When it comes to romantic perfumery, things really don't get much better than Lalique. The founder René Lalique is arguably responsible for the jewel-like perfume bottles that surround us today – our dressing tables have a lot to thank him for. He pretty much invented the concept of the “beautiful perfume bottle”, as opposed to the plain, medicinal style vessels fragrance used to be kept in. René was already a world-famed designer (considered the best Art Nouveau jewellery and glassware artisan in the world) before his neighbour Francois Coty approached him to create a bottle to go with one of his fragrances - and the rest is history. Thanks to Lalique's flair, perfume bottles became exquisite keepsakes, that people coveted as much as the contents.
For Nina Ricci’s L’Air du Temps – René’s son Marc created the famous bottle with its iconic stopper bearing the beautiful doves of peace (to commemorate the end of WWII) which he designed in collaboration with Robert Ricci. Over the years, Lalique branched out to create fragrances of their own, which have proved as huge a hit as their dazzling glass designs. (Their Fleur de Cristal is exquisite - and perfect for anyone after a delicate bridal scent.)
We paid a visit to their Mayfair boutique on Conduit Street which houses all of their beautiful glassware and fragrances – including their latest offering - Les Compositions Parfumées. These are five highly concentrated scents, each inspired by a precious metal or alloy (‘metallic perfumes’ seem to be huge deal at the moment). Our particular favourite is Floral Bronze – a floral scent for those who don’t normally like florals. Luckily there’s nothing “grannyish” about this one – opening with tart rhubarb and zesty bergamot, echoing the coolness of the metal, while the rich heart of jasmine sambac combined with smoky vetiver and rich patchouli gives it some guts. Another winner is Spicy Electrum, a cool spicy number with pink peppercorn, ginger, moss and cardamom (the perfect Father’s Day gift if ever there was one).
And from their main line, they’ve recently launched Rêve d’Infini (complete with Pinterest-worthy keepsake bottle). It’s a pretty melody of freesia, rose and peach underscored with musk and cedarwood. But if you’re looking to invest in a future heirloom, they also offer collectible crystal flacons produced as a limited edition. Their latest offering bears a Medusa-like serpent design and contains their beloved floral-vanilla fragrance Lalique de Lalique (yours for a cool £1.2k).
Personally, I like their candles above all. At a more budget-friendly £58, each one is inspired by exotic places - and scents - from around the world - hence the collection’s name: Voyage de Parfumeur ("The Perfumer’s Journey"). Their latest offering is Le Volcan, which focuses on Maui in Hawaii. It’s not the pretty, dreamy type of fragrance one would normally associate with this heavenly corner of the globe. Instead, it’s inspired by the volcanic activity, which resulted in the island’s creation. What you get is a rich concoction of cinnamon, brown sugar and bitter orange – which combine to create a festive feel that you don’t have to wait until December to appreciate.
If you find yourself in Mayfair with time to kill, I’d definitely suggest stepping into their boutique and checking them out – don’t be intimidated by the shiny interiors and besuited staff, everyone in there is very friendly and the designs are as beautiful as anything you might find in the V&A.
Lalique is located at 47 Conduit Street, London W1S 2YP -020 7292 0444