Monday 6 June 2016


A corporate solicitor is not the first person that you would imagine as the brains behind a new British beauty brand, but that is exactly what Robert Hallmark was. He trained in law, and for seven years worked in Birmingham and London before setting up Gruhme in March 2013. Now, I love his fragrance, Gruhme No.14, but I was interested to find out what led him to release that particular fresh scent. Would the answer lie in "Stephan's Six"?

What is the first smell that you can remember?
Growing up I was always an outdoors kind of guy. Hiking in Wales and mountain biking passed much of my time, but it was probably in my late teens, when I spent six months camping and mountain biking in New Zealand, that I really realised the way to start everyday is with a burst of something really fresh. It never tires for me. That burst of nature is the neolithic way our brains like to be fired up in the morning.

What was the first perfume you remember your mum or dad wearing?
Mum was a Chanel wearer mostly. Hate to say it, I love the brand story but it just wasn't my thing. Dad was no big wearer of fragrance but his choice was Eternity by Calvin Klein, which I still rate too. I was mostly bought fragrance by my mother at the start of my boyhood and I was a fan of the early Ralph Lauren scents. I was a teenager, so forgive me for a lack of depth but Polo and the Polo Sport always made me feel pretty chuffed to wear out. It still resonates for me, a fragrance is meant to make you feel good.

What was the perfume of your twenties?
As I got into my twenties I moved to Hugo Boss, not sure why really, I guess it felt more grown up. I was still more interested in those larger designer brands than boutique back then, but when I went to Grasse it opened my eyes and nose! There was so much more artisan creativity to fragrance than I had experienced back home.

What was your biggest perfume mistake?
Ouds were the ones that I played with a lot in recent years and it just didn't work out for me. Don't ask me to explain why I couldn't be happy, as I know how popular they are, but I just couldn't get to grips with them. Far from making me feel confident I would feel self conscious and uncomfortable. I tested one out by spraying it whilst in a train full of people, and watched the reactions, people weren't smiling at me!!

You can only choose one perfume?
A classic for me is Fougere Royale by Houbigant. If someone hasn't tried it I believe they should because it still sets the comparison benchmark for me as an affordable but high end scent. If I had to share some love for the others I would go with Czech and Speake. One of my favourite stories is Eight & Bob, I love that Kennedy history, so that would give me great conversation over a dinner, and I love that.

What perfume should I try?
It would have to be Gruhme No.14. It has just the right balance of qualities for me, not too lingering, not at all dull. It's like your best friend, never steals your thunder but never lets you down either. A great choice to pop on each day and raise a smile.

There are lots of future plans for the brand and I wish Robert every success. His fragrance, Gruhme No.14, can easily be worn by men and women and is available from numerous stockists. For more information you can visit the website at or read my review by clicking here.

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