The Sniff Box – Perfume In Plain English

Tagged With ‘Aesop’

Aesop

Hwyl

Since 2004, when its first store opened in the corner of a Melbourne car-park, Aesop has developed into a global brand, thanks to its simple but sensual products, individually designed boutiques and large injections of private capital (most recently from Natura Cosméticos, the Brazilian version of Avon, which took full control of the brand in 2016).

Given that fragrance was always part of its products’ appeal (founder Dennis Paphitis got the original idea after adding essential oils to hair bleach to disguise the smell of ammonia), it’s no surprise that Aesop has flirted with perfume over the years. In 2005 it launched Marrakech, followed by Mystra in 2006, both of which were subsequently discontinued, though they still have their fans – perfumer Paul Schutze still has his roller-ball version of Marrakech, which he suspects was a commercial disaster not because of the fragrance, which he loves, but because ‘you use so little scent with the roller-ball that you never need to buy another one’.

In 2014 Aesop returned to perfume with Marrakech Intense, followed by Tacit in 2015 and now, in 2017, Hwyl. Though the name is Welsh, the scent is inspired by smoke floating through a Japanese forest of hiba cypress trees (the conifer Thujopsis dolabrata, also known as Hiba arborvitae), and that’s pretty much what you smell when you first put it on. The formula, which was devised by French perfumer Barnabé Fillion (who previously contributed to Marrakech Intense), also includes a good dose of thyme with hints of spice, moss and vetiver.

Hywl is my favourite of the three ‘new’ Aesop perfumes so far, though I think it’s rather overpriced at £83 for 50ml, especially as it doesn’t last for more than two or three hours on my skin (Aesop kindly sent me a bottle to review). It enters an increasingly crowded field of perfumes based around the smells of incense and smoke, most of them aimed at men, and while it’s nice of its kind, I can’t say that it’s especially original. But then perhaps Aesop knows that its customers aren’t looking for ground-breaking scents: just something that’s easy to wear and fairly on-trend, which Hwyl certainly is.

Aesop

Tacit

TacitLaunching worldwide in September, Tacit will only be Aesop’s second perfume (if you don’t count the long-discontinued Marrakech and Mystra), but this being Aesop there won’t be lots of razzmatazz. Everyone’s favourite Australian skincare brand likes to do things quietly, and Tacit – which means what’s left unsaid – captures the essence of Aesop pretty well.

Created by New York-based International Flavors & Fragrances perfumer Céline Barel, Tacit is a subdued take on a classic eau de cologne, though with the grapefruit-like Japanese yuzu replacing eau de cologne’s usual lemony opening, and basil leaves taking the place of rosemary and lavender in its herbaceous heart.

The result is a fresh, unsweetened unisex scent, with a touch of the sour vermouth dryness of Haitian vetiver, extracted from the root of a tropical grass. But this is no ordinary vetiver: instead Barel has used IFF-LMR’s trademarked Vetiver Heart – a cleverly smoothed-out version of traditional vetiver oil, using hydro distillation followed by fractional distillation to extract its usual earthy smell, leaving its slightly bitter dryness intact.

Tacit comes as a 50ml Eau de Parfum (the fragrance industry’s slightly vague term for a solution containing around 10-20 per cent pure perfume) in Aesop’s standard brown glass bottles, but despite the concentration it doesn’t outstay its welcome; in fact personally I’d like it to last a bit longer. The packaging is rather more extravagant: a slim card box decorated by Australian artist Jonathan McCabe, which nestles inside a chunkier brown box, lidded with a card, which in turn slides inside a brown card sleeve.

Tacit is unlikely to turn heads on the street, but that’s not what Aesop’s about: it’s sexy but well-mannered and discreet, which pretty much sums up the brand.

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