Have you left your Christmas shopping a little late this year? Be not afraid, I bring you good news: Bloom Perfumery in Spitalfields stocks an amazing range of astonishingly lovely scent that will delight any adult on your list.
The Belle of Brockley discovered Bloom earlier this year, and it is now one of my very favourite London shops. Bloom stocks perfumes made by independent perfumers, so everything you’ll find inside is niche – there are no mass market fragrances here. If this has you inhaling sharply and thinking ‘ooh, expensive …’ : drop your shoulders and relax – Bloom is EXTREMELY affordable!
Mass market scents seem to have risen in price sharply over the last couple of years. Until recently, I contented myself with scents by Dior or Chanel, on the grounds that anything niche would be just that price-point too far … but not any more. With RRPs for mainstream brands around £50 for a miserly quantity of scent, niche now seems an absolute bargain.
But where to start, if (like me), you don’t consider yourself to have an overly sophisticated nose? The most well-known niche perfume stores have always struck me as a bit ‘call me madame’, and I don’t find them conducive to the uninhibited exploration required to find the perfect scent. Bloom is different. It’s a beautiful, welcoming little jewel of a shop, carefully ordered and arranged, but with a very reassuring feel of individuality and informality, thanks in part to the foxes (see picture to the right) and other creatures that decorate the shop (and make visiting with under-10s in tow a much more pleasurable experience).
The staff are excellent: no-one at Bloom will hover or crowd you when you just want a quiet browse, but they are happy to share their awe-inspiring knowledge of perfume, and have an almost mystical mastery of the ‘psychology of the individual’.* Free-associate a stream of words to them – for example: ‘stone, incense, wood-smoke, horses …’ and they will translate your unconscious wishes into the perfect perfume from their shelves.
At Bloom’s Pierre Guillaume event earlier this year, I outed myself to the master perfumer, and all those attending, as an enthusiast for ‘something that smells a bit like very lightly-worn knickers’. (I should perhaps ask Father Christmas for a small amount of shame, as it’s something I clearly lack normal quantities of). I was surprised and absolutely delighted when following the event, Bloom sent me a sample of Onda by .vero.profumo., along with a hand-written note saying that they had remembered my fondness for ‘animalistic notes’, and thought I would enjoy the Onda. I enjoyed this ‘Fruity Leather’ so much that after applying it I was completely unable to focus on the day’s tasks, and instead retired to bed for a blissful afternoon nap, curled up in a ball with my nose to my scented wrists. That’s customer service at it’s best!
If you’ve clicked the link for the Onda and thought ‘how lovely, but unfortunately outside my price range’, be assured that Bloom’s range of product is diverse, and the price-points are too. I have my eye on La Manifacture des Châteaux’ ‘Fumoir’ candle, which in the ‘small but perfectly formed’ size retails at £15.00. There are far too many beautiful gift options at Bloom to cover in any detail, but if you are on a budget, I recommend you take a look at the beautifully packaged Musgo Real cologne range (RRP £30.00 for 100 ml) and the extremely enticing range of bath products: Le Bain De Wharton by Jardins d’Écrivains (RRP £32.50).
If you still feel some trepidation choosing a perfume for another, Bloom also stock the literary works of Luca Turin and Tania Sanchez: Perfumes: The A-Z Guide (RRP £12.99) and The Little Book of Perfumes: The 100 Classics (RRP £9.99). Even if you had no nose at all, these books are worth owning: the authors have knowledge and passion for perfume, great style and – have pity for those poor perfumers at the sharp end – a gift for bitchiness to equal Dorothy Parker’s. Either of these books would make lovely presents by themselves, but slip a Bloom gift certificate inside and you will also have given the lucky recipient The Joy of Choosing in London’s loveliest perfumery.
Avoid the ‘Hurly-burly of the chaise-longue’ that is shopping in the West End in the days before Christmas, and slip gratefully through the door of Bloom, to experience the ‘Deep, deep peace of the double bed’: calm , comfort, clarity of vision and complete confidence in the quality of the merchandise. Just breathing in the delicious scent of the air inside Bloom lowers your blood pressure and raises your spirits. You might arrive feeling ‘Bah! Humbug!’, but you’ll leave feeling ‘Joy to the World’.
But Bloom is not just for Christmas, it’s for Life, so sign up to their mailing list to ensure you don’t miss their well-thought out events – or their generous promotions! As I write, there are discounts all across the online site … guess what I’ll be doing as soon as this post is online!
* ‘Jeeves has always been a whale for the psychology of the individual, and I now follow him like a bloodhound when he snaps it out of the bag.’ Bertie Wooster in Right Ho, Jeeves by P.G.Wodehouse, published 1934.