Niche brands keep on coming, but Matiere Premiere has made more of an impact than most since its launch in 2019.
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Even before he founded his own company, Aurélien Guichard (he continues to produce scents for other brands as a perfumer at the Japanese flavor and fragrance corporation Takasago) was admired for creations such as:
- Bond No 9 Chinatown EDP (2005)
- Sean John Unforgivable EDT (2006)
- Gucci Pour Homme EDT (2008)
- John Galliano EDP (2008)
- Nina Ricci Ricci Ricci EDP (2009)
- Robert Piguet Casbah EDP (2012)
- Versace Eros EDT (2012)
- Trussardi My Name EDP (2013)
- Narciso Rodriguez Narciso EDP (2014)
- Michael Kors Wonderlust EDP (2016)
- Zadig & Voltaire This is Him! EDT (2016)
- Valentino Valentina Poudre EDP (2016)
- Salvatore Ferragamo Uomo EDT (2016)
- Issey Miyake L’Eau Majeure d’Issey EDT (2017)
- Tom Ford Sole di Positano EDP (2017)
- Giorgio Armani Armani Privé Bleu Turquoise EDP (2018)
Aurélien Guichard comes from a Grasse-based family with perfumery running through its veins. His grandparents grew roses and jasmine for the industry.
His father, Jean Guichard, winner of the inaugural Prix François Coty in 2000, created classics such as Cacharel LouLou EDP, Calvin Klein Obsession EDP, and Hermès Concentré d’Orange Verte EDT.
So why do we rate Matiere Premiere so highly? The name of the company (French for “raw material”) says it all.
From the product descriptions on the website – no flouncy, self-indulgent stories – to the scents, the perfumer lets his way with quality ingredients speak for themselves. The result: distinctive creations (some of them already genre bests) that offer good value for money.
Our Recommendations For Best Matiere Premiere Fragrances
One of the brand’s launch fragrances from 2019, it also signalled the fact that Matiere Premiere was a most welcome addition to the niche fragrance scene.
Taking its cue from the leathery scent of falconers’ gloves, there’s no missing the presence of the central ingredient, birch tar from Finland.
FYI: the oil obtained from the distillation of the bark from the tree species found in northern Europe is used in the tanning process of leather in Russia, hence its inspiration in the Russian leather fragrance sub-genre).
Here, it has all the smoky and burnt qualities of the material we’d expect, with warm support from the ambery tones of ciste labdanum from Andalusia blended with the spiciness of saffron (both these ingredients have leathery traits, so the perfumer uses them to enhance the effect).
Animalic fragrances can sometimes take no prisoners. This one gets the musky balance just right, thanks to the softening balsamic influence of benzoin absolute from Laos.
There’s much beauty (and impact) in simplicity as this 2019 release shows.
It starts out with the fresh aromatics of juniper and then onto the centrepiece, guaiac wood (not to be confused with palo santo, as seems to be increasingly the case online).
The perfumer uses oil from Paraguay (the world’s biggest producer) to show its spicy (almost peppery), slightly smoky aspects.
Patchouli oil from Indonesia and cypriol oil from India add earthy woodiness to the composition, while cabreuva wood oil from Brazil (the first time we’ve heard of this ingredient) keeps it warm and inviting.
Wonderfully cosy stuff that lays on the woodiness with consummate expertise.
Can a fragrance lift your mood and make you believe in the beauty of the world? This 2019 release makes no such extravagant promises but delivers on both accounts with gorgeous gusto.
Inspired by the purity of orange blossom, it opens with the sunny freshness of neroli oil from Lebanon. Its slightly soapy vibe is supported by the spiciness of bergamot oil from Italy. The combined effect is delicately green.
The title note sees orange blossom absolute from Tunisia building on the freshness of the opening, while displaying the complexity of the white floral at its honeyed and heady best.
The drydown continues the floral theme with ylang-ylang oil from the Comoros and clean white musks.
It’s sweet but thoroughly sophisticated stuff.
A common complaint about citrus fragrances and colognes is that they don’t last. That was the starting point for Aurélien Guichard in this 2019 release.
It opens with a big shot of citron oil from Italy. The citric note is known for its crisp dryness and that attribute is showcased wonderfully here.
Fresh spiciness comes through in the form of black pepper from Madagascar and pink pepper from Argentina (we love how the perfumer is scrupulous about his ingredients).
If you’re wondering why this scent has a bit of a tea vibe, that’s because it features bergamot from Italy and mate absolute from Paraguay.
Although some people will still insist this EDP lacks in the performance department, we say its refined beauty more than compensates for that.
Did you know that Mysore sandalwood, sourced mainly from plantations in southern India and southeast Asia, is becoming even more precious due to over-harvesting?
That could explain why perfumers such as Aurélien Guichard are increasingly using the Australian variety as an alternative.
This 2019 release is all about organic sandalwood from Australia and all the other ingredients – milky iris absolute from Tuscany and the vanilla tones of benzoin absolute from Laos and tonka bean absolute from Venezuela – play their part in making it the star of the sensual show while maintaining its rougher and earthier qualities.
For those who think Australian sandalwood results in inferior fragrances, think again.
Is this 2019 release a musk fragrance or a fig fragrance? Either way, we love it.
It opens with the distinctive greenery of a fig leaf note (prominent throughout) and then layers of musk.
The main ingredient is ambrette seed from Peru, the naturally derived musk distilled from the seeds of a variety of hibiscus, known for its woody-muskiness. It’s given a woody dimension with Virginian cedar.
Judicious use of the synthetics Ambrettolide and Ambroxan enhances the musky profile of the scent and its tenacity.
The result: a chic Parisian affair.
There can only be one flower with such power. Tuberose, of course.
Aurélien Guichard must be one of the few perfumers to own his own farm, in Grasse, where he grows rose centifolia and tuberose and then puts them to great use in creations such as Radical Rose and French Flower, respectively.
In this 2022 release, he uses the absolute and enfleurage methods to extract maximum intensity from the tuberoses organically grown on his farm for a sweet, sensual and spicy wonder.
Nigerian ginger, a green pear accord and Chinese tea leaf essence enhance the freshness but never detract from the floral beauty.
The world’s most expensive spice, also known as “red gold”, is derived from the stamens of the Crocus sativus (part of the iris family).
Frequently listed as a note in perfumes, but not always as discernible as we’d like, this 2022 release reveals saffron oil from Greece with all its facets of leather, tar and tobacco. It’s infused with the subtle smokiness of incense oil from Somali.
Saffron can be dark and heavy but is given brightness and oomph with Habanolide (a powerful musk from Firmenich) and Ambroxan.
This EDP is not for everyone, but if you’re looking for a contemporary take on one of perfumery’s most precious ingredients, you won’t find any better. Matiere Premiere fragrances are available in the United States from Lucky Scent, Harrods and Beauty The Shop.
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Richard Goller is a fragrance and grooming blogger. His blog is called Fragroom. A senior editor with 20 years' experience, his blog allows him to combine two of his passions: engaging content and the always-intriguing world of fragrances. When he isn't blogging, you'll find Richard indulging in his newly found passion for balcony gardening.