Burlington Arcade is London’s unofficial perfume destination. Its 196 yards host the likes of Penhaligon’s, Lalique, Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle, CHANEL, Doja Rove and By Kilian, making it an essential stop for any London tourist that is partial to a bit of perfume. The dainty Georgian promenade is a perfume-lovers paradise and quite organically offers a unpretentious, calm and accessible atmosphere that is seldom found in the city’s many department stores, which are so often crowded centres of anxiety, pushy sales people and too much perfume (if such a thing exists).
I was invited to Burlington Arcade to visit By Kilian’s only standalone boutique in the UK (they also have a boutique in Harrods’ Salon de Parfums) for a tour of the brand’s many scented options. Now, By Kilian is a brand that I feel that I’ve had limited exposure to. I remember being intrigued by some of the fragrances within the initial collection, which at the time of launch, seemed so different to anything else that was out there in niche. Since my initial exploration of By Kilian, the brand has exploded, offering a whopping 38 fragrances, home fragrance options and scented jewellery. Obviously I had some catching up to do so with my super-knowledgeable By Kilian rep as my guide, I got stuck right in.
The district of Peckham in south-east London isn’t the first place that springs to mind when one thinks of the house CHANEL, but that’s exactly where the world’s most famous couturier decided to host a five-day pop-up scent installation inspired by their fragrances. The location was chosen because it is home to the studio of Es Devlin, the Stage Designer picked by CHANEL for their first collaboration with i-D under their ‘The Fifth Sense’ partnership.
Es Devlin creates “kinetic sculptures meshed with light” and is famous for piecing together elements of the London 2012 Olympic Closing Ceremony, Béyonce’s Formation World Tour (having created a gigantic “monolith” of a video screen for the tour), Adele’s BRIT Awards performance of “When We Were Young”and pretty much all of Kanye West’s performances in recent years. With such an illustrious and frankly fascinating body of work, it’s no surprise that Es was the perfect artist to work with for CHANEL’s very first pop-up scent installation.
Entitled ‘Mirror Maze’ this installation takes themes of navigation, gravity and memory, and links them to fragrance. The physical aspect sees a mirrored maze reminiscent of Coco Chanel’s famous mirrored staircase intertwined with video installations and soundscapes. Fragrance comes into play in the form of a specially-created scent crafted by CHANEL in-house Perfumer, Olivier Polge – a fragrance that scents a special space within the installation. The fragrance and installation (which closed yesterday) will last for five days, after which they will only exist as memory.
“I began to think about scent as a means of finding my way and measuring myself – not in space but through time. I thought about the smells that take me back – burning street tar, Vicks inhaler, Christmas tree resin, freshly cleaned school corridors, printer ink, chlorine, sunscreen, baby milk, mosquito coils, Indian jasmine mixed with street cooking, diesel – and I began to see them as landmarks for who I was when I first and last smelled it.”
Gorilla Perfumes, the rebellious perfume arm of cosmetics company, Lush has opened its very first standalone store in London. The store is situated within the fashionable Camden Passage in London and will stock the brand’s current offerings; Volume 1 (Lust etc), Volume 2 (Furze and Hellstone etc) and the newly launched Volume 3 (Kerbside Violet et al), as well as the Gorilla B-Sides, which are the fabulous fragrances from the now-defunct B Never too Busy to B Beautiful, such as Breath of God and Ladyboy.
The Gorilla Perfumes store can be found at 3 Camden Passage, London, N1 8EA. Do let me know if you’ve managed to pop in and have a nose!
4160 Tuesdays is an exciting niche brand, there’s no denying it. Perfumer Sarah McCartney successfully blends British eccentricity, good-quality ingredients and unique accords to create perfumes that are unusual, fun and unsurprisingly, rather beautiful. It’s hard not to fall for the charm of a perfume brand that is founded on the principle of not-wasting away one’s days and doing something different with those 4160 Tuesdays one has before reaching the ripe old age of 80 – I certainly have.
I therefore, could not resist an invitation to Sarah McCartney’s London studio this past weekend for ‘The Wall of Scent’, a regular event scheduled at 4160 Tuesdays HQ as an introduction to the world of perfume; it’s families, ingredients and masterpieces. It’s an informative day that allows one, no matter whether they’re an expert or a novice, to really get to grips with the way perfumes are made and some of the raw materials, whether natural or ‘synthetic’, that are used in making the perfumes one wears on a day-to-day basis.
London is an awesome city. I say this not just because I am British and therefore undeniably biased in the matter, but also because it is a simple truth. London has a charisma that many cities do not, stemming from the many contrasts that besiege its winding streets. These disorganised clashes of new and old, rough and smooth, and clean and dirty, make for a cultural mish-mash that is at times, utterly bonkers and entirely unique but ultimately very charming.
One man that loves London as much as I do is Tom Ford and to celebrate the opening of his Sloane Square boutique in 2013, the incredibly prolific fashion and perfume purveyor that is Mr. Ford created his very own olfactory tribute to this finest and fairest of cities. Taking its name from the city of the same name and launching last year, ‘London‘ is the newest addition to the Private Blend collection, available only in a select number of stores within the nation’s capital.
The brand describes London as being “rich, elegant and urbane” – three words that could certainly be attributed to the city after which it is named, if only just the glamorous bits in which one would find a Tom Ford boutique. But this perfume is more than just a tribute to a city, it is in fact a celebration of Mr. Ford’s favourite ingredient – oud. Now before you all start rolling your eyes at the sheer mention of the ‘o’ word (I see you), heed this notice: this perfume is a damn good example of how to do an inconspicuous oud – an oud that doesn’t take centre stage and plays a supporting role, or as they used to call them back in the day – an oriental.
As we head into September with the knowledge that the remainder of the summer season is short lived, I have found myself looking back over the last few months and thinking what a generally lovely time it has been. So much has happened already this year and I find myself feeling a strong urge to simply stop and take it all in.
Perfume has obviously played a big part over the summer and the fact that I’ll soon be retiring some of my summer scents in favour for my winter wardrobe has made me feel more than slightly melancholic about those scents which have carried significant favour through the hotter months.
In this post I’m taking a look back on the events of summer 2013 and the scents that have made it so fabulous. When I say scents, I don’t just mean the fragrances I have worn but also the odours that have accompanied many a wonderful occasion and have helped cement each day as a wonderful, joy-filled memory.
Following the release of their new fragrance – ‘Le Parfum‘ – historic french brand Carven have scheduled a fragrance masterclass with perfumer Francis Kurkdjian at the luxury London department store Selfridges. Having created Le Parfum and a number of other luxury fragrances, Kurkdjian is a fascinating individual with a unique insight to the perfume industry.
“The afternoon event invites guests to enjoy a glass of champagne and canapés whilst Francis journeys through the intimate and captivating charm that encapsulates the couture spirit of the legendary Parisian fashion house, Carven. Guest will discover the history, delicacy and grace of the Carven woman and discuss the raw ingredients of the beautiful new Carven female fragrance, Le Parfum.”