Monday 13 January 2020


The storytelling that is attached to the perfume industry goes hand in hand with the actual fragrances themselves and can often transform an adequate scent into something more appealing. However, occasionally a fragrance comes along that seems to transcend its own marketing and the combination of ingredients works perfectly without any narrative. Everyone likes a story and so when the inspiration and the perfume perfectly merge then you know that you’re in for a real treat. Chatillon Lux is based in St Louis and their Lamplight Penance fragrance blends the evocative with a wash of beauty to create something exceptional.

Chatillon Lux was founded in 2015 by Shawn Maher, a St Louis based musician. A self-taught perfumer, he practised and studied privately but told me “this has taken everything I loved about writing music and made it even more fascinating, and better at scratching my creative itch.” He admits to getting some help with the graphic design side of the business but, apart from that, every aspect of the creation is completely his. The Chatillon Lux range is steadily increasing and, whilst there is a thread that goes throughout, each fragrance is its own individual adventure.

One aspect of Shawn’s business which does deserve a big shout out is that his fragrances are IFRA compliant. The International Fragrance Association publishes guidelines on problematic ingredients and these are basically mandatory in the EU but don’t apply in the US. Shawn told me, “I do follow them as I believe that, while I would love to work with some beautiful restricted materials, the loss of an ingredient shouldn't be crippling. Necessity being the mother of invention. While it's tempting to ignore the regulations, since I'm not bound by them, I would rather compose something that is more likely to stand the test of time.”

Chatillon Lux takes its name by combining the St. Louis pioneer Henri Chatillon with his second wife, Odile Delor Lux. Whilst his marriage was happy, his heart belonged to his first wife and Lamplight Penance truly is a coming together of incandescent memories with a more settled security. Shawn always tries to take his inspiration from the St Louis area and, in this scent, he pays tribute to the man who gives his name to the company. Originally launched in October 2018, Lamplight Penance is like a perfumed Polaroid because it captures a moment and allows you to explore the scent from within, not top to bottom.

A memory strewn attic is created with notes of aged, honey-waxed woods but, drifting into the space, the aromas of orange blossom and daffodil add that arresting link with the present. Shawn has created the scent of an oil burning lamp by combining the smoky aspects of guiacwood with choya ral, a beautiful leathery resinous ingredient, but then washes this with a Mitsouko-esque dusty peach. Almost as if that box of memories is finally opened, a dry cedarwood adds to the evocative nature of the scent and, just in the background, there's also a delicate whisper of clove-touched rose. It is exquisite, emotional, and entrancing.

Lamplight Penance is available from the Chatillon Lux website at priced at $15 for 5ml and $75 for 30ml. All prices are shown in American Dollars. [Sample provided by Shawn Maher]

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