This proudly British perfume house is making a splash with fragrances that are beautifully designed (in every way) – offering treats for all of our senses…
A Primrose Hill-based family venture, Heathcote & Ivory was founded by business dynamo Denis Aaronson in 2000 – and its creative vision is shaped by its so-stylish Creative Director Lesley Aaronson (below left), who has a degree in History of Art from the Courtauld Institute.
With a nose for the creative zeitgeist and an instinctive understanding of what we want when it comes to luxury beauty at an affordable price, Heathcote & Ivory has become a well-loved name – known for some inspired collaborations, including with Cath Kidston, a limited edition collection with British interiors legends Sanderson, a large collection inspired by the work of William Morris (Morris & Co.) and a partnership with the fabled knitter, patchworker, needlepoint artist and visionary textiles designer Kaffe Fassett, renowned for his striking use of colour.
Kaffe Fassett Achillea (below right) was launched in 2015. Lesley had been on the look-out for an inspirational collaborator for a new collection. One morning, while collecting flowers from her favourite florist, Achillea (in West Hampstead), Lesley noticed a tall, elegant man selecting flowers in the corner of the shop. ‘He was the picture of calm, quietly picking out flowers by colour and then putting them together in a very focused way,’ she recalls.
A few days before, she’d noticed a floral collage as part of a display in the florist’s window. It was one of Kaffe Fassett’s, perfectly showing off his dazzling way with colour. Achillea’s owner, Clare Emburey, introduced the pair – and kickstarted a terrific creative partnership, which expresses Kaffe’s design aesthetic and his colourful world through scent and natural, floral ingredients.
What Heathcote & Ivory cleverly realised is that while perfumistas want our sense of smell to be delighted with every spritz of a fragrance, we first shop with our eyes. In all, there are almost two dozen collections under the Heathcote & Ivory umbrella – including a quartet of beautiful floral fragrances: Sweet Pea & Honeysuckle, Blush Rose, Lavender Fields and Lily of the Valley, offering top-to-toe layering possibilities alongside the eaux de toilette.
They begin with an all-important moodboard of visual inspirations, gathered by Lesley and given to the leading fragrance houses Heathcote & Ivory works with, as a starting point for each creation. They might feature a scrap of vintage fabric here. An Instagram of a rambling rose, scampering over a garden wall. The decorative endpapers of a book. A catwalk design, perhaps: irises, on an Erdem frock, were the the trigger-point for one of Heathcote & Ivory’s Vintage & Co. scented beauty collections. Everything has a colour theme – ‘because fragrances always have a colour, to me,’ explains Lesley.
‘The boards are incredibly important,’ she continues. ‘I went to a lecture with Chandler Burr [American journalist and former scent critic], who talked about the fact we need a language for fragrance, because none exists. Well, until that day comes, when describing scent you have to use associations – “I want it to be full of light, or seaside-y, or with the feeling of a spring day” – or, as with my montages, give a perfumer a very clear visual picture of what you have in mind.’
The resulting fragrances prove that this communication works just beautifully. Take Heathcote & Ivory Blush Rose (below right): tender, ever-changing rose notes, garlanded by cassis and cedarwood, brightened by citrusy yuzu, enfolded by musk and amber notes. Lavender Fields, meanwhile, takes you strolling through fields of aromatic lavender, sweetened by whispers of violets and with an innovative note of wild hops, to calm a busy mind in a frantic world, comforting with sandalwood and amber in the base.
Lily of the Valley Think: burying your nose in a bunch of springtime’s favourite flowers, while Sweet Pea & Honeysuckle is pure romance, capturing the freshness of a flower that – in the language of flowers – says ‘Thank you for a lovely time.’ Those sweet peas are entwined with notes of honeysuckle, white jasmine and gardenia flowers, the greenness of fresh green leaves, softened by musks.
And then there is the aforementioned Kaffe Fassett Achillea, which impressively scooped a Pure Beauty Award in the very first year of its launch, 2015. ‘As a design-led fragrance it had to be modern, young and exciting, bringing Kaffe’s unique way with colour alive, yet still have a sense of tradition,’ observes Lesley. It also had to be shareable – ‘something that both men and women would want to use,’ she adds. The creative cue came from Kaffe himself. ‘I wanted it to have a sense of delight, the same as you get from smelling a beautiful rose, and at the same time for it to have a kind of masculinity about it.’
Heathcote & Ivory is certainly not for women only – as the 2017 launch of their Heath men’s grooming collection proves. Woodsily masculine, it’s as terrifically-scented as you’d expect – and The Perfume Society is delighted to showcase a full-size Heath Face Wash in our For Him Discovery Box, which you can find here.) The collection’s fragrances appeal to men and women, actually – from Cream Shave’s aromatic sea salt, tangerine and sage through to the refreshing grapefruit and bergamot of the Hair & Body Wash, or the clean, cooling mint and lavender notes of that Face Wash.
We also like to think of Heathcote & Ivory as the masters of layering – because each and every fragrance they create is available not just to spritz, but as blissful bath and bodycare treats.
True delights for the eyes, the mind – and of course, the nose.