Who: Keshen Teo, nose and creator of the 100% natural and mostly organic Prosody fine fragrance collection. Keshen is a successful designer and has always been a keen gardener. While working with his beloved plants, he started making his own essential oil potions. From there he realised he wanted to go further and create his own fragrance brand. We caught up with him at the launch in Fortnum & Mason.
Today I’m wearing Oud Octavo, which has a very strong, almost animalic top note which mellows down to a beautiful ambery, vanilla-wood, with occasional fruity notes. I wear it because it gives me a lot of courage, it’s very uplifting. Its also very calming but at the same time if you want to stand out, it’s a distinctive scent to wear, the woody note is very universal. Also, for a natural perfume, it’s amazingly long lasting.
Fragrance is very important to me. I make little scent diffusers at home, ones that are very simple and basic. Sometimes I just put a cut lemon or a sprig of rosemary on the table, nothing complicated. I do cut flowers from my garden, which are all fragrant. Something as simple as a climbing honeysuckle, my goodness! It’s pretty powerful. So I often cut honeysuckle and dress it with other flowers.
With natural perfumes I always apply them on the back of my hand, because you’ll miss all the subtle nuances if you just apply it to your wrist where it’s warm and the oil will evaporate very quickly. On the back of your hand it goes very slowly and you smell all the complex wonderful natural molecules. So give yourself time to enjoy that. It’s also easy to smell the back of your hand. When ever you do that, in a meeting or when you need a quick boost of confidence, you don’t look weird! I do it a lot myself.
Natural fragrances are a kind of personal experience, it’s really for you, not for the people around you. Naturals have less of that amplifying quality, some of the synthetics have a huge amount of amplification so everyone smells it. Naturals aren’t as strong, some woody ingredients have ‘punch’, but never as strong as a synthetic.
Perfume is something that has come later in my life. I’m a designer and I love my garden, it’s not just the visual beauty of my garden that I’ve been exploring, but also the smell of cutting things and crushing things. I realised I could capture the very soul of plants. I’m encouraged by the blooming aromatherapy industry, which is the reason we’ve got more and more natural ingredients in the market.
Mandy Aftel really helped me to think simple. She likes to start simple and then add nuances, she told me never to bury an important ingredient. I like to start complex and then strip back!
I’m seeking out a really fecal oud, It’s so useful because I don’t use castoreum or civet so a fecal oud is powerful, especially when you work with florals. A small amount can makes florals a lot more sexy. I’ve hopefully got a good one coming, I’m really looking forward to it arriving.