Vitamin Sea – fragrances for wishing you were still there…

Recently, the tide has turned for salty, marine-themed scents (and PS: they’re not just for summer anymore – evoking glacial lakes and Nordic fjords as well as sun-kissed beaches). But why now this sudden swell of sea-inspired fragrances, you may wonder?

There’s something about the emotional pull of the sea that is eternal. For centuries, it has led philosophers, artists and scientists to pontificate as to exactly why we’re so drawn to the ocean. The Persian mystic Rumi, ruminating on the subject in the 1200s, declared: ‘You are not a drop in the ocean. You are the entire ocean, in a drop.’ He wasn’t far off, actually.

Modern science has identified that the discovering the human brain is 80% water. More than 70% of the world’s surface is covered by it (over 95% of that yet to be explored). Indeed, it’s hard to disagree with author Arthur C. Clarke, who once astutely remarked: ‘How inappropriate to call this planet Earth when it is quite clearly Ocean.’

So it’s perhaps unsurprising that water exerts such a tidal pull, in our lives. And that as we seek to calm ourselves and reconnect with the elements via our senses, water-inspired scents have been one of the biggest scent trends we’ve seen these last couple of years. These new water-inspired creations don’t simply seek to evoke the ocean, but rivers, waterfalls and deep, coolly inviting lakes. It isn’t only memories of holidays they evoke, either – as lovely as that undoubtedly is during these colder, greyer months; instead, it’s about harnessing the all-year-’round mood-boosting qualities of seascape scents, which we encourage you to paddle and then plunge into, here…

 

 

 

BDK Sel d’Argent
The salty kiss of warm skin, sheer orange blossom shot through with the sparkle of grapefruit and crunchy green galbanum. Think sunlight dancing on waves, somewhere fabulously expensive.
£155 for 100ml eau de parfum harrods.com

 

 

 

 

Thomas Clipper Atlantic
A spirited journey across the sea, with crisp citrus melting to a fuzzy, honeyed blossom; the deeper base of spice-flecked wood and musk a wonderfully evocative nod to adventure.
£99 for 50ml Cologne thomasclipper.com

 

 

 

Montblanc Explorer Ultra Blue
Luminous bergamot shivers to an icy plunge of alpine freshness. The exclusive, silvered patchouli is the scent of wet stones; ambergris, dawn’s mist still clinging.
From £35 for 30ml eau de parfum theperfumeshop.com

 

 

 

Dolce & Gabbana Light Blue Forever Pour Homme
Intensely juicy grapefruit fizzes to a cool, shady breeze of violet leaf and Javan vetiver oil across eerily still water; the base a soft white swathe of musk and patchouli.
£55 for 50ml eau de parfum boots.com

 

 

Jean Paul Gaultier Le Male on Board
Oh Captain, my Captain! Salt-licked skin tastes of sun-lotion and geranium leaves, a faintly boozy rum-like amber swirled with tonka bean. All aboard!
£72 for 125ml eau de toilette lookfantastic.com

Kenzo L’Eau Kenzo Pour Homme Hyper Wave
Inspired by Japanese art’s iconic ‘Hokusai wave’, zesty mandarin invites spontaneity, soaring to the crest before resting on a bed of moss.
£46 for 50ml eau de toilette boots.com

 

 

 

Cartier Rivières de Cartier Luxuriance
‘Life is often said to flow like a river,’ reflects Mathilde Laurent, wild botanicals rippled through rosemary, mastic, oak and geranium; a cold knife nestled on a riverbed.
£104 for 100ml eau de parfum johnlewis.com

 

 

Nishane EGE / ΑΙΓΑΙΟ
A tribute to the Aegean Sea carrying common bonds between Turkish and Greek culture; yuzu zings through violet leaves, basil and mint to the deliciously sticky olibanum and liquorice base.
£275 for 100ml extrait de parfum ab-presents.co.uk

 

 

 

Skandinavisk Kapitel 4
The herbaceous green embrace of crab-apple entwined dog rose evokes Scandinavian waterways, damp moss, rock pools and the freedom of ‘navigating with no fixed destination’.
£45 for 30ml eau de toilette skandinavisk.com

 

 

 

Laboratorio Olfattivo Salina
A literal evocation of the sea in all its salty glory, one imagines a message in a bottle tossed on roiling waves, a poem of pine trees and sunlight lustily sung on barnacle-bottomed boats.
£90 for 100ml eau de parfum flannels.com

 

Written by Suzy Nightingale

 

Perfuming Persuasion

In our continuing series scenting popular culture films, books and music, may we present: Perfuming Persuasion – matching characters from the recent Netlfix adaptation of the Jane Austen novel to fragrances we feel really reflect their characters (and, perhaps, yours…?)

It’s a two-way street, this ‘scenting of’, because describing a perfume can be so tricky to acurately convey (there being no distinct words for any smell in the English language). So, bereft of exacting language, we always seek to liken a scent to something else: music, textures, colours, places and, yes people. Then, it suddenly becomes tangible, a thing you get a grasp of and at least partly understand.

Hot on the heels of the annual Jane Austen Festival, in which participants from all over the world get together and dress as their favourite characters or in period clothing to share their love of the pereneially Persuasion is a fabulous film to do this with, because though an adaptation of a classic novel, in style it is distinctly modern, breaking the fourth wall by having characters talk confessionally to the camera as though they’re addressing us directly – think Fleabag, The Favourite and Bridget Jones’ Diary. The costumes, too, display the more contemporary mix of historically acurate and distinctly modern styles (not quite as obviously as Bridgerton, but that was a modern novel set in an almost fantasy historical setting). Allowing Austen’s socially observant humour and tenderness while reflecting the far-reaching aspects of the charcaters we can still relate to today, this 2022 re-telling of Persuasion is ripe for the perfuming we feel!

 

 

 

 

Netflix says: ‘Persuasion is a story about the one who got away. Eight years after breaking off her engagement with Captain Frederick Wentworth, protagonist Anne Elliot still isn’t over him. As the middle of three sisters, the 27-year-old is isolated and lonely in a family that doesn’t understand her. But when the dashing blast from her past suddenly crashes back into her life, she must choose between real closure or a second chance. Can she stop self-sabotaging long enough to take it?  Based on Jane Austen’s final novel, Persuasion is full of quirky, endearing characters that make up Anne’s social circle. Get to know some of them below…’

 

 

 

Anne Elliot (Played by Dakota Johnson): Wilgermain Passion Victim

‘Sarcastic and witty, 27-year-old Anne is the sometimes flawed narrator who takes the audience through the colorful cast of characters that populate her world. When we first meet her, she’s living with her father and older sister, having turned down her big chance at love and happiness almost a decade earlier.’

Unconventionally free-spirited and often caustically socially observant, Anne would wear Passion Victim with aplomb. Not that she’s a victim (other to her darker emotions, at times); but the ‘usual suspects’ (as they put it) of vanilla, cistus and frankincense being shot through with mandarin, feel like they’re floating through motes of gold dust suspended in tendrils of smoke. Simmering with passion it tips over into being truly sublime as it throbs to the dry down.

£170 for 100ml eau de parfum harrods.com

 

 

 

Captain Frederick Wentworth (played by Cosmo Jarvis) – Jean Paul Gaultier Le Beau Eau de Parfum Intense

After being rejected by Anne on the advice of Lady Russell, Wentworth sought a life of adventure in the British Navy. He returns to England as a rich man with far better marriage prospects. But has he forgotten the woman who broke his heart?’

A fragrance inspired by giving in to temptation, this swashbuckling-ly handsome scent has something of a subdued swagger – it’s not in-your-face, but oh how it builds (and sexily so): the bergamot burnishing the exotically creamy coconut in the heart, while addictive tonka bean is enough to make you fully swoon. You feel this is worn by a chap more worldly, wearing his medals with pride rather than ostentation; an intense soul that’s been battle-scarred but ultimately readier to submit to true feelings.

£64 for 75ml eau de parfum intense jeanpaulgaultier.com

 

 

 

Lady Russell (played by Nikki Amuka-Bird) – To the Fairest Aubine

‘Lady Russell was best friends with Anne Elliot’s late mother, and in her absence acts as a role model, mentor, and confidant. She feels guilty for having pushed Anne away from Wentworth all those years ago, and is constantly trying to make up for it. A widow, she has little desire to remarry, instead taking extended trips to Europe, where she can have sexy continental affairs with no judgment from others, thank you very much.’

A glorious celebration of honeyed light, gardenia, frangipani, and orange blossom feels gilded, as though filtered through amber glass. Embracing the warmth of sunsets and new beginnings, this stunning bouquet of brightness blossoms into something altogether honeyed, assured and humming with secret, self-assured sensuality. The frankincense and woods in the dry-down, meanwhile, offer a welcome hug of reassurance that you’ve got this: keep going!

£85 for 50ml eau de parfum tothefairest.com

 

 

 

William Elliot (played by Henry Golding) – Carolina Herrera Bad Boy Cobalt

‘Anne’s rich and eligible cousin who once snubbed her sister Elizabeth by — gasp — marrying an American is what the mothers of Bridgerton would call a “capital-R Rake.” Now, he’s back in England, single once more, and on the prowl for a new wife. Wentworth better watch his back.’

Elegantly ‘redefining a modern masculinity’, the salt-licked breeze segues to contemporarily sophisticated lavender, the heart amplified by a rosy tinged geranium. In the base, confidence abounds absolutely, with addictively moreish truffle enhancing smoked oakwood, vetiver, and ultra-smooth cedarwood. Altogether, this Bad Boy is dashing, dapperly dressed and hard to resist. And he knows it.

£60.50 for 50ml eau de parfum theperfumeshop.com

 

 

 

Mary Musgrove (played by Mia McKenna-Bruce) – Olfactive O Gourmand

‘Anne’s spoiled, selfish younger sister has a single priority: herself. Married to Charles Musgrove, she treats her husband and children much as she does Anne — as disposable creatures blessed with the opportunity to add to her own comfort and happiness.’

We feel Mary (and those like her who might, shall we say, be prone to dramatising events and casting themselves as very much hard done by) would be well-served by this utterly delectable and soul-soothing scent. It thows a velvet rug over your knees and feeds you chocolate cake still warm from the oven, honeyed rum and a hug. For indulging your every need, every single day, you can’t do better than this.

£65 for 30ml eau de parfum olfactiveo.com

 

 

 

Elizabeth Elliot (played by Yolanda Kettle) – Contradictions in ILK Nonchalant

‘Elizabeth is widely known as the beauty of the Elliot clan — although it’s entirely possible she started that rumor herself. Vain and haughty, she’s her father Walter’s pride and joy, and the only one who travels with him to Bath in an effort to escape bankruptcy.’

Elizabeth’s reluctance to settle for a suitor lead to many castigating her as self-important, but we wonder if that’s not actually better than being betrothed to someone you loathe for the sake of it? In the spirit of believing in your own worth, then, let’s allow her to arch an eyebrow in this. Redolent of cast-aside love-letters and a dressing table full of fabulous fripperies, ripples of raspberry and red berries are draped in cinnamon-dusted violets and laced with labdanum.

£125 for 50ml extrait de parfum perfumesociety.org

 

 

 

Sir Walter Elliot (played by Richard E. Grant) – Penhaligon’s The Blazing Mr Sam

‘ “My father. He’s never met a reflective surface he didn’t like,” Anne says early on in Persuasion. That pretty much sums up Sir Walter, a spendthrift dandy whose only fatherly instinct is to instruct his children on how to be more like him.’

What could be better for Walter than this warmly woody and sophisticatedly spiced scent that was, so Penhaligon’s tell us, inspired by a gentleman who ‘…lives fast, spends freely and speaks loudly’? Brazen, bursting with confidence and living for the moment, this fragrance makes itself comfortable in the best leather chair at the club, sinking into rich seams of pepper-flecked vanilla and oodles of tobacco (which he’ll pay you back for, no he means it this time.) Smooth, utterly charming, he’s fun to be around if you’re not the one taking responsibility for his actions…

£215 for 75ml eau de parfum penhaligons.com

 

Written by Suzy Nightingale

Get in to the (scented) Groove – the history of fragranced vinyl

With it being the iconic ‘Last Night of the Proms’ classical music fesitval on Saturday, and having recently delighted in previously ‘Perfuming the Proms‘ for our blog; those wishing to make this a long(er) player of perfume should seek the Music & Perfume edition of The Scented Letter magazine. In it, we traced the harmonious relationship between music and fragrance to its very beginning, but here award-winning writer Amanda Carr looks at the utterly intriguing history of fragranced vinyl through the years…

Vinyl is having something of a moment, with new record stores selling both vintage and new vinyl LPs opening in all the hippest of locations. Imagine our thrill, therefore, when we discovered that vinyl is often sold scented! From Madonna to Stevie Wonder, musicians have perfumed their vinyl grooves to enhance the listening experience.

Fragrances are often inspired by a good tune. The gorgeous Acqua di Parma Note Di Colonia collection springs to mind, with its appreciation of soaring operatic crescendos, artful preludes and glorious musical scores. On a more modern note, JUSBOX’s collection of fragrances honours musical genres: there’s Cheeky Smile, which celebrates Acid House, alongside Green Bubble, a scented ode to reggae (and yes, there are notes of marijuana in the accord). JUSBOX‘s vinyl-capped bottles can even be found for sale in an actual record shop, the delightful Olympic Studio Records in Barnes. (Disclosure: it’s owned by my husband – which is how I stumbled onto this story in the first place…)

Actually scenting the grooves is an inspired move. It’s no surprise the Queen of Pop, Madonna, dabbled with perfuming her tunes. First pressings of 1989’s ‘Like A Prayer’, were impregnated with the smell of frankincense and patchouli, reinforcing religious connections, along with song tracks such as ‘Oh Father’, and pictures of Madonna’s considerable crucifix jewellery collection. Our much-played copy of the album still carries a shadowy sillage of a rather good patchouli scent, although those earthy, incense vibes remind us more of dressing up and dancing till dawn at parties held in darkened basements rather than the cold stone and incense-heavy interiors of churches.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stevie Wonder’s ‘Journey Through The Secret Life of Plants’, a title crying out for its own scent, was perfumed with a floral note on its release in 1979, although apparently stopped after reports that the scent – which fans of the record remember as a faint hint of rose – turned out not to be helping the quality of the sound. But technology has since improved considerably and scented vinyl continues to be pressed by modern artists. The Third Man record company, founded by uber-cool musician Jack White, bought its own vinyl factory in Detroit, where its produces top quality vinyl that is often scented. Karen Elson, ex-wife of Mr. White, released ‘The Ghost Who Walks’, in 2010, as a delicate peach coloured vinyl record which is also scented with the dewy aroma of softly sweet peach.

Less artful but still enthusiastically received by fans, the 30th anniversary ‘Ghostbusters: Stay Puft Edition’, a 12-inch double A-side single, released by Sony Music in 2014, was scented with marshmallow in tribute to the film’s giant Stay Puft marshmallow baddy. Singing along to Ray Parker Jr.’s catchy theme tune on one side and Run-DMC’s updated reboot on the other, could surely only be improved with wafts of sugary-sweet vanilla notes coming off the stylus. We can’t help thinking that other film soundtrack albums could use fragrance creatively to add to the sense of fun, for example wouldn’t ‘Mamma Mia’ be even more joyous to sing along to if it pumped out an olfactive scentscape of a sun drenched Greek island alongside the songs…?

With a different angle on the concept, Japanese fragrance house Shiseido once hired musician Hiroshi Noshimura to create a vinyl album entirely inspired by one of its fragrances as an innovative gift-with-purchase idea. The fragrance was called A.I.R (Air In Resort) so the album, which was steeped in the scent, was given the same name. The music complemented the green, forest notes of pine, earth and wood with a sound track of birdsong, the sea and field-based recordings of nature. Customers were were encouraged to listen to the record while appreciating the scent. It’s certainly a step up from the paper tester blotters we’re used to.

And artists, it seems, simply can not resist a scratch-n-sniff album cover. A quick chat on the super-informed Discogs forum, where music fans hang out to talk all things vinyl (there are many similarities between music and perfume fans) turned up a long list of album covers with scent-infused patches used to enhance the listening. The gold standard scented cover is unanimously agreed to be a 1972 release by The Raspberries, with a scratch-and-sniff sticker that smelled very convincingly of…yep, raspberries.

 

 

 

 

From Duran Duran’s limited edition ‘Perfect Day’ 7-inch single with its strawberry scented ice cream cone cover, to Spinal Tap’s The Majesty Of Rock album, with its scratch-and-sniff sleeve scented with Ye Olde Roast Beef Flavour, via Melanie’s ‘Garden In The City’ – where listeners were encouraged to rub the sticker to ‘release the magic of Melanie’s Garden’ – musicians clearly love to scent their songs.

We say: that makes for a great-smelling record collection. And we’d like to see more of this, please…!

By Amanda Carr

 

 

To get even further in the groove and explore the links between music and scent, have a look at our print copy of the Music & Perfume issue of The Scented Letter Magazine

• In Hitting All The Right Notes (above), Viola Levy looks at ways that modern perfumers use music to inspire their creations

• Ofactory consultant Pierre Aulas – who chose perfumery over a career as an opera singer – shares the secrets of his creative days in A Working Nose

• Scent gets social with Smellfie Day 2020, our celebration of International Fragrance Day – which had quite a different message in this strange year

Suzy Nightingale invites us to enjoy A Scented Symphony, discovering a perfume house with works with instruments, artisans and musicians

• And why note create your own scented playlist? In Listening to Scent, Persolaise invites us to sit back, relax, hit ‘play’

And of course, as usual, we bring you all the Latest Launches, news, events – and so much more!

 

We are now able to take orders for a limited run of printed copies of the magazine, priced £12.50 to our VIP Subscribers (£15 to non-VIPs). And remember: you can now also buy an annual print subscription to The Scented Letter (six issues), here

(NB Print copies are sent out approximately 10 days after each new issue of The Scented Letter appears on the website, so please bear with us. We work right up to the wire to make sure everything is truly newsworthy!)

Scented Snippets – fascinating facts from the history of fragrance

Following a fragrant trail, we present for your delectation a selection of the choicest scented snippets from history. You don’t have to be a history buff (or anorak – though we proudly claim that title at Perfume Society Towers!) to be bewitched by the history of fragrance. We know it’s been used to communicate with the Gods, to seduce, as a display of wealth – or for pure pleasure – for thousands of years. (And perhaps much longer, even if archaeologists can’t yet find the tangible proof through their excavations.)

Perfume’s fascinating trail leads us from Ancient Egypt to Ancient Greece, to Rome – where rosewater played in fountains – and up to France, where Louis XIV’s court was known as ‘la cour parfumée‘, with the king demanding a different fragrance for every single day…

 Egyptian priests, and their Pharoahs, were entombed with fragrances – and when those tombs were opened by archaeologists, in 1897, the perfumes were discovered to have retained their original, sweet smells.  Important figures in Egyptian history were buried with scented oils, to ensure their ‘olfactory needs’ were fulfilled.

Many of those ingredients are still prized in perfumery today.  Jasmine, hand-picked in the morning.  Frankincense resin, still gathered from the Boswellia shrub, with entire forests cloaking areas of Oman, Yemen, Ethiopia.  (Egyptian Queen Hatsheput was apparently crazy for frankincense:  wall paintings on her temple, showing a large-scale expedition to collect frankincense from the ancient land of Punt.)  They used Nile lotus, myrrh, madonna lilies, honey…

 

 

 

If the art of ancient perfumery was to have a ‘face’, a figurehead, it would surely be Cleopatra.  As legend tells it, she had the the sails of her boat coated with fragrant oils before setting to sea:  ‘The perfumes diffused themselves to the vessel to the shore, which was covered with multitudes.’  Her idea was that Mark Antony would get a waft of her arrival even before he caught sight of her.  As Shakespeare put it:

‘The barge she sat in, like a burnish’d throne,
Burn’d on the water;  the poop was beaten gold,
Purple the sails, and so perfumed that
The winds were lovesick with them…
… From the barge, a strange invisible perfume hits the sense…’

(Which neatly explains the name of a niche Californian fragrance brand, Strange Invisible Perfumes, NB.)

 

 

Public baths were The Big Thing in Ancient Rome, with the affluent classes devoted to body care. Think:  balms, oils, perfumes for skin, hair – and living spaces.  (Food had to appeal to the nose as well as the palate, too, through spicy aromas.)  Even public spaces might be scented:  Emperor Nero was so crazy about roses, he had silver pipes installed so that his dinner guests could be spritzed with rosewater.  (According to legend, he once shelled out £100,000 for a ‘waterfall’ of rosepetals which actually smothered one guest, killing him.  Quite a way to go.)

 

 

Marco Polo brought exotic aromatics and scented goods back to his home city of Venice.  The great explorer returned laden with fragrant treasures from the new civilisations he’d discovered, on his voyage. This major trading hub flourished for a while as the centre of the perfume world. Almost everything was perfumed:  shoes, stockings, gloves, shirts, even coins.  Glamorous women carried or wore a silver version of the pomander, wafting trails of scent through the little perforations, as they moved, helping to block out the fetid smells of the streets and canals.  Meanwhile, doctors wore long robes and bird-like masks stuffed with aromatic herbs to shield themselves against epidemics (including deadly plague).

 

 

 

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. But soon, the epicentre of perfumery moved from Italy to France – thanks to the influence of Queen Catherine de Medici (above), who married King Henri II in 1533.  Until then, French enjoyment of the scent world was mostly in the form of little scented sachets (called ‘coussines’) or moulded clay bottles (known as ‘oilselets de chypre’).  But Catherine brought with her from her native Tuscany scented gloves, the perfume used to mask the unpleasant aroma of poorly-tanned leather.  At the same time, her personal perfumer set up shop in Paris, where he was besieged by orders.

Want to follow the fragrant trail onwards? Find out much more from every era – and what happened next – on our pages dedicated to the history of fragrance

 

Lavender true… scents to make your heart sigh for an everlasting summer

Those beautiful swathes of purple lavender patches that swathed the countryside might be gone – the plants are all harvested during August, the best to capture their fragrant oils – but we’ve some suggestions for true lavender scents to revive the sesnes and keep that feeling of late Summer going, year-round…

 

While lavender’s almost universally accepted as aesthetically pleasing and, of course, soothing to the senses; 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.

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…

 

 

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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 £17.25 for 50ml eau de toilette
Buy it at bronnley.co.uk

 

 


Atkinsons Lavender On the Rocks
We love the typically English eccentricity of Atkinsons, who play up to their heritage with a nod and a wink from the styling of their bottles to the fragrances themselves. True to the cocktail-esque name, this one has a double-shot of lavender to tickle your fancy. From the bracingly fresh opening with geranium and basil to the honeyed hay-like dry down with almond, guaiac wood and saffron, every facet of lavender’s complex character is allowed to shine.
£120 for 100ml eau de parfum
At atkinsons1799.com

 


Yardley-English-Lavender
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 £15.99 for 125ml eau de toilette
Buy it at Boots

One of the very first flowers distilled by founder Olivier Baussan, L’Occitane uses lavender directly sourced from farmers’ cooperatives in Haute-Provence. This new aromatic tribute to their homeland is the softest way there is to soothe frazzled nerves, being further grounded by sandalwood and white musk. Simply beautiful!
L’Occitane White Lavender Limited Edition £54 for 50ml eau de toilette
Buy it at uk.loccitane.com

Chapter & Verse: fragrances inspired by literature

Fragrance and literature have a scented symbiosis, a way of piercing beneath layers of logic to reach our most instinctive emotions. They tap into deep-seated memories, dare us to dream, and share the power to make us feel a certain way, even if we don’t fully understand why. Consequently, English Literature is a particularly bountiful resource for perfumes – so many have taken inspiration from the pages of novels, hoping to evoke the atmosphere of the story itself, or exemplify famous characters through the ages.

This cultural crossover allows us to indulge in our greatest fragrant fantasies, immersing ourselves further in the myriad escape routes from reality we’re beckoned toward within a library (or fragrance department); adding an extra olfactory appreciation for the world the author has created and, consequentially, giving greater context to the perfumer’s composition.

Writers frequently allude to other senses when attempting to fully plunge the reader into a plot – the most skilled wielding the sense of smell as another character, almost, or underlining that most private, inner world the other characters inhabit. On the subject of smell and literature, of course we most often think of the brilliantly disturbing Perfume: The Story of a Murderer by Patrick Süskind, but as Catherine Maxwell reflects in her interdisciplinary and scholarly tome, Scents & Sensibility: Perfume in Victorian Literary Culture, ‘Smell’s evocative capacity, its connection to atmosphere and memory, make it a potent means of registering the particularity of a historical and cultural moment.’ Even if it’s not actual fragrances the author refers to in their work, Maxwell explains, ‘Culture is still a factor for those more conservative aesthetes who prefer natural scents to to perfumed products; the flowers they enjoy are frequently enhanced with mythic or literary association.’

 

 

 

 

Whatever their procilvities, both author and perfumer have stories to tell: one in the words they choose to play with on the page, the other via scented chapters that slowly unfurl on your skin. Those of you who cannot suppress the almost iressistible urge to vigorously rub your wrists together having spritzed a fragrance might like to know this unnaturally warms up the top notes and makes them evaporate more quickly.

Some (rather melodramatically) say this ‘destroys the perfume’, but I prefer to liken it to flicking through the first few pages of a book – yes, you’ll still get a sense of the story, but you may have missed some vital clues to the fragrant characters within; the narrator setting the scented tone, if you will.

Nothing worse than accidentally landing on a page and finding out whodunnit before you even know who’s who to do anything to. The same is true of a fragrance – allow it to settle in properly before you make a hasty decision. Now, with that perfumed preface out the way, I’ll dismount the lectern so we can dive into the scented stories themselves, and discover which you might be best paired with, for as Master Perfume Jean -Calude Ellena says:

‘Perfume is a story in odour, sometimes a poetry in memory…’

 

 

 

Sarah Baker Parfums Far From the Madding Crowd

Juxtaposing idyllic pastoral scenes with simmeringly intense emotions, this fragrance references Thomas Hardy’s book of the same name, seeking to evoke an atmosphere that is, to quote Baker, ‘simultaneously exquisitely beautiful and cruelly unforgiving.’ Amidst the beautiful note of helitrope – a flower that often grows wild among ancient hedgerows – dangerous declarations and balmy evenings are poised betwixt the romantic idealism of a country picnic. Think long summer grasses, orchards filled with fallen fruits, wide meadows to run through in gauzy gowns, willows to sit beneath while passionately pining.

£95 for 50ml eau de parfum or try a sample in their Discovery Set for £25 / VIP price £21

 

Histoire de Parfums 1804 George Sand

Renowned for her androgynous pen name, Sand was ‘the incarnation of the first modern woman’, and forms a central part of the brand’s literary leanings (which include an intriguing voyage via their 1828 Jules Verne and the rather more risqué 1740 Marquis de Sade). This vibrant throb of a scent tempts the senses with succulent pineapple before lavishly decorating with tall vases of white flowers and coming to rest on the warm, ambered sensuality of the spices that ripple throughout. If ‘fruity’ fragrances have previously made you recoil, come back into the fold with this utterly grown-up and bosomy embrace.

From £36 for 15ml eau de parfum

 

 

 

Parfums Dusita Montri

A writer, traveller and strong yet gentle man who spent a lot of time in Paris, this fragrance was not only inspired by one of his poems, the office he wrote in and the materials he used – it radiates a sense of his poetic soul. A refined and ultra smooth blend of sophisticated spices are seamlessly stirred through orris butter, rose and Oud Palao. Ah, but this is a sheer, spacious and uplifting oud that speaks of wooden desks, piles of papers, the gentle scratch of a fountain pen on parchment and writing as the sun sets. An elegantly comforting scent that feels immediately timeless, how perfect for perfumer Pissara Umavijani to honour her literary father in this way, and what an honour for us, the wearers, to share it.

€150 for 50ml eau de parfum

 

 

 

Guerlain Mitsouko

Author Claude Farrère was a close friend of Jacques Guerlain, so when Farrère included a Guerlain fragrance in his novel Opium Smoke, describing ‘Jicky poured drop by drop onto the hands blackened by the drug’, Jacques was thrilled at the symbiosis and returned the favour by naming one of his greatest ever creations after a character in Farrès novel La Bataille. Conjuring romanticism as see through a woman’s eyes, this scent is a complex unfurling of cinnamon infused, milk-lapped plump peach skin, the oakmoss trail that lingering beguilingly for hours. The masterful current reformulation by Thierry Wasser is as close as we’ll get to the original, thanks to oakmoss restrictions, but oh it’s a must-sniff for literary and perfume lovers alike.

£112 for 75ml eau de parfum

 

 

 

 

 

4160 Tuesdays Shazam!

In a turnaround of the usual perfume inspiration process (fragrances based on books), here’s one that began life as a scent that only existed in a novel, The Scent of Possibilty, written by the perfumer and founder of the house, Sarah McCartney. Finally realeased as a fragrance it shimmers with all the mystique of a Marrakesh Medina – an ultra classic amber base of dark labdanum balsam and soft vanillin that blooms in the heat to encompass ‘a whole spice market.’ Puncuated by fizzing pops of pink pepper, an aromatic breeze of juniper berries and basil, the scent invites an imaginary bird’s-eye view of the scene it’s set in, ‘swooping low over the bustling square, Jemaa el-Fnaa’, freshly-squeezed oranges and all.

£65 for 50ml eau de parfum

 

 

 

 

Frederic Malle's Portrait of a Lady perfume

Frederic Malle Portrait of a Lady

In Henry James’ eponymous novel, protagonist Isabel Archer sulks her way through immaculate gardens, burdened by blessings of too much beauty, intelligence and wealth [#thoughtsandprayers] while James himself seems to scamper behind, awed by her melancholy and reflecting that ‘a visit to the recesses of one’s spirit was harmless when one returned from it with a lapful of roses.’ Dominique Ropion’s fragrance leads the wearer face-first into that lap, a rambunctiously sexualised and swaggeringly confident portrait of the woman she might have been, perhaps; the shadier bowers ravaged for ripe berries, lips stained vermillion from their juice, petals torn as velvety pocketfulls of roses are ripped from their stems. A page-turner on the skin, for sure.

£188 for 50ml eau de parfum

Written by Suzy Nightingale

Scenting The Sandman

The Sandman is currently Netflix’s number one show – topping the trending and most-streamed charts, delighting the majority of fans of the original comic books (an occurence so rare even Neil Gaiman surely couldn’t have dreamed it) and reviving the shrivelled black hearts of mostly-ex-goths (such as myself) the world over. There’s a cultural significance to this resurgence of the Sci-Fi / Fantasy genre taking over new generations, a yearning for other worlds, for escapism. Seeing as the most instantaneous escape route is through our sense of smell – it being directly plugged into our limbic sytem, the part of our brain associated with memories, emotions and survival intincts – it seemed only natural to continue our series of perfume pairings with a spolier-free scenting of The Sandman

To truly do justice to the multiverse intricacies of The Sandman storyline(s) would take many more thousands of words than I have room for here, so for those of you not familiar with either the comic book series or the Netflix adaptation, I would suggest you just start watching or reading, along with a perusal of The Sandman Wiki on fandom.com if you want to explore more. Basically put, in the Wiki’s words:

‘When Dream is unexpectedly captured and held prisoner for a century, his absence sets off a series of events that will change both the dreaming and waking worlds forever. To restore order, Dream must journey across different worlds and timelines to mend the mistakes he’s made during his vast existence, revisiting old friends and foes, and meeting new entities — both cosmic and human — along the way.’

I would suggest for full immersion, you should burrow down various rabbit holes of your own, The Sandman has always been a springboard for further research and I promise your time will be well-rewarded.

 

Before we get to the wafting of various fragrant suggestions, I should address the fact that, on first hearing a live-action adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s Sandman comics was being made, I shrank like a salted slug.

 

 

 

 

For me, and countless others like me, these weren’t merely comic books or entertaining tales cleverly told, they were part of what made me who I am. That sounds increbibly melodramatic, but from being enthralled by the stories, venturing in various dusty comic book shops around the country and causing a sensation in some (a GIRL had crossed the threshold), through to following the threads of literature, metaphysical mythology, philosophy and history woven throughout; they proved transformational.

With every newly published edition, an increasing passion for gaining goth attire that might be accquired from boutiques within the vicinity of Tunbridge Wells (no mean feat), lashing on liberal layers of black eyeliner and a quest to burrow down the endless rabbit holes of research burned within my soul. I hold Neil Gaiman and the artists he collaborated with at least partially responsible for constructing the weirdo that sits before you, typing this.

 

 

 

 

So yes, along with everyone who’s ever endured the prospect of a favourite book ‘coming to a screen near you’, I shrank, somewhat aghast the televisual types might RUIN it. And by ‘ruin’ of course I mean not do it exactly as I never even knew I wanted.

I should have known better.

With Neil Gaimain himself firmly at the helm of the adaptation as Executive Producer, his creative fingers involved in every pie – casting, writing, filmography; hell, he might even have personally coiffured the actors’ hair for all I know (in fact that was veteran makeup and hair designer Graham Johnston, but you get what I mean) – the first two main Sandman storylines, Preludes & Nocturnes and The Doll’s House, have been intricately merged to form a single, breathtaking story. Due to the myriad complexities of entwining two full stories, and the often abstract, metaphysical way those stories are told, of course some changes had to be made, but the true spirit, the unique aesthetic, is unmistakably omnipresent and seeing the characters on the screen feels like meeting dear old friends again.

 

30th Anniversary editions of Neil Gaiman's The Sandman comics
30th Anniversary editions of DC Comics The Sandman

 

 

Now, if you’ve got this far, well done, and thank you for indulging this intermingling of my interests. But you might be wondering what the point is of matching perfumes to anything, let alone a TV show. It is this: fragrance is famously an invisible entity that’s tricky to convey in any format to someone who’s not yet smelled it for themselves. You must navigate the emotional maze of instinctively cultural and personal associations while attempting to clearly explain the concept without merely relying on a list of fragrance notes – which is as useless as a shopping list is to tasting the finished meal, or the names of paints are to understanding the deeper meaning an artist is hoping to project. In writing it becomes trickier still, the fact being there are no words ascribed exclusively for smells (other than negative connotations) in the English language. A bit of a stumper for writer and reader alike, then.

So, we fragrance journalists grasp at allusions and similies – colours, textures, tastes, places and people to conjure the spirit of scent in your imagination. Not exactly as though it had just been sprayed in front of you, more like you’d just woken from a dream in which it figured, and the scent of it still lingered on waking, like motes of dream dust glinting in the first golden fingers of dawn.

For painting a lyrical portrait of a fragrance, focussing on people (or, in this case, beings) to liken them to can be incredibly useful because just as we might feel beckoned by a particular character in a book or on screen, matching a fragrance to that character can help us understand something of the perfume’s own personality. It’s a shortcut to a common understanding. Each fragrance has, I believe, a scented soul, if you will, which means we can immediately feel at one with it or, conversely, borrow a perfumed persona utterly unlike our own to wear as a cloak of concealment or a shield of bravery as required.

The characters in The Sandman are perfectly suited for perfume-pairing, in my (admittedly weird, geeky) opinion, so I’ve attempted to do that with some of the cast here; but even if you’re not already a fan, I hope at least one of the following will beckon to you…

 

 

 

 

Lord Morpheus, Dream of the Endless (played by Tom Sturridge) – edeniste, Dream Lifeboost®

With the world on his shoulders as he poetically mopes his way through centuries of catastrophies, it’s definitely time for ol’ Morph to soak up the soothing nuances of this aromatic herbal musk. The house worked with neuroscientists and two of the world’s top perfumers – Aurelien Guichard and Jérôme di Marino – to ensure the perfume ingredients properly hit the spot. Spanish labdanum essence reminds you of warm skin and cuddles (which he could probably do with) snuggled in the softest white musks evoking that feeling of sinking into a plumptious feather bed. Promising to ‘foster peaceful dreams’ and advising the wearer to ‘open yourself to a pure, soothing vision of the world surrounding you, and let go’ he should probably have it in an IV drip. FYI: You can read more about this revolutionary wellbeing brand on our page dedicated to edeniste.

£68 for 30ml essense active harrods.com

 

 

 

Death (Played by Kirby-Howell Baptiste) – Papillon, Anubis

Usually personified as some tall dude in a medieval hoodie who’s either ominously looming about the place or playing chess, Gaiman’s Death is rather lovely. Sweet-natured and caring, with a perceptive understanding of human nature, she carefully eases poor souls into her realm when she can and is the much-needed counterpart to her younger brother’s perplexed moping. This fragrance would suit her wonderfully – being inspired by the Egyptian God of the afterlife, Anubis ’embodies the sacred mysteries of Ancient Egypt’ with sultry swags of jasmine enrobed in rich suede and smouldering swathes of woody incense. Rippled with the ambered hay-like notes of immortelle, speckled with pink lotus and saffron, it’s a scent that leaves you feeling sheerly veiled in magnificent mysteries.

£145 for 50ml eau de parfum papillonperfumery.co.uk

 

 

 

Desire (Played by Mason Alexander Park) – Memoize London, Black Avaritia

The twin of Despair, Desire is irresistibly glamorous with a streak as cruel as they are beautiful. You might say they have ‘issues’ (more issues than Vogue, darling). Riddled with something of a younger-sibling complex, revelling in their complexities, even; Desire often attempts to meddle in Dream’s affairs for their own gain. You might want to dislike them, but there’s something that speaks to the lust in our souls that cannot help but fall in love. True sensorialists will adore revelling in their own decadence with this scent, then – a perfumed plunge into ‘the essence of indulging all of your wants and needs in abundance.’ With a honeyed grapefruit warmth that doesn’t feel so much sun-kissed as full on snogged with tongues, the sumptuous violet / oudh smokiness twists into an addictive woody vanilla base that will have you yearning for more, more, MORE.

£377 for 100ml extrait de parfum or try in the Dark Discovery Set for £59

 

 

 

Despair (Played by Donna Preston) – Contradictions in ILK, Devious

The twin of Desire, we don’t get to see a huge amount of Despair in this first season, much of their time being spent marvelling at humans at the end of their tether. Extremely close to Desire, the two spend much time scheming against their elder brother (poor Morpheus). There’s a fabulously seductive urge to lean into one of our darkest depths within this scent – a hugely liberating invitation to ‘delve into the forbidden thoughts that whirr silently without sensor.’ Drowsily lulling the senses with a boozy cherry liqueur, the sweetness is stirred through with bitter almond and a dry hiss of spices – nutmeg and cardamom seguing into sticky vanilla beans, nutty tonka and creamy sandalwood. I imagine wearing this while reclining on a chaise in a boudoir, reading tear-stained love letters tied in frayed, scarlet velvet ribbons and delighting in my own sulkiness.

£125 for 50ml extrait de parfum or try in their Discovery Set for £48

 

 

 

Lucienne (Played by Vivienne Acheampong) – The Perfumer’s Story, Old Books

Chief librarian, guardian of The Dreaming and perhaps the most trusted confidant of Dream himself, Lucienne has rather more responsibilities than issuing fines for late returns. A reminder of how useful librarians can be – and how vital libraries are to the human soul – anyone who proudly counts themselves a bibliophile or even (*whispers cautiously*) a book-sniffer, should immediately file this fragrance under Most Wanted. Hushed incense curls through motes of dust dancing on hazy, sepia-toned memories, as properly earthy patchouli, amber-veined vetivert and cooling cedar slowly evanesce. It speaks to those who relish nothing more than rifling the depths of slightly dank basements filled with ancient manuscripts, of climbing Edwardian wooden steps (the ones that slide) and finding the whole experience deliciously, subversively sexy, somehow.

£95 for 30ml eau de parfum libertylondon.com

 

 

 

Lucifer Morningstar (Played by Gwendoline Christie) – Robert Piguet, Bandit

User reviews of Bandit online range from ‘a bit scary’ to ‘a beastly mechanical terror.’ I kind of get what they’re saying – this leather and smoke scent is like wearing a whip’s kiss. It hisses at you, all airy aldehydes popping in the manner of a shaken Champagne bottle, darkness and light personified as burned rubber and the hot, greased chains from a motorbike suddenly unravel to reveal preternaturally pristine white flowers. Hugely sophisticated yet beguilingly unsettling, one can only imagine the gasps of terror when this was first launched in 1944; it’s one for outcasts, those with a reputation that precedes them, and who’d like their perfume to as well. If you’re not aware of Germaine Cellier, the deliberately devilish perfumer who composed it – look her up. She would have approved this pairing. It can be tricky to source the original, so for those less overtly Luciferian, try the newer Bandit Suprême, which glowers less gloatingly.

£165 for 100ml eau de parfum robertpiguetparfums.co.uk

 

 

 

Johanna Constantine (Played by Jenna Coleman) – Eris Parfums, Scorpio Rising 

Swaggering with all the sass one would expect of Johanna, a dry smouldering of spices sizzles to an ambery explosion of incense, smoke, and leather. ‘Like the astrological sign it’s inspired by,’ they say, it’s ‘beautiful but dangerous, magnetic but formidable.’ Dangerously spellbinding, this scent feels like it grants you extra powers, which Ms Constantine will certainly need on her chosen career path as necromancer and demonologist for hire. If you’re casting out otherworldly entities and dealing with Morpheus’s moody mumblings as a day (or night) job, you’d certainly require something emboldening to the soul. This fragrance does the deed in a bewitching performance that radiates ravishingly for hours. 

£138 for 50ml extrait de parfum saintecellier.com

 

 

 

John Dee (played by David Thewlis) – Calvin Klein Eternity for Men

John Dee unwittingly echoes the bleak words of Larkin’s This Be the Verse, ‘They f**k you up, your mum and dad. / They may not mean to, but they do. / They fill you with the faults they had / And add some extra, just for you.’ I feel he should cleave to the comfort of a scent that’s become a timeless classic since its launch in the 90s. A soapy froth of lavender, lemon and lily of the valley becomes sharper as it grows, a harder, metallic egde slicing through the cleanliness via the piquancy of juniper and geranium, while the base is wreathed in white floral notes – lily, jasmine, orange blossom, which ‘reject the notion of love as nothing more than whirlwind romance, choosing to focus instead on the timeless power of eternal commitment.’ Though Dee might want to reflect on that phrase and consider chasing its more romantic notions rather than an overhwhelming obsessiveness (I nearly chose Klein’s Obsession as an alternative), there’s no doubt it’s a scent you’ll want to keep going back to.

£39.99 for 100ml eau de toilette boots.com

 

 

 


The Corinthian (Played by Boyd Holbrook) – Serges Lutens, Dent de Lait

You know those people who can assume the expression of slightly alluring approachability by smiling with their eyes in selfies (‘smizing’ as Tyra Banks memorably put it in America’s Next Top Model)? Well, meet the ultimate smizer: The Corinthian. The problem of scenting him was solved on remembering this little number. It’s suitably charming at first, a toothsome softness recalling happy childhood memories of eating a paper bag full of milk chews from the newsagents. But then, there’s a creeping realisation of the name’s true meaning as it settles on the skin. Translating as ‘milk tooth’, its inspiration, says Lutens, was the memory of a child losing its first tooth. Yes indeed. And if that concept disturbs you, don’t watch the campaign video. Fusing the electric crackle of aldehydes with almond milk and incense, right at the end there’s a metallic sharpness you can’t quite place. But don’t worry, it’s not your teeth The Corinthian is after. He’s all about the eye contact…

£110 for 50ml eau de parfum escentual.com

 

 

 

Cain (Played by Sanjeev Bhaskar) – Boy Smells, Tantrum

Most siblings have felt the urge to murder each other at least once a week, it seems, but Cain notoriously (and repeatedly) scratches that particular itch. Residing in a darling little cottage with said sibling in the Dream Realm, he’s not without his niceties – a softer side revealed in his love for their pet gargoyle – so something with an edginess that nevertheless manages to be secretly lovely is called for. Bring on Boy Smells fittingly named Tantrum, which is better behaved than the name suggests, but still strikes out with a punch of peppercorn splintering the woodiness of cedar. There’s oodles of grounding vetiver infusing the base, thank goodness, as senses are further soothed by the addition of powery orris. Embracing the ethos of ‘better out than in’ might not always be advisable, but I say spray this one with abandon.

£105 for 65ml eau de parfum spacenk.com

 

 

 

Abel (Played by Asim Chaudry) – Bruno Fazzolari, Corpse Reviver 

Created by perfumer and synesthetic artist Fazzolari, this ominous-sounding but actually utterly delicious scent was created as an addictive antidote to rouse the hungover back to the land of the living. Rather fitting, then, for poor, frequently buried Abel, who could do with some instant reanimation on a regular basis. Rosemary-flecked blood orange and a welcome shot of warming whiskey awaken the forest-y shadows of cypress, while a fragrant feast of dark chocolate and the salty, animalic purr of civet are swirled through the calming creaminess of vanilla. I feel this would infintely appeal to his sweet tooth (he’s fond of a reviving cuppa with a side of cake to calm his nerves, after all), and really a fabulous fragrance is the very least of what he deserves.

From £8.50 for a sample vial eau de parfum roullierwhite.com

 

 

 

Matthew the Raven (Voiced by Patton Oswalt) – 4160 Tuesdays, Court of Ravens 

Matthew is Dream’s emissary and can travel between worlds as a handy observer / advisor. Not that Morpheus listens to him as often as he should. Matthew is a wittily sarcastic cynic, as well he might be, having once been human and, as the Sandman Wikki explains, ‘had a car accident and is tricked into being possessed by his wife’s evil shapeshifting uncle.’ Well these things happen, and because he dies in the dreaming he becomes part of that world. Why, apart from the name, is this his signature scent? It’s got all the dryness of a Chypré’s oakmoss mixed with singed rose petals and incense, to which perfumer Sarah McCartney added Yakima peppermint, French lavender, cumin and pink grapefruit: ‘To bring glossy black glints of ravens’ wings, shining as they catch the light.’ A handsome devil, and knows it. 

£40 for 15ml eau de parfum 4160tuesdays.com

 

[Addendum]: I wrestled with including Roderick Burgess – the embodiment of ‘be careful what you wish for’ – in this, because his story is central to the first few episodes, and the decisions he makes are central to, well, everything. But for the sake of completeness, instead of describing his character and risk spoilering (which should be reclassified as a cardinal sin), and because a friend on social media asked what my pairing would have been for him and I immediately knew; I shall add my answer here in full:

 

 

 

Roderick Burgess (Played by Charles Dance) – Commes Des Carçon, Series 3 Incense Avignon

I would choose Commes des Garçon Series 3 Avignon for Roderick Burgess. There are lots of other options, but my mind kept circling back to this. It’s actually based on Catholicism, the ‘bells and smells’ parts, but like much of what Burgess does – it’s a cleaving, amidst the darkness, for comfort. For certainty. Avignon is old, cold incense. It’s snuffed candles and dusty cellars. It’s charred church pews and chalk circles, a trembling silence that throbs through the centuries.

£56 for 50ml eau de toilette libertylondon.com

Written by Suzy Nightingale

 

[All images of The Sandman characters are ©Netflix.]

Issey Miyake – a fragrant tribute

It was with great sadness that we learned Issey Miyake had died today, August 9th, 2022, at the age of 84. The word ‘iconic’ is often attributed to designers and fragrances alike, but rarely have we seen such a designer who seemed to effortlessly span both worlds, becoming legendary in his own lifetime while greatly contributing to the innovation of each.

Known for his masterclasses in ‘simplicity’ (in fact, so intricately designed fabric seemed to want to naturally fall in the shapes he sculpted from them), the fragrances from the house of course followed suit – these are scents that seem to drape the skin in softness, nature tamed to match his purity of vision within each perfume.

 

 

 

The most beloved of these has to be L’Eau d’Issey, first launched in 1992, with Jaques Cavallier composing a seamless silkiness via a silvery ripple of aquatic notes – Miyake’s inspiration being a scent that smelled ‘as pure as a waterfall’ – atop delicate, dew-dappled blossoms such as lotus flowers and powdery peonies.

Even the bottle has become iconic in its own right, for the design of which, say Issey Miyake Parfums, ‘he imagined a sharp and slender silhouette, whose lines recall a suspended drop. The metal cap, topped by a ball, evokes a personal memory: a night in Paris where the moon was shining at the top of the Eiffel Tower.’

 

 

For L’Eau d’Issey Homme, meanwhile, which launched in 1994, Cavallier crafted an herbaceous breath of fresh air that floated freshly crushed leaves of lemon verbena, tarragon and sage within a wave of juicy citrus; notes of water lilly melding with a misty woodiness that married this more masculine version with that of the original fragrance. Again, a scent that wasn’t just ahead of its time but feels timeless to wear.

Juxtaposed with the tail-end of those shoulder-pads-in-a-bottle fragrances that had swaggered their way through the 1980s, it was clear (as a waterfall) that Miyake had drawn a line under excess, marking a new era of paired-back perfumes that still resonates and feels fresh to this day.

Our Co-Founder Lorna Mckay spoke about his innovation, and more than this, the importance of Issey Miyake’s vision of truly entwining the worlds of fragrance and fashion:

‘Issey Miyake was an icon of cool and creativity in fashion AND fragrance. L’Eau d’Issey was groundbreaking in 1992 for its fresh aquatic smell in a simple and stunning bottle, reflecting water and waterdrops as well as being a “uniscent” fragrance loved by so many. His fine Japanese culture resonated with so many people looking for something different from the hedonistic culture of the 80’s. So many happy memories… and I am still a fan of wearing the fragrance and clothing today! Thank you Issey Miyake for your stylistic contribution to the world of fragrance and fashion.’

Fellow Co-Founder Jo Fairley had the honour of being present at the press launch of L’Eau d’Issey, meanwhile, and recalls:

‘It was a pinch-me moment as a fragrance writer to be at the very launch of L’Eau d’Issey, at a breakfast event hosted in the basement of Issey Miyake’s store in Brompton Cross. Perfumer Jacques Cavallier was there, as was the hugely inspiring Mr. Miyake himself, and what we smelled was like nothing that had gone before. Airy, liquid, seemingly ephemeral, it lasted on the skin: cool, woody, truly gender-neutral – and in the most exquisite bottle. Issey Miyake proved that less really can be more…’

 

 

 

 

As for tributes, we can think of none more fitting than to wear one of the Issey Miyake fragrances you love most, or perhaps to seek one out and try it for yourself if you’re yet to discover them. We’re certain they will still be talked about, worn and treasured for many years to come.

Written by Suzy Nightingale

Celebrating Yorkshire Day in Scent

Yorkshire Day is an annual celebration of the British county, held on August 1st, and of course we’re using it for an olfactory celebration – this time focussing on fragrant ingredients the region is famed for. Think white roses, rhubarb, tea and biscuits (hey, we can’t think of a brew, even fragrantly, without biscuits!)

If you’re wondering the signifigance of the date, The Yorkshire Society explains: ‘The date alludes to the regimental anniversary of the Battle of Minden on 1st August and the wearing of roses in the headdress on that day. In the case of the Light Infantry, successors to the King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry, a white rose. The date is also the anniversary of the emancipation of slaves in the British Empire in 1834, for which a Yorkshire MP, William Wilberforce, campaigned.’

 

 

 

The Yorkshire Post tell us that ‘the white rose came to prominence again during the Seven Years War, when the King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry fought at the Battle of Minden in Prussia. They picked white roses from bushes on the battlefields as a tribute to their fallen comrades, and wore them in their buttonholes.’ Floris’ fragrance was a favourite of Florence Nightingale, no less – velvety roses dusted with soft iris, swathed in warm amber and grounded with earthy musk. At once strikingly elegant and wonderfully confident.

Floris White Rose From £17 for 10ml eau de toilette

 

 

Molton Brown are right on the trend for good-enough-to-eat fragrances, firmly rooted in cherished childhood memories of baking with rhubarb’s unique tartness sprinkled by just enough sweetness. In the eau de parfum, those seeking scrumptiousness can indulge with joyfully juicy raspberry and a vivacious kick of pink pepper enhancing rhubarb’s sparkle, as luscious lychee and the tender peony showcase rose’s powdered charm, with a soothingly sensual base of cedarwood and musk swathing you in a gossamer soft trail.

Molton Brown Delicious Rhubarb & Rose £120 for 100ml eau de parfum

 

 

 

 

An article on the BBC’s website explains the fascinating history of Yorkshire’s association with licorice. Dating back to 1760, when George Dunhill, an apothecary chemist in Pontefract, added sugar to liquorice (then used as medicine) creating ‘a chewable non-medicinal lozenge, inventing the sweet as we know it today.’ In fragrance, licorice adds an aromatic yet resinous stickiness, adding the ‘noir’ when used in wonderful juxtaposition against billowing gardenia, luminous jasmine and creamy almond.

Bvlgari Splendida Jasmin Noir £79 for 50ml eau de parfum

 

 

 

When perfumer and founder of 4160 Tuesdays, Sarah McCartney, moved her studio to Hammersmith, ‘she made Tea & Biscuits as a symbol of the British way of making friends and getting through a crisis’ – The biscuit-y notes feature wholemeal bran, lemon and ginger with toasted hazelnuts, while the tea is taken ‘black, with oat milk.’ Eyebrows might be raised at that by Yorkshire traditionalists, but we think they’ll be swayed by the sheer comforting deliciousness of the scent. It’s utterly addictive all year ’round.

4160 Tuesdays Hammersmith Tea & Biscuits from £25 for 15ml eau de parfum

 

 

We know how seriously people from Yorkshire take their tea, and we couldn’t agree more, but what if you fancy a little tot of something more bracing in your brew? The resinous warmth of oak-casked whisky is laced through this most potent blend of their black tea, rose and juniper aromatic sensation, and harks back to the heritage of this cheekily eccentric, British brand. Named for their original address of their flagship store, it’s the kind of scent that imbues you with a uniquely winsome character.

Atkinsons 24 Old Bond Street £99 for 100ml eau de Cologne

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fragrances For… Track & Field

With a summer of sporting events ahead, in our Fragrances For series this time we’re suggesting Track & Field as a fragrant theme. The Commonwealth Games 2022 have begun in Birmingham, and of course we’re also celebrating the ongoing success of the brilliant women’s England football team getting to the final, woo hoo! Whether you’re sporty yourself, prefer being a spectator or are simply looking for some lovely fresh, summer-y scents to wear – we got you covered, no matter what your team’s colours are…

 

 

 

Freshly snapped stems and verdantly green undergrowth give the feeling of being in the middle of a field on a summer’s day (now that could be indulging in your favourite sport, or perhaps watching on the sidelines with a picnic, which is our preference!) A gorgeously dewy floral bouquet at the heart features hyacinth florets, wild freesia greens and zesty mandarin leaves, with blossoming rose centifolia stems and jasmine buds on an earthier, soul-nourishing base. The flowers proffered to the winners on the podium, perhaps?

Malin + Goetz Stem £78 for 50ml eau de parfum

 

 

Sneaker addicts will want to get their noses on this – an amazingly lifelike scent of new out the box sports pumps in perfumed form! Think the squeak of clean rubber on a court, freshly buffed white leather gleaming in sunshine. What’s more, sing a clever micro-encapsulation technology in a water-based solution, the spray, they say,  ‘works the miracle: a scent of newness and cleanliness will diffuse for a long time as you walk. At ease in your shoes, the world and success lie beneath your feet!’

Officine Universelle Buly 1803 Eau Gymnastique €70 for 500ml spray

 

 

Creative Director Jeremy Scott knows about delivering freshness, and always with a cheeky wink. Having done a limited edition scent for Adidas Originals in a shoe-shaped bottle, we think sporting types will love the wonderful whimsy of seeming to spray a cleaning product on your body in the locker-room! In fact, inside, the juice itself is a joyously refreshing blast of zesty mandarin and bergamot going to work on your nose, before a raspberry juiciness, rich ylang ylang and luminescent woodiness.

Moschino Fresh Couture £51 for 50ml eau de toilette

 

 

A suitably victorious incarnation of the heroically themed fragrances ‘seizes with its power and seduces with its freshness.’ Freshly squeezed lemons offer the juicy bite here while the woody notes of incense wrap tendrils of soft smoke around a purr of vanilla in the base. Spiced tonka bean is the delicious finale for this scent inspired by ‘subtly celebrating modern masculinity.’ We say: any gender who adores the juxtopsition of vibrancy and woodiness would love this – leave everyone else on the track in your smoke trail!

Paco Rabanne Invictus Victory £58 for 50ml eau de parfum

 

We’ve not forgotten about the swimmers – those of you plunging in to the pool (whether it’s in a stadium, or more serene settings on holiday) might like to imagine for a moment that you’re bathing ‘In a mythical ocean,’ where ‘a sea shell gives birth to the goddess of love.’ Well it’s more romantic than a swimming cap and dry robe, anyway! Here, ‘Desire lingers beneath the shimmering surface’ with yuzu, pink pepper and seaweed glistening on slippery rocks, a salty undertow of ambergris and driftwood beckoning you further in.

Sarah Baker Atlante £145 for 50ml extrait de parfum

 

Written by Suzy Nightingale