Talking Scents: Sarah Halliwell Shares Her Favourite Irish Perfumes - The Gloss Magazine

Talking Scents: Sarah Halliwell Shares Her Favourite Irish Perfumes

From fabulous Irish perfumes to affordable high street finds – your new summer fragrance awaits …

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Earlier this morning I enjoyed talking about all things perfume with Maura Derrane (a genuine perfume addict) on RTE’s Oliver Callan show, together with Sadie Chowen of the wonderful Burren Perfumery, home to some of Ireland’s loveliest (and all-natural) perfumes, such as Wild Rose and their new Neroli. Do keep an eye out for upcoming perfume workshops at the Perfumery – they really are worth booking into, and you’ll learn so much about what goes in to making a perfume, in the most beautiful Co Clare setting.

I didn’t get a chance to mention my other favourite Irish perfumes – we ran out of time. I wanted to talk about Cloon Keen, a company that has been making brilliant, exciting scents that celebrate Ireland for more than 20 years now, and has won international awards. I’m currently wearing its most recent arrival, Báinín, which has a glorious bright opening – mandarin, bergamot, lemon – with notes of jasmine, violet, gorse and neroli as a sunshine centre, and woods and musk at the base. It’s utterly beautiful and uplifting – a perfect summer option. Head to the Cloon Keen boutique in Powerscourt Townhouse Dublin; you can’t miss its showstopping window display at the moment, featuring a huge sheep wearing fabulous Colin Burke knitwear!

We also didn’t get a chance to discuss the fact that Cloon Keen was nominated in this year’s UK Fragrance Foundation Awards for its Aesthetic Lily candle, losing out only to Byredo’s Summer Rain candle; fellow nominees were Jo Malone London and Diptyque, which just reaffirms the level this Irish brand is on. Cloon Keen has been at the forefront of Irish perfumery for decades now, and yet continues to hone and perfect its offering – the brand recently redesigned its beautiful silver bottles, and the new version (which is refillable) looks like a piece of silver sculpture on your dressing table. It’s the shop I always send visitors to Dublin to first, and they are always blown away by it.

The perfumer behind several of Cloon Keen’s scents, including Róisín Dubh, is Meabh McCurtin, originally from Clare. She now works for the hugely prestigious perfume company IFF in New York, and won a Fragrance Foundation award last Friday for her eau de toilette for Margiela Replica, Under the Stars (€140;, which is well worth checking out if you like intriguing, rich scents – this one features oud, pepper, labdanum and leather notes. I wrote about her perfume for Vyrao, The Sixth, recently too (available at Space NK).


I also wanted to mention some of the great affordable options on the high street – you don’t have to spend a fortune to smell good. Marks & Spencer stocks scents by Grasse-based perfumery Fragonard, which does a lovely orange flower for €32 (the whole of Grasse, the perfume capital, smells of orange flower); and M&S’s own brand of eau de toilettes cost less than €14. Find scents by star perfumer Jerome Epinette (who created the Victoria Beckham trio of perfumes, as well as Byredo scents and many more) at & Other Stories, such as Moon Fiction; by perfumer Jo Malone at Zara, and by master perfumer Dominique Ropion in your local chemist (Roger & Gallet Bois d’Orange). The trick is to get to know the name of the perfumer behind your favourite fragrances, and then follow what they do – it can lead you to some interesting scent discoveries.

I feel that the focus has shifted from celebrity “faces” now and is much more on the perfumer – thanks to Frederic Malle, who put the perfumer’s names on his bottles – and also on the ingredients. Because, as with skincare, it’s more important what actually goes into each bottle. Personally, I don’t care that a big film star is being paid to promote a perfume – I’m more interested in brands that put their money into the actual fragrance itself. It’s why Matiere Premiere, a start-up French brand helmed by master perfumer Aurelien Guichard, is so fascinating; the brand has its own fragrance farm in Grasse, where it harvests its own raw ingredients, from tuberose to rose centifolia, the star of the Radical Rose perfume. MP’s bottles are plain – but the scents are certainly not. Perfumery is an art form, akin to composing music or poetry. And it’s great to see the focus going back onto what really matters: how great something smells.

Listen back to the full interview:


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