Crush Of The Week

NISHANE: Behind the Birth of Istanbul’s First Niche Perfumery

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Nishane – the first and only Istanbul-based niche perfume brand celebrated and recognized globally. A powerful statement made by an equally powerful fragrance house. Nishane, from the Turkish word nişane, meaning symbol, will certainly be a symbol of your fragrance collection. From airy florals to potent musks, Nishane sees the process of perfumery as an art, an art that is attributed to various emotions, moods, and cherished moments. Firmly rooted in their hybrid East-West Istanbul identity, Mert Guzel and Murat Katran, the label’s co-founders, aim to tell stories with every emotional reaction to their fragrances–from collections dedicated to Mevlânâ Celâleddîn-i Rûmî and to iconic Istanbul landscapes, the intoxicating scent emanating from each luxuriously-designed Nishane bottle captivates everyone.
We had the opportunity to try out Nishane’s Hacivat fragrance, a part of their Shadow Play Collection. Referencing the story of Hacivat and Karagoz, a popular Ottoman-era shadow play, the Hacivat fragrance is packaged in a beautiful white and gold bottle, contrasting Karagoz’s black and gold bottle, creating a beautiful duo for any Nishane lover.
Hacivat is truly an experiential perfume, and it will be one that stays in our collection for years. Upon first spray, a signature combination of bergamot, pineapple, and grapefruit top notes instantly radiates in the air around you, followed by strong heart notes of jasmine and patchouli and a base note of oakmoss. The top notes are rather strong, and expect to be blown away with fantasies of a tropical beachside vacation for the first few minutes Hacivat is on. Only after you are transported to a fantasy land do the heart and base notes ground you in a woody yet floral reality, reminiscent of the budding spring daffodils and the smell of moss growing exponentially after a spring rain. The combination of citrusy spice and florals make Hacivat a perfect spring and summer scent, ideal for those dreary mornings turned into a bright sunny afternoon. It has a sillage that lasts for the entire day, absorbing deep into your skin while also projecting its wondrous concoction onto all those who pass. Hacivat is a real tribute to elegance and the love of art, adored by many Nishane fans across the world.
We spoke with Mert and Murat, the minds behind Nishane, to learn more about what it means to place Istanbul on the global perfumery scene and the challenges that have accompanied their process.

By Ethan Dincer

What inspires your collections? Where do you find inspiration?

Istanbul inspires us and our collections repeatedly. We feel blessed that we never need any extra motivation to feel inspired. Because we are highly into art in many forms, anything in life amazes and inspires us.

What makes Istanbul so special in helping create Nishane scents? What does it mean for Nishane to be rooted in Istanbul?

Istanbul is literally a bridge between cultures and accordingly we believe that as the creative directors – both born and raised in Istanbul – we take the advantage of the cultural diversity that helps our vision equally affected by East and West.

What was the process of being the first Istanbul-based niche perfume brand? Are there challenges of being based in Istanbul?

Since it would be the first time for a brand from Istanbul to compete in the international artistic perfumery arena, it was really challenging for us at first to overcome the prejudgments and settled generalizations. However, thanks to the quality of our fragrances, we feel blessed to see that NISHANE is now shown amongst one of the best perfume houses of the world.

Each Nishane collection is based on a theme or emotion. Can you describe your process of coming up with a collection’s name and how you tailor the scents around it?

For us, the storytelling aspect of our brand is crucial. In our minds, we have a lot of stories to be told. As we have the capability of reaching a big audience in 120 countries, we feel extremely excited to determine the new story behind our new launches. Upon agreeing on the story, we try to list down the perfume notes that could help us underline the emotion or mood we want to present.

What is the process of creating each scent like?

We first decide on the story we want to tell with the new collection to be launched. Afterwards, we try to determine the name of the perfumer with whom we believe we can carry out this project. We list down the perfume notes that we want to refer to while creating the new scents. Then, the voyage starts with our perfumer

How long does it take to pair the perfect scents that lead to the final product?

It takes 11-12 months minimum since it’s a really challenging process to storytell with perfumes.

A lot of your fragrances carry their names from important places and experiences in Turkey. Has capturing the complexity of Turkey’s many smells – for example, the Bosphorus – been challenging?

For us, the creation of our entire fragrance line is so challenging, because we believe that the perfume lovers around the world are so selective and can easily distinguish between the good and the bad.

What’s upcoming for Nishane?

As always, we’ll have our yearly fragrance launches which are awaited by everyone impatiently. This year’s launch event will take place in Milano in June with big surprises. We are planning to open up mono stores in key global centers.

Discover more on NISHANE’s Website, right here!