Frances Shoemack

“There’s a saying in the wine industry: You can’t make good wine with bad grapes.” Today, Frances Shoemack approaches fragrance development as she once did natural winemaking, drawing on a deep respect for the ingredients and the conditions they’re grown in. The exception is that these days, that environment is just as likely to be a wild field as it is a scientific laboratory, as all Abel scents are made with natural origin ingredients including those derived from biotechnology, which begin as plants, yeast or fungi.

She started the line after moving from her native New Zealand to Amsterdam and falling in love with niche and artisanal scents. “At first I was looking for a product for myself,” she says. “I could find skincare and makeup with natural ingredients but if you went to buy a perfume, you almost got laughed out of the shop.” That was especially true in Europe, where she was told to go to an organic supermarket to find what she wanted. “I thought, ‘I don’t want to buy my perfume from the supermarket.'” 

What she ended up creating with Abel was destined for somewhere else entirely. These are sophisticated yet accessible fragrances that are the result of her clear, creative vision and the work of noses including Isaac Sinclair, who has the distinction of being the only master perfumer in his field from the Australasia region. Together, they have been able to utilize a biotech musk derived from plant sugars, a breakthrough material that is used in every scent. “Isaac likes to say that making a perfume without musk is like cooking without butter,” she says. “You can do it without, but with it allows you to shine a light on the other ingredients” in a way nothing else can.”

Abel’s top selling perfume around the world is also its most experimental: Cyan Nori. which utilizes a biotech-derived algae absolute that recalls that moment you open your car door at the beach and are hit with the smell of the ocean, a nostalgic yet strange wash of marine notes with tangerine and white peach. “We did it in 2020,” she says. “It was such a weird year that I wanted something to capture your senses.” In that, it has clearly succeeded.

What was the inspiration behind starting your brand?
I was used to working with natural ingredients in winemaking, so when searching for a new perfume, I found myself profoundly turned off by the artificial smell and feel of conventional fragrances. I knew there had to be a better way.

Give three words that describe your brand?
Nature. Authentic. Future-focused.

Astrological sign?

Love Language?
Acts of Service

Will this matter in 5 years?

Morning, Noon, or Night?

Coffee, Tea, or Juice?

Wine, Beer, or Tequila?
(Red) Wine

Spicy, Salty, or Sweet?

Bar, Dance Floor, or Couch?

Cashmere, Silk, or Linen?

Black, white or color?

Silver or Gold Jewelry?

Carry-on or Check Luggage?
Carry-on (you always need carry on while flying from New Zealand!)

What’s your favorite room in your home?
Our bedroom

What do you collect?
Antique gold rings

Dream dinner guest?
Frida Kahlo

Sunday ritual?
Slow start. Coffee and toast at home with the family. No screens. Yoga if I’m lucky.

Favorite flower?

Favorite scent?
The ocean (inspired our fragrance Cyan Nori!).

Favorite place to escape to when you need a moment of respite?
My family beach house in the Abel Tasman national park

Quality you want to be remembered by?
That I care deeply

Best thing about where you are from?
The nature

It’s hard not to be reminiscent of the past, and be distracted by the future. How do you strive to live in the moment?
Switch off devices, spend time with family ideally in nature

What does Considered Luxury mean to you?
Considered, thoughtful items and a less-is-more philosophy. Things that you’ll enjoy forever, that bring true joy and meaning to your life