Julia Alfert has put together a list of her Top 3 fragrances
As a beauty editor, you come into contact almost daily with new fragrances – most of which are top quality and smell wonderful. But still, there are only those rare moments when you take a perfume in your hand and find everything about it so great, from the packaging to the scent, that you want it for yourself immediately (and would even happily jump straight into a full bath of it).
This is exactly what happened to me a few times recently, and that’s reason enough to introduce my current three favorite scents here.
Fruity, floral, and spicy, with these perfumes I’ll be getting through the Fall beautifully scented and, I say, through life!
1. 001 man & woman von LOEWE Parfum
Just the first glance at the press kit and the bottle packaging for 001 was enough to trigger an urgent longing in me to own this artfully designed object. And that’s before I had even smelled it.
The packaging opens on the side like a jewelry box and is made of sturdy, light-grey paperboard with the LOEWE logo and the name of the perfume, 001, embossed on it. Also a black and white photograph by German photographer Karl Blossfeldt: the women’s fragrance features a garlic plant, the men’s a tall, prickly acanthus.
Although not plants that you would necessarily connect with perfume at first, they are expressively formed, held tightly in the accuracy – and, as a result, the alienation – of photography. These images succeed in making an artful connection between graphics and natural form, detailed yet captivating in their simultaneous simplicity and suited for a fragrance which, although initially artificially created, is brought to life by its wearers. The bottles are slim and simple, with minimally designed labels and topped off with a wooden cap
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Since 2014, Jonathan Anderson has been the creative director at Loewe – the Spanish fashion house has stood for traditional handcraftsmanship for almost 170 years, especially in the realm of leather goods – where he joins innovation to tradition. The label has taken a turn since then, presenting itself as more modern and versatile than before, but without losing sight of its roots in the process. Now, and under Jonathan Anderson, a perfume has been created that translates this new feeling that surrounds the brand into fragrance notes.
“Above all, I wanted the fragrance to feel credible, an organic extension of what LOEWE stands for today,” says Anderson of his vision for the scent. The concept of the “morning after” lies behind this creation: a man and a woman who wake up and spend the first early hours of the morning together. Occupying the room is the purity of the morning, the uncertainty of what the day and the future will bring, and also the moment – an intimate encounter between two people. 001 woman and 001 man each have their own character, yet are in perfect harmony with each other and should even be worn together.
The women’s fragrance smells sweet, in a discreet way – a warming sweetness, with notes of tangerine, bergamot, and a hint of sandalwood mixed with jasmine and vanilla accents. The men’s fragrance has the same base notes, but uses cedar wood and musk in place of jasmine and vanilla.
Neither of the two fragrances are clearly defined as masculine or feminine. I spontaneously liked the men’s version and in the meantime I’ve worn both together, which in no way contradicts the brand’s intention. Of course it’s difficult to put the feeling of a perfume into words, but if I had to try I would describe it as a quiet Sunday morning in a room that’s just been lit by a rising, autumnal sun. A cool breeze comes in through an open window. The freshness of this moment mixes with the smell of the room, the sheets still warm from the night before and a man in whose arms I roll over one more time, forgetting that I have to get up, and fall asleep again.
It’s understandable that I’d want to smell like that from here on out, right?
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2. Ambrette 9 von LE LABO
I became aware of this brand and its New York origins a while ago. The jars and bottles are so beautifully designed, the candles’ scents so auspicious that it occurs to me even now when I’m traveling in New York that there are many places in the city in which they’ve perfectly incorporated themselves into the ambience and immersed everything in a pleasant and appropriate fragrance.
Then I was thrilled to find out that the bathrooms in London’s Savoy Hotel are equipped with Le Labo Rose 31 products. As I bathed in the rose-scented bath salts and applied the accompanying body lotion, I thought about what a shame it is that it’s so hard to get these products in Germany. That was just before I found out that a Le Labo shop had opened in Berlin Mitte.
I paid a visit, of course. The restored butcher’s shop with wonderful tile walls, old wood floors, and a lounge corner with gigantic, comfy leather sofas is already worth a visit. What’s more, purchases at Le Labo don’t happen quite as simply as they do at other stores. An attentive sales associate – in my case, Ina (everyone uses a first name here) – explains the different scents and the stories behind them. Once you’ve found your favorite, the perfume is mixed from alcohol, water, and perfume oils behind a glass wall in something of a mini-laboratory. The perfume will only last for a limited amount of time after it has been mixed together.
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Ambrette 9 was the first scent that Ina showed me in the shop. In fact, it was developed for babies and blended together without alcohol in a milky, fragrant water-oil mixture. Yes, a fragrance actually for babies, and to me it was inexplicable since babies smell so good on their own and don’t need perfume. But a lot of customers like the concept, and mothers also wanted to smell like their children.
So the Ambrette scent was also developed into a normal perfume. The main component is ambrette seed oil, taken from an herbaceous plant with seeds that produce a naturally musky scent. Flowery, sweet, and lightly acidic, together in a mix that smells different than anything else. At the same time, very pleasant notes of ripe pear and citrus fruit appear. The fragrance holds up as discreetly fruity long after it’s been applied.
For the label – which Le Labo allows you to custom design – I chose to have “for:me” printed. It reminds me to sometimes take a moment for myself, for example by spraying on this refreshingly different scent. When I close my eyes, for a short moment I’m a kid again and sitting, dreaming of adventures, at the top of a blooming pear tree.
3. Rose des Vents von LES PARFUMS LOUIS VUITTON
I’m actually not that into rose-based fragrances, but can sometimes be completely (and surprisingly) won over by one, like you already have proof of with Byredo’s Rose of No Man’s Land. I experienced the same thing again recently with another rose scent, and namely with the presentation of the new Les Parfums Louis Vuitton im Kaufhaus des Westens (KaDeWe for short) in Berlin. It must be quickly mentioned that this fragrance line of seven creations could be counted as Louis Vuitton’s first, at least for our generation. That’s because Eau de Voyage – the actual first perfume on which the letters “LV” were stamped – dates from the 1930s and the formula has become unavailable in the meantime. The interest in this new creation was appropriately large, and while it was actually intended to be a single fragrance, we were now waiting for seven completely distinct perfumes.
The fragrances were created in the birthplace of perfume, the town of Grasse in southern France where Louis Vuitton acquired a villa that functioned as the development center for the perfumer Jacques Cavallier-Belletrud and where he transformed the fragrant inspirations he brought with him. The bottles are simply and luxuriously designed and therefore stand out without wanting to.
It wasn’t hard to find my favorite out of the seven.
Rose des Vents means wind rose translated into English and is the name of a kind of compass. Associations with travels come up, different cardinal points, movement, and orientation into the distance. The name is well chosen as, on one side, the fragrance brings together notes from different corners of the world: lily, cedar, pepper, and of course the main component, rose.
Rose des Vents also stands, of course, for its main ingredient – rose – playfully moving in the wind. And not just any rose, but in particular the centifolia, a type of rose that grows in large fields in Grasse. When the wind skips across their full blossoms, the air fills with the intensive scent of rose. Not as sweet as the rose smell you’re accustomed to, but rather a scent that’s floral, fresh, and lively. The smell of these blossoms is captured through a special extraction process patented by Louis Vuitton. Combined with chords of Bulgarian and Turkish rose, the flower very clearly makes up the focus of this perfume.
It is a clear rose, and a little playful, one that is refined through unexpectedly spicy components and I probably like it so much for exactly this reason. Even if I think of roses in the wind across the backdrop of southern France on a carefree summer day, this fragrance still awakes something entirely different in me. It’s rather something for cool fall evenings. I like its straightforwardness and its clarity, its freshness – all things I otherwise often miss with floral perfumes.
Translation: Melissa Frost
Originally from Hamburg, Julia Alfert moved to Berlin from Paris in 2010. After completing her studies in Art History and trying out different jobs, her path led her to Harper’s Bazaar, where she worked as Fashion & Beauty Assistant until mid 2015. While she’s harboured a love for all things beauty-related for as long as she can remember, her discovery of the written word is recent. When Julia isn’t busy trying out different creams, oils, and sprays she writes and styles for an assortment of magazines and websites.