How to discover niche fragrances

Selfridges fragrance concept space ground floor

Perfume departments are becoming all about discovery, mimicking the feel of concept stores like Colette and The Avery Perfume Gallery. Selfridges has taken its cue from this, with a new fragrance and home scent destination on the ground floor, dedicated to a mix of niche brands old and new. It’s a far cry from ye olde big brand approach. For starters, no-one will assault you with a flacon of Angel. Instead, there are islands of products, with the cult faves Fornasetti, Diptyque, Penhaligon’s and Frederic Malle rubbing shoulders with lesser-known brands, many of which are very new.

It’s a place to linger and lose yourself, learn about what tickles your senses and find original gifts for difficult-to-choose-for people. (Tip: no-one could be disappointed with Cire Trudon’s zingy new Cyrnos candle or a Fornasetti trinket tray.) And the best bit of all, there’s zero hard sell. It’s all the brainchild of new director of beauty, David Legrand, who arrived from Sephora to help Selfridges become less about brands and product and more about experience.

Read on for some of my highlights…

JUSBOX I admit it; I smell with my eyes. And the first thing you notice about Jusbox (pronounced ‘juice box’) is the bottles with their vinyl record shaped stoppers and graphic packaging. The brand is centred around the icons, emotions and social environments of music, with scents such as Beat Café (a warm and woody ode to counter culture) and Use Abuse (a cocktail of white tuberose and sandalwood notes dedicated to eighties excess). And in a cute retro riff, they come in 78ml bottles.

THE FRAGRANCE KITCHEN The Fragrance Kitchen (or ‘TFK’) has been around since 2012 but is new to Selfridges. There are six lines including ‘Self Portrait’, a tribute to inspiring artists; ‘Modern Heritage’, blending old with new; and ‘Signature’, fresh unisex scents for every day. The founder is Kuwait’s Sheik Majed Al-Sabah, who watched his grandmother mix perfume by hand and decided to continue the tradition. Blending Middle Eastern ouds and Taif rose with the expertise of Grasse perfumers, the result is an original brand with an engaged millennial following. It’s not uncommon for the Sheik’s Snapchat followers to come in requesting perfumes they’ve seen on social media.

FREDERIC MALLE Liberty may have monopolised sales until now but Selfridges finally has its very own Frederic Malle corner. I have the Dries van Noten perfume which is one of my most worn scents. But there are plenty of others to discover from one of the world’s best loved perfume brands.

LOLA JAMES HARPER I first spotted Lola James Harper in Colette in Paris a few months ago, seduced by the simple packaging and typography. And also the feel-good, narrative names, such as The Coffee Shop of J.P, derived from founder Rami Mekdachi’s own family, life and travels. The scents are lovely – evocative, familiar and sophisticated. Newest to the line is a range of six eau de toilettes (£75), designed to stand the test of time in tall, slim deco bottles. I’m enjoying Little By Little With Joy, a gentle cloud of orange blossom that instantly reminds me of my French BFF, Virginie. I also love the sound of Just Say Yes, a romantic rose-based eau de toilette and Everything Will Come Together, a reassuring hug of vetiver.

GRI GRI I wrote about Gri Gri the fragrance ‘for tattooed skin’ a few weeks ago. Founder Anais Biguine has a fascination for tattoos and the type of people who have them, so created these fragrances as something of a tribute. It’s for adventurous, spiritual types so expect exotic notes of dried grass, green tea and herby spices delivered in refined glass bottles.

FORNASETTI Fornasetti is about both the olfactory experience and the beautiful object. As well as the heady scented candles and incense, there are divine trinket trays for keeping desk side.

AVERY PERFUME GALLERY This concept store has outposts all over the world and sells a number of niche fragrances (I love Re Profumo) alongside its own recently launched collection. The brand’s ceramic animals make up part of the enticing displays that draw you into the new Selfridges fragrance department.

Jusbox at Selfridges fragrance concept space ground floor

Jusbox at Selfridges fragrance concept space ground floor
Frederic Malle Selfridges fragrance concept space ground floor
Lola James Harper at Selfridges fragrance concept space ground floor
Fornasettti at Selfridges fragrance concept space ground floor
Fornasettti at Selfridges fragrance concept space ground floor


WORDS: Disneyrollergirl/Navaz Batliwalla
IMAGES: top to bottom – Selfridges fragrance space; Jusbox x 2; Lola James Harper; Fornasetti x 2
NOTE: Some posts use affiliate links and PR samples. Please read my cookies policy here.