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LYN HARRIS AND PERFUMER H

DESIGNER FEATURES - Dec 9, 2021

Words by Eugene Rabkin, ANT/-D/RECTOR

Lyn Harris, the mastermind behind the London fragrance brand Perfumer H is one of those figures any industry has - known and revered to the insiders, but quite unfamiliar to the laymen. In fashion, there are designers’ designers. In perfumery, there are perfumers’ perfumers. Harris is one of them. Trained in Paris and Grasse, the center of the universe of the fragrance world, Harris has been a nose for several prominent brands before establishing her first independent fragrance company, Miller Harris, in London in 2000. In 2015 she took things to the next level by establishing Perfumer H. In a mere six years Perfumer H has become the if-you-know-you-know brand for the fragrance cognoscenti all over the world. Her unique, simply named scents, speak for themselves, but with Perfumer H Harris has crafted an entire esthetic universe uniquely her own. Everything, from the hand-blown glass bottles to the dispensers, to packaging, and font is given utmost attention. Her Marylebone boutique, with its stunning, mid-century-tinged interior, has become a site of pilgrimage for many fragrance lovers who are dissatisfied with run-of-the-mill fragrance counter fare. Harris tends to her universe carefully, working with select retail partners who understand and respect her work, and eschewing big department stores and easy money-making avenues that would dilute the brand. We are only the fifth American store to carry Perfumer H, exclusively in Atlanta, and the first in the world to receive the new handblown bottles customized with our store’s name. Harris graciously agreed to answer a few questions for us, which we hope will give you an insight into this very special project.

What prompted you to start your own brand?
A love of what I do as a perfumer and wanting to share an insight into my craft as this is always quite hidden. I didn’t intend to create a brand on this level, I just wanted to show what I do, show my palette of materials and give my clients a beautiful bottle that could be something precious for life. I was tired of everything looking the same, the industry not thinking about the environment and just following each other - I had to break free from all that. I found a wonderful glass blower whose work I admired to create the bottle and we worked on it for 2 years. The space was designed by a wonderful architect, Maria Speake, who works only with reclaimed pieces. I wanted the bottles, the colours and the words of my creations to be simple and poetic on each piece; the Graphic Designer Frith Kerr translated this so beautifully. When we opened the store I realised that none of these Creatives had met each other but magically it all worked so beautifully in the space and then the reaction from my clients and people inspired me to bring in more of my creations which I do instinctively working closely with the seasons. 
What do you think is missing from the fragrance world that you have tried to do with Perfumer H?
True honesty and a product that echoes this from its creation to the finished product. I believe in total transparency from the sourcing of materials and where they come from, the product it goes in to, the vessel or bottle it comes in, even the paper that wraps it, the box is made locally and it’s fully recyclable. We make all our own products, both the perfume and the candle, as we figured this was the only way to get what we totally want and need. The refill service boomed during the pandemic as everyone was wanting to send back their candle and get a new one and in fact we never stopped making all the way through this period.  This led us to set up our first refill station a few doors down from the shop and which we hope to do in different corners of the world - so we can continue the practice of making and re-using the candle vessels everywhere.
In building the Perfumer H brand, what values do you take into account?  
On creating Perfumer H, I always said let’s just work with like-minded people and within 6 months we had some very special shop / gallery owners contacting us and it was so easy as each one had a strong aesthetic and appreciation of what we were doing and so it just worked and the business grew. Our glass blower last year adapted his business so he could accommodate this success. We are so thankful for this and the natural growth and appreciation of what we are doing in such troubled times. It makes me realise that this is the only way forward for our industry. 
Why do you think a fragrance is important? What is it about the sensory perception of smell that adds to life? To your work?
Smell is our number one sense which so many people don’t realise; but actually through the pandemic this has been highlighted, because a lot of people lost their sense of smell, which has led people to becoming quite distressed and sad. We are attracted to each other because of how we smell in our natural state and so when we enhance our natural odour with something that glistens and permeates our style and character this in turn enables us to feel better about ourselves. Fragrance can lift and elevate not only our style but our mood as well as thought process, which I feel is so necessary and relevant today. Fragrance should never dominate; it should leave a gentle mist around us as we move so that others can admire and enjoy. Each fragrance should trigger a memory, a comment, a mood, a smile….never should it disturb the gentle balance of life …it should always work with you and touch you so ultimately it makes you smell amazing and makes you feel good, otherwise my job hasn’t been done properly. This is how I believe people should wear fragrance today. I love creating my fragrances around different aspects of nature and how these everyday smells interact with my life and how I feel. I love the simple interaction of ink on paper or flowers after the rain or the simplicity of one material, capturing its beauty and complexities so that it envelops the skin and captures the mind. I received a lot of lovely notes from clients in lockdown, on how my fragrances had really helped them through this period which reinforced to me that this is what people want more and more…fragrances that give a bit more and touch the soul…
In your personal life, which scent(s) do you inevitably gravitate to and why?
I do wear my fragrances, if I can’t wear them then they don’t exist. I have just created an orange flower water for myself which I just love and really feel an affinity to at the moment. I’ve added several other materials - some rosemary, angelica, bergamot + lemon and I’m just in heaven every time I wear it. I love Perfumer H RAIN CLOUD and I do wear a lot of the woods… INK + LEATHER. I also love some of Serge Lutens fragrances and there is a cologne.

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