Season of Mists

We've turned to two classic Miller Harris scents to see in the new season ...

There are many reasons why autumn is my favourite season. Maybe it's my natural Eeyorish propensity for doom and gloom, but there seems to be something cosy and quintessentially English about cloudy, overcast days as opposed to bright blazing sunshine, as nature starts to pack up in time for winter, leaving behind souvenirs of battered leaves and shiny conkers in its wake. Plus I've never been able to relinquish that slow building excitement in the knowledge that Christmas is steadily approaching (even though the actual day itself falls short of expectations).

My love of this melancholic season is shared by Lyn Harrs, which was the inspiration behind her scents La Fumée (smoky woods) and La Pluie (rain).  La Fumée harks back to the perfumer's younger years, when she would stay with her grandparents in Scotland. "Smoke is a fascination and love. It makes me feel at home and secure, which is does for many people subconsciously." When La Fumée is first sprayed on, you're at once overcome by a cloud of Yemeni incense, Guatemalan cardamom and cistus absolute, the latter inspired by the burning cistus bush which Harris had encountered in Southern Spain. "I was lucky to experience them being burnt which is a ritual each year and the smell just hypnotised me. I then set to work capturing its beauty with the cistus as a very important centre piece, fused with all the wonderful Mediterranean garrigue and a fusion of rich wood." The result is a sweet and of course very (very!) smoky scent, which some might find a tad overpowering at first, but leave it to evaporate and it can add an exotic edge to a plain outfit of a t-shirt and jeans. Wear it throughout the day you'll get whiffs of the rich Moroccan cedarwood, cumin and amber - a truly sublime scent.  

La Pluie is a brighter, sweeter character altogether - its heart of fresh white flowers is coaxed out with bergamot, mandarin, jasmine and ylang ylang; but rather than being light and delicate, the deep heart notes echo the sweet, sodden earth after a downpour. "As I have travelled and experienced the different rains in different countries this has allowed me to really understand the depths of this amazing element," Harris explains. "La Pluie is about a tropical rain which you find all around the reunion islands - Mauritius is where I actually created and finalised this formula." So what was behind the decision to create two scents as opposed to a single autumnal fragrance? "I loved the fact that they were both about the elements and that they reflect the contrasting characters of rain and smoke. Where one is wet, exotic, floral and feminine and the other is warm, smoky and sensual. Together they echo the duality of darkness and light, hot and cold, man and woman.

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Lyn Harris founded the Miller Harris perfumery in 2000. (The company is now ran by Robertet with Harris going on to launch her own bespoke line Perfumer H last year.) Of her vision when developing Miller Harris she said, "I want my customers to experience a feeling of nostalgia but also for them to feel like they are experiencing something very special and unique. Entering a perfumery should feel like leaving the rest of the world behind." Throughout each scented journey she takes, it is clear Harris's genuine love of heritage and traditional perfumery is the key to the company's ethos - and also, many would argue the reason behind its success. "What fascinates me most about fragrance is the thought of what it must have been like all those years ago, when the industry was still in its infancy; the thought of Grasse, the home of perfumery, as it was 150 years ago, with all the fields of roses, fields of jasmine. I love the simple power of raw ingredients, how a tiny flower can make such a crucial difference in my creations. And I love the whole process of getting that magical essence, that tiny droplet of life that is so important in the finished product."