Heretic’s Natural Fragrances Are Pretty Dirty
Shopping for perfume has never been what we'd call a pleasant experience. A person’s nose can only sniff so many fruity floral accords and read so many nonsensical descriptions before they get frustrated, confused, a headache, or all of the above.
Which is what makes brands like Heretic Parfum such a revelation in the world of scent. Founder Douglas Little wants people to not only love his natural fragrances, but also have a deeper understanding of their relation to scent and how to express themselves through it.
The maker of that infamous Vagina candle is always in the midst of creating something new and fantastic for us to smell, and his latest launch is no exception. Called Pretty Dirty, the two-piece layering set is one-part flirty and one-part sex on a stick that can be worn individually, or combined for a "black leather corset under an airy summer dress" layered vibe.
On the eve of Pretty Dirty's launch at Shen, we spoke to Douglas about the scent, how the natural fragrance world is evolving, the best way to perfume shop, and if there will be more Vagina in our future. Spoiler alert: There is.
For those who aren’t familiar with Heretic, tell us a bit about what makes it unique?
“My intention behind this brand is, first and foremost, to allow people to enjoy fragrance again. Not only from the standpoint of being radically transparent, working with natural materials, and speaking about the functionality of these materials, but about just pure fun. I think the fragrance industry just takes itself too fucking seriously.”
You get into these conversations when you go to buy a fragrance and they are saying things like “laced with coriander and and cardamom and Indonesian carnation,” which may all be wonderful and good, but the fact is that 99 percent of people have no idea what the hell these ingredients are.
“The pretension around the fragrance industry reminds me of wine tasting. I really love a glass of wine, but half the time I have no idea what I’m drinking. I’ve gotten into situations where I’m sitting at a dinner table with a bunch of highfalutin people and someone of course has to try and impress everyone with their wine knowledge. For a lot of people, they become inhibited with talking about wine or enjoying wine with food because they are afraid to talk about it. And, that is really the same with fragrance.”
“I really want to be able to demystify scent, to talk about it openly, to really just open up the dialogue of this is what it is, this is the way it makes me feel, to put us in touch with our sexuality and our sensuality, and take away the idea that fragrance has to be masculine and feminine.”
You say Heretic is a radically transparent natural fragrance brand. What does that mean?
“We try to create something that is luxurious and really beautiful with natural materials — products that someone can feel really good about using and that makes them feel good as well.”
There are a lot of misconceptions about the natural fragrance market. What are some things you think people need to know about naturally-derived perfumes?
“We are in the midst of such an amazing revolution in the clean world because suppliers are finally starting to catch up with the demand for naturally derived ingredients. In just a couple years span, my suppliers have provided an additional 5000 to 6000 materials that have come to market that are new because there is a demand for it. So, the ability of actually creating dynamic complex natural fragrances is real. This is not your mama’s essential oil fragrance — it doesn’t have to be that hippie-dippie, tree-hugging perfume. Now natural scents can really go head to head with some of our synthetic favorites.”
Tell us about your newest launch, Pretty Dirty — it’s a bit different from your other scents.
“For me the motivation and inspiration behind this particular product was my wanting to share with people the magic of fragrance. People know that fragrances are made up of top, heart, and base notes — with Pretty Dirty, I wanted to speak directly to that in a more interesting and playful way. I wanted to be able to provide a product that spoke to the idea of individualization and about the way that a person could apply fragrance, because ultimately the only reason that we wear fragrance is for pleasure. So, why not be able to create or to give the customer the opportunity to do something where they can individualize or customize based on the way they are feeling that day?
“Pretty Dirty is actually two distinct scents, each in a 10ml size, meant to be used alone or layered. Pretty uses only top and heart notes, so there’s a sheerness to it — it’s fresh and alive with mossy greens and sweet florals. Dirty is built with bolder heart notes and base chords — it has wood notes and a seductive quality. It speaks to the idea that today you may feel really Pretty, and tomorrow you may feel really Dirty. It’s about finding your own mix of what makes you feel amazing and going with that. I think it’s a great way for people to embrace natural fragrance in a fun, playful, non-committal way. I’m sure we’ll be exploring all sorts of different ways of embracing this concept in the future.”
We can’t talk about Heretic and not mention the infamous This Is My Vagina candle. Where did that come from?
“I wanted to create something that was playful and fun and something that provokes curiosity and that really inspired conversation. We are in the midst of this fantastic revolution where people are embracing their sexuality and, more importantly, people are starting to talk about sensuality and about what the difference between those two are. Because they are radically different things — they run parallel, but sensuality supports and informs sexuality. This Is My Vagina is about allowing people to have fun and take away the sigma that’s wrapped around something that is so incredibly natural and something that there should be no shame wrapped around any of this. It should purely be something that inspires joy, fun, pride, pleasure.”
Vagina sold out at Shen in record time and we’ve been waiting not-so-patiently for its return. Will there be more Vagina?
“We have a really fun addition to our candle collection that you guys will be getting called Slightly Bitter, it’s a follow-up to Vagina. But yes, I am working on more Vagina.”