Fragrance (but make it fashion!) – Scents inspired by fabrics

The trend-fuelled worlds of fashion and fragrance have been hand-in-glove for centuries – quite literally by 1656, when the perfumery and leather industry had become intrinsically linked, the fashion for exquisitely crafted gloves, popularised at court by Catherine de Medici, somewhat at odds with the disgustingly pungent reality of curing leather in urine. So, the Corporation of Glove-makers and Perfumers – the ‘maître-gantiers’ – (master glove-makers/perfumers) was formed in France, importing ingredients from all over the world to scent the gloves; with acres later given to growing and distilling them, such was Queen Catherine’s passion for perfume, and an entire industry was born in Grasse.

Since then, where fashion has led, so fragrance has followed – and just as hemlines go and up down, and silhouettes dramatically alter from era to era, so too do scented ‘shapes’ change with time. And perumers have long been inspired by fabric in their creations – a peculiar thing, you may think, as most fabrics don’t have their own distinct smell. Yet as we imagine a white sheet drying in sunshine, or the plush eroticism of velvet stroked beneath our fingers, we can also imagine the scent these textures might have. Such is the alchemical magic that fragrance can create – an overlapping of the senses, and in this first of two parts looking at fragrances inspired by fabrics, we pay homage to scents evoking satin, cashmere, leather and cotton…

Satin drapes. It clings to the body. It moves in the most sensuous way… And you definitely need to try draping yourself in this from prolific and gifted ‘nose’ Francis Kurkdjian. We’d call this an after-dark fragrance, one for oudh-lovers, for sure – but busting any prejudices against that ultra-woody material, for in Francis’s hands it never, ever overwhelms. We’re getting Turkish delight – a sugar-dusted rosiness that blends Bulgarian rose essence with Turkish rose absolute, while genuine Laotian oudh melts into benzoin from Siam, and the sweetness owes much to a soft, powdery accord of violet and vanilla in the heart. There’s almost a chocolate-y element swirling seductively around the patchouli, while the oudh underpins everything with its animalic smokiness. Mesmerising.

Maison Francis Kurkdjian Oud Satin Mood £200 for 70ml eau de parfum
harveynichols.com

 

 

Tom describes Iridium as ‘the fragrance equivalent of charcoal coloured cashmere.’ We always enjoy a description that makes you imagine a smell from a texture and colour, don’t you? And this really is a cool-toned cashmere, exuding effortless chic with all the powdery sophistication of precious iris concrète, but granted a strong silvery spine. The iris is dosed with carrot seed to amplify the dry, root-y yet so-refined character, and the synthetic note of Iso E Super wafts forth a deliciously grown-up gourmand ‘your skin but better’ dry-down – the kind that has people asking ‘what’s that delicious smell?’ and a secret smile is stifled when you know it’s you… Now also available as an extrait formula, poured at 71% strength, for even longer lasting enswathement.

Tom Daxon Iridium £105for 50ml eau de parfum
tomdaxon.com

 

 

Reminding us of our beloved leather jacket, a stack of books or the wood-panelled, boozily infused surroundings of a members’ only club, leather fragrances evoke a particularly voracious and luxurious sensuality, favouring deep base notes that linger the whole day long. Russian leather fragrances have a long heritage, the intense smokiness of birch the vital scent ingredient giving ‘Russian’ leather it’s characteristic smell. Here, Molton Brown curl swirls of smoke through a Siberian pine forest, infusing leather-bound books with a campfire’s glowing ember scent. Magnificently done, it’s an especial pleasure in colder weather, though I love layering it at times with a rose that needs some extra oomph.

Molton Brown Russian Leather £60 for 50ml eau de toilette
Buy it at moltonbrown.co.uk

 

 

Like burying one’s nose in sunny-day line-dried linen, a gust of pure, clean ozonic notes greets us at this fragrance’s first spritz, only made more refreshing by a rush of watery notes and pinch of ginger. Mint and green accords carry this clean and fresh feeling into the fragrance’s heart accord, which then softens into florals, cushioned by skin-like musk and vetiver. Magically capturing the comforting sensation of crispness, and featuring elegant white lilies, floral cotton accords and a vanilla-speckled, benzoin-infused amber glow in the mix: this is one to spray when you need to be reminded of home, of lazy sundays and lie-ins and snuggling up in bliss. (See below to get a luxury try-me size!)

CLEAN Reserve Warm Cotton [Reserve Blend] £82 for 100ml eau de parfum
spacenk.com

 

 

Warm Cotton was the perfect addition to the Luxury Layering Discovery Box – featuring THIRTEEN layerable scents and three fragrant body treats to try at home for £19 (£15 for VIPs) – use it to freshen up a perfume without resorting to the usual citrus, to soften a scent you feel is too harsh or simply to luxuriate in the sebsation of that clean, soft white fabric dried in the sunshine.

Whether vintage or modern – evoking an era or an archetypal fabric – the fingers of fashion are still firmly within those fragrant gloves, and together they work their alchemical magic to embolden us: seducing several senses while enhancing our own sense of who we are – or whomever we want to be that day…

By Suzy Nightingale

Softly (scented) does it: Bamford's Knitwear Wash is cashmere, bottled…

Fashion and fragrance go hand in [scented] glove, and with super models strutting their stuff on the catwalks of London Fashion Week, our thoughts turn the array of beautiful fabrics on display. Us being us, of course we want everything to smell fabulous – and our just-published Fashion & Fragrance edition of The Scented Letter magazine features an in-depth sniff into the secretive world of fabric conditoners and the perfumers who work on them.
But we didn’t want to stop there. Not everyone likes washing in a machine – particularly those luxuriously delicate hand-wash only fabrics that require a bit of tender loving care, and the sensorial delight of slipping them on is further heightened by the scent of the washing liquid ‘matching’ our perception of what the particular fabric should smell of. So what does wool smell like to you…?
caring-for-cashmere-00-780x780
Fabric care products for hand washing clothes – particularly those aimed at the cashmere and silk market – tend on the whole to be far more delicately fragranced. Indeed, you may have seen ‘cashmere’ listed as a note in many perfumes. But what does it smell of? The untreated wool alone is certainly not what we may dream of when imagining burying our faces in kitten-soft materials, and in fine perfumery each perfumer may compose their own interpretation within an accord to create the smell of fluffy luxury.
Within this market, organic and natural brands thrive, with many highlighting the purity of their products and selling them alongside their body and skincare lines. The organic brand Bamford sell beauty products along with knitwear and cotton clothing, and we asked why they decided to develop their own knitwear wash, soothingly fragranced with cedar extract (which really does smell as you imagine cashmere should!)
10693409_1495759233997068_2122202211_n
As Merchandise Director Karen Leck explained: ‘It encourages you to wash knitwear by hand, which is the very best way to care for it. We chose not to use a strongly scented wash as they can be too overpowering and fragrance is very personal. Knitwear is an emotional purchase, it’s our best-selling category – most of us have a favourite sweater – they’re comforting as well as comfortable and the scent adds to the whole sensual experience of natural fibres against the skin. I also use a Bamford Pebble Soap in my knitwear drawers, as it gives just enough natural fragrance to personalise my sweaters.’
Bamford Knitwear Wash £15 for 350ml
See bamford.co.uk for stockists
Written by Suzy Nightingale