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.


“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.


Escentric 04 is now also available as a body wash, completing the Escentric Molecules’ Body Wash range. The new shower gel has a seductively soft, fresh hit of Javanol for a zesty, energising leap into summer.

“Javanol is like truffles: a few shavings of truffle are enough to transport you to heaven” – is how perfumer Geza Schön describes the main component in his fragrance Escentric 04, which has now launched as a Body Wash.

Javanol, a futuristic sandalwood molecule, features sandalwood in a completely new form: without the woody heaviness, and instead with an incredibly soft, radiant, sheer and transparent sparkle. “Psychedelic freshness”, is what Geza Schön calls his olfactory coup, where pink grapefruit peel, juniper, pink pepper and a hint of marihuana dance around a Javanol heart.

The main ingredient in the fourth Body Wash in the series is “Energen”, which unites the functional ingredients of soapberry (sapindus mukorossi) and tara (caesalpinia spinosa). These natural ingredients – one from the Himalayas, the other from the Andes – are not only exceptionally skin-friendly, they also lift the fragrance onto a higher plane. The Body Wash is free from parabens and sulphates.

Body Wash 04 features the new Escentric Molecules artwork, which ­– like the entire range of fragrances – was designed by London-based Me Company. The digital look presents the interplay of “Art & Chemistry”; the radial lines were inspired by atomic collisions in a particle accelerator.

The Body Wash is available to order now from will be a brand and can be purchased in selected perfume shops and concept stores.

200 ml | €45.00

Dirty Shades of Grey – Tackling the shady side of perfumery

The grey market is a topic I have written about before. Regrettably, it’s also something that just refuses to go away, meaning that it’s time to take a closer look at the shady side of the perfume business. With our perfume artworks – which some people call niche perfumery – we are increasingly facing a massive wave of grey market goods on a scale that is severely damaging for our business. These grey market products include:

– Cheap re-imports, i.e. originals where the best – before date has usually expired. In violation of distribution agreements, these products are being brought into our sales region by other distributors. Their fate is to be flogged off like the cheapest mass-market scents.
– Stolen goods.
– Counterfeit products from the Middle East and Asia.

So how do you tell the good apples from the bad? Well, we’ve just made the task of distinguishing between authorised distributors and the grey market a whole lot easier with our new database, which allows customers and consumers to search for authorised retailers. The database also lists the black sheep – the sellers who are sabotaging our business. We’ll be updating this list continually as we receive new information, so be sure to check back regularly!  
One brand that is particularly affected by the grey market is Escentric Molecules, a label that has enjoyed a meteoric rise in the world of fine perfumery. Unfortunately, the downside of the brand’s fame and popularity are cheap reimports and fakes.
will be a brand has worked hard to establish the perfumes we represent as exclusive products: We want will be a brand perfumery art to remain something precious, and not become mass-market products (which is one reason we are so careful in selecting our points of sale). Products that are very scarce are also usually highly sought-after – this underlying fact has caused the grey market to flourish.

As a result, the grey market is seriously threatening our business. It is endangering the reputation of a fantastic brand. It tricks consumers, because a fragrance that is past its best-by date needs to be reapplied more often, the bottle is empty faster and ultimately, can end up being more expensive than buying the original. Quite apart from that, the grey market poses a potential threat to consumers in several ways. Not only is it illegal to buy stolen goods (and, under certain circumstances, also counterfeit products), cheap copies are highly unlikely to be laboratory tested. But then, what does consumer health matter if you can make a quick profit?
Let me put this in a nutshell: fragrances where retailers and consumers can be sure of authenticity, quality and product safety always come from an authorised distributor, like will be a brand.
There’s another point I wish to emphasise: our work doesn’t just involve distributing perfume artworks and exclusive brands. We are responsible for establishing these brands and building them up. We select the right sales channels, we organise training events and promotions. We are second to none in our profound knowledge of the segment, and we support, inform and assist our partners in the POS. Good service doesn’t come for free … which is an aspect that is included in the (higher) price!
There are many very good reasons to avoid luxury fragrances that are obviously TOO cheap. The fact that ultimately someone is going to pay the price – either through forfeiting their credibility, their health or their business – is at the top of the list.

The grey market completely lacks transparency and it is very difficult to contain it. The only people who can succeed in doing this in the long term are honest, authorised retailers – and consumers.

Things could be so easy…

The best of two worlds

I am absolutely delighted to welcome a new brand to our portfolio: Urban Scents from our home city of Berlin. On second thoughts: let me modify that slightly as it isn’t quite accurate – the label can comfortably be described as very international.

The nose behind Urban Scents is French, and belongs to Marie Urban-Le Febvre. After training to become a perfumer at the top schools, she spent many years in the fragrance industry working for major houses, including Haarmann & Reimer, Symrise and Takasago. Now, in Berlin, she is creating her own scents under the label Urban Scents. The exquisite perfume oils are sourced in the scent capital of Grasse (I’m using the word capital to underscore the importance of the city…). The company that Urban Scents is collaborating with was founded by one of the really big perfumers of the 20th century, Edmond Roudnitska. This collaboration tells you a lot about Urban Scents: this is definitely a label with a heightened awareness of tradition and quality.

I am a massive fan of the heavy, night-blue bottles (which are made in northern France): the dark blue glass provides the perfect protection for the costly fragrances – and looks incredibly stylish. Wondering what the significance of the logo with the propeller is? Let me enlighten you: Marie Urban-Le Febvre is a passionate aviator. Also, her label Urban Scents aims to add a new spin on fragrance and steer into fresh olfactory terrains.

All seven fragrances (Gunpowder Cologne, Desert Rose, Lost Paradise, Vetiver Reunion, Dark Vanilla, Singular Oud and Sensual Blend) are exceptionally wearable without being too eager to please. They are exquisite, but not heavy. Their richness is not drawn from profusion, but from the outstanding quality of the choice ingredients and from the fine composition. 

I am particularly pleased that we will also be including the Urban Scents fragranced candles in our portfolio. Scented candles are definitely a matter of personal choice, and they often overwhelm me. Happily, this isn’t the case here, because Urban Scents distinguishes very clearly between home scents and body scents. The compositions of the candles are new and explicitly created for rooms. There are four fragrances (Club Lounge, Holy Wood, Oriental Tales and Matcha Green Tea – and they also come in beautiful, heavy blue glass holders). They are subtle persuaders with strong personalities.

In a nutshell: Urban Scents is the best of both worlds. Classic perfumery expertise meets the spirit of vibrant Berlin – and lifts off to new flights of fancy.