“I’ve always loved fragrance,” Michelle Pfeiffer tells us over email. “One of my earliest fragrance memories was when I was very young. My neighbours had the most beautiful rose bushes and the smell was intoxicating. Once, I worked up the courage to take a few, which I crushed into a bowl in an attempt to make perfume. It went south quickly as they began to rot, but the smell of fresh flowers always brings me back to that memory.”

With a natural affinity for fragrance, young Pfeiffer was bound to flourish as a perfumer. The birth of her fine fragrance label, Henry Rose, was only a matter of time.

After launching in 2019, the Academy Award-nominated actress’ genderless fragrances has finally reached  Sephora Canada shelves. Ahead, we caught up with the Hollywood icon on the importance of launching safe-to-wear, genderless fragrances, the family ties behind the brand and what its future holds.

Courtesy of Henry Rose

With all the possibilities in the beauty business, what motivated you to launch a fragrance line?

“When I became a new mother, I started to question our environment, the food my family ate, and the ingredients in the products we used. There weren’t many resources available at the time, but thankfully I discovered Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Database, which rates the hazard level of products based on their ingredients. I noticed that products containing fragrance always received high hazard ratings, and came to learn that this wasn’t necessarily because they were harmful, but because the ingredients in the fragrance components weren’t disclosed so there was no way to deem them as safe.”

I decided to stop wearing fragrance or any products that contained it. I looked for fragrance-free products and tried all-natural fragrances, but none matched the quality I was used to. After about 10 years of really missing it, I decided to see if it would be possible to create a high-quality fine fragrance that disclosed its ingredients and therefore could be vetted for safety. If this was a product I had been searching for, chances were that others might be seeking a safer, transparent fragrance, too.”

Can you tell us about the inspiration behind the name Henry Rose?

“I wanted a name that would be memorable, but not overly feminine or masculine. I also wanted it to be authentic to the brand. Given that Henry Rose was born from a desire to protect my children, I asked them if they would be okay with me using their middle names, and thankfully they agreed. The brand is a dedication to not only my own children, but the next generation for all the ways they’ve inspired us to create a safer, better world.”

Why was creating a genderless line of fragrances so important to you?

“I’ve always felt that fragrance is such a personal experience and everyone should decide what feels right for them. Growing up, I fell in love with my father’s cologne. I love my mother, but hated her perfume. I continue to be drawn to more traditionally masculine notes, and know men who prefer more traditionally feminine fragrances, like florals. It doesn’t matter how you identify—if you like florals, do florals!”

What has been your favourite part of creating this brand?

“I set out to create Henry Rose with a very clear vision, which was to create a fine fragrance that met three equally important criteria: disclosed 100 percent of its ingredients, met the strict health and safety standards of the Environmental Working Group, and could compete in the mainstream marketplace. When I first met IFF, our fragrance house, they had been challenged by Cradle to Cradle [C2C] to create a fragrance that met their strict material health and sustainability standards. As I learned more, it became increasingly important to me to meet C2C’s guidelines, in addition to EWG’s.

But because our products need to meet both EWG and C2C criteria, our ingredient palette is extremely limited. Perfumers typically can pull from a palette of around 3,000 ingredients, and we started with only 250! I had no idea what a challenge that would be. We were paving the way, creating something that hadn’t been done before. We were eventually able to free up about 50 more ingredients, which doesn’t sound like a lot but it was really significant for us! The willingness of EWG, IFF, and C2C to dive head first into this challenge, collaborate, and learn from each other remains one of my favourite parts of this journey.”

Are you more of a “signature scent” sort of person, or do you like to switch things up?

“I used to gravitate toward one fragrance and make that my go-to for a period of time before moving on to another. Since launching Henry Rose in 2019, I am constantly mixing things up depending on my mood or the occasion. Fragrance layering is also something I’m passionate about, and I love to create new and unexpected combinations with even more depth. There are really no rules when it comes to layering, but I like to combine scents that have a bit of contrast between them—for example, layering fresh notes with earthy ones. Windows Down [with] Dark is Night is a great example of an unexpected pairing that works beautifully to create a more sensual citrus.”

Which scent from the selection at Sephora Canada is your favourite and why?

“Torn was the first fragrance we developed for Henry Rose, and I was immediately struck by how much it reminded me of how my father smelled when I was growing up. While Torn is still a favourite, I love each and every fragrance in our line and layering different scents together to create fresh combinations.”

Courtesy of Henry Rose

$165 (50ml), sephora.ca


What’s next for Henry Rose?

“For Henry Rose, we will continue to grow our product line thoughtfully. Last year, we introduced Body Sprays as a new category. Fragrance is in so many products that we come into contact with daily, from detergents and household cleaners to body lotions and soaps. It’s not limited to fine fragrance and perfume. With so many applications for fragrance, I’m excited to see where this journey takes us.”