Offering an olfactive expedition through ancient Chinese Dynasties and the romance of the ‘Silk Road’, the house of Shanghai Tang represents a melding of East and West…
It’s a showcase of exotic ingredients prepared and composed by a masterful perfumer. A harmonising of proud heritage with exquisite contemporary design, and the luxury of Chinese Imperial tailoring. A sensorial journey that has tempted Hollywood stars and glamorous celebrities the world over. And it invites you on a fragrance tour to remember…
Shanghai Tang has become a destination for the glamorous and the übercool. Boasting an incredibly opulent multi-storey retail space of 10,000 square feet, Hong Kong’s Shanghai Tang flagship store is set within a glorious restoration of a 1930s iconic Art Deco cinema: an exciting expression of Shanghai Tang’s modern interpretation of Chinese heritage and culture.
And now, there is the possibility of building a fragrant Shanghai Tang wardrobe, in which the decadence of Deco is brought alive with a nod to the past, with classic Chinese style-decorative touches.
The packaging, for instance, features the lucky ‘Shòu’ symbol, representing longevity – an auspicious motif which can be found throughout the Shanghai Tang store and products. Recognised as one of the Five Blessings – longevity, wealth, health, love and virtue – of Chinese belief; it represents one of the most important Chinese traditional life goals. As for the perfumer that Shanghai Tang chose to embody these qualities? It had to be a great – a nose who would know how to work with tradition and yet create something that speaks of today’s embodiment of luxury in fragrant form. So who better than the legendary Carlos Benaim…?
Winner of The Society for Perfumers Lifetime Achievement Award, Carlos is a truly international nose. Indeed, inspiration for the Shanghai Tang collection came directly from his travels in China. Using specific ingredients to shape his compositions, these could be compared to the traditions of Imperial tailoring: high quality materials juxtaposed with excellent craftsmanship.
The tracing of history, meanwhile, is also vital to understanding the impetus of the scent inspiration. Stretching an astonishing 4,000 miles from Europe to China, the Silk Road gets its name from tracing the lucrative Chinese silk trade carried out along its entire length, and which began in the Han Dynasty (206 BC – 220 AD). The treasured ingredients carried in that centuries-long caravan of wagons to the western world – along with its sumptuous colours and rich embroideries – are the main inspiration for Benaim’s collection for Shanghai Tang.
Among the collection, then, explore Shanghai Tang Oriental Pearl: a gleaming, creamy freshwater pearl, treasure of the ocean, redolent of sunlight sparkling on water, the radiant glow is represented by the warmth of an amber accord at centre stage, nuances of rose and vanilla accentuating the natural beauty of this floriental.
Shanghai Tang Spring Jasmine, meanwhile, is inspired by the irresistibly heady and notoriously narcotic jasmine flower. This voluptuous play on the power of seduction uses the sweetness of violet against the smoothness of sandalwood for the kind of full-on addiction that creeps up slowly and grabs you unawares.
Shanghai Tang Gold Lily is precious in every way, the iconic lily flower garlanded with an aldehydically sparkling jasmine and orange blossom that drenches the senses with opulence and creates the overall impression of an irrepressible allure. And so it goes on. (For the full feminine collection, in all its glory, see below.)
Men can choose between Jade Dragon, its vetiver freshness accented by bergamot, tea leaves and lush jasmine. Or Mandarin Tea: vibrant citrus fused with lush neroli and maté leaves, at once exhilarating and comforting. Or perhaps the more opulent L’Orient, in which cedarwood is enriched with hints of pink pepper, elemi, vetiver and leatherwood, to bold and powerful effect.
And as for the bottles? Jaw-droppingly beautiful – definitely dressing-table worthy, with gentlemen stylishly catered for, too. The feminine collection is housed in square flacons almost reminiscent of inkwells, with Chinese symbols distinguishing the fragrances. For gentlemen the bottles are an altogether more statuesque affair with elongated glass and the coloured interiors soaring like skyscrapers.
East certainly also meets West in Shanghai Tang‘s visuals (see top). Shot by none other than internationally renowned photographer Mario Testino, it reveals Chinese supermodel and Vogue cover star, Du Juan, exuding an aura of eastern mystery captured by the scents themselves.
With such rich traditions and contemporary mastery at their fingertips, Shanghai Tang fragrances allow us to step into another world. And so, as you spray, close your eyes and imagine the sounds of those wagons navigating the Silk Road, laden with exotic objects and precious ingredients. Trundling their way to you across the centuries with the magic of perfumed time travel…