Monday, 2 July 2012

Union: Great British fragrance

There are great British perfumers, and there are great British scents, but never before has there been a fragrance house that is well and truly 100% British - until now. By 100% I mean that every note of every perfume has been grown, sourced and composed within the British Isles. That's the case with Union, a new fragrance brand that launched this weekend in Selfridges.

Having met the team behind the four debut fragrances, I can attest that no holds have been barred to make these scents, from handpicking British bluebells to harvesting Scottish thistles in their Highland habitat. Perfumer Anastasia Brozler has been hands-on throughout the project, travelling the length and breadth of the British Isles to make sure each of the scents is absolutely spot on.

So what does an utterly British fragrance smell like?

Holy Thistle, the first of the four Union fragrances, is a cool, airy, breezy smell that conjures up a feeling of open space and outdoorsy peace and quiet. It manages to evoke coolness without any of the ozone-type smells typical of "cool" compositions. The Holy Thistle (that's its real name) is offset by bay, pine and bracken. Think off-season woodland idyll. This is perfect for hot, sticky city summer days.

Quince Mint and Moss is a cheery citrus-esque scent with an offset of mint and juniper. There's a mossy base note too. On me this is almost entirely lemony, sadly (always the way with my skin, which amplifies anything remotely zesty to ridiculous degrees).

Celtic Fire has apparently divided critical opinion with its strident smokeyness and love-it-or-hate-it Marmite note (yes, actual Marmite from the Marmite factory). I adore this and almost leapt out of my chair when given a tester strip to sniff. To me it smells of bonfire night - old dry logs burning, intense and massively evocative. This is a must-smell.

Finally, Gothic Bluebell is perhaps the most unusual of the quartet. The waxy, juicy yet powdery bluebell has been given a narcotic boost, creating something frankly quite eerie. Have you ever stepped over the threshold of an empty church during a country walk, and experienced that feeling of going from warm brightness to cool, crepuscular shade, from feeling of openness to a sense of trespass and mystery? That. English bluebell (not the Spanish sort that proliferates across the country) is the star here, flanked by its close relatives narcissus and hyacinth, and grounded on a base of violet and ivy.

Find all four Union fragrances at Selfridges and via

1 comment:

  1. Celtic Fire sounds absolutely gorgeous. I love dark, smoky fragrances, especially as the nights draw in. Must check it out.


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