FRAGRANCE | 5 homegrown Filipino fragrance houses worth checking out

halfwhiteboy - ScentSmith Perfumery Grapefruit Amber EDP
Grapefruit Amber EDP by ScentSmith Perfumery.

When was the last time you bought a locally produced fragrance here in the Philippines? If ever, the most common culprits would be anything from Bench or Penshoppe and its many sister brands, right? I've had my share, too, of bottles of Celio, L'Amoureux, and the long-defunct Penshoppe EDTs Dusk and Ice. They're all cheap and I enjoyed them.

However, I've always pined for an upgrade both in terms of quality and presentation in our local fragrances, for someone who can seriously elevate the state of our local perfume industry. Hayden Kho made an attempt years ago with his own line of fragrances but that endeavor was unfortunately short-lived. But my, was he able to come up with some pretty solid fragrances! To this day I still miss his Amber Woods and Rose Petals EDT.

Unlike, say, Europe or the Middle East, I don't think perfumery is as ingrained in our culture. So whenever a local fragrance brand comes up on my radar, I'm always more than happy to give it a try. And more often than not, I see an attempt at that upgrade that I'm longing for. Here are but a few homegrown houses I'd like to share with you.

ScentSmith Perfumery
Less than a year into the scene, this house has already more than 20 fragrances released. All are in EDP concentration and are very reasonably priced at Php 1,195 for a 100ml bottle. In addition, they also have room sprays, diffusers, body oils, lotions, and other toiletries. They even have loo drops for your, well, loo!

To date ScentSmith Perfumery has 3 shops across the Metro, all sporting a quasi-industrial look with subdued lighting. Unless they have premixed solutions on hand, your fragrances are usually compounded, bottled, and then personally labeled in-store a la Le Labo. My wife and I have more than 10 bottles from this house already, including Pink Pepper Leather, Grapefruit Amber, and Citrus Vetiver. While we may never be able to finish them all up, we always keep coming back for their room sprays, body oils, and lotions.

Update: ScentSmith has added 6 new fragrances to its roster last November 2019.

Whiff
This house also has several releases under its belt already, all of which, I believe, are made in collaboration with perfumer Renato Lopena Jr, who's said to have been educated in Grasse. They've even collaborated with local celebrity Heart Evangelista for a limited edition release.

halfwhiteboy - Whiff Artisanal Fragrances
Whiff Artisanal Fragrances.

Whiff has some nice, sturdy bottles and cute labels. Their fragrances tend to be on the sweet side but the overall scent profiles are worth exploring in my opinion. To date we already have about four bottles: Pacific Rain, Autumn Dew (a fruity-floral), White Drops (citrus-fruity), and Pine and Lime Pleasure (citrus-woody). Their fragrances are available online and in select retailers.

Update: Whiff now has a fairly new line of EDTs. 

Christine Lhuillier Parfumerie
Available at kiosks in several malls, Christine Lhuillier has a whole lot to offer. And I mean a lot! Not only that but their fragrances come in 3 different concentrations: body mist, EDT, and EDP. Choosing a scent can be quite the challenge, so take your time. And while you're at it, you might want to grab a bottle or two of their room sprays. Oh, but then they also have a whirlwind of options for that!

halfwhiteboy - Christine Lhuillier Parfumerie
Our Christine Lhuillier bottles.

Apart from room sprays, most of which we've already consumed, we have about 5 bottles of their EDTs. I like Black Bamboo enough but I also enjoy Oud and Bergamot. Nutmeg & Ginger is also surprisingly nice. They're not top-notch in terms of quality but they're pretty solid cheap thrills at Php 350 apiece. The EDPs, on the other hand, are at Php 450.

Sparrow Fragrances
This one I haven't really explored just yet. I only got to try the cologne they made for Eight Wolves called, well, Eight Wolves Cologne by Sparrow. For the price (around Php 350 for a 100ml bottle), I was blown away by both its classic, masculine scent profile and more than average performance. Because of that I looked them up and learned that they have several fragrances on offer. And yes, I am very much willing to try them out soon.

halfwhiteboy - Eight Wolves Cologne by Sparrow
Eight Wolves Cologne by Sparrow.

Natalya Lagdameo
This one had me confused as to how the house should be called. The front packaging only features a logo and the name of the fragrance itself. The back of the box says NLAGDAMEO while the base of the bottle has a sticker with Natalya Lagdameo on it. So I say we go with the latter; seems more proper.

halfwhiteboy - Natalya Lagdameo fragrances
30ml bottles of Tala and Absolem.

Anyway, I have Absolem, a linear but lovely mossy affair, while my wife owns a bottle of Tala, which I think is floral. I don't know what what else this house offers but I believe RJ Lopena, the nose behind Whiff, is also responsible for crafting these two EDTs. So far so good and I hope to see more from this brand.

Update:

Simoy ng Haraya
We have a few bottles from this house for several months now but I have yet to try them out properly. I'll update this soon.

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So there you have it. I hope that this list grows and that we support them, too.

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