Going anywhere nice this year? If not, perhaps you’d like an olfactory vacation? No, not the classic coconut-and-vanilla beachy blends, but something much more niche and personal.
It’s the era of the hyper-specific location perfume. Rather than Mediterranean colognes and fruity-florals, the latest crop of wanderlust fragrances are landing in far-flung places like Dubai, Tokyo and the Sahara Desert or close-to-home hang-outs like The Woody Office of Daddy and The Bomboneria in Barcelona*.
Take ROADS. The travel-themed Irish perfume brand conjures narrative fragrances with specially chosen artwork adorning its packaging to convey the full anywhere-but-here experience. Club Tokyo* (above) for example combines citrus, floral and woody notes to reflect the non-stop buzz of contemporary Japanese culture, accompanied by Angela Di Finizio’s equally hyper streetscape photography. Harmattan* meanwhile is almost the polar opposite. Inspired by the Saharan wind, it’s a spicy, incense-y affair with a whiff of the cult Black Afgano by Nasomatto.
Lola James Harper also encourages aromatic escapism. With perfumes, candles and room sprays boasting such location-specific names as The Guitar Shop on Denmark Street or The Da Rosa Epicerie, they let you project your own meaning onto their scents. 213 Rue Saint-Honoré Air* is a personal favourite. The fig-heavy scent is the same one used for Colette’s famous L’Air de Colette candle (as in the legendary Paris store), brought to life by Lola James Harper founder Rami Mekdachi. (I use the room scent as a perfume, walking through the mist or spraying it on my sleeves.)
As well as creating the smells and the names, Mekdachi also takes the evocative travelogue snaps that help transport you to said destinations. He also creates fragrances for hotel brands – think Hotel Costes – so you can bring your holiday romance home with you in the form of candles, shower gels and soap.
In fact, hotel-smells-as-souvenirs are on the rise. As Air Mail reports, the Aman Resorts fragrances* have their own loyal following, as does Baccarat Hotel’s Baccarat Rouge 540*. This year the Carlyle Hotel commissioned David Moltz of D.S. & Durga to create a signature perfume to complement its celebrated honeysuckle soap (below). We all know smells create memories, so these olfactory postcards make perfect commercial sense.
At Officine Universelle Buly the vibe is expectedly more “glocal”. Its new ‘The French Gardens’ fragrances (above) inspired by a trove of antique seed packets, conjure up your very own rustic vegetable garden with mouth-watering combinations such as Iraqi Beetroot and Egyptian Rhubarb (juicy, zesty and musky) and Scandinavian Redcurrant and Peruvian Tomato (earthy, sweet and herby). If that’s not enough, each water-based scent is accompanied by a dry body oil, soap and moisturising lotion for a full four-course immersion.
More traditionally, Florentine botanical perfume house Santa Maria Novella also transports you to historic gardens, this time a celebration of the Medici family’s aesthetic citrus gardens. Four new scents – L’Iris, Magnolia, Gelsomino and Bizzarria – are inspired by unique plant varieties cultivated in these gardens.
Most intriguing are Gelsomino, a jasmine and geranium-heavy citrus-floral that riffs off the ‘Goa jasmine’ gifted to Cosimo III De Medici in 1688 and thereafter only allowed to flourish in his secret greenhouse, and Bizzarria, a bitter orange, lemon and etrog (a thick knobbly citrus fruit) cocktail sweetened with neroli and timur pepper. For the best experience, pick them up from the magnificent Santa Maria Novella pharmacy in Florence.
For those on an economy class budget, Zara and Marks & Spencer have ramped up their perfume options considerably in recent years with high quality offerings under £30. For the Zara globetrotter it’s all about dynamic-sounding destinations and the decadent smells to go with them (as imagined by Jo Malone). Think Boldly Seoul, Creatively Shanghai, Energetically New York and Magnificently Dubai.
Meanwhile Marks & Spencer’s summer floral fragrances* are made with location-specific oils that will ‘smell-eport’ you to sunny climes. Plum Blossom EDP* (£19.50, above) is made with Turkish rose oil, Wild Jasmine EDT* (£19.50) boasts Provence lavender oil and Riviera Neroli EDP* (£19.50) uses orange essential oil from Italy. Can’t decide? Try this trio of M&S travel miniatures* (£22.50). The best bit: it’s all available by swapping the duty-free hall for the mall – no passport needed.
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WORDS: Disneyrollergirl / Navaz Batliwalla
IMAGES: Lola James Harper/The Betty Lee; ROADS; Lola James Harper; D.S & Durga; Officine Universelle Buly; Santa Maria Novella; Marks & Spencer
NOTE: Most images are digitally enhanced. Some posts use affiliate links* and PR samples. Please read my privacy and cookies policy here
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