Monday 28 October 2019

ATHENA and NARCISSUS by Aaron Terence Hughes

The road that many people take to starting their own perfume company can be a complicated series of forks and detours but, with perseverance and determination, it can also result in the most wonderful rewards. Perfumers come from many backgrounds and the days of it being simply for the elite of society has long gone. Talent is talent, regardless of where you were brought up, and it’s often this closer connection to “real life” that results in the most incredible fragrances. The latest entrant into the hall of fame is Aaron Terence Hughes and he’s called on divine intervention with his two new fragrances, Athena and Narcissus.

Aaron was born in Cornwall and originally had his sights set on a career in dance. After gaining a scholarship to train at Rambert in London he realised that he had misgivings about this decision and so, with typical Aaron decisiveness, opted to leave. He moved into the world of hairdressing but, again, decided that this also wasn’t really for him. So, he knuckled down and eventually studied Cosmetic Science in London before finishing his Chemistry Degree in Cardiff. He became a Cosmetic Safety Assessor, the person that checks our perfumes are safe to wear, and a seed was sown.

Aaron had always had an interest in perfume but he had never dreamed of creating his own company. However, after being disappointed with the fragrances that he found himself wearing he decided to give it a go. His background in chemistry did offer a little help but he admits himself that the early attempts at blending were not what you would call successful. He persevered and in April 2019 the Aaron Terence Hughes brand was finally launched. A stickler for high quality ingredients, and a champion of real oud, his current range of eleven fragrances has just been joined by two heavenly bodies.

Aaron’s fragrances only come in one size, £145 for 50ml. He has kept all of the prices the same, regardless of whether the concentration is 20% or 30%, but was conscious that the price was still high for many perfume lovers. In order to address this he has launched two new fragrances, Athena and Narcissus, in 30ml sizes and at the slightly lower price of £70. Inspired by the Greek Gods, he told me that he wanted the fragrances to be ones that the owner would just reach for everyday and leave the house happy. Well, having tried both, I can confess that I was far more than just contented.

Athena is a wonderfully constructed gourmand fragrance but with a real sense of power in the centre. It opens quite deeply with an almost fizzy tonka bean and iris combination that goes on to reveal faint traces of spearmint. However, if you can imagine boozy black cherries that have been dipped in dark chocolate then you’ll probably be in the right area for the body of Athena. Alongside that slightly bitter patchouli quality you do have an almost narcotic jasmine but this is not a floral fragrance by any means. With a touch of sandalwood in the base, Athena is definitely warrior-like but with a power that transcends gender.

Narcissus by comparison feels almost like an aquatic woody scent that is overwhelmingly dry in an addictive way. You are hit by a hefty dose of bergamot at the beginning and, because it’s accompanied by that feeling of electrically charged air after a storm, this brightness carries through. It reveals a dry cedarwood and smooth sandalwood combination as it develops but a minerality keeps the final appearance of the musk from being overly comforting. This edginess, along with a subtle note of earthy lavender, gives it a whisper of chypre and while I may not fall in love with my own reflection, I have definitely fallen for Narcissus.

Athena and Narcissus are available from Aaron’s website at priced at £70 for 30ml. [Samples provided by Aaron Terence Hughes]


  1. Athena sounds like my kind of thing, floral gourmand, cherries and chocolate?? ��
    I’m hearing great things about this line and Mr Hughes comes across as a darling.

    1. Hello Smurfy, he really is a lovely guy to talk with and very passionate about his brand. I hope the house move went well? Best, Stephan