MILLER HARRIS

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The Art of Storytelling

 

London-based perfumer Miller Harris is that rarest of things: a truly boutique fragrance house with a fully international presence (the brand is stocked in over 60 outlets internationally).

 

‘We’re in a very unique spot,’ says Miller Harris CEO Sarah Rotheram (who took over the reins in 2017, two years after founder Susan Harris left the business). ‘There’s only a handful of British fragrance houses anyway – most who play on the historical – but we’re telling urban, contemporary stories through perfume and our target audience is the modern bohemian.’

 

That targeting is apparent in everything the brand does. For while Miller Harris does indeed create stories around its perfume – something that’s almost de rigueur in modern fragrance houses today – its perfumes are also created around stories (quite literally at times: see below), in the sense that they are very much an engagement with the Miller Harris world.

 

Take Scherzo, which was inspired by Rotheram’s re-reading of that ultimate Jazz Age bohemian F Scott Fitzgerald’s 1920s-set classic, Tender is the Night. Delighted by the word (definition: a vigorous and light composition), Rotheram invited two perfumers to create a fragrance inspired by ‘scherzo’ and the passage it sits within in the text.

 

The eponymous sweet, vibrant tangerine citrus and pink roses scent has been a best-seller since its launch two years ago and is joined by a sister perfume, Tender (a seductively ‘darker’ mix of pepper, peonies and black ink). Each are accompanied with yet another inspired Miller Harris touch: printed pages of the passage from the novel in question that have been spritzed with the relevant fragrance.

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It’s this delight in the many possible creative outcomes of a single point of inspiration ­– alongside that all-important 360 sensory immersion – that really sets Miller Harris apart. And it’s an approach that doesn’t just apply to the creative development of the brand’s scents.

 

Each of its standalone London stores has been carefully designed with a theme that fits with the setting and cultural history of its location (Coal Drops Yard’s is ‘the botanist’) and offers features such as aural soundscapes, created to match each fragrance, to further enhance the brand’s offering – which extends beyond perfume to room fragrances, candles, soap bars, body creams and more.

 

With the stores currently closed, however, Miller Harris has had to think of more inventive ways to connect with its audience. Enter Fragrance Fridays, a weekly olfactory journey into some of the label’s favourite scents, where each week, at 8pm, one of Miller Harris’s fragrance experts hosts a live and immersive ‘scent party’ on Instagram (@millerharris).

 

Participants are invited to purchase a sample of the scent under discussion from millerharris.com where upcoming Fragrance Fridays scents are listed (three sample scents cost £10, including UK delivery), so that they can experience the scent ‘live’ as the expert reviews the fragrance and answers questions around it.

 

It’s not necessary, of course (sessions are open to all-comers and fascinating even without access to that week’s chosen perfume), but it’s a fun, immersive element for anyone who might be missing the in-store fragrance experience and a great way to ‘meet up’ and share an experience with far away friends should you choose to trial the scents ‘together’.

 

Fragrance Fridays sit alongside other recent innovations, such as MH LIVE, a weekly broadcast on Instagram (7pm Wednesdays), and the rather genius move to make Miller Harris’s popular fragrance profiling sessions available remotely, via one-to-one video appointments using Zoom.

 

Simply buy one of its Discovery Sets online (redeemable against any subsequent full-price bottle purchase), book an appointment at a suitable time and you can look forward to a full 40-minute immersion into the heady world of Miller House fragrance and all the stories within. Perfect.

 

Find out more at millerharris.com

 

This is an edited version of an article that first appeared in the Spring 2018 edition of King’s Cross Quarterly magazine.

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