Ring the changes

The absolutely brilliant Atelier PMP from Hamburg is one of those brands that take a concept-driven, cerebral approach to perfume art. Each fragrance is created around an idea; it tells a story and has a message. Even the names conjure up the most fabulous olfactory images – like Dreckig bleiben (stay dirty) or Concrete Flower. anti anti plays with the idea of being against “being against”, i.e. being for something, which is perfect in our book and a heartening approach to life. The message of the Combinism line is a call to society to join forces and embrace otherness – and it offers a handy blueprint on how to go about this: two fragrances – each a beautiful composition in its own right – can be combined to form an olfactory vision of empathetic togetherness called EmpaTopia. In another beguiling spin on a concept, ŌN and GESCHÖPF span a wide, alluringly fragrant arch from the individual to the world.

The two minds behind Atelier PMP, designer and artist Stefanie Mayr and creative brand maker Daniel Plettenberg, are always probing boundaries and mining change, as can be seen in their latest move: a packaging redesign which gives all the fragrances the same visual signature. The new outfit is purist, modern, subtle and yet still manages to give each scent an unmistakable look. What unites them is the classic, crystal-clear shape of the bottles; what distinguishes them is the typography of the name, which shines both on the bottle and on the elegant, matte black packaging  (forgive me if I’m repeating myself here, but the outer packaging is crucial as it protects the exquisite contents from daylight or artificial light). I instantly fell for the new design. It enhances brand recognition, it sums up what the brand is all about and it puts the fragrance and its name firmly at the centre of the stage. The new packaging reveals the unity in diversity, the diversity in unity – and that’s a strong message we should all embrace!  

Need some good advice?

A fragrance is a lot like a relationship: you can just leave things to chance and perhaps get lucky – or you can let yourself be beguiled, led and, finally, seduced. Applied to perfume, we call this a fragrance consultation, and it is a pleasure you should really treat yourself to!

If you’re not familiar with the fragrance world and want some unbiased advice in your search for “your” perfume, then a fragrance consultation is ideal. But even if you know your own preferences, you should still consider a consultation as it can often open up new, unexpected ideas and perspectives.

The key ingredient in a good consultation is a skilled consultant. At will be a brand we always provide special training folders for the products we sell. Good consultants have profound knowledge and expertise in fragrances, they are familiar with the ingredients, the quality and, of course, the story behind each fragrance. In perfumery art more than perhaps in any other field, there’s often an inspiring story, idea or brilliant concept behind the actual scent. For example, The Beautiful Mind Series, Geschöpf or Escentric Molecules. Sometimes the application needs to be explained: with COMBINISM, for example, you can combine two separate fragrances.

A good fragrance consultant has the necessary instinct to sense what the customer needs. Appearances – for instance, what the customer is wearing or what car happens to be parked outside the shop – don’t count.  A skilled consultant will ask what the person’s favourite season is, what they do in their leisure time and what places are special for them. These are important pointers for what makes a person tick and which fragrance will match their personality, their life – or even “just” a special occasion.  

A successful consultation should never overburden the nose: class, not mass is the guiding principle. Four or five perfumes are more than enough; an artisan perfume is not something you pick up like a loaf of bread. Mornings are a good time for a consultation because the olfactory senses are still fresh. You should always dab your final choices on your wrist to allow the fragrance to develop on the skin and then, most importantly, take a walk around the block. Occasionally, you may get a surprise but it will almost always lead to a better, more informed decision.   

Whatever you do, don’t be afraid to ask! Sales consultants in perfume shops are passionate about what they do and love nothing better than applying all their skills to find the perfect match. What really makes them happy is seeing a customer blissfully leaving the shop with a new fragrance.

So, in conclusion: a fragrance consultation is a true pleasure. It can open the doorway to incredibly beautiful fragrances which you might never have discovered on your own and without unbiased advice.

2020: the summer of Escentric Molecules 05

There’s one aspect of perfumery art that rarely receives the recognition it deserves, namely the fact that it offers years of consistent creativity at the highest level. In other words: there are no flops that vanish from the market as fast as they are launched. Perfumery art delivers the classic fragrances of the future – and Escentric Molecules is one of the very best examples.

The label was founded in 2005, and in spring 2020 it will launch Molecule 05 and Escentric 05 – the latest fragrances in an incredible series. It goes without saying that Geza Schön has remained true to his fundamental concept: Molecule uses a single molecule, pure and undiluted; Escentric is a composition based on the hero molecule, which in this case is Cashmeran.

Geza Schön describes Cashmeran as “the abstraction of a hot summer on a Mediterranean island”. But as well as this wonderfully graphic description, 05 also pays homage to modern synthetic perfumery. The molecule was developed at the end of the 1970s by IFF. Cashmeran has an unusually complex and rich character. It combines a cocooning, musky softness with a dry, aromatic woodiness and a sweet and resinous pine note. Cashmeran has the star quality to shine as the main component in a fragrance – as Schön has shown with Molecule 05.

Cashmeran also plays the lead role in Escentric 05. Schön wanted to create a different kind of summer fragrance – and, as one would expect, it is far removed from the mainstream. For starters, it lacks the typical oceanic, marine notes, which he finds too artificial. He was inspired by a walk on a hot afternoon, up from the sea – and past aromatic Mediterranean herbs, shrubs, woods and orange groves. Accordingly, in 05, the olfactory journey takes you from bergamot and orange, through laurel, rosemary and other ingredients until you reach the Cashmeran and its piney warmth. It is a deeply sensuous journey that lingers on.

Escentric Molecules 05, which launches in spring, makes me yearn for summer – although it goes without saying that you can wear it at any time of year. This is no olfactory one-hit wonder for 2020. Instead it has a great future as one of tomorrow’s classic fragrances.

Of life and the art of being oneself

Occasionally the very highest perfumery standards and fundamental ideological standpoints converge. Like Combinism with EmpaTopia – or GESCHÖPF, another fragrance created by Atelier PMP.

Behind the evocative name lies a very simple concept: everything is creation, we are all a part of it. Everyone is a creature – no matter what your gender is, where you come from, what you look like. GESCHÖPF sums up this principle and is an affectionate and bold homage to being yourself.

This is not “unisex” taken to its logical conclusion – it goes far beyond that. It’s about equality without making everyone the same: we are all created of the same substance, with equal rights, of equal value and importance. At the same time, it’s about individuality, because each and every creature is different.

This is a message I can completely get on board with – and even if it’s not your personal cup of tea, perhaps this magnificent composition may inspire you to consider it. Perfumers Mark Buxton and David Chieze have created an exquisite and subtle fragrance which, as they put it, “oscillates between a deep, clear truth, the freshness of figs, heat and incense.” For me, it’s a fine, elegant and deeply captivating fragrance.

The same applies to ŌN by Atelier PMP. The name comes from the Greek prefix ón , which means ‘being’, and  it describes everything  that exists – everything that has been and everything that will be, not just material objects, but also dreams, hopes, ideas and creativity.

Everything that exists, in a perfume? It may sound far-fetched, but ŌN unites sensual ingredients used around the world to tap into the conscious self – from incense to amber and from labdanum to marijuana. Despite these “weighty” ingredients, ŌN is not heavy, in fact it’s a light, subtle fragrance – and a wonderful creation for the here and now.

Upgrade your home

In 2017, roughly 790,000 tons of candles were sold in Europe – which is probably a new record. I don’t know how many of those candles were scented candles, but figures for 2018 published by the industry association show that this segment is on fire, if you’ll pardon the pun. At the beginning of the year I read an article about “the strange boom in scented candles”. But why strange? There are – and especially in the U.S. – many small start-ups that have pushed onto the market with a “traditional” product like fragranced candles and have been exceptionally successful. The power of images seems to play a key role in driving these sales. Lovely, aspirational images on Instagram of these candles in influencers’ homes obviously make others want to buy into the trend.

For me, what counts more than pretty pictures are exclusive scents – and that brings us straight to URBAN SCENTS, who have some truly exquisite scented candles. The Berlin-based luxury label shows just how sensuous, aesthetic and modern scented candles can be. The ingredients are produced in Grasse by an artisan manufacturer, guaranteeing the very highest quality. The compositions and fragrance moods created by Marie Urban-Le Febvre elevate the rooms they scent to create an exquisite atmosphere. A scented candle by URBAN SCENTS is a real upgrade for any home – and not just in winter.

It’ll come as no surprise to learn that URBAN SCENTS candles also look the part: the candles are encased in heavy blue glass holders inspired by the bottles used for the fragrances. Like the bottles, they are hand-made in France. If you ask me, the results are more than Instagrammable – with the only drawback being that you don’t get to smell the fabulous scent.

ART AS AN EXPERIENCE FOR THE NOSE

“I fundamentally see beauty as being a moment in time”. For fashion designer Matthew Miller, beauty is a brief fleeting moment, so I am particularly pleased that the perfume label Verdúu has decided to honour the British designer with a fragrance. For me this is a very apt philosophy, as the idea of transience lies at the heart of every perfume. The fact that the designer sees fashion as a product adds an intriguing angle. 

Matthew Miller – the winner of the renowned Woolmark Prize 2017/18 – is the fifth young designer Verdúu has picked to feature on their olfactory catwalk. Like the other scents, the nose behind this wonderful composition is Mark Buxton, and as usual he brilliantly interprets the creative world of the fashion designer. The inspiration for the fragrance comes from the world of art: “Art is fundamental to design”, Matthew Miller once said. And that is why his fragrance has all the notes of an opening at a high-class art gallery: art as an olfactory experience – beauty captured in an unusual moment.

All of Verdúu’s fashion fragrances are available only in small 15ml bottles. This is such a brilliant idea, because it allows you to compile a small but exquisite “perfume library” and pick your “it” piece to match your mood and the season.

Stay dirty is the new scrubbing up

Dreckig bleiben” (Stay Dirty) was the first fragrance launched by the Hamburg-based independent label Atelier PMP, and it was an unprecedented success. This sensational fragrance, created by master perfumer Mark Buxton, recently was honoured with a 4-star listing in Luca Turin’s “Perfume Bible”.

Provocative as the name is, you shouldn’t take it too seriously: only recently the label launched a matching line of bath and shower products, with a Liquid Soap and Shower Gel. I am a massive fan of line extensions, not least because they give perfume fanatics even more ways of wearing a favourite fragrance. Products like these also make it easier for people who may be nervous about experimenting with unusual, daring perfumes to dip a toe in the water, as it were: a shower gel has a lower accessibility threshold than an eau de parfum. I sincerely hope that the new Liquid Soap and Shower Gel – both of which are free from parabens, silicone, gluten and contain no animal products, making them fully vegan-friendly – inspires more people to try these fragrances and incorporate them in their everyday life.

Liquid Soap and Shower Gel feature the same bold woody notes with cedar, Guajac wood oil and sandalwood in the base collide with a surprising accord of Calabrian bergamot, Tunisian neroli oil, Sicilian mandarin and zingy fresh ginger for a pleasantly refreshing effect.

“Stay dirty means hanging out with your best friends around a bonfire by the riverside in your comfy sweatpants – your toes in the sand and a glass of wine in your hand”, Daniel Plettenberg of Atelier PMP once said. And what better way of extending that incomparable feeling than jumping under the shower, rinsing the sand from between your toes and breathing in the lingering scent of this relaxed lifestyle.

Happy birthday to youuuu…!

The art of perfumery is young – so young, in fact, that one of its most revolutionary creations has only just gone into double-digits and is celebrating its tenth birthday this year. Escentric Molecules 02 was launched in 2008 on the niche market and was an instant sensation. Never before had Ambroxan smelt so “new” than in Geza Schön’s fragrance: warm, sensual, animalic, and at the same time imbued with a fresh, almost mineral quality. Most fragrances claiming to contain amber only have between 1% and 2% Ambroxan. In contrast, Escentric 02 triumphs with the maximum content of 13.5% – any higher and Ambroxan starts to crystallise.

Escentric 02 and Molecules O2 are celebrating their birthday with a beautifully designed Limited Edition EM 02 Power of Ten. The 100ml bottles are now available in unique travel cases made of brushed, anodised aluminium in different colours – very stylish, very urbane, very luxurious. The packaging creativity is visibly (and tangibly) impressive.

Of course, the fragrances haven’t changed: Molecule 02 contains pure Ambroxan; Escentric 02 combines it with Hedione (jasmine blossom), a gin and tonic accord and a hint of the Austrian soft drink Almdudler.

We are delighted and exceptionally proud to be launching this Limited Edition in Germany at a sensational event. EM 02 Power of Ten will be getting its first public outing at “VOGUE loves Breuninger” on 20 October 2018 in Stuttgart. Geza Schön will be there in person in the morning to autograph products and answer questions.

And there’s another exclusive cooperation: from 13 through 27 October 2018, the Limited Edition will be exclusively available from Breuninger Stuttgart and its online shop. After this, the fragrances will go on sale in other selected perfume shops and concept stores.

BTW: only ten per cent of all perfumes launched on the “regular” perfume market survive their first year. Of this ten per cent, only 40 per cent are still around at the end of the second year. It just goes to show: quality, creativity and art will prevail. Happy Birthday, Escentric Molecules 02 – and here’s to many more years!

Stars, stars, stars

Atelier PMP is one of our youngest brands: the studio was founded five years ago in Hamburg and is the brainchild of multi-talent and brand-builder Daniel Plettenberg and fashion designer and artist Stefanie Mayr. The pair commissioned perfume artist Mark Buxton to create their first scents, Dreckig Bleiben, Concrete Flower and anti anti. The results are truly idiosyncratic, wonderfully composed fragrances, each of which tells a story – starting with the packaging: Dreckig Bleiben (Stay Dirty) has a cap made of smoked wood taken from an old half-timbered house, Concrete Flower features a cap made of concrete, while anti anti is capped with cool Italian marble.

I am delighted that these scents have been included in the latest edition of what industry experts and scent lovers alike regard as the fragrance bible: “Perfumes” by Luca Turin and Tania Sanchez. The biophysicist and scent scientist Turin has long been considered the “Perfume Pope”. His highly readable and profound comments – or should we say rulings – can occasionally be scathing, and no exception is made for the “big” fragrances (scent is always a matter of personal preference!). However, he was in no doubt about his opinion of the Atelier PMP creations: magnificent. All three of the brand’s fragrances are not only listed (and may I point out that it is an honour to get even within sniffing distance of the master…), but received a sensational four-star rating. The fact that three of the world’s leading fragrances come from a small studio in a rear courtyard in Hamburg’s arty Karolinenviertel district just goes to show the immense creativity and vision of perfume artistry and the people behind it. Congratulations to Atelier PMP! We are very happy for you – and are eagerly looking forward to your next project.