I have been an avid lover of the arts all my life, and whilst I have accepted the fact that I may never be able to successfully wield a paintbrush, I admire those who have the creative talent to do so. Instead, I turn to collecting, not merely to fill the blank walls of my home, but to fill my life with a little of the magic that goes into creating a piece of art. And so, it was almost like kismet when I met with the beautiful and talented Martine Micallef and her charming and witty husband Geoffrey Nejman, whose love and passion have brought to life the exquisite collection of haute fragrances… M. Micallef!
M. Micallef was founded in Grasse in 1996, and has been charming discerning perfume connoisseurs all over the world for the past 19 years. The house boasts an extensive range of fragrances, developed by Geoffrey Nejman together with Jean Claude Astier, a renowned nose who has been developing fragrances exclusively for M. Micallef since the beginning. The precious juices are contained in special bottles designed by Martine Micallef. There is even an exclusive collection of crystal bottles that are decorated by hand and may be personalised with a name or message, and filled with a fragrance of choice from the Micallef collection.
But beyond the exquisite designs and luxurious fragrances, M. Micallef is borne out of love and every bottle speaks of the extraordinary passion and joie de vivre shared by Martine and Geoffrey. I had the opportunity to sit down with the couple during their recent visit to Singapore to launch their latest fragrance – Akowa, and got to hear the story of this exceptional perfume first hand. As is so often in life, Akowa was conceived whilst they were holidaying in Africa. On a whim, Geoffrey requested their guide to take them off the beaten path into the bush, and they came across a lady pounding on a root which gave off the most intriguing scent. As it turned out, the paste was used by the local tribe to protect the skin, and the scent was used in the art of seduction. So drawn were they, that they brought it home and concocted the enigmatic brew that is Akowa, named after the African tribe and plant that inspired the perfume.
Martine started to tell the story of how she had asked for a perfume specially for her, at which point Geoffrey chimed in with a twinkle in his eyes to remark that it proved to be no ordinary task. Time and again she sent him back to the lab to refine an ingredient or other. Finally after months, Mon Parfum was born, and remains one of M. Micallef’s best sellers.
“It is better to get lost in your passion than to lose your passion…” — a popular French saying according to Geoffrey Nejman
And passion it takes, to continually conceive of new designs and fragrances for M. Micallef. Married for 22 years with 5 children in their lives, and business partners for 19 of those years, work and life are tightly intertwined. Inspirations for so many aspects of the business often come from their daily lives, and so M. Micallef is in many ways a love story. One of their first creations, Sachka, was so named to commemorate the birth of their first-born, and Martine had designed the bottle to resemble an egg as a symbol of new birth. And their ever-popular Ananda is housed in a zen-like bottle that was inspired by Martine’s love for yoga.
Of course, at the core of every fragrance, is the quality of ingredients used. M. Micallef prides itself on sparing no expense, and is willing to invest in high quality oils. For example, Orris Butter, which is used in several of M. Micallef’s concoctions, costs 3 times the price of gold. More importantly, the brand has been at the forefront of the industry, discovering new ingredients and putting them to work tantalising our senses. M. Micallef is well known for putting oud into our mass consciousness, starting a wave of oud fragrances in the market more than 10 years ago. And now with Akowa, the brand is on the cusp of something new and exciting.
Even after all their successes, Martine and Geoffrey are not content to rest on their laurels. The dynamic duo are expanding their current distribution networks, China being one of the top destinations within their sights. There will also be more M. Micallef boutiques opening where customers may indulge their senses and experience all that the house has to offer. I also managed to get a sneak preview at a couple of new innovative products in their pipeline… and they are exciting! A choice of linen sprays that may help relax or excite, depending on your mood of course; and a mysterious baby perfume that contains something fun for both mummy and baby. And if their current perfume repertoire is anything to judge by, M. Micallef’s 20th anniversary celebration next year will be nothing short of extraordinary.
M. Micallef is available in Takashimaya Level 1, 391 Orchard Road, Singapore 238873, +65 6738 1111.