I’ve started a new series of Reels over on instagram, in which I intend to take you around some of my favourite places to shop for perfume in London. My first destination is Perfumer H. Located on Crawford Street in the heart of Marylebone, Perfume H is a wonderful, hidden-gem of a boutique created by perfumer Lyn Harris (formerly of Miller Harris) with an intriguing concept. Head to my instagram to watch the Reel and join me on my tour of Perfumer H, or watch it below the jump. I smell ya later at the next destination!
Amy Winehouse was a tremendous talent. Her voice (that voice!) was unlike any other and she crossed the genres, traversing jazz and r&b, to create her own unique sound – the sound of Amy. I remember hearing her for the first time – my boyfriend at the time (now my husband) played me the song ‘Take the Box’, in which Amy implores her ex-lover to pack up the shit he bought her, put it in a box and go on his merry way. Her humour, pain, and power all came through in that song – with that voice. I hadn’t heard anything like it and sadly, won’t hear it again.
Amy did the unconventional – she became the voice of a generation with just two albums. These albums, her jazzy debut ‘Frank’ and her insolent, pain-soaked sophomore effort ‘Back to Black’ are opposing works but each are iconic in their own right. Speaking of icons, Jusbox is a brand that takes inspiration from titans of music – from decades and artists, so it’s no surprise that Amy Winehouse is the feature of their 13th fragrance: the pink rose of Siren & Sailors. It is Amy’s haunt, the bohemian Camden Town in London, that provides inspiration for this olfactory tale – the story of a beautifully voice siren who enchanted those who heard her sing.
One can accuse the perfume industry of many things, but one cannot call it unproductive. There are now over 2,000 launches per year and it feels almost as if a new brand comes into being every single day. Now, I’m not sure how I feel about all this olfactory noise – part of me thinks the more the merrier, after all, it’s exciting to smell new things all of the time. But the other half – the grumpy cynical half (sometimes he’s not a half and verges on a whole, I’ll be honest) – thinks that all this noise makes it difficult to discern what is good or not. How can one find the magic needle in all that hay? Sometimes it’s hard.
Perfume brands come from all sorts of places; from perfumers who want to go it alone and perfume fanatics who stumble into the industry wide-eyed and ambitious. My cynical side tells me to include the fact that brands can also come from entrepreneurs who have no passion for the subject but an eye for making money too, so let’s indulge him for a moment. In my experience though, the brands that work most successfully are those that come from people who are passionate about perfume (whoever they may be, perfumers, industry insiders or outsiders) but also understand the realities of the industry and retail. Ostens is one such brand – it comes from two industry veterans, two people that not only love perfume, but understand it too – two people who understand the challenges consumers have relating to perfume and have crafted a brand that makes it both accessible and experimental.
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.
Les Senteurs is a landmark. It’s not just a perfume boutique, it’s THE perfume boutique. For perfume lovers it’s not just a destination for the best niche brands out there, it’s an institution of the perfume world. The selection of perfumes at Les Senteurs is finely curated and since the boutique opened its doors in 1984 (they’ve been around longer than I’ve been alive!) they’ve been responsible for many ‘firsts’, being the first boutique to stock a number of brands in the UK, such as Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle. So Les Senteurs is an important pin on London’s perfume map, but it’s also a joyful experience – a tranquil haven where one can browse beautiful scents in peace with expert guidance.
You’re probably wondering why I’m just now, crushing on a perfume boutique that has been in existence since 1984 and it’s true, my crush on Les Senteurs has been holding strong since my very first visit 10 or so years ago. But I crush especially hard today because Les Senteurs has just had a bit of a facelift and I have to say, for 34 years old, Les Senteurs is looking damn fine. The Seymour Place boutique has now closed, which leaves the original store in Elizabeth Street as the flagship, in which the flag for niche fragrance is flown gracefully and proudly.
Instead of a Christmas gift guide this year, I’m switching out my regular Candy Crush posts for just as regular Christmas Crushes instead. In these posts over the coming weeks you’ll find some wonderfully scented gifts just in time for the holiday season, with products that I am crushing on. So get ready for some marvellous Christmas gift inspiration!
The theme at Penhaligon’s this season is ‘Christmas is in the Air’ and with this Christmassy concept they are mixing the two things that make their identity so unique: tradition and eccentricity. Their golden packaging is accented by beautiful red ribbons, with what appears to be a rather traditional, Victorian scene as the illustration. Look closer though, and the signature quirk of Penhaligon’s is revealed! Carriages driven by birds and flying clocks lead one to remember that the world of Penhaligon’s is a topsy turvy one, and that’s what makes it so wonderful to explore!
This Christmas, Penhaligon’s have curated a fine selection of gifts for any of those eccentric beauties in your life. There’s perfume aplenty, with gorgeous sets and mini-collections amongst their expansive collection of scent. There’s even a special home fragrance for this year, not to mention many other quirky things to love. So in this extravaganza of a Christmas Crush post I’m brining you a veritable feast of Penhaligon’s gifts to hopefully inspire your present-buying this holiday season. With any luck we’ll have ticked some people off your gift list by the end of the post no problem.
I’ve never had the opportunity to visit the Jovoy boutique in Paris, but by all accounts it is an essential spot for any perfume-loving person – a true destination for a wide rage of beautifully scented things. Well now us Brits no longer need to travel across the channel to visit Jovoy because the store has come to our shores, and last week the brand new Jovoy boutique in Mayfair, London had its (very) grand opening.
‘Grand’ is actually a great way to describe Jovoy Mayfair but at the same time, this grandness (and luxury) comes with a friendly, approachable attitude that is inviting to all. Jovoy offers a lot but it also feels spacious and open. It’s luxurious without being gaudy and quirky without being gimmicky, presenting a new fragrant shopping experience in a city filled to the brim with perfume. Read on to find out more about Jovoy Mayfair.
The best brands are those that disrupt the industry in some way, big or small. These brands bring a new perspective to a world that, at times, relies on the same formulaic methods of making and marketing scent. Unique voices are always welcome, especially when their olfactory exploits are in tune with the distinctiveness of their vision. Atelier Cologne is one such brand and they’ve always done things a little bit differently – most notably building their vision around an entirely new olfactive style: the Cologne Absolue.
Atelier Cologne was started by Sylvie Ganter & Christophe Cervasel. After meeting in 2006 and falling in love, Ganter and Cervasel realised that they shared a love for the classic Eau de Cologne and set out to create a line of fragrances that boasted the character of this style but with the longevity it often lacked. The result is the Cologne Absolue – Eau de Colognes that wear like Pure Parfums. Atelier Cologne was birthed from this idea and now the brand, which recently sold to L’Oreal, has points of sale all across the world. It’s a modern day success story – one that is a testament to the quality and artistry of the brand’s unique style.
Recently I was invited to experience Atelier Cologne’s new boutique in Covent Garden, London. Having only ever tried a handful of scents from the collection (all of which I had enjoyed) I jumped at the chance to get to know Atelier Cologne a little bit better. What I discovered was a finely curated collection of scents all with an inimitable personality that captures the essence of worldly voyages and timeless romances, all with a free-spirited and care-free disposition. The Covent Garden boutique is a little treasure trove of loveliness and as you will learn through this post, it provides quite the unique perfume shopping experience.
Penhaligon’s is the most British of perfumeries. They take tradition and eccentricity and smush them both together in a cocktail that is undeniably British in every way, shape and form. Over recent years, Penhaligon’s have moved away from the stuffy, the prim and the proper to celebrate the quirkier sides of British life, launching eccentric scents inspired by gin (Juniper Sling), furs (Tralala), lady thighs (Amaranthine) and most recently, a fictitious aristocratic family (Portraits). They are a brand that manages to have fun with fragrance whilst making it a serious business at the same time. It’s fair to say that I’m a fan.
I like to think I’m relatively familiar with the offerings at Penhaligon’s but I must admit that I’m not too in touch with their many recent fragrances (they are busy bees it must be said) and i’ve admittedly spent hardly any time with their classic, earlier creations. What’s more, I’ve never really had a formal introduction to the line so I snapped up the opportunity to pop in to Penhaligon’s for a Fragrance Profiling session. I wondered what they would pick for me. Would it be something I love already, or would it be something new and exciting – or maybe it would be an undiscovered classic? My curiosity got the better of me, so off to Penhaligon’s I went…
Burlington Arcade is London’s unofficial perfume destination. Its 196 yards host the likes of Penhaligon’s, Lalique, Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle, CHANEL, Doja Rove and By Kilian, making it an essential stop for any London tourist that is partial to a bit of perfume. The dainty Georgian promenade is a perfume-lovers paradise and quite organically offers a unpretentious, calm and accessible atmosphere that is seldom found in the city’s many department stores, which are so often crowded centres of anxiety, pushy sales people and too much perfume (if such a thing exists).
I was invited to Burlington Arcade to visit By Kilian’s only standalone boutique in the UK (they also have a boutique in Harrods’ Salon de Parfums) for a tour of the brand’s many scented options. Now, By Kilian is a brand that I feel that I’ve had limited exposure to. I remember being intrigued by some of the fragrances within the initial collection, which at the time of launch, seemed so different to anything else that was out there in niche. Since my initial exploration of By Kilian, the brand has exploded, offering a whopping 38 fragrances, home fragrance options and scented jewellery. Obviously I had some catching up to do so with my super-knowledgeable By Kilian rep as my guide, I got stuck right in.
The district of Peckham in south-east London isn’t the first place that springs to mind when one thinks of the house CHANEL, but that’s exactly where the world’s most famous couturier decided to host a five-day pop-up scent installation inspired by their fragrances. The location was chosen because it is home to the studio of Es Devlin, the Stage Designer picked by CHANEL for their first collaboration with i-D under their ‘The Fifth Sense’ partnership.
Es Devlin creates “kinetic sculptures meshed with light” and is famous for piecing together elements of the London 2012 Olympic Closing Ceremony, Béyonce’s Formation World Tour (having created a gigantic “monolith” of a video screen for the tour), Adele’s BRIT Awards performance of “When We Were Young”and pretty much all of Kanye West’s performances in recent years. With such an illustrious and frankly fascinating body of work, it’s no surprise that Es was the perfect artist to work with for CHANEL’s very first pop-up scent installation.
Entitled ‘Mirror Maze’ this installation takes themes of navigation, gravity and memory, and links them to fragrance. The physical aspect sees a mirrored maze reminiscent of Coco Chanel’s famous mirrored staircase intertwined with video installations and soundscapes. Fragrance comes into play in the form of a specially-created scent crafted by CHANEL in-house Perfumer, Olivier Polge – a fragrance that scents a special space within the installation. The fragrance and installation (which closed yesterday) will last for five days, after which they will only exist as memory.
“I began to think about scent as a means of finding my way and measuring myself – not in space but through time. I thought about the smells that take me back – burning street tar, Vicks inhaler, Christmas tree resin, freshly cleaned school corridors, printer ink, chlorine, sunscreen, baby milk, mosquito coils, Indian jasmine mixed with street cooking, diesel – and I began to see them as landmarks for who I was when I first and last smelled it.”
– Es Devlin