As the shift to natural and organic beauty becomes ever more prominent and the market brimming with variety, choice and style, there is still one area of the ‘green beauty’ industry that is relatively small in comparison. One word: fragrance. Traditionally dominated by the big corporate players (reliant on celebrity faces and brand loyalty), it seems the appetite for more bespoke, niche perfume is only growing. Couple this with a move towards more natural-based ingredients and the result is a gap in the market for beautiful fragrance minus the synthetic ingredients.
This gap in the market has been quietly filled by the latest brand to grace our Glasshouse shelves and online shop. Abel Odor’s sole purpose is to create the world’s first natural perfume. Founded in Amsterdam by New Zealander and former winemaker Frances Shoemack, Abel is named after Abel Tasman - the first European to discover Frances’ home country in 1642. With a background in the wine industry, this experience served Frances’ well when venturing into perfume. She told us on the subject, “The world of smell is so intangible, and I think the biggest skill I learnt in wine that serves me in perfume was building scent vocabulary and a confidence to translate scent into words” explains Frances, “Perhaps it sounds silly, but so often I find people are intimidated by things that aren’t material. In wine and perfume we are dealing in the sensory, the emotive and that world feels comfortable to me.”
With a simple goal and an innovative idea, Abel have proven that fragrance needn’t be synthetic. We think they’ve very much succeeded with their five natural, vegan-friendly scents created using mostly certified organic raw ingredients. We are thrilled to have them at Glasshouse and can’t wait to discover our signature scent.
A self-confessed fragrance addict with deep-rooted holistic principles, Frances came up with the idea for Abel after being unable to find a natural fragrance herself. She came across a video of a New Zealand master perfumer talking about the similarities of perfume and wine. The video was of Isaac Sinclair, who trained in Paris and Milan and spends his days creating fine fragrances for leading brands and working on Abel alongside.
Consequently, the pair teamed up and worked tirelessly - sourcing some of the most expensive, rare and exquisite ingredients available in modern perfumery to go into their five fragrances. Frances calls the brand “The ultimate intersection of art, ethics and natural science” and we’d be inclined to agree. Everything from their artfully designed slotted packaging and minimalist bottles to the beauty of each individual fragrance has been considered with craft and care.
With a strong eco philosophy that rings true with our own, Abel believe that a non-synthetic perfume is better for the earth, for you and the people around you. Research is beginning to emerge about the impact of traditional perfumes. Ingredients such as synthetic musk (which, according to Abel, is used in 99% of perfumes) has shown to ’bioaccumulate in the food chain, impacting our oceans, aquatic life and people”. In fact, Abel source their very own natural musk from the seed of a hibiscus flower - so all the sweet-smelling benefits without the eco-damage. Impressive.
Sustainability is at the forefront of everything Abel do, with Frances telling us that “From an ingredients perspective, we source only from suppliers who are also sustainably minded and are always looking for the most sustainable, ethically produced options” she said, “For us it’s about getting the balance of art, ethics and science. There’s always a compromise, whatever you do, however our aim is to stay in that sweet spot where we are doing what we can for the environment, without compromising on the product or experience.”
For every bottle sold, they donate a meal to one child through the charity Mary’s Meals - providing food for children in some of the world’s poorest communities. We love the way Abel has turned the fragrance market on its head - from something flashy and consumerist to the absolute opposite.
In the salon and online we have three of Abel’s special scents - Cobalt Amber, Golden Neroli and White Vetiver. Housed in 50ml glass bottles, the scent evolves on your skin throughout the day or night and is designed for both men and women. From sophisticated and peppery, to fresh, citrus and floral - we believe these three fragrances offer something for everyone. Come have a spritz in the salon or browse the range online.
So, there you have it - the world’s first natural perfume, right here in Glasshouse and waiting for you to wear, love and live in.
Words: Lucy Vincent
Images: Abel Odor