How did you choose your last fragrance? At an airport, with one eye on the departures board? In a department store? Online, without even smelling it first…? (Not something we generally encourage, at The Perfume Society.)

An aerial shot of Illuminum perfumes with their recycleable brown cardboard packagingAlternatively, was finding your most recent perfume a soothing, sense-drenching experience? Then maybe you’ve already stepped inside the Illuminum Fragrance Lounge on London’s increasingly swanky Dover Street: the intriguing space pictured below, where vessels sway gently from the ceiling allowing you to smell each fragrance without being influenced by name, or packaging. (Stylish as theirs is.)

‘Our beloved fragrances are so precious to us that we create our own way of introducing them to the world. Perfume needs a new approach,’ they add, ‘as it brings us so much joy and touches our imagination just like a piece of fine art.’

Heralding a new chapter in British perfumery, Illuminum launched in January 2011 as a contemporary, fine fragrance concept, with the emphasis placed firmly on the quality of ingredients, seeking out rare and precious elements from around the world. As the Beyond Bespoke website explains it, ‘Each scent shines a spotlight on eight star ingredients using a supporting cast of molecules and aldehydes to help them sparkle’.

Interior of the Dover Street flagship store for perfume brand IlluminumWithin the Illuminum collection there is something for everyone. In the Core range, for instance – with its sleek, unique, recycleable packaging – enjoy Ginger Pear: sparkling pear and citrus, warmed by wild ginger, with tea blossom in the blend – and a sweetness, on the skin, from musk and creamy sandalwood. A trio of oudhs (White Oud, Black Oud and Rose Oud) sits alongside Piper Leather, in which (as they put it) ‘the dark, demonic whipcrack of leather is central to this fragrance’. Nose-tingling black pepper and coriander give a spicy sensuality while at Piper Leather’s base, frankincense, civet and musk simply smoulder on the skin.

The fragrance which has had so many beating a path to Illuminum‘s door, however, is White Gardenia Petals – the fragrance, so we’re told, which Catherine Middleton wore for her wedding to the Duke of Cambridge. And certainly, a more wedding-perfect fragrance it’s hard to imagine: like a vase of white flowers, summery with gardenia, ylang ylang, lily of the valley and jasmine, underscored by amber and precious woods.

illuminum150620_wallpaper_0833But Illuminum also love to collaborate – with artists (like Antonino Cardillo, who used volcanic dust to create the interior of the store that you see above). And the second collection – 95 Percent – embodies collaborations. For instance, with restaurant Brunswick House – fusing classy mixture of dark and attractive woods, rich in a dimmed velvet quality, and described as ‘a green sunset at the end of a long corridor.’ Or Tom Wolfe #234, created in tandem with the chef of that name – warm and cool at once, with fennel, earthy geranium, and pine warmed by amber. Yuki is the third in the series – created by perfumer Barnabé Fillon working alongside Japanese chef and cookery writer Yuki Gomi, with its delicate yet intense tea note carrying the feminine fragility osmanthus, alongside juicy tangerine and a touch of vetiver.

Watch out, too, for limited editions. These are exciting times indeed for this unique perfume house, whose fragrances can be found around the world. But we can’t encourage you enough to visit the flagship Illuminum boutique, which has been described as a ‘spa for the nose’. Your senses will thank you for it…

Illuminum Fragrance Lounge, 41 Dover Street, London W1 4NS/+44 (0)20 7018 2000


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