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by Holly O'Neill
20th May 2019
Galway’s Cloon Keen Atelier win best new independent fragrance at The Fragrance Foundation Awards

Cloon Keen Atelier are the first Irish company to win an award at the Fragrance Foundation Awards. 


Massive congratulations are in order this morning for Galway perfumer Cloon Keen Atelier who are the first Irish company to ever win at The Fragrance Foundation Awards, the highest of accolades awarded for the best perfumes of the year, who honour everything from packaging, advertising and the best new fragrances. Other winners this year included Floral Street, Chanel, Dior, Alexander McQueen, Acqua di Parma, Diptyque, Carolina Herrara and Hugo Boss.

Cloon Keen’s beautiful fragrance Roisin Dubh took home the award for The Best New Independent Fragrance. Created by Irish perfumer Meabh McCurtin, the scent was inspired by the Irish diaspora. “My mother is an English teacher and our house is full of books by Irish writers,” says McCurtin. “Growing up I was always hearing about these characters and I loved the idea of them, Joyce, Beckett, Synge, going abroad and creating this community. I went to the cafe’s they went to, the restaurants, trying to understand their lifestyle and that era, the 1920s and 30s, and the society they were living in. I love the idea of being in Paris, of walking in their footsteps, and stepping back into the past.”

McCurtin is the protégée of Dominique Ropion (the nose behind some very famous fragrances, including Portrait of a Lady by Frederic Malle, Lancôme’s La Vie Est Belle and Viktor & Rolf Flowerbomb).

To create the sensual Roisin Dubh, “I used a special quality of rose called Rose Essential combined with a suede and ink accord, to form the main axis of the fragrance,” says McCurtin. “The suede-ink accord is a nod to the fact they were writers, and it balances the rose, which is feminine, sensual and poetic. Then, I explored their bohemian lifestyle: it sounds like they had a whole lot of fun! They were living outside the normal codes of a conservative society, so we put some patchouli and olibanum, trying to capture that libertine feeling. In the end, that makes for a very unisex fragrance, which is modern, but also captures a sense of the past.”

Galway’s Cloon Keen Atelier, winner of Most Innovative Irish Brand at this year’s IMAGE Business of Beauty Awards 2019, was founded by two filmmakers, who swapped their careers to set up a small perfume workshop overlooking Galway Bay and create unique and beautiful fragrances inspired by the Irish landscape, history, and tradition. Cloon Keen’s fragrance Castaña was one of just 19 perfumes that got five-stars in the unofficial Michelin guide to fragrance, Luca Turin and Tania Sanchez’s Perfumes The Guide 2018.

Cloon Keen’s director Margaret Mangan says of the award, “We are thrilled and honoured that the Fragrance Foundation judges selected Roisin Dubh as Best Independent Fragrance. It really is a testament to the artistry of Meabh McCurtin combined with the universal power of our literary heritage to capture people’s imagination.”

Cloon Keen Atelier Roisin Dubh, €130, is available at Cloon Keen, 21 A High Street and cloonkeen.com.

Photography by Tom Dymond.

Read more: My Life in Beauty with Adam Reed

Read more: Three of the best new glow products for shining summer skin

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