Nature inspires many of our favourite luxury fragrances.
Nature inspires many of our favourite luxury fragrances.
Image: Lisa Strachan

One would say that we have seen and smelt just about all that the fragrance world has to offer, and everything currently on the market is just a reiteration of what was. But, if you are a firm believer that fragrance is emotive, personal, and has the ability to tell a story — then it’s safe to say that the fragrance world still has much to impart. Fragrance is a glimpse into our ideas of the current world, where we are in terms of technological advances, and how that culminates into the olfactory mood of the moment.

We have abandoned the quest for a sense of blind luxury that ransacks precious resources without restoration, and it seems that the urgent call for climate change has brought on a newfound appreciation of nature and a luxury in living in a sustainable, ecologically balanced environment. As an indication of the times, the need for preservation, not only of self but that of the planet that we call home, underpins the olfactory narrative of today.

There is a desire to not only use the best that the earth has to offer but, at the same time, be conscious about sustainability within natural ingredients sourcing. Megan and Coen, perfumers of local natural fragrance brand Fettle & Frisson, always have sustainability at the core of their ingredients sourcing and perfumery. Fettle & Frisson scents are made with a palette of natural, organic, and wild-harvested plant-based distillations. The brand is conscious of the way in which its essences, oils, and extracts are produced and always favour renewable production practices with the least environmental impact. For example, Fettle & Frisson uses West Indian as opposed to the true East Indian sandalwood oil because the latter is an endangered forest species threatened by over-exploitation and degradation to habitat.

Marie Aoun, perfumer of local natural fragrance brand, Saint D’Ici, shares the same sentiments and prefers to not only apply sustainability to the way ingredients are sourced but also where they are sourced from in order to sustain African production. “As much as possible, I limit my sourcing to African ingredients that are ethically farmed. This is not always feasible, as some key ingredients are only available in other parts of the world. However, local sourcing remains the objective, so I’m always really happy when I can substitute with an African product, like the jasmine grandiflorum that I’ve recently sourced from an Egyptian supplier who has been farming and extracting this ingredient for more than 60 years,” Aoun says.

ITALIAN ZEST

Citrus from Italy has been having a moment within the fragrance space, as fruit-bearing botanicals give way to the sparkling, invigorating quality in a juice. The Montblanc, Dolce & Gabbana, and Bulgari brands all made use of zesty Italian citruses combined with floral botanicals. Montblanc’s Signature mixes clementine with flowery magnolia and ylang-ylang. Bulgari’s Omnia Golden Citrine captures luminosity with Sicilian mandarin, ylang-ylang, and golden benzoin, while Dolce & Gabbana’s The Only One EDP Intense melds Italian mandarin with orange blossom and black vanilla.

AN ODE TO NATURE

We can’t deny that the world has become increasingly conscious of the footprint it leaves on the environment while producing some of our most luxurious products. Over the past years, the use of more natural, raw materials has been popular within fragrances, not only to showcase the various perfumery capitals’ indigenous offerings but to also ensure that these ingredients are protected through sustainable and ethical methods of sourcing.

Local and international perfumers love the rich and animalic qualities that naturals — from labdanum and Bulgarian rose to ylang-ylang and a Japanese cypress called hinoki — can bring to a juice. Brands have gone one step further and have created scents that not only make use of naturals but create fragrances inspired by natural landscapes, seasons, and forces such as exotic beaches, natural gemstones, icy summits or dense, untouched forests.

Bulgari Glacial Essence EDP 100ml, R1,995.
Bulgari Glacial Essence EDP 100ml, R1,995.
Image: Supplied

Bulgari’s Man Glacial Essence captures a blast of fresh, icy air from the peak of a snow-capped slope, employing the qualities of juniper berry, ginger, geranium, and Australian sandalwood.

CALL OF THE OUTBACK

Anything from Australia seems to be slowly gaining popularity not only in the skincare and makeup sectors but in fragrance too. The quietly tucked-away continent is a holiday destination on most travel bucket lists, and the quality of natural product lines from the Land Down Under are impressive too. Not one of the first places that you would think of when talking about luxury perfumery, Australia’s small but noteworthy industry boasts loved brands such as Goldfield & Banks, Grandiflora, and One Seed. Blame it on the scenic beaches, laidback Aussie surfer culture, or seemingly unspoilt natural terrains, but Australia, whether by inspiration or ingredient heritage, is holding its own in the perfumery game.

Berdoues Collection Grand Crus Bondi Beach 30ml, R595.
Berdoues Collection Grand Crus Bondi Beach 30ml, R595.
Image: Supplied

French brand Berdoues Collection Grands Crus recently turned to Australian’s Bondi Beach as the inspiration for one of the scents in its Mix and Match Summer collection. With some of the world’s most beautiful beaches as the overall inspiration, Bondi Beach could not be left out of the equation. Described as “a salty, sunny perfume”, Berdoues Collection Grands Crus Bondi Beach boasts ingredients such as lemon from Italy, neroli from Tunisia, and bergamot from Calabria combined with vanilla create a lighter-than-air profile. Bulgari also makes use of Australian sandalwood, one of the country’s most popular fragrance ingredient exports, in its latest scent release, Bulgari Man Glacial Essence.

THE GIFT OF NATURE

There is luxury to having accessibility to rich natural ingredients over readily available synthetics when it comes to perfumery.

As brands turn to the use of natural compositions, the beauty lies in the hand-sourced, handcrafted nature of it all and the coming together of chemistry and botanicals to create a snapshot of a specific region or olfactory mood.

Acqua di Parma Colonia Futura 100ml, R2,299.
Acqua di Parma Colonia Futura 100ml, R2,299.
Image: Supplied

Acqua Di Parma, known for its use of Italian citrus as a signature to depict the fresh tranquillity of the Italian coastline, created the ultimate ode to nature with the launch of Colonia Futura. Creating an aromatic fougère, this fragrance juice is natural to its core, made up of 99% natural ingredients with notes of bergamot, grapefruit, pink pepper, clary sage, lavender, and vetiver.

With a name like Aventus, meaning from the wind, Creed takes inspiration from the natural force of wind and the pursuit of success by the modern man.

One would expect a predominant use of zesty notes to capture such airiness, but this fragrance’s rich, fruity scent profile is laden with juicy notes of blackcurrant leaves, apple, pineapple, and pink berries. Keeping to Creed’s refined and royal heritage of bespoke scents, Aventus is not left to wander in fruity frivolity but brought into elegance with woody notes of oak moss, birch, and patchouli. Added touches of vanilla, jasmine, and musk make for an unpredictable composition.

Creed Aventus Creed For Him 100ml, R6,500.
Creed Aventus Creed For Him 100ml, R6,500.
Image: Supplied

 From the 2020/2021 edition of Wanted Watches, Jewellery and Luxury.

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