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epartment store beauty halls
have turned into battlefields in
recent years. In a who-shoutsloudest
bottles scream for attention and spritzing
salespeople with mould-cast chignons
tussle for prime position. Sometimes, even
the fragrances themselves have altered
to accommodate this cut-throat trading.
Traditionally, a perfume's notes might
take a while to settle on the skin, but some
perfume makers have taken to creating
more instantly rounded and readable, but
ultimately short-lived, aromas.
Happily, a slew of high-end perfume
boutiques around the capital have arrived
to offer something far more immersive
and experiential. The approaches these
brands take are ever more inventive, from
using interiors to tell the stories
of the scents to creating bespoke
fragrances for individual customers.
"The language of the department
store needs to be shaken up," says
British perfumer Lyn Harris,
creator of Miller Harris, who
opened Perfumer H in Marylebone's
Crawford Street late last year.
"When looking to buy a
fragrance, expertise is
important. Having an
experience is important.
As a retailer you have to
break the mould."
LUXURYThe world of perfume is moving into increasingly opulent
territory as a new breed of bespoke boutique turns choosing
a fragrance into an immersive experience
And break the mould she does. At
the rear of her boutique, designed by
interior architects Retrouvius to feel like
an elegant Milanese drawing room circa
1950, is her laboratory, on show for all to
see. She also conducts workshops in-store
- Sotheby's has already organised an event
for its top-tier clients.
Industry veteran Frédéric Malle was
way ahead of the game, having launched
Editions de Parfums in 2000 with a
boutique on Paris's Left Bank. His is one
of several luxury perfume brands that have
recently opened all-singing boutiques in
Mayfair and beyond. Much of the pull of
these outlets is their exquisitely crafted
interiors, designed as exotic lounges.
Malle's Burlington Arcade
boutique is something to
behold, with design references
as broad as 2001: A Space
Odyssey and William Kent's
Palladian-style Holkham Hall.
Malle is joined in the revamped
Burlington Arcade by both Roja
Dove - soi-disant professor
of perfume and
now owner of his
brand - and By
perfumer Kilian Hennessy. Both have
created distinctly exotic interiors.
Hennessy's follows his signature blackand-white
art deco aesthetic, with a
private salon for bespoke consultations
and furniture custom-designed by Chahan
Minassian. Dove's is all black lacquer and
violet drapes with lashings of Lalique, and
provides space for consultations which
explore customers' scent-related memories
to identify a perfectly suited fragrance.
The family-owned House of Creed
follows a similar model. Its new store in
Mayfair's Mount Street is an extravagant
environment, designed by architect
Can Onaner. Geometric structures in
burnished and polished brass, offset by
marble and mirrors, frame the entire
collection at ground level, with an intimate
basement for bespoke consultations.
Penhaligon's, meanwhile, has opened
its Barber & Fragrance Shop in Canary
WORDS EMMA MOORE