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

Christian Louboutin x Thomas Heatherwick

The houses of Louboutin and Heatherwick have joined forces to create a new range of fragrances that simply refuses to be ignored...


London buses, gin distilleries and now scent bottles – British wünderkind Thomas Heatherwick seems determined to prove he really can turn his hand to anything with the launch of his latest design. He’s the slightly leftfield choice to create the debut scent bottle for ultra-glam French shoe designer Christian Louboutin; it turns out the unlikely pair make a dream team (although Louboutin is a trained landscape architect, so perhaps the partnership isn’t as outlandish as it first appears). They spent lengthy sessions discussing, sketching and making prototypes, trying to realise Louboutin’s notion that 'liquid is alive' and could be made to flow dynamically through a bottle. Heatherwick’s final design – a glass rectangle that splits and twists, forming a central aperture before fusing together once more – was pronounced unmakeable by glass experts. But here it is: perseverance paid off.

To fill this stupendous vessel, Louboutin created three fragrances, each coded with symbolic colours. ‘Bikini Questa Sera’ evokes the idea of sun on hot skin at dusk and the intense colours of the Egyptian desert; it contains jasmine, tuberose and sandalwood and its bottle is coloured with a wash of gold and amber. ‘Tornade Blonde’ is a bright red-rose scent with a fruity aspect from rhubarb and cassis; its bottle is flushed with garnet red. Last but absolutely not least is ‘Trouble in Heaven’, a real femme-fatale number clad in deep purple with notes of iris, patchouli, amber and tonka bean. 

ABOVE FROM LEFT: 'Bikini Questa Sera', 'Tornade Blonde', and 'Trouble In Heaven' eau de parfums
ABOVE RIGHT: Thomas Heatherwick (left) and Christian Louboutin discuss the bottle design
BELOW: Christian Louboutin tests his inaugural perfume collection

ABOVE: The supercharged metallic versions of Heatherwick's sculptural bottle for Louboutin's perfume oils

These fragrances are unabashedly raunchy and should probably only be worn by women who appreciate the more extreme of Louboutin’s stiletto fantasies; they’re basically supermodels in liquid form – the curvaceous, caramel-of-skin variety who slink down Victoria’s Secret runways wearing nothing but a few strategically placed feathers, and always look hot on their Ipanema beach hols. They’re full-on divas, and they’re fabulous: fashionistas won’t regret a penny of the £215 they’ll pay for the juice and Heatherwick’s art-glass objet. 

Finally, all three scents are also available as sensuous perfume oils that mix with the wearer's skin chemistry to create an entirely personal fragrance. Once again the bottles were designed by Heatherwick but given a beautiful iridescent metallic lustre. If you want to stand out from the crowd this Christmas, look no further...

'Bikini Questa Sera', 'Tornade Blonde' and 'Trouble In Heaven' eau de parfum, £215 for 80ml. Perfume oil, £245 for 30ml.

Pictures: Ali Mahdavi, Ash Reynolds