What do you think of from the smell of a fragrance? Sadly, more often that we’d like to admit, it’s the duty-free airport shop where we buy them rather than the exotic utopias they allude to. It’s common knowledge that the celeb- and fashion brand scents (mostly out-licensed to external producers) you find in the mass market are less than proper quality – yet most consumers still resort to these, producing a culture of very little olfactory expertise. Luckily, this field is changing, with many independent scent producers emerging across the world, sharing an artisanal as well as highly contemporary approach to the expanded field of fragrance design. Our current favorite is IIUVO, the London-based brand founded by Leo Gibbon and Tomi Ahmed, a musician and a former Dover Street Market creative respectively. A chance encounter over the purchase of a scented candle led Gibbon, who is also the son of a florist, to team up with Gibbon to produce olfactory experiences in product form at an ambition rarely seen. The brand is characterized by a distinctively idiosyncratic approach to scent design, drawing from art, music, literature and personal memory in producing aromas that are as abstract as they are intriguing. Inspired by poignant olfactory memories from their own lives—the woodsy scent of Leo’s grandmother’s Irish garden, the sultry damask roses of a summer spent in Provence—the duo launched their first home fragrance candles in Spring 2015, and went one to collaborate with artist Stefan Brüggemann to create the already-iconic BULLSHIT candle, which once more pushed the boundaries of scent in a commerical context. Today, IIUVO is stocked in prime fashion retail spots including LN-CC and Harrods in London, and 10 Corse Como in Milan.
Working with some of the best young “noses” in the industry (that’s slang for a scent specialist, if you were wondering), the duo continues to expand ways to enrich our lives with the powerful and deeply underrecognized sense of smell. This has most recently manifested itself in their first foray into personal fragrances, launching Edition One, a trio of unisex scents — each aiming to distil the experience of a recalled sensory memory or concept. Each scent — Soigné, Gilot, and Fonteyn — alludes to charismatic artistic figures of the past, be it the swagger of Frank Sinatra or the elegance of Picasso’s young muse. We can’t help to continuously fall in love with the complexity that these scents bring forth – all to say that our duty free goods are packed very, very far away.
IIUVO Edition One – 100ml – £135.
For more information, see IIUVO