Lola James Harper

Perfumery off the beaten track ...

So many scents claim to embody the 'spirit of summer' - you know the types, citrus notes, leggy model running through a field laughing manically at nothing, or - gawd help us - those hideous eau fraiche incarnations of well-known fashion house scents. But take it from me, if you're looking for a summery scent if the warm weather seems eons away (seriously, why is it STILL so cold right now?) Lola James Harper is as cheery, carefree and summery as it gets. In their own words they make "music, pics and candles". 

They also remind me of my two favourite places after London: Paris (where perfumer and founder Rami Mekdach is from) as well as West-Coast America, where a lot of the photography is featured. Lastly, I'm a big fan of non-typical, "tomboyish" scents - and with names like The Coffee Shop of JP, The Guitar Shop on Denmark Street and The Comic Store of George, this lot certainly aren't typical. They're already available at Colette in Paris and John Lewis, Birmingham. While a London stockist is still TBA, Purple PR kindly invited me to see the gorgeous mini installation in their showroom last week.

As you might have guessed, each scented candle (which comes with the same scent as a home perfume) is an olfactory snapshot of their well-travelled founder's favourite places - and people - from around the world. Indeed, the brand seems infused with a love of travel and a laissez-faire attitude to life most of us romanticise about when we're jostling for elbow room on the tube en route to the office. To me, it's a love letter to 1970s hippie wanderlust - which is sure to chime with everyone's current obsession with the 70s in general. 

 But there's no style over substance - the scents themselves pack a serious punch - as one would expect from someone who's worked for the biggest beauty brands in France. They really do capture the essence of their name (have a sniff of The TV Basement of Jonet if you don't believe me). There's also a range of body scents on the horizon, one of which smells exactly like the plastic dolls I had as a kid - definitely worth checking out...

The candle I chose was The Surf Shop of Stephane - mainly because outside of watching Neighbours and Baywatch as a kid, I've never been near a surf shop in my life and the smell of waxy surfboards and sea salt is wonderfully escapist and alien to me, having lived all my life on a grey rainy island (and not anywhere near Cornwall, which is the closest England gets to Santa Cruz). It's a resiny, woodsy tuberose inspired by Rami's "surfer designer friend Stephane". Imagine if Brad from Neighbours (circa 1994)  scrubbed up in a tailored tuxedo and slicked back those unruly blonde locks - and maybe had a book of Proust in his back pocket - and you get the type of scent this is.

That's the great thing about scent - one whiff, close your eyes and you can pretend you're on holiday. And with that in mind, I'll leave you with a series of Lola James Harper snaps that will have you packing your suitcase, fishing out your passport and booking a one-way ticket to Cali, pronto ...

Lola James Harper is available from lolajamesharper.com and Selfridges London.