Bombay Perfumery, on Making a Fragrance

2 years ago

We caught up with Manan Gandhi, the founder of the niche perfumery, to trace the journey of a perfume.

How did you come to launch Bombay Perfumery?

“Having been involved with ingredients and fragrances for some time, I recognised the growing interest in niche perfumery brands when I was in Grasse. Though the old bastions of perfumery are still around today, the market had opened up to include curated niche perfumery houses that had more freedom to pursue a more creative direction. And while India is one of the best places in the world to source ingredients and has a strong fragrance culture and history, we didn’t really have an independent perfumery house which is what prompted me to launch Bombay Perfumery. On a more personal level, building a brand from scratch also gave me an opportunity to tap my creative side which was appealing.”

What’s the starting point of a fragrance?

“The ingredients are at the heart of the fragrance.”

Where do you source key ingredients from?

“We source ingredients from around the world – India, Haiti, Indonesia and Italy, for example. The beauty of an ingredient lies in the way it exists by itself, and how it plays off other ingredients to create a holistic fragrance. The ingredients that we source have these qualities and though they may be available elsewhere in the world, the efficacy would just not match.”

Can you describe the collaborative process of working with a perfumer?

“When it comes to creating a fragrance, there are several ways we begin our approach. For certain fragrances we want to champion a certain ingredient we love – such as Black Pepper that led to the creation of Calicut, or Tuberose in our fragrance Moire. Or there’s a particular olfactive idea or memory we’d like to explore – our perfumer once had lemongrass in her chai and it stuck with her for such a long time that it got translated to Chai Musk.

Once we have an idea that we want to explore, it is really a matter of constant experimentation. We go through multiple iterations to reach what we feel is a well composed fragrance. An important factor for us is that, though the ideas we draw from are classical ingredients or very deeply-rooted Indian experiences, the final composition must be contemporary and distinctive to remain memorable.”

Are your perfumes manufactured in India?

“The perfumes are made in France but bottled in India.”

Which is your favourite perfume of the lot, are you biased towards any?

“I personally prefer Calicut as it’s got my favourite ingredient, Black Pepper. For cooler weather and evenings out, I really love Sulawesi which has a distinctive warm patchouli and amber mix.”