Abel Founder Frances Shoemack’s top fragrance picks

WOMAN asks Frances Shoemack for her most favourite perfume picks – who better to ask than the founder of fragrance brand Abel? Abel is the happy by-product of Shoemack’s failed search for an all natural perfume: “It surprised me that while I could get my hands on incredible luxurious natural skincare and make-up, when it came to perfume, this just didn’t exist.” Keep reading to learn more about some of the most innovative scents on the market – from a perimenopause support perfume to a salty and electric fragrance using the biodegradable ingredient of Nori seaweed!

Laundry Day 

Laundry Day is a verdant, sun-filled citrus that reawakens the senses. The scent opens with a zesty cut grass and biotech aldehyde accord, upcycled passionfruit and lime heart, and a rich vetiver base. 

Shoemack says she was inspired by the energy of spring. That evocative time of year when windows are flung open to let the outside back in, the scent of fresh grass fills the air, and laundry is once again hung outside – a ritualistic joy. “There’s something deeply uplifting about springtime and the reawakening it signifies. We wanted to capture that feeling in a bottle so the energy and freshness of spring can be evoked year round – no matter what season you’re in,” says Shoemack. 

One of the first global fragrance houses to incorporate leading biotechnology into their formula, over half the ingredients in Abel’s Laundry Day fragrance are biotech or upcycled. These plant based ingredients provide a more efficient, consistent and less volatile supply chain that’s completely renewable and readily biodegradable. “We have always sourced from, and returned our ingredients to, nature. Biotech allows us to do this in a way that is low impact and high performance,” says Shoemack. 

“Laundry Day just wouldn’t be possible to make without biotechnology. For example, we use a biotech aldehyde molecule – that’s responsible for the fresh laundry smell. When I started out a decade ago, I didn’t imagine we’d be able to source a natural Aldehyde – one of the first high profile synthetic molecules! Another great example is an incredible upcycled ingredient from the skins of passionfruit (utilising waste from the juice industry) which provides a stunning unique, almost feijoa-like aroma in the heart of Laundry Day.

“Biotech is important to us as one of the first natural perfume houses, as it’s broadening our palette significantly and allowing us to compete with synthetic scents on attributes like longevity in a way that we otherwise couldn’t.”


Pause is a restorative functional fragrance designed to support hormonal harmony during perimenopause. Featuring notes of violet leaf to stabilise, mimosa to support hormone balance, narcissus to aid in deep sleep and hay for tranquility, the fragrance was designed to centre, balance and calm the mind during hormonal change. 

Shoemack says “When [Perfumer] Fanny and I connected and realised none of our girlfriends talked about, or felt prepared to enter this transitional period, we knew Pause needed to do more than smell amazing. It had to empower and reflect the strong women we knew would want to be part of a new dialogue around Perimenopause.” 

Cyan Nori

Cyan Nori is a vibrant electro-pop scent inspired by Wellington’s ocean expanse and the responsibility we have as brands and consumers to protect it. Cyan Nori’s distinctive profile is sweet, salty and effervescent – juicy tangerine and white peach with a salty deep-sea dry down. Coveted for its moisture enriching amino acid content, the inclusion of Nori (seaweed) blurs the line of functional and fragrant in this hyper modern scent. 

“Isaac and I wanted to capture the essence of Abel’s home base Wellington in a scent that is future-relevant in both fragrance profile and impact on the world. Fossil fuel derived polycyclic musks enter our waterways when we shower and from there, build up in the food chain, particularly in aquatic life,” says Shoemack. 

The use of non-biodegradable, fossil-fuel derived musk is prevalent in the fragrance industry. Musks are arguably the most important ingredients in modern perfumery and also play a key role in Cyan Nori where Abel uses a plant derived macrocyclic musk that is renewable and biodegradable. 

Black Anise

A vibrant, smoky Amber with star anise top notes, a black currant and cacao heart, and a tobacco base, Black Anise is darker, moodier and smokier than what many would typically associate with the botanical reputation of natural perfumery. It was created to challenge expectations and show that natural perfume can be daring, dark, and sultry. 

Shoemack explains, “When we launched Abel, the mission was to reinvent natural perfume, to rid it of its 1970s patchouli hangover and show that in pairing unique combinations of ingredients with innovative biotech, naturals can be distinct, modern and elevated. In the last few years, we’ve seen a broader range of conscious consumers seeking alternative perfumes, but they’re searching for something more chic and nuanced than what is usually found in plant-based perfumery. Black Anise is our boldest challenge to natural conventions yet. It will appeal to those exact customers attracted to the non-toxic ingredient palette but looking for a scent profile that is rich, strong and dare I say it, sexy. I truly think Black Anise will shift those who’ve decided against a natural perfume before in their tracks and make them think twice.” 

Pick out an Abel scent for yourself here. 

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