Whenever I go to London I inevitably end up paying a visit to Liberty. The place is like a fairytale, I tell you. Housed within a mock-Tudor building built using the timber from two ships (HMS Impregnable and HMS Hindustan), Liberty stocks a wonderful array of treats, ranging from silk scarves in beautiful Liberty Art Fabric to exotic nicknacks, not to mention their impressive perfumery which houses classic and contemporary brands aplenty. It’s London’s most unique retail destination and it epitomises everything that is great about Britain: quirkiness and higgledy-piggledy-ness.
Swedish fragrance house, BYREDO, who have a space within the store, have just launched a fragrance exclusive to and inspired by Liberty. It’s called ‘Heliotropia‘ and it’s described as a “heady infusion, in turns virginal and narcotic” that “carries the mind to a dream like place, a higher state of illusion.” Much like Liberty the store, Heliotropia the fragrance is a fantastical experience that beguiles, fascinates and amuses. One may not enter it expecting to make a purchase, but they will leave with something that money can’t buy: a sense of bewilderment. How’s that for a headline?
I’ve been lost in a Google labyrinth of pictures for the last 24 hours and both Le Galion and The Perfume Society are to blame. You see, there is a veritable bounty of vintage advertisements from the house of Le Galion all over the Google and each one is absolutely stunning. Now, the reason I’ve entered into this merry little hole of vintage advertisements is because of a fascinating evening I spent this week in the Heritage Suite at Liberty, London’s most fabulous department store, with Nicolas Chabot, the new owner of the historic Le Galion brand and Jo Fairley, the founder of The Perfume Society, who organised the event.
Le Galion is the story of a historic house with royal ties, a legendary perfumer, a symbol of Paris and a fragrance favoured by Hollywood’s brightest stars. What’s amazing about this history is that it has been almost all but forgotten – lost within the annals of modern perfumery. But the brand’s new owner Nicolas Chabot hasn’t forgotten and he has brought Le Galion back from the dead, relaunching a number of its classic fragrances and adding some new ones, all in the historic style of the house. Le Galion is revived and with Chabot at the helm, it is navigating the waters of the perfume industry in search of fragrant treasures, both new and old, guided by the spirit of one of the world’s greatest perfumers.
Below is a summary of the conversation between Nicolas Chabot and Jo Fairley – a tale of many serendipitous moments that is truly fascinating in every sense of the word.