Perfumers and brands can take their inspiration from a wide variety of mediums when creating a perfume: music, nature, people, memories, places and food; just to name a small few. As perfume lovers we welcome a wealth of muses – after all it’s always interesting to see perfumes based on new and exciting things rather than the usual set of notes and themes.
Penhaligon’s is a brand that seems to have a far reaching nose, in the sense that they like to seek out unusual inspirations and over the years have created a number of perfumes inspired by weird and wonderful things. Take their wonderful Sartorial for example, a fragrance that accurately captures the scent of a Saville Row tailor’s workroom or the equally-wonderful Juniper Sling, a perfect olfactory tribute to the quintessentially English drink of Gin.
For their latest offering, the brand has teamed up with English National Ballet to create a fragrance that captures the spirit of the ballet – a perfume that they describe as being “a work of olfactory choreography”. Having had exclusive access to dancers Nathan Young and Lauretta Summerscales, in addition to behind the scenes visits, perfumer Alberto Morillas has created a beautiful ode to the most graceful of dances.
It’s not often that a perfume turns 100 years old, heck it’s not often that a person hits the big one double zero, let alone a scent. But in a world where there are a cool 1,200 + perfume launches per year, many of which ride the coat tails of some quasi-celebrity or another whose career is most likely going to be short lived, longevity isn’t something that’s guaranteed. So it stands to reason that a perfume which has managed to last for a cool century should be celebrated.
2012 marks the 100th anniversary of Guerlain’s classic fragrance L’Heure Bleue and the house is celebrating in style. To honour such a huge feat Guerlain has released a trio of Thierry Wasser penned limited edition interpretations of L’Heure Bleue; L’Aurore, Le Crépuscule and Le Zénith, the latter of which has been added to the Les Parisiennes line as an Eau de Parfum entitled L’Heure de Nuit.
“I felt something so intense, I could only express it in a perfume.” Jacques Guerlain
L’Heure Bleue took its inspiration from the colour of the sky just before dusk, when the world is bathed in a melancholy blue light. L’Heure de Nuit represents a softer side of this blue hour, when the light is almost entirely faded from the sky and darkness begins to take hold. It encapsulates the placid coolness of the evening evoking feelings of calm rather than sadness.
“This extreme freedom, indifference to commentary, spontaneity and even her excesses make her magnificent. She is who she is; she is irresistibly set against prejudice and convention and is unafraid to be unreasonable. Her motto: whoever loves me will follow!” 
One thing that I absolutely pride myself upon is that when it comes to perfume the subject of gender means absolutely nothing to me. I’m as happy rocking YSL’s ‘so masculine it’ll put hairs on your chest’ M7 as I am splashing on Robert Piguet’s oestrogen-fuelled Fracas. But there is one perfume so feminine that even I, yes I with the pink stripy blog think twice about before spraying on. That perfume is Guerlain’s Insolence.
I’m not saying that I don’t wear it, that would be silly and against everything I have ever said about perfume and gender, but I do really have to be in the mood for it and there have been times when I’ve felt just a little self-conscious/Candy Perfume Girl-ish whilst wearing it. Insolence is unapologetic in its femininity, and why should it apologise? Insolence is a girl that knows what she wants and most importantly she knows how to have a good time.
Insolence, which was created by the great Maurice Roucel no less, was released in 2006 and is a fruity floral with a difference – it actually smells good. Roucel presented Insolence as an essay on Guerlain’s L’Heure Bleue, taking the classic anisic gourmand iris and giving it a modern twist. The result is an intelligent, yet ridiculously ditzy (how’s that for an oxymoron?) perfume that smells current whilst giving a firm nod to Guerlain’s esteemed heritage.