Thursday 29 December 2016


We all get so entrenched in our family lives over the festive period that many Twitter and Facebook posts go unread. I am the first to admit that "offline" time is something that I hold very dear, especially at Christmas, but even I couldn't resist when I was asked to create a series of seven posts for Le Jardin Retrouvé. Not heard of them? They were the first "niche" fragrance house and started life in 1975 under the guidance of perfumer Yuri Gutsatz. After almost disappearing following his death in 2005, his son Michel has begun the task of reestablishing the name of Le Jardin Retrouvé for a new generation.

Monday 26 December 2016


This final week before the start of a new year is always a little bit of a “limbo land” for perfume articles. Everyone has so many other things to do during these final seven days but, in case you are looking for something to read this week, I’ve gone through the past twelve months of “Stephan’s Six” interviews and picked my favourite four. There were over forty this year to choose from, ranging from perfumers to painters, and picking between them was difficult because they were all different and fascinating in their own ways. So, I hope you enjoy my “best of” selection from “Stephan’s Six”.

Thursday 22 December 2016

If You Can't Say Anything Nice...

One of the reasons that I started my website on 5th May 2015 was as an attempt to put some fun back into the online fragrance world. By this I mean that some bloggers had decided that they would make it their mission to be as vindictive and cutting as possible, thereby single-handedly attempting to destroy a perfume before it even had a chance to gain a foothold. After working in various parts of the fragrance industry I thought this was a very narrow minded approach and, when some of these perfume companies are also family run enterprises, potentially catastrophic. So, what gives bloggers the right to criticise a perfume?

Monday 19 December 2016

The Christmas Panic

Hands up anyone who's now started to panic that Christmas is on Sunday? You've had fifty-one weeks to get ready for the big day, but I appreciate that real life can often get in the way. So, unless you're going to plump for next day delivery on internet purchases, and risk them not arriving, then your best bet is to brace yourself for some old fashioned high street shopping. There are three things to remember; try to stay calm, queue politely and don't be swayed by desperate shop assistants. To help you along I've chosen four fragrances that can be found in any department store that are guaranteed to impress on Christmas Day.

Thursday 15 December 2016

Forty-Eight Hours in Paris

"Travel broadens the mind" … it’s a well-used motto, but in the case of the last two days it certainly rings true. I spent forty-eight hours in Paris meeting perfume companies, perfumers, distributors, trainers, and still found time for some retail therapy. What I came away with though was far more than flacons; I came back excited that there are still creators with a sound understanding of perfume construction that doesn't just revolve around bells, whistles and bangs. From lush florals to Russian leather, sparkling colognes to the definitive muguet, I experienced them all.

Monday 12 December 2016

CHARLIE ... A Most Original Fragrance

"Legendary status" are two words that seem to be written very easily about today's fragrances, but one was released in 1973 that truly is "legendary". It was reacting to a period of change for women when they were gaining more independence and finally making a dent in the long struggle to sexual equality. Released by America's sweetheart, Revlon, this powerful aldehydic floral would remain a firm favourite because it was sold with an affordable drugstore price tag. Forty-three years after its launch it's about time we lavished some well deserved praise on this ignored classic. So, come with me as we rediscover CHARLIE!

Thursday 8 December 2016


So we’re well and truly into the Christmas season now with queues starting to form and products selling out. Are you still looking for inspiration? Well, every day in the run up to Christmas I’m posting things on Twitter which might be helpful for the perfumistas that you need to buy for, but there’s also twelve months of reviews on here for you to look through. I guessed that you probably don’t have much time so I’ve had a rummage thought the files myself and picked out five of my favourite products which I think would make excellent gifts. Hopefully one of these might be added to your cart by the end of the day.

Monday 5 December 2016


There are times when you suddenly rediscover a lost favourite and wonder why you ever stopped using it. This happened to me a few weeks ago, and the emails that I got after I mentioned it on twitter made me realise that it needed to be reviewed again. We are constantly bombarded with perfume release after perfume release but it’s an occasional glance back to the past that makes you realise some of these "new" fragrances actually owe a lot to earlier scents. I’m talking about ORIGINAL MUSK by Kiehl’s, their most famous fragrance, and getting to know it again has been a pretty sexy experience.

Thursday 1 December 2016

BLACK OSMANTHUS by Marina Barcenilla

Renaming and rebranding is one thing, but taking your company outside of its original fragrance style is completely different. This is the situation that Marina Barcenilla finds herself in with the release of her first perfume under the Marina Barcenilla Parfums label. Four weeks ago, on 1st November 2016, The Perfume Garden changed its identity but took five of the most popular perfumes with it. With one of these being the FiFi Award winning India there were high expectations for the new company's debut fragrance, Black Osmanthus. Would a new name signal a new style or would it just be a case of "the emperors new clothes"?

Monday 28 November 2016


Meticulous attention to detail is the quality that has set Victoria Frolova, aka Bois de Jasmin, apart from most other perfume writers. An encyclopedic knowledge and a wonderful way of making even the most stuffy subject feel exciting is why her website has become a regular stop for any perfume enthusiast. After writing about everyone else’s perfume, what would be the ones that resonate with her? I asked her “Stephan’s Six” in the hope that we would find out a little bit more about Victoria Frolova.

Thursday 24 November 2016


One of the best times to write about fragrance is as we approach the festive season. Throughout the previous twelve months there will have been numerous launches and products, but during Christmas we fall back on some old favourites and maybe introduce a few new ones. With this in mind I've been working hard, honestly I have, to find this year's top five candles. Whether it's delicate, inspirational or even historical that you're looking for I think that I've found something for everyone. So, close the door, pass me a mince pie, reach for the matches and let that fragrant flicker combat the winter cold.

Monday 21 November 2016


Jane Monheit was described by the New York Times as having "a voice of phenomenal beauty", and anyone that has heard her will definitely agree. A graduate of the Manhattan School of Music, she released her first album, Never Never Land, in 2000 and it took the industry by storm. Twelve albums later I thought it was about time that we found out about her scented history during “Stephan’s Six”.

Thursday 17 November 2016

GUERLAIN'S TOP FIVE by Stephan Matthews and Monsieur Guerlain

It's difficult to imagine having to choose your top five Guerlain fragrances, but that's exactly what Monsieur Guerlain and I were asked to do. We were set the challenge of deciding our favourites from those that are still in production, and hopefully it will inspire you to add one, or possibly two, onto your Christmas list. Fragrances mean different things to different people and, whilst our choices have some similarities, there are some interesting differences. Monsieur Guerlain's five are firmly rooted in the company's classic period, but one of my choices will definitely cause a few raised eyebrows. So, get a stiff drink and let's begin the Guerlain Boys' Top Five.

Monday 14 November 2016


The New York Times described her as "The World’s Most Dedicated All-Natural Perfumer" and she has certainly inspired a generation of independent brands, both independent and commercial. Based in Berkeley, California, Mandy Aftel still creates and blends by hand using a stunning collection of ingredients which have been amassed over her thirty year career. On her recent visit to Britain I asked her "Stephan's Six" so we could learn a little more about the creator of Aftelier Perfumes.

Monday 7 November 2016


The undisputed Queen Bee of Guerlain, Sylvaine Delacourte joined the company as a makeup artist before becoming their International Makeup Trainer. However, the perfumes fascinated her and, after much hard work, she achieved the coveted role of Director of Fragrance Evaluation and Development. Whilst still a consultant for Guerlain, Sylvaine has now launched her own brand, so what would we learn about her during "Stephan's Six"?

Thursday 3 November 2016

The "Delightful" Leighton Denny

The wait is over! LIGHT & DARK DELIGHTFUL, Leighton Denny’s fourth fragrance, is finally released in its 70ml size on Monday. You probably already know that LIGHT & DARK DESIRE won a coveted Fragrance Foundation award this year, but did you know that his whole perfume range was almost never made? Now, I've known Leighton since 2006, when we were both based in Harrods, but I thought it was time to find out more about his “perfume journey” over a good old-fashioned Sunday roast.

Monday 31 October 2016


Jim Caruso is best known among the Broadway theatre fraternity for hosting the famous Cast Party at Birdland, which he also brings annually to Brasserie Zédel in London, but his list of other credits is long. Actor, singer, dancer, he even co-starred with Kathie Lee Gifford in Personal Assistant … and survived! As one of Liza Minnelli’s long standing friends he performed with her on Broadway in 2009, but what would we learn about his own scented secrets during “Stephan’s Six”?

Thursday 27 October 2016

Two Scents For Autumn

With the clocks about to go back an hour, if you live in the United Kingdom, and the nights starting to really draw in, we are right in the middle of Autumn. The leaves beginning to change colour is always the cue to get out the woolly scarf, start preparing to carve your pumpkin and look forward to bonfire night. After that we find ourselves hurtling full speed towards Christmas. So, before we get all festive I thought it would be good to look at two perfumes, decades apart, that are guaranteed to make you want to start kicking those piles of Autumn leaves. Grab your scarf and gloves; we're going for a walk.

Monday 24 October 2016


When Jo left school at sixteen with six ‘O’ levels she knuckled down, worked hard, and became the youngest-ever UK magazine editor when she joined Look Now at twenty-three. Alongside that she had always had a love of fragrance, and so it seemed inevitable that Jo would go on to co-found The Perfume Society with Lorna McKay. After winning a Jasmine Award for her fragrant writing, I thought it was time that we turned the tables and discovered her scented secrets during “Stephan’s Six”.

Thursday 20 October 2016

Jo Malone Scent Christmas

"We've got Christmas all wrapped up"
. It's a phrase that you're going to hear a lot in the coming months, but there is still only one company that can truly can claim it as their own. When Estée Lauder purchased Jo Malone in 1999 they provided the expansion and distribution expertise that was desperately needed, and even after Jo left in 2006 they still held close to her original ethos of producing simple creations that blended effortlessly together to create something bespoke, but there is nothing "simple" about them. They are cleverly created to resonate with the wearer, and that also applies to this year's "Merry Mischief".

Monday 17 October 2016


On 2nd January 2011 Radio 4's listeners said goodbye to Nigel Pargetter. A long running character in The Archers, he fell off the top of his ancestral pile while removing a New Year banner in icy conditions! It could only happen in a soap opera. A regular since 1983, Graham had already had a successful career with appearances in I Claudius, Bergerac and Brideshead Revisited, but away from Borsetshire what would we find out about the real Graham Seed during "Stephan's Six"?

Thursday 13 October 2016

PETIT GUERLAIN - The Lost Innocence

Everyone talks about scent bringing back memories but this week it was a painting that triggered my recollection of a Guerlain classic. I’ve started renovating part of my house and this included taking out a built-in wardrobe. It was a typical nineties “Changing Rooms” style construction built of four-by-four and MDF, but what was hidden behind it really took me back. The wall was decorated with painted dolphins, so obviously it used to be a child’s room, and straight away I started to think about Petit Guerlain, which was released in 1994. So, let’s go back twenty two years and rediscover Guerlain’s innocence.

Monday 10 October 2016


When Geoff Percy was brought on board to try and turn around the fortunes of Bronnley, after it had fallen into administration, he came with a wealth of experience. Ten years as Chief Executive of Simple Health and Beauty had taught him the importance of a brand’s loyalty, heritage and appeal. So, I thought it was time we learned a little bit more about his own fragrance journey during “Stephan’s Six”.

Thursday 6 October 2016


I've written before about various Perfume Workshops and even I thought that the novelty would surely be wearing off by now. However, on a recent trip to Grasse I was invited to take part in the new Galimard Organ of Flavours, which offers an alternative approach to the traditional "leave with a bottle of Eau de Parfum". This time you're creating a Scent Diffuser along with a matching Room Spray, and the selection of ingredients takes a very different direction to the usual perfume palette. Combining foods and feelings, let me take you back to Grasse and introduce you to Galimard's Organ of Flavours.

Monday 3 October 2016


When the film Withnail and I was released in 1987 it launched the career of actor Richard E Grant. Born in Mbabane he moved to London in 1982 after studying drama at the University of Cape Town. Whilst managing to maintain an impressive acting career, Richard surprised everyone in 2014 when he ventured into the world of fragrance with his perfume Jack. A self confessed fan of everything scented, what would we discover as he submitted to "Stephan's Six"?

Thursday 29 September 2016

MODERN MUSE NUIT by Estée Lauder

October is the month for the Winter blockbuster to launch. I'm talking about fragrance rather than film, although both share a similar strategy. A film's trailer is designed to excite an audience into attending, whilst an October fragrance launch is intended to make it onto that all important Christmas list. One of the first cabs off the rank this year is MODERN MUSE NUIT by Estée Lauder. It continues the popular series and is described as "Modern Muse at her most glamorous and mysterious", but is it really? There's only one way to find out ... dim the lights, grab your sequins, and experience the night.

Monday 26 September 2016


When the Cotswold Perfumery opened in 1965 few could have thought that it would reach last years' milestone of forty years. Based in the English village of Bourton on the Water its perfumer is John Stephen. He creates fragrances for his own company but also for much larger organisations, although which ones is a closely guarded secret. So, I thought it was about time John came out of the shadows, and the laboratory, to answer "Stephan's Six".

Thursday 22 September 2016

Creating at MOLINARD

Molinard is one of three perfumeries still operating out of Grasse in the South of France. The other two are Galimard and Fragonard, and together they form the “tourist trio”. You would be very unwise to dismiss these companies out of hand because they have all managed to survive changing fashions and still produce iconic fragrances. Fragonard has Belle de Nuit, Galimard has Yavana and Molinard has Habanita. All three also have Perfume Workshops with the only real difference being the range of ingredients used. As it’s something that I always enjoy, I was very happy to be invited to experience Molinard’s L’Atelier des Parfums.

Monday 19 September 2016


In 1981 John Challis introduced the public to the character of Boycie in Only Fools and Horses. The used car salesman became a popular foil for David Jason’s Del Boy and even spawned his own spin off series, The Green Green Grass. As an actor John Challis had a successful career before and after Only Fools and Horses, which he wrote about in his autobiography Being Boycie, but what would he reveal during “Stephan’s Six”?

Thursday 15 September 2016

POPPY MEADOW by Bronnley

Collaborations in the perfume market are nothing new, although a large number of them have resulted in some rather dubious creations. So, it was with some nervousness that I approached the RHS Collection by Bronnley, and in particular their new addition to the range, Poppy Meadow. A company whose foundations were built on a floral bedrock would seem the perfect organisation to work with the Royal Horticultural Society, but would their scents be challenging florals or merely shadowy petals? Let’s head down to the garden and see exactly what awaits with the 2016 release, Poppy Meadow.

Monday 12 September 2016

Glastonbury's Perfume Workshop

I think by now it's common knowledge that I'm never happier than when I'm messing around with perfume ingredients. So you can imagine my response when Marina Barcenilla invited me to one of her Perfume Workshops in Glastonbury. I didn't need to be asked twice. Marina runs The Perfume Garden, which is soon to become Marina Barcenilla Parfums, and this year she won a coveted FiFi award for her perfume India. The difference between this and other workshops that I've attended is that Marina's is wholly natural, not a synthetic in sight. So, how would I cope without my aldehyde c11 or my amber?

Thursday 8 September 2016


It seems that the days of fragrance counters displaying nothing but innocently sounding perfumes has long gone. In the past the furthest that most went was Scandal or Exclamation, but with the arrival of Fetish, Sex and even Fleur d'Anus the public became switched on to a new breed of perfumers. There is an element of shock value to be sure, but most of these fragrances actually have a grounding in very classic accords. Molinard first revealed its sexual side in 1921 with Habanita, and at the end of 2015 they followed it up with a carnal leather. So, leave Julie Andrews at home as I introduce you to Cuir.

Monday 5 September 2016


In 2007 Guerlain were looking for a follow-up to their popular fragrance Insolence, which had launched the previous year. Insolence had been marketed as a fragrance for the woman who "never has to apologise", and whilst it championed independence it also lacked romance. So, Sylvaine Delacourte called on Randa Hammami to create a Floral Musky fragrance which would eventually be called L'Instant Magic. On the eve of its tenth birthday let's revisit the fragrance which coined a new, if short lived, olfactory description and ultimately struggled to find its place after it was reclassified as an "exclusive".

Thursday 1 September 2016

JO LOVES Gardenia

When Jo Malone opened her first fragrance store in 1994 she had already become known as an "English scent maverick". From simple blends created by hand in her own kitchen she went on to steer her company to become a worldwide phenomenon, eventually selling to Estée Lauder in 1999. Jo Malone remained the creative director for seven years before finally leaving in 2006. After a "contractual" silence she launched a new venture in 2011, Jo Loves. To celebrate the company's fifth birthday, and her own indomitable spirit, let's look back at one of those "comeback" fragrances, the spectacular Gardenia.

Monday 29 August 2016

QUENTIN by Deco London

Inspiration comes in many forms, with everything from fabric to fantasy, but periods of history and literary characters have also featured heavily. Whether an "homage to" or a "recreation of", they can help a perfumer move outside of the established styles and trends. 4160 Tuesdays' Sarah McCartney successfully achieved this with the Gatsby and City ranges, using ingredients that were in circulation at the time, and Goodbye Piccadily, which is a recreation of a moment in history using current ingredients. It is this second approach which Deco London also took with their first collection, so come with me and let's meet Quentin.

Thursday 25 August 2016


The constant challenge for companies to create the latest blockbusting fragrance is one that many now approach with a reserved optimism. They often stay firmly within an olfactory style or even reinvent past favourites in an effort to hold onto an existing brand loyalty. The idea that past triumphs can again become the latest fashion is not as crazy as it sounds. After all, we can only reinvent the wheel so many times. It was with all of this in mind that I approached Bronnley's latest release, Pink Peony & Rhubarb. The name sounds like Jo Malone, the ingredients sound like Bronnley, but where will the scent take us?

Monday 22 August 2016

Happy Birthday INSOLENCE

It’s hard to believe that it’s ten years since the world was first dominated by Guerlain’s iris and violet fragrance bomb. To some it was a new interpretation of the classic L’Heure Bleue whilst to others it was seen as a link between Guerlain's expanding “travel exclusive” range and the boutique customers. Either way, 2006 marked the launch of a fragrance which took department stores and boutiques by storm. You couldn't escape any beauty hall without being sprayed with Insolence and so it was easier to just succumb to the “overdosed, high-voltage” pink explosion, and once smelled it could never be forgotten.

Thursday 18 August 2016

LAUDER FOR MEN - The 1985 Powerhouse

Estée Lauder built her entire empire with the sole aim of making "every woman beautiful" and encouraging their independence. What is interesting is that a nod to the men in her customers' lives came much later, thirty-nine years later to be precise, but it was worth the wait. Lauder for Men arrived in 1985, thirty-two years after the debut of the famous Youth Dew, but why did it take so long? Well, Ms Lauder had been toying with men's fragrances since 1964, under another guise, but her first male fragrance under the name of Estée Lauder had to be something special, and it was. So, it's time to rediscover the magic of Lauder for Men.

Monday 15 August 2016

CHANEL No.5 L'EAU by Olivier Polge

When it was announced in May that Chanel were going to launch a new interpretation of their classic No.5 the internet went crazy. You had praise and damnation in almost equal measure, and nobody had even smelled it at that point. Created by the new nose of Chanel, Olivier Polge, for some it seemed a step too far, we already had Eau Premiere, whilst to others the news was greeted with fan club enthusiasm. With an approaching UK launch date of September 1st I think it's time to see if Chanel No.5 L'Eau really is a new interpretation for a new generation, or merely a dilution of the brand's heritage.

Thursday 11 August 2016

Smell The Quality

It's back, and unfortunately it's one of those terrible phrases that you hear come out of the mouths of beauty consultants all over the wold, "you can smell the quality". It seemed to have disappeared but recently it's made a return with a vengeance. Maybe it's bad training or perhaps it's a calculated approach to selling more perfumes than the neighbouring counter? Either way it's simply not true. Whether it costs £5 or £500, you cannot "smell quality". Fragrances are designed in different styles for different customers, so what is the "quality" that you actually perceive when your spray that little card in the perfume department?

Monday 8 August 2016


From PR to Prime Time, Dave Lackie’s career has taken him around the world in search of the best beauty products. I caught up with him before he headed to Mexico, and Nina Ricci’s L’Air du Temps retrospective, to find out the perfume secrets of the Canadian King of Beauty during another “Stephan’s Six”.

Thursday 4 August 2016


A company’s first fragrance can be a make or break release. It’s the perfume that customers will often associate the brand with long after it first appears, and so you want it to be a good one. If number one goes to plan then the next challenge is the follow up, and this is sometimes where things can go horribly wrong. In a quest for novelty this successor can often go off on a tangent, but thankfully that didn’t happen with Leighton Denny and the LIGHT & DARK range. With his fourth perfume launching tomorrow, let’s take a quick recap of the previous three releases before we look at the new LIGHT & DARK DELIGHTFUL.

Monday 1 August 2016


If your father owned one of the most luxurious perfume brands then it seems inevitable that you would end up sharing his passion, but for Victoria Christian it was a performing career which first interested her. After studying Ballet and Theatre Studies at Urdang Academy, and performing in London’s West End, she eventually chose to give up the stage and has become the Brand Ambassador for Clive Christian Perfumes. So, what secrets would we discover during “Stephan’s Six”?

Thursday 28 July 2016

ROSA RIBES by 4160 Tuesdays

The advantage of being a small, independent perfumery is that you can sometimes make a fragrance "just for fun" and in small quantities. After all, the ingredients are already on the shelves and you have a stack of empty bottles. Well, this is exactly what Sarah McCartney has done with her latest, semi-secret, Rosa Ribes. In essence it's a sort of "crowd funded" fragrance, but in actual fact you are buying something far more personal. With an initial run of just five litres there is not much to go around. So with that in mind, read on, get your credit card ready and discover something truly special from 4160 Tuesdays.

Monday 25 July 2016


You never know the route that people take when it comes to perfume creation, but being a doctor first is definitely a new one on me. Kim McGovern lived in Singapore and Australia before coming to England at the age of six. It was here that she studied Medicine at Imperial College London before working as a Doctor. In 2011 she opened a perfume boutique specialising in miniatures and discontinued fragrances before Amygdala Beauty was launched in 2016. Described as a “celebration of creativity and fragrance”, Amygdala produce single note solid perfumes that can be mixed and blended. So, what would we learn about her inspirations during “Stephan’s Six”?

Thursday 21 July 2016


"The scent of summer" is a phrase that you're going to be reading a lot in the coming weeks, with each perfume company claiming that their fragrance is the true interpretation. The problem is that everyones idea of what makes up the scent of a summer holiday is usually pretty different. Some people envisage scorching sunshine, some imagine a sea-crashing surfers paradise, while some concentrate on that sugar rich candyfloss and ice cream concoction. So, with this in mind, I thought it would be fun to look at two of the most requested aromas and see where they fit into our childhood memories.

Monday 18 July 2016

RUTH MASTENBROEK - The Lost Interview

When Ruth Mastenbroek took part in “Stephan’s Six” back in April 2016 her wonderful answers were unfortunately too long to use in their complete form, so I had to edit them down. However, when I was looking through some old files last week I came across her original interview and realised that what had been removed actually provided a great insight into her creative inspirations. Since launching her own brand, Ruth Mastenbroek has released three fragrances, Signature, Amorosa and Oxford. So, with Ruth’s kind permission, let’s finally read the answers that escaped last time … we'll call it the “lost interview”.

Thursday 14 July 2016


Every couple of weeks you see the same topic raise its weary head again. I say "weary" because you always get the same points presented by both sides and neither will budge in their dogmatic opinion. They each try to win an argument that is fundamentally based on the misconception that natural is always good and synthetic is always bad. I've lost count of the number of times that I've heard "everything smells synthetic these days". So, for the final time, naturals and synthetics each have their own place and when used in combination can create truly mind-blowing fragrances. Still don't believe me?

Monday 11 July 2016


A career which included Coty, Helena Rubinstein, Guerlain and Jacques Bogart surely explains why Hanuš Wolf eventually ended up running his own perfume store. Burgins of York is an Aladdin's cave of fragrance, with the shelves literally groaning under the weight of bottles. Hanuš always had a dream to have his own business, so when he was offered to chance to buy Burgins in 2011 he accepted. Five years on I thought it was time to see what gems we could uncover when I asked him "Stephan's Six".

Thursday 7 July 2016


When Guerlain launched La Petite Robe Noire Eau Fraîche in 2015 everyone presumed that the wardrobe was complete. That fourth release, or sixth depending on how you're counting, was a "fresh" interpretation and complimented the other three. However, just when Guerlain fans breathed a collective sigh of relief William Lescure, president of Guerlain Canada, dropped the bombshell that there was an exclusive "sweeter" version on the horizon, but it soon became clear that it would actually be a worldwide release. The new edition, La Petite Robe Noire Intense, is really good, but then I've been enjoying it for four years already!