London-based Laboratory Perfumes is no ordinary fragrance house. Believing ‘the strongest statements are the understated ones,’ they strive for simplicity in an often over-complicated world.
Laboratory Perfumes fragrances encompass the traditional, timeless qualities of classic French perfumery with a stylishly pared-down contemporary elegance that’s a breath of fresh air in the fragrance world. (No wonder they’ve gone on to be bestsellers in Liberty, one of their many chic stockists around the world.)
In 2011, Aaron Firth founded Laboratory Perfumes by charting a rather unconventional course. Ignoring ‘existing industry norms’, he wanted to strip away the sometimes confusing – and sometimes alienating – ‘noise’ often associated with fragrance today, and with a kind of ‘back to basics’ approach, take inspiration ‘directly from the flowers, herbs and aromatic botanicals native to Britain and beyond.’
For this utterly contemporary brand, it’s important to keep everything possible in-house, with every eau de toilette and candle blended in the UK ‘from flowers, natural oils, herbs and botanicals sourced from in and around Britain.’ (And occasionally further afield). Honoring their home by evoking the ingredients found here, Laboratory Perfumes are environmentally and ethically respectful, too. The fragrances and candles are completely vegan – created from socially and environmentally conscious ingredients, free from preservatives, additives and any non-sustainable substances.
Indeed, Laboratory Perfumes are in the vanguard of perfume brands who are seeking to care for the world, while making great scents. As they explain, ‘All our practices and perfumes are formed in accordance with the same Hippocratic principle underpinning modern medicine: “First, do no harm.”‘ They also demand the same ethical and environmental standards of everyone they work with.
This simplified scent ethos is reflected in the understated glass bottles which allude to their ‘laboratory’ origins. Without the distraction of elaborate packaging and blinged-out bottles, the names are refreshingly simple – tempting you to try something you’re drawn to. Yet the scents themselves are seriously intriguing – your skin teasing complexity and depth from each creation.
In 01 AMBER – Laboratory Perfumes‘ first fragrance – you’re taken on a summer ramble along Britain’s rugged coastline and rolling green hills. The warm earthiness and spice of the top notes whipped by a salty breeze before coming back to rest on a bed of verdant grassiness and a smooth, supremely comforting woody base. For 02 GORSE we travel across the channel to the south of France, crisp citrus swooning into lusciously smooth coconut and cardamom for a sudden hit of sun-warmed wooziness.
Back to Britain’s coastline, 03 SAMPHIRE evokes ‘a sprig of verbena plucked from a friend’s garden’ with the juicy greenness of samphire seguing to juniper berries and a herbaceous drift over white amber and oakmoss – a bracing walk, bottled. 25 ATLAS whisks the wearer to the Atlas Mountains of Morocco – hot, heady clouds of pipe tobacco and decadently boozy rum and cognac laced with a souk’s spices: cinnamon, ginger and black pepper hazily swirled into a dry down of warm, creamy vanilla, alongside sun-warmed hay. And then there’s 04 TONKA: dark, earthy, fusing pink pepper, mandarin and woodland aromatics lapped by cold milk.
Close your eyes and allow yourself to be transported, to inhale the scents and imagine where they take you – and, blissfully, the Laboratory Perfumes Discovery Set allows you to take those journeys again and again. Where will you land up, we wonder?