Sheikh Majed Al-Sabah of Kuwait merges the worlds of fashion and fragrances through his homegrown perfume house, The Fragrance Kitchen
In the Middle East in particular, fragrances are more than just scents. Many local families possess their own signature blends as a symbol of their household, almost like a family crest. It is this heritage that led Sheikh Majed Al-Sabah to found perfume house The Fragrance Kitchen. Like many great success stories, Sheikh Majed Al-Sabah’s tale stems from his childhood. A nephew of the Emir of Kuwait, he was raised by his grandmother, who spent many years while creating scents for the family. The intricate art of perfume making was one of the greatest lessons she gave him.
Sheikh Majed Al-Sabah says: “I got my knowledge of mixing and blending fragrances from watching my grandmother, who used to have her own blends. She is a great inspiration and taught me to develop my scent knowledge.” He started off by developing scents for himself as a teenager, but when he got into the luxury fashion business in the early ’90s everything changed. In 1992 the entrepreneur opened up a concept store called Villa Moda and as a result began travelling around the world and attending fashion shows. Wherever he visited he was constantly asked what brand of clothing he has selected and what fragrance he was wearing. So great became the influx of questions that he carried perfume samples to give away. He had originally intended to keep the scents to himself but the people he met on these travels encouraged him to retail them.
This finally happened in 2012, following a collaboration with fashion icon Tom Ford in 2006 in which Sheikh Majed Al-Sabah created a fragrance for the Tom Ford fragrance collection, titled Arabian Wood. “We selected a blend of mine and developed it with the Estée Lauder team,” he says. “The blend was in top three of the best-selling Tom Ford fragrances in the world at the time. I started asking myself if I was able to do something for Tom, why couldn’t I do something for myself.” A few years later he got his dream.
What makes The Fragrance Kitchen so unique is the fact that the founder creates every scent. ‘The nature of how I do the blends is like a kitchen, like a chef picking some recipes from here and there and mixing them at home.,” he says. I’m not a chemist or someone who has been professionally trained as a fragrance maker; I’m just someone who trusts my nose.”
Unlike many Arabian brands, you won’t find an oud in this collection. The brand uses few Middle Eastern ingredients, instead exploring ingredients from around the world. The founder sources most of his natural ingredients from Asian countries like India, Laos and Cambodia. His musks, ambers and roses come from Bulgaria and Turkey, while other ingredients are sources from his wordly travels. When Sheikh Majed Al-Sabah has finished crafting a blend, he sends it to a laboratory in France where skilled perfumers work to re-create the scent, replicating the dosages and percentages of ingredients to form the final products.
Following in the footsteps of the founder, the perfume house is highly influenced by fashion retail. Fragrances are categorised into two main lines: Signature, which encompasses light everyday scents with simple packaging, and Exclusive, which includes perfumes that are heavier in terms of dosages and have a more elegant couture-style packaging. The brand also has a number of smaller lines including Tribute, in collection of scents paying homage to places that have struck a cord with the founder, such as Flower Crown, a tribute to Budapest and Ambrosia, a tribute to Udaipur in India. With inspiration coming from all corners of the globe, the brand truly is the perfect blend of East meets West, offering scents for all, whether as a personal treat or a family emblem.