Thursday 8 October 2020

AURELIA by Filigree & Shadow

We’re all guilty of judging a book by its cover, a restaurant by its reviews, or even a fragrance by its name. We form preconceived ideas based on the information that we’re given and, more often than not, find ourselves disagreeing with our first impression. This becomes doubly hard when you’re trying to pick a fragrance from a choice of thirty-three, but that’s exactly what I had to do with Seattle based perfume house Filigree & Shadow. Unknown to me the founder also included a Lucky Strike extra with my final choice and, powerless to resist, I’ve actually fallen under the spell of the musically inspired Aurelia.

When James Elliott founded Filigree & Shadow in April 2013 it followed two years of intensive private study in the world of perfumery. Seven years ago the world of niche fragrance was a very different landscape, and one that many had not yet discovered, but James was determined. He spent a further two years finalising his debut collection and officially launched in 2015. A self-confessed lover of naturals, but also with an appreciation of the magic of synthetics, he cleverly released a capsule collection of mixed media scents alongside his natural one. However, there’s another twist to the story.

After studying at the Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design, James worked as both a creative director and a designer for various companies. His love of fragrance ran alongside these jobs, but so did a frustration with getting alcohol based scents transported from other countries. Posting perfume across continents is expensive if you do it legally, and you run the risk of having it impounded if you don’t, and this was always rattling around in James’ head. So, when it came to updating his own collection this year, he decided to switch to water rather than use alcohol. This isn’t a new concept, French company Buly is famous for it, but it’s unusual to find it in the niche sector.

James Elliott uses music as the inspiration for his fragrances, but his unusual choices mean that the fragrances go off in all sorts of wonderfully unexpected directions. Aurelia is inspired by the singer Kendra Smith, who was a founder member of Dream Syndicate and Opal. She later went solo, and it’s her album "Five Ways of Disappearing" that has inspired the scent. James promises that the fragrance will replicate the “droning rhythms and vibrating melodies” that Kendra became known for but, with only water as the support, can Aurelia really reach the high notes or will it sink without trace?

The fragrance begins with an arresting blend of bergamot and clove but, alongside this spicy opening, the addition of yuzu adds a mouth-wateringly citrus quality that keeps Aurelia vibrant. The floral blend in the heart almost creeps into view, with rose taking the lead over a powdery combination of mimosa and ylang ylang, but the clove keeps the floral firmly in check. This continuing spiciness links seamlessly down to a base of patchouli but, as the scent continues to develop on the skin, a beautifully resinous amber accord appears which lingers after the other ingredients fade, and completes a wonderfully expansive experience.

Aurelia is available from the Filigree & Shadow website at priced at $49 for 15ml or as part of the “pick your own” Discovery Set. [Sample provided by James Elliott]

* Filigree & Shadow fragrances are formulated to comply with America's allergen restrictions rather than EU allergen restrictions.

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