A little dress, legs out, heels on. Should I take a jacket? It’s early summer so I might need it. I will probably only want to toss it aside when I get there… I’ll grab an Uber rather than the Tube…
It’s not pre-planning for a night out, but it could be. I am actually off to breakfast with Hanover and Jessie, from Discothéque. The newest, and in my humble (if not industry-specific) opinion, most exciting home fragrance launch I have attended in a long while.
Now, it’s not a unique notion to use scent to take us away to another place or time, but Discothéque wants to whisk us away on a night out, and very specifically, to a select few exclusive venues. I mingle, shoulder to shoulder with the other guests, their new nine-scent collection of candles, inspired by clubs across the world from the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s.
You mentioned that the concept was born in lockdown, can you describe the feeling you were looking to create? The connection of a party, the getting ready for a night out, the experience of the club itself?
‘We wanted to recreate elements of the nightclub experience and capture some of the emotions associated with it. You feel this blissful release on an incredible night out, we wanted to evoke the energy of a perfect party, the excitement on an electric dancefloor, and the colours that play beneath your eyelids when your eyes are closed and you’re dancing to your favourite song.
We aimed to transport people back to those magical moments and give them fragrances that could create all-new memories too. We sought to create a sensory journey through scent that echoed the thrill of the discothèque.’
We spent a while in Wag Club in London, the mid 90’s – the mood lifted by zesty notes of limoncello and orange juice, shaken with apple blossom and water lily, with rich, sweet musk.
When it came to deciding on each location, can you share some words on this creative process? How did you curate the final guest list?
‘The process of selecting the clubs for the scents was one of the most exciting parts of developing the brand. Our “short list” kept getting longer because we heard more and more fascinating stories from various friends, each time putting another one on our list of possibilities.
We wanted the final ones to be legendary clubs that had made a significant impact on the cultural scene in that time and place, or ones that we personally connected with in some way. Through multiple rounds of elimination, we narrowed it down to nine clubs that all differently captured the spirit we wanted to celebrate.’
When it comes to selecting your venue, the Discothéque website is a treasure trove of stories, memories and moments for each.
We step into The Haçienda, Manchester, in the late ’80s, surrounded by the floral scents of almond blossom, violet, and lily of the valley, deepened by sandalwood and leather.
‘He stood outside a curvy brick factory on a crisp autumn night in Manchester. He clutched a flyer in his hand. He was waiting. Inside would feel like home, a red-apple heart with an electric synth beat. A utopia in a mad mad world. Where ecstasy sounds like cymbals and misfits can dance if they want to. Two wallflowers touch shoulders and bloom. It was there that he found her, under honey-coloured light. Her voice, a warm shock to the system, like orange cream candy, or violet eyes. Rakish and crooked, like the cut-out letters of a punk poster. Standing beside her in a dark room of strangers, he felt here is the light that never goes out. Where life is but a love song with a steady house beat.’
The stories that you share… They are tantalising, reminding me how I felt on my first night out, big events and those nights that were impromptu, but fantastic. Where did these stories come from?
‘Jessica Garrison, a wonderful LA writer and friend, wrote a short story for each candle and club, combining truth and fiction and tying together the surreal world we pictured of every wild story, visual and scent.
We wanted to provide a glimpse into the unforgettable moments that these clubs had witnessed, capturing the essence of what made them so special. These stories serve as a tribute to the vibrant and transformative power of the nightclub experience.’
The connection between fragrance and location is fascinating, how did you go about linking the two?
‘We drew inspiration from real memories and accounts of each club, delving into the emotions and sensations associated with them. Then we formulated fragrances made up of notes that have been known to evoke similar moods or sensations… with some creative liberties, of course. Our collaboration with talented perfumers brought these concepts to life, translating the spirit of each location into scent.
Our personal favourites are probably Paradise Garage and Crisco Disco, two New York clubs that influenced many that came after — some of our greatest memories have been made on New York dancefloors, so these are particularly special to us.’
It’s not very often that I am writing with Madonna, ‘Like a Prayer’ blazing through the speakers around me, but today it was fitting.
Each candle comes with its own Discothéque Spotify playlist, can you share some words on this decision and their curation?
‘We wanted Discothéque to be an immersive experience of scent, story and sound. We created a playlist for each fragrance so that you could light your candle, blast the music through your speakers and feel transported to that club, reliving the sounds that defined its dancefloor. The songs reflect what the DJs in each specific club were regularly spinning and we also threw in some of our favourites from the years each club was open, to give it a bit of us!’
Each candle is hand-poured with vegan wax, into hand-painted glasses which you encourage us to keep to use as tumblers, so what does sustainability mean to the brand?
‘When we were first creating the brand, it was really important to us that everything was made in the UK and ethically sourced. Sustainability is an essential pillar of both of our brands (The Mighty Company and Discothèque). Our candles are hand-poured using high-grade vegan wax. The glasses in which our candles are housed are pigmented in layers by hand, each colour being heat-set individually. This creates a result that can live on in your home, as a tumbler, small vase, or somewhere special to keep your jewellery or writing tools.’
You mentioned that there were so many more venues you could have chosen from, do you have a favourite story? Will there be a coffee table book to lift them off the website alone?
‘We completely agree and have had the same thought! Since we started this process, we’ve said we have to begin compiling them so that these stories can live on. Since launch it’s only gotten worse, we’ve heard so many more and have too many new ideas — we’re determined to immortalise them somehow along the way!’
We take a leisurely trip to our last stop, my favourite venue of all. Mudd Club, New York City, in the early ’80s. Embodied by an intriguing not-too-sweet muddling of peach and milk, saltwater and cherry, whiskey and vanilla, it’s beguiling and heady, like falling in love on the dance floor at 3 am. You float away to the after-party, holding hands in an electric embrace and excited for what’s to come next.