Monday, 20 May 2019

THE HOUR OF DUSK AND GOLD by Parterre

We often forget that the United Kingdom, and Croydon in particular, had a rich heritage of growing lavender. It was prized around the world and was actually more expensive than anything coming out of France at the time. Land use, and war, altered the fortunes of many producers but recently the fields have starting turning to “blue gold” once more. This encouragement, and also a desire for “a simpler way of life,” saw Julia and David Bridger launch Parterre Fragrances at Keyneston Mill. Four years later, and with three scents already under their belt, they have now released the romantically titled The Hour of Dusk and Gold.

The couple’s background of design, photography, and marketing doesn’t immediately scream “gardening” but their passion more than makes up for that. David did actually grow up on a farm, although he quickly admits that he didn’t get very involved as a child. When they found Keyneston Mill in Dorset back in 2015 it had been an old fruit farm and so was scattered with varying pH soil levels. These would be perfect for growing established and experimental plants, but they needed help. This is where Sir Elton John’s ex-gardener Stuart Neilson and former RHS botanist Nanette Wraith came in.

Their combined idea for the gardens was to provide an aromatic arena for fragranced plants, and also those that release scent when they are processed. The space was split into four definite areas that each concentrated on a particular aspect of perfumery. Floral, fougere, spice, and citrus beds were laid out to provide a visual story but they were also there as test beds for the larger fields. If the plants survived in those smaller plots then they could be cultivated in bigger quantities. These beds saw hyssop and vetiver become their star ingredients and, this year, wild Persian carrot seed.

When the duo originally thought of creating fragrances they knew that they had to enlist a perfumer with a flair for originality that also wasn’t afraid of a challenge, and that was Jacques Chabert. He designed the original trio of scents using ingredients that he envisaged would contain the same olfactive characteristics as the Keyneston oils. At this point it was still unknown if there would even be a harvest, but thankfully there was. Once the homegrown ingredients were processed onsite, and the oils extracted, they were whisked over to Grasse where the final blends were achieved. Parterre Fragrances was well and truly on the map.

The couple's latest experiment, and possibly their biggest challenge to date, is the Citrus Project. They have chosen thirty varieties of hesperdic fruits with the aim of whittling them down to five. The plan is to then propagate each to produce a further nine plants. Now, the British weather is notoriously difficult for growing citrus and so this is a major undertaking, but one that they have approached with their usual determination. In the past they’ve concentrated on aromatics that give an aroma of citrus, and so this will be an exciting addition to their portfolio of ingredients.

For their new fragrance they wanted to create an homage to a Moroccan evening. Using their exclusive wild Persian carrot seed as the central ingredient, the idea was to combine the spicy aromas of the region with the “rich colours of the setting sun.” However, they also wanted the scent to contain traces of Morocco’s Atlantic coast. Their debut trio of fragrances featured a rich floral, a vibrant citrus, and an aromatic leather, so would The Hour of Dusk and Gold stray into the oriental category? Well, it definitely has and the result is gloriously delicious.

The fragrance opens with an incredible burst of refreshing nutmeg but tempered with an aromatic touch of bay leaf. You get a distinct note of clove in the start as well, which hints at a marine spiciness, but very quickly you begin to smell the beautiful carrot seed that links this whole scent together. It pulls in the iris, because it shares its powderiness, but also seems to dance with an exquisite lavender. However, waiting in the base is the glorious styrax. This gives a resinous, woody quality to the scent which, when mixed with the hay-like coumarin and vanilla, really gives you that setting-sun warmth.

The Hour of Dusk and Gold is available exclusively from the Keyneston Mill shop, or by telephone, and is priced at £70 for 30ml and £95 for 50ml. [Sample provided by Parterre]

4 comments:

  1. Interesting background about the company. The Hour of Dusk and Gold sounds gorgeous.

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    1. Hello Barry, I think that you would find this an interesting scent. You're just going to have make the journey to Dorset! Best, Stephan

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  2. I visited Keyneston Mill last week and came away with a bottle of this wonderful fragrance. It’s mighty good.

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    1. Hello Rob, I'm glad that you enjoyed the fragrance and well done for being one of the first to try it! Best, Stephan

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