Monday 15 May 2023


A picture of Alexandre Helwani

The world of perfumery is one that can draw an individual in many different directions, and that is certainly true of Alexandre Helwani. He's the founder and lead writer for The Perfume Chronicles, perfumer in his own right, and also the insightful brand ambassador for Histoires de Parfums. However, I thought it was time to dig a little deeper and discover his scented secrets during “Stephan’s Six”.

What is the first smell that you can remember?
I would say that one of my first scent memories was a perfume that my brother had gifted me, and it was Dune by Dior. It was just an empty bottle at the time, because I was a kid, but I kept it on my bedside table because it was beautiful and I would smell it every day. I don’t know whether it’s my first scent memory, but it’s definitely the one I was most conscious of.

Chanel advert for Coco Mademoiselle featuring Whitney Peak
What perfumes did your parents wear?
So my mum had always worn Chanel No.5 and then she moved on to Coco Mademoiselle, but my dad has always changed perfumes. He wore Kouros for a long time but actually now wears This Is Not A Blue Bottle 1/.1 and 1/.6 from Histoires de Parfums. It’s funny because I came home and saw the blue bottle, and he said that he’d been in a shop and loved it, so he bought it. He didn’t know then that I worked for the company, so it was the ultimate compliment.

What was the perfume of your twenties?
It was actually a Histoires de Parfums. I’d worn fragrances when I was in High School, Penhaligon's Endymion and Egoïste by Chanel, but when I arrived in Paris at 17 I felt like wearing Penhaligon's felt too British for me, and didn’t really fit my skin type. So I went to Nose, the shop in Paris, and I discovered Amber 114. I just picked it up and fell in love with it, and I wore it for quite some time. Thinking back on it now though, wearing Endymion when I was 13 was quite a statement!

What was your biggest perfume mistake?
I have made many mistakes, but one of my biggest was when I was at a perfume trade show. I was smelling a fragrance on a stand and I started complimenting the perfumer because the fragrance was absolutely beautiful. I kept telling him how beautiful it was and, once I stopped, the perfumer looked at me with a beautiful smile and said, “That’s a really lovely thing to say, but that’s not my fragrance.” I didn’t talk to him for about two years out of embarrassment.

Vintage advert for Guerlain's Mitsouko perfume
You can only choose one perfume?
If I had an ultimate fragrance then it would be Mitsouko by Guerlain, but from 1930s. This is my go-to. To me, I love everything about it - the way it’s built, the materials that have been used, the packaging. I wear it once a year, because I only have a small amount left, and I always feel like I think you were supposed to feel when Mitsouko was first created.

What perfume should I try?
I would say Encens Roi from Histoires de Parfums because it’s a very unusual take on incense. Basically it works on the dichotomy of incense. When we think of cathedral incense it’s very cold and very smoky, and very aldehydic, but the other facet of Encens Roi draws in the history of the resin itself from the Arabian peninsula. So you have a very cool and crisp aldehydic opening and then it moves into the super resinous incense with a lot of oud, saffron, and a bit of chocolate because, at the same time, we wanted to modernise it. For these reasons I would say, yes, smell that.

For more information about Alexandre Helwani you can visit his website at, and to discover the Histoires de Parfums collection visit or in person at the Jovoy stores in London and Paris.

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