Thursday 11 February 2021

MACHINE SHOP by Ankermade

There’s always been heated discussion over whether perfume should be classified as art. It stems from a basic disagreement over whether “fragranced frippery” is in the same league as a renaissance painter. Whichever camp you side with, the topic of “perfumed art” tends to accompany the release of scents that are deemed “challenging” (which may translate as unwearable) or those created specifically for an art installation or exhibition. However, the undisputed artistic skill of a perfumer is to translate a concept into a finished fragrance, and that is definitely on display with the finely tuned Machine Shop from Ankermade.

Susan Ankersen founded Ankermade in 2018 and, right from the beginning, her eye for detail and creative flair were clearly evident. She had originally moved to Los Angeles from Denmark to study at Santa Monica College but, after graduating, found herself drawn into the jewellery business. She had always collected precious and semiprecious stones on her travels so, in 2005, they were incorporated into her debut collection. Designed to represent “individuality and sophistication”, her jewellery would go on to be featured in Cosmopolitan, Siempre Mujer, and was also selected to be used in the TV series Ugly Betty.

Alongside the jewellery, Susan had always been interested in fragrance and this also extended to the scents around her. From the aroma of a lead pencil on paper as she designed her jewellery right through to the process of making the piece with solder and silver, she became fascinated with how the scent of real life could be translated into fragrance. This idea of being inspired by the abstract also saw her creating exhibition scents for the London Design Museum in 2019. Tasked with creating the aroma of the surface of Mars, the exhibition ended in February 2020 as we began our own “War of the Worlds”.

One of the fragrances that forms part of her collection is Machine Shop, which is inspired by “the powerful force of machinery.” Other companies have tried evoking this scent before, including the successful Pierre Guillaume’s Mécanique du Désir and Didier Gaglewski‘s Cambouis, but it’s a fine line between creating the essence of the space and smelling like oil soaked overalls. Susan Ankersen has skilfully managed to combine the feel of being surrounded by industrial metal whilst also adding a sensuality that hints at work-warmed skin. I might never look at a visit to the garage in the same way again.

Machine Shop opens with a peppered citrus, accented by galbanum-like greenness, which immediately hints at sunlike glinting off metal. That metallic edge is also skilfully represented and comes through with a coldness that is arresting. An aromatic workshop woodiness surrounds you courtesy of lavender, pine, and cedarwood notes, but the oiled resins then seductively come through. There’s the scent of the patina on the machinery mingling with smoky frankincense, dusty patchouli perfectly complimenting a petrolic rose, and even a hint of apron-like vetiver and suede. With a final touch of hot animalic skin-like musk in the base, Machine Shop exquisitely combines contemporary excitement alongside vintage styling.

Machine Shop is available from the Ankermade website at priced at $50 for the 10ml rollerball or $145 for 50ml atomiser. [Sample provided by the company]

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