I’ve always loved niche and cult fragrance brands. I like the idea of wearing a scent which stands out from the crowd, and which is totally different to what you can get from the high street. It feels like the smallest little luxury you can afford for yourself.
You may not have heard of STORIES PARFUMS – but this under-the-radar fragrance house, for me, ticks all these boxes. Firstly, it has an underground appeal. Beauty editors and beauty buffs love it, but they know about it largely through a word-of-mouth ‘buzz’. This gives it a beguiling allure. Also, its scents are not named, but, rather, numbered, so there’s a sense of mystery around them. This also lends itself to the feeling that you are ‘in-the-know’ before you’ve even spritzed one. Tick, tick, tick.
STORIES also has an interesting back story, as well as a forward-thinking vision, with an eco sensibility. Established by founder Tonya Kidd-Beggs in Northern Ireland, the brand is inspired by the transportive value that fragrances can have: “Closely linked to memory and mood, what we smell has the ability to stir us, move us and immerse us in an instant,” Tonya says. “Stories was created to transport the mind and transform the emotions.”
Using the best raw materials and time-honoured traditional methods – inspired by a trip Tonya made to the perfume-making capital of Grasse – she has locked into the artisan traditions of perfumery, creating each fragrance to capture a moment and unlock a memory significant to her. “Each bottle is a narrative woven together by a carefully orchestrated balance of notes; as our name suggests, it is a story in aromatic form,” Tonya further explains.
STORIES N° 01 (from £75 for eau de parfum) is a wonderful blend of citrus top notes – Bergamot, Grapefruit and Orange Blossom – which give way to the warmth of Cedarwood, a delicate touch of Jasmine, Heliotrophe and Fig-Tea accord. Giving it an unusual twist are the ‘darker’ notes of Amber, vibrant Sandalwood and hint of Vetiver. “It tells the uplifting story of sorrow transformed into beauty, of the dark yielding to the light. It is irresistibly seductive, elegant and contemporary in character,” Tonya describes.
“As I sat surrounded by the tiny brown bottles of the Perfumer’s Organ in a village in the French Riviera, I was confronted by some of my most painful memories,” says Tonya. “Each scent I inhaled illuminated the shadows of a difficult past and marked the beginning of a healing journey. STORIES Nº.01 tells the uplifting story of sorrow transformed into beauty, of the dark yielding to the light.”
To layer the perfume – and therefore make it last longer – the Hand & Body Wash (from £22) and the Hand & Body Lotion (from £26) are lovely indulgences. They are kind to the skin, infusing it with moisture and deeply hydrating, leaving you with a subtle scent.
The body care range matches the fragrances and also feature luxurious ingredients, with results-driven benefits, including: aloe vera, shea butter, Marula seed oil, Argan kernal oil and coconut oil.
As well as being gender inclusive, believing in beauty without boundaries, the brand also sees itself as a beauty ‘pioneer’, bringing luxury and sustainability together. Recent eco-friendly initiatives include using Rock Paper for its labels, which can be recycled. Caps are made from Zamak, which is a zinc alloy and which is 100% recyclable. All glass bottles are refillable, reusable and recyclable and ingredients are sourced responsibly – using ingredients that comply with international environmental regulations. Lots more big ticks.
The second fragrance – STORIES Parfums N° 02 – is another intriguing offering also building on the notion of nostalgia. Described as “an invitation to walk through the garden, shed your shoes at the river and recover that which has been lost”, it uses Bulgarian Rose, spiced with ginger, cardamom and green tea, for a truly unusual but compelling fragrance. (You can’t help but be drawn back to inhaling this one on your skin). At its heart is Honey Tobaccoand Cedarwood – to give it a woody style. Opoponax, Tonka Bean and Patchouli at the base, enhance the full bodied perfume while amber and musk give it that unforgettable appeal.
Tonya gives an insight into its creation: “Days in my grandfather’s garden were spent among his plants. In the greenhouse, rose bushes stood among orange trees, on which blossom and fruit grew in tandem. Pots of patchouli lined the patio; the aroma from rubbing their green leaves on my wrists. The scent of the stream drew me barefoot into its water. I paddled under the watchful gaze of my father and grandfather, their faces obscured by tobacco pipe smoke.”
While both scents have a sense of ‘longing’ about them, something which is hard to put into words but for me is part of their appeal – which I love – they also feel so contemporary and now. Taking the best of authentic and traditional perfumery – scents are hand-made in Grasse and the UK – with a modern British appeal, STORIES PARFUMS feels like the best of all worlds. High quality, unique and crafted with nods to the past but with an eye on the future mean that this is a brand of the moment.
*This review is based on press samples