How to smell like a movie star

Azzi Glasser, fragrance designer. Picture: Chuck Noble
Azzi Glasser, fragrance designer. Picture: Chuck Noble
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AZZI Glasser creates perfume for stars such as Jude Law and Kylie Minogue – and now you can smell like them too

‘A RICH alpha male who is incredibly charismatic, seductive, debonair and alluring.” How do you like the sound of that? Or rather the smell, because perfume designer Azzi Glasser has captured his essence in a bottle. Entitled Mr Vetivert, it’s one of the new The Perfumer’s Story collection of 11 scents from the fragrance creator who specialises in innovative scents for actors, musicians, artists, fashion designers and beauty brands. And 
now us.

Jude Law. Picture: Getty Images

Jude Law. Picture: Getty Images

Glasser knows a thing or two about alpha males, being the perfumer to Johnny Depp, Jude Law, Orlando Bloom and Tom Hardy, for whom she has made bespoke fragrances.

“For Hollywood actors smell is so important because it represents them,” she says. “It’s their armour. Creating the perfume is also a fun therapy session for them.”

Law is a big fan of his fragrance, saying: “She has made me a scent I feel like I’ve always had. It is me, I just never had it in a bottle before!”

Glasser has also worked her sensory alchemy on behalf of Kylie Minogue and Helena Bonham Carter, moving the latter to remark: “I never feel fully dressed or go on set without my perfume. It’s a protective cloud, invisible armour, emotional touchstone and part portal to make-believe land.”

Azzi Glasser, fragrance designer. Picture: Chuck Noble

Azzi Glasser, fragrance designer. Picture: Chuck Noble

If you have £15,000 to spare and can drop into the Knightsbridge branch of Harvey Nichols, Glasser will create a bespoke fragrance for you too, in a house brick-sized crystal bottle engraved with your name, along with 20 personalised, travel-friendly, smaller bottles. In the more likely circumstance that you do not have £15,000 sloshing around, she has also created The Perfumer’s Story collection of 11 limited edition men’s, women’s and unisex perfumes at a much less wallet-squeezing £95 for 30ml and available in Harvey Nichols Edinburgh and online. The fragrances are all from her previously unreleased back catalogue, built up over years of working with some of the world’s sexiest, most successful people.

“£15,000 is a lot of money but we all want our own smell, so this brought me to doing mini bespoke, where I have chosen 11 characters for people to choose from. I could see there was a demand for fragrances to be more individual with a real spice of originality,” she says, perched on a stool surrounded by perfume bottles in Harvey Nichols’ beauty department in Edinburgh. “People need to choose the perfume that matches them as a person. And when you get it right you get so many compliments.”

Alpha males and their whiff of cypress, vetivert and musk notes are all very heady, but sometimes you long for a more creative, intelligent type, characterised by the frankincense, myrrh and cedar bound up in a fragrance Glasser has called Old Books. It’s no surprise that Stephen Fry is a big fan of this one, and that Orlando Bloom wears something similar.

“Absurd as it may seem, the actual fragrance entirely lives up to it [its name],” says Fry. “I am in a library, I am happy, excited and filled with the double sense of calm and adventure that libraries and old books promise.”

Glasser’s other inspirations include the scent of suede close to the skin in Tuscan Suede and “the smell of a working man when the heat warms his early washed skin through his white tee-shirt” in Grey Myrrh. Grrr.

Included in the collection is Glasser’s signature fragrance, the unisex Sequoia Wood, which she has released because people have been asking her about it for years. “It’s not pretty-pretty, it’s creative, a bit edgy,” she says. “Tom Hardy loves this one.”

Each fragrance is based on what Glasser terms character and style, as a result of having worked with so many unique personalities over the years, and it is this emotional and personal response she wishes to evoke.

“Like a film director, I choose my main character, say vetiver, oudh and clary sage, then supporting actors and it all comes together.”

As well as making the A-list smell good, Glasser’s talents have been sought out by the likes of André Balazs to make bespoke scents for his hotels, including the Chiltern Firehouse in London and The Mercer Hotel in New York. She created a fragrance called Ditch (now one of the The Perfumer’s Story fragrances) for music director Jonas Åkerlund for the Grammys, and David Cameron asked her to create the smell of Britain for the Great Festival of Creativity in Istanbul last year. Rain on earth, of course, in case you’re wondering.

“I like what I do because it sends me off into my own fantasy world,” says Glasser. “The sense of smell is quite a subconscious one; many people don’t think about the hundreds of smells that they encounter, on the way to work for example, but I concentrate hard on them.”

Born in London, where she is based with husband Dan and children Zac and Milo, Glasser lived in India for four years as a child. “It was wonderful, then I came back here and there was no smell and everything was grey. But there was one thing that was familiar, the smell of rain on earth which is the same everywhere in the world, and one of the most powerful smells.”

Glasser started her journey into perfume design working for a mineral firm where she hit on the idea of imbuing volcanic pumice stones with a scent. She graduated on to a perfume house but found it too corporate and began to rebel, setting up on her own. She enjoyed the sweet smell of success early on by being the originator and co-founder of the award-winning Agent Provocateur perfumes, Illamasqua’s Freak and working with Topshop, Reiss and Bella Freud.

“It comes down to creativity,” she says. “You can’t be dictated to by marketing and multinationals. I don’t follow trends. You have to create your own trends. I have been working as a perfumer for 25 years and am delighted to be working now with Harvey Nichols on a bespoke service as well as The Perfumer’s Story.”

Glasser has a reputation for following her fragrances through from creation to counter and the packaging for this collection was inspired by a beautifully bound copy of The Life Of Giuseppe Garibaldi that she was given as a gift: black boxes that open like a book are inscribed with ornate gilt lettering and topped off with a red seal.

“Fragrance is a bit like a love affair,” says Glasser. “When you find the right one you can’t live without it. They’re all based on people I know.”

And given who Glasser knows, well, who wouldn’t want a bit of Jude Law or Kylie rubbed behind the ears?

Twitter: @JanetChristie2

• The Perfumer’s Story limited edition fragrances, £95 for 30ml, candles £45, available at Harvey Nichols, Edinburgh; fragrances and bespoke service available at Harvey Nichols Knightsbridge, and online until 31 December, www.harveynichols.com. Bespoke Fragrances £15,000, by appointment