The Young Fragrance House Making Your New Favourite Perfumes

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Courtesy of Iiuvo

London-based fragrance brand Iiuvo launches its debut line of perfumes today – they’re inspired by Frank Sinatra, a muse of Picasso, and a prima ballerina respectively

  1. Who is it?
    London-based fragrance brand Iiuvo
  2. Why do I want it?
    Powerful, evocative fragrances inspired by contemporary cultural touchstones
  3. Where can I find it?
    Online, and in Harrods, Browns, L’Eclaireur and select global retailers

Who is it? The world of perfumery is traditionally a very closed one, its codes passed down from generation to generation in family tradition, or taught in closed laboratories in perfume strongholds such as Grasse. How, then, might a pair of young and enthusiastic connoisseurs of fragrance break into the industry without any formal training?

For London-based Tomi Ahmed and Leo Gibbon, this was the crucial question. They came to perfume from refreshingly unassuming paths, motivated by a passion for fragrance as a means of marking emotional milestones and inspired by “the poetry of the everyday”. Gibbon’s mother, a florist, taught him from an early age about the power of scent, while for Ahmed a long stretch working at Comme des Garçons’ Dover Street Market had imparted a lesson or two about brand-building. Soon after their serendipitous meeting at a mutual friend’s party in Paris, Iiuvo – its name founded upon the Latin verb which means ‘to help, aid, assist’ and ‘to please, delight, gratify’ – was born. Together the pair set down their own olfactory cues, from Southern hip-hop tracks to childhood memories of Gibbon’s Irish grandmother’s garden, and set out in search of the craftspeople with the means to manifest them in molecules.

They succeeded, naturally; Iiuvo’s debut candle range launched in spring 2015, and took the form of three unisex fragrances – Ajon, Emmie and Woodgrain – which were met with acclaim. When Bullshit, a candle created in collaboration with Mexican artist Stefan Brüggemann, followed in 2016 – a rich and memorable fragrance combining Sichuan pepper, grapefruit and tangerine with lily-of-the-valley, musk and tonka bean – their reputation was made concrete.

Why do I want it? Today, Iiuvo launches Edition One, the very first range of fragrances executed not in the form of candles but in perfumes, to be applied to the body. The three scents were created over the course of two years with the world-famous fragrance house Robertet, and continue Iiuvo’s young but effective tradition for working to an agenda set by people, places, memories and music, rather than a prescriptive, traditional approach. Take the first, for example. Named Soigné, after the French word meaning “cared for” or “looked after”, it evokes the immaculate style and opulent spirit of a Frank Sinatra-type – rich and charismatic and memorable. “Spicy top notes of nutmeg, ceylon and cinnamon overlay a warm centre featuring cashmere, wood and patchouli, built upon a delicate base of sandalwood and white musk,” the duo explain. It is bourbon-nightcap-at-a-pinewood-cabin-in-the-forest warm, charismatic and sauntering.

The second, Gilot, is eminently fresher – it’s named after Françoise Gilot, the artist, lover and muse of Picasso, and the only one of his wives to successfully leave his oppressive forcefield. Ahmed and Gibbon’s key references include a 1948 photograph, they explain, which “shows the couple on holiday in Golfe-Juan, Gilot walking magnificently in front while Picasso follows behind, shading his love with a parasol. Her power, and his vulnerability to it, are palpable.” Gilot’s Mediterranean spirit manifests itself in fresh top notes of grapefruit and bergamot; the neroli and nutmeg core are softened by “warm base notes of musk and white marshmallow”, to create a scent as cool, sharp and sweet as its namesake.

Finally, the sinister beauty of Stanley Kubrick’s oeuvre is a key reference point for the brand’s third fragrance, Fonteyn, which takes its name from the prima ballerina Margot; the pair describe a 1970 recording of Frederick Ashton’s Nocturne ballet as their primary reference. “The legendary prima ballerina, Margot Fonteyn, seems to dance a beautiful solo, until the camera pans left and reveals a shadowy figure behind, for whom Fonteyn’s performance is a desperate entreaty… When the shadowy figure finally advances into the light, Fonteyn falls to her knees in tears before him, undone.” The resulting fragrance is delicate and powerful, combining rosemary, wormwood and cardamom with a rich, fruity core to create an earthy ode to Kubrick and Fonteyn’s respective artistry. What a tribute.

Where can I find it? Soigné, Gilot and Fonteyn are available online, and in Harrods, Browns, L’Eclaireur and select global retailers.