Perfume's Literary Muses

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The Fizz takes a look at three creative perfume houses sourcing design inspiration from cultural icons and literature. Think stylish scent stories!

BY CLAIRE BINGHAM

Perfume has long since taken an open-arms approach to inspiration. Sunny climes, nostalgic moments and time spent in the great outdoors can result in any number of olfactory creations. But some of today’s pioneering independent perfume labels, keen to align with individual stories, are taking a more scholarly route. Be it a poem, song or author, these cerebral reference points are an aspirational springboard for conjuring up an imaginative lifestyle – by way of scent.

TOM DAXON
London perfumer Tom Daxon recently collaborated with Mayfair art deco hotel The Beaumont for London Craft Week. Tasked with making a fragrance for one of the famous figures featured in guest room portraits, Daxon chose writer and political activist Nancy Cunard. He presented a rich version of his bestselling fragrance ‘Iridium’, with its notes of juniper, cedarwood and vetiver, in a new formula ramped up to a concentration of 71% fragrance oil. The Cubist-style bottle was hand-painted by London-based sign painter and friend Archie Proudfoot.

For the design, Daxon spoke with Proudfoot about the idea of interpreting the logo and fragrance name in an art deco, Cubist way, mirroring the style of the hotel, the iconic Antony Gormley structure on the side and Cunard’s own love of Cubism. ‘He immediately got it,’ says Daxon. ‘As for the fragrance itself, I had been curious about creating an ultra high-strength version of ‘Iridium’ ever since I had seen it was a possibility. The regulatory body, IFRA, sets the maximum concentration one can use in a fragrance according to its specific ingredients. For ‘Iridium’, its ‘IFRA max’ was 71% which is a rarity for us, as concentrations are normally much lower. We had a sample made up and I was surprised how much I fell for it; it’s not brash or harsh smelling. It’s still totally wearable but with a character all of its own.’
tomdaxon.com

ABOVE: A selection of unisex perfumes from New York fragrance house Imaginary Authors
ABOVE RIGHT:
Tom Daxon ‘Iridium’ eau de parfum, £155 for 100ml

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CLOON KEEN
Irish fragrance house Cloon Keen creates scents that are deeply entwined with Irish landscape, history and Gaelic tradition. Based in the heart of the medieval city of Galway, the atelier combines Ireland’s rich oral, literary, craft and design traditions to produce beautiful, meaningful work. Perfume ‘Róisín Dubh’ (Little Black Rose) takes its name from a subversive 16th-century song, which has become an enduring emblem to Irish artists. Candle ‘Autograph Tree’, with its heady fragrance of oud, exotic spices and incense, gets its moniker from the magnificent copper beech tree in the walled garden of Coole Park on which the faded initials of Irish writers Lady Gregory, W. B. Yeats, George Bernard Shaw, Seán O’Casey and J. M. Synge linger. Here, literature very much sets the tone.
cloonkeen.com

ABOVE LEFT: Cloon Keen ‘Autograph Tree’ candle, £40


IMAGINARY AUTHORS
In New York, unisex perfume brand Imaginary Authors is raising olfactory narratives to library level. The delicious sweet mint and bourbon-based ‘Saint Julep’ takes us on a trip through Mississippi to a ramshackle church, a refuge not for worship but a secular place for jukebox times. For the woozy, orange popsickle ‘Sundrunk’, their imagined author is called Clementine Cope, who set out from rural Montana in search of Californian surf.

‘I got into perfume through my business partner Josh Meyer,’ says co-founder and creative director Ashod Simonian of his personal journey with Imaginary Authors. ‘He was obsessed with niche perfume and taught himself how to mix, whereas my background is in design and brand building.’ Explaining the story-focused, mix-and-match collages that define each of their perfumes, Simonian says: ‘I used to play in bands and my introduction to design was through album covers. I've always appreciated the way a good album cover connects not only to the contents within but also to your heart. Books and dust jackets work the same way. I just love the way the right words over the right images can charm their way straight into the core of someone’s heart.’

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ABOVE FROM LEFT: Imaginary Authors’ ‘Saint Julep’ and ‘Sundrunk’ eau de parfum, both US$95 for 50ml

‘I enjoy a white perfume label with simple black type as much as the next person but our perfumes are not that,’ adds Simonian. ‘There are so many layers and unexpected twists in our scents that they demanded a more artful approach to the branding. We built Imaginary Authors around the confluence of exceptional scents, alluring words and beautiful imagery. Because the language surrounding perfume has grown so tired, we wanted to separate ourselves from the pack. It was quite intentional to bake storytelling and design into our process rather than slap it on as an afterthought – or ignore it altogether.’

Each of the studio’s perfumes comes together differently – some start with a unique scent combination, others with a story or maybe a catchy title, but one of the main goals is to destroy the idea of a signature scent and, instead, treat perfumes like books. ‘One can never have too many books,’ Simonian continues. ‘After you've been exposed to one or two of our perfumes, our hope is you'll be hungry for more, that you'll keep expanding your bookshelf – not just with our products but with whatever scents might catch your nose. We want people who didn't even know they liked perfume to stumble onto our line and fall in love.’ We’re smitten…
imaginaryauthors.com

Ormaie

Meticulously crafted from the juice to bottle top, new French perfume brand Ormaie has roots in art and nature

BY CLAIRE BINGHAM

Family-run French scent label Ormaie has all the markings of a key perfume player, with a collection of seven fragrances made solely from natural ingredients.

Firstly, there is the beautiful blend of high quality, non-synthetic ingredients that sing through each perfume. For example, masculine ‘Le Passant’ is a sensual lavender and ambrette that reminds Ormaie co-founder Baptiste Bouygues of his father. ‘Le passant means the man passing by,’ explains Bouygues, who started Ormaie with his mother Marie-Lise Jonak in late 2018. ‘My father used to wear a beautiful lavender perfume, so it was important for me that Ormaie would have a chic lavender.’ Jonak, who has always worked in perfumes, favours the rose and sandalwood-based ‘Yvonne’, so-named after her mother who loved classic feminine perfumes. Also in the collection, ‘Les Brumes’ is a burst of fresh citrus with notes of jasmine and cedar, ‘Papier Carbone’ has essences of bergamot, vetiver and sage, and ‘28°’ is designed for hot summer nights with heady scents of mandarin, tuberose and vanilla. ‘L’Ivrée Bleue’ is an exotic fragrance featuring notes of rum, iris and vanilla while incense, sandalwood and vetiver make ‘Toï Toï Toï’ perfect for cooler spring and autumn evenings.

ABOVE: Ormaie’s sculptural eau de parfum collection, from €190 for 100ml, with geometric wooden tops inspired by modernist art
ABOVE RIGHT: Co-founder Baptiste Bouygues
BELOW FROM LEFT: Masculine scent ‘Le Passant’ and feminine ‘Yvonne’

Beyond the fragrance, it’s the design of the bottles that delivers on all cylinders from the elegant typography to the 12-sided glass vessels and geometric hand-carved wooden tops. Collaborating with Parisian creative director Jade Lombard, Bouygues’ interest in midcentury design was key to shaping the look. ‘We both love art and design,’ he says. ‘I love the sculptor Brancusi, for example. Jade loves the graphics of Jean-Paul Goude. We really wanted the bottles to be something that people could display in their living room or an atelier.’

The duo also wanted to combine great craftsmanship with natural materials. ‘The organic feel of the wood was important for us,’ says Bouygues. The caps are made from beech wood sourced from renewable forests in France. The faceted glass bottle comes from one of the finest French glassmakers and the luxe label is hot-stamped in Paris by heritage Heidelberg machines. Boxes and labels are produced by renowned fine-art print shop Imprimerie du Marais.

BELOW FROM LEFT: ‘Les Brumes’, ‘L’Ivrée Bleue’, ‘Papier Carbone’, ‘28°’ and ‘Toï Toï Toï’ eau de parfums. from €190 each for 100ml

It all adds up to an elegant, organic and wonderfully crafted perfume – that looks as nice on your dressing table as it smells on your wrist.
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Ormaie fragrances are available directly from the website in Europe, €190 each for 100ml; elsewhere in the world, you’ll be directed to online stockist Barney’s, US$270 for 100ml

Portrait of Baptiste Bouygues: Vincent Desailly

Guerlain – 'L'Essentiel' + 'Météorites x Bernardaud'

French beauty house Guerlain is launching ultra-covetable makeup with stellar new packaging for 2019. Futuristic and glamorous, it’s a world where sharp design and must-have products collide

BY CLAIRE BINGHAM

To have and to hold. Half of the allure of a fabulous, well-performing beauty product is not in the juice, the powder or the cream but in the craveability of the packaging. That smooth, contoured gold that fits perfectly in the hand, that Parisian script font, that too-pretty-to-use embossed lipstick – it all adds up to prime position on your dressing table. 

Guerlain knows this. Delivering glamour on every front, the Spring 2019 collection by the French beauty brand is divine. Take for instance the new ’L’Essentiel’ foundation. Yes, it’s made with 97% naturally-derived ingredients that promise an all-day natural glow, but what seals the deal is the curvy, cute, asymmetric bottle by designer Mathieu Lehanneur which features a golden globe precariously balanced on top. All of this is lovely and that’s before we even start applying. 

ABOVE: Multi-coloured ‘Météorites x Bernardaud’ face powder pearls by Guerlain come in a futuristic new limited edition white porcelain sphere
RIGHT: Guerlain’s ‘L’Essentiel’ foundation flaunts a curvy, gold-topped bottle

For anyone with a thing for brushes the swish ’L’Essentiel’ retractable foundation brush, also by French talent Lehanneur, is super-ergonomic and a pleasure to use. Designed especially for the new foundation, the bristles are treated with natural bamboo charcoal to remain clean and fresh after use. We want the foundation. We really want the brush. 

ABOVE: Guerlain’s ergonomic ‘L’Essentiel’ retractable foundation brush is a pleasure to use

Guerlain’s legendary ’Météorites’ powder pearls have also been given a galactic new look for 2019. Creative director Olivier Échaudemaison has collaborated with Limoges porcelain house Bernardaud to encase these cult violet-scented, face-powder pearls in a white porcelain sphere. Embossed with star-crossed constellations, it’s a perfect example of how to do luxurious beauty packaging. To infinity and beyond… 
www.guerlain.com

L’Essentiel Natural Glow Foundation’, £44 for 30ml, is available from selected retailers including Selfridges or online at guerlain.com. Limited edition ‘Météorites x Bernardaud Powder Pearls’, £150, available exclusively from Harrods

Byredo – 'Unnamed'

Created in 2016 to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Swedish fragrance house Byredo, the limited edition ‘Unnamed’ perfume is back. Enjoy it while you can…

BY CLAIRE BINGHAM

The paradigms of perfume are shifting. It’s less cool to buy into a campaign image. It’s cooler to buy into niche. It’s extra cool to buy into a perfume when you don’t even know its smell. Or at least you do, but you have to identify it for yourself.

Always ahead of the curve, Swedish cult brand Byredo has relaunched its limited edition fragrance ‘Unnamed’. Back by popular demand, the perfume is literally unnamed – the point being to create olfactory associations of your own. Scent is subjective, after all, so this allows for your own thoughtful interpretations to flex their might. Minus ingredient cues, minus advertising, simply how does it make you feel?

Clever to the core, Byredo founder and creative director Ben Gorham has left the white label of ‘Unnamed’ blank, so you can call it whatever you like. The scent comes with a set of chic black transfers, including the letters of the alphabet, numbers, punctuation marks, symbols and signs, so you can add your own monogrammed title or just handwrite a name in the space. This is hyper-personalisation, courageous, creative and open to ideas. 

‘The names of the Byredo fragrances often describe the origin of an idea, a thought that leads to a brief presented to the perfumer,’ explains Gorham. ‘With fragrance being completely subjective these names spark the imagination of the perfumer and finally the customer. They each experience the fragrance even before they smell the ingredients in the bottle. We still find it fascinating that people interpret our fragrances in so many ways.’

Gorham continues: ‘To celebrate Byredo’s 10-year anniversary we created an unnamed fragrance that allows our customers to choose a name meaningful to them, and customise the label of their bottle. This is our way of celebrating the notion and uniqueness of smell and an opportunity to thank our partners, retailers and staff as well as the loyal customers who have supported and grown Byredo to what it is today.’

For people interested in the different messages it is possible to get across through perfume, and the effect it has on how we live and think, this concept is for you. For me, this fragrance is all violets and soft suede. I just need to work on the name…
byredo.co.uk

‘Unnamed’ eau de parfum re-edition, £160 for 100ml, is available now from select retailers and byredo.co.uk

The Return of Incense

When it comes to home fragrance scented candles currently hold the number one spot in the Western world. We think it's time to recalibrate and welcome incense back into our homes...

BY DEE IVA

The Fizz is a big fan of the fragrant home. From fresh floral scents in summer to warm spices and amber in winter, the right home fragrance lifts your spirits the moment you open the door.

The ubiquitous scented candle has become the go-to purchase in recent years. Every major fashion house and perfume brand has a collection of seductive scents to tempt you. The high street is also in on the game offering budget options along with that other mainstay of home fragrance the reed diffuser.

Incense sticks, however, seem to have dropped off the radar altogether but we think their return is long overdue. They can be left burning without the risk of setting fire to soft furnishings and, unlike candles, don’t leave a residue of soot on the ceiling. Their fragrance packs a mighty punch and is stronger than that from reed diffusers which have to be inverted when their scent grows weak.

Previous hippy associations may once have made them deeply unhip but now the beau monde is seeking out decidedly more upmarket versions to scent their design-savvy homes. Smart incense sticks are harder to find than candles and diffusers so we’ve tracked down five of the best to buy right now.

ABOVE: The 'Circa' incense gift set by Cinnamon Projects features a solid brass burner and disc

CINNAMON PROJECTS
New York-based Cinnamon Projects is the brainchild of Andrew Cinnamon and Charlie Stackhouse, whose cutting-edge incense sets using solid brass and semi-precious stones take luxe to a new level. Fittingly for the city that never sleeps, its five fragrances are named after different hours of the day starting at ‘7am’ with meditative black tea, clay, driftwood and marigold through to ‘2am’ with wafts of decadent cedarwood, cinnamon, honey and vetiver. New scent 'You Are Here' is an intoxicating blend of clay, immortelle, patchouli, rose, musk and sandalwood. The elegant Japanese-style incense sticks burn for 25 minutes each.
cinnamonprojects.com

Incense gift sets from US$105. Each set includes 50 incense sticks (10 from each fragrance ie '7am', '4pm', '8pm', '12am' and '2am') and a solid brass burner. The special 'Circa Minerals' set also comes with a semi-precious stone disc, with eight choices including rose quartz, black onyx and lapis lazuli. Refill packs of 25 sticks, US$30 each, are packaged in a glass tube and paper foil-stamped gift box. 'Incense Discovery Set', US$55 for 50 incense sticks (as before). 'You Are Here', US$40 for 25 incense sticks 


FORNASETTI PROFUMI
Iconic Milanese design atelier Fornasetti is a firm Fizz favourite. Its home fragrance arm Fornasetti Profumi is responsible for a wide range of stylish home scents all presented in beautifully designed ceramic holders.

TOP: Fornasetti Profumi 'Otto' incense set with 'Pistola' incense box
ABOVE: The smart 'Otto' ceramic-lidded incense boxes come in six different designs
BELOW: 'Flora di Fornasetti' incense sticks refill pack; Ceramic-lidded box designs 'Fior di Bacio' and 'Ortensia' feature the lips and eyes of Fornasetti muse Lina Cavilieri respectively

Two incense fragrances are available, each with its own set of handcrafted wooden boxes with decorated ceramic lids. ‘Otto’ is Fornasetti’s signature scent redolent with Mediterranean herbs and woody undertones. Created by master perfumer Olivier Polge, it is grand and sophisticated yet immediately relaxing. ‘Flora di Fornasetti’ is a white floral bouquet inspired by the gardens around the family house in Milan and the floral illustrations of Piero Fornasetti. Created by Emmanuel Philip, its pretty notes of jasmine, lily of the valley and tuberose are perfect for hazy summer days.
fornasetti.com

Incense boxes, including 80 sticks, £145. Refill packs of 80 sticks, £45


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ASTIER DE VILLATTE
Founded by Benoît Astier de Villatte and Ivan Pericoli in 1996, French homewares brand Astier de Villatte is best known for its 18th and 19th century-inspired handmade range of ceramics and glassware produced in an antique Bastille workshop in Paris. A collaboration in 2008 with Japanese fragrance company Takasago saw it branch out into the world of perfume, scented candles and incense.

The newest incense fragrance ‘Awaji’ blends jasmine, resin, driftwood and immortelle resulting in a welcoming sweet woody scent. Created by Nathalie Feisthauer and made on the Japanese island of Awaji, it joins Astier de Villatte’s existing collection of 12 incense aromas, all discreetly packaged in its distinctive illustrated blue and cream boxes.
astierdevillatte.com

TOP: Astier de Villatte's new scent 'Awaji' 
ABOVE RIGHT:
Each box contains 125 sticks for €36 


CZECH & SPEAKE 
High-end British bathroom retailer Czech & Speake is one of London’s smartest retail brands. Established in 1980 in Jermyn Street by Frank Sawkins, its name is synonymous with quality and timeless English style. Its incense collections capture two of Czech & Speake's most popular fragrances. 'No.88', Czech & Speake’s signature scent, has notes of bergamot, geranium, rose otto, vetiver and sandalwood while ‘Frankincense and Myrrh’ has exotic oriental ingredients including warm frankincense and tangy myrrh coupled with orange, lemon and basil. Both scents are available in kits and as giant sticks for outdoor use.
czechandspeake.com

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TOP: Incense stick kits, including 80 sticks and bone china holder, from £105. Refill packs of 20 sticks, £25 each.
ABOVE: 'Giant Outdoor Incense Sticks', £35 for 12 sticks.


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COMMES DES GARCONS
Leftfield Japanese fashion house Commes des Garçons has always been the must-have brand for fashionistas looking for something off the beaten track and its range of perfumes has been as offbeat as its fashion.

CDG’s five incense aromas are inspired by spiritual teachings: ‘Avignon’ – Catholicism, ‘Ouarzazate’ – Islam, ‘Zagorsk’ – Orthodox Christianity, ‘Jaisalmer’ – Hinduism, ‘Kyoto’ – Buddhism and Shintoism. Now available as eau de toilette and scented candles, the original incense sticks are becoming harder to find. Only 'Avignon' (Roman chamomile, elemi and vanilla), 'Jaisalmer' (cinnamon, cardamom and amber), 'Ourzazate' (nutmeg, labdanum, musk and wenge) and 'Zagorsk' (pimento berries, birch wood and iris) are still available and are in limited supply. We advise you to be quick off the mark…
commesdesgarcons.com

Commes des Garçons 'Series 3' incense sticks, £35 for 40 sticks. Currently available from doverstreetmarket.com, selfridges.com and notino.co.uk