Not since Roja Dove's Haute Parfumerie in Harrods' Urban Retreat has there been such a pretty place to discover different perfumes as Jovoy. Founded back in 1923, it was resurrected by François Hénin in 2006 when he reopened on the ritzy Rue de Castiglione in Paris. This was followed by a London store last year (on the equally ritzy Conduit Street) and ever since I keep gravitating back to it.
Jovoy is aptly-named as this place is pretty damn joyful - no exaggeration. With its chic red and black interiors, it's home to a whole host of gorgeous niche brands from far flung corners of the globe. As well as their own perfume line, you can check out high end brands like Aedes de Venustas, Beaufort London, Eight & Bob and Grossmith London, as well as Nejma, Evody and The House of Oud. Together with the perfumes themselves, there are also a number of curiousities for scent lovers to discover - not least several bling-tastic perfume bottles, some of which go for a cool £6000. You can also head downstairs to admire a raw lump of ambergris worth £44k (ambergris is whale phlegm basically, and the most expensive ingredient in perfumery).
This is also one of those rare places where the staff are as lovely as the rest of the shop. I interviewed their store manager Oli for The Perfume Society last year about buying perfume for other people. His response echoed the level of enthusiasm the team have when you go in there, "At Jovoy we’re very blessed to have all kinds of options! We’ve got light, peppy perfumes that are ripe and fresh … dark, heavy perfumes that are leathery and resinous… colourful scents that are hyper floral and bursting with nature… or musky fragrances that stay very close to the skin like a secret, perfuming you without the imposing sillage [the trail a perfume leaves behind]."
He continued, "Coming to a specialist store - like Jovoy - armed with a few key ingredients or descriptive phrases will help the salesperson present you with the right kind of options. For example, if someone pops in asking for a vetiver, I know immediately that I have seven or eight absolutely incredible examples of a perfume that highlights the olfactive traits of that material - but they’re all remarkably different from each other.
"If, however, someone approaches me and says 'I have this friend, right. She’s very demure. She’s into scent. Brunette. She wears a lot of dark clothes. She’s going to be 37 in a week or so. Oh, and I think she used to wear Lalique's Encre Noire…' then I know that I have three perfumes I would recommend explicitly and that, yep, she’s probably gonna love Grenadille d’Afrique from Aedes des Venustas. The more information you can offer will narrow the focus."
The shop has hosted many events since its launch, from the launch of scent magazine NEZ to a new flavour of Hobgoblin ale which saw fragrance maven Lizzie Ostrom (aka Odette Toilette) give a talk about essential oils in hops and their relevance in perfumery and brewing. Probably the most interesting talking point about the store is their fragrance 'fridge', where clients can have bottles custom-filled with fragrance on tap, and choose from a rotating selection of exclusive scents. So if you're after a new signature scent, find out more about the niche perfume world or just want some advice on trying something new, there are worst places to head to. You can thank me later.
Jovoy, 21 Conduit St, Mayfair, London W1S 2XP