FA2L is for anyone who cares about beautiful things–clothing, shoes, accessories, home furnishings–and the interconnected tribes of those who make, sell, market and desire them. If something speaks to you, buy it now or hold your peace: there are links in each story, so the item you want is just a click away. I'd like to hear from you, too: please view my profile, use the email button and send me your comments.MG

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Beth Terry's World of Tea & Olfactory Sympathy

She's just 5'7" in Azzedine Alaïa heels, but Beth Terry is huge in Japan. She's also celebrated by secret consumer societies (i.e., fragrance fanatics) around the world. The core of her business–a scent known as , combining smoky green tea, spicy cardamon and fresh celery–was launched in 1995, making it almost 15 years old. Yet it's likely the average shopper has never heard of her.

Terry's approach to perfume is deeply personal. She left a career in fashion because her acute, almost "burdensome" sense of smell, plus persistent childhood memories of drinking tea with her grandfather, literally compelled her to start a fragrance company. This passion sometimes crested the novice perfumer slightly ahead of the curve, from creating the scent (a tea-based fragrance seemed radical; Jean-Claude Ellena's Eau Parfumée au Thé Vert débuted in '93 but hadn't yet found its audience) to anticipating luxury's stealthier side with simple bottles and minimalist packaging. Fortunately, Terry had influential early champions, including Kate Betts (then Vogue's fashion news director), the Pressman family at Barneys, and buyers chez super-cool Paris boutique, Colette. was followed by Mare, a breezy, day-at-the-beach combination of sea salt, avocado and ginger lily, and Terry's aptly-named company, Creative Universe, expanded rapidly.

For all her success, however, Terry maintains the cachet and integrity of a niche brand, albeit with global appeal.
The reference to Japan is no joke: she has a worldwide following, including die-hards seeking rare bottles of discontinued scents (even Té, once encountered, creates a strong urge to re-experience its heady combination of deeply satisfying and slightly disturbing elements). Of course, the fragrance landscape has changed since Terry forged her way across it; there are many niche brands but fewer original ideas, so fans are eager to see what this savvy woman unveils next. FA2L suspects they won't have long to wait.


Photograph by Ron Reeves, www.ronreeves.com