In the wrong hands, the hefty Dunhill Icon bottle might be something of a lethal weapon. Inspired by the finish of a vintage lighter, it’s tactile and seriously expensive-feeling – but it’s the ‘juice’ inside which we’re enjoying. (And with Valentine’s Day approaching, this is a definite contender for anyone contemplating a fragrant gesture…)
The perfumer, Carlos Benaïm, breezed into town and shared his thoughts on creating Icon. (VIP Subscribers can read one of our Nose-to-nose Q+As with Carlos – whose roll-call of fragrances includes Viktor & Rolf Flowerbomb – here.)
‘This was a joy for me,’ Carlos told us, eyes a-twinkling. I knew the Dunhill store from New York and I’d always found it extremely elegant – truly iconic, which made this a very apt name for a fragrance. It started with vetiver, lavender and leather; I’ve worked with leather a lot, but in this case I worked alongside Alienor Massenet, coming with an accord that has a sort of suede feeling. You don’t always start from scratch with a fragrance; often, you take accords which already have some complexity, and then piece them together, as we did here…
The iris gives a sort of violet-sweetness, and I chose it specifically to soften the vetiver. Then I built up the fragrance with spices, which were also very important: cardamom, pink pepper, a touch of juniper.
But at the point I wasn’t satisfied; it just wasn’t fresh and clear enough. So at that point, I developed a totally separate accord: mandarin, neroli, bergamot. Together they created a very beautiful citrus element; it was just an idea I had and I executed it on the spot, and it just felt right – as a perfumer you sometimes get a moment of surprise when you think, “wow, this is really something good”. At that point there was just a little bit too much neroli, but with a small adjustment, it was there.
That brightened the other elements of the fragrance – and it was what Icon needed, to become complete…’
Written by Jo Fairley