Thursday, 19 December 2019

MY TOP CHOICES FROM 2019

They say that time passes quicker as we get older and that definitely seems to have been the case this year. It only feels a moment ago that we were celebrating the start of 2019 and here we are, twelve months later, getting ready to slide into a new decade. Over the past year I’ve written ninety two articles for stephanmatthews.com, with another two to come, and thought that it would be fun to revisit a few of my favourites. It was difficult to choose what to include but, from Bengals to bamboo, there were a few that really stood out for me. So, I wonder whether I've included one of your favourites?

Back in March I wrote about the new fragrance from Zoologist. Created by the talented Daniel Pescio, I said at the time that Chameleon is an incredibly creative and innovative take on ylang ylang and perfectly straddles the line between commercial and niche.” The Zoologist range is often perceived as “artistic” rather than “wearable” but, with Chameleon, these two aspects were perfectly aligned. This idea of perfect alignment was also seen in FlorisVert Fougère, although this time it was combining the company’s traditional spirit with a dash of Nicola Pozzani’s contemporary edge. It played on the darker aspects of the green note and presented this classic masculine style as more “flirtatious than fanciful.”

June saw the unveiling of Papillon Perfumery’s Bengale Rouge and, in Liz Moores adept hands, it had “a softness of touch that mixed with the richness of classical perfumery.” She took the oriental structure, added her animalic calling card, and gave us a devious sensuality. In a word, perfection. This year also saw me finally acquainted with Amanda Beadle’s crisp, green, and wonderfully dry Chienoir, which won an Art and Olfaction Award back in 2017. “The oakmoss is almost textural, the patchouli adds just the right amount of roughness, and a note of vetiver gives a delicate earthiness to this classic chypre structure.”

Combining the chypre and the fougère style sees a return to the “theatrically majestic” Pergola by Exaltatum London. Inspired by Lord Leverhulme and Thomas Mawson’s pergola on Hampstead Heath, “this vestige of faded grandeur embodies extravagance, history, and a wealth of scented secrets that are lovingly restored in Eglija Vaitkevice’s evocative perfume.” My final choice has got to be Poème de Sagano from ELLA K. Created by the incredible Sonia Constant, this focused on the central theme of bamboo but rejected the usual sweetness and instead “refreshes the balance with beautifully aromatic and citrus heights.” I described the scent as a watercolour on the skin and that still holds true.

It wasn’t just about perfume this year and the website also veered into the natural home fragrance arena with Eloise Hall’s diffuser. Created in conjunction with Richard Howard of Arcania Apothecary, Pause promised to calm the mind with its aromatic blue hues. Tangy verbena-like mandarin paired with earthy geranium really did transport the garden into my home. We also travelled down to Devon to experience the magnificent Delicate Romance candle from Lola’s Apothecary. It was reviewed in May as part of the celebration around the annual rose harvest and, as I said at the time, “is definitely a scent to be savoured.”

Choosing just eight articles meant that I didn’t even get to talk about the “Stephan’s Six” interview series, the soap articles, or the fantastic Cocorosa Beauty. So, feel free to explore the website and I look forward to sharing more with you in 2020. [Products in the original articles were provided by the companies]

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