Interviews Beaufort London: Fragrances Born in The Dark

Beaufort London: Fragrances Born in The Dark

10/06/16 03:28:07 (2 comments)

by: Sergey Borisov

As we promised in the Fathom V by Beaufort London review, we met with art-director and musician Leo Crabtree to ask some questions about his much talked about brand. He was happy to get some fresh air and step away from Fragranze's heavily perfumed hall.

SERGEY BORISOV: I believe that the distance between professional music and professional perfumery is quite big. How did you come to perfumery?

LEO CRABTREE: Well, perfumery for me is totally another part of my interests, outside of music. Music is always in my heart and I’ll always love music. But at the same time, since I was a kid, I have always been interested in other stuff as well, like history (I did a degree in history) - I studied Art of History and Design - and I've always been interested in psychology as well. I guess I'm interested in the liberal arts, generally. But the way I came to perfumery was something accidental. Yes, I've always worn perfumes since I bought my first bottle at 12 years old – it was Minotaure by Paloma Picasso.

I came into perfumery through my attempt to make men's grooming products. I had a mustache then, and I wanted to make a paste for it. I found that you could buy a mustache paste but it always came in those little, crappy tins; I really wanted to make something more exciting, so I went to a workshop where people were making waxes. And then I spent a whole year making the product with a friend. I was living in London and made all this wax on the stove. Obviously, I needed a fragrance for the wax. So I did a little online course, bought some oils and experimented. I really liked the idea of getting the theme of the sea into a fragrance. So I went from there.

Some people in the beauty industry had seen my mustache wax in London and they contacted me to know more about my work; they told me that my ideas were good but that I needed a perfumer. After that, I spoke to a couple of perfumers in big companies, but I needed somebody I could talk to more personally. So after some exploration, I found my two Julies – Julie Marlow and Julie Dunkley.

We had lunch together and they told me that I had great ideas and inquired how they could assist. They worked for a perfume company that created a lot of commercial perfumes but they never got credit for their work. That’s how our relationship started, and now we work together on all my ideas for Beaufort. And I am still surprised when I see the results, wondering “How did all of this happen?” I don’t really understand that; it’s crazy! All I know is that I’m fascinated by it! And I always needed to have projects like Beaufort. I enjoy it so much.

Wax for mustache by Beaufort London

SERGEY BORISOV: Do you have much free time for perfume creation? Is it a time-consuming activity? Does it take 24/7 of your time?

LEO CRABTREE: Perfume creation is time-consuming. I spend a lot of time working on music, but when I am not doing music, I do perfumery. So it’s non-stop. And it occupies different places in my mind. And they have a good balance. I just do what I can and what I like. I believe that people will respect that. My first collection is named “Come hell or high water” – that’s about it. Do it and whatever happens you just do it. That’s my approach.

SERGEY BORISOV: Did you finish The Black Smoke theme or you will continue it?

LEO CRABTREE: I think that I will continue that in different ways. At this point of time, I don’t want to do too much. When I started learning about this business, I realized that we did too much and so quickly. Now we’ve launched 5 perfumes in just one year, and it’s a good number. There are people and places that are not reached by our perfumes, so I've spent some time, about a year, working on business, country distribution, doors, etc.

It’s my first time at Pitti Fragranze; next, I’m going to New York… I'll keep meeting people, keep talking, keep thinking… there are so many projects….

SERGEY BORISOV: What are some of the perfume ideas you think about?

LEO CRABTREE: Well, there are so many ideas knocking around in my head and I am never completely happy with them. For example, one of the first ideas I suggested to my perfumers was to create perfumes that represents elements – Water, Air, Fire, Earth. Also, we did a metallic scent… And I think that it’s very simple for a perfume. So, in Fathom V we decided to bring the elements of Earth and Water together. And some of my perfumes are the mix of several different projects that came together to form one perfume.

SERGEY BORISOV: Are you going to create Eau de Toilette and Extrait versions of Beaufort London fragrances?

LEO CRABTREE: The concentration we use now is the highest that can be at the moment. So to create an Extrait with 30% concentration (now it’s 20%), we would have to change formulas – I don’t want to do that.

I did an experiment with Coeur de Noir, raising the concentration to 30%, and I was not happy with that version. So for now I'm not thinking about it. As for Eau de Toilette, the point of the collection is that the perfumes are strong, they have to be strong, it’s part of their character. Being weaker, they would not have the same impact. If I change that, I change the character and spirit of the collection.

SERGEY BORISOV: Is it possible to call your perfumes dark? The first perfumes were very smoky and tar-like; then sweet, dark wood; and now it’s green but still very dark. Isn’t darkness a main feature of your brand?

LEO CRABTREE: People say this but… to me the concepts just come from a dark place. The inspirations are dark and so therefore the aromas are dark. The dark side of life is what interests me; I’ve always found a kind of beauty in the darkness.


SERGEY BORISOV: How do you feel when, after trying to create something different and new,  people compare your new creations to existing perfumes?

LEO CRABTREE: I think it’s normal, it’s natural. People categorize things; they need to make links between different things. We do it with everything, to make references. Not in terms of creativity, but in terms of similar smells, “this smells like that”, etc.

SERGEY BORISOV: WIll you still pursue your initial idea to make 13 perfumes inspired by the 13 levels of the Beaufort scale of wind force? 

LEO CRABTREE: Yes, I will. It’s still on my mind and I love the idea. But I can’t make it work. And I’m still thinking about that. It’s a challenge because the perfumes have to be thematically linked together somehow. I hope to find the common theme of them all.

A Harlot's Progress, Plate II by William Hogarth (1732)

SERGEY BORISOV: And the last question is a bit tongue in cheek: Knowing your passion for history, which would you find more interesting to develop - Hogarth cologne or Hogwarts cologne? "A Harlot's Progress" collection or "A Supermodel's Life" collection? Will you keep historical roots in all of your perfumes?

LEO CRABTREE: It’s funny you mention the Hogarth name! You know about my passion for history, so I keep my roots even in my brand name Beaufort, so no way to Hogwarts colognes… Never Hogwarts!

The funny thing is I did some press day two days ago in a London club, and on the walls they have all the Hogarth prints from "A Harlot's Progress" which I love. I have a small collection of Hogarth prints myself. All these ideas are so good and I want to do something in this direction. And that’s something I can’t say much more about… not just yet.


Sergey Borisov has been involved in perfumery since the early 90`s when he had his own perfume-devoted program “Close to Body” on Krasnoyarsk radio (1993). As a perfume enthusiast (known as moon_fish), he became famous in Russia for his translation of  Luca Turin's Perfume: Le Guide. He made a career as a fragrance journalist and contributed to distinguished magazines such as GQ, Vogue, Elle, Cosmopolitan, Interview, Forbes, Allure, Robb Report, Flacon, Departure, RBC-Style, TSUM-Magazine (2008-2016). His own online columns for,, and (2006-2015) have earned him international recognition and an invitation to be an editor for the Russian edition of “The Little Book of Perfumes” by Luca Turin & Tania Sanchez.  Sergey Borisov was invited as a speaker at Esxence 2012 (Milano) and Intercharm 2015 (Moscow). In 2013, Sergey joined the Fragrantica team.


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Yes, Beaufort is something, especially if they are introduced in a proper situation. Dark and complex, very complex, very weird, like a legend for adults, with bloody scenes, strong language and sex.


Very interesting Brand:I was fortunate enough to test those perfumes at Pitti (last edition) and I can say they are true Niche.
Yes,maybe some can be "not for all",but I appreciate the Courage."Who dare win"(!)


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