I was invited to an event at London niche perfume store Les Senteurs that took place last Wednesday. It featured three special guests from the perfume industry: Pissara Umavijani of Parfums Dusita, Lynorette Morsch from Les Bains Guerbois and Andy Tauer of Tauer Perfumes.
Pissara moved to Paris from Thailand in the hope of starting her own perfume brand within three months, which turned out to be a year. Lynorette is the Product & Export Manager for Les Bains Guerbois who are a heritage brand dating back to the 1885 Parisian Spa, reinvented in 2016. I trotted along largely because I’d missed out on hearing Andy Tauer talk previously. He has been making artisan perfumes in Zurich, Switzerland for the last 14 years-odd years.
He explained to us that he wouldn’t be where he is now without Luca Turin. They were both blogging in 2005 when blogging really was a thing. Andy sent Luca some samples which were included in Perfumes: The Guide, kick-starting his career. Prior to that he been working on research programmes for the EU and was looking for a creative outlet. He happened to read a book by natural perfumer Mandy Aftel while on holiday (presumably Essence and Alchemy) and decided to explore perfumery, firstly using essential oils.
It was interesting to hear how he believes his inspiration comes from outside and sees it as “a genie on my shoulder”. He mentioned that in the past, artists didn’t take credit for their creations but felt they acted as a conduit. Andy says if anything he sees himself more as an engineer and doesn’t feel it appropriate to call his own work “art” .
His favourite materials to compose with are ambergris and its synthetic interpretation, Ambroxan. He also enjoys working with rose as you can tell from the number of rose perfumes in his line.
When the three were asked to pick a perfume or two from their collections to share, Andy (of course) chose L’AdDM. He told us that in a way, it is a curse as well as a blessing because everything he releases gets compared to it and it’s hard to beat. The idea behind it was the scented breeze you encounter when stepping out onto the balcony at a hotel on the edge of the Moroccan desert, filled with spice and a touch of jasmine. It featured in the fantastic exhibition Perfume: A Sensory Journey Through Contemporary Scent that Megan in Sainte Maxime and I visited last year.
Pissara chose two fragrances, the first of which is evocative of her home country, Thailand. As James Craven, the Fragrance Archivist for Les Senteurs noted, La Douceur de Siam is a very romantic, pink-tinged perfume. Pissara agreed, saying that it was inspired in part by the sun rising over the temples. The second was Melodie de l’Amour which is a lush white floral with a fair bit of fresh tuberose that won an Art and Olfaction Award in 2017.
The Dusita perfumes are high quality and very polished. Mind you, Oudh Infini has enough barnyard skank to knock your socks off.
Lynorette chose two fragrances from Les Bains Guerbois which to her, represent two different seasons: 2015 Le Phenix for winter (cardamom, ginger, patchouli, cedarwood, incense and amber) and 1885 Les Bains Sulfureux (the aromatic scent of the Turkish and Roman bathhouses) for summer.
Persolaise was live-streaming the event and asked a great question from one of the viewers: “Which perfume do you admire from another brand?”.
Pissara said she loves fragrances with a long history such as Diorissimo and Andy Tauer said he has worn the classic leather Knize Ten as wall as Palisander from the Comme des Garcons Red Series. Lynorette was fond of By Kilian’s Taste of Heaven because she likes lavender and Cocobello by Heeley because its coconut scent reminds her of holidays.
It was an enjoyable and enlightening evening and an added bonus was getting to catch up with a few fragrance friends.
Do let me know your thoughts about the perfumes of any of these three houses in the comments.