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Cotswold Perfumery

Katy Harrington sniffs out a hidden gem

Written by . Published on October 11th 2011.


Cotswold Perfumery

FANCY yourself as a bit of a fine fragrance buff? Sure you do. I mean, what’s that Calvin Klein got that you don’t? Other than a multi-million dollar fashion and beauty empire? But don’t let that stop you. If Katie Price can create her own fragrance, anything is possible, right? All you need is a little know-how and the good news is that you don’t need to spend years training in Paris to get it. 

The perfumery is a member of the British Fragrance Association (BFA) and visitors get to experience the whole spectrum of fragrance-making with access to the 600 plus essential oils, absolutes, gums and resins you need to create a unique Eau de You.

English Rose 14Ml Perfume 100Ml Cologne CameoEnglish Rose 14Ml Perfume 100Ml Cologne Cameo

The Cotswold Perfumery in Gloucestershire was founded in 1965 and runs courses  teaching budding perfumers the basics (and not so basics) about creating their own scent. Experienced in creating fragrances for niche and big brands, the courses are run by John Stephen, a chartered chemist (he was once commissioned to make perfume for The Queen y’know). The perfumery is a member of the British Fragrance Association (BFA) and visitors get to experience the whole spectrum of fragrance-making with access to the 600 plus essential oils, absolutes, gums and resins you need to create a unique Eau de You

John StephenJohn Stephen

According to The Fragrance Foundation, a women's fragrance market intelligence report conducted in 2007 valued the UK fragrance market at £638 million, with an average annual growth rate of five percent a year. There are over 200 new fragrance launches each year, which may encourage aspiring fragrance makers, but only five percent of those perfumes are still on the market after two years and only three percent survive for three years or more, with so don’t count your chickens just yet. Success is possible though, one of John’s own formulations has reportedly earned £25million in sales, but don’t for one second think he’s going to tell you what was in that winning formula. “As a perfumer you are often contracted not to disclose any information about that fragrance you have made for a brand” he explains, “Having said that, maintaining confidentiality is a vital part of my job.” So you’ll have to come up with your own idea if you want a breakthrough…and you face stiff opposition.

Shop - ExteriorShop - Exterior

The big players in the fragrance industry have dominated for the last decade (the top five command about 62 percent of market) but recently lesser-known British fragrances have been enjoying a resurgence in popularity. Before 29 April this year, few people had heard of White Gardenia Petals by Illuminum, until it was revealed that it was the fragrance a certain Kate (sorry…Catherine) Middleton chose as her spritz of choice on her wedding day (soon after there was a two week waiting list) and an A-list following which includes first lady Michelle Obama.

Learning the art of smelling good at the Cotswolds Perfumery will set you back at least £125. The level one course (for the uninitiated) is a one-day Saturday workshop, perfect for those who just want to dabble. A sample itinerary for a the course includes an introduction to genealogy and how the nose works, a session in the lab taking in extraction methods, odour profiles, chirality (go on, look it up, I had to too) and an explanation of top, middle and base notes. Lunch is followed by a brief on perfume creation and then it’s time to get your hands dirty with a practical session. At the end of the day, you take home 25mls of the perfume you have created and all notes are kept on file just in case you want to have another batch of the same scent made again in the future. The level two course runs on Sundays, costs £250, and is only for those who have completed level one, or are really planning on starting their own fragrance empire á la Christian Dior.

Viva EdtViva Edt

If this sounds like a good day out to you then get yourself off to the pretty surroundings of Bourton on the Water where the Cotswold Perfumery is based, in a 300-year old Grade II listed building. Getting there and back from London (a two hour journey by car or one and a half hours on the train with a short taxi or bus ride from the station) may be a bit of a trek in one day so you might want to consider a overnight stay in the holiday apartments available. Still…who knows, you might strike upon a previously undiscovered hit scent and become the next Coco Chanel, Tom Ford…or the next Britney.

To book go to www.cotswold-perfumery.co.uk or call 01451 820 698

Follow @KatyHarrington on Twitter!

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