Ever since couturier Paul Poiret launched the perfume house Parfums de Rosine in 1911, fashion and fragrance have always had an unbreakable link – a seam and a stitch that has brought them together. Today fashion houses, high street brands, and all that sits in between, have fragrances in their portfolio, attempting to, with varying degrees of success, distill their brand identities into scents that provide an accessible entry point for the consumer.
Founded in 1994, AllSaints, the London-based fashion brand, has always moved to the beat of their own drum, so it’s no surprise that it has taken them a long time to get into the fragrance market. AllSaints is all about a free-spirited coolness – an easy, ‘I wear what I want’ spirit. With a price point elevated above many high street brands, AllSaints has always struck me as a place one goes for pillars in their wardrobe – investments like a leather jacket that goes with anything, perhaps. It’s a brand that favours neutral colours, with an aesthetic that enjoys contrasts – juxtapositions of hard and smooth, of wood and metal.
With their debut collection of fragrances, AllSaints has captured the laid back, London-spirit of their brand in three scents that “contrast, complement and contradict”. The fragrances – Sunset Riot, Metal Wave and Incense City – are housed in structured square bottles topped with concrete caps. The boxes and labels each feature a polaroid negative of a flower – a design touch intended to showcase the link between fragrance and memory. It’s a collection that has been put together with clear thought and vision, and truthfully, this shows in the fragrances themselves.
Pink Pepper, Orange Flower, Cedarwood
Sunset Riot is a fragrance inspired by juxtapositions. It evokes the warmth and calm of a sunset but contrasts this with the chaos and energy of a riot. These contrasts come in the form of a vibrant orange note (the warm glow of the sun) and a huge does of ambroxan (the peace and calm). In truth, the result is very similar to Maison Francis Kurkdjian’s masterpiece Baccarat Rouge 540, however Sunset Riot leans less into the candied strawberries and sugar of ethyl maltol, presenting a more luminous, ethereal signature that feels lighter and more transparent. I think it’s easily going to be the most popular.
Juniperberry, Magnolia, Papyrus Wood
Metal Wave’s contrast is the masculinity of metal and the softness of waves. It is not, as the name may suggest, an aquatic, metallic fragrance. In fact, the most prominent material her is somewhat surprising: it’s vanilla. Metal Wave is a soft, woody take on vanilla that uses the mineral juiciness of juniper to bring a sort of ozonic effect. Like all three fragrances in this collection, Metal Wave smells abstract, pairing a powdery, soft wood with a waxy vanilla that is shrouded in something cool and watery. It’s incredibly easy to wear – just that thing to pair with that billowy silk shirt you (as in I) have been eyeing up in the AllSaints window…
Cypress, Cedarwood, Incense
In a collection that is entirely unisex, Incense City is the most masculine-leaning scent. It’s a big, balmy oriental filled with resins that has been created to represent both the spiritual nature of incense and the energy of the city. I’d say that the result is more Carnaby Street than Avignon. Labdanum is the core material in a subversive amber accord that replaces the sweetness of vanilla for the smoky, golden quality of incense. Incense City is an urban incense – a fragrance where an ancient note is given the feel of concrete, evoking a city that is warm, welcoming and modern.
This is a very solid collection at a decent price point. The three fragrances are abstract, interesting and elevated above many other designer fragrances, headed into an accessible niche direction and presented in a fairly linear fashion (they don’t develop much). Do they break any new ground? I don’t think so – I don’t smell Sunset Riot, Metal Wave and Incense City and smell anything I’ve not smelled before in some guise or another, but the quality of these fragrances is excellent. They are well-composed, distinct, and most importantly, they are entirely on brand. Do check them out.
Sunset Riot, Metal Wave and Incense City are available in AllSaints boutiques for £49/100ml Eau de Parfum.
Samples, notes and quotes via AllSaints. As part of exploring the fragrances, AllSaints provided me with a shopping experience which included a gift of clothing – this has not impacted my view on the fragrances. Images are my own.