The Secret Ways of Perfume by Cristina Caboni is the scent-themed book we’re snuggled up with right now – why not make yourself a brew and get cosy while you read our review…?
The Secret Ways of Perfume by Cristina Caboni
Any novel that contains the phrase ‘perfume is the truth’ has us whooping for joy, and in her beautiful novel, Caboni reminds us that scent has the greatest power to ignite our memories – something the main character, Elena Rossini, knows only too well.
Granted a rare gift of a superior sense of smell, Elena’s passion for perfume has been passed down through generations of her family; but it’s a power that can all too often overwhelm her, as this ability means painful memories about her mother are carried on the breeze, and so she can never truly escape her past. When a betrayal destroys her dreams, fragrant events are set in motion when Elena’s best friend invites her to Paris, and she grabs at the chance to start afresh.
Lured by the promise of immersing herself in the world of scent once again, the ancient art of composing perfume beckons our protagonist. Searching for a secret recipe within her family’s historic archives, Elena’s new goal becomes the replication of a composition noone in her family managed to master. Having met a man who’s harbouring his own clandestine past; before long, she’s following the scent trail toall manner of mysterious discoveries. Because, as she was told all those years ago:
‘Remember Elena, perfume is the truth. The only thing that really counts. Perfume never lies, perfume is what we are, it’s our true essence…’
From the landscape of Florence to the sun-drenched lavender fields, this a book to delight all perfume-lovers – a novel that you’ll dive in to, nose first.
Buy it from Penguin U.K. (BLack Swan imprint, 2016)
In the mood for some more perfume-related books? We have a whole scented bookshelf of Fragrant Reads – from non-fiction historical explorations to contemporary criticism, with a plethora of perfume-related reading you can get your nose stuck in, right now!
BeauFort London are one of the most intriguing brands we’ve seen in a long time, so imagine our excitement on discovering they’ve just released their latest fragrance – Lignum Vitae – into the wild blue yonder of the perfume world.
Having first encountered them before they’d even properly launched, sometimes you get a sixth-sense tingle the passion behind the perfume will carry a new fragrance house way further than they’d perhaps ever have imagined. This was certainly the case when we first got our noses around the unique triptych of fragrances that began their story – really, quite unlike anything else around, the ‘fume-heads, bloggers and fragrance-buying public agreed; with 1805 Tonnerre (featured in our Secret Sensations Discovery Box) subsequently chosen by Jo Fairley as the Most Exciting New Brand of 2015 in her TelegraphOnline column; praised by big-name glossies and highly respected tomes such as the Financial Times, alike.
Although perhaps not entirely smooth sailing (what new company’s launch is?) appropriately enough, these firecely independent, historically inspired yet utterly contemporary fragrances – named for the famous Beaufort Scale of measuring wind strengths – are themed around the turbulent history and intrepid spirit of the British isles, maritime history and notoriously shady characters who have shaped them. It was clear this niche line had quite an adventure ahead of them – indeed they have recently been lauded by critic Luca Turin as one to watch – and with the brand new fragrance Lignum Vitae just launched, it’s another exciting scent trail we were keen to explore…
BeauFort London Say: ‘Inspired by the innovative use of materials that allowed 18th Century clockmakers to construct the first truly accurate marine chronometers, Lignum Vitae combines elements of wood, metal and salt to produce a truly unique, transportive fragrance.
In combining unexpected and exotic raw materials, BeauFort London celebrates the innovative spirit which brought to an end the search for lost time, and permitted the safe passage of ships across the world.’
Discussing the various inspirations behind any BeauFort fragrance is like a masterclass in maritime history, literary appreciation and a philosophy 101 with a smattering of art criticism for good measure – but fascinating as these influences are, it’s important as ever to not forget the most important thing of all – what it smells like on your skin! Complex, perhaps even slightly unsettling (because of their singularity) to some, BeauFort are not about one size fits all crowd-pleasing sniff-alikes that put you in mind of such-and-such a scent you used to wear. So what does Lignum Vitae actually smell of…?
An immediate tang of salty air melts mistily to the scent of madeleines still warm from the oven – a Proustian almost-but-not-quite gourmand sense that feels as though it’s going to get huge, but within a while segues seamlessly to a citrus-tinged, freshly-felled woodiness and the silvered glint of cold metal that keeps the whole concoction bouyantly uplifted. Tenacious in perhaps a more tender way than its predecessors, Lignum Vitae is one of those true ‘scent journeys’ on the skin as it warms and settles. Having sprayed this in the early afternoon we could still smell it the next morning, where now it had dried down to a close, warm skin scent that was comforting but with a wonderful whiff of weirdness to it that you cannot exactly place. It seems to constantly fold back on itself, somehow – you think you have the measure of it and then it switches again, still retaining an image of its former self but with a new layer to explore. There’s a point about an hour in, when all the various threads seem to mingle into an intricate knot – you can trace each one, yet they have transmogrified into a new creation…
Were we to draw a map of this fragrance’s journey, we could cite the salt on the breeze, sweetness wrapped within a shady forest, misty darkness, warm skin huddled close against cool, mossy wood and the ever-present, slightly melancholy but ultimately intensely comforting echo of sweetness, wood and salt that carry you onwards to the trail’s end.
BeauFort London Lignum Vitae £95 for 50ml eau de parfum
Buy it at beaufortlondon.com (or see their website for other stockists)
Fans wishing to mark the #Shakespeare400 anniversary of the Bard’s death, may wish to make like Coriolanus and ‘Bid them wash their faces / And keep their teeth clean’ by presenting a loved-one with Heyland & Whittle‘s ‘To Beard or not to Beard’ gift-boxed commemorative Shakespeare Soap.
Delightfully packaged in a book-like gift box, instead of merely including a leaflet describing the soap, Heyland & Whittle have allowed the muses to inspire them and written their own little homage – a playlet called ‘The Two Gentlemen of Castile’ – containing puns, quotations and clever quips for the discerning customer to persuse as they lather up, whether to shave or not to shave…
With natural moisturising properties and a vibrant citrus fragrance including essential oils, herbs and spices, whether they choose to shave or just wash and go, it makes a great gift for would-be whiskery thesps and bearded bibliophiles alike.
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