Thameen Insignia – a Masterclass with perfumer Alexandra Carlin

It’s a uncommon alternative to sit down in on a masterclass with a perfumer, so after we have been invited to listen to Alexandra Carlin clarify her creation of Thameen Insignia, together with the good Christopher Chong – now resident as Thameen’s Artistic Director – we assuredly leapt on the probability!

A part of Thameen’s Sovereign Assortment (all of that are impressed by the Crown Jewels) Insignia evokes the magnificent Garter Star (the late Queen Elizabeth II’s beloved insignia jewel, which she typically wore in reminiscence of her grandfather, and is now owned by King Charles). The Garter Star represents honour, loyalty, charitable work – sentiments that meant a lot to the late Queen, and proceed to resonate by means of the work of King Charles. 

Christopher Chong defined as we started the session that the challenge was the primary he’d labored on in his new position with Thameen, and so it was already particular – a challenge that took on even larger significance with the Queen’s passing, and respectful silence they saved throughout the interval of mourning. ‘That’s the explanation we’re solely actually beginning to discuss Insignia now,’ says Chong. Describing how they collaborated on the perfume, he continues: ‘I proposed that to Alex, to look into heritage from her perspective. She loves doing in depth analysis. We create right now pondering of tomorrow.’





Alexandra Carlin: ‘What I like with Christopher is he at all times provides me numerous freedom of expression and interpretation. I needed it to be for certain a really elegant perfume. Speaking about heritage & transmission I knew I needed to make use of a base from De Laire – a perfume home began within the nineteenth century now owned by Symrise. They specialised in bases, a mixture of artificial and pure. Now we additionally make new bases – that is one in all them, an unbelievable cognac oil.’

Arrayed earlier than Alexandra have been tantalising rows of uncooked substances, little bottles that maintain the scented secrets and techniques to Insignia’s composition, and which we have been now going to scent. Oh, that cognac oil! Methods to describe it? A dusky, aged oak barrel found in an historic cellar, the wooden and contents made one with time; a smoky, supremely easy type of booziness that swirls warmly, however so mellow – by no means overwhelming.

Alexandra: ‘The clove is obtained by SymTrap expertise from clove leaf. You do a distillation after which a second distillation and seize the scent. Its be aware ethereal and horse like, leathery. This one is from Brazil.’

Once more – a revelation. Coming from the leaf, that is no ‘Christmas spice’ of a scent, as a substitute the sun-warmed hay notes shine, revealing an sudden softness and intriguing ranges of complexity.





Alexandra subsequent handed us blotters of the brand new (and further particular) geranium they used for Insignia, telling us: 

‘This geranium from Madagascar is essentially the most refined high quality, one you simply can’t often get today. Once I first went there to scent it on the place they distill it, with perfumers like Maurice Roucel, I I knew how nice it was even earlier than I smelled it myself, as I noticed him properly up, nearly cry with the way it reminded him of this supreme high quality you can’t get anymore, which we thought had been misplaced without end, however we are able to use once more.’

A be aware known as Sandalwood Dreches was subsequent, which Christopher defined was truly upcycled, and has been ‘…distilled from sandalwood chips which might be leftover to create an edible be aware however not milky. It’s toffee, nearly salted caramel however not overly candy. Insignia was the primary fragrance available on the market utilizing it.’


After we lastly smelled the bottom be aware of Cuir Velour – an accord masterfully mixing notes of raspberry, violet, velvet, leather-based – it left our group gasping. A caress of a scent, it’s one thing we’d be joyful to put on as a perfume in itself. After all we have been then champing on the bit to scent the ultimate perfume, and goodness it was value ready for…


High Notes: Whiskey, fig, bitter orange

Center Notes: Bay Leaf, geranium, Damask rose

Base Notes: Sandalwood, vetiver, suede


Thameen Insignia is the right instance of how a fragrance is at all times a lot greater than the checklist of its notes; although these are intriguing sufficient on paper, it actually comes alive on the pores and skin. There’s a sparkle to this scent, a radiance that appears to hover above the pores and skin like a aromatic aura. Having smelled the notes in flip, you would undoubtedly recognise them within the composition, however as a result of they’ve been so seamlessly blended, they really feel suffused with a dignified subtlety. There’s nothing gaudy or showy about Insignia – a silky, dry powdery-ness provides hushed glamour, the equal of candlelight refracted in a foxed mirror.

What an honour to have attended such a masterclass, and have the privilege of speaking to the very perfumer and Artistic Director who labored on the perfume itself – and to scent such high quality of uncooked supplies, which usually would solely get to be sniffed by different perfumers. We so hope Thameen repeat this expertise, and that our recounting of it provides to your enjoyment of attempting Insignia by yourself pores and skin…



Thameen Insignia, £235 for 50ml Extrait de Parfum

Written by Suzy Nightingale