Christopher Chong Brand & Artistic Director at Thameen London, on the Brand’s Global Expansion

Lindsay Judge   |   09-06-2023

Born in London in 2013, Thameen is a quintessentially British brand with a twist. With a history in the craftsmanship and beauty of fine perfumery, the brand has remained in its home city for the past ten years, stocked exclusively at Selfridges.


But that has all changed. After David Crickmore became CEO, the brand implemented a new global strategy, expanding worldwide and setting up a global distribution network including Western and Eastern Europe, North and South America, Asia and the Gulf countries. Under Crickmore’s tenure, Thameen will bring to the fragrance industry and international markets a forward-thinking British semantics with a purposeful spirit adapting to an ever-changing landscape in perfumery.


To reposition and re-tell the brand’s story, David enlisted Christopher Chong’s knowledge, who has assumed the role of Brand & Artistic Director at Thameen. He brings over a decade of experience from the celebrated fragrance brand Amouage and will oversee all rand and fragrance developments moving forward. As the brand launches its latest perfume, we learn more about the vision and why we can expect to see a lot more of Thameen in the future.



Take us through the universe of Thameen and the brand’s DNA and focus.

Until recently, Thameen was exclusively available in Selfridges, London, for ten years, tailoring for a specific demographic. It was slightly under the radar but still a very respected brand. Then the pandemic hit, and of course, the department stores couldn’t operate, so the brand started to think outside of their traditional points of sale and outside of London. At that time, one of my former colleagues was brought in to consult and advise the company on restructuring the brand to become a much more international brand. They started with the sales team, then worked on the logistics, and that’s when they came to me!

We did a lot of quite a harsh auditing of the brand. The CEO asked me what I thought; he didn’t ask me to join them at this point; he just wanted my opinion. And I was very honest. I highlighted the negative points, but outside of that pool of negativity, I told him there was a lot of positivity and potential. The brand message needs to be clear, and the great thing is Thameen was still relatively unknown, so we had room for improvement. I told them they needed to rethink their strategy to reach a wider clientele and align with the brand’s message. To share the story of the history, the creative process, the artistry – Perfume, after all, is about emotions, and if you can’t tell that story of emotion, then no one will buy the product. And that’s when he asked me to join! At first, I was hesitant, but eventually, I did, and the rest is history!


What’s your global vision for the brand?

When I thought about the brand, I realised it was still relatively untouched; it needed guidance and moulding to take it to the next level, and that’s where I came in. Rebooting a brand requires elements that are outside of my control. I can bring in the best photographer, perfumer, etc., but it also needs the brand to be in the right place at the right time, which was the moment for Thameen. The name “Thameen” means precious in Arabic; I wanted to capitalise on this, especially since this is a British brand with a foreign name. At a time when diversity was such a relevant topic, this was where my story began as I felt this unusual name allowed the brand to connect with the millions of people out there whose heritage may not be connected to the place, they are living in. There are no genuinely diverse British perfume brands out there now, and that is the space Thameen is going to fill. I wanted to create a positive and inclusive image that embraces everyone. In short, this is my vision moving forward, to take the best parts of the brand and make them even better.



What about the packaging and visuals that signify the brand?

I want to show the world that part of diversity is authenticity, and so I, therefore, want to show them the real juice of the fragrance, so I kept the bottle the same, but I removed the Thameen blue from the glass, used a frosted glass and put the blue into the lettering instead. We also chose to use silver on the lid. It’s very classy and simple.

Then we looked into the logo and simplified it to create something relatable and instantly recognisable. We devised a logo based on British heritage but modernised it. We adapted a British Cypher to create a scripted “TT” representing our heritage and how it is important to the brand, but we are taking it forward.


What can you tell us about the fragrances themselves, both the current lines and the new products?

When I began working at the brand, there were two collections: the Sovereign and the Treasure collections. These will remain, and we have worked on some new additions. I call myself an “artist in residence” because I come to Thameen with a lot of artistic and emotional baggage – it’s not like I’m starting from the very beginning. I decided the strongest thing Thameen can have is to bring my artistic energy and experience to the brand and create this new artistic partnership.

We have developed a new collection that is a style I have never worked on, and the brand has never had before. The Britologne collection is a collection of colognes that pay respect to British perfumery but also give it a modern twist. For me, cologne is generally quite boring – it’s quite aromatic, citrusy, and herby, it’s not long-lasting, it is usually five to ten per cent concentration which for me is not enough. My style is to have a fragrance with longevity, with many elements to it, so it’s strong, loud and captivating. I want the fragrance to tell a story throughout the day. So I decided to recategorise the fragrances as Cologne Elixir. The core structure is a classic cologne structure; then the elixir is the playful part that gives it a twist and originality. To create that longevity, we had to pump up the concentration to 25 per cent, which is exceptionally high, and then we made sure each fragrance had the classic base with a twist. So it’s a hybrid fragrance.

We are launching the new collection in three drops, and it tells the story of London’s Covent Garden, which in my opinion, is the centre of London. People go there to meet friends, to go to the theatre, for shopping, restaurants, it’s the lively centre of London, and it’s also the location of Thameen’s head office, so I wanted to pay tribute to that. So this year we will launch the Covent Garden trilogy consisting of three perfumes. Each one is so unique I decided to launch them each individually throughout the year to give them the time and space to be enjoyed and appreciated. I want to make sure customers are aware of launching too many perfumes at the same time, and I want them to have time to enjoy and discover each one individually.

The first fragrance was Fanfare. For this fragrance, I was inspired by Covent Garden Flower Market and musicals such as My Fair Lady. I engaged Bruno Jovanovic, who is a dear friend, to interpret this into a fragrance. It’s very unexpected and unique. He captured not just the flowers from the flower market, but he added a lot of lemon, orange blossom, because of the citrus ingredients typical of a cologne. So he turned the flower market into a fantasy that will make you want to dance all night.



What about the second fragrance launching this month?

For the second fragrance Bohemian Infusion, I’m taking the world to the Piazza in Covent Garden. For 400 years, this place was a working market, but it is now a heritage site. I took inspiration from the late 18th century and the Edwardian Period when there was a very daring, colourful and expressive scene in London, and I wanted

to capture this spirit. I engaged perfumers Maurice Roucel and Alexandra Carlin for this fragrance. They wanted to work with the idea of the art concept Chiaroscuro. This concept plays with natural light and shadows in paintings, film and photography. We applied this concept to the construction of the fragrance. Combining brightness and darkness together, they used very specific ingredients to mimic this. So for the cologne structure or the light, we have ingredients such as grapefruit, Petitgrain and blackcurrant. Then we start to move into the shadow side with Artemisia and Myrtle. Then we have rare Longoza berries. When all of these combine, it gives that light and dark effect.


How do you think Thameen London is appealing to clients in the Middle East?

I want to push the brand’s olfactive boundaries and always challenge and move forward with what we offer. The Arab customers are the most knowledgeable and daring in perfume, so I think we are a perfect fit for the brand.



What is the proposed retail strategy globally and here in the region?

We already started actioning the retail plan worldwide, so things are happening quickly. We are now present in all GCC countries. We teamed up with Chalhoub Group, and we are within department stores across the Middle East and our first standalone store in Riyadh. We are also now in many markets in Africa, North America, Europe, and Asia, and now we are infiltrating into new markets. We are stocked in a lot of independent stores in America. So it’s happening very quickly!

I can also reveal that we will soon have a standalone store opening in Dubai Mall, with the official opening coming in September. And then eventually we will open a standalone store in London.


What is something you would like to do with the brand that you haven’t done yet?

I want to take it to the level where we are recognised globally, and I want Thameen’s name to be mentioned whenever people talk about perfume. I would like Thameen to become the benchmark of artistic perfume.


What do you think is challenging with the fragrance industry today that you would like to see change?

There is no originality. Brands must do their own thing and stop following other people’s success stories. Just because something worked for another brand, doesn’t mean it will work for you.


What is the professional motto you live by?

You are never at the top of your game. Every day is a learning experience; you can always learn something from someone.



What’s the first fragrance you remember from your childhood?

Chanel No.5. It was a gift that my father gave to my mother when I was four years old, and I was fascinated by the smell and the bottle. It took me out of reality into a world that is perfection.


How would you describe Thameen in one word?



What message would you send to our readers and fans of the brand in the Middle East?

Come and discover more about the brand because it speaks to you as an individual.