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Have perfume, will travel | destination in a bottle | the nose checks in

Sexy and glamorous. Red carpet ready. Did someone say 'rescue fantasy'?

Japan in springtime, Morocco in an orange haze, London dipped in derring-do … experience exotic locations through a fragrance filter.

There’s a new wave of niche perfumes that aim to re-create a destination in a bottle. It’s a cache that lets the perfume lover daydream about travel that might still be, once closed borders are back in their box.

Carlos Huber, New York-based perfume developer for the Arquiste label, is a regular visitor to the Emerald City which inspired him to create Sydney Rock Pool, a celebration of surf, sea, salt and “rock” in the form of a mineral amber musk.

Carlos Huber plumbs for an alchemy of sand, surf and frangipani

“Sydney Rock Pool evokes the salty notes of the sea drying on your skin, the warmth of the sand, of the sun, the frangipani and star jasmine trickling down cliffs and seaside gardens … the subtle whiff of coconut sunscreen that remains after a swim,” he says.

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Fabrice Pellegrin, a former Perfumer of the Year, has more than 143 scents under his belt. He leveraged his expertise with woods, spices and amber into “Hidden London”, a collection for the classic British perfume house, Penhaligon’s. It’s an olfactory tribute to Marylebone, Kensington and Belgravia.

Penhaligon’s olfactory tribute to Marylebone, Kensington and Belgravia

Marylebone, steeped in the legend of fictional detective Sherlock Holmes, Georgian architecture and the art and armour of the prestigious Wallace Collection, inspired Marylebone Wood. Inflected with cedarwood, creamy sandalwood and va-va-voom vetiver, it gets an avant-garde nudge with top notes of grapefruit.

Kensington – think the Victoria & Albert Museum, royal monuments and Edwardian villas – shaped Kensington Amber, a warm exotic mix of bergamot, cinnamon, tonka bean and vanilla.

Belgravia exudes elegance and distinction. Those Palladian villas, embassies and money, money, money. So Belgravia Chypre goes green with envy – oakmoss, patchouli, bergamot, all jazzed up with raspberry and pink pepper and a very becoming May rose.

The new Neroli Voyage, from the perfume house Floris, owes its existence to the 19th century travels of Robert Floris. It is redolent of Corsica where the aromatic scent of maquis shrubland (some 78 endemic species and 42 varieties of orchids) is beloved of homecoming locals.

The cherry blossom has inspired several perfume houses

Bliss-bomb blossoms seal the deal for Japan, Olympic Games or not. Floris’s Cherry Blossom is a mental Instagram snap of picnics under sakura trees, drinking sake and a floral panorama. At its heart is cherry blossom, osmanthus, peony and rose.

The high-end Middle Eastern perfume house Amouage also pays tribute to the Japanese landscape with Blossom Love, a fragrance with a nutty and bittersweet amaretto accord.

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L’Artisan Parfumeur has Morocco in its sights with Histoire D’Orangers, whose heart notes are musk and orange blossom. It encapsulates the travel memories of perfumer Marie Salamagne, of her meanderings in the Souss Valley in the foothills of the Anti-Atlas between Tazenakht and Taroudant.

Oranges and childhood inspired Alberto Morillas in his quest to evoke Seville. To that end comes this year’s Solar Blossom for Mizensir. Morillas, credited with Must de Cartier, CK One by Calvin Klein, Acqua Di Gio by Giorgio Armani, and Flower by Kenzo, reminisces: “I remember … the orange blossoms perfuming the patio, the intense sunshine of spring and me, little boy, concentrated on my vanilla ice-cream …  [as] we dreamed about the beach.”

Juliette Karaguezoglou captures the zest of Brittany’s coast

L’Artisan Parfumeur’s Landscapes Collection is inspired by regions of France. Perfumer Juliette Karaguezoglou wanted to interpret the iodised oxygen and sea spray of Brittany’s coast and came up with Un Air de Bretagne.

For history romantics, there’s Trudon’s Révolution. This is no fruity floral! Instead, a heady whiff of the streets of revolutionary Paris in the 18th century – all smoke, musket powder and passion. Vive la liberté!

Trudon’s Revolution is a whiff of heady Parisienne history

Imagine the rich fragrances of the ancient Hanging Gardens of Babylon, once one of the Seven Wonders of the World, in what is now southern Iraq. Penhaligon’s has, and this year launches Babylon in which essences of saffron, nutmeg and coriander oversee heady cypriol, sandalwood, cedarwood and vanilla.

If it’s the Australian bush you yearn for, uncork Grandiflora’s Boronia which captures its essence. It is Sydney florist Saskia Havekes’ homage (with help from French “nose” Bertrand Duchaufour) to “a very rugged little flower, with an enduring nature and surprising potency.”

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Naomi Goodsir’s smoky Bois d’Ascese, front and centre

But the perfume that perhaps best evokes the Australian bush as we came to experience it last summer in all its incendiary ferocity is Bois d’Ascèse, the smoky, seductive fragrance by France-based Australian creative Naomi Goodsir, who describes it as “wild, smoky, boozy (a good dose of whisky!) outdoor incense, reminiscent of a campfire.”

Travel then, becomes simple. Just spritz … and breathe in the possibilities.

Stockist inquiries: Amouage, Penhaligon’s, L’Artisan Parfumeur, Floris, Mizensir, Trudon, Grandiflora to Agence de Parfum, (02) 8002 4488,; Arquiste – Becker Minty, (02) 9380 5950,; Bois d’Ascèse,





Editor. Writer. Traveller. Keeping tabs on all things fab.

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Copyright © Susan Skelly 2020.