast, it’s getting people to run before they can walk. Whereas the Vetiver I think is reassuring and delightful.”
Elsewhere, on the more feminine side, there is Vanisia, a ‘power dressing’ scent from the 80s (the kind you’d wear with a McQueen camel coat and stiletto thigh-high boots). Featuring Bulgarian rose, vanilla and sandalwood, it smells unashamedly expensive. You can imagine it’s the kind of scent that would have gone down well with some of Creed’s famous clients including Empress Eugénie of France and Queen Christina of Spain.
To summarise - the Creed boutique is dazzling no-holds-barred luxury perfume shopping at its best. So instead of merely grabbing a bottle of Aventus, we suggest you head down here and sniff out some of their lesser-known gems - of which there are many. Your nose will thank you for it.
Creed is located at 99 Mount St, Mayfair, London W1K 2TF (nearest tube: Bond Street)