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Douglas Little and Gwyneth Paltrow in Little's Upper West Side apartment
Douglas Little and Gwyneth Paltrow in Little's Upper West Side apartment | Courtesy of Douglas Little
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When Was the Last Time You Fell in Love With a Fragrance?

Picture of Jill Di Donato
Fashion Editor
Updated: 19 September 2018
If Gwyneth Paltrow adores a fragrance, you better take note. The GOOP entrepreneur has immaculate taste and a highly evolved aesthetic with a penchant for clean beauty products. When she discovered Heretic Parfums by Douglas Little, a New York and Los Angeles based perfume alchemist, Little’s line of small-batch, limited-run perfume collections gained hard-earned recognition.

“There’s a little bit of heresy in the work I’m doing, ” says Little of Heretic Parfums. Indeed, no one is doing natural parfum at the luxury level.” Just as there’s a desire for small batch, locally produced foods and drink, like yogurts, wine, spirits, and olive oil, people crave an authentic artisanal fragrance experience. And that’s exactly what the Heretic line delivers.

Douglas Little
Douglas Little | @ Heretic Parfums

“The perfume world is going through a revolution,” Little tells me. The idea of choosing your scent based off Jennifer Lopez looking hot on a poster is obsolete. People “want a scent that represents who they are,” adds Little.

Changing the fragrance game for Little meant serious ingredient quality control and an anti-mass production mindset. “The essences I use are unusual, and have a true shelf-life of two years. Because each scent collection is handmade and not produced, each run is made up of about 100 bottles. If you get it, you get it.”

@ Amanada Suarez/Culture Trip
@ Amanada Suarez/Culture Trip

With 17 years experience as a perfumer, including a decade in home fragrance, Little is intentionally targeting a niche clientele. “Fragrance is such an unnecessary personal pleasure,” he says, playfully. Indeed, your signature scent revolves around the pleasure principle. You gravitate not only to what appeals to your olfactory senses, but to draw others towards you. It’s human nature.

A tipping point for Heretic Parfums was when Paltrow discovered an early 2016 collection. “My perfume studio is in my Upper West Side apartment, so when Gwyneth walked into my house, it was a moment. But she was very low-key and deeply interested into finding the right fragrance for GOOP.” Little adds that he was surprised by how subversive Paltrow’s fragrance palate was. But it’s the subversiveness that distinguishes the Heretic brand: collections feature traditional notes like rose, neroli, and jasmine, but add kick, like black pepper to give the scent a twist of spice. Cheeky names like “Pistil Whip,” for instance, denote strong floral notes, with an undertone of something that’s not-quite-patchouli (I can’t place it, but I like it) to build complexity.

@ Heretic Parfum
@ Heretic Parfum
Douglas Little
Douglas Little | Courtesy of Douglas Little

The fall launch is Dirty Ginger, which is a play on redheads, as Little is a natural redhead, and is interested in the medieval history of branding redheads heretics. According to Outcasts author Ruth Mellinkoff, Judas is said to have been a red head. Other medieval lure depicts redheads as having magical powers.

Heretic Parfums work well as a unisex scent, for the “rough flowers out there,” who aren’t afraid of exploring edge in scent. The site publishes a blog of the people in Little’s life who influence his aesthetic, called I Am Heretic.

After collection four fragrances for GOOP, which he describes as “esoteric, and inspired by smokey wood and cabins in the icy snow,” Little is onto his next collaboration (in addition to his own scent collections).

Taking a provocative look a sandalwood, Little will be collaborating with Dita Von Teese, herself, a master of seduction and the tease.

© Sansho Scott/BFA/REX/Shutterstock

He says you can expect the packaging to “be out of this world,” and the fragrance “mind bending.”

Find Dirty Ginger and the Heretic Line at Barneys New York and on the Heretic Parfums website, as well as at select retailers in New York and Los Angeles.