Richard E Grant launches his fragrance with gusto
WHAT’S SO GREAT ABOUT PERFUME?
I’ve put my nose to everything ever since I can remember and I don’t understand anyone that doesn’t. I smell the food on my plate. Scent is your memory bank, animals do it and we’re animals so it should be how we experience the world. (It’s at this point that he deeply inhales the sofa behind us. Lord knows what he’s taken in.)
WHAT DIDN’T YOU PLAN FOR?
The terror. It is completely a one-man brand. I know what every element of the process costs, down to the cardboard packaging. Jack is entirely self-financed and the integrity is all mine. There’s no-one to blame but me. This is what I believe in and what I put all my passion into. I’m two years off sixty and realise that everything being personal is what life’s about and more and more that’s what people want, a personal stamp.
WHO ARE YOU DOING THIS FOR?
The first Jack fragrance is all my favourite ingredients in one bottle, my next fragrance is London-centric. I think that as long as you’re not doing generic or by committee and not to please anyone else, you’ll be doing the best you can. People identify with that. There’s so much that's corporate now and the amount of commercial fragrances I smell now which are virtually identical. Now I’ve got the inside track on things I know how it happens, a committee say ‘This is selling so let’s do a slightly different version of it and it’ll sell well too.”
WHAT’S BEEN THE HARDEST PART?
I failed all my maths and science at school. I got 4% in my Maths O-Level so to be dealing with the business side and crunching of numbers has been the hardest thing. Thank goodness for the pocket calculator on the iPhone!
WHAT SHOULD YOU WATCH OUT FOR?
Starting a business is like being a wildebeest crossing the river, people smell the success and every crocodile comes at you and hope just hope to reach the other bank with some flesh on your bones. Everyone wants a piece of you. You know it from how people tell you how much marketing they’ll get you, how far they’ll get you up on Google…you’re bombarded by snakes.
WHO WEARS YOUR SCENT?
Annie Lennox is a regular Jack customer, Hugh Bonneville from working on Downton Abbey together. Lena Dunham gave it to her boyfriend Jack (as in Antonoff from the band FUN).
BEST SMELL IN THE WORLD?
Gardenias. They’re the only white flower that you cannot extract the scent of so everything on the market is synthetic. I think the fact you can’t extract it makes it even more desirable and makes it as sexy as you can get.
AND THE WORST?
Chocolate and cheese, basically anything that comes out of an udder – absolutely repellant! I will leave the room if someone is eating at the table. Needless to say I won’t be launching a gourmand (foodie based) fragrance any time soon!
WHAT’S THE CRAZIEST THING A SMELL HAS MADE YOU DO?
I was at a wedding in Tuscany and a woman was wearing Kai, which is the closest to true Gardenia that I’ve ever smelt. It was on her neck and I had an overwhelming urge to lick her! I was dancing with her and she said, “You’re married, your wife is here!” I said I just needed to know what the scent was. She reached into her bag and gave me a tiny vial of it. I think it’s the best perfume smell I’ve ever had until I made my own.
WHAT CAN YOU SMELL RIGHT NOW?
Right now I can smell an enormous amount of coffee. Even though I laid on ginger tea for them because ginger is one of the key notes in Jack Covent Garden, people depend on coffee to get them through the day.
Jack Covent Garden launches this month (£95 for 100ml) and is exclusive to Selfridges. Follow the man himself on @JackPerfume