All About The Base

From dreamy perfume oils by Hermès to Aesop’s heavyweight brass oil burner that scents your home, oil-based scents should be your next fragrance obsession…


There’s something properly luxurious about scent that is carried not by alcohol but by oil. The silkiness of the texture and how it melts into the skin are so much more tangible than a traditional spritz application – and all the more captivating for it. It’s the bohemian mood that it puts us in. From a beauty perspective, we have been living in the age of oil for some time, but now perfume oils are also catching on as a home fragrance. Here is our pick of scented oils to bring stylish seduction to your skin or space.

Hermès ‘Hermessence’
We start with Swiss-Italian perfumer Christine Nagel, the resident nose at French luxury label Hermès since 2016, who has introduced perfume oils to the house for the very first time as part of the latest additions to the ‘Hermessence’ range. Of her five-strong Orient-inspired and layerable collection, there are two totally dreamy oil-based scents: ‘Cardamusc’ and ‘Musc Pallida’. The first is laced with fresh but spicy cardamom, the other with sensual iris. ‘I wanted to return to the origins of perfumery and immerse myself in its history,’ says Nagel of the liquid gold creations that slowly pour from similarly molten, amber glass bottles. 

Hermès ‘Musc Pallida’ and ‘Cardamusc’ essence de parfum, £275 each for 20ml

Recognised for its beautiful stores, Australian skincare brand Aesop has now introduced some interiors magic to the collection. Its first Aesop Home piece, the sculptural ‘Brass Oil Burner’ was designed by Sydney-based Studio Henry Wilson, who was behind the decor of a couple of Aesop’s stores (Balmain and Crows Nest in Sydney), as well as a 2017 exhibition at Milan’s Brera showroom. Formed with an ancient wax-mould technique used to cast its solid brass shape, this weighty, one-kilogram vessel teams Aesop’s streamlined design aesthetic with functionality to disperse tailor-made essential oils. A cradle for the oil, this glowing chunk of metal was chosen not only for its looks but also for its superior heat transfer properties, tactility and warm affiliation with candle light. Just add five to 10 drops of your preferred oil blend to the oil well – choose between floral citrus ‘Anouk’, spicy citrus ‘Catherine’, minty ‘Isabelle’ or woody citrus ‘Béatrice’ – alongside a standard tea light. It doesn’t get any simpler or more appealing.

‘Brass Oil Burner’, £120; ‘Béatrice’ oil burner blend, £25 for 25ml

Blending wanderlust-inspired concoctions, Australian fragrance and candle brand Lumira specialises in olfactory escapism with each scent a tribute to a global adventure. Founded by Sydneysider Almira Armstrong in 2013, the label follows a lifelong love of fragrance. Her tempting range of five perfume oils includes a Persian rose-scented roll-on, which combines top notes of bergamot with a dark amber base. We like.

Lumira ‘Persian Rose’ perfume oil, shown alongside ‘Cuban Tobacco’ and ‘Arabian Oud’ perfume oils, £39 each for 10ml

Expanding into perfume oils from candles, Frederick Bouchardy of New York label Joya loves the intimate, bespoke quality of an oil-based fragrance that changes significantly according to the wearer’s body chemistry. Handmade and poured in the Brooklyn studio, Joya’s essential oil blends come in travel roll-ons – but from a design point of view, we’re most excited about the slip cast porcelain bottles made by US ceramic artist Sarah Cihat. Did anyone mention the 22-carat gold-dipped wands? A very nice finishing touch.

Black ‘Composition No. 6’, white ‘Composition No. 1’ and dark green ‘Foxglove’ perfumes, £100 each for 75ml

Rennie Ellis x Kleins Perfumery

Surf, sex and shea butter… A radical new range of Australian body care products features the work of renowned photographer Rennie Ellis


We love brilliant beauty booty. We’re also partial to eagle-eyed photography and cleverly designed graphic packaging. Imagine our delight, then, when we spotted the new ‘Series: Rennie Ellis’ range by Kleins Perfumery, combining images from the legendary snapper’s archive with natural, Aussie-made body care products from Melbourne’s savviest independent perfume boutique.

It’s a marriage born of contrast as Rennie Ellis’s photos aren’t your average pretty pics. Australia’s most famous social-documentary photographer, Melbournian Ellis (1940-2003) is known for his shocking, sexy, in-your-face portrayal of clubbers, sunbathers and party people (think Martin Parr meets Nan Goldin down under!). His images from the Seventies and Eighties captured Australia walking on the wild side, from the drag queens of Sydney’s Kings Cross to Melbourne's sartorially striking Sharpies sub-culture.

Ellis was intrigued by “the offbeat, the erotic and the eccentric,” which was what drew Kleins’s founder Andrea Birnie to collaborate with the Rennie Ellis Photographic Archive on the innovative range. The packaging is adorned with iconic Seventies shots of surfers at Lorne on Victoria's Great Ocean Road, working girls in Sydney and lagered-up lads in Melbourne's Fitzroy, as well as beachgoers and panel vans topped with surfboards. “I was attracted to the freedom of expression, exuberance and individuality I saw in the Seventies through Rennie’s eyes,” says Birnie. “As a people we seemed less inhibited, more independent.”

ABOVE RIGHT: 'No Standing, Only Dancing' triple-milled soap 200gm, AU$9.95
ABOVE FROM LEFT: 'Sharpies' body cream 250 ml, AU$29.95; 'Surfing World' body cream 250ml, AU$29.95


Kleins’s collection includes body washes, body and hand creams, and triple-milled soaps, with ingredients inspired by specific Ellis images and their titles. “The 'Lorne #3' hand cream needed shea butter to be rich and hydrating, but this also captures the surf culture of an Australian summer, rich with vanilla and tangy, sweet fruits,” says Birnie. “'Fitzroy Extrovert' handwash, on the other hand, was inspired by wild scents like Australian bush mint. We also thought the subject was a bit of a geezer, possibly from Calabria. We used Calabrian Bergamot and Sea Salt to capture his essence.” The result spells mighty fine.

Tested solely on Kleins Perfumery employees, the Ellis range is the first in the Series, which will evolve to feature more art, design and creative subjects, hopefully including more Ellis's portraits from the decadent Eighties and Nineties. Bring it on... 
Rennie Ellis: Decadent and Rennie Ellis: Decade, published by Hardie Grant Books, are available in select bookshops

ABOVE FROM LEFT: 'Fitzroy Extrovert' hand wash 50ml, AU$34.95; 'Good Vibes' hand wash 50ml, AU$34.95; 'Lorne #3' hand cream 75ml, AU$27.95; 'Back View' triple-milled soap 200gm, AU$9.95