We’re just over a week into 2021 and we already have the first big perfume launch of the year, which means this is my first perfume review of the year (exciting!) and it’s for a brand new CHANEL fragrance (very exciting!!) – a CHANEL Exclusif, no less (ARGH SO EXCITING!!!). This CHANEL fanboy is very please to be kicking off the year with something so wonderful – so, let’s take a few moments away from the world and enjoy a spot of scented beauty.

The latest addition to Les Exclusifs is Le Lion and it’s a long-awaited one, having launched in some territories almost one year ago! But now it’s here! As with all of the Exclusifs, Le Lion takes inspiration from the house itself, and this time the lion, the fifth sign of the zodiac and Gabrielle ‘Coco’ Chanel’s astrological sign, is the theme. In the 1920s, Coco fell in love with the city of Venice, being inspired by its art and culture, and like Chanel herself, the city existed under the guardian sign of the lion. The lion became an emblem for Chanel, both in her personal spaces (her apartment at 31 Rue Cambon was filled with lions crafted from marble, bronze and wood), but also in her clothing, with the symbol engraved on the buttons of tweed suits or the clasps of bags. The lion is a symbol of Chanel’s tenacity and endurance and this is the theme that the fragrance explores.

Le Lion the perfume, seeks to capture this tenacious personality but also the rich and exotic spirit of Venice, the city of the lion that Coco loved. CHANEL perfumer Olivier Polge was intrigued by the emblem of the lion rather than the animal itself, crafting a warm amber fragrance (I’m not using the “O” word, this is my replacement) with a “solar aura” and a “gentle strength”. Le Lion stands out as a uniquely intense and warm fragrance within Les Exclusifs, which tend to lean light, ethereal, abstract, and it is quite surprising in its richness. The big question though, is whether it was worth the wait? Well, read on and you shall see!

This is a super exciting project that I am thrilled to be a part of. As you may know, I write for Escentual as their Fragrance Expert and also advise them on all things fragrance. Over the last two years, we at Escentual have run two blind fragrance trials with journalists, influencers and bloggers, all with the aim to promote discussion about new fragrance launches – it’s been really successful and immense fun. Well, now, #EscentualScents comes to you and this time, you can get in on all of the action and fun!


Carine Roitfeld is the former Editor-in-Chief of French Vogue and if her debut collection of perfumes are anything to go by, she is clearly someone who enjoys perfume. The idea behind the collection is seven fragrances inspired by seven lovers in seven different cities. In all honesty, I’m a bit ‘meh’ about the concept, and I’m certainly more than a bit ‘meh’ about the bottle which, despite its hefty weight and magnetic cap (we love a magnetic cap, we do), is just, dare I say…..ugly? 😐

Anyway, aesthetically challenging packaging aside, the Seven Lovers Collection shows that Carine Roitfeld certainly has taste when it comes to perfume and she has used it wisely when collaborating with perfumers Aurélien Guichard, Yann Vasnier and Pascal Gaurin, to create her collection. Out of the seven, I’d say four were interesting (George, Lawrence, Har-Wai and Orson), which isn’t a bad hit rate, let’s be honest. My favourite by far was George, which is inspired by an encounter in a bookshop in London. I must ask Carine which bookshops she’s been visiting because they certainly sound like a lot more fun than your average Waterstones! George is a modern chypre that harks back to some wonderful green scents from the past. I’m obsessed – so much so, in fact, I can forgive that bloody bottle (I promise not to mention it again)…..well, almost.


Comme des Garçons is a brand that gets a pretty regular rotation in my wardrobe. In fact, I’d go as far saying that it would would quite be odd for a week to go by without me picking out one of their scents to wear. For me, they strike that perfect balance between novel and innovative, and pleasant and wearable, which means that I reach for them quite a lot, mostly for those in the regular lineup such as the original Parfum, 2, 2 Man (I just topped up on my bottles of both the 2s, in fact), Amazingreen and Blackpepper. Long story short, I enjoy the brand and the scents are staples for me.

With that in mind, a new Comme des Garçons fragrance is somewhat of an event for me – I’m always intrigued to see what they do and whilst not all are ones I adore (see Floriental, Copper and Concrete), I do always enjoy how they subvert expectations. A Comme des Garçons fragrance always has something to say and their latest launch, Rouge (currently exclusive to Dover Street Market and launching nationwide next year), is no exception. Described, in typical CdG style as an “encounter between religious fervour and earthen reality” Rouge attacks the the colour red from surprising angles, using a central note of beetroot to present something so familiar in an entirely unfamiliar way. To say it’s interesting and unique is somewhat of an understatement…

Through deliberate overdose and rapturous expression, Rouge presents an unexpected unison. an olfactive congregation of desire archetypal associations of the colour Rouge seen and subverted through the distinctly disruptive gaze of Comme des Garçons.

Comme des Garçons

It’s not often that I experience love at first sniff, but in the case of Oak Wood, my immediate thought upon spraying it on my skin was “oh, I love this” and my secondary thought was “I’m going to wear the heck out of this”. Spoiler alert: I do and I did. But hold up, let’s talk a bit about this fragrance before we go right into the nitty gritty of whether I love it or not (I do, obv.). Sunspel is a luxury British clothing brand that focuses on high quality wardrobe staples and knitwear. Their aesthetic is very neutral and smart (and a little Scandi?). Oak Wood fits in nicely.

Sunspel tasked British perfumer Lyn Harris (formerly of Miller Harris, now of Perfumer H) to create their debut fragrance. The brand had previously created signature sweatshirts for Harris, featuring the names of two of her Perfumer H fragrances (I really want one of those, btw) so it feels like an organic partnership. Harris said she wanted to “create something that represented the beauty of the English countryside” because for her “that’s what really represents the brand, Sunspel”. The name Oak Wood was her working title for the fragrance.

When I review a scent I don’t just think about the words I want to use to describe it, I also consider how I’m going to capture the essence of the scent in the accompanying images. To photograph Oak Wood, I took a long walk with my husband and Pugsley, our pug. We ventured onto the thrift that is a short walk from our house and got lost in the winding paths that led us through the growing saplings that represent a forest in its infancy. We walked past reeds and brush, treading on gravel paths scattered with fiery leaves decaying in the autumn air. I was wearing Oak Wood and it felt so poignant in such a beautiful space. It all just felt right. These photographs represent Oak Wood and the feelings of that day.

Christmas Crush is where I celebrate the scented things that would make lovely gifts for the festive period!

Yes, that’s right, I’m doing it. I’m dropping the C Bomb. Yup. I know it’s only early November and it has literally just been Halloween, but still, I’m a do it. Here we go. *deep breath*. “Christmas”. OK. There we go. Done. Let’s start…

I love a scented candle. Honestly, there is no better way to create an atmosphere and a vibe in your home than a fragranced candle. Well, that’s not exactly true, you could always start a tiff with your nearest and dearest, but that’s not exactly the atmosphere we’re talking about here…. Scented candles are like set dressing for your home – they let you choose the mood, whether that be fresh and clean, warm and cosy, or fruity and flirty. Not only that, but they’re often a decorative object too, making them the must-have accessory for any room. I love them.

So with all that in mind, it’s no surprise that I’m Christmas Crushing on a scented candle! The theme with Notte di Stelle from Acqua di Parma is most definitely festive. This is the scent you want burning in your living room on Christmas Day and on a year when it’s looking less and less likely that we will be able to share the festive period with those outside our households, it makes for the perfect indulgence to add extra sparkle to the proceedings. Let’s dive in and explore why Notte di Stelle is my first Christmas Crush of 2020.

“Perfumed escapism” – that’s what Nick Steward, founder of indie brand Gallivant, aims to bring to the world with his collection of city-inspired scents, and let’s be real, if there ever was a time when we needed to be transported elsewhere by perfume, now is it. With so many people under lockdown or working from home, and unable to travel, all because of the global Covid-19 pandemic, Gallivant provides virtual tours of faraway places, all through the medium of olfaction. Gallivant makes this big old world a much smaller and more accessible place, all with just one spritz of their transportive perfumes.

With their latest launch, Gallivant whisks us away to Uzbekistan and the noble city of Bukhara. This “fairytale city on the Silk Road”, as Gallivant puts it, is home to beautiful, colourful architecture, talented artisans, welcoming people and a melting pot of spices, fabrics and fruits. Gallivant worked with perfumer Ralf Schweiger (Lipstick Rose by Frederic Malle; Eau des Merveilles by Hermès, and so many more iconic scents) to distill the city of Bukhara into olfactory form. Together they chose the luxurious and elegant note of iris as Bukhara’s core material. To be honest, they had me at “orris”.

Goldfield and Banks is a unique perfume brand. Their ethos focuses on a fusion of Australian materials, some of which have seldom been used in perfumery before, and a French approach to perfume creation. The results are contemporary and exciting, with some surprising twists along the way. Botanical beauty is the approach and each of their fragrances are incredibly wearable, as well as showcasing a unique point of view.

Bohemian Lime is the latest launch from the brand and it takes inspiration from Byron Bay, the tropical and free-spirited coastal town where, as the brand evocatively puts it, “Australia first meets the sun”. The fragrance, which Goldfield & Banks call “carefree” and “lush” is an ode to the Australian finger lime, with herbal accents of coriander, warm woods and vetiver. Let’s take a sniff and see whether it’s as delightfully refreshing as it sounds!

Maison Crivelli is one of the most exciting new brands in niche. They have a clean, but bold aesthetic, and with their fragrances, they seek to subvert expectations, but also embolden customers to talk about and experience perfume in a new way. I’ve pegged it as a brand to watch and with so many gimmicky, cynical niche brands on the market, Maison Crivelli feels like it comes from a place of aunthentiticy. So yes, I’m excited by what they have on offer.

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of chatting with the Maison’s founder, Thibaud Crivelli over Zoom. During our chat we talked about Thibaud’s origins in perfumery, how we works closely with perfumers to execute his vision, and how he believes in a very sensorial approach. We also touched on how the pandemic may impact the industry and how the industry can seek to be more sustainable. It was fascinating and insightful, and you can read it all below!