Regarded as a lucky charm ever since its first introduction from Japan to Europe in the Middle Ages, lily of the valley has become synonymous with the month of May and ‘the return of happiness’. One of the reasons The Perfume Society chose lily of the valley as our symbolic flower, and why we launched on May 1st – to our astonishment, that was NINE years ago, now!
For the French, May 1st traditionally represents the start of gifting bouquets of “muguet” to loved ones to signify the regard in which they’re held and as a token of prosperity for the year ahead. A tradition supposedly begun when King Charles IX was presented with a bunch of the delicate blooms, and decided to gift the ladies of his court, too.
In Europe, ‘bals de muguet’ were historically held – lily of the valley themed dances that offered the tantalising prospect for young singletons to meet without their parents’ permission.
An iconic (and ultra-chic) lily of valley fragrance was the original Dior Diorissimo, designed in 1956 by Edmond Roudnitska. Composed in homage to Christian Dior’s favorite flowe, the lily of the valley was to be found on his personal stationary, jacket lapels, printed on his fashion designs, and, on one occasion, inspired his entire 1954 spring collection.
A more recent icon is Penhaligon’s Lily of the Valley, which was launched in 1976 – tapping into the fashion trend for romantic nostalgia – and which is wonderfully described as ‘Lacey leaves. Dappled light. Green, clean, wholesome. Lily of the Valley is as fresh and optimistic as the morning dew, grounded by notes of bergamot and sandalwood.’
With the young gals dressed in white gowns and the dapper chaps at those historic bals wearing lily of the valley as a buttonhole, we’re sure there was many a ‘return to happiness’ on such evenings… Now the custom is tied in with France’s Labour Day public holiday, and the tradition of giving lily of the valley to loved ones during May still holds strong.
Lily of the valley has also made its way into countless bridal bouquets (including that of Kate Middleton for her wedding to Prince Willliam); in many countries, it’s linked to this day with tenderness, love, faith, happiness and purity.
So what does lily of the valley smell like?
Almost spicy, so green and sweet, with crisp hints of lemon: that’s lily of the valley. The flowers themselves are really mean with their oil, though, and synthetics are more often used to recreate lily of the valley’s magic: Lilial, Lyral and hydroxycitronellal are among them.
Far from reserving this magical note for May, or thinking that it has to be ‘old-fashioned’ smelling in a scent, we love the way perfumers use lily of the valley to ‘open up’ and freshen the other floral notes in a blend. It can smell like a woodland walk just after a rainshower (so very apropos for our weather right now, in the U.K.) or add some gentle sparkles of sunlight amid more verdant or deeper, shady phases as a scent unfurls on your skin.
No wonder we chose this delightful, flower-filled date in the calendar to launch The Perfume Society – incredibly, NINE years ago, now – running hither and thither all over London handing sprigs of lily of the valley to fragrant friends!
And my, how our friends have grown in this short time! With a readership that stretches around the globe and our Instagram followers now topping 67.8K, we have been delighted with some of the truly beautiful pictures some of our followers have been sharing there. Just feast your eyes on the stunning pictures we’ve sprinkled throughout this post…
With your help we’ve come so far. We wish we could come and give every single one of you a sprig of lily of the valley to show our heartfelt appreciation for all your support, but for now, accept this symbol of love and luck, from us to all of you…
Maison Francis Kurkdjian has pulled out all the stops this season, offering new and exciting ways to scent your home (and yourself!) From fragrant Christmas trees, scented caligraphy cards and the most goregous candle, there’s also excellent news for fans of a certain best-selling fragrance who’d believe in going big or going home…
There’s no doubt that perfumer Francis Kurkdjian is one of the most stylish people we know. From the exquisite fine fragrances and accessories that have made him world famous, to his personal flair when designing the so-chic boutiques and decorating his own (of course ultra fabulous) Parisian apartment. Borrowing a little of that effortless élan for some French contemporary style, Maison Francis Kurkdjian invite you to come inside and ‘…plunge into a unique universe where the art and pleasure of giving become one. Fragrances and candles wait patiently by the Christmas tree, the theme chosen by Francis Kurkdjian, as the quiet and elegantly dressed witnesses of the season’s celebrations.’
‘O Christmas tree, o Christmas tree, how lovely is thy fragrance…’
Mon beau Sapin, the iconic holiday candle by Maison Francis Kurkdjian, now comes in a dark green colour adorned with a fir bough decorated in white and gold. Its generous, characteristic smell of a balsam fir, slightly resinous, slowly guides us towards a reassuring forest. This candle, with its specific wintery enveloping fragrance brings the finishing touch to the joyful holiday mood and memories past.
Maison Francis Kurkdjian Mon Beau Sapin Candle £55 for 190 g, at Selfridges new MFK counter
If you’re one of the many (many!) fragrant fans of the iconic Baccarat Rouge 540 extrait de parfum, or you know someone who is, get ready to squeal quite a lot. A whopping great supersize-me version of the fragrance has been created especially for Christmas, standing proud at 200ml, and definitely subscribing to the belief that bigger is better.
‘Baccarat Rouge 540 was born of the encounter five years ago between Baccarat and Maison Francis Kurkdjian, two luxury houses with a shared passion for know-how. Baccarat Rouge 540 tells the story of how gold is magically transformed into red, a process whose secret is known only by Baccarat. Blended with 24-karat gold dust and gradually fused until it reaches precisely 540 degrees, Baccarat’s transparent crystal slowly dons a dazzling red hue.’
This fragrance has been a world-wide best-seller for a reason: it smells incredible – we know exactly where a certain member of The Perfume Society team has been because she trails this everywhere she goes. It’s available as an eau de parfum in the clear crystal bottle and as an extrait de parfum in a deep, ruby red bottle; and if this is a present for someone you love, it’s certainly not only Santa that’s getting snogged under the mistletoe this year!
Maison Francis Kurkdjian Baccarat Rouge 540 extrait de parfum £590 for 200ml at Harvey Nichols, Selfridges, John Lewis, Les Senteurs, Harrods & franciskurkdjian.com
Thursday to Sunday there will be caligraphy on specially scented Christmas cards at the new Maison Francis Kurkdjian Selfridges counter. And they are also offering a mini Mon Beau Sapin candle as a free gift with purchase. (We absolutely will not judge you if you decide to keep this for yourself. The person you’re buying the gift for will never know, right? Right. And we’ll be doing the same, so…)
Finally, if you needed another reason to pop across to France (with the car, we think, for this one…) before Christmas, then look no further than the wonder that is a scented Maison Francis Kurkdjian Christmas tree! Sadly these are not available in the U.K. this year, but those seeking the ultimate in festive fragrance can delight in them at the following stores:
Perfumed and fireproofed Nordmann Tree, 100/120 cm:
Green natural tree from 145 euros*
Flocked tree with natural dusting from 185 euros*
Flocked integral white tree from 205 euros*
*(Suggested retail price excluding delivery)
Order from Parisian shops Maison Francis Kurkdjian: Boutique Saint Honoré – 5 rue d’Alger, Paris 1er – +33 1 42 60 07 07 Boutique Marais – 7 rue des Blancs-Manteaux, Paris 4ème – +33 1 42 71 76 76
The mere descriptions, let alone gawping at these pictures, makes us feel instantly more stylish; and we find that theme of the Holiday tree on all accompanying boxes, gift sets, tissue paper and bags – illustrations and images drawn by Kurkdjian himself and created by his design team. So if you’re searching for that perfect present for someone special, hankering after treating yourself for a change, or heavily hinting to loved ones (we find choosing the Print Screen option and circling the ones you want in red while mouthing ‘THOSE PLEASE’ works really well); you’ll find that ‘…everything at Maison Francis Kurkdjian comes together to create a wintry harmony where an eye for detail lies at the heart of the creative process.’ Naturellement!
Eight masterpieces have inspired eight world-famous perfumers to create fragrances for L’Officine Universelle Buly 1803 – the ancestral beauty, fragrance, home and lifestyle brand revived by Ramdane Touhami and his wife and business partner, Victoire de Tallac.
Buly 1803 invited The Perfume Society to a private view of the fragrances alongside the artworks within the Louvre. Yes, a private view – no jostling crowds or security guards moving you along, just a small group of journalists wandering the magnificent building, the hallways echoing to the sounds of our footsteps, the smell of beeswax a clue to the wooden floors being polished, our voices hushed, reverential, as though we were in church.
Before we entered the sanctuary of art – and now, scent – we asked Victoire how the project had come about, and why, with the greatest respect, the Louvre had asked a (still relatively small) niche company to create the perfumes, when they could have had any number of famous French fragrance houses beating a path to their door. ‘I think they really wanted to collaborate with us because they’re still interested in working with modern artists, to show the power that art still has to inspire,’ she explained.
Inspirational indeed, when one considers the artworks arrayed here represent some of the most famous pieces in the world. As we walked by faces looking out at us from the golden frames or perched atop marble plinths, it felt strangely like visiting a gallery of dear friends, glancing in our wake.
One by one, we were led to particular pieces the perfumers had chosen as the inspiration for their fragrance. An art historian explained each work in great depth, with the perfumers standing by to explain their process, and of course to let us smell their final creations.
Describing how they had worked together, Victoire said that ‘Ramdane had a very clear idea of what he wanted to do, allowing the perfumers to pick the artwork and creating a perfume based on it. They had completely free reign, they could choose anything.’ Perhaps unsurprisingly, none of them chose The Mona Lisa – it would have been a bit obvious, it’s become the one painting most people in the world could probably name as being housed at the Louvre. And really, as you will see, there are far more beguiling oeuvre to become enamoured by…
Gainsborough’s painting of courtly flirtations within an idyllic landscape inspired the perfumer, Piot, to add sharp, cooling touches of peppermint and bergamot to an imposing bouquet of Ottoman roses. One can almost hear the laughter, the stiff rustle of shot taffeta, a snapshot of shared intimacy that’s thought to be Gainsborough himself, with his wife.
Buly say: ‘Behind the green, sylvan curtain of a theatre of the tender touch, a ray of sunlight, redolent of berries and citrus, illuminates the temple of the soul. On a carpet of peppermint, the silky petals of the dress unfold like the heart of a rose; a flush rises to the cheeks. In the air, sweet nothings float.’
The luminescent skin of Jean-Auguste Dominique Ingres’ Bather just glows from the canvas, and perfumer Andrier translates the glorious textures using a stimulating burst of citronella and orange blossom, embellished with rich patchouli and a smoky drift of incense.
Buly say: ‘Steam rising from marble sluiced with waves of heated water, dampened muslin wraps the shining limbs, delicately soaped; susurrations of the hammam. After bathing, resting on fresh sheets, the skin, still beaded with moisture, is chafed with lavender and orange blossom; now refreshed, its velvety pallor like an iris petal pearled by a mist of incense and musk.’
Here, Héreault reconstructs the languid sensuality of the female form using an intoxicating combination of mandarin, jasmine and amber – a quietly imposing blend that seems to swoon on the skin rather than merely be applied.
Buly say: ‘Gentle white of jasmine, of neroli, of the matte and polished petals of magnolia, amber and sacred wood. Eternal, without past or present, the beauty of the marble goddess, elusive and notional, lifts up the soul with timeless bliss.’
Fragonard’s much-discussed painting provided Lebeau’s fragrant muse, seeking to evoke the sexually charged possible danger of the scene juxtaposed by the opulent velvet drapery, with a combination of lily and musk to create her bewitching scent.
Buly say: ‘Scent of the apple on the table, fruit carried to the lips like a kiss, to the neck, the breast. Ardent desire entangled in linen sheets, tousled hair, traces of the teeth on tender skin, its white musk scorched scarlet by love’s burning touch; the heady thrill of an illicit rendez-vous.’
Georges de La Tour’s tender depiction of Joseph’s weather-beaten face, lit by candelight and looking with concern at the infant Jesus, is demonstrated by Lancesseur with a deep, resonant thrum of cedar wood suddenly illuminated by verbena, pink berries and vetiver.
Buly say: ‘The golden orange blossom and incense ignite in the amber night, humming with vetiver and cedarwood. In a censer, spices and dry herbs smoulder to keep the spirits at bay. A gesture is arrested, suspended in the face of epiphany. The divine aura illuminates the heart of the initiate, and banishes the darkness.’
The emotional power of the iconic statue – found in hundreds of pieces, she was put back together like a jigsaw – has been given life in olfactory form by Massenet’s rich harmony of tuberose, magnolia and jasmine, enhanced by the warmth of myrrh.
Buly say: ‘Blown by a gale scented with citrus, in the perilous rush of the straits, the white bouquet of the salt-encrusted drapery wraps around the victorious effigy. At her marble feet, the waves, the incantations, the roses, the ocean of History and all her conquests; at her feet, the foundered hearts of heroes.’
Somehow making marble seem as supple as the female form, Lorenzo Bartolini’s sculpture does what it says in the title – the naked nymph perhaps regretting not donning a pair of shoes and she reaches for her freshly bitten foot. And Ménardo’s enticing bouquet of heliotrope and jasmine also sizzles with amber and musk.
Buly say: ‘The bitter kiss of the sting of almond prickles on the naked skin massaged with amber. Like quicksilver, the venom floods the veins, arrests the maiden’s glance, frozen in marble. The heart clouds with toxins, like the bloom of algae in a clear pond.’
The licentious gaze of Inges courtesan is reflected in Bertier’s alluring trail of exotic incense and pink pepper enhanced with intensely musky notes, to represent the reach-out-and-touch me textural deliciousness of the sitter’s pale skin and the luxuriously delicate draperies.
Buly say: ‘The musky, chilly satin of a shoulder, the sinuous curve of a hip or breast, gleaming in an alcove chased with brass, an Ambréeist’s shrine, a dream of Eastern Promise. The pink pepper of the cheeks pricks the heart and, beneath the silken scarf, a perfume of incense suffuses the hair.’
We were so sad not to be able to include this incredible Buly/Louvre collaboration in the Perfume & Culture edition of our magazine, The Scented Letter – the project didn’t launch until after it had been published. But it certainly shows our fingers are firmly on the pulse of this artistic fragrant revolution. Get a huge dose of glorious artistic interpretations of perfume through the ages – from cinematic scents, to actors using fragrance to fully ‘become’ the parts they play, and a jaw-dropping collection of perfume art flaçons recently auctioned in America (one of which graces the cover). Along with your regular scent shots of news, interviews and all the latest reviews, the 60-page print magazine is available to purchase here.
What a complete honour – and how overwhelmingly emotional – it was to walk the hallowed halls of the Louvre in such a private party, and to smell such wonderful evocations of the artforms. In Eau Triple formulation (milky, hydrating and skin-friendly water-based), each truly pays perfumed homage to the iconic artworks. It was an experience we will never forget, and which we urge you to take part in by visiting the Louvre, and trying the scents on your own skin having seen the magnificent pieces yourself.
The Buly 1803 shop will sell all eight fragrances at the Louvre for one year only, along with candles, scented soap sheets, and fragranced postcards for the most chic ‘wish you were here’. So if you’ve always meant to go there, or hanker after another look at the Louvre’s incredible collection, then now would be the perfect time for fragrance and art fans to pay them a visit…
L’OfficieneUniverselle Buly 1803 €150 for 200ml Eau Triple
In France they don’t just honour perfumers with prize certificates, they actually award them with knighthoods! We’re thrilled to learn that Calice Becker, Vice President Perfumer and Director of the Givaudan Perfumery School, has been honoured by receiving the French médaille de Chevalier dans l’ordre des Arts et des Lettres for her significant contribution to the arts through perfumery.
Having created many of what we’re sure are your favourite fragrances – from Tom Ford’s Velvet Orchid to Dior’s J’Adore, L’Occitane Terre de Lumieré and hundreds more besides, we say it’s about time, too, and highly well deserved!
The prestigious honour was presented in Paris by Sylviane Tarsot-Gillery, Director of Artistic Creation at the Ministry of Culture for the French government.
Givaudan say: ‘Calice is an exceptional, award-winning perfumer having created some of the world’s most recognisable fragrances of our time. She’s an extraordinary leader in the global perfumery community serving as the President of the International Society of Perfumer-Creators and also a dedicated advisor for aspiring young talents. She joins the small number of perfumers who have been recognised by the French Ministry of Culture with this honour.
In 1985, Calice began her perfumery training at Roure in Grasse which led her to Givaudan where she has passionately contributed as a perfumer for almost 40 years. She was appointed to the prominent position of Director of the Givaudan Perfumery School in 2017 where she leads the training and development of future perfumery artists. She combines her passion for sharing her knowledge of creation as well as her constant quest to enhance the creative process.
Calice’s creative success is unique in its breadth across the United States and Europe where her fragrances have marked eras and defined brands. Her creations include international classics such as: Monsieur Balmain by Balmain, Tommy Girl by Tommy Hilfiger, J’adore by Dior, Ambre Eccentrico by Armani Privé, Dylan Blue by Versace, and select By Kilian fragrances.
Calice Becker said: ‘I am truly honoured and gratified to receive this honour from the French Ministry of Culture. I feel privileged to join the small group of perfumers who have been recognised and I am especially pleased of the recognition it brings to celebrating the heritage of perfumery today.’
Maurizio Volpi, President of Givaudan’s Fragrance Division said: ‘Calice’s passion for perfume creation and dedication to training young perfumers is an inspiration to all of us at Givaudan. This honour celebrates her remarkable career in perfumery and her leadership in the industry. We congratulate her for this magnificent, highly deserved achievement.’
In fact, this is the second time a Givaudan Perfumer has received this accolade – the brilliant Daniela Andrier, Vice President Perfumer, attained the same honour in 2012. And we’re stringing out the bunting and waving the flags to celebrate this double female success in the perfume world!
You can actually smell the Anima Vinci roses in Grasse before you see them. I had been driven from Nice airport to the fields by renowned (and now independent) perfumer, Thomas Fontaine, and have to admit that, as we cruised along the motorway with the steeply exotic looking hills of Grasse surrounding us, I felt like I was (as the young people say these days) living my best life. As I opened the car door a wall of fragrance greeted me, an all-pervading scent that at times was tantalisingly sheer, carried away by a sudden breeze; but mostly hovered like an olfactory canopy, a ceiling of scent.
How to describe the fragrance? Centifolia roses are the epitome of dewy freshness, gathered in the early morning before the sun can evaporate the precious oils, and with a delicate ripe raspberry note flickering through a green, graceful core. Probably the best way I can make it manifest is to say they smell like their colour, but nothing can quite do justice to the experience of closing your eyes and breathing in that smell for yourself.
We were visiting the rose fields owned by a farmer called Mr Joubert, who looks exactly as you hope a French rose-field farmer would – frayed flannel shirt and skin long-tanned by his lifetime of hard work in those fields. In fact, I later learned that his family had owned them for centuries, his strong, careful hands expertly cupping the pale pink petals and quickly, so-gently, twisting them to come away as a full bloom. The buds are left on the bush and tomorrow, the process repeated until every petal has been safely gathered and taken in hessian sacks to what basically amounts to Mr Joubert’s garage. Piled en-masse, they’re weighed and transported within two hours to the place that processes them in to ‘concrete’, a solid (or sometimes semi-solid) product resulting from solvent extraction. When the concrete is washed with alcohol, it finally becomes what we know as an ‘absolute’.
Incredibly, it takes around 12 tonnes of fresh flowers to produce just one kilogram of rose absolute, the harvest season for Centifolia roses is only a few days – and what has been gathered represents that entire year’s crop. The back-breaking highly skilled work, the sheer amount of petals it takes to produce the final product and the risk of bad weather or disease affecting the quality explains why Centifolia rose absolute is one of the most expensive materials known in perfumery – currently, the price is between 15 000 / 20 000 euros per kilo.
Nathalie’s fingerprints are all over the perfume world – previously Head of Fragrance Development for Penhaligon’s and L’Artisan Parfumeur – but she’d always wanted to start her own business, where she could ensure the quality, authenticity and sustainability through every single stage of a perfume’s production. Every year she makes sure to personally visit the rose fields to assess the quality, to make sure the farmer is happy and to continue to build these vital relationships that, ultimately, shape the way we smell when we purchase that final bottle of perfume.
Wearing it now, I can be transported back to those sun-baked fields in a flash, and really that’s the power of perfume, isn’t it? To capture a moment for eternity, to gift us the experience of travelling back there with every eager spritz, to allow us to dream. But what does the future hold for precious, labour-intensive fragrant crops such as these?
Some farming families in Grasse used to own jasmine fields, too, Nathalie tells me, but the majority were forced to abandon them when companies found they could buy (lesser quality) jasmine far more cheaply, elsewhere. ‘Their children didn’t want to take on such work with such risk – they could make far more money through selling the land for property or even for “glamping”, or you know, they go and work in IT…’ Nathalie tells me.
Visiting these fields – meeting the producers first-hand – cannot help but drum home to anyone with even a fleeting interest in fragrance how vital it is to support these companies who genuinely care about that future. And so, the next time you reach for a bottle of what purports to be a ‘rose perfume’, do you know exactly where those petals grew? I guarantee that if you do, your pleasure at wearing it can only increase…
Anima Vinci Rose Prana £150 for 100ml eau de parfum
Count Hubert James Marcel Taffin de Givenchy – little wonder he simply became known as ‘Givenchy.’ The esteemed couturier died on Saturday at the age of 91, with French President Emmanuel Macron saying that, ‘France has lost a master. A master of elegance, creation and invention, a master of his culture and ambassador of this spirit of liberty and audacity.’
Famed for dressing the most glamorous stars, from Audrey Hepburn and Princess Grace of Monaco to Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, they were counted not only as clients, but friends and admirers of his exquisite work.
Indeed Givenchy was much admired, and it’s been noted that ‘it didn’t hurt’ he was blessed with strapping height (6ft 6) and elegant good looks along with his natural talent and quiet charm. Creator of the famous ‘little black dress’ his muse Hepburn would wear in Breakfast at Tiffany’s – his name became legendary in his own lifetime and (just like his fashions, perfumes and makeup) will echo through the ages.
As early as 1957, Givenchy was already creating fragrances – declaring them a woman’s ‘finishing touch’, when getting dressed. In 1958 – at a time when perfumes didn’t have ‘faces’ – he created a revolution by asking his friend Audrey Hepburn to be the star of the advertising campaign for L’Interdit: the very first time that a movie star had appeared in a perfume advertisement.
Our co-founder, Jo Fairley, had the pleasure of meeting the man himself, interviewing him at the launch of the first Givenchy makeup line in ’91, and recalls with a smile that ‘Hubert de Givenchy is probably the most charming and graceful man I’ve ever met.’
Today, within Givenchy‘s perfumed portfolio, you’ll find something for every fragrance-lover. The classic Véry Irrésistible, for instance – created by celebrated ‘noses’ Dominique Ropion, Carlos Benaïm and Sophie Labbé – was launched in 2003, showcased in what has become an iconic sculpted bottle. Then the feminine scent had its floral notes melded with vanilla in the Véry Irrésistible Eau de Parfum – and the rose elements played up in Véry Irrésistible L’Eau en Rose.
For further reading and to learn more about Hubert de Givenchy’s incredible life, turn to our page dedicated to Givenchy and in the meantime, we urge you to seek out one of the many fabulous fragrances and take a moment to appreciate his legacy…
Since 1828, the French house of Guerlain has been synonymous with perfumes inspired by and created for strikingly strong women. As Jacques Guerlain himself once said: ‘We create perfumes for the women we admire.’ So who better to personify that independent, wilful yet utterly elegant spirit than Angelina Jolie, whom Guerlain have just announced as their personification of their new fragrance… Guerlain Parfumeur Mon Parfum.
Master Perfumer at Guerlain, Thierry Wasser, created Guerlain Parfumeur by drawing direct inspiration from Angelina Jolie, expressing the idea of ‘…the notes of a woman,’ and the embodiment of modern femininity within her choices, emotions and dreams.
First known as an actress, Jolie is now a filmaker in her own right while also serving as Special Envoy to the UN Refugee Agency, co-founder of the Preventing Sexual Violence Initiative and human rights activist, with many emotional and familial ties to France and the house of Guerlain itself. The deal was struck in 2015, with Jolie having long been a fan of Guerlain since childhood, with evocative scent memories of her mother’s love for a Guerlain powder. But Jolie also represents the continuation of a house that has ever pushed the boundaries while striving for modernity and perfectly executing a timeless, fearless femininity… Indeed, Jolie’s compassion is also at the fore, with her decision to donate her entire salary from the collaboration to charity.
Think of Guerlain’s most famous fragrances – scents that have stood the test of time and will likely outlive us all – and a powerful woman will be behind the inspiration for the perfume, somewhere. Such as the exuberantly mysterious Mitsouko from 1919. Composed by Jacques Guerlain the perfume was based on the novel ‘La bataille’ and the eponymous heroine and wife of a Japanese Admiral, caught in the web of a tangled love affair with a British officer. A masterful balance of the juicy peach and rounded oakmoss of the base, Mitsouko retains its ambiguous juxtaposition of alluring warmth and cool reserve – an echo of the story’s heroine who must control her raging emotions with dignity as she awaits news of which, if either, of her lovers will return from the war.
If Mitsouko represents an attempted control of the vagaries of the human heart, then Shalimar gives free reign to overwhelming passion and devotion – a romance poem written in perfume and representing the legendary love of Emperor Shahjahan and his wife Mumtaz Mahal, meaning “Jewel of the Palace,” and also composed by Jacques Guerlain, in 1925. During their marriage the couple were inseparable, but having given birth to thirteen children, she died during the birth of their gourteenth. Devastated by her death, Shah Jahan had the Taj Mahal built in memory of his wife and their undying love; and Shalimar is named after ‘The Gardens of Shalimar,’ her favourite place. One of the best-selling perfumes in the world to this day, Shalimar seamlessly weaves citrus freshness in to a beguiling floral heart garlanded by gauzy jasmine and may rose, with a charismatic dry down that wavers between the warmth of opoponax, tonka bean and vanilla, and a misty coolness of iris and ambergris.
These scented stories are merely two of the redolent, towering and immediately evocative fragrances in their rich tapestry – and with Jolie at the helm of their forthcoming fragrance – due for release in March 2017 – for Guerlain, the future is definitely a continued celebration of female strength…
Written by Suzy Nightingale
Dappled sunlight dipping low, skin still warm, running through corn fields in a crisp, white gown as the sun sets… ah, how the dreary days of January make us yearn for such simple pleasures. Even going outside without a coat and brolly right now would be a luxury! But fear not, for L’OCCITANE have bottled the sunshine from that ethereal, other-worldly time of day often termed “the Golden Hour“, and infused the glow into their new fragrance (to be launched in February): Terre de Lumière… L’OCCITANE say: ‘As the day draws to a close, the sky is set alight, embracing all the shades of gold. Beauty is suspended in time and this stunning spectacle reaches its height. Light infuses the ingredients in this fragrance, enhancing them in a rich, faceted creation that evokes the intense sensoriality of a walk through the fields of Provence at the Golden Hour.’
Oh yes, take us there now, please…!
We were lucky enough to be present at the press launch of this perfume, and so excited to discover this will be the very first gourmand fragrance for the brand. We predict gourmand as a genre will be huge news once again in 2017 – the comforting, deliciously food-inspired fragrance family seems only natural to turn to in times of uncertainty – and far from the 90s scent bombs that truly began this trend, gourmand has taken a fresh turn of sophistication and wearability – for men and women alike.
Top Notes: bergamot, ambrette seed, pink pepper Heart Notes: lavender, honey Base Notes: acacia flower, bitter almond essence, tonka bean, white musk
Renowned perfumer Calice Becker was chosen for Terre de Lumière, closely collaborating with Shyamala Maisondieu and Nadège Le Garlantezec; Calice explains how the talented trio worked on the fragrance so that it ‘…plays on the tension between masculine freshness and delicious feminine softness. It’s a very innovative scent, the first gourmand aromatic fragrance from L’OCCITANE, absolutely addictive.’ Talking about the inspiration for composing the scent, Calice describes the Golden Hour as the time ‘…when the light is at its most beautiful. It is also when scents are at their height.’
And so what does it smell like? Well, close your eyes, imagine the setting sun still warm on your skin (move closer to the fire or add another layer of clothing, if necessary!) and let us take you to the glowing fields of Provence…
Aromatically zesty from the first spritz, there’s almost a sigh of delight as the fizz of bergamot and pink pepper suddenly melts into the true heart of honey infused with lavender and balanced by the milky freshness of acacia blossoms, the almond-like nuttiness of tonka beans and the balsamic warmth of the earthier base. Perfectly evoking that moment when the day slips impercitibly to dusk, it’s the sensation of contemplative contentment while sitting on a hay bale, having romped barefoot in flower meadows and paddled in cool streams. Deliciously revivifying and fragrantly soothing all at once, we bet you can’t wait to try it…
…And on that note, we suggest [*wink wink*] that you keep your eyes peeled for an exciting announcement, for you could be one of the first people to Discover Terre de Lumière with us. [*hint hint*]
Written by Suzy Nightingale
Parisians do that chic-but-edgy rock ‘n roll thing so insouciantly it must be in their very DNA, and the Paris-based fashion house of uber cool Zadig & Voltaire embody the concept of easy luxury every single day. And now you can, too, with the brand’s This is Her! and This is Him! fragrances enticing you to embrace modernity and break the mould – and if all that sounds like a lot of hard work, then we say simply relax while smelling distinctively sublime…
French designer Thierry Gillier was inspired by the iconic revolutionary philosopher of the Enlightenment, Voltaire, and his protagonist hero Zadig, to create his grunge-chic label, and being a scent obsessive it seemed only natural to have that ethos embodied in fragrant form. Explains Gillier:
‘I can’t imagine a life without fragrance. I like when it leaves a trail, asserts a personality. It’s an alchemy between you and someone else…’
Watch the ad campaign right here – read our review (below) and then run to sniff for yourselves. You can thank us later…
With arty looking bottles seemingly hewn from granite, the ‘jagged’ edges actually fit together in perfect harmony. And the scents? This is Her! imagines a free-spirited punk princess dressed in sensuous silk and cashmere, the woody-gourmand notes of chestnut and sandalwood buoyed by a burst of pink pepper in the top notes and sweet jasmine sighing softly at the heart.
We must admit that we swooned quite a bit over This is Him! While perhaps not being the target market of “…a powerful gentleman of rock, complete with a leather look”, we urge other women to try this on their skin, too, as the pepper and grapefruit zip almost immediately into an irresistible swirl of soft incense and salty vanilla – a definite wrist-sniffer, and the boys can go sulk because we’re not sharing this one, either.
Zadig & Voltaire This is Her! from £38 for 30ml eau de parfum Zadig & Voltaire This is Him! from £36 for 30ml eau de toilette
Buy them at Debenhams
Written by Suzy Nightingale