INSPIRATION can, of course, take many forms, and in the case of British-born Tomi Ahmed and Leo Gibbons, it was “the poetry of the everyday” and also a shared aesthetic and approach to both life and art that spurred them to set up Iiuvo candle brand last year.
A candle by Iiuvo
Both Ahmed and Gibbons have backgrounds in fashion and marketing, with South London-born Ahmed having worked for Adrian Joffe the president of Comme des Garcons at Dover Street Market and Gibbons, who grew up in St Albans and is the son of a florist mother, was employed for 15 years at Hardy Amies. Ahmed and Gibbons first met at the party of a mutual friend in Paris and having realised their shared synergy and interests – and inspired by what Ben Gorman has done with the Byredo perfume and skincare brand as well as the career of Raf Simons – began to explore the world of perfumery and art.
Many visits to Paris and the Grasse area of France (traditionally the world’s perfume capital) researching their putative brand, as well as seeking out the revered British nose Roja Dove as a mentor, culminated in the pair setting up their company Iiuvo (a conjugation of the Latin verb iuvo which means to help, aid, assist and also, appropriately here, to please, delight, gratify).
With their backgrounds at DSM and Hardy Amies, it comes as no surprise that Gibbons and Ahmed are committed to making the best quality products. Each Iiuvo candle, presented in white glass, is made of top quality wax which contains 12 per cent perfume – not the 10 per cent proportion usually found – and are made in Grasse in collaboration with a top perfumer.
As well as this, they share a commitment to authenticity, “You can’t fake these things. The senses of experience – food and smell are very essential senses,” says Ahmed. With Gibbons particularly interested in the relationship between music and fragrance.
Leo Gibbons and Tomi Ahmed of Iiuvo. Illustration: Tyler Cookson
Iiuvo debuted with three unisex scented candles, Ajon, Emmie and Woodgrain, as Ahmed and Gibbons want to build their company slowly with a strong foundation. A floral fragrance, Ajon draws on Gibbon’s mother’s floristry workshop and is a heavy fusion of orange blossom and jasmine, with tiare blossom at the heart founded on essence of rose.
Emmie has another family connection as it is named after Gibbons’ Irish grandmother and is an attempt to recreate her immaculate garden in perfume form. Myrrh and galbanum offer woody top notes here with a core of cedar, vetyver and patchouli supported by moss and lichen bottom notes.
The final offering in the Iiuvo launch is Woodgrain – recreates the interior of a vintage Cadillac and is inspired by Southern hip hop. This candle has a sweet, warm and woody smell with cardamom combined with nutmeg contrasting with with myrrh at the top with a core formed of patchouli and cedar, and at the base notes of amber, tonka bean and fir balsam. The candles are presented in a very elegant box decorated with their stylish minimal logo (as are the candles themselves).
“It is process is what matters,” comments Ahmed. “We are looking for substance in our brand.”
by Caroline Simpson