In an age where we hear a lot about conscious consumerism, Sana Jardin have been looking to change the world – one utterly exquisite bottle of perfume at a time, even before the first spritz.
The scents in the Sana Jardin collection are strikingly – no, BREATHTAKINGLY beautiful: a fragrant magic carpet ride in every bottle. And – enhancing their feel-good factor – this socially-conscious, luxury fragrance house works with a sustainability program to help the Moroccan women who pick the orange blossoms used in several of perfumer Carlos Benaïm‘s stunning creations for Sana Jardin.
We now implore you to delight your senses, no matter what the weather’s up to or what your preferences are: we say there’s a Sana Jardin scent for everyone. But you’ll only know for sure by trying them all. Here, we invite you to discover all TEN of the fragrances…
£30 for all ten Sana Jardin fragrance samples
Savage Jasmine Night-blooming jasmine, wrapped around intoxicating musk.
Sandalwood Temple Moroccan neroli oil, enveloped it in Atlas cedarwood, Haitian vetiver, creamy vanilla and East Indian sandalwood.
Tiger By Her Side Showcases Moroccan rose alongside Somalian incense and Indonesian patchouli.
Berber Blonde Filled with the light of Sana Jardin’s signature orange blossom, alongside Moroccan neroli oil and musk.
Celestial Patchouli Exotic aromas of patchouli, leather, cinnamon bark and Australian Sandalwood give way to the abundant warmth of rose, jasmine, osmanthus and Moroccan orris.
Nubian Musk A sensuously inviting blend of musk and vanilla, rose, jasmine, Moroccan grapefruit flower, Haitian vetiver and Australian sandalwood.
Revolution de la Fleur This is a sultry, sun-filled melody of Madagascan ylang ylang, Moroccan jasmine, frangipani, rose, vanilla and sandalwood.
Jaipur Chant Heady & Seductive Tuberose. Indian tuberose, the goddess of flowers, blooms in the still of night.
Incense Water Here rose is refined to a soft shimmer; an effect brought about with Moroccan May rose.
Vanilla Nomad A gourmand fragrance that coaxes out the sensual side of vanilla.
May we admit to being rather obsessed with the idea of what the official anointing oil for the Coronation smells like?
Okay, well we know we’re among fragrant friends, so we’re not alone. and here we’ll be exploring the scents of the Coronation, both ancient and newly inspired…
A few years ago, a fascinating BBC documentary (sadly no longer available to view online) delved behind-the-scenes of the late Queen’s Coronation on June 2, 1953; and it held a scented secret for sharp-eyed fragrance fans… While discussing the ancient rituals of the act of anointing the monarch, our eyes were drawn to the oil itself – rather incongruously kept nestled in a battered old box and bottle of Guerlain‘s Mitsouko!
We’d definitely consider being baptised in Mitsouko, but it turned out it was just the bottle and box. Oh well. No matter, for the story of the oil’s recipe was rather deliciously revealed…
The oil was made from a secret mixture in sesame and olive oil, containing ambergris, civet, orange flowers, roses, jasmine, cinnamon, musk and benzoin– actually sounding rather Ambrée in its composition – and must surely have smelled glorious.
The anointing ritual is usually hidden from view – a private moment for the monarch to reflect on their duties and the significance of being touched by that oil – and so a canopy is held by four Knights of the Garter to shield our gaze. This time, though, while King Charles is anointed beneath the canopy; Queen Consort, Camilla, shall be anointed in full public view. Either way, quite a scent memory.
In fact, the phial containing the original oil had been destroyed in a bombing raid on the Deanery in May 1941. The firm of chemists who’d mixed the last known anointing oil had gone bust, so a new company, Savory and Moore Ltd, was asked by the Surgeon-Apothecary to mix a new supply, based on the ancient recipe, for the late Queen’s Coronation.
We’d quite like them to whip up a batch for us, too.
During the ritual, the highly scented oil is poured from Charles II’s Ampulla (the eagle-shaped vessel shown above) into a 12th-century spoon. Amidst the pomp and pageantry of it all, our minds keep returning to the mysteries of the anointing oil, and whom that bottle and raggedy box once belonged. Whomever they were, we congratulate them on their taste!
Meanwhile, our minds (and noses) turn to more recent royal evocations in fragrant form. Which of these five might you choose to wear for an occasion (or simply to feel extra special any day you fancy)…?
Composed in close collaboration with King Charles, this is a highly personal take on the scent of a beloved silver lime tree in his garden. Using headspace technology to capture the smell of that actual tree (rather than attempting to recreate it), the softly cocooning blossoms glide on a bright, citrus breeze with mimosa and cedar. Refreshing at any time, we feel.
A brilliant blending of heritage and modernity, think wooden-panelled rooms and freshly rolled cigars glinting with a verdant freshness that radiates herbaceous greenery and mellowed with a husky muskiness that exudes a new confidence. Easy to wear yet stylishly characterful, this could be a signature scent. Hurry, though – it’s a limited edition: so we say, stock up.
Fascinatingly, this was originally created in 1925 and worn by Winston Churchill; now recreated for a modern era, this timeless scent is beautifully composed, with a softness belying the effervescent opening. Velvety clary sage leaves cloak a magnificently smooth grey amber, seamlessly melded with a perfectly grounded sandalwood. Effortlessly engaging.
The very picture of perfumed elegance, this crisply pleasing rose rests on a dew-flecked, leafy base and was originally crafted for the occasion of the late Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee. When a breath of fresh air is required, along with an assuredness that never fails, this is one to bring inner strength and feels like floating on a tenderly blushed breeze.
Lovers of modern regally-inspired scents should try this, resplendent with luscious cherry enrobed in creamy heliotrope. Add the fragrant fizz of frothy citrus, the delicate luminescence of jasmine petals and a glimmer of crystal musk amidst the assuredly dry cedarwood base as it warms, and you have a scent fit for any occasion you need to feel in charge of.
Regarded as a lucky charm ever since its first introduction from Japan to Europe in the Middle Ages, lily of the valley has become synonymous with the month of May and ‘the return of happiness’. One of the reasons The Perfume Society chose lily of the valley as our symbolic flower, and why we launched on May 1st – to our astonishment, that was NINE years ago, now!
For the French, May 1st traditionally represents the start of gifting bouquets of “muguet” to loved ones to signify the regard in which they’re held and as a token of prosperity for the year ahead. A tradition supposedly begun when King Charles IX was presented with a bunch of the delicate blooms, and decided to gift the ladies of his court, too.
In Europe, ‘bals de muguet’ were historically held – lily of the valley themed dances that offered the tantalising prospect for young singletons to meet without their parents’ permission.
An iconic (and ultra-chic) lily of valley fragrance was the original Dior Diorissimo, designed in 1956 by Edmond Roudnitska. Composed in homage to Christian Dior’s favorite flowe, the lily of the valley was to be found on his personal stationary, jacket lapels, printed on his fashion designs, and, on one occasion, inspired his entire 1954 spring collection.
A more recent icon is Penhaligon’s Lily of the Valley, which was launched in 1976 – tapping into the fashion trend for romantic nostalgia – and which is wonderfully described as ‘Lacey leaves. Dappled light. Green, clean, wholesome. Lily of the Valley is as fresh and optimistic as the morning dew, grounded by notes of bergamot and sandalwood.’
With the young gals dressed in white gowns and the dapper chaps at those historic bals wearing lily of the valley as a buttonhole, we’re sure there was many a ‘return to happiness’ on such evenings… Now the custom is tied in with France’s Labour Day public holiday, and the tradition of giving lily of the valley to loved ones during May still holds strong.
Lily of the valley has also made its way into countless bridal bouquets (including that of Kate Middleton for her wedding to Prince Willliam); in many countries, it’s linked to this day with tenderness, love, faith, happiness and purity.
So what does lily of the valley smell like?
Almost spicy, so green and sweet, with crisp hints of lemon: that’s lily of the valley. The flowers themselves are really mean with their oil, though, and synthetics are more often used to recreate lily of the valley’s magic: Lilial, Lyral and hydroxycitronellal are among them.
Far from reserving this magical note for May, or thinking that it has to be ‘old-fashioned’ smelling in a scent, we love the way perfumers use lily of the valley to ‘open up’ and freshen the other floral notes in a blend. It can smell like a woodland walk just after a rainshower (so very apropos for our weather right now, in the U.K.) or add some gentle sparkles of sunlight amid more verdant or deeper, shady phases as a scent unfurls on your skin.
No wonder we chose this delightful, flower-filled date in the calendar to launch The Perfume Society – incredibly, NINE years ago, now – running hither and thither all over London handing sprigs of lily of the valley to fragrant friends!
And my, how our friends have grown in this short time! With a readership that stretches around the globe and our Instagram followers now topping 67.8K, we have been delighted with some of the truly beautiful pictures some of our followers have been sharing there. Just feast your eyes on the stunning pictures we’ve sprinkled throughout this post…
With your help we’ve come so far. We wish we could come and give every single one of you a sprig of lily of the valley to show our heartfelt appreciation for all your support, but for now, accept this symbol of love and luck, from us to all of you…
Long before ‘gourmand’ foodie-inspired fragrances were even dreamed of and while smell was still perceived as the poor cousin of our other senses; one 18th Century polymath was championing the exquisite pleasures that taste and smell bring to everyday life. And more than mere pleasure alone: in fact, he heralded the proper appreciation and scientific study of these so-neglected senses…
‘Tell me what you eat and I will tell you what you are.’ So said Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, 1755-1826, a French lawyer and politician whom, apart from law, studied chemistry and medicine, and eventually gained fame as an epicure and gastronome.
His seminal work Physiologie du goût (The Physiology of Taste), contains Savarin’s philosophies and observations on the pleasures of the food, which he very much considered a science – long before the birth of molecular gastronomy and serious studies of taste and smell had begun.
And smell was very much at the forefront of the gastronomique experience, Savarin had worked out; exclaiming: ‘Smell and taste are in fact but a single composite sense, whose laboratory is the mouth and its chimney the nose.’
Previously considered the least important of the senses – indeed, smell remains the least scientifically explored, though technology is making huge leaps in our understanding – Savarin proclaimed that, ’The sense of smell, like a faithful counsellor, foretells its character.’
Published only two months before his death, the book has never been out of print and still proves inspirational to chefs and food-lovers to this day. Indeed, he understood that taste and smell must work together in harmony for full satisfaction of the senses, Savarin observed that ‘Smell and taste are in fact but a single composite sense, whose laboratory is the mouth and its chimney the nose.’
Preceding the remarkable leaps in knowledge high-tech equipment has allowed and revealing how entwined our sense of smell is to the taste and enjoyment of food, Savarin also observed how our noses protect us from eating potentially harmful substances, explaining ‘…for unknown foods, the nose acts always as a sentinal and cries: “Who goes there?”‘ while coming to the conclusion that a person’s character may be foretold in their taste and smell preferences… ‘Tell me what you eat and I will tell you what you are.’
We once devoted an entire issue of our award-winning magazine The Scented Letter to taste and smell – as of course we are gourmand fans in ALL the senses. And so it is heartening to know that Brillat was on our side here, with this extremely useful advice we selflessly pledge to carry through life:
‘Those who have been too long at their labor, who have drunk too long at the cup of voluptuousness, who feel they have become temporarily inhumane, who are tormented by their families, who find life sad and love ephemeral… they should all eat chocolate and they will be comforted.’
Wise words, indeed. We plan to enjoy all the sweet temptations that come our way, in scent form and in chocolate. Talk about having your cake and wearing it, too!
Those beautiful swathes of purple lavender patches that swathed the countryside might be gone – the plants are all harvested during August, the best to capture their fragrant oils – but we’ve some suggestions for true lavender scents to revive the sesnes and keep that feeling of late Summer going, year-round…
While lavender’s almost universally accepted as aesthetically pleasing and, of course, soothing to the senses; many fragrance fans unfairly discount a dominant note of lavender in perfumery as being ‘old-fashioned’ perhaps recalling scented drawer-sachets or bath salts that rarely use the high quality, perfume-grade lavender, and instead the far cheaper, dusty-old-drawer smelling low quality essential oil or even poorly made synthetic lavender. Judge not, oh ye of little fragrance faith, until you have read on!
Known in Provence as ‘blue gold’, the best lavender used in perfumery tends to be grown in higher altitudes, and often doesn’t at all resemble what we think we know lavender smells of. Pure lavender essential oil can be spicy, peppery, herbaceous, misty, smoky or green and many cannot identify the note when asked to sniff blind.
With lavender having a resurgence as a note to rediscover in contemporary fragrances we suggested you try, it is also important to appreciate those British classics that have withstood the test of time, and fragrances that cherish it as the “hero note” – revelling in their true lavender love.
You can read more about the history of lavender’s use in perfumery on our fascinating Ingredients section of the website, but in the meantime, here’s our edit of the absolute must-try lavender scents. And every time you spray, you can keep summer alive that little bit longer…
Freshly aromatic with a twist of eucalyptus and rosemary with the traditional lavender, the heart is a tender bouquet of geranium, rose and orange flower, with an earthier base of patchouli and musk for a dusky trail… Bronnley Lavender £17.25 for 50ml eau de toilette
Buy it at bronnley.co.uk
Atkinsons Lavender On the Rocks
We love the typically English eccentricity of Atkinsons, who play up to their heritage with a nod and a wink from the styling of their bottles to the fragrances themselves. True to the cocktail-esque name, this one has a double-shot of lavender to tickle your fancy. From the bracingly fresh opening with geranium and basil to the honeyed hay-like dry down with almond, guaiac wood and saffron, every facet of lavender’s complex character is allowed to shine. £120 for 100ml eau de parfum
With a green hay-like sweetness, this is Yardley London’s signature fragrance. Beautifully elegant, lavender leaves enhance the freshness on top, then the oil is infused with neroli and clary sage, geranium, sandalwood and tonka for a smooth dry-down… Yardley English Lavender £15.99 for 125ml eau de toilette
Buy it at Boots
One of the very first flowers distilled by founder Olivier Baussan, L’Occitane uses lavender directly sourced from farmers’ cooperatives in Haute-Provence. This new aromatic tribute to their homeland is the softest way there is to soothe frazzled nerves, being further grounded by sandalwood and white musk. Simply beautiful! L’Occitane White Lavender Limited Edition £54 for 50ml eau de toilette
Buy it at uk.loccitane.com
From Colognes to extraits, splashes to after shaves – there are so many differing types of fragrance categories now that it can be hard to tell one from another and where to begin. Read our handy guide, below, and get your nose in the know!
Descriptions like Eau de Toilette or Eau de Parfum are used to identify the strength or concentration of oil in the carrier (or base – usually alcohol) in a fragrance composition. These concentrations can vary from fragrance to fragrance, depending on how that particular brand like to blend their scents, but use this is a rule of thumb (or nose!)
Extract/extrait/solid perfume – 20-30%
Perfume – 15-25 %
Eau de Parfum (EDP) – 8-15%
Eau de Toilette (EDT) – 4-8%
Cologne (EDC) – 2-4%
Body cream/lotion – 3-4%
After Shave/Splash – 2-4%
Soap – 2-4%
In general, the higher the percentage, the longer it will last on your skin, and therefore, the higher the price – but do be aware that different concentrations (Perfume, or Eau de Toilette, etc.) may sometimes have differing notes in them, and not simply be weaker or stronger. So when you like a fragrance, we suggest you explore it in all its different concentrations before you find your favourite… Perhaps in the heat, seek some shade and read our recent guide to which classic and contemporary Colognes we recommend for cooling down – we’ve included the fascinating history of the Cologne to tickle your senses, too.
Some people like to layer their scent types throughout the day. Here’s how:
Begin with a refreshing splash of Cologne to get thoses senses revving, and then wear an Eau de Toilette for day time.
In hot temperatures, consider layering a Cologne or Eau de Toilette with a matching (or unscented) body lotion, as dry skin makes fragrance fade faster.
Try one of the many new hair perfumes – a delightful way to wear your scent, often imbued with moisturising, protective properties as a bouns when temperatures soar (and alcohol-based scents can sizzle dry hair).
As evening falls and you head out on the town, switch things up by adding a spritz of Eau de Parfum to leave a sultrier trail that will last as long your night does.
And for the boudoir – a dab of pure Parfum or Extrait will tempt until the next day (or night) but wont project as far as an Eau de Parfum. Think of them as stronger concentrations, but in a hushed form – only for you and whomever you allow to get that close to nuzzle your neck and admire…
Is your nose twitching to find out more? See our brilliant FAQsection – there to answer your questions and put the sense into scents.
Anne Flipo is one of an elite group entitled to call herself ‘Master Perfumer’, a title given by IFF (International Flavors & Fragrances) to their most experienced and talented perfumers.
Anne has worked with IFF since 2004 and the list of her creations would keep you scrolling and scrolling, but highlights include Burberry Brit Rhythm, Chloé Love Story, Jimmy Choo Illicit, Paco Rabanne Lady Million (with Dominique Ropion and Beatrice Piquet), The Herb Garden collection for Jo Malone London, in which she was able to express her own passion for gardening; and more recently, the astoundingly green lushness of Frédéric Malle‘s SyntheticJungle.
We caught up with Anne to discover exactly how she works, where the inspiration comes from, and the classic scent she wishes she could have created…
What is your first scent memory?
My first ever scent memory is the smell of my mum. She used to wear lot of huge fragrances, but I also remember her own natural smell.
When did you decide you wanted to be a perfumer and create your own perfumes?
I had a revelation during my studies at perfumery school in Versailles, near Paris. It was also a school for flavours and cosmetics, but when I began to play with fragrance ingredients and raw materials I saw it as a game, as a challenge. That’s where my passion and curiosity developed.
What are your five favourite smells in the world?
Wow! Well the first one, at least, is easy: neroli. I’ve always loved this extract from the blossom of the bitter orange tree. It’s very important to me because it holds personal memories from childhood. I work around this scent all the time and it’s a constant note in many of my creative processes at the lab.
I love basil, too, so when Céline Roux at Jo Malone London approached me about using it in the Basil & Neroli fragrance (launch: autumn 2016), I was delighted.
I also love jasmine sambac – a very interesting white flower. It’s the variety of jasmine most similar to the orange blossom.
I really like patchouli; it’s a great raw material and so effective within a formula. I use it as a ‘modifier’ to adjust a composition.
The last one is difficult because I have so many raw materials going around in my mind – but I do love orris for the sense of volume and quality it can bring to a fragrance.
What is the worst thing you’ve ever smelt?
Pigeons – they have a terrible smell! Especially if they land on you – it is the most horrendous odour. I used to play with a lot of odd-smelling ingredients at perfumery school – both natural and synthetic – so nothing really fazes me except that!
What is the fragrance you wish you had created?
A fragrance that I love and that I wear a lot is Guerlain L’Heure Bleue. Astonishingly, it was created at the very beginning of the 20th Century.
Do you feel that this is one of the most exciting times in fragrance history?
Absolutely – over the past five years or so it’s become a very interesting and exciting time. But I believe that if you want realnsuccess you have to take some risks.
If you could have created a fragrance for an historical figure who would it be?
I am so interested in the idea of Britishness – that’s why I love working with Jo Malone London and especially on Basil & Neroli, which is the spirit of British youth, elegance and carefree hedonism. So I would love to choose one of your own very famous historical personalities such as Sir Winston Churchill.
What was the first fragrance you bought and the first bought for you?
They were both Guerlain fragrances; the first I bought for myself was Guerlain Parure, and the first perfume given to me was Guerlain Chamade.
Do you have a favourite bottle design from those that have been used for your fragrance creations?
I am in love with all the Jo Malone London bottles! To me they are so chic and elegant, and the perfect representation of high quality. I love them.
How many perfumes might you be working on at one time?
Good question! That really depends, but usually quite a lot. Luckily they are never at the same level of development, so it doesn’t get too overwhelming. At the moment it’s not too many; I can manage!
Does your nose ever switch off?
Yes absolutely, I need to have certain forms of ‘silence’. Often during the weekends I can cut off and switch off.
How long roughly does it take you to create a fragrance?
It depends, but I would say nine months is the minimum.
Is creating a fragrance visual for you, as well as something that happens in your nose and brain? If so, in what way?
To create a fragrance I use all of my five senses. It’s very much a brainstorming experience. I can visualise in my mind some odours and after that I play with the idea through flavours, textures, smells and even sounds.
There’s a moment during the day, at the beginning of the afternoon, when I think about fragrances in my mind. I go into a meditation period, and after this time I write my formula.
What can each of us do to enhance our appreciation of fragrance?
Firstly you have to try to relax. Write down or say immediately the words that come to mind when you smell something, and don’t hesitate. Don’t worry if you make mistakes or say something wrong. In fact I personally think there is always something correct in what anyone says about a fragrance.
What is your best tip for improving someone’s sense of smell?
One really helpful exercise is to smell by contrast. So you smell one type of fragrance, and after that you smell something very different – for instance a fresh citrus Cologne and then a spicy Ambrée. That way you smell by contrast and it makes it easier to think, write or speak about each one.
If you had one fragrance note you love above all others what would it be?
Neroli – absolutely without question. I love the fragrance of orange blossom: it’s so rich and beautiful; I want to smell it every day. I really love, love, love it!
Flowers, like anything, fall in and out of fashion. There can be a snobbishness about who grows what and where – and of course, perfume falls foul of this penchant, too.
With so many of us glorying in our gardens if we’re lucky enough to have them – we felt it time to fling open the doors and invite you to Step Into the Garden with our latest edition of The Scented Letter Magazine.
In that issue, I explore flowers once religated as ‘old-fashioned’ – violet, peony, rose, magnolia and osmanthus – but which we’re seeing increasing bouquets of proffered to perfume lovers of any gender.
For floral perfumes were once for everyone, then marketing got involved and we were told only women wore flowery scents. But personal hygiene guides were published throughout the 19th Century, warning women to use floral fragrances ‘with caution’, and, as Cheryl Krueger explains in her essay Decadent Perfume: Under the Skin and Through the Page, they offered advice on ‘the careful selection of an appropriate scent, proper dosage and strategic application…’
There are so many other ‘forgotten flowers’ we’re loving to smell in scents these days, though! And freesia is a favourite. Originating in Africa, A plant collector, Christian Friedrich Ecklon, honoured his friend Friedrich Heinrich Theodor Freese (1795-1876) by naming the flower after him.
Filling a room with glorious sweetness, these delicate, multi-coloured flowers smell nose-tinglingly fresh with a hint of citrus, but they’re frustratingly elusive. Try as they might, perfumers have never been able to naturally capture the scent. As perfumer Alienor Massenet explains:
‘Freesia in perfumery is an imaginary reconstitution – but the smell is gorgeous.’ So: it’s produced synthetically, adding a hint of green sweetness – and airiness – to fragrance creations. Alienor adds: ‘It’s smells like tea, actually.’
And I just adore this quote about freesias that Hugh de Sélincourt wrote in The Way Things Happen:
‘The happiness of that afternoon was already fixed in her mind, and always would the scent of freesia return it to her mental sight, for among the roses and violets and lilies and wall-lowers, the smell of freesia penetrated, as a melody stands out from its accompaniment, and gave her the most pleasure.’
Why not capture a whole day of melodic happiness by trying one of these freesia-filled fragrances…?
A snapped-stalk, florist’s shop galbanum rush: nectar-drenched freesia amidst armfulls of orange blossom. Miller Harris Sublime Blossom£85 for 50ml eau de parfum
The trend-fuelled worlds of fashion and fragrance have been hand-in-glove for centuries – quite literally by 1656, when the perfumery and leather industry had become intrinsically linked, the fashion for exquisitely crafted gloves, popularised at court by Catherine de Medici, somewhat at odds with the disgustingly pungent reality of curing leather in urine. So, the Corporation of Glove-makers and Perfumers – the ‘maître-gantiers’ – (master glove-makers/perfumers) was formed in France, importing ingredients from all over the world to scent the gloves; with acres later given to growing and distilling them, such was Queen Catherine’s passion for perfume, and an entire industry was born in Grasse.
Since then, where fashion has led, so fragrance has followed – and just as hemlines go and up down, and silhouettes dramatically alter from era to era, so too do scented ‘shapes’ change with time. And perumers have long been inspired by fabric in their creations – a peculiar thing, you may think, as most fabrics don’t have their own distinct smell. Yet as we imagine a white sheet drying in sunshine, or the plush eroticism of velvet stroked beneath our fingers, we can also imagine the scent these textures might have. Such is the alchemical magic that fragrance can create – an overlapping of the senses, and in this first of two parts looking at fragrances inspired by fabrics, we pay homage to scents evoking satin, cashmere, leather and cotton…
Satin drapes. It clings to the body. It moves in the most sensuous way… And you definitely need to try draping yourself in this from prolific and gifted ‘nose’ Francis Kurkdjian. We’d call this an after-dark fragrance, one for oudh-lovers, for sure – but busting any prejudices against that ultra-woody material, for in Francis’s hands it never, ever overwhelms. We’re getting Turkish delight – a sugar-dusted rosiness that blends Bulgarian rose essence with Turkish rose absolute, while genuine Laotian oudh melts into benzoin from Siam, and the sweetness owes much to a soft, powdery accord of violet and vanilla in the heart. There’s almost a chocolate-y element swirling seductively around the patchouli, while the oudh underpins everything with its animalic smokiness. Mesmerising.
Maison Francis Kurkdjian Oud Satin Mood £200 for 70ml eau de parfum harveynichols.com
Tom describes Iridium as ‘the fragrance equivalent of charcoal coloured cashmere.’ We always enjoy a description that makes you imagine a smell from a texture and colour, don’t you? And this really is a cool-toned cashmere, exuding effortless chic with all the powdery sophistication of precious iris concrète, but granted a strong silvery spine. The iris is dosed with carrot seed to amplify the dry, root-y yet so-refined character, and the synthetic note of Iso E Super wafts forth a deliciously grown-up gourmand ‘your skin but better’ dry-down – the kind that has people asking ‘what’s that delicious smell?’ and a secret smile is stifled when you know it’s you… Now also available as an extrait formula, poured at 71% strength, for even longer lasting enswathement.
Reminding us of our beloved leather jacket, a stack of books or the wood-panelled, boozily infused surroundings of a members’ only club, leather fragrances evoke a particularly voracious and luxurious sensuality, favouring deep base notes that linger the whole day long. Russian leather fragrances have a long heritage, the intense smokiness of birch the vital scent ingredient giving ‘Russian’ leather it’s characteristic smell. Here, Molton Brown curl swirls of smoke through a Siberian pine forest, infusing leather-bound books with a campfire’s glowing ember scent. Magnificently done, it’s an especial pleasure in colder weather, though I love layering it at times with a rose that needs some extra oomph.
Molton Brown Russian Leather £60 for 50ml eau de toilette
Buy it at moltonbrown.co.uk
Like burying one’s nose in sunny-day line-dried linen, a gust of pure, clean ozonic notes greets us at this fragrance’s first spritz, only made more refreshing by a rush of watery notes and pinch of ginger. Mint and green accords carry this clean and fresh feeling into the fragrance’s heart accord, which then softens into florals, cushioned by skin-like musk and vetiver. Magically capturing the comforting sensation of crispness, and featuring elegant white lilies, floral cotton accords and a vanilla-speckled, benzoin-infused amber glow in the mix: this is one to spray when you need to be reminded of home, of lazy sundays and lie-ins and snuggling up in bliss. (See below to get a luxury try-me size!)
CLEAN Reserve Warm Cotton [Reserve Blend] £82 for 100ml eau de parfum spacenk.com
Warm Cotton was the perfect addition to the Luxury Layering Discovery Box – featuring THIRTEEN layerable scents and three fragrant body treats to try at home for £19 (£15 for VIPs) – use it to freshen up a perfume without resorting to the usual citrus, to soften a scent you feel is too harsh or simply to luxuriate in the sebsation of that clean, soft white fabric dried in the sunshine.
Whether vintage or modern – evoking an era or an archetypal fabric – the fingers of fashion are still firmly within those fragrant gloves, and together they work their alchemical magic to embolden us: seducing several senses while enhancing our own sense of who we are – or whomever we want to be that day…
When Carlos Benaïm landed from New York on a flying visit, we settled down into a pair of leather chairs and asked him to share his scent memories.
One of the perfumers we’ve been most charmed by in all our years of hanging out with ‘noses’, Carlos is a veteran of the industry, with so many fragrances to his name: the blockbuster Viktor & Rolf Flowerbomb (with Olivier Polge and Domitille Bertier), Boucheron Jaipur Bracelet, Bulgari Jasmin Noir, Calvin Klein Eupohoria and Ralph Lauren Polo – among many others we’ve worn, loved or admired. More recently, he’s created for Frederic Malle, including the airily fresh and so-wearable Eau de Magnolia, as well as the sublime modern classic Icon for Dunhill.
His appreciation of scents and smells started early. ‘As a young boy I would often accompany my grandfather to the marketplace in Tangier and I remember the smells of the spices and fruits, oranges, peaches, melons and apricots – they are engraved in my memory…’
When summing up his career, we also love these words from Carlos: ‘There’s an old Arab saying: whatever is not given, is lost. That’s how I’ve tried to live my life and my career.’
What is your first ‘scent memory’?
The scent of my grandmother’s kitchen, cinnamon, mixed with sugar and other sweet smells. She’s someone I was very close to growing up in Tangiers, in Morocco; I was raised there, although my background is Spanish. I left Morocco at 17 to study chemical engineering and then at 23 went to Paris and New York, studying to be a nose alongside head perfumers Bernard Chant and Ernest Shiftan at International Flavors & Fragrances – I never went to a ‘classical’ perfumery school and for me, it was more like an apprenticeship.
What are your five favourite smells in the world?
Orris (iris) – an elegant smell; there’s something so cool (temperature-wise) about it that I really like.
Sweets and baking smells and chocolate – because I have a sweet tooth, and I’m often caught with something sweet!
Smells that remind me of my mother: Femme and Mitsouko – I always recognise both of those smells right away, which brings back wonderful memories.
Fruits. I love the smell of fruits, particularly raspberries and peaches, pineapple, cassis, blackberry, blackcurrant. There is nothing like the smell of a fresh-picked French raspberry; they taste and smell completely different to the ones you can buy in New York – so much more perfumed…
Tobacco. This is the smell of my grandfather; he used to have snuff tobacco, and my father who was a pharmacist used to perfume it, either with a violet perfume or a geranium aroma. It was a very rough tobacco from Morocco and that combination was very haunting, blended with those sweet notes. I use it a lot in fragrance as a note; I used to smoke when I was young and fortunately I stopped, but I do like a little ‘hit’ from using tobacco.
And your least favourite?
I hate the smell of garbage – but that’s an obvious one. Actually, I don’t like the smell of cats and dogs. We don’t have animals because my wife is very allergic to them – but I don’t like their scent, either.
What is the fragrance you wish you’d created?
The great Guerlains: the Mitsoukos, the Shalimars… My grandmother used to wear Shalimar. Those are magnificent, absolutely wonderful, with their mossiness – not just oakmoss, but the other mosses, which we’re restricted from using so much these days.
Is creating a fragrance ‘visual’ for you, as well as something that happens in the nose/brain? Is a mood-board helpful?
Everything is helpful for me. A fragrance is a mood, it’s colour, it’s form – and so it’s definitely visual as well; I build up a picture in my mind, and start trying to bring it to life. It’s a process that takes several months.
Do you have a favourite bottle, from those which have been used for your creations?
I’m very fond of the Ralph Lauren Polo bottle, which is also very significant for me because it was my first success. I also love the bottle for Flowerbomb.
Does your nose ever switch off!
As a perfumer, you can switch off being in ‘work mode’, to a ‘not actively searching’ mode. When my nose is ‘on’, I’m sensing the environment, I’m interested in the smells around me, I’m trying to put my effort into understanding what’s going on in, say, that particular flower. But I like to relax, too, and my nose relaxes at the same time.
What is your best tip for improving a person’s sense of smell?
Be interested; that’s really the key. Pay attention and try to ‘fix’ smells in your mind by putting words to them. That’s how a perfumer starts; you smell everything, and you can’t remember abstract smells so you have to label them – I would smell something and think, ‘ah, that’s the wood in my grandmother’s house’ – and that’s how I’d be able to remember it…