Stephan Matthews has worked with many perfume companies as an industry consultant and copywriter. He has also written articles for The Perfume Society and Sacrebleu!, as well as reviewing for stephanmatthews.com.
What question do you get asked most often?
“My fragrance has been discontinued. How can I find it?” I get at least ten emails a week asking this question and my answer has changed over the years. I used to offer advice on which auction sites to look at, or potential replacements, but now my response is a little more direct. MOVE ON! We all form attachments to scent but it’s inevitable that fragrances will be discontinued or reformulation. So, if your favourite disappears then there are thousands out there waiting to be discovered.
What’s your first scent memory?
My earliest recollections of scent all involve household cleaning products or medicine. I was a child of the seventies and so the smells of Dettol and Jeyes Fluid were part of my everyday life, because my mother was always incredibly house-proud, but one scent featured more heavily than others. There was a medical gauze dressing called Jelonet which was made by T J Smith & Nephew. I was always cutting my leg or grazing my arm, so this medicinal yellow paraffin concoction that was housed in a thin metal tin was always being applied to one of my limbs!
What was the first fragrance you bought?
I was a Lynx boy for most of my adolescence, and am still a loyal fan, but the first fragrance that I bought was Fragonard’s Belle de Nuit. It was my first visit to Grasse and is always the moment that I feel started my interest in the perfume industry. The fragrance is such a beautiful floral creation and I loved wearing it. On the same day I bought Molinard’s Habanita and Galimard’s Yavana, but it just happened that Fragonard was the first perfumery that I visited.
How did you discover us?
I was in Paris with work and Le Jardin Retrouvé had literally just relaunched. Time was very tight for me but Michel and Theo managed to meet at the end of the day. I immediately fell in love with the history and the scents, and ended up helping them in their first year with some campaigns as well as the UK launch in conjunction with The Perfume Society. It was great to be there at the beginning, and it’s been wonderful to watch the company grow.
What does fragrance mean to you?
Apart from being the industry that I work in, and so the way that I pay my bills, fragrance is the most wonderful way to make a person feel happy. There is a lot of snobbery around different companies and perfumes, but I always say to people to wear what makes them feel cheerful. Never mind about anybody else… wear it because you like it.
What do you think the fragrance industry needs in the future?
We need to stop all the nonsense around synthetics and naturals with regard to safety. All fragrance ingredients have to pass strict regulations in the EU and there is no favouritism. Synthetics and naturals work wonderfully together, but they also work equally well on their own, and it’s the skill of the perfumer that creates a great composition.
All photos by Stephan Matthews except where stated