Fettle & Frisson by
designers and perfumers Megan & Coen
"As designers we value freedom, creativity and authenticity. Independent perfumery allows us to sustain these ethics"
Q&A WITH FETTLE & FRISSON
1. What inspired you to start your fragrance brand, what do you think makes it stand out?
Fettle & Frisson is a pursuit in olfactory design inspired by the beauty of art and nature. The brand is imbued with the will of the wild and calls on our innate connection to nature.
2. If you could describe the mood of your brand using three words; what would they be?
Sophisticated. Subversive. Sensual
3. Can you briefly share your creative process when creating a Fettle and Frisson fragrance, from the scent composition to the name; especially with you being a design duo?
The creation of a fettle and frisson fragrance is best described as a curated balance between manic artistic conception and meticulous, almost scientific, distillation and refinement. We enjoy letting fragrance concepts run wild, experimenting with atypical combinations, and then subtly reigning them in to the point of manifestation. Once realised, the naming of the core scent together with the botanical exhibition of the perfumes pay homage to that which contributed to their composition. The two of us have distinctly different and sometimes opposing personalities which carries through into the way that we design our fragrances. Fettle & Frisson perfumes are therefore distilled representations of both our purist yet subversive natures.
4. Your packaging is very unique in the sense that a key element or ingredient is physically used to dress the bottle. Why did you chose to create this signature and hero the ingredients you employ?
At Fettle & Frisson nature serves as our provocateur calling us to action while provoking new ways of thinking about and seeing the world. This sentiment is deeply engrained within all aspects of our brand and ultimately manifested in an ode to nature being encapsulated within each fragrance.
5. In your opinion, what is it about the South African fragrance industry that makes it so unique?
South Africa does not possess an intrinsic perfume heritage but we experience this as a positive notion because with heritage comes convention and convention can often be quite stifling. Wearing a fragrance is like applying a second skin and therefore it needs to respond to the identity and culture of the wearer. The South African fragrance industry has a unique stance in that we are blessed with an abundance of cultural heritage offering unrestrained opportunity for contextual inspiration and scent design akin to culture.
6. If there is one thing that you would want people to know about the local niche fragrance industry, what would it be?
The South African niche fragrance industry is in a really exciting space right now with some world class perfume houses being home-grown. South Africans however tend to covet international brands as tokens of aspiration and so we would simply encourage everyone to stop and smell the local talent right under our noses.
7. It seems like most South African perfumers gravitate towards the use of natural ingredients, essential oils or botanicals, such as your brand. Do you think this is a conscious point of difference for the local offering or something derived from the accessibility of some fragrance ingredients?
For ourselves it was definitely a conscious point of difference. We both hold dear a history in environmental stewardship so we personally feel a strong connection to nature and believe that many South Africans share this instinctive awe of the natural. In response to this affinity we created our fragrances with ingredients which truly unearthed the beauty of natural materials allowing the wearer to connect to the milieu of the untainted.
8. What are some of the factors that influence which ingredients you source and how you go about sourcing them?
Fettle & Frisson perfumes are made exclusively with a palette of natural, organic and wild harvested plant-based distillations. We are conscious of the manner in which our essences, oils and extracts are produced and always favour renewable production practices with the least environmental impact. We, for example, use a West Indian Sandalwood oil as opposed to the true East Indian Sandalwood which, although a superior perfume ingredient, is an endangered forest species threatened by over-exploitation and degradation to habitat.
9. What are some of the challenges local perfumeries face in creating their products?
We can’t really speak to the challenges of other local perfumers but on a personal level the biggest challenge we face is the continuous pursuit in trying to harmonise passion and profession. We have had to adopt rational methodologies in an attempt to tame the independent nature of our creative dispositions and we believe that this is a process that all professional creatives need to undergo in order to share their art with the world.
10. What are some of your favourite ingredients to work with and why?
Our favourite natural ingredients are those which present an unexpected composition. Those essences which, individually, we cannot possibly fathom a place for but once blended into an accord adds such unequivocal character and complexity that the fragrance would be flat without them. One such ingredient is Labdanum – independently impulsive and animalic yet persuasive and sultry when layered with a Bulgarian Rose. We are amazed by this process every time and use this as a constant reminder never to disregard the innate potential within everything.
11. What is your favourite fragrance/s from your brand and why?
This is a little bit like asking a mother to pick her favourite child. We wouldn’t be able to pick a specific favourite however we do tend to favour each fragrance’s distinctive character and sentiment on different occasions. This season Megan has been indulging in a summer fling with GAHARU while Coen was caught frequently delving into the UNSHIU testers.