Turning Japanese

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Captivating Japan is the inspiration behind three recent fragrance and beauty line launches, with elegant zen-chic design and oriental packaging to match. We spy a trend!

BY AMY BRADFORD

FLORAÏKU
Poetry, perfume and design come together in 2017-launched fragrance line Floraïku, created by French-Irish couple Clara and John Molloy (also the founders of cult scent brand Memo Paris). The collection of 12 fragrances, created with noses Alienor Massenet, Sophie Labbé and Sarah Burri, is inspired by Japanese culture: each bottle features a patterned stopper that recalls traditional lacquerware, and is presented in a bento-style box decorated with trails of cherry blossom and an evocative haiku.

TOP: Ginger, white tea and cardamom 'I Am Coming Home' eau de parfum by Floraïku
RIGHT: Floraïku's eau de parfums 'My Love Has the Colour of the Night', patchouli, gaiac wood and vetiver; 'Sleeping on the Roof', lily of the valley, orange blossom and amber musk
BELOW: 'First Dream of the Year', grapefruit, orange blossom and iris; 'In the Rain', bergamot, cedar and woody musk (a twelfth scent launched this March) 
£250 each for 50ml, 10ml refill and purse spray

Floraïku's range is divided into three themes or ‘ceremonies’: Enigmatic FlowersSecret Teas and Spices and Forbidden Incense, housed in navy blue, white and black bottles respectively. Highlights include ‘My Love Has the Colour of the Night’, a dusky blend of gaiac wood, patchouli and vetiver, and the ethereal ‘First Dream of the Year’, which combines grapefruit, orange blossom and iris. Offering clever layering, two 'Shadowing' scents, in red bottles, are intended to be sprayed near any scent in the collection to either lighten and freshen it ('Sleeping on the Roof') or darken and intensify the fragrance ('Between Two Trees').

ABOVE: Sample the scent range over a cup of seasonal tea at the perfume bar at Floraïku's Japanese-influenced London boutique at Harrods' Salon de Parfums. All fragrances contain more than 50 per cent natural ingredients and are refillable

We love the individual illustrations designed for each scent by French artist Victoire Cathalan, drawing on watercolours and Indian inks and printed on the bottle's fabric-covered cap, which doubles as a travel or purse spray. The brand opened its first boutique at Harrods’ Salon de Parfums, based on a traditional Japanese ryokan, or inn, and decorated with straw, silk and marble. New York's Saks Fifth Avenue also welcomed Floraïku to its new beauty floor this May, bringing zen serenity to the city that never sleeps.
us.floraiku.com


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SHIRO
We’ve long admired Japanese design for its ruthless simplicity and attention to detail – but it’s not just its furniture and buildings that display these qualities. Japanese skincare is growing in popularity in the west, and in response stylish brand Shiro has opened a boutique on London’s Kings Road – its first anywhere outside Japan. Recently two more stores launched on Covent Garden's Monmouth Street and St Christopher's Place off Oxford Street. The pale white and wood spaces display products beautifully packaged in frosted and white glass: the body and fragrance range is our highlight, in particular the jasmine-scented fabric conditioner (£25). Skin-softening ‘sake kasu’, a by-product of the sake production process rich in rice protein, is a key ingredient for the brand, alongside other traditional oriental extracts like adzuki bean, known for its cleansing properties, and moisterising 'gagome kombu', derived from kelp.
shiro-shiro.jp; shiro-shiro.uk

ABOVE: Japanese skincare brand Shiro's minimal products including 'Adzuki Soap', £16; 'Kombu Skin Serum', £68; and 'Sake Kasu Facial Cream', £78


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'HWYL' BY AESOP
Given the array of wonderful aromas in Aesop skincare products, it’s surprising to think that it only has three perfumes in its collection. But the Australian-born brand works at its own pace, only launching new scents when it is ready. Accordingly, the third fragrance, 'Hwyl' (pronounced ‘hoo-will’), has only recently emerged. Created with hip young French perfumer Barnabé Fillion, it’s a real cultural mishmash, with the name coming from old Welsh – a somewhat intangible word that variously means emotional fervour, nature, and temper or mood – and the composition influenced by Japan. ‘My inspiration was walking among 300-year-old Hiba trees in an ancient Japanese forest and experiencing the country’s lush temple moss gardens,’ says Fillion, who has conjured an intensely green scent with notes of thyme, cypress, woods, vetiver and frankincense. ‘It captures the feeling of solitude and refuge in nature,’ he adds. Unassumingly packaged in amber glass with seductive plant imagery by Australian generative artist Jonathan McCabe inside the sleek grey-green box, this cool, verdant scent is sure to be a hit.
aesop.com

ABOVE: Minimal, unisex 'Hwyl' eau de parfum by Aesop features smoky notes, subtle spice and dark green earthy accords. £83 for 50ml eau de parfum
BELOW: A film shares the fragrance's Japanese forest inspirations

Urban Apothecary

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British home fragrance brand Urban Apothecary crafts candles and diffusers that capture moods and memories

BY AMY BRADFORD

Tajinder Banwait started her home fragrance brand, Urban Apothecary, at her kitchen table, but you’d never know it from the sophisticated smoky glass packaging with minimalist labels. Each of her 10 scented candles and diffusers are hand-crafted in Britain and capture a different personal memory, from walking in woodland after rain to catching a waft of scent from a passing stranger. Highlights of the range include the autumnal ‘Bay Berry’, which combines sage-leaf and blackberry with undertones of caramel, and the sensual ‘Tuberose Petals’, which teams the creamy white flower with carnation, sandalwood and coconut.
urbanapothecarylondon.com

TOP: Urban Apothecary's 'Verbena Leaves' reed diffuser and scented candle in minimal black and white. ABOVE: 'Tuberose Petals' diffuser; 'Smoked Leather' diffuser and candle; 'Oudh Geranium', 'Green Lavender' and 'Tuberose Petals' diffusers; and 'Fig Tree' candle. BELOW: A short film about the brand inspired by monochrome, smoke and ink, capturing the darkly mysterious design identity

Candles, £30 each for 300g; reed diffusers, £35 each for 200ml

Maison Francis Kurkdjian – 'Les Maisons de la Maison'

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Five scented candles by Paris fragrance house Maison Francis Kurkdjian inspired by homes sweet homes...

BY AMY BRADFORD

We’ve covered Maison Francis Kurkdjian’s perfumes ('Pluriel', 'À La Rose', 'Lumière Noire') several times in the past, but the Parisian nose’s new collection of scented candles has us more enraptured than ever. Entitled ‘Les Maisons de la Maison’, the range includes five fragrances, each inspired by homes that are dear to Kurkdjian.

TOP: Maison Francis Kurkdjian's five-strong new 'Les Maisons de la Maison' scented candle range. ABOVE: Candles include red-lined 'Rue des Groselliers', pink-hued 'Anouche', black-edged 'Au 17', green-lined 'La Trouverie' and yellow-rimmed 'Les Tamaris'. €70 each for 9.8 oz

'Rue des Groselliers’, for instance, represents his childhood home outside Paris with berry notes inspired by the family garden; ‘Anouche’ recaptures the smell of rose-petal jam cooking in his grandmother’s apartment; and ‘Au 17’ symbolises his current Paris home with the aromas of log fires and incense. 'La Trouverie' channels a French farmstead; 'Les Tamaris' his French West coast beach house. Each candle comes in a precious Limoges porcelain holder lined with rich colour, while boxes feature romantic illustrations by Paris artist Antonin Anzil.
franciskurkdjian.com

Anya Smells

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British accessories designer Anya Hindmarch has branched out into home fragrance. Just say 'Yes!'

BY AMY BRADFORD

Fashionistas revere accessories designer Anya Hindmarch as the purveyor of a very British type of luxury – impeccably crafted leathers in sophisticated colours, but with an injection of humour thanks to the Pop Art-style stickers she sells to customise her pieces. Now Hindmarch has branched out into home fragrance, the fulfilment of a long-cherished dream.

Cheekily titled 'Anya Smells', the collection of six scented candles was inspired by scents that evoke happy memories for Hindmarch, from sun lotion to baby powder, coffee, toothpaste, lip balm and washing powder. Launched at Hindmarch’s flagship boutiques in London, New York, LA and Tokyo, and available online, each one comes in sleek black-and-white packaging with fun, cartoonish graphics and, of course, humorous stickers from the Anya Hindmarch Sticker Shop. Hand-poured in England using the finest raw materials, the candles are intended to 'recreate the everyday in an extraordinary way'.

TOP: 'Anya Smells', the debut range of scented candles by UK handbag queen Anya Hindmarch. ABOVE: 'Sun Lotion' candle adorned with a 'Yes!' sticker; 'Coffee' with beady eyes; 'Lip Balm' with cute cherries; 'Washing Power' with rainbow motif; 'Toothpaste' with 'Phwoar!!!' sticker graphic; 'Baby Powder' with 'I Love It! What Is it?' sticker. Leather-embossed stickers adhere permanently so can't be removed.

Hindmarch teamed up with British perfumer Lyn Harris (founder of Perfumer H and Miller Harris) and United Perfumes (developer of Cire Trudon and Fornasetti Profumi, among other brands) to launch the six candles in two sizes.

Fresh floral 'Sun Lotion' is inspired by family holidays and features an accord of Italian bergamot and Tunisian orange flower, while ‘Baby Powder’ is a soft oriental with rose petal, benjoin and tonka bean. ‘Coffee’ evokes the dark, woody scent of freshly brewed coffee with café absolute, galbanum, cardamom and amber. The latest additions to the range are ozonic floral 'Washing Powder', featuring notes of watermelon rind, cucumber and hyacinth, herbal 'Toothpaste', including spearmint, grapefruit rind, candy floss and English rhubarb, and fruity 'Lip Balm', smelling of dark cherry, Egyptian jasmine and French vanilla.

Graphic packaging is by London's Studio Frith, with smiling and shocked face motifs on the candle boxes designed to have an after-life on your bookshelf. In-store installations and a promotional film by UK creative agency Anyways and Pavilion Works see the candles riding on a miniature train, with tracks running through a giant nose. Evocative, abstract ideas appear in the listings of Hindmarch's fragrance contents, from regrettable tan lines to holiday romance tears, striped pyjamas, missing socks, sleepless nights and Boy Band posters. Home fragrance married with witty nostalgia? Count us in...
anyahindmarch.com

'Anya Smells' scented candles, £50 for 628gm; £150 for 1800gm

Abel – 'Vita Odor'

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Design the world's best natural perfume? Amsterdam-born scent house Abel was ready, willing and able

BY AMY BRADFORD

Is it possible to create a completely natural perfume that’s as sophisticated as conventional scents made using synthetic ingredients? That was the question New Zealand former winemaker Frances Shoemack (top right) asked herself when she decided to devise Abel’s ‘Vita Odor’ (Living Fragrance) collection.

After seeing a film of Isaac Sinclair (below right) – the only master perfumer ever to hail from Australasia – talking about the similarities between wine-making and perfumery, she enlisted the Auckland-born, Sao Paulo-based talent as her creative partner. Together, the pair have crafted five extraordinary scents that take the concept of natural fragrance beyond the realms of hippiedom and elevate it to the status of haute parfumerie (the understated bottle design amplifies the effect).

BELOW: Abel's collection of five 'Vita Odor' eau de parfums combine 21st-century technology with fine natural ingredients. From left, 'Grey Labdanum', 'Cobalt Amber', 'Golden Neroli', 'White Vetiver' and 'Red Santal', from £45 each for 15ml; £98 for 50ml

All have short formulas that showcase the fine quality of the ingredients used: 'Cobalt Amber' is a delicious gourmand fragrance with cardamom, cacao and tonka bean, while 'Red Santal' captures the spiciness of clove and ginger and the milky freshness of sandalwood. Our favourite, though, is 'Golden Neroli' (left), a luscious honeyed floral with a top note of matcha tea. The genius of the perfumer lies in using isolates – fragrance notes extracted from natural ingredients using fractional distillation – that stand in for synthetic aromas. For example, an isolate from the ambrette seed smells like deer musk, now banned in its natural form and toxic in synthetic imitations. This new, natural musk note enables the perfumes to last all day on the skin. Clever, non?

Minimal packaging design (above) for the unisex 'Vita Odor' collection is equally chic, created in collaboration with Amsterdam's Atelier Joachim Baan, with subtle glimpses of colour on white boxes tying in with each scent. The sleek, modern bottles pay homage to Abel's commitment to natural materials, and are an exercise in low-key luxury.
abelodor.com


Abel's 'Vita Odor' range is available in the UK from roullierwhite.com