St Giles

We chat to scentaholic Michael Donovan, champion of cult fragrance labels, about his own London perfume brand St Giles...

BY AMY BRADFORD

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Passions run high in the perfume world: spend half an hour talking to a serious scentaholic and you’re likely to encounter a level of knowledge and enthusiasm that might be considered geekish if it weren’t so chic. One such person is Michael Donovan (right), who, as founder of perfumery Roullier White and PR firm Profile, has championed an array of cult scent brands including Editions de Parfums Frédéric Malle, D.S. & Durga and Ideo Parfumeurs (all of which you have read about in DesignFizz's Looking Glass beauty section over the years). Now, Donovan has poured 20 years of love and expertise into his own perfume collection, St Giles (named after the London parish of St Giles where he was born), launched in December 2017.

Created with French master nose Bertrand Duchaufour, it consists of five scents, each designed to answer this thorny question: how does a fragrance make you feel? ‘Having listened to the difficulties that journalists face when writing about fragrance – and owning a perfumery myself – I realised that this important question is almost never addressed,’ Donovan explains. ‘It’s what we all really want to know. Perfume is not a shopping list of ingredients nor an ephemeral title hinting at desirability. We are all multi-faceted personalities and need an olfactory wardrobe that is multi-functional and fulfils the needs of our daily lives – a scent to make us feel empowered and successful, inspired, glamorous or stylish.’

Donovan’s elegance and wit come through in all five scents, which also exude originality – when you’ve smelled as many perfumes as he and Duchaufour have, you know how to bring something new to the party. ‘The Actress’, for instance, is an alluring narcotic floral based on oriental lily. Gorgeously creamy from the outset, it gradually reveals layers of sensual warmth in the form of jasmine, honeysuckle, sandalwood and musk. What makes it unique, though, is the addition of pear and vanilla-custard notes, which bring a truly addictive sweetness. If the Dance of the Seven Veils could be incarnated as a scent, this would be it.

At the other end of the scale is ‘The Writer’, a woody-leather accord with a cool, dark intensity. A tribute to great prose, it includes notes such as rosemary, rhubarb and clary sage that are reputed to stimulate the intellect (tests have shown that exposure to rosemary essential oil improves performance in memory tests by several percentage points). ‘It’s not aromatherapy, but I like the idea of being cleverer when I wear it,’ says Donovan.

The remaining scents take their place in your scent arsenal thus: ‘The Mechanic’ is, as Donovan says, the magnetic ‘sex scent’, a feverishly erotic blend of geranium, patchouli, leather and musk, with allusions to hot rubber and engine fuel. ‘The Tycoon’ is the ‘power scent’: a fizzy green chypre with dynamic citrus notes and a steely heart of black pepper, woody cypriol, tea and labdanum. Last but not least, ‘The Stylist’ is all about feeling well put-together, with a dash of eccentricity. The opening of sparkling aldehydes and bitter-orange bigarade is as clean and crisp as a tailored white shirt, but notes of mango, rum and creamy vanilla inject real flamboyance.

Donovan designed the Twenties-influenced grey glass flacons himself, as well as the black crystal stopper, which he had sandblasted for extra tactility ‘and to stop it from slipping out of your hands’ – too many expensive scents are spoiled by cheap bottle caps, he says. All in all, this is a very impressive debut – we counsel you to spritz it and see.
stgilesfinefragrance.com

'St Giles' eau de parfum, £130 each for 100ml; also available at Selfridges selfridges.com

Behind the scenes at Diptyque

We go behind the scenes at Diptyque, famous for its elegant scented candles, as the French label celebrates the 50th anniversary of its first fragrance

BY AMY BRADFORD

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In 2018, Diptyque celebrates the 50th anniversary of its debut fragrance, the ground-breaking 'L'Eau', launched in 1968. The first unisex scent, inspired by its heady revolutionary era, it drew on a Renaissance recipe of spices, clove and cinnamon. To mark the occasion, the French luxury label has launched two new perfumes: 'Fleur de Peau' (a seductive floral featuring iris, musk and ambrette seeds) and 'Tempo' (a woody mix of patchouli and violet leaf), nods both to the Sixties and that original feisty fragrance. What better time to go behind the scenes at this much-loved perfume and home fragrance brand, respected as much for its iconic designs as its artfully crafted scents?

Diptyque’s jumbo-sized scented candles, packaged in ceramic holders, are probably the most covetable of all its many products. An investment buy at €230 (or £200 in the UK), they weigh a hefty 1.5kg and burn for up to 150 hours. Recently, Diptyque has updated the colours of these candles to make them even more beautiful, with ‘Tubéreuse’ available in a glossy plum-coloured vessel and ‘Figuier’ in a vivid green. There’s also a new large version of the brand’s best-selling ‘34’ fragrance in matt and glossy white.

TOP: Diptyque's two new scents for 2018, 'Fleur de Peau' and 'Tempo', channelling the swinging Sixties; £115 for 75ml. ABOVE RIGHT: This year is the 50th anniversary of the brand's first fragrance, the genderless 'L'Eau', adorned with a signature illustrated label.

As with everything at Diptyque, the story behind the product is as interesting as the end result. We were lucky enough to travel to the South of France to see the ceramic candle vessels being made, at the factory of Virebent, a pottery that has been making porcelain and stoneware since 1924. Set in the picturesque Lot valley, on the outskirts of the historic town of Puy-l’Evêque, Virebent started off making industrial ceramics, but branched out into decorative pottery in the 1960s (it now makes porcelain lighting and tableware for cult French brand Tsé & Tsé Associées, among others; if you’re in Puy-l’Evêque, be sure to visit its excellent factory shop).

ABOVE: Diptyque recently updated the colours of its large scented candles, adding plum-hued 'Tubéreuse' and white '34 Boulevard Saint Germain' to the range. BELOW: Outsize scented candle 'Figuier' now comes in gorgeous green, or opt for investment buy 'Baies' in black. All are suitable for indoors or outside.

At the Virebent workshop, a small band of dedicated artisans lovingly craft the candle vessels by hand, pouring liquid stoneware into moulds and then leaving them to air dry once they have set (this process takes at least two days, even in warm, dry weather). After that, the vessels are spray-enamelled and taken off to the kiln to bake – any that don’t emerge with a perfectly rich, even depth of colour in their glaze are ground down and recycled as sand (Diptyque inspectors approve or reject every single one). As for the scented wax? That is poured at another factory altogether, which means each giant candle has been on its own long journey before it makes its way to the shop floor and, in turn, to you. If you buy one of these candles, you’re investing in not just one kind of French craftsmanship, but several. Why not splash out? Perhaps for your own special anniversary...
diptyqueparis.fr  diptyqueparis.co.uk  virebent.com  tse-tse.com

BELOW: A video celebrating the 50th anniversary of the brand's first perfume. We also liked these Diptyque Facebook videos sharing the artwork behind 2018 scents 'Fleur de Peau' (illustrated by Dimitri Rybaltchenko) and 'Tempo(illustrated by Safia Ouares); click fragrance names to see the films

Graham & Brown

Tempting damasks, prints with attitude and a new angle on trompe l’oeil. It’s time to dust off your decorator’s trestle – patterned walls are back as we turn our spotlight on Graham & Brown...

BY CLAIRE BINGHAM

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It isn’t entirely a coincidence that as our autumn wardrobes are going all seductive with richly textured fabrics, dark florals and a whole lot of bling, our homes are similarly morphing into something more spectacular. Velvet has surfaced as an important trend, as have jacquard brocades and romantic prints. So, it is perhaps no surprise that damask, despite its vaguely housewifey air, has unexpectedly begun to creep back into our homes. A velvet and damask cushion here, a silk-tasseled lampshade there... In fact, it was only after a recent trip to Graham & Brown, the British wallpaper powerhouse, that we were realised how fashionable the old Dame had become.

Damask, like a good velvet blazer, is opulent without being OTT. Often in silver and a pleasing ornamental design, it adds splendour to a room in an easy, normcore way. To be fair, we have long been admirers of damask – ever since the cool duo at Glasgow-born design studio Timorous Beasties added their subversive twist to the pattern – so it is with glad tidings we (tentatively) welcome it back.

ABOVE: 'Portuguese Tile' (middle print) is a sea of rich greens
ABOVE RIGHT: Trompe l'oeil reigns in 'Creased Up'
BELOW: 'Burlesque White' damask by Julien Macdonald

ABOVE: 'Paradox' wall mural by Kelly Hoppen and Dynamo

Graham & Brown has stacks of knockout looks for Autumn/Winter 2016. The UK wallpaper company’s wide-reaching style stems from the passion of Mr Graham and Mr Brown who founded the business in 1946. Never losing sight of its family-run values – today, two of their grandsons still lead the firm – an impressive 50% of its workforce has been with the company for over 25 years. Rolling out wallpaper from its Blackburn-based HQ to a global clientele, G&B also collaborates with luminaries, including Kelly Hoppen and Marcel Wanders, whose contemporary designs bring a little 21st-century sparkle to the mix.

ABOVE: 'Brian Eno Flower Mask' abstract prints; 'Fresco Palm' 

Of the designer cahoots, the new Brian Eno abstract print is one of our faves. There’s a cool new green 'Portuguese Tile' print, a fab gold spot and hidden away in the design studio, the Spring 2017 Kelly Hoppen designs are looking extremely swish. The company has also started doing murals which, at a starting price of £80 for a 3 x 2.5 metre piece, we think is really good value for a picture wall.  

BELOW FROM TOP: 'Dotty Gold'; 'Marbled Black and Grey'

Lose your fear. Try the heavily embossed, silver 'Metallic Tile' on the ceiling. Impress your floral-obsessed friends at dinner with the tropical 'Fresco Palm', or opt for opulence with the gloriously swirly 'Marbled Black and Grey'. Whether you go for graphic, glittery or a mash-up of damask and encaustic tiles, now's the time to get your wallpaper swag on...
grahamandbrown.com

Everything's Gone Green

ABOVE: Habitat's Spring/Summer collection is soooo on the money... 'Botanical' cushion £15; 'Botanical' rug £350; 'Kilo' leaf green metal side table £25; 'Pinya' green glaze mug £6; 'Tommy' emerald desk lamp £18

2015 is the Chinese Year of the Green Wooden Sheep, the sign of the homemaker. So what better way to celebrate the New Year than to embrace the colour of new life and fresh beginnings...

BY EMMA KAY

Pantone may have declared Marsala red the colour of 2015 but here at the Fizz we're going green; from bright emeralds to soft sages, this is the only colour we'll be rocking this Spring. Here are our five top picks to make your neighbours green with envy...

Paola Navone x Ercol
Let us count the ways in which we adore Italian wonder-designer Paola Navone. Most recently weaving her magic at British wooden furniture brand Ercol, the firm’s classic bentwood beech sofa design has been reimagined upholstered in Navone’s trademark acid-bright green textiles.
'Nest' sofa £5,395, ercol.com


Raw-Edges x Golran
Design studio Raw-Edges has collaborated with Italian master weaver Golran on this eye-catching rug that creates an optical illusion of colour gradients.
'Lake' rug €8,200, golran.it


Normann Copenhagen
Danish firm Normann Copenhagen has released Peter Johansen's simple folded metal 'Box' table in blue-green and turquoise, the perfect companion to any sofa.
'Box' table £110, normann-copenhagen.com


NLXL
Bringing the outdoors in couldn't be easier with Dutch stylist, decorator and designer Erik Gutter's greenhouse-inspired wallpaper for NLXL. Depicting sculptural flora blooming against Crittall windows, its the lazy guide to indoor gardening.
'Greenhouse' wallpaper US$299 for 4.9m2, nlxl.com


Patricia Urquiola x Coedition
Patricia Urquiola's graphic, lacquered 'Luna' cabinet for contemporary French brand Coedition is sure to add wow-factor to any space. 
'Luna' cabinet €5,290, coedition.fr