Launching a new product in the niche fragrance sector 15 years ago would, depending on the quality and concept, almost certainly secure you a slice of this extremely lucrative business. Now however, the market has become saturated with hundreds of companies—and mediocre products—trying to enter the marketplace that claim to be niche, yet are as close to high-end perfumery as Dinner by Heston Blumenthal really is the so-called ‘seventh best restaurant in the world’ (according to the San Pellegrino World’s Best Restaurants list).
With that mind, I rarely hear of new fragrance launches nowadays that grab my attention. Until now, that is. Signalling a new era of niche perfumery, FOUR (yes, that’s us!) has stepped in, collaborating with the luxury perfume brand Boadicea The Victorious to create a bespoke scent called Vetiver Imperiale.
Boadicea The Victorious is a well-known brand within the upper echelons of the perfume industry. Focusing on high-quality, low-production perfumes stocked in exclusive locations, such as Harrods and Selfridges in London and Neiman Marcus in the US, the brand is the very definition of niche. But their newest fragrance has just become even more niche, in that FOUR and Boadicea The Victorious have also teamed up with starry London-based chef and restaurateur Jason Atherton to design a unique scent.
The fragrance has been under wraps for months, kept such a great secret, that even I—writer and perfumelover—struggled to gain insider information until now. Meeting with FOUR co-founder, Antioco Piras, who came up with the concept of the fragrance, and David Crisp, co-owner of Boadicea The Victorious, at Home House members club in London, I discovered just why this collaboration and the finished product is so special.
“FOUR represents luxury in many different facets,” explains Antioco. “The brand is expanding into different industries—perfume being one of them—to establish itself as a luxury brand. On a personal level, my passion is high-end perfumery and I have wanted to venture into this business for a long time.”
Setting up the publishing company Sloane Trading International in 2011, with co-founder Jakob Siegeris, the past four years have seen the FOUR brand grow significantly, leaving little time to focus on fragrances, heexplains. “Setting up FOUR pulled me away from even contemplating starting another new business, but that all changed on a trip to Dubai in 2014. I was out there working from our Middle East office and I had a meeting with David as he was a FOUR advertising client at the time. I was on my way to meet David in Downtown Dubai when the idea suddenly dawned on me—I had to come up with a unique angle to persuade him to work with FOUR on a perfume collaboration.”
Gathering ideas and inspiration, it was a dining experience at Sketch (London), where Antioco recalled a dish that stuck with him. “This dish, Perfume of the Earth, was based on the fragrance Terre d’Hermès, and atthe time I remember thinking it was such a brilliant idea because of the sensory connection between the palate and the nose.”
That was it—Antioco’s ‘eureka’ moment. He would work with a top chef to create a unique signature fragrance, finally realising his dream of launching abespoke perfume.
“As I explained this idea to David, I saw his eyes light up. A world-class chef paired with Boadicea The Victorious, one of the most successful niche brands onthe marketplace, and FOUR,” he says.
Through a shared passion for the luxury sector, in particular perfumes, a new collaboration was born. The next step was to identify the chef, someone who had developed an international appeal and displayed a certain ‘art de vivre’ that could encapsulate the spirit of the future FOUR scent.
Antioco approached Jason Atherton, chef and restaurateur behind successful international restaurantsincluding Pollen Street Social, Berners Tavern, Typing Room, City Social and Little Social in London, with additional restaurants in Shanghai, Hong Kong, Singapore and New York (with restaurants opening in Dubai, Sydney and another in London later in the year) to become the creative director behind the fragrance. Jason’s restaurant launches are now legendary, attracting the likes of Benedict Cumberbatch and David Gandy, while his restaurants dominate their respective locations’ dining scene. “He epitomises what we were looking for in a chef collaborator,” addsAntioco.
“Jason clearly has a great passion for the culinary arts and it’s not a massive leap to work with a number of his favourite ingredients to create an inspirational fragrance.” David Crisp of Boadicea The Victorious explains: “Jason brought a number of key ingredients to the table and once mixed by our perfumer,Christian Provenzano, we were able to create a fragrance that we believe meets the passion that Jasonexudes.”
The characteristics of Boadicea The Victorious perfumes are “strength, power and beauty,” says David. These are characteristics perfectly captured in FOUR Vetiver Imperiale, which David says he believes will receive a strong and positive response from the perfume world. “I believe that there will be three key markets for this fragrance: Europe, Russia and the Arabian Gulf. It is a clean, but intense fragrance and [these characteristics are] favoured by these markets.”
Christian, who is based in Paris and Dubai, took inspiration from Jason’s favourite scents to create Vetiver Imperiale. Evocative of sultry southern Italy in the peak of summer, Christian created a deeply memorable scent, designed for a sophisticated wearer. The challenge was “to incorporate as many ‘culinary ingredients’ as possible, for example: three types of pink peppers, a touch of cardamom and rhubarb,” he says.
Top notes are zesty and include mandarin, grapefruit, lemon and orange; middle notes of rose petals and orange flowers, often found in Middle Eastern confectionary, appeal to the gourmand, while the base notes are supported by a beautiful accord of vetiver, cedarwood, patchouli and amber.
“Until this point, Boadicea The Victorious fragrances have been targeted towards a smaller audience, whereas Ithink this special edition FOUR fragrance, incorporating the favourite notes of Jason Atherton, will appeal to a wider group,” Christian says.
Christian is a gourmand at heart and is inspired by the concept of the culinary association to niche perfume. “There is a lot in common with a chef and a perfumer. I recently bought a French cookbook called Le Cuisinier et le Parfumeur,” he reveals. “We—the perfumer and chef—both create to please our customers in a different way.”
With a lavish price tag (the 100ml bottle is priced at £245) Vetiver Imperiale is a fragrance designed with exclusivity in mind, aiming to put the niche back into theperfume industry.
Vetiver Imperiale is exclusively available for three months at Harrods from mid-July 2015 and .