Have you noticed how good house fragrances are getting? Some are giving personal perfumery a run for its money, at a time when many mainstream offerings – and even some niche – are little better than improved shampoo or shower gel fruit-floral-musk combos.
The Cire Trudon candles, for one, have been generating a lot of buzz, and rightly so: their scents are composed exactly like personal fragrances, with top, heart and base notes. They’ve got a concept (historical characters or places) and, most importantly, they smell so lovely it’s all I can do not to rub the wax on my pulse points. Ramdane Touhami should definitely be looking at starting his own line by now (as though there weren’t enough new niche perfumery brands already… still, he’s got a great feel for artistic direction.)
The latest case in point is the signature fragrance designed for the Studio Harcourt in Paris.
Since 1934, every star in Paris (and quite a few unknowns) has been beating a path to Harcourt to have their glamour shots taken. Harcourt still do their portraits in the same, old-school, black and white style, and to match their retro sensibility, have commissioned a signature scent to one Fabrice Olivieri, associate perfumer at Trend’s Lab (note how the French over-apply the apostrophe-s – it’s driving me out of my mind), who has apparently done work for L’Artisan Parfumeur. His Harcourt room spray is so utterly lovely I couldn’t resist trying it on my skin in the interest of science.
The result, somewhat befittingly for such a historical outfit, was a fragrance that developed at the speed of a silent movie run on a modern projector: first, a totally vintage-smelling burst of rose-lilac on a cloud of white, fluffy musk; then something slightly pomander-like (cinnamon and ginger) with a spoonful of honey, that resolved into sandalwood and cashmere wood (which is of course IFF’s Cashmeran, a soft, musky, woody balsamic material), before dissolving into a powdery musk base that went on forever…
On skin, the whole show was over in ten minutes. On house fabrics, it gives a cozy, sophisticated boudoir feel to any room – upholstered brocade chairs, canopy bed and swan’s down powder puffs strewn on the dresser… Unabashedly girly, but in a 1930s drawing room comedy kind of way. I’ve been spraying it obsessively in my bedroom.
On to you: what are the house fragrances you wish were made for skin?
The Studio Harcourt room spray and candle are, for the time being (as far as I can tell) exclusively distributed by The Beauty Lounge in Paris, but they do ship abroad.
Image: Brigitte Bardot in a Studio Harcourt portrait.