Foundation: Niche to meet you

By Jo Phillips

Flamenco is the national dance of Spain. An art-form if you like, grown originally from folk music traditions of Southern Spain. A  passionate, sometimes heartbreaking storytelling through music and dance that has its roots in Andalusia, with the word itself meaning fire or flame. Originally an erotic and wild dance with harsh undertones in the music, but when it became popularised to the general public it became lighter. The singing and guitar playing give rhythm and pathos to the dancer who responds to the tempo with moves, claps, and shouts; heady and intense whilst passionate and beautiful the dance form eludes the pain and happiness love and laughter that is Spain. There is also a lurking dark power, that takes over the mind and soul when one is in an intimate flamenco gathering. Ultimately this art form of this passionate and very expressive dance is embedded with the emotions of the individual dancing it. Every twist, turn, clap and shout instill sexuality with sensuality, sunshine and light. Bright light all of which is the very essence of Spain; its pain, its pride, its love, and loss.

It’s no surprise that celebrated Spanish Perfumer has taken the ideals of Flamenco and turned them into his new fragrance. His newest launch is unsurprisingly named  Flamenco, a newly launched Eau De Perfume.  Rooted from a long history of perfumers in Spain, Ramon Monegal is the most internationally renowned perfumer of the family. He has undergone rigorous training first in Myrurgia in Spain, Geneva, Grasse in France and lastly in Paris. After working for Myrurgia for a while, he made his dream of having his own signature on a perfume come true in 2009.  See more about him here.

An oriental perfume opening with orange blossom alongside Spanish and Bulgarian roses. Followed up with a heady layer of Jasmine with the very fashionable violet at its heart. A perfume that is rich and dare we say passionate is available from April 2017.

RM_Flamenco_PackShotHi From Spain to France an introduction to a fragrance brand new to us here at .Cent: Valeur Absolue the French perfume house translates to English as the magnitude of a value, irrespective of its relation to other values. How does this then relate to Absolute Value, the perfume house that is known for its new take on traditional perfumery?

Perhaps its genius lies in itself, not how it relates to the value of other perfume houses. Even though it only hails from 2013, the creator Benedicte Foucart has a long career in fragrance behind her: International Vice President at Elizabeth Arden so she has already succeeded in leaving a mark in the fragrance world. Her brand promotes well-being with essential scents from oils and natural active ingredients that enhance the wearers’ emotions by releasing beta-endorphins. Added in for another dimension are semi-precious stones, sitting neatly at the bottle of the flagon that is reminiscent of a snow globe and adds to making these perfumes a one of a kind gem.

A perfume and well-being elixir all in one, so what could be better than a delicious scent that makes you feel joyous as well? Rogue Passion, their newest scent is an almost magical concoction of essentials oils of Ylang Ylang, ginger, tonka beans and active minerals, jumbled up with precious florals, creating a ‘Floriental’ scent. The flower Champaca is an aphrodisiac from India, giving the fragrance its sensual atmosphere. The deep red garnet stones are used to enhance sensuality in Lithotherapy, making Rogue Passion a deeply fiery perfume. ROUGE-PASSION-single The whole collection is made up of fresh young exciting fragrances and includes seven essences including Harmonie, Joie-Éclat, Sensualité, Vitalité and Serenitude. On top of that, all of the Valeur Absolue perfumes are hand-assembled in the South of France and contain no PCM, phthalates or chemical UV filters.

The Valeur Absolue Collection consists of

Valeur Absolue Harmonie a perfume with floral, musky and amber notes. Alongside Néroli Bigarade and Earl Grey tea blend with woody notes Vanilla. Added are high-quality essential oils of Bergamot and orange flower. Semi-precious Amethyst stones represent the symbol of harmony.

Valeur Absolue Sensualité a floral, woody and musky notes and was created with Rose de Mai and white flowers. Cedarwood is combined with a blend of amber and musk. Mother-of-pearl, the symbol of love and femininity, as the stones of intoxicating sensuality.

Valeur Absolue Joie-Eclat combining the fresh tangerine and green Cardamom. Vetiver and tuberose with high-quality essential oils of grapefruit and vetiver, which offer revitalising effects, plus active minerals of potassium and magnesium, known for their energising qualities.  Diamond powder has been incorporated, the first time it has been used in a perfume.

Valeur Absolue Confiance oriental tones inspired by the warm,  elements of Bourbon Vanilla pod. Clove and cinnamon with the sweetness of candied peach and the warmth of amber, with base notes of cedarwood and Siam benzoin. Semi-precious Carnelian stones offer the visible sign of the warm, positive aura of this perfume.

Valeur Absolue Serenitude rose at its heart, balanced with sandalwood. Then followed by cardamom and pink berry contrasts with nutmeg from the Philippines, whilst coriander blends its floral tones with Patchouli from Indonesia. This fragrance also contains essential oils of sandalwood. Semi-precious Amazonite stones provide the visible sign of the soothing richness of this perfume.

Valeur Absolue Vitalité  a fragrance with a heart of magnolia, a pure, chypré base and a combination of Indonesian Patchouli and China tea. With essential oils of red Mandarin and Calabrian bergamot, the semi-precious Peridot stones provide the visible symbol of vitality.

absolute- So after all of that let’s talk about the true daddy of luxury perfumes because let’s face it: he started with the grandest of heritages. The grandson of the man who founded Christian Dior Perfumes and an uncle who was the famous film director Louis Malle. Frederic Malle was brought up knowing the ins and outs of the industry.

He founded Editions de Parfums Frédéric Malle in 2000, which heralded a return to luxury perfumery with the core idea of giving total creative freedom back to perfumers. He focuses on the perfume itself with a ‘back to basics’ approach, while aiming to challenge trends in perfumery, becoming a sort of revolutionary in the perfume industry. In fact, it is fair to say he is probably one of the first if not the first of the group of small perfumers who started the whole niche fragrance trend.  Without him, others would never have been able to carve out such successful careers.

Every perfume he creates starts with an idea, and the sole purpose is not to lose the idea whilst creating the perfume. Instead of focusing on branding and marketing, each perfume is named after its creator, giving it a unique identity and giving the ‘fragrance author’ (the nose) complete freedom disregarding trends in perfumery. This is a markedly different approach to most niche houses so by naming every nose he works with Frederic Malle elevates the craft of the nose. This is the first time it has been done in the industry and in this way, and because of this, there is no distinct house style, as it depends on the personal style of the expert perfumer Malle has chosen. It also shines a spotlight on previously anonymous masterminds and gives them the credit instead of the perfume house. Frederic Malle is also known for his famous collaborations with fashion houses as well as other legendary perfumers.

The new fragrance  Outrageous Eau De Parfum by Sophia Grojsman came from a night in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil, and a Caipirinha. The scent is young, fresh and sexy, reflective of Brazilian nights out by the beach lit up by orange street lights, sand on your toes. There is lust and sensuality in the base notes of white musk, cedar wood and ambroxan mixed with sparkly top notes of bergamot, tangerine and green apple. Frederic Malle’s and Sophia Grojsman’s close personal relationship makes the scent all the more special, it being the culmination of a meeting of two masters of the field.   Screen Shot 2017-02-15 at 12.42.16

There are currently 24 different fragrances across the Frederic Malle line including – Carnal Flower, Portrait of a lady, Musc Ravageur, also the very well received Geranium Pour Monsieur, Eau de Magnolia and for a vetiver his Vetiver Extraordinaire.

So now let’s move to another part of the world.  The Middle East, who in its own way has a long and lasting tradition for scent. After all the first-ever recorded perfume was from the 2nd millennium BCE in Mesopotamia.  The perfume brand Thameen London is the meeting of the Middle Eastern philosophy with the Western Modernity.

Thameen means precious in Arabic, and precious it certainly is. A luxury perfume brand launched by Saudi entrepreneur Basel Binjabr that combines Eastern culture with Western refinement, it links jewellery to perfume. Creating elegant yet contemporary fragrances, Thameen uses pure and simple structures to let the ingredients perform to their fullest ability. The brand was initially launched in 2013, and the new launch Riviere is inspired by a necklace made out of gemstones.  It is known as a part of Queen Mary’s collection, who had one constructed out of 34 diamonds and was later gifted to Princess Margaret.

The new scent represents this balance and perfect combination of pure ingredients, sprayed on for a bit of opulence. With an oriental feel through the Persian saffron, Indian Black pepper, Russian sage, Turkish rose and Indonesian Patchouli, the fragrance is sophisticated and deceivingly simple. thameenSo finally let’s make our way back to London home of the wonderful perfume brand Shay & Blue – created by Dom De Vetta in London. With heritage within the industry, the veteran of the world of scent is a former Senior Vice President at Chanel and was the Global General Manager of Jo Malone London.  It is no wonder then he went on in 2012 to create his own brand.

Julie Massé is Shay & Blue’s perfumer and was ‘the nose’ of choice for Dom to partner up with.  Shay and Blue is one of the most interesting of independent brands to pop up in the last few years.  For one there is a strong continuity across all the collections, with heavy use of fruits flowers and spices. Although not a gourmand brand as such, so many of the fragrances delve deeply into a world of edible flavours.  Think Blood oranges, watermelon fragrance, Framboise Noire (black raspberry) move onto salt Caramel, Blueberry Musk, and English Cherry Blossom. Are you salivating yet?

Fear not, the new launch is Dandelion Fig. As usual with the brand, the fragrance has unisex layers of fig and dandelion leaf that are blended with natural notes of lemongrass, tomato vine, and juniper. There is a real new breed of perfumes coming to the market that are fresh, clean and modern. Don’t be fooled; these perfumes are not simple to create, the process requires sophisticated blending of multiple layers.  It is multi-faceted, extremely well balanced and blended.

SD_07_T23_2858I_NC_X_EC_1Top Note – Dandelion leaf gives a note of fresh green, while the lemongrass adds a little heat.

Heart Note – Tomato vine, a wonderful earthy green alongside juniper as the zingy hit.

Base Note – Fig. A naturally earthy base to anchor the composition.

One point worth a special mention is the price point of Shay and Blue, unlike many in the niche perfume market its price point it extremely reasonable with costing around £55 for 100 Ml, which is a fraction of what some cost. All Shay and Blue perfumes are not tested on animals and are Cruelty-Free (Certified by PETA), paraben Free and phthalate Free.