Thursday 26 October 2017

FIRE by Tessa Williams

With bonfire night fast approaching and Halloween on the doorstep my thoughts always turn to the gloriously smokey scents of autumn. The crispness in the air and the first frosts on the ground always make me reach for my Penhaligon's matches so that I can set light to the pile of kiln-dried logs that are permanently sitting in the fireplace. The scent of an open fire is one of my favourite smells, which is why I’ve also been known to have one in height of summer, so I was intrigued to find that Tessa Williams had released a home spray simply called Fire. So, would it really smell like my wood-smoke scented sitting room?

Tessa Williams is best known for writing the book Cult Perfumes: The World’s Most Exclusive Perfumeries. Released by Merrill Publishers in 2013 it looked at twenty-five companies ranging from Floris to Frédéric Malle and perfectly tapped into the public’s blossoming interest in perfumery. You have to remember that perfumery was still seen as a bit “stuffy” but Tessa’s book combined 192 pages of interviews, history and imagery, much of which had never been presented together before, in an easy to read format. As one reviewer commented, “it is more than just a trendy coffee table book, it’s a history book, a reference guide, and a catalogue of what to buy next.”

Whilst she was researching for Cult Perfumes: The World’s Most Exclusive Perfumeries, Tessa realised that one aspect of fragrance that she truly loved was home scents and candles. Many of the companies that she had visited produced both of these but she felt that there was something missing from the ranges that were on offer. Rather than creating traditionally floral or citrus scents she wanted to create a series that concentrated on the elements, as this would allow the customer to chose a “style” of fragrance. The result was the Elements Home Range that comes, as you would expect, as Air, Water, Fire and Earth.

Described as an “intoxicating fiery aroma that welcomes warmth and comfort”, Fire was the absolute stand out of the four for me. The continuing trend for Russian leather scents perfectly taps into this smokey quality but there is far more to this fragrance. Jo Fairley, co-founder of The Perfume Society, described the candle version as being “wondrously woody ... with aromatic smokiness trailing throughout”, and I would completely agree. Many people don’t have a real fire any more, or can’t use it for various reasons, and so Tessa Williams' room spray is the next best thing.

When you first spray Fire into the air you get a combination of brightness and embers, that’s the only way I can describe it, but it soon reveals its many other aspects. When a real fire burns you get all sorts of aromas and Tessa Williams has carefully designed the scent so that it conveys a resinous warmth using tonka and caramel notes, a kiln-dried woodiness with patchouli and vetiver, and also a tea/hay-like quality that perfectly captures the dryness that you get as the wood burns. A careful blend of incense with a delicate smokey note completes the effect and it truly is heaven for any fire lover.

Fire Home Spray is available from the Tessa Williams website at priced at £32 for 100ml. [Sample provided by Tessa Williams]

Update: In 2018 Fire was also released as a Living Cologne, and you can read my review of the new version by clicking here.

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