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Akro fragrances
Courtesy of Akro

Cigarettes, coffee and sex: fragrance brand Akro is bottling your vices

These perfumes are for everyone bored of smelling like roses

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From the first drag of a post-coital cigarette to a morning espresso, we all have our vices. If you are someone who can never get enough, then you might be interested to learn about Akro – the brand bottling your vices and turning them into a fragrance that you can wear. 

Founded in 2018, the range launched with six scents: Smoke (cigarettes), Awake (coffee), Dark (chocolate), Haze (cannabis), Malt (whisky), and Night (sex). Yesterday, a new addition was added to the line-up, Ink, created to evoke the feeling of your first tattoo; the fear, the sensation, the adrenaline rush. The fragrances won’t be for everyone: scent is subjective and while some find the smell of tobacco irresistible, for others it’s repulsive. But when it comes to perfume, our favourite scents aren’t always citrus and flowers – and for those people, this will be a dream.

The brainchild of father and daughter Olivier and Anaïs Cresp, alongside Anaïs’s partner Jack Miskelly, Akro was inspired by Anaïs and Jack’s misspent youth working and falling in love in the bars and pubs of Ladbroke Grove, and a heady lost summer spent partying in Paris. After coming up with the idea of bottling our addictions, they took it to Anaïs’s father, master perfumer Olivier, the man behind legendary fragrances like Black Opium by Yves Saint Laurent and the market-changing Thierry Mugler’s Angel, the first modern gourmand perfume. Et voilà, Akro was born.    

We caught up with Olivier Cresp to find out more about the brand, how to bottle an addiction, and what vices are on the horizon. 

Why did you decide on vices as your concept for the fragrances?

Olivier Cresp: I always wanted to create a company with Anaïs; our own niche fragrances. The hardest thing is to find the concept. Anaïs was working and living in London, and she called me and said ‘Dad I have a huge concept that no one else has done but it’s based on the figurative, are you capable of doing something figurative?’ I said look Anaïs, all my life I started with the figurative: I don’t know how to handle the smell of the stars or the La Joconde by Leonardo da Vinci. But if I [am trying to recreate the scent of a] walk on the beach in tropical islands, I’m going to use some salty effect. I’m going to use some draft coming from Tiare Tahiti or Frangipani flowers. So you see, it’s a full painting. I try to realise the atmosphere and then match it with nature and in my style make a wearable fragrance. 

So I said to Anaïs, ‘OK I’m not going to work on something abstract, people addicted to work or to gambling, but some logic[al] vices, I will.’ We took a sheet of paper and said OK: addiction to tobacco, addiction to cannabis, addiction to love, addiction to drinks or food. So they weren’t easy to create but they were clear and easy to follow. And then we are daring, sometimes we go too far. But it’s better to make strong fragrances because people are going to notice them.

What is the creative process from your starting concept – for example, tobacco – to the final scent?

Olivier Cresp: What I try to do is get the atmosphere. So I tried to get the tobacco feeling but then people were telling me it smells too spicy, it smells too honey, you don’t want to make it too vanilla because then you get some Indian tobaccos. So I stayed on something very tobacco but the uniqueness comes from the top. It’s loaded with smoke, some leather, some birch, some Cade. I didn’t use tar, but I could have used some tar. And then that’s it, it’s like a puzzle. 

You are very famous for your gourmand fragrances – do you have a preference for any particular style? 

Olivier Cresp: No, among the 210 fragrances I have done on the market, they go from this side to the other side. I tell you frankly, I prefer to launch some new tendencies and I prefer to be totally free. I don’t want to be guided and I want to come to the market with something which is going to add something and move forward the market because the fine fragrance market is loaded with too many fragrances, too many people are copying the market. I want to bring something new; take risks. I’m not looking to sell millions of bottles like in the fine fragrance market. I want to please myself, please the people who understand my perfumery. 

How do you see Akro as bringing something new? Is it about the concept?

Olivier Cresp: Yeah, it’s the concept. The concept is guiding us. It’s a strong concept. Going forward we are just following it, adding some addictions. Then tomorrow I can have also my addictions, the addictions of Olivier Cresp, like sugar, maybe Coca Cola or Pina Coladas. The journey is not over, I have plenty of ideas. But I also don’t want to load the market with too many fragrances, because then the consumers are going to be lost.  

Will you stick with vices or will you branch out into something like… virtues?

Olivier Cresp: No, we are going to stick with the one concept, addictions. We are going to follow our road. Could be tomorrow [we do a fragrance around] tea. I’m drinking lots of green tea; matcha latte. Some steamed rice maybe, imagine steamed rice on your skin? Delicious!