Thursday, 16 April 2020

ST. PAUL'S by Exaltatum London

The job of a perfumer is to take a jumble of ideas and turn them into a fully formed fragrance. Now, when you work for a large company you can find yourself caught in the middle of many egos all wanting a say on the finished scent. However, as an independent perfumer you are solely accountable to yourself, and so the finished fragrance can often be closer to the original concept. One perfumer that has shown herself to be the mistress of translating emotion and place into scent is Eglija Vaitkevice of Exaltatum, and her latest fragrance takes the wearer on a journey to baroque London. It's time to visit St. Paul's.

Eglija was born in Germany and had a father in the airforce and a mother who was an art teacher. Both were from Lithuania and, as Eglija told me, even from an early age she was an adventurer. “My childhood and teenage years were spent travelling as a family from country to country within the Soviet bloc.” At thirteen she became fascinated with the cinematic screen sirens, and the seeds of a future creative profession were sown. Eglija eventually went on to study Slavic Languages, Literatures, and Linguistics at Vilnius University in Lithuania, but the artistic side of her character didn’t stay hidden for long.

A career in the beauty industry, including some time in the world of aromatherapy, cemented a fascination with scent. So, in 2016, Eglija took the plunge and enrolled at the famous Grasse Institute of Perfumery. Studying under Max Gavarry, she refined her original aromatherapy roots and embraced the classic French style. I feel that it’s this combination that has made Exaltatum London the outstanding brand that it is today. When the company launched Pergola in 2019 you could have been forgiven for thinking that they had reached the pinnacle of their success, but prepare to fall in love with the wonderful St. Paul’s.

Eglija has always had an incredible talent for capturing the idea of a place through scent, and this has continued in her latest release. St. Paul’s is a celebration of the baroque period but, as that’s a pretty big brief to tackle, it was decided to focus on the cathedral itself. The current building was started in 1675 but took until 1711 to actually be declared finished. It quickly became a landmark of the London skyline, especially by surviving two world wars, and is arguably one of the finest pieces of baroque architecture in the world. So, how do you translate all of that history into a scent?

St. Paul’s opens with a rush of bergamot and pear that gives an expansiveness, but very quickly a cardamom touched jasmine appears and adds the florality of altar offerings. The floral is wonderfully enveloping and bends, rather than succumbs, to what follows. The resinous aromas of labdanum and tolu balsam combine with notes of sandalwood and cedar to give a waxed wood quality. However, the expansiveness again returns thanks to an exquisitely balanced vetiver and patchouli pairing that adds a dryness to the scent. With a final cloud of sweetened frankincense, this baroque inspired scent really is a fragrance to worship.

St. Paul’s is available from the Exaltatum London website at exaltatumperfume.com priced at £55 for 15ml and £130 for 50ml, or from Ave Parfum if you're based in America. [Sample provided by Exaltatum London]

5 comments:

  1. Sounds like my kind of scent. Thank you for reviewing it Stephen.

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    1. Hello Barry, I think it would definitely be a fragrance that you'd be interested in. Hope all is well. Best, Stephan

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    2. Thank you Stephan, I'm good thank you...well, what I meant to say is that I'm well, but whether I'm good is open to debate :)

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  2. I meant Stephan, sorry about that.

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