An interview with Lyn Harris of Perfumer H, April 2020
To celebrate five years of Perfumer H, you’ve selected the following classics for this summer; Rain Cloud, Leather and Ink - a Fern, Wood and a Floral. Tell us a little about these three scents and how they celebrate Perfumer H?
RAIN CLOUD is my perfect floral as it’s a combination of my two most favorite smells; humidity (heat of the day fused with damp air from a distant rain cloud) and summer white flowers of orange flower and jasmine, in the morning with the wet dew. I created a special rain accord with angelica, ylang ylang absolute, vetiver and vanilla bourbon. This completely transports the formula into a magical harmony and I completed it with a sprinkling of white musk which seals the smell forever…I just love it anytime of the year but especially now, as it transports me, and just cocoons me like a comforting summer blanket.
LEATHER is one of my break throughs in the fresh wood/fern area…it’s a study of leather in an olfactory harmonious way, and was a test, in using the materials; bergamot, lavender, rose with iris absolute, birch tar, cedar wood and clean leather. It took me a long time to get the balance of leather and quiet woods in the back ground but the olfactory perfection is very pleasing for me.
INK I created one day sat at my desk with a pot of blue ink, white paper and sun light streaming through my office…it’s a translation of blue ink on paper with a distinctive back note of vetiver which gives it a bite. My partner wears it, and I have to say I always say annoyingly what’s that your wearing as it hypnotizes me each time. It’s a very pleasing and moreish smell for those close to you and those who wear it…
Your candles fill a space and environment, creating the fifth sense of the architecture and surrounding environment. How does the process of creating a candle differ to that of perfume, with the notes acting differently, affecting communally those in the space?
Creating fragrances for the environment we live and spend time is so different to creating for the skin, for me it’s about capturing the subject/the end goal/picture/illusion very precisely in the construction. It’s about choosing carefully the subjects and dressing them quietly so the subjects really shout in the formula, this way your illusion is captured whole heartedly. For me this is so important and another secret is using only good ingredients as your nostrils and senses deserve this, otherwise it tickles and hurts, and the illusion becomes negative….balance is key! I have to say though this technique has taken me years to perfect and really it’s only now, I know the true secret, which is why people come back every time…I hope x
Like TTS the visual image, story, craft and concept is clearly an important aspect of Perfumer H and your work - integrally connected to each other. This is evident in the hand blown glass bottles (a collaboration with artist Michael Ruh), the foreshadowing titles of scents and candles to the packaging. Tell us a little more about these considerations and decisions – how far reaching are the references that go into making an all encompassing olfactory environment?
How I live and create go side by side, there is no separation and detail is one thing that makes me a Creative, as well as can drive me crazy from the room I work, to the desk I sit at to the pictures on the wall…this all plays a part in my creative process.
With any idea I like to put together a story of olfactory landscapes that I see in front of me this can be a place, a person in a place, a material growing in nature. This process can take a few days, weeks or months….no time limit…then suddenly a rush comes in my head and I suddenly have to write it all down in my olfactory writing, I create the formula. Then as the idea comes alive, the name appears in my head and the rest is about time and trials and reaching a point of creative fulfilment and I always know when I’ve arrived at this point and then we wear and test.
Perfumer H is about working with like-minded artists from the glass blower who makes my bottle, the designer who makes my names come alive to the architect who designed my laboratory and shop in Marylebone. It is my mission to share what I do and my visual world with my clients.
At the beginning when I was thinking about a bottle I just felt I couldn’t add to the clutter and waste in the fragrance world, I wanted to turn a corner and create a bottle that people could keep, that reinforced the beauty within the bottle and was precious and aesthetically pleasing each time you used it. I had a hand blown object in my home that I loved, and I saw the name at the bottom and I called Michael Ruh, and two years later I had a beautiful hand blown bottle. It was a kind of perfection for me reaching this point, and also I loved working closely with an artist, sharing my obsessive detail with someone else who felt the same...it gives me so much pleasure which leads me to you, Tiina, and how we started working together. We met through a mutual friend and then we shared ideas, and I felt instant admiration for you and the world you had created, so it was a must for me to share my world with you.
Ultimately simplicity is key for me and freedom of expression from the fragrance I create, to the bottle my fragrances go in, to the environment it’s displayed in…it all goes hand in hand and I feel this gives a soul to what I do.
Perfume completes a look – a finale to ones personal style, look, image or signature outfit. Whether it’s the intriguing individuality of Ink to complete a Bergfabel suit or ethereal White Smoke to conclude a dress by Arts & Science. How does perfume play a part in personal style?
Perfume is the invisible veil that seals/defines your style and personality, when you find this harmony of style and scent the pleasure is infinite and actually you enter a whole new world and never look back. Fragrance is enchanting, transporting, transforming and ultimately magical, it adds an invisible layer to who you are and leaves a profound glow on those close to you. It touches you and those you love so profoundly that in these uncertain times it can be something soothing and soulful…that’s what it is very important to me.
How does one enter into the world of Perfumer H, what considerations should be made when selecting a candle or scent?
I think the simplicity of what I do makes it easy to decide…I am very open and sharing about the notes and the mood/ style I am creating…I think it’s very easy to explore Perfumer H and find more than one fragrance...think about your mood, your style and then choose one of my olfactory landscapes. For the home I have created smells that are close to nature that conjure my seasonal obsessions, again go with the season and what you feel...I don’t think there is one I couldn’t have in my home but I select according to my mood or the weather.