Have you always been passionate about perfume?
Lyn: Always. I didn't do well at school, but I worked in a fragrance shop part time. I loved the whole fantasy behind the fragrance and the women who shopped there. Being a perfumer was definitely my destiny, and working in that perfume shop as a young girl was the start.
M&S: Were you inspired by the women who shopped while you were working?
Lyn: The women who bought fragrance were really amazing characters. At the time, fragrance wasn't accessible to everybody – it was only for the wealthy. We sold perfumes like Chanel, Guerlain, Lauder, Arden, Van Cleef. People had their hair done upstairs, and the perfumery and beauty department was downstairs. It was the first shop in the north to get a French fine fragrance.
M&S: You grew up in Halifax, but you've spent a lot of time in France. Was this because of your love of fragrance?
Lyn: My family had a house in France so there was always that French connection. I eventually applied to a perfume school in Paris and was there for two years. From day one, I could write simple formulas and accords [balanced blends of notes] – it seemed like a natural thing. I'd finally found something I was good at.
Lyn studied in the medieval town of Grasse, France, which is thought to be the most important place in the perfume world.
A Nose for Business
Lyn at work selecting scents
Lyn thinks women shouldn't stick to one fragrance, but find a range that work for them.
M&S: When it comes to creating a fragrance, how did you find your signature style?
Lyn: I worked in Grasse, the perfume capital, and some of the world's best perfumers trained there. Something about that place is magical. When people are admiring your talent and encouraging you, it spurs you to the next level.
M&S: How did you find the courage to go it alone?
Lyn: When I left Robertet to set up on my own, I'd done something different, but I didn't know that. I was just passionate. I worked day and night on my creativity. I had my own laboratory that I set up in my home in Primrose Hill.
M&S: Were you brought up to be independent?
Lyn: My father was a self made success story and I think that inspired me. I really didn't know how to work for someone else. I watched my father work night and day and saw what he creatively gained from being isolated.
M&S: The way we wear fragrance has evolved in the last few years, how can we find fragrances to suit us?
Lyn: Choosing a fragrance has a lot to do with skin type, season and mood. If you have really pale skin, lighter fragrances are better whereas darker skin veers more towards woodier intense oriental fragrances. Gone is the era of having a signature fragrance though. The beauty is you can buy more than one.
M&S: Thank goodness! There's so much out there to choose from, it's impossible to narrow it down. As there are so many options out there, how can we find fragrances to suit us?
Lyn: Choosing a fragrance has a lot to do with skin type, season and mood. If you have really pale skin, lighter fragrances are better whereas darker skin veers more towards woodier intense oriental fragrances.
M&S: Tell us about your collection for M&S...
Lyn: It's quite European, with a Mediterranean feel. I've worked hard with my fragrance house in Grasse. They're number one on naturals, so the fragrances feature real tuberose and jasmine. Normally, you wouldn't be able to use that kind of quality in this price bracket, but it's incredible what we've delivered.
Lyn Harris, La Roas Eau de Parfum, 50ML
Beauty and the Bottle
Lyn has worked hard to create a range of high quality fragrances that are affordable for all.
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