Clive Christian Perfumes & The Royal College of Music

Last week I posted an interview with indie perfumer Dana El Masri, who translates songs into perfume.

Today we’ll be looking at the opposite of that- perfume that inspired music.


Rewind your minds to 2009, to the year where Annick Goutal released Un Matin d’Orage- a personal favourite- and the best ad for Chanel No.5- featuring our favourite French film duo, director Jean-Pierre Jeunet & actress Audrey Tatou- it had us all grasping for the Orient Express to Istanbul with a bottle in tow. That year, perfume and interior design house Clive Christian collaborated with The Royal College of Music (London) in a competition which saw a select handful of students interpret three of Clive Christian perfumes, 1871, X, and No.1 into musical scores for a cash prize.


“No1” Perfumes were created to be the absolute best in class and have been recognised by the Guinness World Records as The World’s Most Expensive Perfume.


“X” Perfumes are unconventional and exotic and harness the most powerful natural aphrodisiacs known to mankind.


The “1872” Perfumes are traditional, quintessentially Victorian perfumes, named in tribute to the year the Perfumery was originally established.


If you’re not familiar with Clive Christian Perfumes, here is a short bio:

Clive Christian Perfume was started by luxury interior-designer Clive Christian, after the acquisition of Crown Perfumery- a perfume house set up in 1872  by William Sparks Thompson in, the owner of a crinoline and corset manufacturer. The company was no doubt called Crown Perfumery after Queen Victoria- one of Thompson’s customers- granted the likeness of her crown for the shape of the bottle stop. After Christian’s takeover, the company released the ‘Original Collection’ in 1999 with a line-up of six ‘his & her’ perfumes.

As the house claims the title of producing the ‘most expensive perfume in the world’- ‘No.1’ as its called- it may be down to the ingredients, or even the diamond that’s placed on the bottle’s collar. Either way, the house focuses on luxury, and so each bottle is emphatically expensive ranging at £450/50ml (sans diamond). The house has two collections: the Original Collection, and the Private Collection, with a total of six perfumes between them.


Why did they decide to collaborate with the Royal College of Music? Well I suppose we might as well ask: why not? When it comes to Clive Christian Perfumes, there’s nothing to grand or mighty, and any occasion for causing a stir needs no reason. That and apparently a one-hundred year old rose-wood Steinway piano that sits at the family home of Clive Christian himself.

Spearheaded by his daughter, Victoria Christian- the programme saw her waft various sprays of each perfume onto blindfolded students. They had roughly two months to create, perfect and perform their sets, where selected finalists performed at The Britten Theatre, for the aptly named event: The Sound of Perfume. The winner was Ikoyu Kobayashi with ‘Stay Gold’- probably the most mellow of all the performances I’ve been able to get a hold of.

Below are a few video’s I found online, so watch them if you’re interested to hear more about it.



*photo disclaimer: the bottle tops used in this image are from the Clive Christian Perfume No.1 Pure Perfume