The British perfume brand Miller Harris was founded in 2000 by Lyn Harris, who built a small home perfumery into a global business with partner Christophe Michel and, from 2012, with investment from London-based private equity outfit Neo Capital, which also has stakes in Tom Dixon, chocolatier Pierre Marcolini and macaroon-maker Ladurée.
After Lyn Harris stepped back in 2014 to concentrate on her new venture, Perfumer H, Miller Harris seemed to be treading water for a while, but the brand is currently going through a bit of a makeover. The rather fussy packaging is being replaced with much simpler, pared-down boxes framed in black, though the stylised line drawings on the bottles themselves will remain.
Leading the rebrand will be two new fragrances, Lumière Dorée and Etui Noir. Created by Mathieu Nardin of Robertet, the French fragrance firm that has worked closely with Miller Harris from the start, they’re described (in the usual florid language of perfumery) as being like ‘a screenplay with two leading characters, a pair of fragrances that circle each other in a dance of light and shade.’
Lumière Dorée, or ‘golden light’, majors on various extracts of Citrus aurantium, the bitter orange tree: bergamot (extracted from fruit peel), petitgrain (extracted from the twigs and leaves) and orange-blossom water. Like Jean-Claude Ellena’s recent Neroli Doré for Hermès, it’s a celebration of all things orange, though it also contains jasmine, vetiver and plush long-lasting synthetics including so-called white musks, cashmere wood and amber. It’s a bright, easily wearable scent which, like Acqua di Parma, has a slightly powdery softness that gives it slightly nostalgic character.
Etui Noir – black case or holder – is more unusual, but because of that is unlikely to appeal to everyone. The marketing material from Miller Harris describes it as ‘a mysterious yet familiar shadow’, and Mathieu Nardin explains that his inspiration was the smell of a treasured leather purse that holds some precious keepsakes. Like Lumiere Dorée it contains bergamot, but here the orange is surrounded by more exotic ingredients, including vanilla, iris, patchouli and incense. The vanilla gives Etui Noir a gentle sweetness, but it’s tempered by the austerity of the iris and the patchouli.