Sterling; New York New Smell

By Jo Phillips

We are coming to a point in the perfume world where we have now lived through almost 20 years of niche fragrance.  It’s no longer a world known by a very few mega-nerdy perfume lovers but has got itself quite well known as a term for certain brands, as well as gaining broad appeal over what is actually a very short time frame.

This movement caught the big fragrance companies that produce designer label scents and celebrity fragrance unaware, and as their sales dropped, the sales of niche fragrance just kept rising. And for good reason. Most (not all) are high in the best ingredients, are not designed by a marketing brief, are truly based in a real passion for excellence in perfumery; which let’s face it, is a wonderful art-form in and of itself.

What is also interesting is just how far the brands are going in not just discovering new molecules and new ideas in scent, but in new stories to tell, and ones we don’t immediately think of. So, instead of the usual say smell of Christmas or the smell of grandma’s garden,  should we want to now smell like the dust in an ancient library or other such extreme fragrance, we can.

But the most interesting part to the growth of this extraordinary success story is how many people are becoming far more engrossed, invested and discerning with their choices of perfume.  They invest more because they simply know they will smell far more chic, for more individual and will get far more for their buck.

Our sense of smell is the sense we know the least about; not the idea of how we smell things via our nose and the connection to the brain but on a far deeper level of how we subconsciously react to smell…there is not nearly enough research as yet on this subject, but one thing is for sure, and let’s explain this in a very simple way: if the first time we smell a rose we are in a happy place, emotionally stable and comfortable, then every time we smell a rose we will no doubt make the connection: ahh rose, a happy place.

Maybe another thing to bear in mind is the idea that perfume,  like most things, could be tribal.  We are drawn to things around us like the people around us, we move in packs. It’s what we do. Either you believe in Adidas shell toes or you are more a DM 12 hole kind of person, but for sure its unlikely you move in the same packs. But move as packs we must because it really is part of our very basic survival techniques, as early mankind; when, by the way, we were far more in touch with our sense of smell.

So without making too much of a leap of faith here, surely part of our love of fragrance is a basic tribal emotion that helps us decide where we belong. So, if you belong to one of those tribes (a little like me) that has no interest whatsoever in being in one of the masses, then there is a perfume brand you need to start getting your head around.


MiN New York was founded by Chad Murawczyk in 1999, who chose 117 Crosby between Houston & Prince Street for the location of his first MiN Flagship store. A shop in the Soho area of New York, long before the cool kids went there, just felt like, for the owner of the space, the area had the sort of , let’s say, ‘vibe’ he was looking.


It was a  store full of curated curios for the curiously get where I’m going here? Like New York, London, as well as many key cities, have their cool hang-outs, their places with the kind of energy that feels hot at a time and these places always draw a certain type of discerning crowd.

It’s here where Chad started his line of perfumes Min New York, a collection of fragrances that are very story bound.  11 in total, they range from Shaman to Magic Circus via Moon Dust with many in between. As the brand says:

Scent Stories, Vol. 1 is a liquid anthology you must live to truly comprehend’.

What makes this a truly different experience is that these fragrances seem to go far deeper than many, they reach into your subconscious and tickle you, they are not for everyone, they are for those that hang in a slightly more ‘selective gang’, because these are not ‘popular’ scents. These are intense, beautifully crafted and are utter luxury fused with craftsmanship.

Let’s give some examples (their descriptions not ours):

DAHAB  which means
“time goes”, it’s where the desert meets sea & stars.  Oud burns in the distance, mingles with the warm spicy air.

Top: Galbanum, Cinnamon, Saffron, Lime & Nutmeg
Heart: Frankincense, Benzoin, Cypress & Geranium
Base: Cedarwood, Musk, Amber & Oud (Agarwood)

Then there is:- Onsen

Inspired by Japanese volcanic hot springs,  it evokes communion with nature. This potion is mineral, dynamic, ritualistic & transcendent.

Top: Absinthe, Bergamot, Fennel, Rosemary, Thyme & Tarragon
Heart: Pine Needles, Cypress & Marine Notes
Base: Oak Moss, Vetyver & Ambergris

What about Old School Bench?

A noir memory of young artists etching in school. Pencil shavings, charcoal on paper, blackboards & vintage desks.

Top: Lemon, Bergamot & Angelica Root
Heart: Geranium, Rum, Cocoa & Wood Wax
Base: Cedarwood, Vanilla, Patchouli & Vetyver

So you see, these are evocative scents, scents to make you engage and dive in, to the moment, to the past, to the future. Where have I been? Where am I going?

Chad says of his brand:

‘I believe that true luxury is based on an actual tangible quality of materials and workmanship. The fragrance industry is largely filled with marketing stories where, in many cases, the time spent on creating the stories far exceeded the time spent creating the actual product. I felt that by focusing on creating the magic inside the bottle, it would deliver genuine excitement and interest in MiN New York.’

There is now also Volume 2 in the brands’ portfolio, which includes five new liquid narratives, picking up where Vol. 1 left off.  The names are as wonderful as the Volume 1 collection where here we can explore such delicacies as:-

An invitation for a close encounter.

Sparkling Italian Bergamot follows on to a  heart of velvety Egyptian jasmine & luscious rose petals
surrounded by a blend of sensual musks.


Evokes a garden fresh tableside medley with fresh herbs & ambergris.

Bergamot, with fresh sprigs of clary sage, a dose of Turkish rose, a splash of tomato essence & grounded with a fine musk.

The newest release for Volumes 3 called Voodoo!  Well, what does that sum up in your mind’s eye?  Something deep? Something smokey? Something with a tinge of black magic?

Well the perfume contains
Top notes of  Cardamom, Galbanum, Lime and Pink Pepper
Galbanum, stands out here as a bitter, aromatic gum resin extracted from certain umbelliferous Asiatic plant species, as well as having a”green” accent, the cardamon brings warmth as does pink pepper, and lime brings a fizzy hit.
The heart with Geranium, Olibanum, deeply biblical (also known as frankincense), along with Turkish Rose, makes for a deep and sexy middle.
Whilst the base of Patchouli, Leather, Sandalwood, and Oud bring together a deep intense almost spiritual feel to this new addition to the brand.
Should the above excite you, the brand is back available (after a little gap) in the U.K, as an exclusive at Harrods.  It’s worth spending time and getting acquainted with these perfumes should you be the type of person who likes to ‘smell’ out of the crowd.

  Exclusive to Harrods




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