- Luxury niche brands are being more innovative than ever with new combinations and directional branding, whilst classic scents continue to have a loyal following. Emma Spedding looks at six fragrances for the traditionalist, the dandy and the daring, with photography by Janne Tuunanen
Left to right: Maison Francis Kurkdijan, ‘OUD’ and Floris ‘Palm Springs’. Aqua di Parma ‘Prestige Edition’
Francis Kurkdijan gives a contemporary twist to the tradition of French perfumery. The French Armenian perfumer started his career trying to recreate Marie-Antoinette’s perfume, revisiting the origins of perfumery in the early 17th century.
Francis Kurkdjian has created fragrances for Lanvin, Narciso Rodriguez, Gautier and Dior, and created his own boutique Maison Francis Kurkdijan in Paris in 2009.A stone’s throw from the Tuileries and Place Vendome, the Maison is timeless and elegant. Kurkdijan’s smoky glass bottle with its opulent gold dome cap is the perfect container for his luxurious, deep Oud.
Oud is an oriental fragrance that comes from the wood of Agar and is valued for it’s complex, rich scent. It has been widely neglected but has recently been revisited by niche perfumery houses.Francis Kurkdijan’s Oud is rich and luxurious, and is a modern interpretation of ancient Arabian perfumes. He sourced his Oud from Laos, South East Asia, where it is purest and most expensive.
Francis Kurdijan’s Oud is enriched with woody, spicy notes of cedar wood, patchouli, saffron and elemi gum. It is a bold and daring scent, which some have compared to strong smelling cheese.
Floris was founded in 1730 at 89 Jermyn Street in St James’, London and has made some of the country’s most prestigious scents. They created Rose Geranium for Marilyn Monroe in 1959 and Sir Ranulph Fiennes took No 89 to the Arctic.
Spencer Hart Palm Springs is the reconstruction of a classic Floris fragrance from the 1950s, created to capture theessence of Palm Springs. In this bespoke blend citrus top notes are set against carnation, lavender and ylang ylang with amber, musk, sandalwood and vanilla base notes.
The fragrance is designed to express the originality of Spencer Hart, the Saville Row Tailors. Designer Nick Hart creates elegantand understated menswear that encapsulates Palm Springs glamour.
Between the 1930-50s the desert city was an oasis for Hollywood stars, including Elvis, Frank Sinatra, Marilyn Monroe, Truman Capote and Steve McQueen.
Join Spencer Hart’s 21st century Rat Pack with this clean yet smoky fragrance.
Acqua di Parma’s Eau de Cologne was created in 1916 to scent handkerchiefs, the finishing touch to every Italian gentleman’s attire. The cologne was created for the court of the Gongaza family in Parma, in response to the German dominated cologne market. German cologne was intense compared to Acqua di Parma’s fresh, citrus scent of the Mediterranean. Acqua di Parma’s signature fragrance Colonia was created in the 1930s and is a symbol of Italian elegance. Hollywood fell in love with Colonia and it was worn by stars such as Humphrey Bogart, Ava Gardener, Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn.
Colonia Intensa was launched in 2007 and is more masculine than their signature Colonia. It is a mix of citrus and spice, containing lemon, myrtle, bergamot, ginger, cardamom, cedar, leather and musk. Their fragrances are still created entirely by hand.
The New Prestige Colonia Intensa was crafted to celebrate the success of Colonia Intensa and the cap of the bottle is made of two signature materials, wenge wood and bronze metal. Each cap is handmade and takes twelve hours to make.
Left to right: Byredo
‘Mr Marvellous’, CB I Hate Perfume ‘M #4 A Room With a View’, Le Labo ‘Tubereuse 40’
This Stockholm based fragrance house was founded in 2006 by Ben Gorham. Byredo has an understated approach to fragrance with an emphasis on quality and luxury materials.
The perfumes are manufactured in Sweden but are also influenced by Ben’s Indian background. Ben graduated from Stockholm Art School with a degree in fine art, although after meeting perfumerPierre Wulff he decided he’d rather create fragrances than paintings.
The scents are relatively simple as Ben limits the number of ingredients in each fragrance. The bottles are just as minimalist with a classic monochrome label and black dome lid.
The idea behind the fragrance Mister Marvelous is a man who embodies what it means to be marvelous. It opens withmandarin leaves and neroli flower, with green lavender and bamboo at the heart and black amber and white cedar wood base notes.
French dandies called their ladies Les Marveileuses, meaning exquisite and astonishing. The word marvelous means something of the highest quality, causing wonder and astonishment. That is what the Byredo fragrance aims to be — like
Christopher Brosius is a man who really hates perfume. He made this discovery when working as a taxi driver in the 80s. New York women would get in his cab wearing scents that made him feel nauseous, as Brosius can’t stomach generic smells.
Brosius’ solution was to start his own company from his kitchen table and his first breakthrough was Dirt, which bottled the smell of the earth. In his laboratory Brosius attempts to bottle positive smells, such as burning leaves, the library and the summer kitchen. His focus is on the science of perfumery, rather than fancy packaging, as he sells all his potions in test tube like cylinders.
His fragrance A Room with a View was inspired by the moment George kisses Lucy among the violets in E. M. Forster’s novel of the same name. The passage at the end of chapter six reads:
“From her feet the ground sloped sharply into view, and violets ran down in rivulets and streams and cataracts… George had turned at the sound of her arrival. For a moment he contemplated her, as one who has fallen out of heaven. He saw
radiant joy in her face, he saw the flowers beat against her dress in blue waves. The bushes above them closed. He stepped quickly forward and kissed her.”
Brosius wanted to recreate this moment, as he explains: “One simply beautiful gesture can transform an entire life.”
Unsurprisingly it is a romantic fragrance, evoking the hills above Florence with grass, fennel, dusty earth and violet notes. As with all CB perfumes, oil and water form the base, as he believes alcohol interferes
Former New York ad men Eddie Roschi and Fabrice Penot want to put the art back in perfumery. They discovered their passion for high-class perfumery whilst working with the creative team of Giorgio Armani fragrances.
Concerned with scent, rather than relying on an elaborate name or packaging, to them naming a perfume is useless. They compare it to a sign in New York City, which reads: “EXPLAINING KILLS ART.”But as former ad men they recognise naming their product is essential. Le Labo names are therefore practical and formulaic, as each fragrance is named after their principal essence and the number of ingredients used to make them.
Roschi and Penot are inspired by Mike Mills’s declaration about “fighting the rising tide of conformity.” Their handmade perfumes attempt to create a “sensory shock” each time you open one of
their bottles.Tubereuse 40 is an exclusive scent to New York City, which as the name reveals is composed of 40 notes. It opens with a citrus scent of orange blossom, tangerine and rosemary, and develops into a woody and floral heart of sandalwood, cedar, tuberose, rose and jasmine. Base notes include oak moss, musk and amber. Each Le Labo fragrance is built around primary natural essences from the perfume
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