Inspired by fairy tales and flowers, these niche fragrances by the world’s best perfumers are collectibles.
What’s a holiday abroad without time spent at the duty free, browsing for the latest YSL and Tom Ford perfumes? But sticking to airport aisles means you are missing out on a world of unusual fragrances. If you’d rather not go bespoke (aka uber expensive), niche perfumes are a great investment. They give you unique scents and an interesting story to go with. So we asked perfumers Nicolas de Barry (from France), Monika Ghurde (from Goa) and Ahalya Mathan (from Bengaluru) to tell us which ones they like to spritz on—some vintage, some modern.
Science at play
Escentric Molecules, the London-based perfumery founded by Geza Schoen, exults in the chemistry of it all, working with aroma molecules. And Escentric 3, a spicy scent for men, is one of their best. “(Germany-based) Schoen, who is a friend, has this beautiful ability to make everything super contemporary,” says Ghurde, adding that the notes are woody, citrusy and green. `10,300 approx. Details: escentric.com
As a jasmine expert, it’s little wonder that Ghurde picks Christopher Sheldrake’s Serge Lutens A La Nuit. “It’s a beautiful jasmine fragrance, which takes inspiration from Egypt, and is opulent,” she says. Sheldrake—who works as director R&D fragrance at Chanel—has used green branches and honey for lighter notes. `10,100 approx, at the Serge Lutens store at Palais Royal, Paris. Details: en.sergelutens.com
Yin and yang
Every perfume under Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle tells a story. For Mathan, Le Parfum de Therese (`15,500 approx)—created by Edmond Roudnitska for his wife—captures “their love story in notes of tangerine and melon”. But her husband is a fan of Dominique Ropion’s Geranium pour Monsieur (Rs 14,200 approx). “Though a flower, the interpretation is masculine, with strong mint notes,” she adds.
At the store in Paris. Details: fredericmalle.com
A student of sociology, when de Barry turned perfumer, he looked to old perfumery traditions. One of his favourites is inspired by 19th century writer George Sand, who also made fragrances. Basing it on a “traditional Oriental scent, I’ve added a discrete floral note from distilled Oriental rose,” he says, giving it an “Italian style with citrus top notes”.Rs 11,800 approx. Details: nicolasdebarry.com
Slice of life
Ghurde’s current favourite is A Day in my Life, the 2016 launch by Mark Buxton, “one of my favourite perfumers and a dear friend. It is a modern adaptation of a rose—contemporary, vibrant and sensual”. An Englishman living in Paris, Buxton has been creating fragrances for 25 years, with an avant-garde approach. Pick up the bottle—with notes of mandarin and red pepper—at Nose, Paris.Rs 11,000 approx. Details: nose.fr
The house of L’Artisan Parfumeur tells beautiful stories through their perfumes—and, according to Mathan, this is one of the most interesting. “Méchant Loup (Big Bad Wolf), created by bespoke French perfumer Bertrand Duchaufour, tells the story of Little Red Riding Hood, but from the angle of the wolf. Imagine walking through the woods, seeing the girl, the senses heightening—all this is captured in the woody-spicy composition, with notes of hazelnut, cedar and licorice,” she says.Rs 10,000 approx. Details: artisanparfumeur.com
Annick Goutal may be no more (her vision is now being taken forward by her daughter), but her scent stories remain. Like Eau d‘Hadrien, inspired by the Tuscany landscape. A concentrate of citrus fruit “it gives you a sense of the experience you will get driving down the Italian countryside,” says Mathan. Goutal’s bottles are also collectibles, with “a cult following”. At the Champs-Élysées store, for Rs 11,000 approx. Details: annickgoutal.com
“Alamut summarises Italian perfumer Lorenzo Villoresi’s fascination with the Middle East and Orientals,” says de Barry. Inspired by a legendary fortress—where assassins lived—the scent, marked by notes of leather, brings to mind “a rider on his Arabian horse, a handful of dried apricots in his hand (to stave off hunger), riding off leaving behind an intoxicating smell of amber and musk”. Rs 12,400 approx. Details: lorenzovilloresi.it
Berries in the mix
Designed by the late Jean-Francois Laporte, founder of L’Artisan Parfumeur, Mûre et Musc is “addictive, extensively copied, but never equalled”. According to de Barry, the magic of the perfume is in how it brings the nostalgia of grandmother’s blackberry jam, but, at the same time, stays fresh.” With notes of orange and mousse de chêne, it is available for Rs 10,500 approx. Details: artisanparfumeur.com
Text: Surya Praphulla Kumar