Starting the New Year with A Perfume Course

10th January, 2014

The New Year is always a good time to think about doing a course to get you through the winter months. All these UK courses have been tried out and offer solid teaching, good materials and of course, lots of fun!

The Cotswold Perfumery, taught by perfumer John Stephen (creator of No. 88 Czech & Speake, Vetiver Vert and other gorgeous perfumes). This is the closest you will get to finding out how a professional perfumer works. Courses are held in John’s lab and include a tour of the compounding room. The location is the chocolate-box village of Bourton-on-the- Water in the Cotswold. There are two levels, each a one day course, after which you can buy lab days. Courses are £195 per day, lab days are £125.

Indie perfumer Sarah McCartney has recently opened a studio in West London, near Westfields. She is running themed perfume days each month where you can learn about and smell perfumes from that group, then create your own in the afternoon. She also has a ‘Wall of Scent’ where you can come and take tea or a glass of fizz and either discover something to love or smell the things you’ve always wanted to smell. Vintage and modern perfumes are well represented. Sarah is a force of nature and the sort of person who could make reading the telephone directory exciting. Her programme for 2014 is thoughtful and a must for anyone who wants to have a perfume education. Book early as places are limited and will sell out.

(Jan-Orientals, Feb-Chypre, March-Florals, April-Hesperedic, May-White Flowers, June-Fougere, July-Water/Ozonic, Aug-Ambers, Sept-Fruity-florals, Oct-Solifor, Nov-Gourmand Dec-Abstracts) Days cost £125, an afternoon at the Wall of Scent is £60 and includes tea or fizz and cake.

Plush Folly is based in Hampton in West London. They have an extensive programme which includes perfume as well as cosmetics. Home study options are also available (with or without tutor supervision) and can count towards your continuing professional development. They also run day long courses covering the legislation if you want to sell products. Plush Folly sells raw materials and equipment – their amber resin is unbelievably good. There is a good selection of packaging to choose from too. Half day courses £50, two day intensive course £225.

Karen Gilbert is an experienced perfumery teacher and natural skin care specialist. She runs a variety of courses in London, some of them at the wonderful perfume shop, ‘Les Senteurs’, where they have a Scent Salon for training. Courses vary from introductory ones to more advanced ones (Karen also teams up once a year with Perfumer’s World, to offer an in-depth one week course). Well worth attending, she is a great teacher and you will leave having made a perfume you really like.

Aromantic are based in Scotland near Findhorn. Their products are 100% vegetarian with a strong focus on organic and ethical sourcing. Courses are run in Scotland and London and include perfume-making, but also products that you can customise with your own perfume like shampoo, soap, body creams etc. Courses cost £160

Mike Harmon, course tutor for Aromantic, also runs workshops from his south London studio. Courses cost £140 and include a range of things that you've made for the day. Mike is a great teacher and it’s very satisfying to be able to perfume the products that you've made to your own liking.

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About the author: Lila Das Gupta

Lila Das Gupta is a London based journalist with an interest in all things olfactory. Lila also organises the Perfume Lover's London meet-up group.


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    • davidcontact | 11th January 2014 19:41

      Hi all,

      I am leaving London to move to Montreal Canada. I am looking forward joining a perfume course. Does anyone know a reliable course, teacher or perfumer I could contact in Montreal or around?



    • 4160Tuesdays | 19th January 2014 16:23

      Hi David,

      See if you can get hold of Liam at Odou Magazine @odou on Twitter. His partner is from Canada and might have some ideas for you.