Inspired by the artistry and complexity of chess, Mind Games’ fragrances celebrate the craft of perfumery
Mind games is the brainchild of husband-and-wife team Alex and Mariana Shalbaf – CEO and Creative Director, respectively, of luxury perfume distributor and licensing company The Fragrance Group. Launched in 2022, Mind Games combines the couple’s passion for perfumery and chess in the form of a niche perfume collection.
“We were always interested in creating our own brand concept,” says Mariana. “Something that is fully controlled by us, in which we get to express our ideas and vision.”
Working directly with perfumers, Mind Games celebrates the complex art of creating a fragrance, while also connecting it with the skills, strategy and heritage of chess.
“Both chess and perfume-making are very complex,” says Mariana. “A perfumer is both a scientist and an artist. They have to take into account so many different elements and calculate how these different ingredients are going to come together to make a great fragrance. It’s very similar to how you have different pieces on the board and you have to use them all to achieve your goal.”
“A grandmaster chess player envisions where they want to go,” adds Alex, “and they follow this step-by-step process of moving a certain piece a certain number of squares, in such a way that the opponent can’t figure out where they’re going – but if they miss a step or two, they’ll have consequences. So the art to both is very similar. You need to understand your work before you begin, because it’s very delicate.”
The Mind Games collection hasn’t missed a single step. Made in small batches in collaboration with German fragrance producer Symrise, it is currently distributed exclusively in the US by Neiman Marcus, with plans to begin international expansion. The collection is made sustainably with ethically sourced ingredients, and features beautiful, high-quality bottle caps that, just like the finest chess sets, are designed to stand the test of time.
“Chess has been around a very long time and it’s still relevant,” says Mariana. “We like to think that, with Mind Games, we’re giving it new life for anybody who appreciates really high-quality products.”