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…

BY CLAIRE BINGHAM

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.
hermes.com 

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


Aesop
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.
aesop.com  henrywilson.com.au

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


Lumira
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. 
atelierlumira.com

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


Joya
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.
joyastudio.com

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

Abel – 'Vita Odor'

DF 02_Abel_16WHITE.jpg
Frances & Isaac.jpg

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

Frédéric Malle x Alber Elbaz

A new collaboration between French fragrance house Editions de Parfums Frédéric Malle and Israeli fashion designer Alber Elbaz has resulted in 'Superstitious'. Black, gold and sexy as hell...

BY AMY BRADFORD

ABOVE FROM LEFT:  Alber Elbaz and Frédéric Malle

ABOVE FROM LEFT: Alber Elbaz and Frédéric Malle

When they hear the words ‘grand aldehydic floral’, perfume connoisseurs usually think of one scent: 'Chanel No5'. 'Superstitious' is nothing like 'Chanel No5', but it does belong to the same fragrance family. Intriguingly, it also shares something else in common with Ernest Beaux’s 1921 masterpiece: it was composed in the old-fashioned way, by a master perfumer working alone, and presented almost complete to the fashion designer for whom it was intended to await his final flourish.

The fashion designer in question is Alber Elbaz, known for helming iconic French brands Yves Saint Laurent and Lanvin, and the perfumer is the great Dominique Ropion. Fragrance impresario Frédéric Malle has long admired the former, and long worked with the latter. Seeking a way to collaborate with Elbaz on a new scent, Malle decided to show him Ropion’s creation – and it was love at first sniff. We can see why. Its light-as-air opening – those aldehydes, which lend a perfume champagne-like effervescence – is quickly succeeded by an indolic whoosh of Egyptian jasmine and Turkish rose, and fleeting impressions of peach-skin, apricot, sandalwood and musk. It finally dries down to a Turkish delight-tinged softness.

As for the name, Malle’s explanation speaks for itself: ‘In a world where life seems programmed, organised and logical, Alber sees the irrational – neglected everywhere we are and in everything we do – as essential. Beyond words, images and reason, we must let ourselves be guided by a sixth sense – by our superstitions – free from judgment and unsuppressed. We must let ourselves go. We must trust our instincts. If [Alber and I] were to create a fragrance together, we said, it would possess this mysterious element.’ 

Ropion finished his composition with Elbaz in mind and it’s a huge hit, sexy as hell and utterly addictive. The bottle’s pretty fab, too, and like the scent it’s a fusion of creative visions: Malle’s idea of a black bottle adorned with a golden eye, the symbol of superstition; the eye itself sketched out by Elbaz in a style that recalls the work of American artist Alexander Calder. 'I transformed Alber's eye from red pen on white paper to antique gold on deep black lacquer,' recalls Malle. Timeless elegance meets modern mystique...
fredericmalle.com

'Superstitious' from £158 for 50ml. Available from fredericmalle.com and libertylondon.com
Portrait of Alber Elbaz and Frédéric Malle by Brigitte Lacombe

Night Veils x Byredo

Byredo's latest collection of smart scents is aimed at night owls with a penchant for intense floral fragrances

BY AMY BRADFORD

We thought that Swedish brand Byredo couldn’t get any more luxurious, but its latest creative concept proves us wrong. The ‘Night Veils’ collection is a decadent trio of perfumes inspired by three night-blooming flowers: jasmine, lily and rose. The super-concentrated scents are intended to be worn after dark, and are presented in beautiful Art Deco-style midnight-purple glass flacons to adorn your bedside table. ‘Reine de Nuit’ combines midnight rose with blackcurrant, incense and patchouli; ‘Casablanca Lily’ mimics this exotic flower with notes of wild gardenia, Indian tuberose and palisander wood; and our favourite, ‘Midnight Candy’, is a tribute to jasmine, blended with black violet, iris and vanilla. Florals don’t get more grown-up than this.
byredo.com

ABOVE FROM LEFT: 'Midnight Candy', 'Casablanca Lily', 'Reine De Nuit', £325 each for 30ml at Harrods, Liberty and Selfridges

Hermès

An elegant new range of products from luxury French fashion house Hermès has just upped the style stakes in the bathroom. Dive in...

BY AMY BRADFORD

You might not be able to afford that Birkin bag, but Hermès’ latest launch is a little more accessible. The ‘Le Bain’ line of bath products features a range of scents from its ‘Les Colognes’ and ‘Les Jardins’ collections, including floral and fruity fragrances, and is remarkable for its beautifully simple packaging and jewel-bright hues. The patterned soaps make perfect gifts too – choose your favourite three to make up a seriously stylish set almost too pretty to open!
hermes.com

ABOVE: 'Le Bain' body and hair shampoo, £28 each
RIGHT: 'Le Bain' hand and body gel, £39 each
BELOW: 'Le Bain' soap, £48 for three