When is a rose not a rose….?
Niche perfumery can sometimes fall in to the very tropes they so desperately try to avoid – highlighting expensive, natural ingredients and hiding, or at least not announcing, the incredible molecular technology (often just as expensive as raw ingredients) at play in the majority of perfumes we have been falling in love with since the early 19th Century. Part of the problem is the language involved – ‘synthetic’ just doesn’t sound sexy. But these clever molecules add depth, space and longevity to fragrance – ultimately, some being as complex and multi-faceted as several hundred ingredients mixed together at once. While of course the perfume industry still celebrates the multitude and quality of naturals, it’s vital – now, more than ever – to educate ourselves on, and stop being squeamish about, the modern methods of extracting and shaping these invisible bubbles of pleasure.
The just-launched Aether perfumes are unique – a wardrobe of fragrances dedicated to paying tribute to synthetic molecules – while showcasing their elegance, diversity and ability to convey distinct and intricate emotional messages through scent. Offering a new way to experience fragrance for we beings who so desperately cling to known and expected smells, the collection is an eye-opening (nostril-widening?) demonstration of how molecules are not something to hitch up your petticoats and stand on a chair (in the manner of a Tom & Jerry cartoon) in fear of. Far from it – these are scents we know somehow, emotionally, if not by name alone – could many people automatically bring to mind the smell of Cetalox or Oxane?
Under the creative guidance and artistic direction of Nicolas Chabot – perhaps best known for his rescuing and reinvigorating of the heritage house Le Galion – perfumers Amélie Borgeois and Anne-Sophie Behaghel have created five fragrances that break the boundaries of “known” smells, crafting ‘egoless perfumes, creative atmospheres where everything is delightfully extravagant, whimsical, playful…’
Aether say: ‘If each molecule has a rather distinctive smell, who could guess exactly what the smell of the aldehyde C12 or ISO E Super would be? Sometimes a shimmering bubble and sometimes dazzling beauty, the molecule – this almost nothing in infinity – is the sacred young muse of the collection. At ÆTHER, no flower-show or flight of lyricism around the historically traditional raw material; rather the evocation of metallic vegetation, unknown woods, imperceptible sounds, moments to come … These scents of imperial fancy do not envy the wake of others, but prefer a luminous halo, a magical ring, an aura of humor and mystery…’
Closing your eyes, forgetting what you think you know and allowing the fragrance and sensation to wash over you is the pleasure, here. And what pleasures there are in store…
Muskethanol: ‘A semblance of realism: a handful of golden sand poured in alcohol (damascenone) that starts to glow, as if by magic, a thousands sequins, a silver shimmer similar to the sea. The disturbing impression of sand that has been rendered almost abstract. A sand of steel, futuristic, perhaps from another world (cetalox, muscone).’
Ether Oxide: ‘Far away, very far away, you vaguely smell a beautiful fresh and contemporary wood; closer, there is strange “ether accord” (ethyl acetate), a sort of gentle steam, which approaches the skin like a breath of burning wood (ambroxan, ISO E Super). An emanation of love. “And if peace had a smell?” She asked me, a little worried. “It might be like this” I replied.’
Rose Alcane: ‘One could imagine it so textured, so vivid, so real (Rose Oxyde). Beautiful flower in a cowhide. A rose for girl and boys who do not love roses madly, but who do not hate to be surprised. Through beautiful floral mechanics, the miracle of alchemy transforms, right under your nose, a super fresh rosebud into a metallic flower.’
Citrus Ester: ‘One of those days that seems to stretch out forever, and you are not quite sure there is going to be a second. The moment quivers with energy. An energy ghost, bright (methyl grapefruit) and caring, tinged with a slight taste of primordial fruit (firascone, rhubafurane). Life, the beginnings of life.’
Carboneum: ‘The dreams of a child: the man in a diving suit resurfacing from the ocean wrung out by the waves, before being propelled into space by a magnetic force. A strange harmony representing neoprene (Benzoate Methyl, Sudéral, Timbérol)! One also smells the texture of foam, a little rough (Globanone). The next night it had the same dream.’
We admit we’re very excited by Aether and their unashamed celebration of molecular fragrance beauty – an art form, yes, but not for art’s sake alone: each of them are totally wearable (and sharable) by even the most molecularly-inexperienced fragrance lover.
Forget what your nose thinks it knows – about rose, or any other scent, and give in to curiosity…
Aether perfumes £140 for 100ml eau de parfum
Buy them at Liberty
Written by Suzy Nightingale