I’ve had my ups and downs with Creed. The ups have included paying a visit to the beautiful Creed boutique in Mayfair and trying some of their lesser-known concoctions such as Green Irish Tweed and Vetiver. The downs – getting into the BMW of a friend’s new boyfriend (who was driving me and said friend to a house party) and the whole car reeking of their best-selling scent Aventus. You could practically taste it. It was almost as if he’d removed the spray top from the bottle and sloshed it around. But aside from that olfactory assault, I do have a soft spot for this hitherto under-the-radar perfumery, which brings us to the launch of their new scent, Viking at Mr Fogg’s Gin Parlour in Mayfair where Les Senteurs’ perfume archivist and expert James Creed spoke about this latest addition. (Read our interview with him on talking about his favourite men’s scents here.)
“Creed started in London in 1760 just under 260 years ago. They made wonderful equestrian equipment: garments and boots for women on horseback, and later they start making small quantities of bespoke perfumes for their aristocratic customers and later royalty. Queen Victoria introduced them to Princess Eugenie in France, so they crossed the channel, and are based in France to this day. However, even the youngest generation the family have dual passports. They belong to both of us, Brexit or no Brexit!
“Creed are pretty much the original niche fragrance house. What keeps it so special is the immaculate way sourcing is done across the world. Perfumer Olivier Creed has his own favourite materials he likes to work with, like Indian sandalwood which is very difficult to obtain, together with vetiver from the Carribean. He and his son don’t spend their lives stuck in laboratories - they’re touring the world, meeting with suppliers, and checking crop viability. It’s a luxurious perfumery, but still very hands-on. Despite its enormous popularity, Creed scents are still made in a relatively small quantity in Fontainebleau. Everything is still measured and weighed by hand and there’s a lengthy infusion process. There’s no pressure on time, i.e. something has to be designed and bottled and ready within three months. Things are ready when they feel they are ready. Olivier painted for years, so as a perfumer, he often thinks as a painter.
“It’s been 7 years since the huge success that was Aventus launched. This one is Viking. It comes in this wonderful blood red packaging, the colour of the Viking ship sails. This is a gruesome detail but the Vikings used to launch their long-ships – those very shallow long boats that sailed to America – over the living bodies of their captives. The ship set sail in a sea of blood, red of passion. We’re now more civilised with our launches…!
“Olivier loves sailing, he feels the call of the sea he’s always admired the magic and spirit of adventure that possessed the extraordinary Norse men from Scandinavia in the 8th and 9th centuries and sent them voyaging, exploring pillaging and settling all over the world. And he greatly admired their boats, these dragon-ships, they were so shallow they could not only negotiate the Atlantic ocean, but they could sail up the rivers of England, such as the Trent. They could also navigate very shallow waters - and if the rivers dried up, the boats were light enough to be lifted and carried. They built them with the axes that they fought with, and planes to smooth them. So Olivier was very taken with this.
"With Aventus, he created this idea of power, success, perfume for the man who has everything and can do everything. With Viking he’s taken a similar theme but it's more about discovery, ingenuity, changing your lifestyle, changing your circumstances, changing your emotions, forging ahead and finding new territory. It’s very exciting.
“It’s a very powerful fragrance - it’s sophisticated. Although the terminology and the imagery are very masculine, it’s for men and women who are confident, and don’t simply go up to a perfume counter and ask “what should I wear?” It’s for men and women who want something unusual and unique and have the confidence to wear it.
“This scent isn’t for people who ask “am I allowed to wear this to the office? Is it suitable for the holidays?” It’s for people who are almost animal enough to roll in scent! To indulge in it!
“Although I think it will appeal a lot to those in their 20s and 30s, it also has a wonderfully classic quality that will also endear it to more mature wearers. It’s a kind of combination of a chypre and a fougère. You’ve got these elements of the citrus, a wonderful spicy Bulgarian rose in the centre and then you’ve got things like pepper and peppermint. The base is very classic: vetiver, lavender, patchouli and sandalwood. It has the potential to excite and please any age group. I’m one of the more mature people in the room so I can say this - as we get older, our sense of smell depletes, and this is a wonderfully powerful fragrance, so it’ll suit the older market too!
“What I feel it adds, it’s very erotic, very sexy - although there’s not a musk on the list of ingredients, there’s a very musky tone to the dry down. It’s wonderfully different from Aventus, equally outstanding, equally magnetic but in a completely different way. Aventus is clean and woody and shining - while this is much more hot and visceral. It’s a very embraceable scent in a powerful kind of way. Not soft, but it’s got this intense sensuality. There’s the mint from Green Irish Tweed there’s the signature sandalwood. It adds eroticism - it’s very raw and sexy.
“You start off with a typically Creed top accord – with top notes of lemon, bergamot and rosebay (commonly known as pink pepper). In the middle, you’ve got Bulgarian rose, peppercorn and peppermint. And the base is very traditional: sandalwood, patchouli, vetiver and lavender. The top is cool, fresh and sparkling, then you get this sultry, spicy rose spliced in with black pepper and peppermint. You go from menthol-fresh to a very sexy quasi-feminine rose and then the very masculine black pepper and traditional base, it’s dancing about all over the place, striking different associations. That’s that fruity/musky inherent quality you get in a damask Bulgarian rose, very musky. Think of something like Murray Mints, there’s often a buttery, creaminess with peppermint, with that you get the steaminess coming from that sandalwood oil and that gives it tremendous sex appeal!”
Viking by Creed is available at £185 for 50ml at creedfragrances.co.uk