South east Londoners rejoice, you now have your own collection of fragrances! Founded by Peckham-based Michael Donovan, the St Giles collection – named for the after the ancient Camberwell parish in which he was born – has been created to answer the question rarely addressed in perfumes – how does a fragrance make you feel?
Born from over 20 years of perfume passion and experience, Michael’s collection diverges from the inevitable shopping-list of ingredients and ephemeral title hinting at desirability to instead make us feel empowered, inspired or glamorous; whichever aspect of your character you wish to amplify.
A labour of love, Michael has spent the last three years creating five scents with the help of Bertrand Duchaufour, the master of innovative luxury fragrance. They are: The Tycoon (the scent of success), The Actress (modern glamour for centre stage), The Writer (the scent of inspiration), The Mechanic (celebrating the physical) and The Stylist (dress to impress).
The Tycoon: The scent of success
This fragrance conveys luxury and power and is opulent, sumptuous and self-assured, taking you from boardroom to bedroom. The chypre scent is balanced with an intense opening of bitter green galbanum, the gilded fizz of pomelo and grapefruit, green lemons and fresh ginger. The heart is dominated by the spiced woody note of cypriol and flashes of black pepper, nutmeg, spicy celery, magnolia flower and a soupçon of tea. The base has notes of patchouli, labdanum and oakmoss augmented with castoreum.
The Actress: Modern glamour for centre stage
This fragrance is a celebration of sensual glamour. Not a diva fragrance, but an altogether more nuanced performance – she is intelligent, knowing, quite unattainable and a heart breaker! The creamy narcotic lily scent is overlaid with Calabrian lemon, bitter orange, bergamot, basil, lentisque pistachier, and tomato leaf. The supporting cast includes Egyptian jasmine, orchid, honeysuckle and pear plus a base of warm applause featuring sandalwood, patchouli and musk brushed with vanilla custard.
The Writer: The scent of inspiration
The written word is one of life’s great joys. Rosemary stimulates memory performance and its bitter-green intensity provides the focus for this perfume. The scent opens with fresh ginger, rosemary absolute and the focusing sparkle of aldehydes. Clary sage adds ‘sweat of the brow’ and there’s a dash of inspirational rhubarb. At the heart lies a leather/frankincense resin mélange, and at the base lies an inky note achieved with castoreum absolute plus sandalwood, cedarwood from the Atlas mountains and driftwood.
The Mechanic: Celebrating the physical
The smells associated with the mechanic’s pit – oil and rubber, fuel, hot skin – convey the purity of doing something physical and how empowering it feels. Earthy geranium and patchouli open, conjuring the urban jungle, and then castoreum hits leather, caramel smooth, rich and dusky, the hide of an ancient beast, mighty, vigorous and potent. The base of hot rubber, musk, oakmoss and a balsamic, cracked styrax is beautifully balanced. This scent is magnetic, muscular, untamed and desirable.
The Stylist: Dress to impress
This fragrance is sleek, polished and a bit of a show off. The catwalk excitement that jumps from the bottle is bitter orange bigarade combined with the flashbulb glamour of aldehydes plus rum and a mango absolute. The heart is sacred palo santo and frankincense plus a bite of tamarind. An elegant base is conjured from two cedars from Morocco and Virginia, a smooth tobacco absolute, oakmoss, musk and a trim of vanilla cream.
The St Giles Collection will launch exclusively at Selfridges in December priced £130/100mls