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

Beaufort London

Beaufort London Press Release - Fathom V-1.jpg

As Halloween casts its spell, we check out Beaufort London, creator of dark and sensual fragrances perfect for the witching hour...


Drummer turned perfumer Leo Crabtree has unveiled his avant-garde scent label Beaufort London. The flamboyantly suited and bearded musician has loved fragrance all his life, and drew on his fascination with the darker aspects of British history, the nation’s nautical heritage and his own childhood living on a boat on the River Thames when creating the ‘Come Hell or High Water’ collection. Its scents are compelling and highly unusual, and at times not for the faint hearted. ‘1805 Tonnerre’ is an olfactory incarnation of the Battle of Trafalgar, notes of smoke, gunpowder, blood and brandy mingling with sea spray and citrus. ‘Coeur de Noir’ recalls pen-and-ink drawings of yachts and sailors’ tattoos with an accord of black ink, rum, leather, birch tar and tobacco. Our personal favourite is the bewitching ‘Fathom V’, inspired by Shakespeare’s most maritime play, ‘The Tempest’. This intensely green composition blends leafy and earthy notes with thyme, vetiver, moss and salt, managing to suggest seawater, undergrowth and crushed mint all at once. 

BELOW FROM LEFT: '1805 Tonnerre'; 'Coeur de Noir'

The black glass and dark wood bottles have a suitably gothic vibe, and there’s a wonderful surprise on the inside of each box – a reproduction of a sombre painting showing a raging sea that you could lift from the dressing table and hang straight on your wall. 

Oh, and the brand’s name? It’s taken from the Beaufort Scale, created in 1805 by Sir Francis Beaufort and still used to measure wind conditions on land and at sea. Just beware of unmanned ships arriving in Whitby tonight...

'Come Hell Or High Water' eau de parfum, £95 for 50ml. Click here for UK and global stockists


The house of Guerlain has two new beautiful fragrant collections to tickle your senses. Take a deep breath...


Designed in 1908, Guerlain’s famous ‘Quadrilobé’ bottle – so named because of the shape of its stopper – has housed classic scents such as 'Jicky' and 'Shalimar'. Now it has been reinvented for a new experiment in scent inspired by synaesthesia, a spontaneous association of the senses experienced by artists including Vassily Kandinsky, Duke Ellington and Vladimir Nabokov, that can create associations between odours and colours. The new 'Colour Collection' is comprised of five fragrances from the ‘Exclusives’ collection housed in limited-edition bottles in jewel-like graduated colours. Crafted by the Brosse Glassworks, known for its creation of iconic fragrance bottles, each one is finished with a matching silk thread, painstakingly hand-tied and combed using the ‘barbichage’ technique by Guerlain’s skilled dames de table

Also new from the French fragrance house is the beautiful ‘Les Délices de Bain’ trio of shower gel, body lotion and deodorant. Heralding a more modern, minimal look for the brand, these translucent bottles contain a fresh fragrance that combines citrus notes with almond. It’s designed to harmonise with other Guerlain fragrances so you can wear layers of delicious scent.

‘Colour Collection', £485 each for 125ml, exclusive to Harrods in the UK and at Guerlain boutiques worldwide. 'Les Délices de Bain', shower gel £35, perfumed body lotion, £40, for 200ml, deodorant, £34.

by | n by Nendo

Japanese design studio Nendo turns typographic with its simple yet effective packaging for its own new range of cosmetics


Stellar Japanese design studio Nendo has turned its attention to the beauty world with the launch of 'by | n', a new line of body products developed with cosmetics label Beauté de Sae. Oki Sato's chic typographic design embodies Nendo’s signature pared-down style – each bottle is adorned with a large letter, cut out from the label, representing each product type ('S' for shampoo, 'B' for body wash, 'L' for body lotion and so on). Available in two fresh fragrances, the cream label denotes a floral citrus scent while the blue label indicates redolent citrus herbs.

'by | n' from JPY 2,052. Available exclusively from Seibu department stores
Pictures: Akihiro Yoshida

Terry de Gunzburg

Two new fragrances from Parisian parfumeur Terry de Gunzburg are encased in delicate filigree patterns fit for the Orient Express... 


We’re admirers of parfumeur and cosmetics queen Terry de Gunzburg’s original ‘Terryfic Oud’ scent, which launched in 2013 and added a twist of Parisian luxury to this rather over-exposed Middle Eastern ingredient. Now two complementary fragrances have launched: 'Terryfic Oud L’Eau', which may appeal to oud-phobes thanks to its injection of lighter, fresher citrus notes and lavender; and 'Terryfic Oud Extrême', which accelerates in the opposite direction with intense levels of rare oud wood, rose and leather notes. The jewel-like bottles are things of beauty, featuring an embellished design inspired by de Gunzburg’s love of oriental art and smooth, pebble-like gold stoppers.

ABOVE FROM LEFT: ‘Terryfic Oud Extrême’, £320 for 100ml; ‘Terryfic Oud L’Eau’, £135 for 100ml. Available in the UK from