It’s easy to forget, with the current pre-Christmas bombardment of advertising, the difference between mass market fragrance and artisan creations. I’ve never been a perfume snob, preferring to flit from scent to scent as the mood takes me and never so much as giving a thought to their history. But after a visit to the new Miller Harris store in Monmouth St, Covent Garden, the concept of a fragrance created by a ‘nose’ rather than in a lab is suddenly very real. Lyn Harris is a formally trained (in France, where else?) perfumier and works surrounded by phials, glass bottles, weighing scales and rare essences to create her scents. She doesn’t work to a ‘creative brief’ as mass fragrances do – they often appoint a ‘creative director’ who leaves it to technicians to interpret his or her ideas – and uses the finest possible raw ingredients. Mass fragrances are such a money maker for the corporations that ingredient quality is the least of their worries; preferring often to use celebrities to ‘sell’ their fragrances rather than focussing on the smell itself. Generously, I was given a bottle of Noix de Tubereuse; an exquisitely light blend that I’ve fallen instantly in love with, and the very fact that I now know how much detail and care went into the creation of it makes it very special indeed. In a surprising twist, Lyn used to create fragrances for one of my favourite beauty brands, Fresh, so unwittingly, I’ve been a fan of hers for a very long time.
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