• Study Notes: 29 High Street perfume, in Lush Spa Poole

      When I worked at Lush, customers often asked: “Can I buy this smell? The smell of the shop?”, to which we’d have to reply “no, but here are some other perfumes you might like”. Until, that is, I was working on the Christmas 2012 product perfumes and was given a bath ballistic that looked like the 29 High Street shop in Poole.

      The ballistic never made the cut, but the scent I developed for it caught the attention of Mark Constantine who asked me to work it up to a sprayable perfume so he could bottle it and sell it at Lushfest (a company event for 2000 staff and customers). So, off I went, and the second variation was bottled. Had I been able to work on it some more I would have probably adjusted the opening – it’s a little sharp for my liking with an overdose of lemongrass – but overall I think the fragrance fits the brief pretty well. It’s like a “shop tour” in a bottle. You get wafts of Honey I Washed The Kids, Karma, Creamy Candy, American Cream, Flying Fox, Butterball, Blue Skies, and of course Avobath, responsible for that lemongrass opening. So how did I do it? How was it possible to cram in the entire tutti-frutti smell of a Lush shop into one perfume?

      I went into full geek-mode and spoke to our essential oils buyer about the tonnage of materials Lush uses each year. Rather than immediately thinking of individual products, I scanned the list and highlighted all the major materials, then scanned it again and caught all the materials that may not be used in high volumes but have a prominent odour profile. I now had a set of potential building blocks. Only then did I start listing Lush best-sellers and picking out themes from each of their product scents.

      Eventually I had an impressionist interpretation of the smell of a Lush shop, which is what was used in the bath product prototype. When I went back to the lab with the formula to work it up to a perfume, I added some extra facets and ended up with less of an impressionist interpretation; more of a sleight of hand where everyone who smells the scent seems to pick out their own interpretation of what a Lush shop smells like. One of the best moments of my entire life was at Lushfest, when we were setting up the Gorilla Perfume shop and a staff member walked past seconds after we had been spraying HQ perfume. She asked to try it and squeaked: “Oh my God! It smells just like the Lush shop!” She had no idea what the perfume was supposed to be about.

      I realise the Lush Smell is Marmite-ish. If you think it’s awful and wonder how people can work in there, move along, nothing to see here. It’s your worst nightmare in a bottle. If, on the other hand, you are a Lush fan and have always wanted that smell as a perfume, you can now buy the 29 High Street perfume from the Lush shop in Poole. I called it 29 High Street because that’s the shop’s address, but the name of it morphed into HQ at some point. I’m glad to see it in its new bottle and with its original name.
      About the author Pia Long
      Author AvatarPia Long is a perfumer, freelance writer and an experienced cosmetics industry professional. Originally from Finland, she qualified from London College of Fashion in 1996 and has spent the last 20 years in the UK. While working for Lush Cosmetics, Pia created some of their best-selling product perfumes, including HQ "the smell of a Lush shop in a bottle." She is a regular contributor to Basenotes and her own blog can be found at http://www.volatilefiction.co.uk.

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      Comments 3 Comments
      1. cookingwine's Avatar
        cookingwine -
        I love it, very clever. Agreed there is an overdose of lemongrass at the top, almost like when you drink a cold, fresh lemonade and it fizzes up your nose. It fits well, reminding me of those comments that a Lush shop smells too strong, then i'm reminded of the people who love it. Also like the clear bottle design. Good job! X
      1. Nukapai's Avatar
        Nukapai -
        Hah, yes - that fizzing lemonade comment is a really nice way to put it
      1. forfreddie's Avatar
        forfreddie -
        I want it so bad! D: