Meet James Heeley
Perfumer and designer
As a designer influenced by nature it was quite logical that James Heeley should be fascinated by the world of scent. It was in France, through his design work that the young Englishman discovered how scents are 'designed' and made.
One of his first scents, 'Menthe Fraîche' (2006) is remarkable as a contemporary, elegant, and highly wearable scent created from such a simple yet difficult ingredient: mint. With time his beautifully constructed, natural, light scents evolved into more complex creations such as 'Cardinal', 'Esprit du Tigre', 'Cuir Pleine Fleur' and his recent collection of ‘Extrait de Parfum’.
As an autodidact, his continually evolving work now contains a varied collection of unique scents, each made according to the art of traditional French perfumery. Every detail, from the creation of the scent to the recyclable packaging is designed 'in house'. Today, Heeley is one of the few owner-founder, and independent luxury perfume houses in Europe. It is this independence that allows the creative freedom to create individual scents that are simply unique.
Born in Yorkshire, England, James Heeley studied Philosophy and Aesthetics at King's College, London University. He lives and works in Paris.
James Heeley‘s favorite ingredients:
1. Jasmine. ‘It reminds me of English summers: all-too-brief, but warm enough to wear a t-shirt in the street at night. And when you walk around on those warm evenings there’s jasmine tumbling over walls, and you smell the jasmine and can’t get enough of it…’
2. Fresh mint. ‘It smells alive and reminds me of the green countryside, without being a prisoner. Sometimes I feel like I’m a bit of a prisoner, tied to the city. Mint isn’t just something from English country gardens: it’s a window on the world, it takes you to cocktails and ice cream… I love Corsican wild mint – but mint also reminds me of home, England, and the garden.’
3. Fresh-cut grass. ‘A classic: just a collective of memories of England’s green and pleasant land. I love the mowing of lines in a lawn, going up and down: there’s something futile but also beautiful about it, and it’s almost contemplative.’
4. Freshly-sawed wood. ‘Or even a just-sharpened pencil… I love the smell of planed wood, sawdust, whether it’s oak, cedar, sandalwood or fig. Fig wood is actually one of the most wonderful smells I know.’
5. Lime blossom. ‘I smelled it for the first time in Brittany, after I became a perfumer. Again, it’s so fleeting – just around for a fortnight or so, but all the more precious for that.’ He paused. ‘Am I allowed a sixth…?’
6. Lavender. ‘The best oil is truly astonishing, blows the mind. And I love that Queen Victoria used to have it strewn it on her stone floors to crush underfoot as she and her guests walked…’