Order to to get a box in time for christmas

Ruth Mastenbroek | Autumn 2019

Ruth Mastenbroek 



Bare&Bond:


First of all, what was the inspiration behind the collection of perfumes you curated for this quarterly box? 


Ruth Mastenbroek: 


I have 4 fragrances in my collection (the 5th is launching soon!) so I wanted to give anyone who tries them a good idea of my style and some different fragrance types to sink their teeth (or noses) into! Each fragrance is a different story about my life; I want people to relate to that and I think the 3 that I have chosen show a good breadth of my perfumery and life experience.


Bare&Bond:


Going through each of the three fragrances, what makes them special to you? (e.g. What story do they tell, what mood do the evoke, do they have a specific personality?)  


Ruth Mastenbroek: 


Signature: I launched this fragrance in 2010, across various products. It therefore holds a very special place in my heart, because it was the fragrance I worked on to launch my own brand. Until then (for around 30 years) I had been creating fragrances for other brands. I loved doing that, and still do, but I had a huge desire to create a fragrance that used some of the incredible ingredients I had discovered throughout my career, as well as to create a fragrance that was not limited by someone else’s brief. That is also why this fragrance is my ‘Signature’ fragrance, because it is my absolute favourite fragrance type (a Chypre) and it is represents freedom of expression and creativity.


Amorosa: I was inspired to create Amorosa when I discovered a particular region in Italy: Umbria. The rolling green hills and white flowers you can see in the distance were breathtaking, that I wanted to capture the exhilarating feeling I got when I was there. I fell head over heels in love with Umbria, and so the name Amorosa (meaning ‘a woman in love’) was perfect. I like to think of it as a woman in love with life, with the fragrance giving an uplifting and invigorating burst of ‘love’ to whoever wears it.


Oxford: Oxford is a story of discovery: it is about adventure, pushing the limits and going on a journey where anything is possible. I studied Chemistry at Oxford University and this fragrance is inspired by my time there – it was a time where I could be free to be who I wanted to be, and to discover more about what I wanted in life. Much to some people’s surprise, this fragrance does not smell of libraries and cobbled streets! It is a more daring and mysterious fragrance that I created to reflect how liberating it can be to go through a period of discovery, whenever that may be in your life.


Bare&Bond:


What kind of activity or occasion do you imagine is best suited to each scent? 


Ruth Mastenbroek: 


Signature: I like to think of Signature as a ‘little black dress’; it can be dressed up or down and is suitable for any occasion, day or night. 


Amorosa: I would describe Amorosa as Signature’s naughty little sister: its more light-hearted and playful nature makes it perfect for a party or social occasion.


Oxford: Oxford is a strong and impactful fragrance: It exudes confidence and strength so is perfect for any occasion where we want to feel confident, like where we are meeting new people or going to an interview, for example. 


Bare&Bond:


Can you talk about the key notes and accords in each of the three scents? In other words, what might jump out at our subscribers when they wear them and how do the notes work together to form this perfume? 


Ruth Mastenbroek: 


Signature is a Chypre fragrance – characterised by the 4 key pillars of bergamot, rose, patchouli and oakmoss. I have combined these with top notes of blackcurrant & pink peppercorn which is what makes it unusual. One of my absolute favourite fragrances of all time is Mitsouko by Guerlain, which is a Chypre, and so I wanted to create a Chypre that was classic with a twist in Signature.


Amorosa is a floral fragrance, but what makes it surprising is the freshness of watermelon in the top, combined with white flowers in the heart. The amber notes in the base provide the rock which anchors the whole fragrance.  


Oxford is an oriental fragrance; the green and herbal notes (with basil, clary sage and rosemary) combine to make it an unusual oriental, with vanilla and patchouli in the base. 



Bare&Bond:


Is fragrance important? If yes, why do you think we care so much about it? 


Ruth Mastenbroek: 


Of course I think that fragrance is incredible important; being able to smell and identify different smells is intrinsic to who we are. Fragrance is part of our history and culture, both on a larger scale but also for every individual it is bound up with who we are and our memories. For centuries we have used fragrance to express something we want to say about ourselves, and I am confident it is only going to become an even bigger part of everyone’s lives in continuing to do this.



Bare&Bond:


Who or what inspired you to become a perfumer? 


Ruth Mastenbroek:


Once I had completed my Chemistry degree at Oxford University, I was searching for a creative outlet to pursue in my work (but hadn’t quite found the right thing). I started working in the perfume department in Selfridges in London which suddenly opened my eyes. The fragrance that spoke to me most at that time (and became one of my all-time favourites) was Mitsouko by Guerlain: it was created by Jean Paul Guerlain, and the fact that one person could create something so beautiful, intriguing and glamorous was completely inspiring to me. The ingredients in Mitsouko were simply wonderful, and realizing that I could use my Chemistry background to work with ingredients like that was my ‘lighbulb’ moment. That is when I decided to join a perfumery company and train to be a perfumer – where I could combine science and art to be creative! 




Bare&Bond:


What’s the story behind your brand? How did it come to be? 


Ruth Mastenbroek:


In 2004, I attended the World Perfumery Congress in Cannes for the first time. I found it overwhelming, feeling very much like a little fish, surrounded by bigger and better fish. The talks concerned huge markets, there were world-famous perfumers and brand-owners there. It was at the same time inspiring and intimidating. I felt a bit crushed, and expressed that to a perfumer friend while we were musing on the meaning of life on the beach one morning before the congress started. She suggested I choose - and choose carefully - a pebble from the beach and invest it with my hopes and desires. In future I would pick up that pebble during moments of doubt and would feel re-energised. It might sound a bit ‘New-Age-y’, but it made a big impression on me, and over the next few years I mapped out how I was going to take control of my professional life, and how I could bring out the 'more' that I felt I had inside me.


I realised that there was so much more inside me, I just HAD to find a way to create a fragrance that expressed all I love about perfume - the exquisite natural ingredients, the key accords, the new synthetics and how perfume allows you to express yourself in a way that is subtle yet powerful! I had been working as a perfumer for nearly 30 years by this point, and I had so many ideas for fragrances that my customers weren't asking me for... I was dying to create my favourite fragrance type, a chypre, and give it a modern twist. It took me the best part of 3 years until I was finally happy with my fragrance. I wanted to prove to myself that I could do it, that I could be as good as I felt I could be.


I could have just kept it to myself, but I wanted to share it. For me, the perfume I wear allows me to connect with a part of my personality and my past (memories) in a way that nothing else can; and so I was sure that this was the case for other people. I felt there was a big opportunity to help people connect with the perfume they were wearing, and therefore also with themselves. I want others to be able to use my perfumes as I used the pebble on the beach – to connect to my fragrances and use them as a vehicle in their lives. That is how my brand was created.



Bare&Bond:


What do you think makes your brand special or unique?


Ruth Mastenbroek:


I am the only classically-trained British perfumer with my own brand – most other brands do not create their own fragrances. I feel this means I can create fragrances that use all of my perfumery experience, as well as my life experience, to give people something to relate to in a scent. 



Bare&Bond:


Describe your brand’s perfume personality or style in 3 words


Ruth Mastenbroek:


3 words is hard! … Elegant, daring, ‘classic with a twist’



Bare&Bond:


What has been the most exciting moment in your perfume career? 


Ruth Mastenbroek:


Launching my brand at Fortnum & Mason, where niche fragrance is really supported and the shopping experience to find ‘the one’ is wonderful. Launching my very first fragrance at Fenwick of Bond Street was also extremely special: they really saw something in me and my ‘nose’ that they felt was missing at the time and wanted to support me as an independent perfumer. I will always be grateful for their continued support of my brand.



Bare&Bond:


What has been the toughest moment in your perfume career?


Ruth Mastenbroek:


As an unknown perfumer in 2010, I had no idea how hard it would be to get my foot in the door with new retailers. Just because I believed in my brand and fragrance, I assumed that others automatically would too. It was a steep learning curve to realise that I first had to have the chance to show buyers, and this took far longer than I expected. It was tough to accept that things would not happen overnight, or that some people may not see what I saw in my brand.  



Bare&Bond:


Are there any irritating beliefs about perfume that you wish would just go away?


Ruth Mastenbroek:


There seems to be a trend at the moment where there is an assumption that anything synthetic is undesirable. In my opinion, synthetic ingredients can enhance a fragrance if used in the right way, and can really make it come alive. I understand that rationale and why there is a love for natural ingredients, I also love them myself, but it could also be argued that the way that natural ingredients are sourced is not as sustainable as synthetic ingredients. I therefore like to work with both, and use whichever ingredients that make the character of the fragrance come alive in the best possible way. 



Bare&Bond:


Finally, what advice do you have for people looking for a new fragrance or a signature scent? 


Ruth Mastenbroek:


Don't just go by first impressions… let the story unfold on your wrist, and keep smelling for a few hours so you experience the top, heart, and base notes. Try to be open-minded, as there are no hard and fast rules about which fragrances you will like (if only!). Always trust your instinct – perfume is personal and only you can decide what is best for you. I believe perfume is all about making you feel sensational and only you can be the judge of that. Go back to how you want your fragrance to make you feel and if it does that, then you have found ‘the one’!  

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