MIND GAMES Has Turned Finding a Signature Scent Into a Game of Strategy

Photography by Now Open Creative. Image courtesy of MIND GAMES.

When tested, some opponents make bold displays of power. Others sit quietly, formulating their French Defense. MIND GAMES, a young fragrance outfit inspired by the age-old game of chess, has a scent fit for every player.

The company’s first offering, the Artisan collection, debuted in 2022 under the guidance of The Fragrance Group founder and CEO Alex Shalbaf, with creative direction from his wife Mariana Shalbaf. Notes of coffee, leather, vanilla, and orange activate the genderless group of fragrances, which sit in sleek vessels topped with elegant riffs on classic chess pieces.

Each product in MIND GAMES’s repertoire is designed to be wholly singular, embodying the diverse personalities that step up to a chess board. They are crafted in partnership with the master perfumers of Symrise, a German fragrance house that, like MIND GAMES, champions its sustainable ingredient sourcing and investment in green technology.

Image courtesy of MIND GAMES.

The Soulmate collection, the line’s second drop, made its debut late last year and comprises 10 pawns. These pieces, unlike others on the board, derive strength from their collective numbers. As such, MIND GAMES has outfitted each bottle with a uniform coat of armor. “We drew inspiration from the profound connection that exists between two souls,” said Shalbaf in a statement. “We wanted to translate this connection that almost transcends the physical world and delves into the realm of the ethereal.”

The new fragrances emit touches of plum, grapefruit, clean cotton, and lavender. Layering scents—like Sissa and Ruy Lopez, or The Forward and Queening—is encouraged, although each fragrance shines on its own.

The collection is accompanied by the release of the brand’s first set of candles, a 10-piece assortment designed to be artfully arranged on an accompanying chess board. The centerpiece was forged in a glossy metal, numbered to allow the candles to be paired with their C3 or A4 positions.

Image courtesy of MIND GAMES.

Only a month after the Soulmate collection’s arrival, MIND GAMES celebrated its first anniversary at New York’s Guggenheim Museum. Guests including Honey Balenciaga, Lexi Wood, and Yvesmark Chery gathered for chess matches using the brand’s glass bottles and took in a performance by South African sensation Tyla.

After three launches in their first year, the young brand could easily take a moment to come up for air. But the masters at MIND GAMES are not inclined to sit on their laurels. The team is already drawing up the first drop of 2024, positioning themselves for many moves to come.