Pleasure & Purpose With Aesop & Odette Toilette

By Luke

I have been meaning for a long time to
write about Aesop.  I remember Aesop from eons ago when the
only place you could buy it was in Space.NK. It looked very smart
and sort of clinical in its modest and understated medical grade
brown glass jars and metal tubes. It was always a bit of a favourite
– sceptical and unwilling as I am most of the time to use any skin
care that claims to be ‘natural’ – and has few of the
ingredients in them that I know work. That said, there is no
getting away from the fact that Aesop products do work,
and are an absolute joy to use, not least because of their scent. 

Aesop then made like £10 Poms and
disappeared back its native Australia for a little while. However,
without me noticing until recently it has sprung up again in the UK
in various locations in the form of the most beautiful boutiques and
in selected department stores. It has several locations throughout
London now, and each has a very distinct, and gorgeous character of
their own.

We were invited along to the boutique
in Covent Garden for a bit of an olfactory treat under the tutelage
of scent expert Odette Toilette. Pleasure and Purpose was the title
of the event, summing up the entire Aesop line rather well, so I was
intrigued as to what exactly we would be doing and shuffled along. The store itself is an absolute haven
of a space. The familiar brown glass is littered along the walls,
and in amongst those were gorgeous seasonal blooms. It’s airy,
clean and very, very cool looking, both figuratively, and literally. 

We were guided downstairs to a
makeshift classroom and were each given a ‘workbook’ for our
efforts, and several exercises were undertaken with the presentation
of particular oils on a blotter. Rather than guess which oil we were
smelling from the scent alone, we were asked in several different
ways to demonstrate how a scent made us feel, or what colours it
reminded us of, or how it made us feel, or if we felt it had a
masculine or feminine quality to it. This was designed specifically
to make you think differently about what you were smelling, and find
out more about the emotional response you can have to a smell,
without any preconceived notion about the scents from the names
alone. Some of the oils were beautifully scented, and others …
decidedly less so. 

Of course, all the oils that were
presented to us were key ingredients within some of the Aesop range.
Smelling them in their raw state, they were either extremely unusual,
possibly even unpleasant at times, and some were very familiar, but
you weren’t able to put your finger on exactly where you had
experienced it before. One exercise saw us taking coloured pencils
and using only the medium of the crayon, describe in colour and
texture how the scent was, which was a genius way of thinking about
something very differently.

One of the hero oils that lace the
Aesop range is parsley seed oil, which on its own smells rather like
slightly ripe food that’s been in the sun a little too long, or, if
you’re Get Lippie herself: vomit. Parsley seed of course is present
in an entire line of its own at Aesop, and it is extremely high in
antioxidants. The Parsley Seed Cleanser is easily one of the best
smelling products in the line, despite the relative stench of the
pure oil, it’s masked by other ingredients, and the cleanser is a joy
to use as a result.

There was also violet leaf, found in
the really very smooth and gorgeous smelling Hair Balm, which is
particularly good for hair that has a tendency to go a bit wild for
no reason and is on the fried side of normal. And there was pure
geranium oil, which is in the Geranium Leaf Body Scrub, which has
natural bamboo stem to exfoliate and absolutely gorgeous rose like
scent.

I ended up taking a mouthwash home with
me. Clove oil was the main scent here, alongside extract of
spearmint. It comes in a rather grand looking, and ENORMOUS bottle
complete with a tiny little glass flask (which I broke immediately on
getting home) and it now takes its place rather grandly on my
bathroom shelf. 

Welcome back Aesop. Welcome back.

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