The oldest daughter of British designer Clive Christian, Victoria Christian’s love of perfume began at an early age. She and her father discovered in the floorboards of the family’s English manor house an original bottle from a perfumery that had been crowned by Queen Victoria in 1872. Although Ms. Christian originally studied ballet and performing arts, even performing on London’s West End, when her father took over the old perfumery and decided to create a new level of luxury perfume, she ended her theatre career and joined the company. After a training period with perfumers in London, Paris, and Grasse, Ms. Christian launched the definitive Clive Christian Perfume collection in 1999. Today, Victoria travels worldwide as an ambassador for Clive Christian and is proud to represent the perfumes her father created, including No. 1—The World’s Most Expensive Perfume, of which only 1,000 bottles have been released.
Tell us a little bit about your history and the history of the Clive Christian Company.
Though I had always had a personal passion for the fragrance world, shared and encouraged by my father who had always been passionate about great perfume and beautiful bottles, I actually studied ballet and performing arts in London and performed on the West End Stages in Musical Theatre for five years after finishing school. At that point, my father decided to take the reins of one of the oldest British perfume houses that had been out of business for some time and create a new level of luxury perfume with his usual uncompromising feel for luxury. It was 1999 and the Definitive Collection was born, which comprised three perfume pairs for men and women—‘1872,’ ‘X’ and ‘No.1’ which was to be acknowledged as The World’s Most Expensive Perfume by Guinness World Records. It was at this point that I left my career in theatre behind and joined the family business. I haven’t looked back!
What is your personal beauty philosophy?
Beauty always comes from within. A sincere and ready smile. If you are happy within—taking care of yourself, keeping fit, taking time to relax and smelling the roses, eating well—then you should radiate positivity.
What do you love about crafting perfume collections? What are your favorite fragrance notes and combinations?
It is my pleasure and privilege to represent my family business and it is my father, Clive, who is the founder and who to this day is at the helm of the Clive Christian brand. I love what he has revived in terms of luxury perfume, sparing no expense in terms of using the rarest and most precious ingredients in their most concentrated forms. I am very proud of his achievements and hope that as time goes by, I will be able to maintain the fundamental philosophy of the brand. My favourite ingredient without question is Egyptian jasmine—as found in ‘X’ for Women and ‘C’ for Women. Associated with Isis, the Goddess of the moon, Egyptian jasmine is plucked from the banks of the Nile at dusk, as this is the time that the jasmine flower is at its most ‘alive’ fragrantly. This jasmine has a legendary history: it was chosen as the flower to be sewn into the sails of Cleopatra’s barge for her journey to meet Mark Anthony. Legend has it that he fell in love with her on the breeze as she sailed towards him, so intoxicating is the scent.
Tell us about Clive Christian No. 1, The World’s Most Expensive Perfume.
The Clive Christian philosophy is to first design the absolute best, then cost it. This ensures that the highest quality and excellence is achieved—after all, this is what prompted Queen Victoria to grant her crown to the house in 1872, and we are proud to carry these principles forward to a new generation. This is also what resulted in ‘No.1’ becoming “The World’s Most Expensive Perfume,” as my father is simply unable to compromise in his pursuit of excellence.
What advice do you have—for women and for men—when it comes to choosing the right fragrance and wearing it well?
Choosing the right perfume is an expression of you—your mood, how you want others to think about you, and to remember you. Whether you are a man or a woman, my advice would be to follow these simple rules:
- Don’t pay attention to whether it’s intended for men or for women—it’s what it smells like on you that counts.
- You must try the perfume on your own, clean skin and then have patience to spend a day or an evening returning to the perfume to see how it makes you feel from the moment it hits your skin and then as it develops.
- You know you have a winning perfume if you love it, those that you care about love it on you, and you receive compliments from perfect strangers when you wear it (this last point signifies a perfume with a good sillage—the delicate trail of scent that weaves around you).
- You should wear your perfume wherever you like—however, you can afford to be quite precise in your application. I usually put a spritz or two at the back of my neck and then in the centre of my chest. I also like to use a spritz or two on my clothes. Don’t rub it in—just let the perfume unravel and work its magic.
What comes next for you and Clive Christian?
The second release from the Private Collection is just launching exclusively at Neiman Marcus—‘V’ Perfumes, which I am honoured to say that my father named after me. The notes range from delightfully bright and joyful in ‘V’ for Women to wonderfully dark and resonant in ‘V’ for Men. I find it quite hard to wear one without the other. Orange blossom sits at the heart and is a clean, bright, determined, and distinct note that in the Victorian language of flowers was the symbol of first, true love—the flower that Albert gave to the young Victoria at the moment she asked for his hand in marriage. Olibanum—or frankincense—rests at the foundation and as one of the most important aromatic notes, its legacy can be traced throughout world history. Its deep, steady warmth is evocative to me of the comfort, devotion, and trust Victoria and Albert had for each other—unconditional and enduring love—which is a rare occurrence itself. And what will come after this? When it is time to let the cat out of the bag, I will be sure to tell Beauty in the Bag!