Niche an introduction
When it comes to fragrances, the world of niche perfumes stands as a testament to the extraordinary. Emerging in the 1980’s niche houses were small, an antithesis to the larger commercial brands obsessed with marketing over substance. Niche perfume houses, often independently owned, have the liberty to chase their creative dreams without constraints.
Niche at its best is artistry in a bottle, it’s a celebration of the rare, the beautiful that goes beyond the ordinary. These artisans of scent prioritise high-quality ingredients that are meticulously sourced and thoughtfully blended. Niche fragrances are more than scents; they're an experience, a piece of olfactory art that dares to be different.
Niche perfume houses view fragrance as more than a consumer product, in doing so they are constantly looking for experimental and new ways to bring an olfactory experience to new heights. Be that via new accords, combining notes not usually matched, breaking down gender norms or integrating storytelling to bring the perfumes to life.
Before we get carried away. Let's scratch the surface of some themes within the enchanting world of niche perfumes.
Storytelling in a Bottle
Brands like Zoologist Perfumes, Imaginary Authors, and Histories de Parfum are examples of brands that curate a narrative that is unique to each scent they release. The former, drawing on the unique habitats and characters of animals; the latter, inspired by famous people from history such as the infamous fiction writer Jules Verne (in 1828). Zoologist, in particular, masterfully coordinate the notes to the idea behind each scent, making it an extraordinary escapade to explore this range. For those niche fragrances that are well-executed, they become more than just a scent, they’re stories that unfold on your skin, creating a sensory experience that's truly immersive.
A Fragrant Tapestry of Individuality
Many niche brands are a collaboration between the creative mind behind a brand and professional third party perfumers (the nose) to bring the perfumes to life. Conversely, for some niche brands like Strangers Parfumerie and UNUM the creative mind and the nose are the same. In these instances the range takes on a personal dimension.
Prin Lomos, the perfumer behind Strangers Parfumerie is a teacher of filmmaking, this becomes evident in many of his perfumes which draw inspiration from some of his favourite movies. Prin discloses his notes without instruction of which fall into top, middle or base notes. In doing so he invites you to experience each scent in your own unique way.
Filippo Sorcinelli, the artist behind UNUM, along with a passion for gothic art, music and photography, has an interesting personal relationship with the catholic church. Many of the ideas that go into his bottle designs have biblical influences or gothic inspirations. UNUM the brands and the life of its creator are inextricably linked and it feels like you get to know Filippo personally as you explore this range.
Champions of Ingredients
Goldfield & Banks and Maison Tahite are two brands that highlight individual ingredients. Maison Tahite, an Italian brand, which currently has three collections, each revolving around a core ingredient of vanilla, cacao, and coffee respectively. Goldfield’s is an Australian house which has utilised high quality Australian ingredients such as finger limes and various Australian botanicals. In doing so, have elevated these ingredients onto perfumery's global stage.
Dare to be Different
Some brands challenge us to be daring and different and can borderline on the shocking. Maison Matine encourages us to be more daring and to take risks every day; while Etat Libre d'Orange can be thought of as rule breakers due to scents such as Archive 69 which is inspired by the sexual liberation movement, or more controversially But Not Today by UNUM (inspired by Silence of the Lamb) that are fun and outrageous fragrances that you won’t find from mainstream designer houses. It is such brands that help set the niche world apart.
As a whole, niche perfumery offers olfactory experiences that embrace your personal journey. Each note tells a story, and every fragrance becomes a part of your own narrative. It's a realm where you don't just wear a perfume; you embody a scent that's as unique as you are.