An olfactory archive of cultural ebbs and flows, fragrance by its very nature acts as a scented Zeitgeist capable of capturing a moment and transporting us through both space and time. Often hand-in-hand with trends seen on the runways, the rise in minimalism, pared-down palettes and structural lines has its answer in the fragrance world too, with an increasing demand for clean, ozonic and uncomplicated fresh air scents.
Proving something of a conundrum to perfumers over the years, capturing and bottling that unmistakable scent of the air after a thunderstorm, the smell of crisp, fresh linen or a seaside vista has led to innovative new techniques in the creation of these elusive fragrance molecules. Breaking new ground in fragrance design, for Viktor & Rolf with Flowerbomb Bloom, the new 'liquid air' accord was artfully constructed to infuse the floralcy of the scent with a rush of mountain-top air.
Enticing antidotes to the more robust and heady fragrances of today, weaving pure light into scent, these luminous and mesmerisingly evocative fragrances are quite simply, a breath of fresh air.
Few fragrances encapsulate better the meeting of style and scent than Alaïa Blanche. With white being a permanent element throughout designer Azzedine Alaïa's collections, the concept of laser-cut cotton atop bare skin is captured in both scent and the design of the flacon itself. Another en plein air purist, Byredo designed Blanche around founder Ben Gorham's interpretation of the shade. Innocent, untainted and at times transparent, he describes it as "pure and simple in structure, but extreme in character".
An early adapter of the trend, Issey Miyake's original eponymous scent was revolutionary in the '90s for its summoning of waterfalls, spring forests and flowers. For its newest addition L'Eau d'Issey Pure, a more aquatic approach is taken, infused with marine accords to represent the scent of water on the skin of a woman. Frédéric Malle, with Dans Tes Bras, also embraces that salty-air-meets-skin notion with a sensuous composition of heliotrope, cashmere and musk. Meanwhile, diving into the interaction when water becomes air, Hermès, for its Eau Des Merveilles collection, conjured up Bleue, a nautical and celestial interpretation, a rippling ocean, bathed in fading starlight. In keeping with the allure of water, Penhaligon’s indulges in an olfactory Hammam for its Savoy Steam, commanding instant relaxation with a steam mist of roses, green geranium and all-enveloping incense.
Mingling that moment when sky touches sea and all the shades of blue collide, Maison Francis Kurkdjian with Aqua Celestia creates sheer serenity with fleeting notes of lime, mint and blossom hinting at far-off lands. And taking a turn by the ocean, transporting us on an invigorating Beach Walk, Maison Martin Margiela, with its Replica collection, captures the essence of the ocean spray, infused with lighter elements of citrus and pink pepper. While a chic sojourn through the Tuileries as day breaks comes courtesy of Ex Nihilo's Cologne 352 – an interpretation of a skin cologne, unravelling light, dancing notes of a Parisian breeze.