retaW: Neneh (Cherry)

Slightly off-the-wall discovery of the week; Tokyo-based fragrance brand, “retaW”. Cool packaging, interesting fragrance concepts and tongue-in-cheek names such as ‘Clooney’ and ‘Neneh’. ‘Neneh’ is a Cherry-based scent. Neneh Cherry. Geddit?

‘Neneh’ (the fragrance, not the woman) is extremely sweet – it smells like Love Hearts. I’d go so far as to say it’s the sweetest fragrance I’ve sniffed in the last twelve months. But do you know what? I like it! It’s wacky and cool and kitsch at the same time, a bit like many things that come out of Japan. Can I say that? Or is that a sweeping generalisation?

I’ve Tried-and-Tested Neneh (again, scent not woman) in two different forms; a ‘Fragrance Shampoo for Body and Soul’ and a ‘Fragrance Tablet’. The Body Shampoo is lovely –  the formula is actually far more sophisticated than the sugary fragrance lets on. The sweet smell of sherbet and cherries manages to be somehow ‘grown-up’ – perhaps because the shampoo is packed full of certified organic essential oils, as well as collagen and hyaluronic acid to keep skin hydrated and soft. A very unusual and unexpected washing experience!

The fragrance tablet is also rather unusual. Each square (there are eight altogether in the pack) is impregnated with a mammoth dose of Neneh (not the woman, the scent) that will fragrance an entire lingerie drawer, car interior or small office. They are like ultra-hip air-fresheners; ‘Magic Trees’ made for the fashionable, too-cool-for-school consumer. Although ‘fragranced paper’ is nothing new (think scented drawer liners, perfumed stationery and so on), the tablet takes the concept a step further by being portable, discreet and multi-purpose.

Perhaps the biggest draw for me is that the retaW products are so niche and hard-to-find. Apart from the actual store in Aoyama, Tokyo (literally on the same road as where I used to stay when I worked over there!) you can find retaW in Colette, Paris, in Baxter Finley Barbers, LA, and at Niven and Joshua in the UK. If you’re looking for a gift for the woman (or man) who sneers in the face of mainstream brands, then retaW could be a good bet. Reassuringly expensive (as all rare imports should be!) and with extra ‘cool’ points for the Japanese labelling, I can foresee retaW popping up soon in a minimalist bathroom near you!

retaW Body and Soul Shampoo, £25 and Fragrance Tablets, £8 both from Niven and Joshua.

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