Grossmith launches The Black Label Collection

by Katie on December 12, 2012

Since Grossmith was revived by Simon & Amanda Brooke in 2009, it’s made quite an indelible impression on the niche highbrow perfumery market. This house has heritage and it was always going to use it. And wisely, staking it’s claim to its rightful British throne.

While last year’s Betrothal perfume launch coincided with the marriage of Prince William & Kate Middleton, earlier this year Grossmith launched Diamond Jubilee Bouquet, a light and diamond sparkling floral perfume to celebrate the Queen’s 60th year as Sovereign. It should be said that Grossmith with its fastidious Royal connections had launched the original Victorian Bouquet for the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria in 1897, so this was merely a continuation in tradition.

A more unenlightened subject may say Royal Schmoyal, what’s the juice like? And they’d be correct, of course. Regardless of pomp & circumstance, it always comes down to ‘does it smell good?’ and ‘is it relevant?’. Grossmith has admirers (and extremely wealthy ones) the world over so any new release is going to be greeted with applause. It’s the fragranistas amongst us who, while recognising the house’s considerable weight and aplomb, consider whether this lands in the realms of timing and marketing hype or, paying due to the genius, original revived fragrances such as Hasu-no-Hana (a personal all time favourite), Phul-Nana and Shem-el-Nessim.

And now, Grossmith has surprised us all by launching a new line of four fragrances – The Black Label Collection. Unlike their previous releases, these perfumes are completely new, not inspired by the label’s archives but leaning on fragrance manufacturer, Robertet. This is where it gets interesting. Can the brand be as innovative as it is steeped in Royal tradition?

First thoughts are wow and definitely. What appears to be oh so clever about this group release is its variety and heavyweight, heavy composition that reeks of originality while nodding to tradition. Take Saffron Rose, which has the deep spice centric notes of saffron and cinnamon while rose, oud and musky tobacco kick in. This has animalic depth and sexiness in droves whether you happen to be male or female. The ultimate feel is big and clever. Its personality and charisma is not to be questioned, kind of like a playboy poker playing Omar Sherif in the 1970s, Saffron Rose hints of elusive and exclusive danger. Saffron Rose is for the bold and sensuous with its largesse statements that push sense and scents’ibility to extremes. Big huge tick in approval.

Golden Chypre is another winner. I’m a pushover. You only have to mention chypre and I’m in. It’s usually the hard-to-understand part of fragrance. The ‘what’s that smell of, I can’t pin it down?’ genre. I like my fragrances like I like my men. Big and bold or difficult to decipher. This golden girl is a surprise. Hugely feminine while holding her own in the power game, this chypre’s youthful and full of modern glow. Effervescent and upbeat, Golden Chypre feels like a young soul veiled in her grandmother’s couture. Citrus sparkle is apparent at first, followed by a deep cascade of rose, geranium and heliotrope with a hint of nutmeg and cardamom. It’s when you give her time to settle that she comes into her own. Her warmth is quietly comforting in drydown with a woody, amber and patchouli pinched musky after note, while light continues to breathe throughout this fragrance.

Floral Veil goes down another route. It is immediately very high res, high-in-the-nose sharp with a bullet shot of citrus, lemon and green. The green heady heart of geranium in full bud tempered by rose, tuberose and ylang-ylang make for quite powerful mix. It reeks of old skool perfumery, so in a sense is the most archetypal Grossmith, but I’m more for Grossmith’s new clothes and finery.  Floral Veil then grows into a bigger statement with a soft as touch cashmeran and amber drydown with a strong vanilla and musk element. Not my fave for sure but in terms of dowagers and dukes, this has aristocracy running through its veins. 

Last in the Black Label Collection line up is Amelia, so-called after the daughter of the house’s founder, Amelia Brooke (nee Grossmith). Amelia’s sweet mix of neroli, osmanthus, rose, peony, jasmine, amber, patchouli, sandalwood, vetiver and cashmere musks  ensures that this is the softest touch fragrance oozing with warmth and femininity that I’ve smelled for a long time. This is fur on cashmere wrapped in bliss. Amelia has aloof grace and good taste. She’s the centre of attention without meaning to be and with enough good breeding to be humble with it. This is a quite beautiful addition to Grossmith’s collection that manages to comprise a nod to its past while adding something truly original. Amelia’s a modern beauty with Whistler portrait poise.

Grossmith’s Black Label Collection is available from Roja Dove Haute Parfumerie (Harrods, London), Fortnum & Mason (London), Scent Bar/Lucky Scent (Los Angeles), Parfums Jovoy (Paris) and other Grossmith stockists. See the collection here. Each Black Collection fragrance is priced at £150 for 50ml and £215 for 100ml with the exception of Saffron Rose which is £175 for 50ml and £250 for 100ml.

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