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

Turning Japanese

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Captivating Japan is the inspiration behind three recent fragrance and beauty line launches, with elegant zen-chic design and oriental packaging to match. We spy a trend!

BY AMY BRADFORD

FLORAÏKU
Poetry, perfume and design come together in 2017-launched fragrance line Floraïku, created by French-Irish couple Clara and John Molloy (also the founders of cult scent brand Memo Paris). The collection of 12 fragrances, created with noses Alienor Massenet, Sophie Labbé and Sarah Burri, is inspired by Japanese culture: each bottle features a patterned stopper that recalls traditional lacquerware, and is presented in a bento-style box decorated with trails of cherry blossom and an evocative haiku.

TOP: Ginger, white tea and cardamom 'I Am Coming Home' eau de parfum by Floraïku
RIGHT: Floraïku's eau de parfums 'My Love Has the Colour of the Night', patchouli, gaiac wood and vetiver; 'Sleeping on the Roof', lily of the valley, orange blossom and amber musk
BELOW: 'First Dream of the Year', grapefruit, orange blossom and iris; 'In the Rain', bergamot, cedar and woody musk (a twelfth scent launched this March) 
£250 each for 50ml, 10ml refill and purse spray

Floraïku's range is divided into three themes or ‘ceremonies’: Enigmatic FlowersSecret Teas and Spices and Forbidden Incense, housed in navy blue, white and black bottles respectively. Highlights include ‘My Love Has the Colour of the Night’, a dusky blend of gaiac wood, patchouli and vetiver, and the ethereal ‘First Dream of the Year’, which combines grapefruit, orange blossom and iris. Offering clever layering, two 'Shadowing' scents, in red bottles, are intended to be sprayed near any scent in the collection to either lighten and freshen it ('Sleeping on the Roof') or darken and intensify the fragrance ('Between Two Trees').

ABOVE: Sample the scent range over a cup of seasonal tea at the perfume bar at Floraïku's Japanese-influenced London boutique at Harrods' Salon de Parfums. All fragrances contain more than 50 per cent natural ingredients and are refillable

We love the individual illustrations designed for each scent by French artist Victoire Cathalan, drawing on watercolours and Indian inks and printed on the bottle's fabric-covered cap, which doubles as a travel or purse spray. The brand opened its first boutique at Harrods’ Salon de Parfums, based on a traditional Japanese ryokan, or inn, and decorated with straw, silk and marble. New York's Saks Fifth Avenue also welcomed Floraïku to its new beauty floor this May, bringing zen serenity to the city that never sleeps.
us.floraiku.com


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SHIRO
We’ve long admired Japanese design for its ruthless simplicity and attention to detail – but it’s not just its furniture and buildings that display these qualities. Japanese skincare is growing in popularity in the west, and in response stylish brand Shiro has opened a boutique on London’s Kings Road – its first anywhere outside Japan. Recently two more stores launched on Covent Garden's Monmouth Street and St Christopher's Place off Oxford Street. The pale white and wood spaces display products beautifully packaged in frosted and white glass: the body and fragrance range is our highlight, in particular the jasmine-scented fabric conditioner (£25). Skin-softening ‘sake kasu’, a by-product of the sake production process rich in rice protein, is a key ingredient for the brand, alongside other traditional oriental extracts like adzuki bean, known for its cleansing properties, and moisterising 'gagome kombu', derived from kelp.
shiro-shiro.jp; shiro-shiro.uk

ABOVE: Japanese skincare brand Shiro's minimal products including 'Adzuki Soap', £16; 'Kombu Skin Serum', £68; and 'Sake Kasu Facial Cream', £78


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'HWYL' BY AESOP
Given the array of wonderful aromas in Aesop skincare products, it’s surprising to think that it only has three perfumes in its collection. But the Australian-born brand works at its own pace, only launching new scents when it is ready. Accordingly, the third fragrance, 'Hwyl' (pronounced ‘hoo-will’), has only recently emerged. Created with hip young French perfumer Barnabé Fillion, it’s a real cultural mishmash, with the name coming from old Welsh – a somewhat intangible word that variously means emotional fervour, nature, and temper or mood – and the composition influenced by Japan. ‘My inspiration was walking among 300-year-old Hiba trees in an ancient Japanese forest and experiencing the country’s lush temple moss gardens,’ says Fillion, who has conjured an intensely green scent with notes of thyme, cypress, woods, vetiver and frankincense. ‘It captures the feeling of solitude and refuge in nature,’ he adds. Unassumingly packaged in amber glass with seductive plant imagery by Australian generative artist Jonathan McCabe inside the sleek grey-green box, this cool, verdant scent is sure to be a hit.
aesop.com

ABOVE: Minimal, unisex 'Hwyl' eau de parfum by Aesop features smoky notes, subtle spice and dark green earthy accords. £83 for 50ml eau de parfum
BELOW: A film shares the fragrance's Japanese forest inspirations

Maison Francis Kurkdjian – 'Les Maisons de la Maison'

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Five scented candles by Paris fragrance house Maison Francis Kurkdjian inspired by homes sweet homes...

BY AMY BRADFORD

We’ve covered Maison Francis Kurkdjian’s perfumes ('Pluriel', 'À La Rose', 'Lumière Noire') several times in the past, but the Parisian nose’s new collection of scented candles has us more enraptured than ever. Entitled ‘Les Maisons de la Maison’, the range includes five fragrances, each inspired by homes that are dear to Kurkdjian.

TOP: Maison Francis Kurkdjian's five-strong new 'Les Maisons de la Maison' scented candle range. ABOVE: Candles include red-lined 'Rue des Groselliers', pink-hued 'Anouche', black-edged 'Au 17', green-lined 'La Trouverie' and yellow-rimmed 'Les Tamaris'. €70 each for 9.8 oz

'Rue des Groselliers’, for instance, represents his childhood home outside Paris with berry notes inspired by the family garden; ‘Anouche’ recaptures the smell of rose-petal jam cooking in his grandmother’s apartment; and ‘Au 17’ symbolises his current Paris home with the aromas of log fires and incense. 'La Trouverie' channels a French farmstead; 'Les Tamaris' his French West coast beach house. Each candle comes in a precious Limoges porcelain holder lined with rich colour, while boxes feature romantic illustrations by Paris artist Antonin Anzil.
franciskurkdjian.com

Abel – 'Vita Odor'

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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

Penhaligon's – 'Portraits'

British fragrance house Penhaligon's has used animal heads to characterise a fictitious aristocratic family in its new 'Portraits' collection. Lady Mary would approve...

BY AMY BRADFORD

You wouldn’t be surprised to spot a classic Penhaligon’s fragrance on the dressing table of any of the Downton Abbey ladies, so it feels fitting that the British heritage perfumer has taken inspiration from a similar aristocratic sphere for its new ‘Portraits’ collection. Described by the brand as ‘the first olfactive fiction’, it’s a set of four perfumes, each of which embodies the ambivalent character of a member of an imaginary family. Thus the patriarch ‘Lord George’ is a masculine mix of rum and tonka bean, while his wife ‘Lady Blanche’ is a ‘green floral narcotic’ reflecting her secret scheme to poison her unfaithful husband! Each character in this colourful universe is represented by a different golden bottle stopper that might be said to represent their animal spirit – Lord George, for instance, is a majestic stag. Last but not least, the ornate packaging by Icelandic-born, UK-based artist Kristjana S Williams conjures up a magical world by interweaving fragments of Victorian engravings with contemporary illustration.

ABOVE AND ABOVE RIGHT: The 'Portraits' Collection, £175 for 75ml

Find this extravagant collection at Penhaligon’s newly unveiled flagship store in London’s Regent Street, designed by architectural studio Al-Jawad Pike. It came about after the studio created a window display for the store, which won a RIBA Award for Best Window Installation in 2014. Inspired by the brand’s original boutique in St James, English panelled rooms and the art of fragrance making, it features an elegant curved frontage, intricate floor and wood-clad walls.
penhaligons.com