Thursday 15 October 2020

GRAVITAS by Naughton and Wilson

Can you imagine releasing your own fragrance into an already oversaturated market? Will anybody buy it? Will the reviewers like it? These are important concerns for the large corporations that launch thousands of perfumes every year, but it’s even more nerve wracking when you’re an independent company. Someone who knows all too well about the sleepless nights is Dan Naughton, one half of Naughton and Wilson. Known to the world as YouTube’s MrSmelly1977, he launched the classically-inspired Gravitas in January 2020 and, in a world that is definitely out of sync, it provides a well needed dose of yesteryear refinement.

Dan’s YouTube channel has always been a relaxed, personal opinion led, and positive celebration of the perfume industry. Just the same as everybody else, he obviously has his favourite fragrances and his favourite styles. So it didn’t come as a complete surprise when he announced that he was going to launch a fougere scent. These fern-inspired fragrances, which are generally imaginary expressions of the forest floor, have seen a real resurgence in recent years. However, the releases have varied from the robustly aggressive woodland to the decidedly tamer local park. Where would Gravitas fall between these two markers?

Sarah McCartney of 4160 Tuesdays calls the process of bringing a perfume to market “brick walls and flaming hoops”, and it really is the perfect description. There is so much necessary legislation that happens behind the scenes, and this is why she runs very successful courses on the subject for those who are brave, or foolhardy, enough to go it alone. When it came to Dan Naughton wanting to create his first fragrance he knew that he needed help to do it, and so started the hunt for the perfect perfumer to bring Gravitas to life. He found it in John Stephen of The Cotswold Perfumery.

One thing that Dan was clear on from the very beginning was that John Stephen would have full credit as the perfumer on the project. Committing to this level of transparency is to be applauded in an industry where enforced anonymity is still very rife. Dan’s brief, which he admits was vague, was to take inspiration from the classics such as Houbigant’s Fougere Royale, throw in a nod to his daily love of citrus scents, and present it as a contemporary fragrance for a modern market. John Stephen really was the perfect choice for this project, and has created a touch of positive nostalgia when we most needed it.

Gravitas opens with a hit of zesty mandarin and lavender but, very quickly, the sweeter side of the citrus comes to the front. It really takes the lead and everything that follows seems to come through it. The cardamom adds to the herbaceous lavender and the interaction with the peppery note hints at a piercingly green galbanum. The development of the scent sees an earthy patchouli combined with a healthy dose of oakmoss, putting you squarely in the forest setting, but a fizzy, sweetened tonka does bring a humid warmth to mind. There's a whisper of an amber accord in the base, perhaps some labdanum, and a very elegant dash of dry cedarwood even gives a nod to some Huntsman tweed. Gravitas is a wonderfully refined masculine fougère, but if you like dry feminine chypres then this is also one for you to try.

Gravitas is available from the Naughton and Wilson website at priced at £90 for 100ml. [Sample provided by Dan Naughton]


  1. Aaaaah, John Stephen was the nose behind the legendary, and very sadly missed Belgravia, and Cotswold, from Dukes of Pall Mall many years ago. With those scents behind him, I'm sure that Gravitas ewill be as amazing. Unfortunately, I think I have only ever watched part of one of Dan's Youtube videos.

    1. Hello Barry, you've mentioned Dukes of Pall Mall before, and now I'm going to have do some digging about. Best wishes, Stephan

    2. Crikey, I don't even remember mentioning them :D I think that you will find a bit on Basenotes about them.