Having just enjoyed one of the most wonderfully warm May Bank Holidays on record, can we now fully eschew the Winter woolies and toss aside our brollies for a while? Well, here’s hoping, and whatever the weather where you are, Tom Daxon had thoughtfully comissioned photographer Ben Quinton to capture the magnificence of London’s Magnolia trees in full-bloom…
These fabulously blowsy flowers are the inspiration behind one of Daxon’s most popular fragrances – Magnolia Heights – a silky, frilly, feminine fragrance we know many of you had already been reaching for even ahead of the first peep of sunshine, and which Tom Daxon describe as…
Endless magnolia lined avenues.
A perception of a magnolia tree in full bloom. Magnolia flower oil’s delicate, green, fruity facets are enhanced by gardenia and jasmine sambac, while ylang ylang and cedarwood recreate its cream like petals.
Tom Daxon Magnolia Heights £155 for 100ml eau de parfum
Buy it at tomdaxon.com
We’re also thrilled to now be able to offer you a Tom Daxon Discovery Collection, all the better to properly discover the scented delights of this innovative, contemporary niche and totally wearable fragrance house.
Tom Daxon is a rising star British fragrance name, championing scents inspired by the ingredients themselves. Tom Daxon grew up around fragrance; his mother – creative director for a leading fragrance and cosmetics name for over 30 years – ‘would often give me new shower gels to try, fragrances to sniff.’ So it was no surprise that by his mid-twenties, this perfume prodigy had already launched his own signature fragrance collection – which we invite you to explore.
Each shareable fragrance is meticulously created with perfumer Jacques Chabert (who, during his career, has spent time working on scents for Chanel and Guerlain).
Who can lay claim to being ‘the birthplace of perfumery’? France and Italy regularly duke it out for the title, but British scents have been going strong since 1730 – with whispers of Yardley London‘s heritage in fact going all the way back to the reign of King Charles I, supplying royalty with lavender-scented soaps. Sadly, these records were lost in 1666’s Great Fire of London, but many British houses have archives bursting not only with records of their fragrant wares, but the customers who bought them – including royalty, film stars and prime ministers along with the many millions who flocked to their historic doors. We chose to dedicate the latest issue of our award-winning online magazine, The Scented Letter, to these Best of British. (It’s available digitally to V.I.P. ClubMembers as a membership benefit as well as in print form.)
The emphasis is on heritage houses who have made our name and are still some of our favourites to this very day, with a selection of newer houses mentioned – including Miller Harris, Angela Flanders, Ormonde Jayne and Floral Street – all of whom have their own boutiques, where you can visit to stock-up on their perfumes, both historic and ground-breakingly new. The streets of London may not be paved in gold, but they’re filled with delicious perfumes…
To be frank, the feature was practically an entire book’s worth of material, and we still didn’t have room for every single one we’d have like to mention – which goes to show how many we have to be proud of. Also, we are thrilled that so many contemporary houses are continuing to fly that fragrant flag, being sold online and stocked in independent perfumeries that stretch the entire globe.
What better time, then, to continue our celebration of the diversity, ingenuity and creativity British fragrance houses display, and share with you a list of some contemporary houses your nose should definitely get to know…?
Born in England, graduating with a Chemistry degree from Oxford University, Ruth trained and worked as a perfumer in the 70s – both in the UK and Netherlands with Naarden International (which later became Quest and is now Givaudan – one of the largest perfume suppliers in the world…) Ruth then went to work in Japan and the perfume capital Grasse before returning to England to work for a small company, where she created fragrances for up-and-coming brands like Kenneth Turner and Jo Malone – including her Grapefruit candle. Setting up her own perfumery company, Fragosmic Ltd., in 2003 – the year she became president of The British Society of Perfumers, it was in 2010 that Ruth launched a capsule collection of scented products featuring her signature fragrance – RM – the first to use advanced micro-encapsulation technology in a scented bathrobe…!
Still creating bespoke fragrances for brands, Ruth’s own fragrances allow her to bottle memories, she says, ‘…of childhood in England and America – chocolate cookies, fresh earth, blackberries… Of Holland – lilies, narcissus, hyacinth and salty sea air… Of France – orchids, roses and wild herbs… Of Japan – cherry blossom, lotus and green tea…’ Believing that fragrance can uniquely move us, and with a wealth of knowledge at her fingertips; Ruth distills olfactory flash-backs into perfumes that everyone can enjoy and form their own, highly personal connections with. And with her latest, the sulty, smoking rose of Firedance, shortlisted for Global Pure Beauty and Fragrance Foundation Awards this year, we suggest you allow yourself the pleasure of connecting with them, too…
Quintessential scents Just launched, you can now indulge in a newly-chic box of emotionally uplifting scents. From the sparkling secret-garden fruitiness of Signature, through the romantic, rolling landscape of Umbria captured in Amorosa. A furtively-smoked Sobranie with notes of jasmine and cashmere evoke the dreaming spires of Oxford, while a classic rose is transformed with hot leather in Firedance, to become quite swaggeringly swoon-worthy. Have a chaise-lounge at the ready… Ruth Mastenbroek Discovery Set £17.95 for 4 x 2ml eaux de parfum
Available now in our shop
If we live till we’re 80, we have 4,160 tuesdays to fill, and so the philosophy of copywriter-turned-perfumer Sarah McCartney is: better make the most of every single one of them. Having spent years writing copy for other people’s products, and writing for LUSH for 14 years, Sarah wrote a novel about imagined perfumes that make people happy, with such evocative descriptions that readers began asking her to make them. Ever the type to roll up her sleeves and take on a new challenge, Sarah explains she’d ‘…tried to find perfumes that matched what I was describing, and they still weren’t right, so I set off on my quest to make them myself. I became a perfumer!’
Proudly extolling British eccentricity, the ever-increasing fragrances include Sunshine & Pancakes, which Sarah made to evoke a typical 1970s British seaside family vacation, opening with a burst of sunny citrus, with jasmine to represent sun-warmed skin – alongside honey and vanilla (the pancakes element). The Dark Heart of Old Havana is based on a 1998 trip to Cuba: brown sugar, tobacco, rich coffee, fruit, warm bodies, ‘alcohol, exuberance and recklessness,’ as she puts it. Maxed Out and Midnight in the Palace Garden were both shortlisted for the coveted Fragrance Foundation Awards 2016 in the ‘Best Indie Scent’ category, and an army of devotees now relish every day, scented suitably eccentrically. Quintessential scent Named for a comment made by a Tatler beauty editor who smelled it, a dash of bergamot, a soft hint of creamy vanilla, velvety smooth woods, musk and ambergris make for a dreamily decadent ‘your skin but oh, so much better’ affair. Like wearing a magical potion made of lemon meringue pie and fancy pants, if they don’t fall at your feet after a whiff of this, they aren’t worth knowing. 4160 Tuesdays The Sexiest Scent on the Planet Ever (IMHO) £40 for 30ml
Buy it at 4160tuesdays.com
Pssst! Breaking news: Fans of 4160 Tuesdays are a passionate lot, and kept asking Sarah when her next crowd-funded fragrance would be available, and so she’s teamed up with James Skinner, founder and designer at Dalliance & Noble, to make a matching scarf and perfume.
The fragrance is a soft, rich, lavish blend of iris, hay, honey, apricot, tobacco, vanilla, lily, almond, sandalwood and bergamot, and as we love scenting our scarves with perfume, we cannot wait to try this one!
They met in 2017 at the artisan trade show Best of Britannia in Brick Lane, then regrouped in Sarah’s 4160Tuesday’s West London studio to choose natural and synthetic materials. The result was a collection of aromas which Sarah took as inspiration for the fragrance, and she named it Truth Beauty Freedom Love, the rallying cry of the 19th Century Bohemian movement or artists, writers and free thinkers.
James illustrated the plants which the natural essential oils came from, and the wildlife they support. In the corners of the scarf he’s placed the aroma molecules which cast a perfumer’s spell on the blend to transform it from just a mixture of materials into an elegant, wearable fragrance. He designed the scarf in two colourways, and named it Eden’s Garden – a haven for fruit, flowers and wildlife. Crowdfunding prices:
100ml eau de parfum and silk scarf £175 (will be £300)
100ml eau de parfum £75 (will be £150)
30ml eau de parfum £40 (will be £75) Get in on the action here – but hurry, there’s only twenty days left to secure these special prices!
Nancy’s background as a bespoke perfumer began with her apprenticeship to one of the UK’s experts in custom perfumery, creating signature scents for those coveting ‘something highly individual and special…’ Before launching Nancy Meiland Parfums, her decade-long journey through fragrance had already included co-running the former School of Perfumery, acting as a consultant for independent perfume houses, working on collaborations with Miller Harris, and speaking on the subject of fragrance at events nationwide.
Now dividing her time between town and country (Nancy’s based in East Sussex), she explains that ‘the creative process of gathering sensory impressions and honing them into a formula is a vital one. Once a blank canvas, the formula sheet acts as a metaphor – and gradually emerges essentially as a kind of poem, with body, light and shade and a life of its own.’ It amuses Nancy, looking back, that she often had school essays returned to her emblazoned in red pen for being “too flowery”. ‘It figures!,’ she says. Thank goodness, say her extensive base of fragrance fans, in love with these portrayals of often traditional ingredients, composed with elegant modernity and beautiful harmony. Quintessential scent Definitely not your grandma’s drawer-liner, this is a rose in all its glory, with the entire plant evoked – pink pepper, for the thorns, stalky green galbanum for the leaves; geranium, jasmine, white pear and violet delicately sketching the tender bud. As Nancy observes: ‘I wanted to depict both the light and the dark shades of it, as opposed to this pretty, twee and girly rose that’s become slightly old-fashioned.” Rambling roses entwined with brambles, if this scent surrounded Sleeping Beauty, she’d never forgive that meddlesome prince for cutting it down…
Nancy Meiland Parfums Rosier £62.50 for 50ml eau de parfum
Buy it at nancymeiland.com
A rising star of perfumery, Marina Barcenilla is one of the talented ‘noses’ driving the strong trend towards natural perfumery. As the name may suggest, her birthplace may not have been in the UK – in fact she was born in Spain – but it’s where Marina chose to make her home, and to set up her now thriving perfume business. Marina recalls being intrigued by the aromatic notes in the Herbíssimo fragrances and in her grandmother’s lavender water.
Having always been fascinated and inspired by scent – when the chance came to branch out from her aromatherapy roots into the world of perfume, Marina rose beautifully to the challenge. In 2016 Marina won the coveted Fragrance Foundation (FiFi) Award for Best New Independent Fragrance with India. Against incredibly stiff competition, judged blind by Jasmine Award-winning journalists and bloggers, this prompted her to take the next step on her journey; her company – formerly known as The Perfume Garden – became Marina Barcenilla Parfums. But although the name had changed, the ethos remained the same – ‘to create the finest fragrances, using what nature has to offer.’ More awards followed, including a Beauty Shortlist Award for Patchouli Clouds, an International Natural Beauty Award, and the Eluxe Award for Best Natural Perfume Brand.
In 2017, for the second consecutive year, Marina won Best New Independent Fragrance for the opulent Black Osmanthus – which truly put her on the radar of journalists and perfumistas. From sourcing rare and precious aromatic essences from around the world to blending fragrances by hand in her own perfume studio, after years of study, Marina’s long-awaited olfactory journey to ‘rediscover the soul of perfume’ is off to a rousing start – and all from the suitably mystical base of Glastonbury. More than simply reaching for the stars, parallel to her perfumery career she’s also studying to become a Planetary Scientist and Astrobiologist, at the University of London; recently combining her twin passions by creating AromAtom – creating the imagined scents of space as a way to make space science more engaging for children – which Marina regularly tours through schools. What else can we say for this exciting house, but ‘up, up and away…!?’ Quintessential scent Silky-smooth sandalwood is enticingly laced with flecks of fragrant cardamom, dotted with coriander, huge armfulls of rose and woven with incense for an all-natural scent that’s soothingly spiced, earthily grounding and yet erotically tempting; so you’ll be wanting to dance barefoot (perhaps comletely bare) and wrap yourself around a Maypole, have no doubt… Marina Barcenilla Parfums India £130 for 30ml eau de parfum
Buy it at mbparfums.com
Rarely do founders of fragrance houses come with such experience, passion and dedication to the industry as Michael Donovan. With a career thus far helping stock the shelves of such cult fragrance-shopping destinations as Roullier White, running his own PR company, representing such luminaries as Fréderic Malle – every time we’ve met Michael, he’s been bubbling with enthusiasm about a perfume we ‘…absolutely must smell!’ or a nose who’s ‘a complete genius!’ And you know what? He’s always been right.
He’d been badgered for years by fragrance experts and enthusiasts alike to launch his own range, but the idea had tickled his brain for some decades before being fully explored as a reality. As Michael explains, the concept he just couldn’t let go of was to have a collection that truly represented ‘scents as complex as you are.’ And so, the St Giles fragrances have ‘…been created to stimulate and amplify the many different aspects of our character. This wardrobe of fragrances celebrates the parts that make us who we are, fusing the reality and the fantasy.’
And the nose he sought out to compose them just happens to be one of the greatest of our time. ‘The perfumes are made in collaboration with Master Perfumer Bertrand Duchaufour, whose vision I have long admired and whose friendship I cherish.’ Having spent many years working alongside Bertrand, but always in regard to his work for other houses, Michael admits he was ‘…extremely nervous’ about approaching him, but it turns out Bertrand was more than enthusiastic in his acceptance. The only question you need ask, now, is which fragrant character you want to embody, today… Quintessential scent Rosemary absolute – now proven to stimulate memory performance – adds an aromatic, drily green note while fresh ginger warmly fizzes alongside Champagne-like aldehydes, herbaceous clary sage and the uplifting, fruity zing of rhubarb. There’s a sigh of soft leather and frankincense at the heart, slowly sinking to the inky-tinged base of castoreum absolute, sandalwood, Atlas cedarwood and a salty tang of driftwood. Absolutely unique, you’ll want to cover yourself in it while seeking your muse, perhaps while enjoying a sip or three of something refreshing, wearing nothing else but a velvet smoking jacket and an enigmatic smile… St Giles The Writer £130 for 100ml eau de parfum
Buy it at stgilesfragrance.com
Recalling his childhood and growing up ‘in fragrant surroundings,’ Tom Daxon rather understates how perfume practically ran in his blood. Lucky enough to have a mother who was creative director at Molton Brown for over 30 years, and therefore ‘would often give me new shower gels to try, fragrances to sniff’ his scented destiny was sealed by frequently accompanying his mother on her business trips to Grasse.
There he met the father-daughter duo of Jacques and Carla Chabert, who’d variously worked for Chanel, Guerlain and L’Oréal, with Jacques the nose behind Molton Brown’s ground-breaking Black Pepper and Carla creating the hit follow-up, Pink Peppercorn. Having esteemed perfumers in his life from such an early age was a connection that would bravely – still in his twenties – lead Tom to launch a brand new British fragrance house. Clearly a chap who doesn’t like to hang around when he’s got a bee in his bonnet, by the end of that same year, he was already being stocked in Liberty.
Not a bad start, all things considered, and describing the impetus behind him starting his own line of fragrances, Tom says ‘I wouldn’t have bothered if I thought I couldn’t offer something a bit different.’ Uniquely intriguing, the entire range celebrates a luxurious kind of British modernity in their pared back, clean lines, the oils being macerated and matured in England for at least six weeks before they’re bottled here. Harnessing Tom’s Grasse connections but remaining resolutely British in their spirit, it’s just the beginning for this exciting house. Quintessential scent Lushly narcotic, it’s a hyper-realistic big-hitter – like sticking your entire face in a buxom bouquet, the better to get another dose of its lascivious charms. Using traditional, headily feminine notes like lily of the valley, carnation, rose and oakmoss might have become ‘vintage’ or even a bit old-fashioned smelling in the wrong hands, but the Chaberts and Tom vividly evoke just-bruised, silky petals with a futuristic drama that never fails to shake you out of the doldrums. Tom Daxon Crushing Bloom £105 for 50ml eau de parfum
Buy it at tomdaxon.com
With a strong heritage behind us, and many of those houses still not only surviving but thriving, it seems British perfumery is once again blooming with a fresh crop of forward-thinking (and often self-taught) perfumers shaking up the scent scene. No fuddy-duddy fragrances, these, they’re flying the flag not only for British niche perfumery, but for the art of fragrance itself. Hoist the bunting!
For further reading, we suggest getting your hands on a copy of British Perfumery: A Fragrant History by The British Society of Perfumers/£30 including UK delivery.
Written by Suzy Nightingale
The fascinating recent BBC documentary delving behind-the-scenes of the Queen’s Coronation on June 2, 1953, held a scented secret for sharp-eyed fragrance fans… did you spot it?
While discussing the ancient rituals of the act of anointing the monarch, our eyes were drawn to the oil itself – rather incongruously kept nestled in a battered old box and bottle of Guerlain‘s Mitsouko!
May we admit experiencing a momentary thrill that the BBC had uncovered our Queen as a secret perfumista, who’d insisted on being anointed with a fabulous Chypre? We’d definitely consider being baptised in Mitsouko, but it turned out it was just the bottle and box. Oh well. No matter, for the story of the oil’s recipe was rather deliciously revealed…
The oil was made from a secret mixture in sesame and olive oil, containing ambergris, civet, orange flowers, roses, jasmine, cinnamon, musk and benzoin– actually sounding rather Oriental in its composition – and must surely have smelled glorious.
The anointing ritual is always hidden from view – a private moment for the monarch to reflect on their duties and the significance of being touched by that oil – and so a canopy was held over the Queen by four Knights of the Garter, and the televison cameras turned respectfully away, as the Archbishop anointed her with the fragrant holy oil on her hands, breast and head.
Quite a scent memory.
In fact, the phial containing the original oil had been destroyed in a bombing raid on the Deanery in May 1941. The firm of chemists who’d mixed the last known anointing oil had gone bust, so a new company, Savory and Moore Ltd, was asked by the Surgeon-Apothecary to mix a new supply, based on the ancient recipe, for the Coronation. We’d quite like them to whip up a batch for us, too.
During the ritual, the highly scented oil was poured from Charles II’s Ampulla (the eagle-shaped vessel shown above) into a 12th-century spoon. One imagines the Archbishop’s hands must have shook just a little during this procedure – thank goodness for that canopy. Meanwhile, the choir sang one of the most thrillingly dramatic songs in history: “Zadok the Priest”. The words are taken from the first Book of Kings, and have been sung at every coronation since King Edgar’s in 973, but the anointment ritual is even older, going back to King Solomon supposedly being anointed by Zadok himself in the 10th century BC.
Of course the rest of the Coronation was an extraordinary display of magnificent jewels and robes and the peculiarities of historical traditions played out ‘like a ballet’, as the programme described, but our minds kept returning to the mysteries of the anointing oil, what the Queen must have thought as she smelled it (was it the first time she’d smelled the oil?) and how it’s still, charmingly, kept in that tatty old bottle and box of Mitsouko.
Now then, to whom did that bottle once belong? For whomever they were, we congratulate them on their taste…
Those of you who missed the documentary can watch it while it’s still on BBC iPlayer.
Molton Brown have long been offering us ways to escape the everyday humdrum with a vast selection of fabulously fragranced goodies – since 1973, in fact – but for the past fourteen years, only travellers on the luxurious ocean-line, Seabourn, have been able to experience this ultra-bespoke range. Created especially for the lavishly appointed ships, the scents were suitably inspired by the sea itself. Once exclusively the pleasure of passengers of the Seabourn, now Molton Brown are offering the range as a summer Limited Edition, giving us all the chance to get on board with their tantalisingly transportive fragrances and (as always) high quality formulas.
Molton Brown Say: ‘This year, for the first time, Molton Brown have created two completely bespoke fragrances that reflect the cruise line’s unparalleled luxurious guest experience. Usually available exclusively for Seabourn’s on-board guests, they will be offered in Molton Brown stores for a limited time. The beautiful collection is composed of ingredients inspired by Seabourn’s very own signature cruise destinations.’
The first thing you may notice are the exclusive bottles – standing apart from Molton Brown’s usual style with opaque white bottles, all featuring charming illustrations of the main fragrant ingredients, hand-drawn by the coast-based illustrator, Angela McKay. Completely sharable, the range encompasses shampoo, conditioner, bath and shower gel and a body lotion. And we couldn’t wait to get splash-happy…
Immersive Samphire & Eucalyptus Bath & Body Collection:
As always, Molton Brown use the highest quality ingredients possible, such as the carefully sourced, salty-green notes of Samphire picked from the French Atlantic Coast, and deliciously uplifting eucalyptus from Beijing. Philippe Bousseton, Master Perfumer at Takasago, reveals his inspiration for this collection as being, ‘A revitalising and very fresh aroma ideal for bathing, where samphire and marine notes are reminiscent of the sea and ultimately, of the Seabourn experience.’ Fabulously evocative, fresh without being citrus-y, we were immediately dreaming of those revitalising seaside walks that make you feel more alive.
Immersive Samphire & Eucalyptus Bath & Shower Gel £20 for 300ml
Immersive Samphire & Eucalyptus Body Lotion £25 for 300ml
Inspiring Basil & Vetiver Hair Care Collection:
Here, Master Perfumer of Fragrance Resources, Heidrun Harder, used herbaceous basil from Vietnam and deliciously cool vetiver, found in Haiti. Explaining the charcater of these products, Heirun says they are, ‘Very sophisticated, rounded and clean thanks to aromatic notes of basil and vetiver, perfect for hair care.’ A complete boon for those of us who require a more subtle wake-up than being blasted by grapefruit or drowning in flowers first thing, they are gentle but effective and leave hair glossy with a ready-to-go bounce.
Inspiring Basil & Vetiver Shampoo £18 for 300ml
Inspiring Basil & Vetiver Conditioner £18 for 300ml Molton Brown Seabourn Collection
Buy them now at moltonbrown.co.uk
Written by Suzy Nightingale
The fourth annual Art and Olfaction Awards were announced on May 6, and with a heady melange of strong candidates in the running as finalists, we were so thrilled and proud to see that BeauFort London won for their outstanding fragrance Fathom V in the Independent Category. In fact, though the awards ceremony were held in Berlin this year, we’re pretty sure you could have heard us whooping all the way from the UK!
Based in Los Angeles, the The Art and Olfaction Awards are designed to ‘…raise interest and awareness for independent and artisan perfumers – and experimental practitioners with scent – from all countries.’ More than simple recognition for the immense hours of hard work undertaken by these small and proudly independent fragrance houses, the award founders explain that, ‘by shining a spotlight on perfumery’s most outstanding creators, we hope to help generate support for independent practices in perfumery as a whole.’
We have long known and celebrated the importance of niche fragrance houses and the great influence they now carry for the designer brands and the trickle-down effect they have for the mainstream market. Those mega brands now showcasing “unisex” scents in paired-down bottles across the range, florals for men and unusual note combinations? All these trends began long ago in the niche world – think of them as catwalk couture influencing eventual high street styles.
Of course, before BeauFort London had even officially launched, we were championing the house based on love at first sniff of their historically inspired yet ultra contemporary scents, and you can read our interview with founder Leo Crabtree, here.
Read our page dedicated to the BeauFort London to find out more about their inspirations and our thoughts on some of the fragrances themselves, but for those of you who haven’t yet tried the (now award-winning!) Fathom V – get ready to have your senses beguiled. It’s one of the most incredible shared fragrances we’ve smelled for some time – a humongously green, tousled bouquet of flowers tossed into roiling waves as guns fire a salute, sinking in to salty, opaque waters cloaking hidden treasures in the shdowy depths… And you can try it for yourself at home in our Precious Perfumes Discovery Box.
We would like to extend our congratulations to all the finalists in this hotly contested year, and are busily reading up on some of the more artisinal houses we’ve not yet had the pleasure of exploring. So really, think of the entire list of finalists as your must-sniff guide to all that’s uber-cool right now in the perfume world.
And for 2017, the winners are…
ARTISAN CATEGORY WINNERS Bruise Violet
by Sixteen92 (USA)
CD/ Perfumer: Claire Baxter
Presented by judge Luca Turin Mélodie de l’Amour
by Parfums Dusita(France)
CD/ Perfumer: Pissara Umavijani
Presented by 2014 winner Tanja Bochnig
Imagine the excitement of smelling spices for the very first time, and then realising you could waft fragrantly (and flamboyantly – these were hugely expensive and kept in locked chests) smelling of success and radiating your wealth… The Elizabethan era saw an influx of exotic goods arriving from all over the world – including luxurious, never before seen perfumery ingredients – the valiant explorers bringing a bewitching treasure trove of scented materials to Europe. Men like think Vasco de Gama (1469-1524), Magellan (1480-1521) and Columbus (1451-1506) brought vanilla, pepper, Peru balsam, cardamom, sandalwood, clove, cocoa… Many were used for flavouring, but also found their way intro fragrant creations.
A growing trade with the East resulted in the transportation of living plants, too: orange trees (producing not just fruit, but that most romantic and innocent of fragrant blossoms), jasmine and rose. With perfect timing, the distillers were getting ever-more-expert: essential oils could soon be distilled from frankincense, pine, cedarwood, cardamom, fennel, nutmeg, agarwood (‘oud’ as we know it today), sweet flag, anise and more.
Mostly, though, it is supposed that perfumes were still used to mask awful odours – which made lingeringly heady scents like tuberose, jasmine and musk particularly popular. Queen Elizabeth I beckoned Venetian traders to Southampton to offer their scented wares: it became fashionable to wear musk and rose scented pomanders and sachets, in particular.
Here’s another charming snippet from an Elizabethan recipe – remember, most of these fragrances would be made at home, and such recipes were often found in household books along with food and medicine recipes. Could you follow the instructions now, do you think? And more importantly – would you wear it if you could?
Perhaps our noses are more atuned to complex aromas these days, with modern innovations meaning we can combine the best of nature with purer extractions and headspace technology (digitally analysing the scent of pretty much anything and allowing scientists to recreate the smell synthetically), but isn’t it fascinating how we can time-travel with our noses?
Now, why not continue your fragrant journey by exploring another fragrant era in our section devoted to the history of perfumery…?
Written by Suzy Nightingale
When you think of a ‘witches’ brew’, we’re betting your mind conjures picures of warty hags from an am-dram production of Macbeth, gathered around a steaming cauldron and tossing in gnarled fistfuls of twigs with perhaps a sprinkling of eyes, tongues and livers of various woebegotten creatures thrown in for good luck? In fact, here’s that very recipe, should you wish to whip something up for supper… In the poison’d entrails throw.— Toad, that under cold stone, Days and nights has thirty-one; Swelter’d venom sleeping got, Boil thou first i’ the charmed pot! Double, double toil and trouble; Fire burn, and caldron bubble. Fillet of a fenny snake, In the caldron boil and bake; Eye of newt, and toe of frog, Wool of bat, and tongue of dog, Adder’s fork, and blind-worm’s sting, Lizard’s leg, and owlet’s wing,— For a charm of powerful trouble, Like a hell-broth boil and bubble.
All well and good on stage, but not, perhaps, something you’d want in a room scent. Never fear – Ormonde Jayne will save us from any hint of slime!
Luckily for those of us requiring something rather more sophisticated to scent our homes with this Halloween, the British perfume house of Ormonde Jayne have released an ultra limited-edition (only available until the end of this month!) Witches’ Brew candle that’s altogether more glam.
‘A spell-binding potion, conjured with notes of Winter white flowers, herbs, bluebells and hyacinths,’ think Veronica Lake in the 1942 movie, I Married a Witch or the charming nose-twitching Samantha in the classic 60s sitcom Bewitched, rather than your stereotypical cackling crone.
Available as a cute Mini (90g), Standard with Gold Lid (290g) and Set of 4 x Mini (360g), with prices strating from £20 including complimentary worldwide shipping; you’d best get on your brooms fast to snap these up, as this exclusive scent will only be available until October 31, 2016!
Get them at Ormonde Jayne.
We suggest donning your most elegant robe, snuggling up on the sofa while burning the Witches’ Brew candle and listening to The Boswell Sisters sing The Heebie Jeebiesfor a truly magical evening…
Swathes of purple patches embellishing the countryside truly lift the soul – there’s something about seeing simplicity en-masse that becomes staggeringly beautiful…
Aesthetically pleasing we can all agree, but many fragrance fans unfairly discount a dominant note of lavender in perfumery as being ;old-fashioned; – perhaps recalling scented drawer-sachets or bath salts that rarely use the high quality, perfume-grade lavender, and instead the far cheaper, dusty-old-drawer smelling low quality essential oil or even poorly made synthetic lavender.
Judge not, oh ye of little fragrance faith, until you have read on!
Known in Provence as ;blue gold;, the best lavender used in perfumery tends to be grown in higher altitudes, and often doesn’t at all resemble what we think we know lavender smells of. Pure lavender essential oil can be spicy, peppery, herbaceous, misty, smoky or green and many cannot identify the note when asked to sniff blind.
Recently we took a group of our VIP Subscribers to the wonderful Mitchell & Peach Lavender Farm in Kent, and everyone was enchanted by the picturesque countryside and the family’s in-depth knowledge and passion for the land and the crops they tend there.
With lavender having a resurgence as a note to rediscover in contemporary fragrances we suggested you try, it is also important to appreciate those British classics that have withstood the test of time, and fragrances that cherish it as the “hero note” – revelling in their true lavender love.
You can read more about the history of lavender’s use in perfumery on our fascinating Ingredients section of the website, but in the meantime, here’s our edit of the absolute must-try lavender scents. And every time you spray, you can keep summer alive that little bit longer…
Freshly aromatic with a twist of eucalyptus and rosemary with the traditional lavender, the heart is a tender bouquet of geranium, rose and orange flower, with an earthier base of patchouli and musk for a dusky trail… Bronnley Lavender £13.50 for 50ml eau de toilette
Buy it at bronnley.co.uk
Made by the Cistertian monks of tiny Caldey island in south west Wales, this is humbly presented yet unexpectedly sublime – all fresh air, hazy dawns and mist-draped secret gardens. Almost slightly minty, it’s like a late Summer breeze in a bottle… Caldey Island Lavender £17.50 for 50ml eau de toilette Buy it at caldey-island.co.uk
With a green hay-like sweetness, this is Yardley London’s signature fragrance. Beautifully elegant, lavender leaves enhance the freshness on top, then the oil is infused with neroli and clary sage, geranium, sandalwood and tonka for a smooth dry-down… Yardley English Lavender £9.99 for 50ml eau de toilette
Buy it at Boots
With zesty lemon, verbena and grapefruit shot through the composition of this ultra-green lavender, it’s a wakeup call for the senses. Gauzy jasmine and delicate hints of amber intrigue the cedarwood trail… Crabtree & Evelyn Verbena and Lavender de Provence £20 for 30ml Cologne
Buy it at crabtree-evelyn.co.uk
One of the very first flowers distilled by founder Olivier Baussan, L’Occitane uses lavender directly sourced from farmers’ cooperatives in Haute-Provence. This aromatic tribute to their homeland is the softest way there is to soothe frazzled nerves… L’Occitane Lavender Relaxing Roll-On £12 for 10ml Cologne
Buy it at uk.loccitane.com
Do you have a favourite lavender fragrance, or have you tried one recently that really changed your mind? Do get in touch by Tweeting, posting a picture and tagging us on Instagram or e-mail us here – we’d love to hear about it!
Written by Suzy Nightingale
Inspired by the mythical Goddess of the Moon, the latest fragrance from the proudly British heritage perfume house of Penhaligon’s is an Homeric ode to a silvery, moonlit romance.
Luna is an enchantingly mysterious floral that opens with freshness and then reminds us of sunsets slowly sinking into warmly misty nights sprinkled with twinkling stars, a glowing warmth to offset the cool, inky depth – oh yes, this moon has a dark side, too…
The Goddess is not alone, for her mythically inspired fragrance partner, Endymion, has been around for a while, but Penhaligon’s have ramped up the intensity to make him positively smouldering – how can Luna (or we?) resist?
Penhaligon’s say: ‘Endymion is a firmly established part of the Penhaligon’s collection, and now we have launched a concentrated new version, an intense eau de parfum. Endymion Concentré is a luxurious interpretation of a classic, still a fragrance of contrasts, bright and sensual, light and dark, grounded by leathery suede; distinctly masculine and deeply romantic.
“In ancient Greek mythology, Endymion, the most handsome son of Zeus, was placed into a perpetual slumber by the Goddess of the Moon so that she could gaze upon him forever, his stunning face unmarked by the passage of time. The wishes of the Goddess were granted, and Endymion slept on for all eternity, his smile everlasting. And no wonder, for he spent his life forever dreaming that he held the moon, Luna, gently in his arms.”
So to partner Endymion we created Luna, a new fresh floral offers a feminine counterpart to the woody leather notes of Endymion Concentré. Inspired by the light of a magnificent crescent moon that brightens one’s dreams, this luxurious new fragrance captures the intoxicating spirit of the mythical Goddess of the Moon. Hypnotic and sensual, Luna shines up from the dark water, illuminating the ink-coloured night sky. Opening with the bitter freshness of orange bigarade, the heart unfolds with the crisp lightness of juniper berry, rounded off with the sensuality of a dark woody base.’
A romance that we hope continues for years to come, this star-struck duo are stunningly packaged, too…
Sophia Fannon-Howell is the Founder and Creative Director of Deco London – a vintage-inspired fragrance house for contemporary gals (and guys) about town. Indeed, you can visit our dedicated brand page to learn all about how she came to launch the company and why she’s personally connected to two of the most interesting (and some may say infamous) characters in British history…
As you might suspect for someone who has now devoted their life to all things scented, Sophia admits to being rather fragrance obsessed, surrounding herself in beautifully perfumed things whenever possible. Some of her revelations we could have expected, but the smell of painting fences and something that reminds her of childhood trips to the supermarket? Well, it’s definitely not the weirdest we’ve come across! We find asking people to connect with five deepest-rooted scent memories can be like a time-travelling psychiatry experiment… what would your top five smells of all time remind you of, we wonder?
Creosote – Just because it reminds me of growing up in the 70s/80s and hot summers where the pavements would melt and people would be outside painting their fences. They don’t seem to do that anymore, do they? But in those days everyone seemed to be doing that every summer! As soon as I smell it, I just see bright sunshine – the days when summer seemed to last forever, outside all day on your bike or running wild in the woods with your friends. The smell of freedom!
Grinding coffee – I love this smell, I think it’s because we used to go with my dad shopping to the supermarket on Saturdays, where I grew up in Farnham. It was a big event. Across the road was a little coffee shop and we’d order some, they’d grind it in front of you and put it in a little bag and put a sticker on for you. You can get good coffee all over the place, now, but then it was really quite a special trip.
Lavender – I’ve always adored the smell of lavender but can’t pin it to a specific memory. I put a few drops in my kids bath every night, because it definitely does calm them down. I’d like to think, actually, that I am making scent memories for my kids, and that lavender will be one for them in the future. If they’re upset I put a few drop on their pillow, too. I always have stacks of essential oils around the house but this is the one I use most. I love it in the garden, too. In my last house we lived in the side on Box Hill, right on the chalk – I planted huge swathes of it because it loved the chalk so much. Now we’ve moved I just had to plant loads more – my husband used to keep bees and of course they love it, too.
Roses – Who doesn’t adore roses? I also have a tendency toward rosy perfumes. People can be prejudiced against rose and lavender perfumes because they see them as ‘old fashioned’ but I think you can have classic scents without them being old-lady-ish. I don’t know if there’s a particular rose I love more than any other, but I like to walk around my garden just burying my nose in the roses as often as possible. Heavenly!
Cedarwood – As in the actual wood, and the essential oil. It’s something that’s present in a lot of perfumes but doesn’t necessarily hit the headlines. It’s just so good, so important. We’ve got some drawers at home that the carpenter who made them lined with cedar, and every single time I open a drawer that smell hits me, I love opening those drawers! And it even subtly scents the things inside.
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