Caswell-Massey, an American apothecary and perfumery established in 1752, is teaming with International Flavors & Fragrances and The New York Botanical Garden for collections of bar soaps, lotions and fragrances aiming to modernize the heritage brand.
“One of the first things that I wanted to do when I arrived [at Caswell-Massey] was open up the archives and look at what the real core of the brand is to take it toward a more premium experience,” said Nick Arauz, who was appointed as president of the brand last October. “We’re looking at how we’ve done things successfully in our archives, but we’re also looking to modernize [the brand] and do it in ways that are developed for a younger customer.”
The first collection Caswell-Massey is releasing from the partnership takes inspiration from three flowers found at NYBG: honeysuckle, lilac and gardenia. Each scent is made into a hand soap and hand cream that is meant to emulate the olfactive experience of the garden. The scents will also be made into fragrances later next year.
“The botanical garden has been a resource for the company for a long time,” Arauz continued on why the brand partnered with NYBG. “Our products are very fragrance driven and if you look around New York for a place where floral fragrances are in abundance and studied carefully, the gardens are a natural fit.”
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One of the bigger projects coming out of the collaboration is a new rose-scented fragrance. With Laurent Le Guernec, senior perfumer at IFF, Caswell-Massey spent time with the gardeners and curators at NYBG to sample 12 different heirloom roses to find a flower that had distinguishable characteristics and was unique to the garden in order to create a modern take on a rose fragrance. This is the first fragrance the brand has launched since 2012.
“We smelled a lot of different [roses], but the exercise here was to find a flower that didn’t have that expectation of a rose,” Le Guernec said. “We had the choice to go after a powdery, typical rose, but the exercise was to capture a rose that was amazing and modern.”
While the brand and perfumer worked closely with the garden, no flowers were altered or extracted in the formulation process. Rather, IFF used its Livings Technology to mimic the flowers’ scent without harming the actual plant. The technology works by putting a glass orb around the flower to capture its aroma. The captured aroma is analyzed at IFF’s lab and a scent profile is decoded, which is then used to formulate the fragrance so that it emulates the scent of the original flower.
“The whole idea is that you can smell it, touch it and capture the aroma without separating the flower from the mother plant,” said Subha Patel, director of nature-inspired fragrance technology in R&D at IFF. “We aren’t even picking a single petal to get the information we need, so I think the most critical part is that we’re saving the roses.”
The Livings Technology was used for all of Caswell-Massey’s new products and will continue to be used for other floral collections the brand has launching later on.
The six-item honeysuckle, lilac and gardenia collections will retail for $10 to $24 this September at caswellmassey.com, in-store and online through NYBG and at independent retailers nationwide. The rose fragrance will launch in spring 2018 as the rose garden is reopening at NYBG for the season. Caswell-Massey has plans to continue its partnership with NYBG for other scents, like orchid and lily of the valley.
Caswell-Massey declined to comment on estimated retail sales from the partnership.