Shop Local Series // Bombay Perfumery
It’s rare to come across a niche and contemporary Indian perfume brand. So we were more than thrilled to speak to Manan Gandhi, founder of Bombay Perfumery that uses Indian "naturals" like jasmine, Indian tuberose, black pepper and chai masala in their fragrances. We learn about the different processes that make their eight signature perfume scents, and get an understanding of what goes behind creating one.
1. What is Bombay Perfumery?
Bombay Perfumery is a fragrance house based in Mumbai that focuses on bringing progressive perfumery trends to its consumers. Our aim is to shine a spotlight on Indian perfumery naturals in a contemporary way, through a diverse range of fragrances that are complex and distinctive. Each fragrance is built around one or two 'hero' ingredients which are very Indian at heart for instance jasmine, ginger or black pepper but then we've twisted this into interesting olfactive combinations to make the experience of it truly memorable.
2. When was the first time you found interest in scents?
My family has been in this business for close to 40 years so I've been introduced to the world of perfumery at a very young age. Some of my fondest childhood memories comprise visiting my father's perfumery lab and taking in the wonders of the beautiful fragrances that would be lying around. I guess this is what prompted me to expand my family business to Grasse, France which is the perfumery capital of the world. In my time there, i got a chance to interact with some of the best perfumers in the business which really honed my understanding of how different scents work together to create a unique olfactive experience. This is also where the idea for starting my own perfumery label germinated.
3. Can you talk to us about your ingredients?
As I've shared, i really wanted to develop a range of contemporary fragrances that pay an ode to the beautiful Indian naturals which have been used in perfumery for generations but they've never quite been given their due. One of our perfumes- Madurai Talkies is an ode to jasmine, we've combined this with violets and tuberoses with a base of white musk. Moire has a narcotic mix of the Indian tuberose which is very heady mixed with rich, smooth leather. Seven Islands is a fruity punch with notes of vanilla, tonka bean, peaches and grapefruits. This is our feminine fragrance range.
4. How do you understand scents that suits you the best?
Fragrances are very personal so it's really important to understand what kind of fragrances you like or don't. One can begin with a broad direction for instance- spicy and woody or florals etc - and then play around a little bit in the direction of the fragrances you prefer to really narrow down on the notes that work for you. there's no guide to this, unfortunately but I always recommend spending some time with fragrances that you do like- test them on your skin, wear them for a while before you decide which one really works for you. Following trends blindly without really understanding what you're going for is never a good idea.
5. Are natural ingredients better than artificial ones?
This is one of the biggest myths that you will hear from a lot of people. The truth is, it's very difficult to find any fine fragrance in the market today that is completely devoid of synthetics. Synthetics are essential to perfumery for many reasons, the most important one being costs. It's expensive to use naturals - for example you have to distill the steam from a tonne of roses to get a small bottle of pure rose oil. In case of many ingredients like musks or sandalwood - it's illegal to procure these naturally due to environmental threats so one has to rely on synthetics to replace these. I always say that modern day perfumery is really a marriage of technology and art. Perfumers are now equipped with the technology to replicate the smell of a particular object say for instance, a leather bag and capture that scent in a fragrance.
6. Does perfume get spoilt with age?
Yes, their composition changes over time. if you've been careful about preserving your perfume (keeping it out of harsh sunlight, etc) then normally, perfumes have a shelf life of about 4-5 years.
7. How long does the process of creating perfume take?
It's a very tedious process honestly, from the first brief to the perfumers to the final version (which normally undergoes about 2-3 iterations) it could take anywhere between 6 months to 1 year
8. What's your favourite perfume you wear yourself?
Sulawesi from Bombay Perfumery and otherwise I really like the Swedish brand Byredo
9. What kind of people would you say wear Bombay Perfumery?
Urban, discerning, fashion forward, ready to experiment.
Shop Local Series is a monthly online pop-up featuring small and mid-sized brands, artists, and makers we love from India who tell their stories though their products.
( The pop-up for Bombay Perfumery isn't live anymore on our website as the pop-ups are meant to be for only 15 days, but you can hop onto their Instagram and show them your love ).
This story has been edited and condensed by Divya Sehgal.