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Brand interview: M.Micallef

The South of France is home to many wonders; the idyllic coastline, the mountains and, of course, the home of fragrances. Grasse is a town that can boast like no other about its perfume prowess. One such perfume house recently joined our collection. M.Micallef is one of the most artistic fragrance brands in the world.

As with most perfume houses, M.Micallef wasn't the first project its founders undertook. Before the husband and wife duo met, they had flourishing careers outside the fragrance world.

"Martine has always been in the beauty world, and she has always managed her own beauty saloons down in the French Rivera, and I was a banker," explains Geoffrey.

"We met in '92." But it would take another couple of years for the pair to discover their passion for perfume.

"I worked advising small companies on how to talk to banks to secure financing. One day in '93, a [perfume] lab in Grasse called me. I went and did the job, and in between meetings, I snuck into the perfumery department. I spent a lot of time there, and eventually, an idea flashed into my head."

Before he could tell what was happening, Geoffrey was returning home with piles of perfume samples. It soon became a daily ritual for them both, smelling and discussing as the light faded.

"I used to bring home samples to discuss with Martine. And we both developed a passion during nights talking about this perfume business, and one evening Martine said; why don't we do perfume."

That was when the duo settled on their own guiding principle: marrying the worlds of art and perfume.

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"We had the name for the company right away. I once said to Martine early on in our relationship that her name was something that could become an international brand."

The first couple of years went by slowly as Martine and Geoffrey set up shop. The cellar beneath their Cannes home was the first M.Micellef office, with an assistant as their first official hire.

"The assistant was filling bottles. Martine was designing and decorating crystal bottles all night long. And then my job was to go and sell it."

At first, Geoffrey met a lot of resistance. The perfume houses and distributors hadn't heard of M.Micallef and weren't keen on taking a risk. But eventually, a breakthrough came.

"With a lot of passion and belief, we finally got over all of the obstacles. A big jump came when we first participated in the Bologna perfume fair in Italy. There, we finally got hold of the first crazy people to take on M.Micallef."

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Since that fateful experience in Italy's heartland, M.Micallef has gone from strength to strength, finding its audience and soaring into the skies. Emirates Airlines now sell some of its range onboard. Yet, even with international success, the brand is still loyal to its niche roots. And unlike many brands, M.Micallef has stirred clear of anything close to watering down its product.

"Nowadays there is a lot of competition. But we decided to remain loyal to the DNA of our brand. We have no temptation to change our concept because it's unique, and the people who want to buy our perfume are very sensitive to art, especially in countries that have a similar education (to France) or share a similar culture. That's why we have chosen to stay as a family business; we have rejected investment many times. We want to continue down our road." explains Martine.

If you would like to try one of M.Micallef's perfumes, you can now add three perfumes from their range to your calendar.

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Ylang in GoldM. Micallef