It’s been a while since I gave a Memo fragrance my undivided attention. Not that the quality of the Paris-based niche brand has changed in any way. It’s just that there are so many more olfactory distractions nowadays. Memo Inverness EDP brought the company back into focus for me.
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After being initially contacted by the NYC PR, the arrangements for a bottle of Memo Inverness EDP made their way to Europe and then eventually the brand distributor in South Africa.
And why am I telling you this? Well, since its founding in 2007 by husband-and-wife team John and Clara Molloy, the French house has built an impressive travel-inspired fragrance business (the couple are also behind Hermetica and Floraïku). So the way Memo Inverness EDP made its way to me seems absolutely appropriate.
In this interview with John Molloy, we chat about the role of travel and how Memo Inverness EDP came to be.
See my thoughts on this 2023 release after this interview.
Seems you’ve been travelling a lot recently. Where are you now?
Home! If Memo Paris is about travel, it doesn’t mean that we are always on the road. The destinations that inspire us are now mainly coming from dreams, books, paintings, souvenirs of family trips, world maps, pictures… as we consider perfume as a form of slow travel.
Today, when we travel, it is essentially to visit our partners, teams, stores, clients, followers or journalists abroad, to present our novelties, for special openings or events, to share our vision, talk with our strengths on the field, and learn from them to know how to make Memo Paris shine even more.
With travel a popular source of inspiration in perfumery, how have you ensured Memo is different from other brands in that regard?
First, by following our intuition and our path. What we have been building for over 15 years has found its own way of expression. If you pay too much attention to what other people are doing, it paralyses you.
Of course, celebrating the world is as old as the world itself! But how you do it is key. By working with talented perfumers, beautiful ingredients and artists who bring their own vision to fragrances, we’ve come up with some truly unique creations.
You co-founded the company with your wife, Clara Molloy. Who does what in the couple equation?
We’re very complementary and it’s as if we’d met for the second time working together. She’s the creative mind, while I take care of the commercial side and the development of our brand worldwide. But, of course, we exchange a lot, trying to superimpose our visions, to make the right choices.
What was it about Inverness that made it such great inspiration for a perfume?
Clara had the idea of a Scottish destination and the name started it all. She loves words. It’s round, soft and mysterious all at once. We hear invention, eternity, endless. And the “-ness” ending is like a promise.
The area is also known for its whisky. Was that note ever a possibility in this composition?
It’s true that Scotland is famous for its whisky… and for Loch Ness. In fact, we preferred to take a step aside by choosing Inverness, a lesser-known destination, and working on a different idea for this composition, focusing on the intensity of the woods.
That said, another of our signature fragrances, Irish Leather , includes essence of juniper berries, which are also used to make gin. We’ve already played this card in a certain way, and as we don’t want to repeat ourselves, we’ve chosen another type of ingredient for a composition that we want to be creative, bold and beautiful.
Was it perfumer Nadège Le Garlantezec’s idea to use amyris oil in Memo Inverness?
Nadège had this desire for a refined, intense wood and we welcomed this proposal into the creative process, which is a moment of constant exchange and connection with the perfumer, to arrive at the dream composition.
This is her second creation for Memo (after Flåm, 2021). Why do you enjoy working with Nadège?
Because Flåm was a wonderful shared experience and we wanted to continue the journey together. Working faithfully, confidently and over the long term with our perfumers is one of our priorities.
What’s next for Memo?
In 2024, the Cuirs Nomades collection will reveal new surprises, and we can’t wait to reveal them to you!
So what does Memo Inverness smell like?
If you’ve heard fragrances being described as “dry” but had no idea what that meant, this perfume will explain it all for you. That feel permeates the scent from start to finish through a variety of woods (cedar, sandalwood, guaiac wood and, in particular, amyris).
Not as commonly used as the afore-mentioned ingredients but sharing characteristics with them, it’s easy to understand why perfumer Nadège Le Garlantezec highlighted amyris in her composition.
She might describe the formula for Memo Inverness EDP as “bold and short”, but the material is allowed to reveal its complexity (from fresh and spicy to earthy) with support from balsamic cedarwood, creamy sandalwood and smokyguaiac wood. Mate absolute can be bitter and sharp; here it emphasises the foresty ambience with its herbal aromatics.
At first, Memo Inverness EDP didn’t seem particularly Scottish to me. With its namesake (the capital of the Scottish Highlands on the River Ness), I was expecting something more literal, damper, wetter, floral (it’s an addition to the brand’s flower-focused Fleurs Bohèmes Collection).
But the more I wear it, the more I’m appreciating the perfumer’s interpretation of the destination, especially the combo of its more smouldering aspects with the powderiness of orris butter.
When I interviewed Clara Molloy several years ago for my blog, she said: ”All of our competitors that started when we launched have sold their companies. There are many brands and many more to come. I hope everyone will keep in mind that niche means high standards. Otherwise, there is no point in being niche.” Memo Inverness EDP affirms the company’s reputation for quality with distinction.
Richard Goller is a fragrance and grooming blogger. His blog is called Fragroom. A senior editor with 20 years' experience, his blog allows him to combine two of his passions: engaging content and the always-intriguing world of fragrances. When he isn't blogging, you'll find Richard indulging in his newly found passion for balcony gardening.