Clive Christian’s No. 1 Perfume

By Christopher Zoukis

Perfume has been around a long time.  The oldest written record of perfume comes from Assyro-Babylonian texts of around 1800 BC.  The perfume was called qanu tabu.  Canaanite texts from Ugarit, circa 1400 BC, speak of a perfume designated smn mr – a liquid myrrh.  The Egyptian queen Hatshepsut had ‘white’ trees brought to Egypt around 1490 BC.  From these ‘white’ trees, her perfumers made frankincense, which was the “perfume that deifies.”  To the ancient Egyptians, perfume was the medium for wafting the soul to heaven and for putting demons and evil spirits to flight.  Image courtesy

In the 1880s, Crown Perfumery produced a delightful fragrance distinguished by the image of Queen Victoria’s crown on the bottle.  The crown was meant to convey British superiority. 

Perfume fit for a queen is still around.  Clive Christian has resurrected the concept of ‘divine essence.’  Just in case you don’t know who he is, Clive Christian is a British designer whose claim to fame resides in his designer kitchens and his perfume – called simply No. 1 – which is the world's most expensive perfume.  According to British tabloids, Christian is a fan of the hit television show The Office, to which he is so devoted that he owns an exact replica of the green fisherman sweater from The Office episode ‘The Boat,’ where Andy buys a sweater from a red head on a boat. 

Designated No. 1, the scent emanates a complex bouquet of Indian jasmine, mandarin, and sandalwood.  Clive Christian’s artistry permeates No. 1.  The fragrance has a structure that unfolds as evaporation takes place, revealing what are called ‘notes’ or facets of the fragrance.  This unfolding process moves from the top note to the head note to the heart note to the base note to the deep base note.  These notes leave olfactory fingerprints, which provide successive impressions.  Collectively, the impressions coalesce into a unique perfume. 

Arranging the notes of a perfume is similar to writing a musical symphony.  Mozart’s Mass in C Minor transports the listener to another realm.  No. 1 does the same thing.  Like great composers, great perfumers are exceedingly rare.  Both disciplines demand genius and passion.  On the one hand, genius means the harmonious arrangement of the notes.  On the other hand, passion stirs the soul.  Together, the two bring forth enchantment.

Clive Christian has proven his genius in No. 1.  Not only is it one of the world’s most memorable scents, it’s the most expensive.  The bottle is handmade from lead crystal.  24-karat gold plate sits astride the neck of the bottle accompanied by a brilliant-cut diamond solitaire.  The stopper replicates the original design approved by Queen Victoria. 

The relentless pursuit of opulence leads to Clive Christian’s No. 1 Perfume.