Sheikh Majed Al-Sabah embodies style, knowledge, and passion. An entrepreneur in his twenties, he defied the odds from a young age to reach success in the worlds of fashion and perfumery, and is now known as one of the most successful young entrepreneurs who has revolutionised the luxury fashion industry across the Middle East.
Born on November 12, 1968 in Kuwait, his love of fashion started from a young age, and he dreamt of gathering all the giant brands into one place. Founding Villa Moda, one of the region’s most iconic department stores while he was in his twenties, the entrepreneur is reputed for bringing brands like Gucci to the Middle East. After collaborating with Tom Ford to launch Arabian Wood, a fragrance which went on to become a worldwide best-seller, Al-Sabah decided to go one step further, creating The Fragrance Kitchen in 2012, turning his passion for high-end fragrances into an international business.
Here, we chat to the man behind the prestigious fragrance brand, as his explains his venture’s philosophy, most memorable scents, and the power of social media.
What inspired you to be part of the fragrance industry and launch The Fragrance Kitchen?
Back when I was a teenager, my grandmother taught me how to mix essential oils and raw ingredients. Later, when I was in the fashion business and attended the International Collections, I was always recognised as the best smelling man at fashion week, with friends always asking what I was wearing. Then one day when I was having lunch with Tom Ford, and he expressed his interest in the expansion of his ready-to-wear business in the Middle East. I advised him that his men’s collection would not be the best investment, and that he should instead launch a fragrance collection. I created Arabian Wood for his Private Collection and it became a best seller. This experience and outcome gave me the confidence to start The Fragrance Kitchen.
What message are you trying to convey with The Fragrance Kitchen?
I want to create fragrances that marry Middle Eastern tradition with Western expertise.
Tell us what you think makes a successful fragrance?
A refined fragrance can be totally unique, it can lead you to a memory or a place that you love.
What is your favourite scent?
Arab Spring and The Finest, they are completely different from any other fragrance in the market.
Do you have a favourite top, middle and base note?
Bergamot, Oud, and Rose, although depending on the fragrance it can always be different.
Can you talk us through the ingredients in your fragrances?
The majority of the ingredients are natural, such as Taif Rose and Oud, and my favourite is Patchouli, as this is my grandmother’s favourite.
Do you feel that all the notes are meant for different personalities?
Musky scents can be for the mysterious and curious, while floral scents can be for the happy and free type of personality. Fresh scents are for the vibrant and charming. The magic is how to blend these notes together to create an amazing fragrance.
Are there some scents which are more suited to certain times of the day?
I would recommend wearing a fresh fragrance like Arab Spring in day or night, or The Finest for the evening.
Can you share with us your thoughts in mixing fragrances?
Blending fragrances is in the DNA of the Middle Eastern people. They always like to smell unique and different. It’s like a great Michelin-star chef who keeps his own recipe.
What was the catalyst behind your decision to create unisex fragrances?
This is because I always believe that there is no men and women fragrances, as long as the fragrance smells amazing.
What’s the biggest challenge in crafting scents for the public?
This depends on the country, as sometimes one country has a different taste to another, therefore I have to find ideas about the notes they like, and then finally know what the palate is.
Can you share with us your inspirations?
I always find my inspiration when travelling, especially to the broken and old places.
Could you define what luxury is for you?
What is your goal?
It is to stay simple, and comfortable, with an edge.
What are your views on the rise of social media, do you think it is advantageous to the world of fashion and fragrance?
Social media platforms are a great way to showcase activities, news events or cultural aspects of your travels whether work or play. Snapchat and Instagram are very effective in communicating your brand message as long as your content is meaningful to your fan base. You have to know your audience. Social media can only impact your personal life if you allow it to happen. You need to take breaks and set personal boundaries for yourself if privacy is important to you.
By Eliza Scarborough