Beauty

Everything You Need To Know About Ffern Seasonal Perfume Blends

Just when you think that you have seen everything in this world, something like Ffern Seasonal Perfume Blends come along to stop you in your tracks. Our generation have never seen this approach to the fragrance or beauty industry and we are completely in love with the philosophy.

Ffern describe themselves as …a new model for perfumery… and they definitely are. The creators, 5th generation master perfumer Francois Robert and his protégé Elodie Durande (lorded as being two of the sharpest creative minds in perfumery) could clearly see that Perfume’s artisan roots had been forgotten by big companies who currently dominate the industry and they set out on a mission to change that. The result is Ffern Seasonal Perfume Blends.

Together, we’ve developed a new model for perfumery; putting craft, ingredients, and creativity at the centre of the practice.

The perfume’s are succinctly described as being small batch, organic, seasonal Artisan perfume blended four times per year. Unisex, vegan, transparent. One batch blended per season for equinox and solstice release. I mean, what is not to love. It is all so unique and exciting as well as being so sensual and humbling. Oh, there is one more thing… They are limited in terms of production run and release, so, you can only (and we mean ONLY) get to try one of the blends if you are on the Ffern production ledger and once a season’s blend is all gone, that’s it. They will never repeat that particular blend again. It is this brevity and exclusivity that makes the Ffern ethos so irresistible.  They really are walking the walk when it comes to their mission.

Why Are We So In Love With Ffern Seasonal Perfume Blends?

In the modern life that we lead, we have all become very disconnected from nature and seasonality. We dont eat seasonally, grow our food seasonally, and many of us live such urban lives that we don’t even really notice the subtle seasonal changes in our natural environment other than the temperature difference.

Moreover, as consumers, we have all become so exhausted from the insincerity of commerciality and all that it represents. Out plant is hurting, entire species of animals are disappearing from the world and we are slowly poisoning ourselves through our diet of highly-processed and low-nutrition foods that are marketed to us everywhere we look. It seems like an endless cycle of plastic packaging, mass marketing with no conscience and above all, profit profit profit.

Then we look at an approach like Ffern. It may not seem to be a reinvention of the wheel, but a successful company with a philosophy like this is a drop in the ocean of a world that we all want to be part of. Seasonality, brevity, sustainability, connoisseurship and transparency. These are all approaches that we would do well to take note of and incorporate into as many areas of our lives as possible. After all, wouldn’t we all appreciate the seasonality of  our lives if everything wasn’t available to us 24/7? Take note multi-nationals…

Ffern - Organic small batch perfume

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What is Ffern Artisanal Perfume?

The thinking behind Ffern was that the world of perfume had a lot to learn from the worlds of whiskey and wine. It was through this approach that the creators insisted on focusing on the process and trusting the work to create the desired end result. This means that instead of seeking celebrity endorsement or obsessing over product packaging, they are only concerned with each stage of the perfume making process.

This includes ingredient sourcing all the way through to the fragrance ageing. All phases working harmoniously together, every step has been carefully thought through with a single goal. To make better perfume.

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The Ffern Philosophy

It is undeniable, in today’s globalised world, the artisan roots of perfume’s past has been forgotten. Unfortunately, as with most industries,  the world of perfume is dominated by a handful of cosmetics giants who own multiple brands, and mass manufacture their fragrance on a global scale. This means that carefully sourced natural ingredients and independent artistic expression have been abandoned in favour of cheap chemicals and market forces. Sigh, it’s true.

In order to serve as an antidote to that approach, the Ffern vision is simple: restore perfumery to its artisan roots in the days when connoisseurship was king and people paid what the product was worth, not vice versa.  In order to make this dream a reality, Ffern needed a connoisseur (a nose, as it’s known in the perfume industry), and they found one in Francois Robert, a 4th generation master perfumer and great grandson of Joseph Robert who started the dynastic line Robert perfumers.

 

Coriander Seed · Summer 20

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What Are Seasonal Perfume Blends?

Each year Ffern release four seasonal fragrances, each is only available for three months at a time, not to be repeated but to be completely reimagined the following year.

The production volumes are tightly controlled to ensure commitment to process and ingredient quality is not compromised. Each season, they blend just enough for one bottle per each name on our production ledger. No more.

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How is Ffern Perfume Made?

Step one is to search the world for the highest quality and most sustainably grown raw materials on the planet. Once these have been identified and sourced, Ffern can proceed with the next step, Oil Extraction, in order to obtain the scent.

 

Step two is to extract the oils from the materials with a range of traditional methods – mostly derived from the solvent extraction process invented by Francois’ great grandfather, Joseph Robert.

 

Step three is then to blend the perfume. This is done in the Ffern labs in Brighton, UK. Firstly the oils are taken to Brighton, where Francois and Elodie blend them into small batches of 100% pure perfume.

 

The fourth is to Age the blend, in the same way as you would with a fine vintage wine or whisky. In order to do this, the unique seasonal batch is taken to the Ffern ageing facility in Devon, UK. There, it undergoes a two stage ageing process. Maturation, where the oil is barrelled and left to sit alone, and maceration, where the oil is blended with our Italian grain alcohol and left to sit again. During these phases, the plant particles remain inside the mixture. The ageing days for each batch are marked on the bottle label under ‘MAC / MAT‘.

 

The fifth in the Ffern process is filtration and bottling. This is completed on site in Devon, UK and serves to remove the plant particles so that the perfume can be bottled.

 

The sixth and final step in the process is controlled storage of the scent. This approach is similar to how one would store wine in the perfect conditions in a cellar. This takes place in Somerset, UK at the Ffern HQ. There the bottles are stored under tightly controlled light and temperature conditions to ensure consistency across the batch.

 

Et, voila!

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What Kinds Of Scents Are The Seasonal Blends Made With?

All the products sourced in the first step of the process are vegan, organic and natural. Ffern only use only the highest quality organic, natural and sustainably sourced ingredients that they can find. Whilst these change each season, there are some core ingredients that influence their house style, and which are present in nearly all perfumes that they make. These include bergamot rind, red juniper and vetiver root. Below is a list of the ingredients for each of the perfumes they have released so far. You can follow the links to their respective archive pages, where the stories behind each ingredient are told in more detail.

Winter 20

Liatrix leaf, Tarragon, Vetiver root, Rosemary, Ceylon cinnamon bark, Guaiacwood, Oakmoss, Black peppercorn, Patchouli, Peppermint, Lemon rind, Bergamot, Olibanum, Clove bud, Nutmeg, Douglas fir, Red cedar.

Blended: 13/10/19
MAT/MAC ageing days: 26/34

Summer 19

Cypress leaf, Coriander seed, Rock rose, Neroli, Nutmeg, Lemon, Bitter orange, Benzoin siam, Cinnamon leaf, Key lime rind, Tolu balsam, Clary sage, Jasmine, Olibanum, Red juniper, Bergamot rind.

Blended: 15/05/19
MAT/MAC ageing days: 24/16

Winter 19

Rosemary, Lemon, Peppermint, Vetiver root, Lavender, Patchouli, Douglas fir, Sweet orange, Bergamot, Tarragon, Clove bud, Jasmine sambac, Red juniper, Oakmoss, Boya oud.

Blended: 10/10/18
MAT/MAC ageing days: 31/22

Autumn 19

Guaiacwood, Ceylon cinnamon bark, Oakmoss, Bergamot rind, Black peppercorn, Douglas fir, Jamaica pimento, Red juniper, Vetiver root, Nutmeg, Olibanum, Patchouli.

Blended: 12/08/19
MAT/MAC ageing days: 25/19

Spring 19

Vetiver root, Pink peppercorn, Petitgrain, Ferula gummosa root, Jasmine, Bergamot, Red juniper, Clary sage, Green mandarin.

Blended: 02/02/19
MAT/MAC ageing days: 36/19
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How does Ffern Work?

Due to the bespoke nature of the production process at Ffern, there is a very limited supply and release of each seasonal eau de parfum. Each equinox and solstice, the creators blend a new batch for the coming season. This means that once the strictly limited batch is produced there can be no repeats. Once it’s gone, it’s gone.

The only way to secure a bottle of Ffern seasonal perfume is by adding your name to their production ledger. It may sound a bit complicated but honestly, it isn’t. At this stage, due to the popularity of this concept and the scarcity of the actual product, you can’t procure a bottle even if you wanted to! (Sorry). You can however add your name to the wait-list for inclusion in the production ledger. But a word of warning, you will probably have to wait for someone to die first…

What is the Ffern Production Ledger?

Because there is a limit to how much actual end product Ffern can produce for any given season they had to come up with a fair and transparent way of distributing the perfume. That’s why we use a production ledger.

The ledger is essentially a list of names. Each season, when they are preparing to blend, age and bottle the fragrance, they calculate the batch volume based on the number of names on the ledger. Everyone on the ledger receives a 32ml bottle of fragrance per season.

Space on the ledger costs £69 per quarter (or per bottle). You are free to leave at any time, and every bottle ships with a sample vial affixed to the package. You can try the sample at home and decide whether you’d like to keep that season’s fragrance. If not, simply return the full sized bottle with the free postage label, and your account will be credited with the full amount (£69.00).

The ledger is very easy to use and understand, at this stage there is no minimum commitment which means that you can cancel anytime. If you need to you can skip a season if required and you must be on the ledger if you would like access to any of the available seasons in the Ffern archive.

As we mentioned, the ledger status is currently full, but the waiting list is open.

The Ffern Waiting List

Ffern insist on keeping tight control over the size of the ledger, to ensure that the quality of our work is not compromised by scale. Hence, the ledger is usually closed. But don’t despair, you can join the waiting list Ffern let you know via SMS when space becomes available.

 

The Ffern Archive

Each season, Ffern blend a small number of extra bottles that are stored under controlled conditions in the Ffern archive. There are also occasionally residual bottles from the balance of the Ffern Ledger due to returns or skipped deliveries from the ledger members. These additional bottles of scent account for the Ffern archive. Access to the archive is exclusively available to our ledger members.

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How long is the Ledger waiting list for Ffern?

At this point in time, there is no way of knowing. It could be anywhere from a few weeks or months on end. Due to the list not being controlled or managed directly by Ffern, it is completely dependent on those members who decide to cancel in order to create additional space.

There is currently no information on weather Ffern would ever consider increasing the number of active members on the Ledger.

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Can I Buy or Try Ffern Perfumes anywhere?

The short answer is, no. Due to the limited production runs, Ffern is not, and presumably will not, be stocked in any department stores or any other locations online. The only way to purchase the scents is to be on the Ledger.

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Are there any other artisanal or seasonal perfumes similar to Ffern Seasonal Perfume?

Unfortunately, not really. Of course there are perfume creators who are considered artisanal, however, none which parallel the approach of Ffern.  We have sourced several artisan perfume options for you to review below. However, if it is the approach that intrigues you rather than the product itself, you may be more interested in reviewing the do it yourself seasonal guides we have found. These include guides like yearly almanacs on plant seasonality, blending scents through oils and hedgerow apothecary.

If you love the Ffern approach as much as we do, don’t forget to check out our other Edits on Health and Alternative Remedies.

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