We’ve recently expanded our range of Heeley perfumes, adding to some already staggeringly good works of perfumery. In this extended range, Heeley’s singular creative style is on display: architecturally meticulous, angularly precise, restrained and sophisticated – it is an obsession with form. In combination with a curious and voyaging imagination, Heeley journeys through history, forming fragrances where a single idea, accord, or ingredient becomes a rich source of inspiration. Here are three of our favourites.
No clearer is this apparent in Verveine d'Eugène, which celebrate the favourite scent of Prince Imperial Eugène Bonaparte, lemon verbena (verveine in French). With a sense of elegance and dynamism, this is a regal dream of citrusy greens – at once bursting yet dignified. Lemon verbena, in the middle between citrus and floral, shows exuberance and restraint, calling to mind soft herbal-floral tones amongst pithy impressions of lemon, grapefruit, and pomelo. The green touch of rhubarb evokes the English countryside, the country in which Louis-Napoléon made home in exile. Rhubarb radiates a distinctively tart and sweet quality that grows in predominance in this scent. Punctuated with blackcurrant, this lends to the fragrance a singularly sharp intensity, and has the effect of shading dark tones amongst all this green.
This is a scent of profound dimension, depth, and nuance, unusual for the citrus category. It calls to mind the height of summer and the aroma of a well-kempt garden. Its faint humidity points to the generosity of citrus notes and their warmth, which manages to cool and refresh the wearer. It offers a sophistication that calls to mind classics like Eau Sauvage (Dior) and Acqua di Parma.
Heeley’s obsession with form comes to prominence in Chypre 21, a twenty-first century Chypre which retains its sleek olfactory silhouette. The resulting feel is remarkably unisex and undoubtably familiar. Its feeling is desiccated and napped, true to the mossy category, against a bracing top that appears to soar up to the highest heights of this fragrance. The total effect is harmonic – a pleat of grippy bergamot is rounded with petitgrain, and freshened with the cool raspy qualities of rosemary. Underneath this is the faint leathery smoulder of saffron, which favours a metallic sheen other than sweetness.
Such a gorgeous ascent climbs to the most dizzyingly high parts of the atmosphere, until it dives into a shadowy coddle of Bulgarian rose, oakmoss, musk, patchouli and sandalwood. These notes pulsate; they sing with a lucidity and crispness that feels resolutely contemporary. This is Chypre 21’s imprint: it redoes the firm and upright silhouette of the category without causing it to slacken. Its structure is crystalline, like a tough lattice of notes that hold onto each other. Equally, there’s enough space between the lattice structure to let the light in; to do away with the retro dust. The chypre is an enduring idea, and Heeley realises it without neglected the fragrances of yesteryear, whilst projecting onwards, forward with a new sensibility.
For lovers of Pour Monsieur (Chanel) or Eucris (Trumper), Chypre 21 offers all the familiar contrasts of light and shade.
Heeley has studied the greats of perfumery, and Iris de Nuit is a masterful exploration of the classical iris theme. It is the softness of shadows, which begins with a freshness extracted from the earth, all the way to the roots. It has an unshakable nerve, with an alluring dryness against the rich textures of the terrestrial - a medley of angelica seed, ambrette, and carrot seed, amplifies the effect of iris absolute, which ranges across buttery and waxy, woody and dry, stemmy green, and sweetly floral facets. Its feeling is indeed nocturnal – melancholic, tempestuous, and grey – and yet remarkably velvety and cool.
Iris in fragrances demands the perfumer to work in a different register, within the realm of texture as much as scent. Here Heeley balances the crisp and almost crinkly texture of cedar wood and rich ambergris against the tender yet determined strength of iris. It is a remarkable work that puts technical skill to the fore, equally expressing all the virtues of a stunning natural material.