Literary inspirations shaped some of this season’s finest fragrances, says Rachel Marie Walsh.
The Bloomsbury Set, originators of literary #squadgoals, inspired five new Jo Malone London scents for spring.
Master Perfumer Yann Vasnier and Development VP Céline Roux soaked up the state-preserved atmosphere in Charleston Farmhouse, the group’s East Sussex retreat, and came away enthused.
The house was decorated with intense colours by artists Duncan Grant and Vanessa Bell, and their interiors are reflected in the colognes’ packaging.
The two lightest blends are from the garden. Blue Hyacinth is unusually simple for Jo Malone, as it focuses on a single floral note with no unexpected twists.
Céline added aldehydes to maintain the bloom’s sweetness and just a touch of green to evoke “a flower just picked from the ground”.
Garden Lilies subverts the heady role white flowers usually play in perfume by sticking to light pre-blossom notes. Dewy green-sap, white musk and ylang-ylang are reminiscent of a morning by the pond on the Sussex estate.
The contrast between the establishment backgrounds and progressive thinking of Virginia Woolf, E.M. Forster and friends is also a theme.
Tobacco&Mandarin began with a photo of them smoking pipes in formalwear during a ritual Thursday night salon. Tobacco is softened with countryside herbs and hay oil and sweetened with plum and mandarin.
Leather&Artemesia captures the library with notes of paper-y cypriol and aromatic plant extracts that enliven the mind. Absinthe evokes drinking-for-free-thinking, while a rich leather heart-note suggests book covers and comfy furniture.
Whisky&Cedarwood, the most intoxicating of the bunch, is a cocktail of cognac, rum and whisky intensified by sandalwood and myrrh. Inspired by heavy drinking-sessions and Charleston’s waxed wood floors, it makes a lasting impact.
This seasonal spin on YSL Black Opium is also tough to ignore, so much so that its tagline reads “Resistance is futile;return is inevitable.”
The original is known for its Red Eye shot of coffee and a super-sweet base of white florals and vanilla.
Floral Shock takes this hit of caffeine and sugar a strain stronger with fresh top-notes of bergamot and pear and a dash of white musk. A fresh mineral accord creates the unexpected impression of a sea breeze.
It is all a lot to pull off but YSL fragrances are never for background players. This one even has a glam rock-inspired frosted-pink bottle.
Another spring, another rosy fragrance but what has Sisley’s latest got that can tempt petal-heads away from Jo Malone’s Red Roses or Roses de Chloé?
Well, this is brand founder (and international style icon) Isabelle d’Ornano’s signature scent, and its rose is special because it’s hers.
The perfume began with a flower planted in the gardens of her Loire Valley home that blooms for just two weeks in May.
Its exceptional sweetness has long filled her apartment in Paris is now the star note in spring’s most luxurious perfume.
She and fragrance designer Amandine Clerc-Marie studied the peak of the rose’s olfactory beauty before wilting and complimented it with peony, jasmine, lily-of-the-valley, fresh lemon, and a powdery angelica dry-down.
The press notes open with a passage from Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s The Little Prince in which the boy explains that, though many roses look as beautiful as his to other eyes, he can’t love them as much because “it is for her that I have killed the caterpillars; because it is she that I have listened to when she grumbled or boasted or even sometimes said nothing. Because she is my rose.”
As with all Sisley perfumes, its story has echoes of the romance upon which the brand developed. Izia, pronounced “Ijia” is d’Ornano’s nickname in Polish, her late husband Hubert’s mother tongue.
Quentin Jones, a Central Saint-Martin’s graduate and friend of Isabelle’s daughter Christina, created quixotic graffiti artwork for the Izia “Love My Rose” ad campaign.
The fragrance comes in an abstract petal-shaped glass bottle with rose and gold facets.
Extreme versions of two Kilian Hennessy bestsellers arrive at Brown Thomas this month.
Created in collaboration with industry heavyweights Alberto Morillas and Sidonie Lancesseur, Straight to Heaven is intensely masculine but really -and economically, given their eye-watering price - both these perfumes are so strong that half-pressing the atomiser dispenses more than enough for a day.
This version of heaven involves “overdosing” on pure notes of Martiniquais rum and Madagascan vanilla. These ignite the original’s woody-amber trail in a way the “stirs passion and ignites excitement,” says Lancesseur.
Good Girl Gone Bad Extreme is as sweet and stylish as Ri-Ri. An intense remix of the original’s heart, this new “millefeuille of flowers” combines Moroccan rose, milky toffee, two species of jasmine and three of orange blossom.
Both perfumes come in attracted clutch-style packaging and gold-detailed coffrets.
Escentric Molecules is ten and celebrating with an intriguing pair of scents. Founded by German chemist Geza Schoen, the brand’s built a discerning following with perfumes based on exceptional aroma-molecules. They have a warm-skin, almost pheromonal scent in common.
Javanol, a tart sandalwood-substitute popular in modern perfumes, is Molecule 04, pure and simple. Schoen describes it as “liquid metal grapefruit peel poured over a bed of velvety cream-coloured roses,” creating a cosy but light scent shot through with fizzy sweetness.
Escentric 04 is javanol layered with grapefruit, marijuana and pink pepper, all of which Schoen believes bring out its best qualities. The citrus boosts its freshness.
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