Over the coming weeks, we’re going to be sharing some of our favourite spicy scents – perfect to add a bit of a sizzle to your life during these cold, grey days. It’s astounding how many fragrances utilise saffron recently – we included a whole section of saffron scents to our just published Scented Letter magazine, in the feature A Feast of Fragrance, in fact.
But with so many to cover, and a plethora of differing perfume styles, wanted to ramp up the spice and add a sprinkling of some more scents for you to consider this season.
Firstly: what do you know about saffron as an ingredient…?
Add a touch to cooking, and it turns a dish bright yellow. Add a touch to a perfume, and it gives a bittersweet, leathery, intimate quality: a little bit earthy, but soft at the same time. Honeyed and hay-like are other descriptions that perfumers give to saffron, which works especially well in Ambrée-type perfumes.
The priciest of spices – known as ‘red gold’ – saffron’s one of the most ancient perfume ingredients: it was popular in Ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome, often as a ‘single note’ perfume, as well as in more complex blends. (The ever-extravagant Romans even strewed it over the floors of public places, to scent the air on special occasions).
Saffron was also used to scent baths, houses and temples, while in medicine it was a narcotic. (Erotic postscript: in the tantric rite of the Five Essentials, saffron was applied to the female’s feet… If you’re planning to do similarly, we suggest you don’t walk on a pale carpet following this practice!)
The plant itself – Crocus sativus, from the iris family – was introduced into Europe in the 7th Century, after the conquest of Spain in the 16th Century, English saffron was prized as the best in the world, grown in large quantities around Saffron Waldon – which is how come that town got its name. Today, we mostly grow crocus in the garden, so can overlook its wondrous properties (until we realise how expensive it is to buy a tiny tube in the supermarket). Often seen as the first herald of spring – oh! How we long for that moment.
Until then, let’s snuggle up with these spicy little numbers…
Merchant of Venice Byzantium Saffron
Taking a pinch of saffron to awaken the warm, aromatic tones of radiant amber, this has an almost glow-in-the-dark warmth, finishing with a molten stream of patchouli and suede in the lingering dry-down.
£150 for 50ml eau de parfum fenwick.co.uk
Map of the Heart Gold Heart v.4
Have you ever soaked a few strands of saffron in some milk in preparation for a delicious meal? Gold Heart is basically that smell with some added rose water and cardamom shimmer on top for good measure. Delectable!
Try a sample in their Discovery Box £35 for 7 x 1ml samples
Rose de mai and cashmere wood are joined by the succulent seductiveness of black cherry, pops of pink pepper and a richly resinous base of precious myrrh, frankincense and ambroxan; and the saffron tingles throughout, passionately.
£260 for 75ml eau de parfum harrods.com
Or try a sample in our Fabulous Fragrances Discovery Box!
Shay & Blue Oud Alif
Celebrating the ancient art of smoked oud wood in the most contemporary way, Shay & Blue add delicious notes of dark chocolate for a sophisticated gourmand ripple of desire. Then, saffron-spiked leather swathes sexily. Yum!
£85 for 100ml eau de parfum in our shop
A swooningly gentle take on saffron here, which nonetheless sizzles on skin as it slowly warms the sandalwood, amber and tonka-enriched notes surrounding it. Like a furtive glance that grows to something far hotter, it’s utterly beguiling…
£85 for 50ml eau de parfum in our shop
Written by Suzy Nightingale