Fragrance of the year:
Maison Francis Kurkdijan – Aqua Vitae
According to Persolaise, I said it best – at a preview of the scent – when I mumbled that it smelt like a hug from the seventies. I’m astonished that I’ve not really written about this fragrance since though (might be something to do with having my best line used before I could commit it to my own blog post alongside a touch of the writers block I’ve had recently. Oh well!) … Anyway, there’s something reassuringly familiar and comforting about Aqua Vitae, alongside something a little disturbing. Built around citrus, hedione atop a base of guaiac wood, there’s a hint of CK One here, but also very much more. It’s richer, deeper, and more enjoyable to smell, but I can’t avoid the comparison between the two completely.
Francis was inspired to produce this by the phrase “the space between us”, and, in a way, this is precisely what he’s created. Smelling Aqua Vitae is like slipping into a favoured clothing item of a loved one who isn’t with you, wrapping yourself in the ghost presence of your beloved, and smelling and comforting yourself with all the associations you have with that person. It’s the smell of nostalgia, of love, of longing and comfort, with just a hint of the smell of their body too. It’s not a groundbreaking smell, it’ll drive you a little crazy in fact, trying to remember precisely what smell it is that it actually reminds you of, but it’s a wonderful scent to wrap yourself up in, cozy, warm, comforting and very, very sexy in a quiet, understated kind of way. Less a fragrance, and more a complete sensory experience, it’s the most memorable thing I smelled all year. The price however will make you cry: it’s £175 for 200ml. Mind, a bottle that size will last you forever.
Fragrance Bottle of the year:
Elizabeth Arden: Untold
Whilst I don’t particularly care for the fragrance (it’s perfectly good, by the way, just a little too sweet for me), this beautifully tactile design, which looks completely different from every angle, is one of the most gorgeous bottles I’ve seen in a long time
Combining curves and geometrics with the transparency of glass, and the permanence of metal, it’s an objet d’art in its own right.
Fragranced Toiletries of the Year:
I’m an idiot, I spent a great deal of last year completely ignoring the press releases about Noble Isle as I had the impression that they were some kind of fruity aromatherapy brand. More fool me, because, whilst the marketing of the products is based on traditional British ingredients, such as rhubarb, and their imagery is based around hedgerows and rolling countryside, there are some seriously good scents in this range. Rhubarb, Rhubarb for instance, whilst it is distinctively fruity, is sharp, and rounded and gloriously juicy, more like a fine perfume than the fruity stew I was expecting. Whisky and Water is woody and peaty and smokey, and gorgeous. Fireside is also smokey, but gloriously spicy and comforting with it. Since being given a bottle of shower gel to try, I’ve bought hand soaps and hand creams to keep by every sink in the flat, and I’ve bought bottles and bottles of different products as gifts for other people too. The packaging is sophisticated and unisex, and the contents are glorious. Don’t be an idiot like me, try some Noble Isle, you might like it. Brad Pitt does …
Candle Brand of the Year:
God, I do love a Neom candle. Clean-burning, and gloriously scented, I burn a Christmas Wish, well, every Christmas … scented with orange, cinnamon and rounded out with tonka bean, one of these will last you a good few weeks if you burn it a couple of hours a day. AND it smells of Christmas what more could you want? This year, I supplemented my Christmas Wish with the Pine, Cedarwood & Eucalyptus varieties, and a Comforting home scent too, which is a smokey-scented blend of cedarwood, star anise and vetiver. Burned separately, or together, these are the scents of winter. At £42 each you’ll get a couple of Christmases out of each if you burn them judiciously, but they’re currently available on the Neom website at £30.50, which is a bargain! Go snap them up, and hoard them till next Christmas, you won’t be disappointed. Might have to get a couple of backups myself …
Hair care product of the year
Aveda Sun Care After Sun Masque
A late entry into the hair care stakes, this was a product I gave the harshest of tests to, I took it on my honeymoon! Sun, sand, sea, chlorine, all are hell on the hair, and, when your hair is both curly and coloured, a holiday is about the worst thing you can do to your hair. Ironically, I came back from my trip to the Maldives with hair in better condition than I went away with! From the slightly fizzy ginger scent, through to the great slip, and down to the wonderful condition this leaves your hair in, this is a fab product. So good, in fact, I’m still using it now, in spite of the lack of sun! And sea. And sand. And pool. And endless cocktails. No, I’m not crying, why do you ask?
So there you have it, these are my discoveries of 2013, what was on your list?