Who: Tim and Julia Little, co-owners owners of the Grenson shoe company. Julia and Tim met when the pair worked in the advertising industry, but now co-own and run Grenson, the brand that almost single-handedly made brogues sexy again. They have three children, live in Chiswick and Ibiza and both love perfume.
Tim: The first thing I remember about fragrance was going to my dad’s bathroom cabinet and throwing on his Old Spice when he wasn’t around. I was about 15 and loved the bottle shape, he’d hardly ever wear it because we were an East Midlands down-to-earth family and we didn’t do that sort of thing. As a teenager you’d go through that stage of thinking you needed a masculine scent but not knowing what to do about it. The cool person at school would have something and so you’d tell your mum to put that on the Christmas list but without telling anyone you’d asked for it, because there was that real macho thing around not wearing jewellery and not wearing fragrance.
Julia: My very first scent memory was my grandmother’s lavender powder. I really like natural smells -still do- my grandfather was a gardener and I remember going into his greenhouse and the vine tomatoes smelling amazing through those long hot summers. Our kids really like that we have specific smells, I remember when our daughter was ill when she was little and I wore L’Eau D’Issey by Issey Miyake. She remembers that smell as being really comforting and it takes her right back to when she was young. Charlie was my first teenage fragrance. Also everyone was wearing Anais Anais, I never bought it but Jackie magazine was my bible so if it was in there, I’d have read about it and be considering it.
Tim: Anais Anais! I remember at university every room smelling of that because all the girls were wearing it, it was huge.
Julia: My favourite years ago was Annick Goutal Eau D’Hadrien, It has really happy memories for me because I went to Paris with a girlfriend who’s a professional baker, and we went all around Paris eating cakes and smelling perfumes I’d never heard of, it was fantastic, she introduced me to La Duree and to Annick Goutal, which she loved and so I bought some too.
Tim: You didn’t really wear perfume for a while…I suspect you didn’t know how to find the more artisanal ones which you would have been looking for because you got tired of the high street ones…
Julia: Yeah probably…then you introduced me to Miller Harris….
Tim: Then we found Le Labo in New York and it was a whole different experience, the perfumes were mixed in the store for us, I remember I kind of fell over a bit at the price, but it was a treat and we were on a trip away so we bought a bottle each…
Julia: You bought Santal 33, and I went for Bergamot 22, which I still wear, but I also have Rose 31 for the evening and recently when we went back to New York I bought Tuberose 40 which is the brand’s New York smell, and loved that, I wear it for the evening, and Bergamot 22 for the day.
Tim: I love the brand being completely unisex, stripped down and not fussy, I hate all the fussy stuff, The laboratory set up really appealed and I completely bought into all of it. I thought Santal smelled fresh, and not too heavy. I love that thing when you’re sitting next to somebody and they smell really clean and fresh, like they’ve just had a shower. I felt Santal was like that and it’s the only perfume I’ve ever had where people have commented on it, I’ve been in a room where someone’s said ‘whose wearing Santal?’
Julia: My other favourite evening one is Tiempe Passate from Antonia’s flowers,
Tim: That used to be on your Christmas list always…
Julia: And I’ve bought it for a few friends as presents because they’ve commented on the smell they’ve all loved it too. A lot of people think of that as my smell and it reminds them of me.
Tim: We think about smell in the business, because people like the smell of leather. When you go to our factory in Nottingham there’s a very distinctive smell and people always assume it’s leather because it’s rather lovely. Actually it’s mainly the glue and adhesives. I remember reading that car companies mashed up all the leather off-cuts and stuffed the seats with them, because the smell was one of the strongest motivators in selling new cars. I don’t know if they still do it.
Might we do a Grenson fragrance? We might, watch this space…
For more information on Grenson, visit the website here, but be warned, the shoes are addictive!