Transform: A-roma-Home

By Jo Phillips

When we think of perfume, our minds wander to France where most consider the home of fragrance to be.  Although that may well be true it’s origin lay far more in the Middle East than Europe with the first recorded perfume coming from  the Mesopotamia region (now modern day  Iraq Syria and Kuwait) as far back as the 2nd millennium.  In fact perfume was mentioned in the Old Testament (Exodus 30:22-33).

Religion played its role in the cultivation of fragrance with it being used in many religious rituals, yet it was the Islamic cultures that played the biggest part in perfecting the extraction of fragrances and introducing new raw materials. They improved its production and continued to use perfumes in daily life and in practicing religion.  Musk, Roses and Amber were in common use. Because the Arab and Persians were traders who travelled they had wide access to a wide array of spices, resins,  precious woods, herbs and animal fragrance materials such as Ambergris and Musk. Alongside this florals such as Rose and Jasmine  native to the region were utilised in the earliest of perfumes. Many other plants (Citrus trees, being imported from China and southeast Asia) could be traded and then be successfully cultivated in the Middle East. It took a Persian doctor to discover the process of distillation (the process of extracting oils from flower) which is the basis still today of most perfume extraction.

By the 11th and 12th centuries crusaders (Christians) travelling to the Middle East and traded bringing back spices, dyes and also perfume to Europe. Now its exciting to see the journey recreated with perfumes coming from the Middle East to Europe, albeit in a different way millennium later.

The Fragrance Kitchen
TFK was started by Sheikh Majed Al-Sabah in 2005. Time spent as a child with his grandmother inspired his fragrance journey. She didn’t come with any training just a passed-down generational knowledge, so by watching her, Sheikh Majed Al-Sabah gained intimate insight. During his teenage years he started to adapt the knowhow for his own use. But it was only after having an amazing career in fashion retail working with world-renowned fashion brands (and by doing so exposing himself to the world of luxury, including lunching brands like Gucci and Prada in the Middle-East) he wandered back home to fragrance.

From meeting Tom Ford via his fashion business the two went on in 2005 to launch an exclusive perfume exclusively for the sheikh’s own store, (Ford already had his fragrance business set up with Estee Launder) which went on to be a top selling fragrance. Thus began the journey towards The Fragrance Kitchen, a journey through life and that he refers to as  ‘a library of fragrances’

The very striking bottles are most unusual and are either black or white, which the Sheikh describes as being inspired by his life in fashion, black for Ready to Wear and white for Couture. The 100ml only bottles won’t change but do become a canvas for different artworks.  Also like the fashion industry TFK work on launches every 6 to 8 weeks, with those not selling dropping keeping off with a continuation of best sellers. It’s not difficult as each territory has its own edited collection. However, the brand did start with an astonishing 65 fragrances!  The very distinctive bottles are all 100ml, with the glass bottle sprayed matt.  There are also wonderful names, most unusual in the world of fragrance, none of the pretty in pink style synonymous with perfume but names like War of the Roses,  Musky Ever After, Pass the Amber  all of which were created by Sheikh Majed Al-Sabah three daughters.  They were given a list of ingredients and three weeks to think of names.  My favourite? Musky Ever After! Lastly each bottle has a quote  on the back that relates to the name of the perfume.



It was a pop up shop in Milan (that ended up lasting two years (some pop up) that really introduced the brand to the world market from Russia to London. The Fragrance Kitchen collection is divided in six lines, Exclusive, opulent scents which are narrative-driven, Tribute, an ode to the destinations of our dreams My, luxurious blends prepared in close collaboration with the finest noses in the world, Modern Heritage, an olfactive shock between the past and the present, Self Portrait, a tribute to inspiration artists and Signature, unisex everyday and fresh scents.

So why now in London?  Well in May TFK launched their first London Scent exclusively to Selfridges called Spike Odyssey a Strong Woody Leather fragrance reminiscent of the log fires of cold wet London days.

Top notes       LIME / ORIS   Heart notes    CLARY SAGE / LEATHER   Base notes      AMBER / CEDARWOOD / MOSS / MUSK.

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And if that wasn’t enough…The Sheikh is taking it all one giant step forward.  His next step is not the usual perfume path of candles soaps and body lotions  but to add a diversity to the brand and convert the four best selling fragrance from scent info flavours.  Last year he collaborated to mould a perfume blotter into chocolate.  He has two more scent in flavour projects planned so we will keep you posted on news from his Flavour Lab.


Maybe the food connection will become more obvious when you actually smell the fragrances.  Even though none are described as gourmand the Sheikh is a self-confessed food  lover so it’s no surprise the gourmand elements that ties the whole and large collection together has a subtle food layer, after all  the emotion of food and smell are so interlinked. Like a wonderful meal you talk about long after you have eaten it, these fragrances stay long after you leave a room.

This is not a fluke as another perfume house based in the middle East has found its way to the best shelves in London.  This is another kind of love story this time ending in Beirut, well even starting in Beirut.  Ludmila and Antoine Bitar met in Paris 15 years ago over drinks with friends. Antoine – a fragrance fanatic – complimented the beautiful girl sitting opposite him on her exquisite fragrance. She was in fact a Perfumer for L’Oreal and was wearing a fragrance that she had made for herself.  Romance bloomed and they married, deciding in 2012 to relocate to Antoine’s native Beirut and open an independent perfumery, making firstly home fragrances and later bespoke perfumes for a discerning clientele.

2014 saw Antoine join Ludmila in the business forming IDEO Parfumeurs  the name a contraction of the French term ‘Ideal Olfactif ’ a hint towards the olfactory excellence for which they would strive. The debut collection of four fragrances, supported by a collation of scents for the home, laundry, body and boudoir, are being sold in a world exclusive at Liberty, of Regent Street London this summer. These scents are international in flavour and, yet classically constructed, complex and nuanced they are unashamedly modern, with more than a hint of romance.  A classical love story bought up to date. This collection is made up of Perfumes, candles and scents for the underwear draw. The 180gm candles is made in Grasse, France, and housed in hand-tinted, grey glass and has an exceptional ‘throw’. Each candle will burn for 40 hrs.


The Perfumes

Weekend A Fontainbleau – Floral /Green /Chypre – The Grand Seduction!

Diane de Poitiers, 15th century noblewoman, renowned beauty and lover to King Henry II was the recognised chatelaine of the stunning Royal Palace at Fontainebleau. In this fragrance Diane is imagined in the Grand Forest on the edge of the estate, disembarking her carriage, her famous porcelain skin sheltered from the sun by the majestic trees. It is here that romances were born, scores were settled and political intrigues decided. The power of the patchouli, the magic of the neroli flowers, the regal beauty of the roses add to the serenity of the moment. A little way off an unidentified horse stops. King Henri dismounts and walks towards Diane………..

This scent conjures seduction – the seduction of nature at her finest – the queen of flowers supported by the zest of orange neroli and the sparkle of aldehydes like sunlight dancing over a floral green bed of jasmine, galbanum and rose absolute, drying down to the warm chypre embrace of patchouli, oakmoss, sandalwood and musk.


Blues – Woody/Leather/Spice – Arabian Nights

Inside a tent in the desert, Kahn sits on an ancient Kilim a sabre at his knees. A woman serves him cardamom rice. The young man smiles but his thoughts are elsewhere. He remembers his daring escape from the Palace of the governor. The luxurious prison where, at times the incense blended with the agarwood walls and mixed with the patchouli and geranium worn by the governor’s wife. She often watched him from behind a screen. Unseen but not unnoticed. Sometimes he misses his gilded cage.

This is an exceptional fragrance – a spicy imagining of earnest longing. Cardamom, bay and pepper segue into a woody heart of incense, cedar and piquant geranium. The rich textured base virtually hums with longing with patchouli, labdanum and musk, dusted with just a soupçon of oud.

London To Mumbai – Citrus/Floral/Green – The Spy Who Loved Me

Perfumed with French lavender and Italian Citrus scents, the British Dandy opens the door of a Mumbai Barber. An old man blends tuberose, bitter orange balm and Indian spices with his hands. He rubs the mix onto the face of his visitor and a dangerous scent invades the room. The gentleman, stands, pays and leaves. The spy is ready for his next adventure!

This is a unique hybrid at once familiar and exotic. Bergamot, lemons and bigarade with lavender and geranium conjure the classic eau de cologne, however ginger, cinnamon and clover conspire to add heat – something more edgy and dangerous. This is a clever imagining, suave and ironic – as British as a Gin and Tonic!!

This is a unique hybrid at once familiar and exotic. Bergamot, lemons and bigarade with lavender and geranium conjure the classic eau de cologne, however ginger, cinnamon and clover conspire to add heat – something more edgy and dangerous. This is a clever imagining, suave and ironic – as British as a Gin and Tonic!!

Malika’s Temptation– Floral/Sweet Amber – You are My One Temptation

Queen Malika tricked and captured her seamstress’ beautiful younger brother. The vanilla, labdanum and oud notes invade the room, capturing the senses of her attached prisoner. His body tries to escape. It fails; He just fell madly in love. Queen Malika closes the door, and walks slowly towards the young man. She wins again.

Circe, the temptress, the siren – this fragrance embodies the immortal theme of woman as enchantress, her scent hypnotic and inescapable – praline coated roses dance with the tropical scent of ylang ylang. The beating heart a rich warm glow of cedar, agar and patchouli and finally an explosion of classic sweet amber – the heady and beguiling combination of vanilla and incense with musk.

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IDEO PARFUMEURS collection is priced at £145/100mls.

Launch Luxury Scented Candle Collection  Exclusively at Liberty, London – Summer 2016


So in the grand scheme of things its great to see both these perfumes making a new hime from home here in the UK.


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