Perfume hoarders, rejoice – Alexander McQueen’s luxurious new perfumes have finally hit beauty shelves in the UAE. A curated collection of eight sumptuous scents ranging from intense woods to delicate florals and a few smoky surprises, it’s inspired by high fashion, haute perfumery, and the mysterious beauty of nature.
Each beautiful bottle is bursting with the finest ingredients and raw materials coming together to form the perfect blend of innovation, tradition, and heritage. The only problem? Choosing just one, of course. Not only did Savoir Flair get to whiff all eight before anyone else (someone has to, right?), but we also discovered what inspired the top noses behind each one. Discover the unique olfactory creations, here, and convince yourself that you need a new scent.
Created by perfumer Yann Vasnier, ‘Amber Garden’ is a soothing, warm oriental rich in vibrant spices such as cardamom, cinnamon, and nutmeg. The next best thing to wrapping yourself in a comforting blanket, it takes you on a journey to an imaginary garden filled with amber trees.
What was your inspiration for this scent?
The captivating allure of golden amber. Perfumers have used ambergris in the past, but we do not use the resin. I wanted to recreate that feeling – a luminous concentrate of life petrified in balsams. Also, I have always been fascinated by the Amber Room story from Prussia to Russia. Six tons of amber, golden leaves, mirrors, and polished wooden floors were destroyed during World War II, although there are still mysteries and rumors today about this lost treasure.
What was your process for selecting the ingredients?
This fragrance was constructed from the base note. I started with the blend of balsams: incense, styrax, benzoin tears, cistus, vanilla beans, and leather. Then I merged it with rich woods [fir balsam, vetiver, patchouli, and Atlas cedarwood] before introducing the light from the back with amber crystal notes and musks. Finally, I ended with the opening top note composed of citruses and spices.
Describe the scent in three words.
Glowing, mysterious, layered.
“My fragrances reveal more about me than I can express in words,” says Nadège Le Garlantezec, the perfumer behind this delicate rosy scent. Inspired by the Celtic rose compass used to guide travelers safely as they explored the world, it beautifully captures the scent of rain-drenched petals and a precious flower protected by spicy, peppery ‘thorns’.
Why did you choose to center the scent around rose?
Rose symbolizes timelessness, but also England, Alexander McQueen’s homeland. In this fragrance, the rose is quirky, like English people sometimes… It’s an English garden in the early morning: a light mist rises, a beautiful and mysterious rose is shrouded in a haze of narcotic vapor.
What types of rose did you use?
I chose to use three different qualities of rose in order to create the utmost flower. Rose oil from Bulgaria, rose absolute, and Rose Natsource extract.
Why is this perfume so special to you?
It was my first collaboration with McQueen, and it was a really exciting experience to express its world through scent as it has always fascinated me. Poetic, romantic, so British, and very dandy.
Tea addicts, this one’s for you. Capturing the smoky scent of Lapsang Souchong, with its leathery and soft floral notes, perfumer Domitille Michalon Bertier also used velvety flowers from the Osmanthus tree to create her exotic infusion. “I wanted to pay a tribute to mighty nature with an ingredient considered to have magical power: the osmanthus. This flower is a symbol of immortality and has been used in long-life potions for centuries.”
Osmanthus is a natural Chimera. Innocent in appearance, it reveals to the nose a surprising leathery and addictive floral note. I like its multifaceted character. Also, I was charmed by its association with the “flower of immortality” in mythology.
How would you describe the scent?
I chose to surround the unique floral, leathery scent of osmanthus with a hypnotizing cloud of smoke through an unexpected Lapsang Souchong tea note. Its smoky yet soft, vegetal tones are beautified by the musky iridescent floral notes of ambrette seeds, echoing the luminous top notes of petitgrain. In the dry down, cashmeran offers a sensual woody vibration to this olfactive trompe l’oeil.
What makes the perfume so unique?
I have to say this perfume is unique because I made the creation very personal. For example, I went to smell a lot of different black teas to choose the precise one that I wanted to recreate in this perfume. I have been able to create with great freedom, and the result is a perfume I am very proud to wear and smell.
“I’m fascinated by powerful fragrant trails; short and simple formulas that get straight to the point,” explains Nicolas Beaulieu, the man behind this seriously sultry and seductive scent. A modern declaration of love, it’s intense and hypnotic – a fiery a blast of emotion ignited by gunpowder and red pimento accords alongside red lilies.
What inspired this fragrance?
Some time ago, I discovered the work of Ori Gersht and the “explosion of still life floral bouquets” in his series, Blow Up. Since then, I had the idea of creating an olfactive explosive flower, a surprising association of a lily and a gunpowder accord.
Why did you choose the red lily?
Red lilies have a very powerful smell, both addictive and intoxicating. They’re also a symbol of power and royalty… very McQueen to me! A couple of years ago, the Laboratoires Monique Rémy launched a new natural ingredient, Ylang Heart LMR. It’s a refined and innovative molecular distillation of ylang-ylang blossoms, containing a very high proportion of ylang spicy notes and much less of the animalic facette. When I smelled Ylang Heart LMR, it immediately reminded me of the smell of red lilies.
How did you go about selecting the ingredients?
I selected the best quality of natural ingredients in link with my original idea of creating an explosive flower. I kept in mind that I wanted ingredients that felt ‘red’ for their smell, like cinnamon bark and pink pepper, for example.
The next scent takes us straight to the sea’s shores, where Pierre Négrin captured the fresh, salty scent of the sea air with a unique aquatic creation. “My idea was to recreate the scent of a cliff flower just a few minutes after a storm. Hanging on rock and leaning over the void, it becomes a point of shock between the wind, the sea, and the rocks when the storm arises”.
How would you describe this woody aquatic scent?
While a fresh breeze of coastal accord embraces the perfume with its salty notes, a combination of eucalyptus, everlasting flower, cypress, and cistus labdanum offer mineral and aromatic shades to the composition.
Why the Everlasting flower?
The Everlasting flower is a truly fascinating plant, really powerful. Exposed to the strengths of wind gusts and rinsed off by the waves that hit the cliff wall, it persistently resists to the ardor of a temperamental environment. It’s all fluffy and almost seems fragile, but is indeed truly resistant.
How would you describe this fragrance?
Signed, elementary, contrasted, and reminiscent of great memories near the sea.
We now journey to Egypt, where Christophe Raynaud sought inspiration for his papyrus perfume. A symbol of life used for protection and strength in Ancient Egyptian times, this primal, earthy plant grows deep in the saturated mud on the banks of the Nile, and – when combined with juicy blackcurrant buds – makes for an energizing and intense scent.
Why were you drawn to the Papyrus flower?
I love to use Papyrus wood in my compositions as it has a very woody and animalic scent. The Papyrus flower is ephemeral, and its scent is kind of mysterious for me. I thought it would be interesting to imagine the smell of the delicate flower that blooms on a plant well-known for its dark notes in perfumery. Playing a ‘clair-obscur’ game, I selected natural ingredients to recreate this extraordinary flower. I associate papyrus-wood essence [also called cypriol] with musky and floral modern elements.
What makes this flower interesting to use in fragrance?
Cypriol is an interesting raw material to use in fragrance as it combines the elegance of woody notes and the textural attraction of leather. It’s a multifaceted raw material – woody, ambery, smoky, animalic. Really rich, with uncommon power and magnetism. To create the Papyrus-flower note, I balanced this deep profile with transparent floral and musky notes.
Describe the scent in three words.
Addictive, contrasted, comfortable.
“From the very beginning, I felt a burning desire for creation that led me on the path to perfumery,” reveals Sonia Constant, whose passion for travel has given her an open-minded, curious attitude and a rich source of ideas when it comes to creating fragrance – including the intoxicating ‘Luminous Orchid’.
Alexander McQueen is known for collections inspired by the beauty of nature, blending tradition with new techniques. How does this fragrance reflect this unique universe?
During my travels to the Khao Sok National Park
These unique and almost organic moving shapes created by the light reminded me of little natural creatures coming to life. I loved the idea of an opulent-smelling flower looking like an animal. I thought it blended really well with the McQueen universe. Regarding the new technology, I used a new captive called Anjeruk. The smell reminds of wasabi, sesame, and juicy mandarin at the same time. It gives a completely new top note and brings modernity to the fragrance.
How would you describe this fragrance?
This is a new gourmand as it is both sweet and salty, and based on cereals’ addiction – roasted barley and sesame absolute. This is not a caramel, fruity candy addiction that you’d find in any fragrance.
What inspired this scent?
A burning red orchid strongly contrasted by light. My will was to magnify the opulence of the flower with roasted coffee and sesame – a glorious orchid baptized by fire.
“As I love paintings, I am very sensitive to colors. When creating this fragrance, I was inspired by a beautiful green emerald,” explains perfumer Caroline Dumur. It’s, therefore, no surprise that inside this beautiful green bottle, you’ll find a scent bursting with green, vegetal notes – including vetiver moss and orris root that evokes the feeling of walking across windswept moors surrounded by verdant shrubs and plants.
How were you inspired by the house of Alexander McQueen?
Firstly, I am a huge fan of Sarah Burton and fashion in general. I built ‘Vetiver Moss’ as the house designs its collections – fusing a luminous green start embroidered on dark, mysterious woods. Moreover, the perfume brings classic chypre patterns and structure contrasted by modern and updated traditional ingredients, such as vetiver MD and patchouli heart that were obtained by new distillation techniques [molecular and fractional distillations].
What drew you to vetiver?
When thinking about the brief, I looked to ingredients that smelled ‘green’ to me. I love to work like this, associating colors with smells, because it helps me find innovative ideas! Vetiver, with its luminous but deep character, immediately stood out – even more because when you pronounce its name in French, it contains the sonority vert, meaning green. I also loved the fact that this rooty plant is like a green labyrinth running underground.
What makes this scent so unique and modern?
To me, what makes it modern is that it’s an ancient chypre structure updated with a very contemporary green addiction. It reminds me of fashion, when vintage clothes can be remastered as avant-garde designer pieces decades after the original creation. It’s like a perpetual restart, with hints of ultra-modernity. I would also say that patchouli, the great amount of vetiver, and the woman/man ambiguity make it even more modern.