Huda and Mona Fragrantly speaking

I git to chat to Huda on some of her best launches for Summer which includes the cutest mini’s set of fragrance

When and why did you decide to launch a fragrance? What inspired you to create fragrance?

My sister Mona actually introduced me to the layering tradition a few years ago. It’s huge in the Middle East so we grew up knowing it but she really inspired me to play with different notes and scents and really immerse myself in the fragrance world. Mona has always been super passionate about fragrance and I love it too, but I wasn’t sure if I wanted to create my own and get into this new and complex category. Truthfully, I struggled with how best to market and sell fragrance because it is a really tough thing to do. It was just really tricky to visualise how this new brand would work for us. With some experimenting and convincing though, she sold me on KAYALI because the concept was something so new and so inviting, I was confident we could make it work! When we created KAYALI, we wanted the collection to bring layering to life in a way the celebrated our middle eastern roots but still encompassed our western upbringing. It took us years to perfect the scents and to understand how to best to launch this concept, but now KAYALI is out there, and I couldn’t be happier that we did it!

Describe your perfume style?

I love a sexy, floral smell so I find ELIXIR | 11 super addictive. When I spray it, it makes me feel confident – it’s my favourite! I also love layering it with CITRUS | 08 as it’s a very feminine and hypnotic scent and mixes very well with floral notes. People always get surprised when they smell it, as it’s not what they expected!

Huda Kattan

What was the inspiration for the name?

KAYALI means ‘my imagination’ in Arabic and we believe this perfectly summarises the transformative ability of fragrance – it can take you to another place and time in just an instant. There are fragrances that bring back such vivid memories, and we think that’s really powerful. With KAYALI, we wanted to inspire people to experiment and play with layering different fragrances to create a scent that’s totally unique to them. We really want to encourage people to use their imagination to create these unique scents!

What’s the best way to try on fragrances?

I always tell people to spray the perfume on various pulse points including your neck, wrists, inner elbow, behind the knees, and behind the ears for a more powerful result. If you really want the perfume to sink in, the best tip I always share is to apply it to moisturised skin!

Tell us about a significant olfactory memory?

Our CITRUS | 08 actually brings me back to the moment when I left Dubai and moved to LA to study make-up. Right before I left, Mona introduced me to perfume layering and taught me more about her love for perfumes. At the time, I specifically remember loving a few citrus-based fragrances that layered beautifully with other perfumes. It wasn’t very long after this moment that I decided to move to LA to follow my dreams. Now, every time I smell our CITRUS | 08 it brings me back to this pivotal moment in my life when she introduced me to her passion while I left to follow mine. 

Mona Kattan

Do you have any formal training in perfumery, or are you self-taught?

I’m very much self-taught, and taught by my sister Mona. She is the ultimate fragrance guru, so much that people even call her the Perfume Princess! She knows so much about perfumery, but for KAYALI, we also decided to work with Firmenich, a top fragrance house. They have the best noses in the industry and being a famous French perfume house, they source the very best ingredients from around the world.

Have there been any mentors or other personal or cultural influences on your work as a perfumer?

Of course! Our Middle Eastern culture was a huge influence during the process of creating KAYALI. The caps on the bottles are intentionally oriental and dainty because they were designed to resemble middle eastern trinkets and oud bottles that we grew up knowing. Our culture definitely played a role from the inception of the brand name all the way to the final packaging.

Perfume Capsule Wardrobe

Who are your favourite perfumers or perfume houses, and what do you like about their work?

I might be biased, but my favourite perfume house is definitely Firmenich! We partnered with them to create KAYALI because we fell in love with their dedication to craftsmanship and their authenticity. After many discussions, we knew they would be perfect for helping us source the best and most luxurious ingredients from around the world.

How do you come up with the idea for a new perfume? For example, do ideas come to you spontaneously, do you work conceptually, or do you try to fill gaps in your range?

With KAYALI, we started with the concept of layering and built the collection up from there. For the first collection our aim was to create four scents that Mona and I both loved and that were not only delicious on their own but designed to complement one another or your favourite perfume. How we get to where we want to go is always a flexible process though. We thrive on spontaneity and get constant inspiration from so many sources each and every day that it’s hard to have a super concrete process. In fact, process can sometimes kill creativity if it’s too rigid. Essentially, if something makes our product better, we’re willing to break whatever structure we’ve put in place to accommodate for it.

What is next for the range?

We just launched the most adorable 10 mL gift sets containing all 4 scents, making layering so simple! They are seriously so cute, and we’re obsessed. We have a few other ideas that we’re working on that we can’t share just yet, but I can assure you that you’re going to fall in love!

I did this interview a few weeks ago for the Cork Independent ahead of Valentines

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