New Zealand’s noses are the new kids on the niche perfume block.
With only a handful of local noses, the New Zealand perfume industry is just emerging. Those shaping the scene, though, see its potential, as they watch local skincare and eco brands lead the way. In a country brimming with artisanal producers, it’s ripe for a boutique, high-end perfume industry, defined by a very different aesthetic to traditional European perfumeries.
Beyond those stock images of majestic landscapes, the country has rich and complex urban identities that inform its creative output. Several strands – a deep respect for the indigenous, contrasting old with new, and embracing complexity – are evident in the work of a new wave of perfumers. While New Zealanders Isaac Sinclair and Jennifer Riley, two highly respected noses, are representing the country on international duty (Sinclair is in São Paolo and Riley in France after formal training in Europe), brands such as The Olfactory and Curio Noir, and perfumers like Sandra Anderson, Vanessa York and George Bowler, have been developing local scent identities with a strong desire to evoke a sense of place.
New Zealand clothing brand World – an experimental force in New Zealand fashion and retail – has one of the finest portfolios of international niche fragrance anywhere. One of its directors, Benny Castles, notes, ‘Today, there’s an opportunity to create identities in a marketplace where customers want to express individuality. This means there’s now a realistic pathway for local perfumers in niche fragrance.’
It was while working at the World beauty store in Wellington that George Bowler was first attracted to the art of scent. He went on to study at the Grasse Institute of Perfumery in 2015, learning under Jean-Claude Ellena and Max Gavarry in France, then Carlos Huber and Rodrigo Flores-Roux in New York. He returned, having built relationships with manufacturing laboratories in Europe, with a passion to create fragrances unique to New Zealand.
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