Patriotic perfumes

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There’s definitely something magical and unique about the British countryside and the perfume world would seem to agree – with three new fragrances whose ingredients focus on herbs, plants, fruit and flowers indigenous to the UK. The most prominent among these is Union Fragrances, a new independent perfume house which has debuted with four scents, all drastically different from each other.

The star of the collection has to be Quince Mint and Moss, a truly beguiling combination of tangy quince from Somerset, spiky fresh notes of mint and lime leaves and soft mossy undertones of thyme and sage. You have to let the scent find its feet for an hour or two on the skin for it to really come into its own, but once it’s warmed up, the tart quince and fresh mint present a truly otherworldly, mellowing bouquet. Glass spoke to Union’s Creative Perfumer Anastasia Brozler to find out why the British Isles proved to be so inspiring.

Quince Mint & Moss by Union Fragrances

Quince Mint & Moss by Union Fragrances

“We may laugh about the weather in Britain, yet it is ‘temperate’ which means that the countryside is green and verdant. British flora is glorious and so diverse, from the thistles of the Highlands to the English bluebells in Dorset. There is history here too – who would have thought for example that the Quince came to Britain in 1275, planted in the Tower of London by Edward I? This collection has been a real education on the geography and history of British flora.”

Elsewhere, one of the latest olfactory arrivals at Cult Beauty is Laboratory Perfumes, the brainchild of perfumer Christopher Perry. After years spent working with a luxury French company, Perry returned to the UK to seek inspiration from his homeland.  The result is two scents: Gorse and Amber which are available as candles and in eau de toilette form. Glass asked the Laboratory Perfumes team what was so special about these two ingredients.

“We chose amber because ambergris was traditionally used in fragrance and for the fact that amber is still to this day washed up on British beaches. As for gorse, well as they say, it is our flower of love.  Yet it is out of fashion. That alone makes you want to embrace it. We also loved the fact that its scent in nature is sensitive to the person smelling it- no two persons will detect the notes in the same was.”

Gorse by Laboratory Perfumes

Gorse by Laboratory Perfumes

I was lucky enough to try Gorse, and while I was expecting a rich, slightly earthy scent, it instead presented itself as a cheery, almost confectionary bouquet which dried down to a warm and enveloping accord – ideal for lifting the spirits on a rainy day in London.

Few perfume houses are as quintessentially English as Penhaligon’s, whose latest creation Peoneve focuses on England’s famous peony flower (which, with its billowing, blowsy petals, I like to think of as the scatter-brained sister of the more sophisticated rose). The scent’s top notes provide a fresh burst of green violet leaf, which slowly evaporate to reveal a rich white floral heart underscored with earthy notes of musk and vetiver. Overall, an uplifting treat of a scent, conjuring up a glorious English garden in bloom (on those rare days when the sun puts in an appearance …).

Peoneve by Penhaligon'sPeoneve by Penhaligon’s

by Viola Levy

Illustration by Karolina Burdon

The Union Fine Fragrance Collection is £125 per 100ml available at Selfridges; Laboratory Perfumes are £48 per 100ml eau de toilette and £35 per candle available at Cult Beauty; Peoneve is £85 for 50ml, available at Harvey Nichols.

25 August 2012

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