Here at We Wear Perfume, we think that the idea of a signature scent is not what it used to be. Once, you’d pick a scent for life and everyone would know it was ‘your smell’. Now, with Niche fragrance brands creating such an extraordinary range of deliciously innovative fragrances, we need to adapt our fragrance rituals in order to fully enjoy what’s on offer. It’s time to pick your ‘signature’ more strategically, a signature for summer, another for winter, perhaps with day and night variations and then a separate holiday scent. Then there’s a weekend signature, maybe one for parties, the potential is endless and all help us move into different versions of ourselves.
Picking a signature scent is wrapped up in emotional and personal connections that simply can not be forced. You have to kiss a lot of scented frogs before you find your prince or princess, so we’ve done some helpful editing to make the process a little less fraught. It’s an ongoing process, but here’s our list of wonderful new launches that are strong contenders.
Founded by Céline Verleure, Ofactive Studio is a perfume house with an intriguing premise, everything about its fragrances, from the camera-detail bottles to the origins of their contents, is inspired by photography. For Close Up, Céline was inspired by the high definition image of the eye’s iris, taken by photographer Suren Manvelyan. Céline explained to us that she sees pictures as smell, its simply intuition to her, and she picked Annick Menardo, who she described as the ‘last punk in Paris’, as the nose to translate her inspiration into a scent.
The fragrance is complex, multi layered and softly sweet at the start, like slipping on a velvet glove. Hints of anise and coffee balance out the mild honey – gourmand vibe created by the tonka bean and cherry notes on first spritz. This mix of familiar and exotic notes creates a ‘have we met before?’ fug of feel-good nostalgia. It feels both comfortingly knowing, like your favourite sweater, yet distinctly edgy, which we’re guessing is the disruptive element introduced by Annick. As it dries down, patchouli and boozy tobacco turn up to the party, with everything finally settling down into an ambery, musky blur with great longevity. It’s a beautiful, elegant, signature scent, one you could really grow into.
When we interviewed James Heeley, founder of Heeley perfumes, we fell head-long for his beautifully crafted creations and the witty turn of phrase he uses when describing his collection. He is quietly turning Heeley into a destination brand for original and elegantly designed modern fragrance. As well as the artfully understated bottles, it’s worth seeking out the charming Bubblegum Chic, the contemporary citrus Saint Clements and the quirky tiger balm inspired Esprit du Tigre for starters.
His most recent launch is Eau Sacree, a smooth talking, exceptionally classy, incense fragrance made all the more intimately potent by being extrait – or pure perfume – strength. Once released from its sleek, matt black bottle, it hints at high-church rituals performed through smoky swirls of scented tradition. The almost medicinal tang of myrrh adds an uplifting note and patchouli and amber merge beautifully to soften and round the entirety. Those beautifully attired cardinals in the Vatican? We bet they don’t smell as good as this. Free from the head-banging crudeness of many smoky fragrances, this is a signature incense to aspire to when you are a grown up.
Finally, the extraordinary Fathom V by BeauFort London, whose founder Leo Crabtree we interviewed here. This tiny brand goes from strength to strength with its innovative, darkly romantic range and in the time between us picking this scent and shooting it for this feature, Fathom V has picked up Best Independent Perfume of 2017 at the Art and Olfaction awards.
Fathom V is broadly inspired by Ariel’s Song, from Shakespeare’s The Tempest, Fathom being a measurement of water equal to six feet. In particular, it’s the constantly changing space between land and sea, that margin of the beach that is sometimes land, sometimes water, with that salt-meets-earth sparkle that this scent aims to evoke. It opens with a joyful blast of green, earthy freshness, like a rush of blustery sea air, quickly followed by a wave of spiced floral-ness wrapped up in a mossy, herby rush. It is a glorious thing, almost undefinable in the classic fragrance family style as it is so many things all at once, a salty floral, a watery green, an earthy wood. A signature scent for poets and sailors alike.
Our beautiful images are by the talented photographer Will Bunce. Set design by Bryony Edwards