2 weeks ago

Fashion Forward Fragrance

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How do we want to smell now? Some people find reassurance and comfort in their signature scent – a familiar daily ritual. Others choose different perfumes for different moments. Witness Killing Eve’s Villanelle as she gears up for a confrontation by visiting a perfumery, demanding “I want to smell powerful … like a Roman centurion coming across an old foe.” This season our aims may not be quite so lofty, but as we re-evaluate what we’re wearing, our scents are changing too.

And fashion labels are positioning themselves via their scents. They’re all trying to be conscious – see Calvin Klein’s Everyone eau de toilette, which is genderless, vegan, natural, sustainable. But aiming to be inoffensive can work against a smell that’s distinctive. Scent is so subjective, and it’s an impossible challenge to appeal to literally everyone. Besides, once you reach a certain age, wouldn’t you rather stand out than blend in? The ultimate fashion perfume, Chanel’s No 5, was made to make a statement. Created in 1921, it broke new ground, not least because Gabrielle Chanel “replaced perfumes having identifiable scents with one that smelled like nothing you could name … although it may smell fresh as a garden, it is nothing like any garden you were ever in,” writes Edmonde Charles-Roux in his biography of Chanel. A great, distinctive perfume will outlast trends. The reason why the original Jo Malone, Lime, Basil & Mandarin, is still the best? The ingredients are familiar and simple, but the blend is sublime.

Labels are delivering different takes on how to smell this season: from herbs to exotic blooms. We are GROUNDED.

We are more conscious than ever of the beauty of the natural world, and fashion is celebrating it from the grassroots up. Many designers are green-fingered; think of Christian Dior and the Granville garden inspiring his perfumes. I dream of a Dries Van Noten scent, the olfactory equivalent of his intoxicating bloom prints. Even Oscar Wilde was partial to a natural fragrance. You might imagine that he wore a decadent narcotic scent found in a far-flung opium den. But a document sold at a recent auction revealed that his favourite perfume was almond flower. I’d point him towards the richly almondy and decadent Ambre Amande by L’Occitane.

In a year when many of us have spent more time appreciating nature, finding solace in gardens and walks, Jonathan Anderson, creative director of Loewe, is on the money with a new range of home scents that highlight unexpectedly earthy notes – all with a luxurious twist, naturally. So candles (above) smell of liquorice, sweet pea or honeysuckle; room diffusers champion beetroot, herbs and tomato plants. The aromatic smell of cypress trees features in both the Loewe range and Jo Malone London’s Cypress & Grapevine Cologne Intense. And what could be more earthy than Hermès’ bestselling Terre D’Hermès?

The rose garden is always in fashion, with a new boldness this season. Jacques Cavallier Belletrud has reinvented the first Louis Vuitton perfume, Heures d’Absence, a formula created in 1927 but since lost; Belletrud’s version centres on the Grasse May rose. Chloé’s Rose Signature Tangerine, is bright and sunny, while Dior’s J’adore Infinissime emphasises tuberose, the rich and creamy flower that perfumer Francois Demachy describes as having “an immediate, intact power that transcends trends”.

Natural inspiration is evident in beauty products, too. A memorable fragrance can lift the most ordinary item to excellence. Hair by Sam McKnight products are scented by perfumer Lyn Harris to capture McKnight’s “restorative” garden, with botanical notes of herbs, green leaves and woods. The Legology range has a signature citrussy scent created by fragrance house Robertet. As we seek simpler pleasures, uplifting and deep-rooted scents are a trend that’s truly growing …

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