Financial Times: How to Spend it reviews Natural perfume

Eco-perfumes – how an indie trend went mainstream

Natural ingredients are signalling a softly spoken new direction for scents – heightening the feel-good factor as well as benefiting the environment. Vicci Bentley reports. Styled by Nu Valado. Photographed by Omer Knaz

"A clear coming-of-age marker for any trend is when it fledges from the indie underground to perch on illustrious counters. Now we’re entering a greener age where sustainable resources are vital ingredients, ecology is the new luxury. In perfumery, a quiet revolution is taking place. Natural ingredients are gently capturing the zeitgeist and gaining traction over synthetic molecules that have dominated for decades."


"There is little doubt that what began as an ultra-indie US trend is now increasingly global niche movement"⠀

Keshen Teo believes we are. As founder of all-natural, British brand Prosody, he is one of the growing number of purist perfumers whose vegan ranges omit animal products and their lab-derived counterparts. “It’s easy to achieve a wow factor with synthetics,” he concedes. “Some people find natural ingredients too simple, but they’re harder work to blend.” With Prosody, the work has resulted in some vibrant interactions. Jacinth Jonquil (£135 for 50ml EDP), for example, offsets hyacinth and jonquil with a honeyed saffron background, while coffee, jasmine and sandalwood in Mocha Muscari (£38 for 10ml EDP; £175 for 50ml EDP) give this sunny floral a delicious dark side. 

Teo trained with perfumer Mandy Aftel who began formulating her Aftelier artisan blends 25 years ago – Leonard Cohen is reputed to have favoured her resinous, aged-patchouli laced Oud Luban ($185 for 30ml EDP). In the absence of fixatives, Aftel’s defence of her scents’ brevity – around two hours on skin – is both vehement and legendary. Genuine naturalistas, she says, will reapply – an approach that has rubbed off on Teo – although his scents, he claims, tend to linger for at least five hours. 

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