When it comes to home scent, it seems Italians do it better...
Like myself, you may have lusted after black and white photos of vintage dressing tables, especially when - in among the perfumes and face creams - one can spy certain 'bad girl' paraphernalia: a crumpled photograph; a half-empty glass of scotch - and a crystal ashtray taking pride of place in the centre of the table, the last few wisps of smoke from a stubbed cigarette wafting lazily heavenward.
As I'm not entirely keen to transform myself into Dot Cotton and assume a 40-a-day Benson & Hedges habit, I've discovered a far more pleasant alternative to a glamorous ashtray (with a darn sight prettier aroma) courtesy of cult Italian interiors brand Fornasetti.
For the unfamiliar, Fornasetti was born of the whimsical imagination of Piero Fornasetti, a 60s Milanese artist whose slightly offbeat, eccentric designs went on to adorn the most glamorous homes in Italy and beyond (as far as L.A. it seems - if the decorative plates spotted in Kris Jenner's home on KUWTK are anything to go by...). Most of the designs centre around one woman - Lina Cavalieri whose mesmerising features are used time and time again, with a bee settling on her nose, puffing on a cigarette or - as with my new incense kit - holding a delicate spring flower poised between her lips ("Fior di Bacio").
For those who equate incense with Camden hippies, stale weed and too much patchouli oil, think again. This ancient form of scent can be traced back to the Japanese Imperial Court over 400 years ago. In fact, the incense sticks used in Fornasetti's new kit are made by traditional artisans Nippon Kodo.
The result? A rather fetching incense kit - complete with spell-binding smoke plumes - that wafts a hazy fug of iris, jasmine and lily of the valley around the room (that will be the Flora di Fornasetti scent, created by perfumer Emmanuel Philip - if you're not a fan of florals, their woodier Otto scent with lavender and cedarwood is just as dreamy).
And not a musty Camden hippie in sight, I promise you. It's a far more sophisticated way to scent your home, looks a delightful on a dressing table and the floral scent it emits is like falling asleep in a Milanese garden (which comes in handy when you're stuck in a one-bedroom in Tottenham during the peak of winter).
There were also some new gorgeous, albeit rather macabre candles to admire at Fornasetti's recent press event, such as this giant candle featuring a skull on one side, Ms. Cavalieri on the other. Other delights included sugar pink scented crystals housed in an intricately-designed 'scent sphere'.
I can never tire of gazing at Cavalieri's 'china doll' face. Makes you wonder what the woman herself would think of it all, were she alive to see it. (Piero Fornasetti discovered her image in a 19th Century French Magazine).
Fornasetti Scented Candles range from £115 - £390, Incense Kit is priced at £145, Scent Spheres are £295.00, Incense Sticks (Refill) (80 sticks) are £45.00; Scented Crystals (Refill) are £65.00
Available at: Selfridges (London) - 0800 123 400 / www.selfridges.com
Harrods - 020 7730 1234 / www.harrods.com
Amara – www.amara.com
For more details visit www.fornasetti.com