Master Perfumer Oliver Creed’s latest collection is described as a “living fragrance journal of countless globetrotting journeys with the fine art of perfumery as the narrative.” The Acqua Originale fragrances cover a broad geography, going below the mineral rich soil of Tuscany where iris bulbs are rooted, to colourful and fragrant flowerbeds in Southern India. The new collection captures the soul of the perfume’s raw materials in a modern and expressive way, quite different from Creed’s more classically structured main collection. Aberdeen Lavander sits apart from the other Acqua Originale fragrances because it involves a sense of time travel. The fragrance is tributed to one of Creed’s esteemed 19th century patrons, the British monarch Queen Victoria. The Scottish Highlands were a favourite retreat of the Queen, and with this location in mind, Oliver Creed created a fragrance very much of Queen Victoria’s era. Aberdeen Lavander is a fougere fragrance featuring the calming scent of lavender with patchouli, a fashionable smell in Victorian England. The fougere name came from an innovative cocktail of refreshing eau de cologne, geranium, woods and coumarin, which formed the basis of Paul Parquet’s Fougere Royale in 1882. Since Parquet’s time, the fougere accord has been the creative foundation for a majority of men’s fragrances, from Azzaro Pour Homme to Jean Paul Gautier’s Le Male. Aberdeen Lavander tracks the accord back to when it first appeared, before it was given a sporty makeover. Aberdeen Lavander remains faithful to those early fougeres, which were closely related to eau de cologne, and not the chest beating aftershaves of the 1970s and 80s. Taking advantage of modern distillation techniques and chemical engineering, the fragrance feels firmly grounded in the now, even if Aberdeen Lavander holds some nostalgia for the past.
The first impression is a pulse of rich green, vibrating under the lavender and citrus opening. It is the scent of freshly cut grass and it adds freshness and character to the bitterness of lemon and bergamot. Anisic notes mingle with a subtle hint of absinthe, and rosemary brings an agrestic quality that leads into the lavender heart of the fragrance. Here the fragrance begins to warm up with milky tuberose, rose, and a spicy floral accord of lily. Musk and tonka bean are not listed as base notes by Creed but the importance of these raw materials in the creation of a classic fougere accord is unavoidable. Aberdeen Lavander’s musk smells relatively clean and modern. It is soft and cuddly rather than angular and carnal. Creed includes leather as a base note, which is where the carnal suggestion lies. Paired with vetiver, a fiery patchouli note rises up as the fragrances closes, leaving an amber glow on skin for the finale. The result is a 19th century oriental fougere recalibrated for 21st century use and compliant with IFRA’s increasingly strict standards.
The scent of lavender is often typecast as old fashioned and lowbrow. Along side perfumery’s exotic jasmine, rose or bitter orange flower, lavender seems rather ordinary. It is an ingredient many would expect to find in aromatherapy products instead of headlining a fine fragrance. Against those odds, lavender has made a comeback. The success of lavender in Jersey by Chanel and Lavender Palm by Tom Ford indicates that consumers are once again enjoying aromatic top notes. When marine fragrances dominated perfumery at the turn of the century, aromatic notes like thyme, rosemary, artemisia and lavender began to decline. New century fragrances opened with sparkling citruses, tropical fruit and abstract accords evoking the smell of ozone and sea air. Aberdeen Lavander takes the wearer back to a previous time, yet it manages to still maintain a modern perspective. Wearing this fragrance I don’t feel as though I am wearing a period fragrance or a vintage fougere. It is gentlemanly in its approach and will undoubtedly attract both male and female fan bases. For those people that want to love Guerlain’s Jicky, but they are put off by its big cat purr (the lovely synergy between all that vanilla, sandalwood, musk and civet, which some writers describe as the scent of a soiled nappy) Aberdeen Lavander is a sanitised version, which I am picking to be a favourite for the months ahead. I love the scent of patchouli in autumn.
Creative Direction: Oliver Creed
Perfumer: Oliver Creed
Bottle Designer: Oliver Creed and Pochet et du Courval
Release Date: 2014
Typology (via Fragrances of the World): Aromatic fougere