Around the world in 20 scents
Roula Khalaf, Editor of the FT, selects her favourite stories in this weekly newsletter.
Miami Blue (£164 for 100ml) from 19-69 takes you straight to the Miami of the 1980s. A cool, fresh and fun aquatic aroma with lemon and ginger, this promises excess and artifice in the sun. Room diffuser maker Pura, meanwhile, has collaborated with New York’s Met to evoke the history and grandeur of its most lauded rooms.
Slightly strange, perhaps, but also intriguing, the Met Greek & Roman set ($89) is combined of two fragrances: Terracotta Rose (mineral meets incense, geranium, rock rose, cypress and more) and Perfume Immortelle (including bergamot, cypress and myrrh).
This new Amazon invocation comes courtesy of an earthy, green, smoky mix of white jungle flowers, patchouli, sandalwood, vetiver and amber accord. For the “transportive sensation of waking up in the jungle at dawn”, Costa Brazil, makers of Aroma (£195 for 30ml) say to spray the scent everywhere, including your inner thigh. Available at Harrods
Un Jardin à Cythère (£78 for 50ml), the new addition to Hermès’ line, aims to conjure the tall grasses of a parched garden, while a hint of salt calls to mind the blue waters and bobbing boats of Kythira — the island where, as legend tells it, Aphrodite was born. Perfumer Christine Nagel brings in pink pistachio, olive and smoky notes to create an unusual summer vignette.
Vallée de Farney eau de parfum ($93 for 50ml) is an island escape from Maison Louis Marie that recreates the nature reserve of the same name that’s home to more than 100 plant species. Wild and woody, it is anchored by a mineral foundation.
New brand Nissaba’s Grande Île (€160 for 100ml) is created by perfumer Frank Voelkl (the nose behind Le Labo’s Santal 33) and is a Malagasy pepper and vanilla evocation of Madagascar. Five per cent of sales are channelled to a school of agriculture there for micro agroforestry projects.
The latest in east London perfumer Gallivant’s city stable takes you to the desert capital of the UAE (£70 for 30ml). It’s a hot, spicy scent that opens with cypress, rosemary and peppermint and settles into a musky, dry mix of cedarwood, patchouli and leather.
Formosa, a floral, fruity scent named after the country’s Portuguese moniker, takes you to times gone by at this rich junction of the East and South China seas. Top notes of white peony, plum blossom, rose and Arabian jasmine hover above a citrussy heart anchored by a musky, amber base.
With 24 hours of light, Nordic summers are like few others. Iceland’s Fischersund bottles this in its 101 (£146 for 50ml), a promise to evoke visions of a Reykjavík backyard through a combination including withered grass, bergamot, polar pine, red sorrel, Arctic angelica and blackcurrant. The brand comes from Sigur Rós frontman Jónsi Birgisson and his sisters, and this scent has a sibling song: “Bakgarðar”.
Scandi summer light is also the inspiration for Verden, which draws on co-founder Charlotte Semler’s childhood holidays spent in Denmark. Three bath oils conjure scenes as the steam rises, and Arborealist (£85) is a particularly beguiling invocation that takes you to pine forests that hug the shoreline.
Nordic Cedar (£95 for 50ml) from Maya Njie is a woody escape too: a mix of cedar with cardamom, patchouli, musk and ambergris that’s as bright, spicy and lively as a Swedish Midsommar.
Ginori 1735 and Luke Edward Hall’s candle La Gazelle d’Or (£140) uses a mint, geranium oil and Moroccan rose accord to whisk you to the maze of the Marrakech medina with the light of a flame.
A dance between roses and figs is how Francis Kurkdjian sweeps Dior fans to the south of France this summer with Dioriviera (£125 for 40ml), his first fragrance as perfume creation director.
Potentino Profumò room spray (£226 for 60ml), the first scent from Castello di Potentino, a medieval castle in Tuscany’s Monte Amiata, hopes to take you on a sunset walk through the grounds — evoking vineyards, olive groves, oak and cypress trees and dusty tracks via a surprising citrussy and spicy creation.
Rocky Highland landscapes, intense malt whiskies and Robert Burns’ red, red roses are the inspiration for Metamorphic (£120 for 50ml), a sexy, untamed fragrance whose power is drawn out through tobacco and leather, amber resin and floral notes. It is one of a number of scents from Kingdom Scotland — and part of a wave of new independent British fragrance houses.
Moro Dabron’s Downland scent (£96 for 50ml) was inspired by the Sussex Downs, in particular William Nicholson’s depictions of their undulating green serenity. Rolling hills, sea coasts and farmland are evoked through a blustery mix of lemony-peppery elemi, hay, sandalwood and vetiver.
There has been a recent boom in independent Australian perfume brands, but many are hard to buy outside the continent. One that kick-started the trend, and is more widely available, is Goldfield & Banks; its Desert Rosewood (£135 for 100ml) is a gourmand bottling of the country’s hot, dusty red intensity, evoked through amber, vanilla and leather. Available at Selfridges
Xi’an, the history-laden city that is home to the Terracotta Army and represents the eastern departure point of the Silk Road, is bottled by London perfumer Ormonde Jayne in a fresh, spicy mix that includes cedarwood, musk, nutmeg and rhubarb ($135 for 50ml).
The pulsating vibrancy of Tokyo is captured in Roads’ fun, fruity and floral Club Tokyo (£120 for 50ml): the playful sweetness of Asian pear gives way to a honeysuckle jasmine heart before settling into a warm amber and vetiver base.
Meanwhile, to slather your skin in Eau Triple Sumi Hinoki dry oil (£55) from Officine Universelle Buly is to travel to the charred hinoki cypress-wood houses of Kyoto. The process of preserve-charring wood is known as yakisugi and is linked to wabi-sabi and the beauty of imperfection. This smoked, woody scent is elevated by a light vetiver green, while a juniper and resinous incense add warmth.
Likewise, Gallivant’s award-winning Tokyo (£70 for 30ml) blends citrussy notes with amber — but this time with a spicy overlay that includes yuzu, bergamot and wasabi. A tribute to kodo, the Japanese “way of fragrance”, the vetiver base captures the lights and pace of the urban hub.