If you're near London's Bond Street and you walk past a shop with interactive windows, chances are it's the Avery Fine Perfumery
, the capital's newest haunt for lovers of niche scents. At the moment, only one of the displays responds to 'audience participation': it consists of a large plasma screen on which a pattern of billowing smoke is controlled by the movement of passersby. However, the plan is to showcase many more, similar ideas, including flowers whose petals open when someone stands before them. The aim of these attention-grabbing strategies is to make Avery a venue for a "21st century shopping experience", according to the organisers of the store's official launch, which took place on 5th October.
Drawing inspiration from the shop's name, the interior design features several bird motifs: cages, feathers and perches. However, what's most noticeable is the apparent lack of any bottles of fragrance. In order to persuade the customer to sit down and enjoy a no-obligation consultation - rather than wander from one tester to another - the stock is kept well out of sight in a Dali-esque chest of drawers with swooping curves and clawed feet. The contents of this striking piece of furniture include Nasomatto
and Morgane Le Fay
, amongst others.
The shop's parent company - Intertrade Europe
- intends to make Avery the first international chain of niche perfumeries. Indeed, a New York branch was recently opened and further launches are planned.
The 5th of October also saw the formal unveiling of the latest addition to the store's range. SoOud
is a collection of eight scents put together by StÚphane Humbert-Lucas, the perfumer behind Nez A Nez
and Hype Noses candles (also available at Avery). Each of the fragrances comes in one of two colour-coded bottles: black indicates a 35% concentration (which the creators are calling parfum nektar to distinguish it from an extrait); white denotes an eau fine, which has a concentration of 11%. The colour symbolism extends to the bottles' caps: if they're golden, the scent contains oud.
Looking every inch the Bohemian artist - with leonine hair, a waistcoat and a cigarette in one hand - Humbert-Lucas explained that his wife, Christa Patout, inadvertently inspired him to create the new range when she gave him a copy of the Quran as a gift. Although he does not adhere to any specific religious faith, the stories in the Islamic text moved him to give birth to a line of scents that would evoke the Arabian world through the sensibilities of French perfumery. He conceded that he may also have been influenced by his ancestry: one of his grandfathers is Algerian.
When asked about the oud used in his creations, Humbert-Lucas insisted it is completely natural. He dismissed all currently-available synthetic substitutes as unconvincing and stated his clientele wouldn't accept anything other than the genuine article. He also revealed that he considers the SoOud range to be in its infancy at the moment. With Patout by his side as his fiercest critic, he hopes to create more complex and unusual scents to accompany the existing eight.
The Avery Fine Perfumery is on 27 Avery Row, London, W1K 4AY; Tel: + 44 (0)20 7629 1892. More about the SoOud range can be found here
About the author
Persolaise is a UK-based writer and amateur perfumer who has held a strong interest in the world of fine fragrance for over two decades. He is currently developing his own line of perfume. You can find out more about his work at www.persolaise.com or by emailing him at persolaise at gmail dot com