Gorilla Perfume at (s)Lushfest 2012

A small child plays in the mud with his wellies on, holding a special Gorilla Perfume comic book created for the occasion by Plastic Crimewave

Fun in the mud!

Lushfest (affectionately nicknamed “Slushfest” due to the rain, wind and mud) was, amongst many other fabulous things, the launchpad for several new perfumes from Gorilla Perfume.

It was held at the Holton Lee site in Dorset from Wednesday 4th of July through to Sunday the 8th. This was the second Lushfest, and this year it was open to a limited number of external visitors (mostly friends and family but also a handful of competition winners and other lucky people who managed to get tickets). The public days were Saturday and Sunday. Other than a music festival and a general celebration of all things Lush, this could also be one of the world’s first “perfume fesvivals” – there were simply so many perfume events to see. If perfumers have recently begun crawling out of the woodwork and representing themselves as artists, one could say that Mark and Simon Constantine went a step further and made the launch of their perfumes more of a rock n’ roll thing.

A beautiful, haunting dead tree at the site for the Set in Stone stone circle

The site for Set in Stone.

On Thursday evening, Simon and his team had set up a stone circle up on a little hill by the campsite. Each of the stones were scented with one of Simon’s new perfumes, inspired by local history and landmarks. This collection of new perfumes is known as “Set in Stone” and features:

Hellstone: Inspired by an ancient burial mound known as the Hellstone. As described in lore written in 1803, the Devil himself flung this stone in place. The smell evokes unearthed roots and freshly turned earth and is accomplished using resinous, rooty and spicy smells like vetiver, cumin and beeswax.

Lord of Goathorn: Inspired by a small, uninhabited peninsula off the coast of Poole – and the fisherman who lived there and had his boats commandeered by smugglers who would then leave him bounty. The smell evokes the sea using seaweed, lime and basil.

Burning Rosemary: Simon visited Stonehenge on his 30th birthday and witnessed druids burning rosemary as the sun came up. This is the fragrance he created inspired by the smell of burning rosemary in the air. He used rosemary and cade oil to achieve this effect.

Furze: Simon liked the idea of creating an English equivalent of the French “fougere”; a new accord inspired by a native plant. The prickly furze bush smells a little like vanilla and coconut, so Simon created an accord from those two scents and made a beautifully addictive perfume. It was an instant hit at Lushfest!

Flower’s Barrow: Also known as Pines Hill, this Iron Age fort is said to have been taken over by the Romans and it’s said to be haunted. The fort is now sinking into the sea and nettles and brambles have taken over. Simon created a scent using sage, thyme, geranium and blackcurrant.

Live music performance at Set in Stone launch

The live music performance at Set in Stone launch

The Devil’s Nightcap: Based on one of the most mysterious megaliths in the town-place of Studland, this fragrance of oakmoss, clary sage and ylang ylang captures the magic of the stone that folklore says the Devil threw across the sea in an attempt to hit Corfe Castle.

We heard a live set from Simon Richmond and John Metcalfe from the Imagined Village and heard a talk by Paul Devereux. The weather favoured us during the evening – it had been raining all day Wednesday, and by Thursday lunchtime we were getting a little worried, but then the sun came out and our only problem was insect bites. Luckily there were bunches of rosemary burnt on the hill and the smoke scared some of the mozzies away.

Lushies smelling the scented stones

The porous stones were a wonderful vehicle for these very natural-smelling fragrances.

Everyone was absolutely blown away by the beauty of the new scents and the imaginative presentation of them. Many of us returned to the site on the following days to have some time with the circle. The stones have been left standing there and perhaps a thousand years from now someone will be wondering what they might mean.

Meanwhile, at the festival proper, two Gorilla Perfume tents held two different showcases for Mark and Simon’s perfumes. In the black tent, you could pop in to see a re-creation of the London Shoreditch perfume gallery and experience all of the fragranced rooms and stories.

There were a few hiccups due the rather extreme weather conditions on Saturday – the power went out three times (which meant the lights, tills, music tracks and other things didn’t work) but the team of perfume staff carried on through regardless, unflappably singing the Tuca Tuca instead of playing it from a recording; and hand-writing sales down on a soggy piece of paper.

The black tent with the Shoreditch gallery

This was the tent with the recreation of the London gallery, Paul’s bar and a surprise perfume by the tills.

Paul Tvaroh from Lounge Bohemia was on site with his magical molecular mixology and offered visitors cocktails inspired by Mark’s Hairdresser’s Husband cologne. Meanwhile by the tills, there was a surprise perfume called HQ = “The smell of a Lush shop in a bottle”, made especially for Lushfest.

Over in the yellow tent, one could take a walk through a new showcase featuring:

The Voice of Reason: Inspired by the Beat Generation and literary figures like William Burroughs, Neal Cassady, Gil Scott Heron and Leonard Cohen. The scent feels like you’ve just walked past a bar where something exciting is
happening and you get a waft of cigarette smoke, booze, perfume, books… the perfume includes notes of sandalwood and tonka bean. It may rival our famously moving Dear John in its ability to cause strong emotional reactions.

The yellow perfume tent, featuring The Voice of Reason, The Bug and Sun

The yellow perfume tent, featuring The Voice of Reason, The Bug and Sun.

The Bug: Inspired by the paranoia of the modern age (and a track by the same name), this perfume was introduced by walking people through a dark corridor full of clips from cctv footage and glowing uv-lights. The perfume contains galbanum and black pepper.

Sun: An uplifting, fresh and beautiful perfume by Mark, inspired by his need of sunshine and good vibes during dark days. The Sun evokes Mark’s trips to USA during springtime and features orange, tangerine and sandalwood.

There was going to be a merry-go-round outside for people to experience Euphoria in, but it would have sunk to the mud, not to be found again until the same people who will discover our abandoned stone circle will dig the site for bizarre archaeological curiosities about a 1000 years from now, so that idea was scrapped.

Bottles of Euphoria perfume on the vintage bus

The vintage bus was filled with an eclectic mix of bottles.

Euphoria was available on the Gorilla Bus instead. It is based on aromatherapy research and includes materials known to cause feelings of euphoria, such as clary sage, grapefruit, lime and neroli.

On Sunday afternoon, we were treated to a live gig from Sheema Mukherjee. Her last track was called “Sikkim Girls” – which also happened to feature in her last year’s set and inspired Mark and Simon to invite her to the lab and create an appropriately seductive scent.

Sheema told us the story of how she was warned to stay away from these “dangerous girls” by a cafe owner in Darjeeling. Apparently, despite having their faces covered, the Sikkim Girls had managed to seduce and steal away his son-in-law. He said “it was all in the hips” and Mark wanted to create a fragrance based on this concept and Sheema’s song. The resulting tuberose and frangipani fragrance is extremely beautiful, and, according to Sheema, the authentic smell of a Darjeeling flower market.

Dizraeli running with a molotov cocktail towards three blue cars on a field

“Wait, was that Dizraeli?”

Possibly the most unusual showpiece was the launch of two new incense products. Mark and Si appeared on stage after Dizraeli’s set and talked to us about the London riots and the Jasmine Revolution – and how they were personally affected by both of these and wanted to encourage people to burn incense, not cars. During this speech, Dizraeli was seen running towards us and to a group of cars on the field next to the stage. He threw a molotov cocktail at the cars and blew up the cars! The crowd hadn’t expected this and there was a general air of W…T…F-just-happened in the air.

The Gorilla perfume bus

The Gorilla perfume bus.

Everyone’s favourite perfume place to hang out was the retro bus, painted by Plastic Crimewave and styled inside by our design team gurus to look like the back cover of an old Jane’s Addiction album. An assortment of different bottles decorated with labels designed by Plastic Crimewave housed all of the new perfumes for people to buy.

There were long queues because the bus could only take a couple of people in at a time, but people didn’t mind waiting (the bus was inside the Village Hall tent and there was always some good music on).

All in all, it was a magical event – and to think that the perfume showcases only represented one part of the festival with many, MANY other exciting things going on – you almost have to wonder how it was even possible to pull it off! Hats off to everyone who made this happen and participated in any way. You’re all amazing.

There are lots of videos of Lushfest on our official Lush YouTube channel and we’ve got a metric tonne of photos of all these perfumes and events on our Facebook page.

Perhaps we’ll see the Gorilla bus in other locations soon?



The Gorilla Perfumers are up to something…

Gorilla comic book cover

Not King Kong.

The Gorilla Perfumers have been busy in the lab again and new perfumes are around the corner. There is much more afoot, however, and the upcoming Lushfest will be a really unique showcase for some amazing new creativity. Head on to our Facebook page for your chance to win tickets or keep an eye on there and this blog for photos, updates and reports from the festival.

All will be revealed soon…

Lushfest is happening on the 7th and 8th of July in Dorset, UK.

A mountain of roses

Room full of roses

The roses are spread out to air before processing.

We’re standing in a hot, white room, the concrete floor covered in pink roses. Men wearing overalls and t-shirts are spreading more blossoms on top from large burlap sacks. The air is thick with the smell of Rosa damascena, the aroma of which seems particularly honeyed and slightly damp here, as these petals have just been picked and it has been raining more than usual.

We’re near the mountain village of Senir, in Turkey, checking this year’s rose harvest. I’m traveling with Agnes, our essential oils buyer, Alina, our quality controller, Chris, who is shooting footage for Lush TV and other films, Bibi, a freelance journalist and Greg, her cameraman. Our hosts, Hassan and Özgür have just taken our group to the rose fields and we’ve walked around the rows of roses, had a go at picking them and took lots of pictures.

Rose pickers

Rose pickers hard at work.

As the petals open, it’s important to gather as many of the full blooms as early as possible so that the scent doesn’t evaporate. Rose pickers start their work early and if you turn up on the field at 10am you might miss your chance to see them in action (as we did on our first attempt!).

By the time we reached the second field, we found these local rose pickers hard at work.

Each bloom is nipped right at its base by hand and placed in a sack tied to the waist. I spent ten minutes picking and didn’t manage much but my hands were already scratched by thorns and my fingers were sticky and stained a dark pink colour. The hands of a seasoned rose picker look like they’ve been clawed by cats.

A bloom ready to be picked

A bloom ready to be picked.

The figures involved in rose growing and processing are mind-boggling. A very good picker can pick approximately fourty kilos a day. It takes four tonnes of roses to produce just one kilo of rose oil and one tonne to produce one kilo of rose absolute. Rose oil is produced by distillation and rose absolute is the final product of rose concrete manufacture. Sebat, our supplier in Turkey, is the world’s largest producer of rose concrete.

A local farmer bringing in roses

A local farmer brings in his roses at the factory.

Rose production is very important for this region. There are a few rose produce manufacturers in the area but Sebat is the most prominent. They also manufacture distillation equipment and other machinery and host eco tourism tours at the factory. Sebat is known by everyone and they buy roses from several local farmers. During our stay we saw roses being brought in by every means possible, from a small trailer to a full truckload.

Rose harvest festival in full swing

Rose harvest festival in full swing. Lots of singing, dancing and smoking!

During the 5-7 week rose harvest season, rose picking is a family business and everyone gets involved. At the end of it, Sebat hosts a festival to thank the villagers. We were invited to this year’s event and despite a freak hailstorm collapsing the stage and delaying proceedings by several hours, it was a fun night out listening to local performers. The best part was seeing how there didn’t seem to be a generation gap – all ages from toddler to teenager and dad to granddad were cheering and dancing to the same tunes. The audience filled a football field and it didn’t take long before the space in front of the stage was populated by revelers.

The school funded by Sebat and two of its largest clients

The school funded by Sebat and two of its largest clients, one of whom is Lush.

In the previous years, Lush, Sebat and another one of their larger clients have funded a local school and continue to improve its facilities to this day. Özgür explained that one of the students who was paid a bursary by Sebat has now returned back as a kindergarden teacher, bringing her higher education back to the village.

When at the factory, we were able to follow what happened to the roses from the moment they were brought in. First they are weighed and spread in a large room to air out. They have to be taken out of the sacks or they would ferment.

Rose oil still

Rose oil still.

They are processed quickly into either rose oil or rose concrete. The rose still is filled with petals and boiling water – but it takes two rounds of distillation to get enough of the essential oil out of the water. Rose oil is water soluble and even after the second distillation, the water is highly perfumed with its scent and bottled as rose water.

Rose concrete is manufactured using a complex process of washing and rinsing which demands several different types of specialist equipment. The majority of the factory floor was filled with these contraptions. On the plus side, this method is able to extract almost everything out of the rose and when you see the final oils the effect is obvious – rose oil is almost clear with a pale yellowish-green hue and rose absolute is dark pink and almost syrupy in texture.

Pia trying to memorise the scent

Pia trying to memorise the scent of the rose in the field.

Although the scent of the rose in bloom on the field isn’t the same as either of these products, I learned that rose absolute captures it best. There are over 300 chemicals in rose absolute, some of which are still unknown to science. Many of them may contribute to the complex aroma so although there are many good (and some pretty nasty!) synthetic rose blends on the market, none come close to the real thing. This trip has made me really fall in love with the rose and the materials produced from it. I’m hoping to get the opportunity to do something in the lab with them as soon as possible! Then again, Lush and Gorilla Perfume already use rose oil and absolute rather lavishly. For example, the rose-based perfume Simon Constantine created for his daughter Imogen Rose, captures the sweet, rich tones perfectly.

Özgür introduced us to pure, fresh rose water on our first night in Turkey as we were trying to adjust to the humid heat that hit us as soon as we stepped off the plane. The 3-hour coach trip from Antalya to our hotel in Isparta was punctuated by splashes of rose water on our faces and hands and a box of Lokum (Turkish delight) being passed around the passengers.

Rose jam.

Rose jam.

During our stay, we got to eat rose jam which is a beautiful local confection and goes well with strong Turkish çhai. As we were leaving the factory on our last day,  Özgür nipped around to the stills and drew us all a bottle of rose water each to take away. I’ve been using copious amounts of mine since then, on my face, neck and even my hair. As it’s unpreserved, it will eventually go off so I might as well be generous with it! This is not a bad thing, though I am now prematurely forlorn for the moment that it will run out and the smell of fresh roses on the Turkish field will fade to a distant memory. I suppose as a trainee perfumer, I ought to work hard not to let that happen and try to memorise the subtle nuances as much as possible.

This trip has really opened up my perspective of what that bottle in the lab with a label “Sebat” actually means; how it affects an entire community and how beautiful the material is. I guess the only downside is that now I want to visit other suppliers too! I met the guy who produces our Indian jasmine absolute on this trip and he invited me over… it would be rude to turn him down, now wouldn’t it?


If you want to see many more snapshots from this trip, head on over to the Gorilla Perfume Facebook page and check out the rose harvest photo album there.

Seoul Music

(Aka Pia’s Korean Travel Journal)

National stereotypes are generally quite cringe-inducing. Sometimes they can be convenient ways of describing a common feature present in a particular ethnic group or country. I’m a Finn, so, to explain to my new Korean friends why some Finnish men are crazy enough to risk dying in sauna competitions (which are basically an even more neanderthalesque-version of hot dog eating competitions), I’d say “Finnish men are very stubborn. They find it’s a badge of honour to be the last bloke in the sauna, even if it means you risk being cooked to death.” Clearly not all Finnish men are stubborn; at least not by Finnish standards. And clearly not all Finns treat sauna as a competitive sport. But it’s fair to say that the aforementioned behaviour doesn’t surprise me one bit.

Lush staff at the Lush Land and concert, Seoul

Lush staff at the Lush Land and concert, Seoul

So, with this in mind, I hope you will excuse me while I say that it seems that all Koreans love singing and dancing. The nation seems almost obsessed by music and though the majority of music I experienced on my trip to the Lush Land and concert, held in Seoul this April, was typical pop, there were some surprises in the mix. And I was completely blown away by the talent of ordinary retail staff members who, during the event, burst into song and dance (as you do) to the delight of the over 4000 visitors that came to Lush Land over the two days.

Getting ready for press

From left to right: Joy, Pia, Dragon (getting ready for TV and press interviews).

I was just about to take a much-needed two week holiday when our Press Office called to ask if I would like to attend the launch of Gorilla Perfume in Korea. It would have been nice to travel with Mark and Simon but both of them were away at the time. I may have even taken my holiday instead of going on a work trip. However, it was lovely to be asked to represent the perfumery team this way. It was also a new kind of challenge – this time I would be interviewed and grilled for more details by everyone, instead of being the invisible support person behind the scenes. I immediately bought a new dress.

The Korean team did send us a Power Point presentation of what they were intending to do but I don’t think any of us in UK fully appreciated the magnitude of the event from the slides – and actually – I don’t think even the Koreans really knew what they were getting themselves into until the project developed critical mass and rolled off like an unstoppable juggernaut. By the time I arrived in Seoul, there were two days to go and everyone looked a little gray and waxy; nevertheless in good spirits and very hard at work. I can’t imagine how many long shifts and cups of coffee went into putting together what was essentially a small festival, open to the general public.

Bubble demo at Lush Land

Bubble demo at Lush Land

The event was called Lush Land and designed to showcase the best bits of the company. It was staged at a popular concert hall, outside of which stalls were erected and all kinds of other activities also took place (from lively bubble bar demos with an actual bath tub to slightly creepy rock-paper-scissors-type game a man in a gorilla mask was encouraging visitors to participate in. They got free drinks as a reward so I suppose that went some way towards easing the trauma).

Mock Carnaby Street arch

Mock Carnaby Street arch

The exterior space was inspired by Carnaby Street. It sounds a bit corny but actually, in situ, the Carnaby-Street-style arch and clever printed backdrops gave the concrete courtyard a kind of kitsch charm, though I’m not sure how English it was exactly. Except on the second day when it poured down with rain and all the stalls had to be brought indoors. That’s when it felt English.

There were food and drink stalls, serving imported Wedgwood tea (of which I drank many cups, having been brainwashed during my 20 years in England to crave the stuff), beer, vegan food and fruit. The Lush pop-up stalls with Fresh Face Masks and other handmade cosmetics blended in effortlessly and at times I wondered whether any non-Lushies were there, trying to figure out which stall to queue for if they were feeling a bit peckish.

People queuing to get in to Lush Land

People queuing to get in to Lush Land

Both days started with a general market-feel with people milling around outside. There was a concert on both nights. On the first day, there were very long queues of people hoping to guarantee a good spot for the evening’s performance. I was told that this was because Big Bang, a Korean boy band, would be there and that they are insanely popular in Asia. So much so that there were people from neighbouring countries who’d flown over just to see them and camped outside the venue overnight.

Jungle in the Breath of God room

Jungle in the Breath of God room

The Gorilla Perfume gallery was set inside the concert hall and was open throughout the event. Hundreds of people were led through the maze of scented rooms. I’ve participated in all of the other gallery launches and was pleased to see how well the experience had been translated here. The local design team members recreated the gallery very well and Jungle*, the charismatic guy responsible for Korean training, spent the evening before the event with me and the gallery room staff, polishing up their performance. I can’t stress enough how important it has been to the whole gallery set-up to have excellent staff who make the whole thing just click in place. Although I don’t speak Korean (apart from the four or five words I learned from my iPhone app on the way there), I could tell how well the roles of each perfume were played by the curators chosen. The Breath of God room was a special Korean addition to the gallery; it turned out to be a good decision as the fragrance became one of the best-sellers at the pop-up shop. I did wonder how much the decision to include a Breath of God room might have been due to its Buddhist connotations and the fact that it

Lanterns at a Buddhist temple, Seoul

Lanterns at a Buddhist temple, Seoul

happened to be Buddha’s birthday month (widely celebrated with multicoloured lanterns and special Baby Buddha altars across Seoul).

The biggest surprise for me was probably the first few minutes of the opening night’s concert, when the curtain rose to… a full philharmonic orchestra! I was told that getting them to perform at a popular music venue rather than a concert hall had been a long (but clearly eventually fruitful), booze-fuelled task. By the second night, the drummer had got the hang of it and really went for a big drum solo, to the tune of hundreds of screaming and clapping visitors. I doubt he has people wolf-whistling and squealing at him very often.

The mix of music over the two nights could perhaps be best described as a kind of cross between Jools Holland’s Annual Hootenanny and X Factor. Korean music taste seems to lean towards the highly produced and glossy but there were a couple of performers that stood out. As an example of the glossy, none seemed more loved than Lee Sora, who the locals call Milky Skin. Her sentimental ballads sound lovely even when you don’t understand the lyrics, but apparently the lyrics are the main reason why her music is so well-liked.

My absolute favourite from the whole experience was a new Indie group called Jang-gi-ha and The Faces. Their performance was superb; starting with a quiet piece and building the audience to a hysteric froth over several songs until everyone was clapping and waving and jumping to the tune of the last song. Again, I wish I could understand the lyrics, but their music is very catchy and I really enjoyed it.

What's going on?

What's going on?

When the two-day event came to a close, there was a final treat in store for everyone: a mass Tuca Tuca dancemob in the lobby! I don’t know whether it was planned or whether the whole team just decided to jump in and do it (I suspect the former), but whichever the case, it felt spontaneous and emotional. As guests left the building, they stopped to look and take photos.

It’s always such a pleasure when a work-event feels like something you would have enjoyed even if you weren’t in any way affiliated and that’s exactly how I felt at Lush Land in Seoul. I also really fell in love with our team there and hope they do well and that I get to visit them again some day.

If you would like to see lots more photos of the whole trip, head over to our Facebook page to have a look!

*Lush Korea uses nicknames inspired by the names of Lush products in all internal communications. I actually have no idea what Jungle’s real name is. Not that it matters. Jungle suits him perfectly well. He’s exotic and colourful!

Ready for a Dirty weekend?

Dirty fragranceWe’re very excited to reveal the full new Dirty product range this weekend! There’s everything from toothpaste to fine fragrance and it all matches – in a new, clever way (if we say so ourselves).

Simon Constantine (Head Perfumer, Lush and Gorilla Perfume) decided to create a whole range of matching products—with a twist. He broke down the individual accords of the Dirty perfume and scented each product in the range with one of them. Starting with the Toothy Tabs, the Dirty guy can now get layered in a new and sophisticated way, building the scent back up again one product at a time. No more clashing product scents!

Dirty was one of the fine fragrances in Lush’s sister-brand B Never Too Busy To Be Beautiful. Mark Constantine worked on the concept of guys who are too busy to always have a proper wash and might go for the ‘Italian shower’ option of spraying copious amounts of body spray under a worn t-shirt instead.

To cater for such lads, Dirty fragrance was born—an antidote to everything dirty and musty; its fragrance is minty, fresh, herbal and clean with a hint of sea air.

Mark also deduced that no matter how dirty a guy gets, he will at least brush his teeth before making love. Could mint therefore become an aphrodisiac?

Our customers have said that Dirty smells like ‘sexy guys’ so it seems that something is working…

P.S. Women have been known to borrow this perfume. This fragrance is definitely unisex!

Spring WashThe range

Dirty Toothy Tabs £2.00/9g
Dirty Spring Wash Shower Gel £4.25/100g, £8.50/250g, £14.95/500g
Dirty Shaving Cream £4.96/100g
Dirty Styling Cream £5.50/100g
Dirty Body Spray £12.50/180g
Dirty Perfume £2.00/2g, £9.00/9g, £20/27g
Dirty Solid Perfume £4.50/12g

The products are available in Lush stores nationwide and on our website now.


We’ve got a temporary home and some good news!

After a short hiatus from online retail we once again have a home – albeit a temporary one – where you can stock up on all the Gorilla Perfumes. There will be a new Gorilla website later this year and all the extras such as Perfumista Profiles will return.

To make things even sweeter, some long-awaited products are now available!

Many of the solid perfumes you have asked for have arrived. Find them in the B sides section.

The two halves of Breath of God, Inhale and Exhale, can now be bought separately in a new jojoba-based dropper bottle format. Those of you who visited any of our gallery exhibitions in London, New York or Tokyo will have seen them in the gallery pop-up shops.

We hope you enjoy these!

Gorilla in the Press

Our black bottles have popped up in publications all over there world! Here’s just a small selection…