Wednesday evening I had the pleasure of attending the launch of Angela Flanders’ latest perfume, Bleu de Chine at her salon on Artillery Passage in Spitalfields .
Bleu de Chine is inspired by a collection of antique indigo fabrics discovered by Angela’s friend Noel Chapman, who is an expert in textiles, while he was in China.
“Vintage indigo folk textiles from rural China. The patterns hand-stencilled with pasted resist – the darker pieces would have been dipped as many as 90 times into the mystical indigo baths.
These are the simple handwoven cotton fabrics of everyday country folk and were rarely seen outside of a village life now almost completely disappeared. Traditional dowry and wrapping cloths, quilt covers and panels combine floral and animal motifs with an array of auspicious symbols rich in history and folklore. Most pieces date from the first half of the 20th century, some from the end of the 19th century and display their age with the characteristic fading we similarly associate with our beloved indigo blue jeans.” Noel Chapman
Mr. Chapman displayed a selection of the indigo fabrics to us showing some of the symbols stencilled in soya bean paste throughout their intricate often geometric designs. Each fabric is unique and incorporates a varying range of symbolic animals, plants and motifs differing by locality or religious beliefs. Some examples include:
Bamboo: The ideals of the Confucian scholar; upright, strong and resilient while still being gentle, graceful and refined. In Toaists ideals it can bend during the worst weather but not break. A member of the Three Friends in Winter.
Butterfly: Joy, brightness, summer and soul. The Chinese cupid, signifier of true love. As part of a pair, a symbol of conjugal fidelity. Mother of creation for Miao people and embodying ideas of rebirth and continuing identity.
Gourd: A charm symbol to ward off evil spirits and disease.
Peony: Signifies the third month of the lunar calendar, symbolizes longevity, loyalty, happiness, and eternal beauty. Because it sometimes grows as doubles, the peony appears to the Chinese people like strings of coins and has come to symbolize prosperity and wealth.
Phoenix: The bird that never dies, reborn from the ashes. Peace and prosperity. Emblem of the empress.
Angela’s Bleu de Chine opens on my skin crisp and herbal. The lavender accord is apparent to me right away until it then vanishes behind a cool shot that comes permeating through that to me carries the scent of juniper and pine. As the fragrance develops further I am aware of a peppery cloud of clove and anise seed that then settles on a bed of warm, soft woods.
As Bleu de Chine approaches its dry down it leads me into a dreamy haze of cool lavender intermingled with warm patchouli out of which the lavender finally emerges most prominent.
For me Bleu de Chine brings to mind that time of day when the sun is first rising and the night still lingers. An intermingling of the cool and the warm. Night ushered off by the soft warm breeze carrying the refreshing light of day.
Bleu de Chine is available as a limited edition Eau de Toilette in 50ml and 100ml sizes and costs £55 and £70 respectively.
The Bleu de Chine candle costs £40.
Bleu de Chine is not yet available on the Angela Flanders web site, but can be ordered by contacting the shop on 020 7247 7040 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you are interested in acquiring any of the indigo pieces please visit Noel Chapman on Instagram or contact him on email@example.com.