If you’ve never heard of Diane Pernet, her new quartet of fragrances should be sufficient to warrant a place on your radar. A fashion critic, talent scout, fashion blogger and video journalist, her blog A Shaded View on Fashion has become a must-read in creative and fashion circles.
Now based in Paris, she’s probably the coolest woman we’ve met in a very, very long time – and much warmer than you’d think from the raven black beehive dotted with diamanté tarantulas, the floor-sweeping black robes, alabaster-pale skin and the insect-eye Alain Mikli sunglasses.
We just caught up with Diane in the Heritage Suite of Liberty (where else than the coolest shop on the planet?), to talk scents. A life-long fan of dark woods, frankincense and other smouldering notes, those personal preferences shaped the creation of three of the four fragrances, which last for ages on the skin and definitely have depth, intrigue and va-va-voom. And that’s intentional: ‘I love it when someone calls me after I’ve been somewhere, and says: “I knew you were there, because I smelled your perfume…”‘ (Before she created her own scents, she wore Comme des Garçons Avignon – with its seriously ecclesiastical miasma of incense – and before that, the men’s Cologne Guerlain Vetiver.)
Her debut fragrances were created in partnership with ‘art fragrance editor’ Celso Fadelli, a highly creative influence in the world of fine perfumery, who allowed Diane’s imagination to take flight. Here’s what she told us about the fragrances – actually, she’s woven a story for each of them – but do read on, too, for her insights into the must-visit places in her adopted home town. (We’re booking a Eurostar NOW.)
To Be Honest ‘I love woody fragrances, so this was walking through the woods, stumbling on an old church… Candles burn silently, their lights still flickering. A waft of incense liners high above the altar as if the congregation has just vanished. There are notes of myrrh, black pepper, cedarwood, patchouli, vetiver and amber. I love the incense, the calming feeling – and I’m also a vetiveraholic, so this features heavily.’
Wanted ‘I was thinking “The Night Porter”, with Charlotte Rampling and Dirk Bogarde… Something really sensual. It’s reminiscent of an Ambrée garden as the mist rolls in. Slightly dishevelled and overgrown, moss clings to stone statues obscured by twisting trees and shrubs. Bursts of exotic scents are elevated by a delicate cloud of steam. There are notes of clove, juniper, nutmeg, leather with a little musk accord in the air.’
In Pursuit of Magic To us, this smells like a Californian morning – but according to Diane, it ‘makes you feel as if you’ve entered a familiar yet parallel world. Standing atop a hillside temple, time is lost in a moment of sensory overload. The refreshing citrus air simultaneously invigorates and purifies you. Tart, clean, intense, restored and protected.’
Shaded The lightest of the four, zesty with citrus, ‘Shaded evokes a nocturnal bath in the sea. The salt on your skin, a subtle incense and new-found sensations await a secret lover’s encounter. Lightly caressed in the ocean mist, every feeling is shaded by an intense plume of vetiver and surrounded by the deepest touch of musk and guaiac wood.’
When you have an insider like Diane Pernet to probe, however, it was impossible not to ask: when next in Paris, which cool places should we head for…?
- The ‘Unbutton Fashion’ Exhibition. ‘It’s truly extraordinary: you’ll never have realised the role buttons play in fashion until you wander through this amazingly curated exhibition, which has 3,000 examples on display. I went to the opening and actually found it very moving.’ ‘Déboutonner la Mode‘ is on at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, 107 Rue de Rivoli, 75001 Paris until 19th July 2015.
- Les Deux Abeilles Tea Room. ‘”Deux abeilles’ translates as “the two bees” and it’s a mother-and-daughter run tea room, which is fantastic for lunch and for tea. I go there almost every day.’ 189 rue de l’Université, 75007 Paris.
- The Bois de Boulogne. ‘This is an amazingly scented open space; I especially love walking here when the irises are out, or the roses.’ The nearest Metros to this large park include Porte d’Auteuil and Porte Dauphine.
- The Hammam. ‘Incredibly exotic – you just forget you’re in Paris. There’s a big mosque, a hammam, and I especially like the Moroccan restaurant where you can have tea outside in the warmer weather, and feel like you’re in Tangier – and for just a couple of euros; it’s very inexpensive for Paris.’ 39 rue Geoffrey-Saint-Hilaire, 75005 Paris.
Diane Pernet fragrances are priced £115 for 30ml
Buy them at Liberty
Written by Jo Fairley