Radiant; Nicely Spiced

By Jo Phillips

Rusty burnt orange, warming woody nutmeg browns, creamy vanilla. Are these colours you see in your mind? Or are they actually ingredients for food you can almost taste as you read? Maybe they could even be perfume notes. Let’s face it: the coming together of our senses is ultimately what a great perfume is all about. The smell that emanates from the bottle brings vivid images emotions and thoughts into our hearts and minds.

Once such scent experience that deals very directly with these notions is a collection from internationally renowned fragrance brand Penhaligon’s and their trade route collection. This selection of fragrances that deal specifically with the British 19th-century world of travel.

The Trade Routes collection celebrates exotic ingredients that arrived in the London docks at the end of the 19th century. Known as the Warehouse of the World, the docks were dense with the opulent and the fantastical in the air. Things as diverse and illuminating as Tea, spices, silk, pearls, rum crossed the shores onto the dock of London forever to take their place in the hearts of the Britsh.

Photo Jason Yates

This collection of scents sing directly to the paths crossed by virulent sailors searching the world for treasure to bring back and bargain with. Each perfume in the collection deals with a single route, to far-flung destinations such as Marocco (Aw Sawira) Indian (Agarbathi) and so on.

The newest scent to the collection is Babylon an exclusive to Harrods. And yes this is where that burnt orange colour comes in. Here it is a reference to the colour of the spice derived from the flower of Crocus sativus, commonly known as the “saffron crocus“. These threads are collected and dried to be used mainly as a seasoning in food. But also they have been used in perfume. Alongside the opening note of saffron is enigmatic nutmeg that woody brown husk that when saved eludes a nostalgic hit of Christmas.

It moves into warm wood tones from both sandalwoods to cedarwood holding the scent in place with heta to sit with spice but is softly rounded off at the end with creamy soft comforting vanilla

Think of those travelers who crossed deserts in ancient times and bought back these most exotic spices that we still enjoy today. As luck would have it, they are contained within Penhaligon’s distinctive ribbon-wrapped glass flacon, rightly called Babylon.

Available exclusively at Harrods.com

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