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A few months ago or so, I sat down with iconic perfumer Francis Kurkdjian to chat perfume. This was my second time meeting Francis but my first interviewing him and he was as ever, candid, fun, cheeky and fascinating. You see, I’m a bit of a Kurkdjian fan boy and interviewing the man himself was a bit of a pinch myself moment, after all, I had spent much of misspent youth dancing in gay clubs surrounded by an atomic cloud of Le Mâle, and there I was meeting the very man that made that perfume. As you can tell from the ensuing conversation, he did not disappoint.

It was an interesting time to meet Francis Kurkdjian too – just after the launch of Gentle Fluidity, a duo of fragrances that are inspired by gender fluidity and share the same materials in different proportions. It was also the tenth year of Maison Francis Kurkdjian, his eponymous brand which was acquired by luxury conglomerate LVMH two years prior. Francis and I talked his new fragrances, not fitting in, the innovative products within his Maison and how social media is impacting the beauty industry and his favourite pair of leather trousers – it was an eyeopening discussion.

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In this week’s episode of the Fume Chat podcast, we discuss the fragrance families and ask themselves whether terms like “fougère” and “chypre” are fit for purpose in this day and age. Do they mean anything to consumers? do they represent they way fragrances smell? Are terms like “oriental” offensive? Listen and you’ll find out!

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Warning: I will be saying the word “vibe” an annoying amount of times in this review…

 Vanilla Vibes is the lastest launch from punky French niche brand Juliette Has a Gun. I am a self-confessed Juliette fan – I think what they do is accessible, high quality and whilst they sometimes miss the mark (Not a Perfume, Anyway) they often make interesting, wearable work that offers something different (Sunny Side Up, Gentlewoman, Lady Vengeance). Vanilla Vibes is filed neatly into the interesting camp – a  fresh, mineral take on vanilla that is inspired by festivals in the desert,

I’m always crushing on something scented or other. My nose knows no limits. Candy Crush is where I showcase the beautifully scented things I’m crushing on right now so you can hopefully develop a crush too.

There is a lot of perfume out there, let’s be real. Each year we see about 2,000 new launches which makes it pretty impossible to smell them all – heck, that makes it difficult to even know about them all! So what’s a perfume lover to do? Scour the department stores for what’s good and exciting? Traverse the many corners of the internet to compile a shortlist of things to go out and try? Or maybe there’s another way? Indeed there is – Sniph!

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At the back of my childhood home we had a sprawling piece of land that my parents never really did anything with. At time it was vastly overgrown and my siblings and I would have to beat our way through the undergrowth with big sticks to get to the wooden fort my father made for us – our base where all mischievous schemes were planned. As you can imagine, all of this was tremendous fun and I have vivid memories of us playing in the tall grass and weaving in and out of the rows of cow parsley that stood tall along the borders – long stems exploding like floral fireworks out of the ground.

Cow parsley, or “Queen Anne’s Lace” as it is also know, is the inspiration for Miller Harris’ latest fragrance ‘DANCE Amongst the Lace’, which joins WANDER, LOST and HIDDEN in the brand’s Forage Collection. The idea of the collection is to celebrate the idea of nature existing in urban spaces – the interplay between the natural and the man-made. DANCE aims to capture the “surprising freshness and unique scent of cow parsley” – a plant that is found in many of London’s urban spaces. What they’ve created is an incredibly modern and easy-to-wear fougère that is perfect for summer.

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There is no city on Earth quite like Tokyo. It’s a sprawling metropolis, all clean and orderly, outlined by strips of neon, connected by expansive crossings and filled with more vending machines than anywhere else in the universe. It’s a singular, unique place awash with contrasts, where a fastidious obsession with perfection is the veneer that hides a dark underbelly of strangeness, and even darkness. There is beauty and art aplenty (in Japan, even pouring a cup of tea is an art form), and Dear Reader, the food is just out of this world.

I really do love Tokyo, can you tell? But I’m not the only one – British indie outfit Gallivant appear to be a fan too and they’ve created a fragrance inspired by this most unique city. Gallivant is a brand for “urban explorers” that creates scents inspired by iconic destinations. In their collection of seven fragrances they have traversed the globe, stopping off places such as Amsterdam, Istanbul, Brooklyn and of course, Tokyo. Much like the city – Tokyo the fragrance is my favourite. This review will tell you why.

What I am trying to evoke with this fragrance is that special feeling of early morning Tokyo. The air is humid and misty. Wandering the back streets, electric cables overhead, everything is tranquil and surprisingly quiet – like being in a village with small wooden houses. I also wanted to capture the tastes of izakaya eateries, fruits, spices, wasabi – sour and sweet – a zing on your tongue. The earthy dampness of potted plants outside shrines and wooden temples. It’s refined, spiritual – sandalwood and smoky incense. A calm elegance amid the big city neon energy.

 

– Nick Steward, Gallivant