One of my peeves about new fragrance launches, particularly mass market, is that you just know the brand has identified a category they need to fill and then made up a story around it. You can guarantee that the fragrance is inspired by a ‘strong, independent woman simmering on the inside with desire and sensuality…’ etc, etc. There’s no real inspiration other than cash.
The new breed of niche fragrances, however, do tend to come right from the heart and have a proper inspiration – an anchor if you like, to tie what you smell with an expression of experience. In the case of Atelier Bloem, developed by Andrew Goetz, one half of the brand Malin and Goetz, you’re invited into a trail of scent memories that are built from an emotional journey of experiences using Amsterdam as a backdrop. Andrew lived in Amsterdam in the 1980’s – he went on a weekend trip from London where he was studying and while he was there his London flat burned down. So, he never came back, staying in Amsterdam for the next seven years, quickly falling into the way of buying fresh flowers almost daily as easily as a morning coffee.
Andrew worked with a perfumer to help him develop this collection and translate his olfactory memories of Amsterdam into bottles of fragrance. Often, the best fragrance comes from someone who isn’t expert and because it’s his own brand, he can do as he pleases with no script or pre-prepared agenda that professional perfumers more often than not have to work to. There’s definitely a freshness about the six strong collection that’s interesting and uncontrived.
The fragrance that I was immediately drawn to is Half Moon with top notes of Bergamot and Peach. The peach comes through so strongly, mingling with bergamot, white jasmine and a kick of green. The base layer of amber and musks is light and unobtrusive. Half Moon is named for the ship, Halve Maen, sailed by Henry Hudson for the Dutch East India Company (who actually was heading for China but somehow ended up in the river that bears his name, The Hudson).
The Atelier Bloem collection feels uncynical and heart-felt: it’s not destined for wide distribution but to sit with retailers (this is launching into Liberty on 10th April) known for their niche fragrance edits, not least because it’s £160 a bottle. What I think I like best about Andrew’s story is that now, years away from a young, bewildered man let loose in Amsterdam in the 80’s with London already under his belt and his next and last destination being New York, he’s now a keen gardener in his 50s with a love of flowers that in all that time only ever got stronger.
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