The Good Life

A Distinct Fragrance

Niche perfumeries are ready to take over your olfactory senses as they gear up for the Indian market

A beautiful blend of fragrances greets you as you step into Scentido’s store in Mumbai. The British art-deco interiors with four large display windows, a high ceiling and a wooden spiral stairway in the corner give the sprawling 1,000 sq-ft store a distinct charm. Housed within this store are some of the most exclusive perfumes in the world. No, these aren’t limited editions from top fashion labels. Instead, these are perfumes created meticulously by master perfumers, who treat fragrance creation akin to creation of art.

“Niche perfumeries are hugely popular across the world, but it didn’t exist in India,” says Shishir Mehta, who started Scentido in February this year, after helming his family business in metallurgy for 30 years. Taking us through the store, Mehta explains the composition of every fragrance with the excitement of a true connoisseur. Perfumes at Scentido start at Rs.7,000 for 100 ml and can go up to Rs.250,000. Roja, Escentric Molecules and Ormonde Jayne are among the nine niche brands that Scentido has brought to India. The most premium among these is Roja, created by Roja Dove, the ‘professeur de parfum’ at Guerlain, Paris. These perfumes are poured into beautifully designed bottles that come with Swarovski caps and a gold plated front panel. Mehta plans to open stores in Delhi and Bengaluru and also bring in more brands. 

And he is not the only one who is upbeat about niche perfumeries in India. Ahalya Matthan, who founded Ally Matthan Creations in 2004, is among the first modern perfumers in India. But the pace picked up around 2015 with the launch of The Perfume Library, one of the most renowned niche perfumery brands in India, followed by Bombay Perfumery in 2016. 

Founded by trained perfumer Jahnvi Dameron Nandan, The Perfume Library describes itself as a theatre of olfactive memories. “The idea of Perfume Library was to introduce the world through a journey of fragrances,” says Nandan. The Perfume Library offers rare perfumes, including Grossmith and Mary Greenwell and also works with artists. Nandan’s recent collaboration was with designer Gaurav Gupta to create a limited edition range called ‘Again’. She also worked with the late artist Hema Upadhyay to translate her 2002 artwork, This Space Between You and Me, into a scent. These perfumes are retailed through stores such as Good Earth, Raj Mahal Palace, Jaipur and Sacha’s Shop Goa. 

Like Nandan, Manan Gandhi too creates perfumes under his brand, Bombay Perfumery. Chai Musk, Madurai Talkies and Calicut are among the eight niche perfumes created by it and sold through its website and stores Le Mill, Pepper House and Fervour. 

The players in this space know that growth is bound to be gradual and much like their perfumes, the customer-base too is niche. But the passion for exploring the intricacies and the myriad combinations in the world of perfumes keeps them motivated. “We want to ensure our fragrance stays on forever,” signs off Mehta. A beautiful metaphor for both the perfumes, as well as the business.