Monday, 14 September 2020

STEPHAN'S SIX - SIMON CONSTANTINE


Following in the footsteps of a parental duo that redefined scented bath and body products is an enormous challenge, but it’s one that Simon Constantine has fully embraced. LUSH was the family firm and it’s where he created the successful Gorilla Perfumes, but in September he announced that he was leaving to concentrate on his latest project, ånd fragrances. So, with a renewed desire to encourage accountability and sustainability through scent, I thought that it was time to discover his perfumed memories during “Stephan’s Six”.

What is the first smell that you can remember?
I don’t know if it’s the first smell but definitely the one that sticks in my mind is my mum baking bread. I know that’s one of those classic answers, but it definitely has quite a lot of sentimental memories attached to it. She’ll still bake us all a loaf, and it’s pretty wholesome, so it makes very good toast with marmite, which is my favourite. There was also the smell of my mum’s shed, which you could smell all the way up the driveway. So, on the way home from school, you always knew if mum was making bath bombs or inventing a new shampoo bar.

What perfumes did your parents wear?
They actually didn’t wear a lot of fragrance around the house. When they had Cosmetics To Go, the business before LUSH, it had its own scent because of the types of materials and the products that were being sold, and so that’s what I associate with them. I know that my dad tried a few times to make a perfume for my mum. One was called 1000 Kisses Deep, inspired by the Leonard Cohen lyric, and I think it was where he first used osmanthus. I can remember him playing with that, and it was quite an interesting material to work with. It was a very lovely tribute to my Mum, but I don’t think she’s ever worn it. They’re such a wonderful mismatch of personality types, but it seems to have really worked for them.

What was the perfume of your twenties?
My mid-twenties was when I was really getting into perfumery, and when I started working on my fragrance Breath of God. As a perfumer you’ve got to try your own work, to see if it’s any good, and so I tended to wear my own stuff. The fragrance that I really did like by someone else though was one by Serge Lutens. We went to Paris and did a big tour of the perfumeries, and I can remember buying one of his Exclusive Collection called Bornéo 1834. It's a lovely patchouli and it was in a beautiful bottle with a little stopper top, which I unfortunately knocked over!

What was your biggest perfume mistake?
The biggest mistake that I can remember making was when I was a compounder for LUSH. I used to mix the fragrances from the formulas and there was one particular time when I was making a 100 kilo batch of Aura Suavis. There was probably about £30,000 worth of ingredients in there, and the barrel tipped over. It washed the entire length of the compounding room, lapped up the edge of the wall, and came back in one big wave of very expensive oils. I saw my entire life flashing past my eyes in slow motion as this barrel tipped over, and I was in quite a lot of trouble at that point.

I’ve also found with fragrance creation that your subconscious often gets in there and you end up with something that you weren’t expecting. With Imogen Rose I was trying to make this beautiful rose perfume. Imogen is my daughter, and she had just been born, but by the time it was finished it smelled of bubbles and baby powder. It was not at all what I was trying to create but my subconscious obviously led me to that place.

You can only choose one perfume?
If I was stuck on a desert island on my own then I think I would probably have one that reminds me of my wife, and it’s actually a hair conditioner from LUSH called American Cream. I didn’t invent that, my dad did, but it always reminds me of my wife. It’s quite a comforting one as well because of the vanilla. Those slightly more functional fragrances almost become your scent background, and once they’re gone you really miss them because you realise what they meant. So that’s the fragrance that I would choose.

What perfume should I try?
At the moment I’m working on a new range called ånd. It’s been a bit of departure for me in terms of the sort of creativity I’m used to but I really wanted to put ingredients, ethics, communities, and people at the forefront. So, for me at the moment, the one that I’d really suggest is Frånk. It’s a different take on frankincense, it’s much fresher and fruitier, and it’s quite a lot more exciting than you’d imagine a regular frankincense perfume to be. A lot of the work that I’ve created for ånd came off the back of a trip that I took last year to Somaliland. This region has almost become the case study for climate change and the frankincense that they produce is one of those core ingredients that, if you treat it with respect, could really help provide livelihoods. They also have myrrh, they also have gold, and they also have plagues of locust. So it feels pretty biblical but in a real world scenario. The coupling of my creative work, the environmental issues, and the hope to support those communities will create something quite exciting I hope.

For more information about Simon Constantine, and to purchase the new ånd collection, you can visit the website at www.andfragrance.com.

No comments:

Post a comment