“And so he would now study perfumes and the secrets of their manufacture, distilling heavily scented oils and burning odorous gums from the East. He saw that there was no mood of the mind that had not its counterpart in the sensuous life, and set himself to discover their true relations, wondering what there was in frankincense that made one mystical, and in ambergris that stirred one’s passions, and in violets that woke the memory of dead romances, and in musk that troubled the brain, and in champak that stained the imagination; and seeking often to elaborate a real psychology of perfumes, and to estimate the several influences of sweet-smelling roots and scented pollen-laden flowers, of aromatic balms and of dark and fragrant woods, of spikenard that sickens, of hovenia that makes men mad and of aloes that are said to be able to expel melancholy from the soul.”
I feel that Angela Flanders’ Josephine is a perfume that expresses itself through the warm gaze of nostalgia; looking back fondly on the memory of a love from another time. A love so potent it seeps into the architecture of the heart and peppers the landscape of the soul, and it is only long after the pain of separation that one is able to look back upon such a love to cherish its memory.
With Josephine, Ms Flanders interprets violet through a kaleidoscopic lens, expressing different characters of violet via the nuances of Josephine, which for me feels like a production of love in three acts: the nervous first meeting, the full bloom of love, and, finally, the drifting away. There is a tenderness and gentle handling of delicate petals expressed in its execution which skirts the lines between gourmand flirtations and retro allusions, projecting a celebration of violets that makes Josephine a tribute to love and its namesake.
To celebrate World Smell Day yesterday I made myself an appointment to explore Angela Flanders’ range of perfumes at her boutique on Artillery Passage in Spitalfields. Although I had read much about Angela’s fragrances I had never ever actually been to her shop in Spitalfields so today being World Smell Day seemed like the perfect excuse for a trip to East London. I met with Rachel, who works at the boutique, and she was a fantastic guide in helping me to get acquainted with the line. She was super knowledgeable and really down to earth and lead me through sampling the fragrances. There is something about taking in scent with another person that I always find to be a bit of a bonding experience.