PERFUME OF THE SEASON
PASHMINA & MUL
Fall - Winter
The fragrance for fall-winter season simulates the scent of a warm cashmere shawl with hints of narcotic lotus, violets, lilacs, animalic musk and sandalwood. The inspiration for such a warm, airy-cotton, woolly-velvety musk-perfume comes from Sylvia Houghteling's indepth essay on the significance of elite garments, textiles and pashmina shawls of the Mughal era. Our latest multi-sensory project Bagh-e Hind explores among other aspects, the sensation of luxurious garments, shawls, textiles covering bolsters, wool and silk carpets depicted in 17th century Mughal miniature paintings.
Image: Hunting coat and cotton jama, Mughal dynasty, India, ca. 1620–30. Embroidered satin with silk, V & A Museum
Winter - Spring - Summer
The sultry-sweet scent of fresh-cut tuberoses in a vase over the kitchen counter. Placed next to it, is a crate of ripe mangoes, the fragrance of fleshy fruit in combination with floral blossoms promise a slow and leisurely summer.
This visual and sensual cue prompted the Perfume of the Season for Winter 2020 - Spring 2021. Some time in the summer of 2020, curator Seher Ali Shah sent me a photograph of her summer kitchen in Karachi, as we indulged in the joy of familiar scents and smells over Twitter with scholar Nicolas Roth. I had just published my interview with Roth on his research concerning Mughal gardening techniques and Seher responded with this beautiful image that had me captivated! Over the following months, I worked on a decadent formulation emptying out every bit of precious extract I had: Tuberose, sandalwood, tonka bean, jasmine sambac, oudh, ambergris...! Seher's photograph and our conversation about the cultural contexts of tuberose and mango is on our Journal.
The resulting oil based perfume, maturing over 3 months, can be described as such: A fruity, lush, synthetic mango lifts this perfume out of its dense resinous-woody darkness to airy green notes of familiar spice (nutmeg, bay leaf, cinnamon, coriander, and vanilla).
Gul Ishaboor is a limited edition fragrance available in 8ml hand blown glass bottles as a perfume oil concentrate. The Gul Ishaboor Synesthesia Box is also available with iterations of the perfume as incense, chocolate, soap and bath scrub.
Summer; available as EDP, EDT, Perfume oil
Mosambi is a cheerful summer perfume offered only as an Attar (oil concentrate). The burst of citrus, fruity and floral accords playfully hark back to memories of summers past and the calls of street vendors hawking freshly squeezed juice to thirsty passers-by. As the sugary-tangy top notes fade, the green coolness of North Indian Vetiver lingers for a while longer.
This fragrance encapsulates the smells of my mother’s summer kitchen when alphonso mangoes are in season and it’s time to make the classic Sindhi murbo (jam). Mangoes are cooked patiently in jaggery with cardamom pods, saffron strands and a cinnamon stick. Top notes of saffron instantly give way to heart and base notes of cassia, cardamom and a multi-dimensional fruit blend that is one moment reminiscent of juicy overripe mango, the next, a pineapple, kiwi or orange. Sweet, sometimes overpowering but always pleasant, this particular fragrance is a memory made solid.
This dream of a fragrance has been formulated with a rare and elusive extract of Parijat flowers, known in traditional Indian perfumery as ‘Attar Harsringar’. This delicately scented night blooming Parijat is referred to as ‘Ornament of the Gods’, while the tree itself is believed to be descended from the heavens. In Hindu mythology, Lord Krishna battled Indra, the King of Heaven, in order to bring the Parijat tree to Earth. In several folk tales, these fragrant flowers are said to attract amorous Jinns, and soothe aching hearts. Divinely fragrant and narcotic, this perfume is blended with pure extracts of jasmine Sambac, jasmine grandiflorum, rose, marigold, sandalwood, oud, saffron and vetiver. At its base is a musk note lent by a beeswax extract that has been slowly developed over eight months.
What Patrons say:
“The Kesari Parijat has a heady floral spicy essence with smoky undertones. Perfect for winter. The packaging is lovely especially the darling silver box! Great customer service. “ Farhana, Qatar
Summer - Monsoon
In the absence of Spring and harsh onslaught of the Indian summer, the cooling scent of Mitti is the perfect perfume for this season. A petrichor accord, Mitti holds the familiar scent of the ozone just before a thunderstorm. This is the fragrance of the first raindrops on parched earth.
Traditional Mitti attar, produced over a century in India, involves the distillation of clay onto a base of Mysore sandalwood oil, Ours is an accord created from scratch with natural extracts. Tuberose absolute and rose absolute give this fragrance a green pungent opening that seconds later leads to wet grassy notes of cyperus and patchouli, riffing on the dampness of a forest floor. Smell the rose and the tuberose blossoms but also inhale their dark bodies whole: green fleshy stems, buds, thorns, with indolic notes of overripe sweet nectar intermingled with the scent of death and decomposition of bees and insects on a soothing bed of sandalwood and lavender absolute.
Mitti is a limited edition fragrance matured over three months and is also available in 8ml stoppered bottles (pictured) and solid perfume in silver and brass compacts. A Mitti Synesthesia Box is in the works. The solid perfume is set in a special blend of beeswax and tuberose concrete.
Head to our SHOP and select 'Solid Perfume' or 'Extrait de Parfum' that comes in our gorgeous handmade glass bottle.
Read more about INDOLE:
Nuri McBride: The Chemistry of Death and Desire
Victoria Frolova: Indole, Indolic: Perfume Vocabulary & Fragrance Notes
What Patrons say:
I just got my package! I cannot even begin to tell you how excited I am and how incredibly evocative your work is. It smelled like home and India the minute I opened the box, the Gul Ishboor Incense is astonishing and the Mitti perfume is what I’ve been looking for for so long. It’s strong, classic, ancient and yet it has this vitality and potential that is exactly what I’m looking for. I feel like static building up and greenery when I have it on - it is STUNNING!
It’s also 100% me and there’s something very Indian about it. This is the closest thing I have to a signature scent and I know I’ll be wearing this daily from now on. Thank you so much for making this come to life.
Ciara P, Artist, Canada
A dark gourmand fragrance that captures the warmth and intensity of Nutmeg. Perfect for the fall season, this natural solid perfume set in a silver ‘heart’ concentrates on the floral and animalic facets of the Southeast Asian spice. Tuberose, Champaca and Black Pepper hover over hot, slightly sweet mid-notes of Oud, Tonka Bean, and Nutmeg Butter. Wood, musk, smoke and volcanic ash-notes in this tenacious perfume seek to transport the wearer to the origin of Nutmeg–the tropical forests of Banda Islands in a time before the intoxicating spice sparked colonial trade wars in the 1600s.
BAGH E HIND
This perfume imagines the scent of a 17th century Mughal garden in full bloom. Overwhelming sweetness of fruit and honey are tempered with a floral accord. A perfect summer time fragrance that induces daydreams of abundant splendor: bees buried in marigold and jasmine, parrots digging into overripe mangoes and strutting peacocks amid lush green flora.
Honeyed aroma of traditional rice pudding. Aged Saffron extract has been used generously in this fragrance which envelopes the sharpness of Cardamom, releasing sweet, velvety notes for hours. Hints of Tea Rose and almond appear now and then, balancing the depth of saffron like a light summer breeze. This auspicious fragrance will transport you to the festivities and feasts of Navroz, Eid or Diwali.
Filter Kaapi captures the classic aroma of dark-roasted Arabica coffee that one can reliably enjoy at old South Indian joints. This incredible scent will take you there–you can almost taste the steaming, frothy milky, bitter coffee alongside spicy Masala Dosa!
Spring-Summer/ All Seasons
This perfect combination of saffron, citrus and rose, will remind you of the classic Gulab Sherbet or ‘Rooh Afza’ syrup commonly poured on ice-cream, falooda, or crushed ice ‘gola’ that many of us enjoyed in our childhood to beat the summer heat.
Summer/ All Seasons
Inspired by the world-famous herbal liqueur made from a secret blend of 130 herbs, Litrahb Perfumery's version of Green Chartreuse approximates this storied elixir made by Carthusian monks since 1737. Distinguished by its bright green colour just like the liqueur, our perfume is as fresh, delicate and light as mist. Litrahb Perfumery’s 7th gourmand fragrance has soft, green, herbal and sweet-citrus notes, lent by vetiver, licorice, bergamot.
What Patrons say:
Chartreuse perfume first intrigues visually, with its tender translucent green, recalling timid shoots of late-winter vegetation. Its scent is equally subtle, and like the winter-spring transition, is full of promise, hopefully looking ahead. Fresh, dewy, youthful, wearing it gives me a spring in my step.
Dr. iola Lenzi
Historian & Curator
Contemporary Southeast Asian art
Old-timey lemon drops that are the archetype of sweet and sour! Carry this nostalgic scent around as a solid perfume in a pillbox of your choice to satisfy your sugar cravings from time to time. After all, a dominant percentage of what we perceive as taste is in fact smell! Herein are notes that capture the sourness of lemon and the sweetness of sugar with hints of lime, orange, grapefruit and even tobacco!
What Patrons say:
Picture a lovely house with pink walls hanging onto a cliff in Capri. Picture its walled garden filled with blossoming lemon trees. Picture a young man as he greets you and lets you into his kitchen, whilst making limoncello. Picture an acidulous lemon, freshly grated. Picture a sweet amber you'd wrap into like a cashmere scarf. Lemon Candy is exactly what you'd imagine - and the opposite. Sugary but not jammy, ambery but showcasing dry tobbaco-ey undertones. If you're not into citrus scents, you might quite like this one. And if you've always thought lemon can't be worn in winter...well my friend, you might have to think again.
Alexander Helwani, Perfumer & Playwright
Summer/ All Seasons
This perfume is based on the summer special ‘Khus Sherbet’ flavour. Its green and citrus notes are amplified to highlight facets of lime, lemon and sour plums. A perfect summer scent that effortlessly scintillates the wearer.
This special edition gourmand perfume for Spring brings together two traditional fragrant ingredients–Rose and Cardamom. Used in food flavouring and perfumery since time immemorial, the combined aromatic facets of these classic South Asian ingredients create a powerful fragrance full of contrasts. The sharp notes of Rose Absolute against the green citrus notes of cardamom are smoothed by the creaminess of sandalwood and ‘mitti’ (earth, the smell of soil after the first monsoon-rains).
What Patrons say:
I’d never tried solid perfume before, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. Now I can’t get enough of it! Earthy and herbal and subtle, it sets a whole mood. It’s aromatic rather than sweet, but not musk-y. I feel fresh and fragrant. I love when people sniff me and then try and guess the scent. They never can because it’s like nothing they’ve ever experienced before. But they know they love...and I do too! - Deesha Philyaw, Author of The Secret Lives of Church Ladies, USA
If romantic love has a scent, it's an old garden rose. I grow heritage roses in my garden and they are so potent that one cut blossom can fill a whole room with scent. Unlike insipidly sweet, overbred tea roses, old garden roses are strong, sharp and spicy, too. This perfume captures those flowers, the kind of tough climber that blooms only once a year and insistently fills your garden with the heady, spicy, sweet scent of true love. -Maia Rossini, Author, New Jersey
The limited edition rose and cardamon perfume I received was beautifully packaged with personal attention and well exceeded my expectations. The scent is complex, luxurious and multilayered. It lasts all day and remains as beautiful and delicate. I have received so many compliments on it! I look forward to trying the other perfumes in the collection! - Elena LaDue, USA
A profound fragrance that evolves over time. Once diffused on your skin, a warm mild citrus note almost instantly flits away only to appear later on a whim. The ‘smoke’, a characteristic lent by cedarwood, vetiver, sandalwood and petrichor, clouds over the vanilla. Once the smoke clears, the vanilla forgoes its silence and begins its gentle hum. Don’t mistake this scent for the toothless synthetic vanilla essence commonly found across stores. Smoked Vanilla is a richly layered construct of smooth, mildly sweet-smokey-earthy textures with a muted citrus halo.
A radiant fragrance of fresh cilantro, mint & coriander, combined with lime & ginger. This herbal, citrus scent captures the unmistakable perfume of freshly chopped cilantro leaves; a lime top-note pops on your skin, eventually giving way to the warmth of ginger and coriander seeds elevated by the sharpness of black pepper. A genderless fragrance, Green Chutney is subtle but intriguing in its balance between savoury, citrus and spice.
What patrons say:
I have known Bharti as an art critic but when she invited me for a special smell session at her studio in Pune, I was surprised to see how seamlessly she has transitioned into the complex world of perfumery. Among her signature solid perfumes, I had commissioned her to create Green Chutney as a wedding gift for a friend. It came in a silver box and hand stitched silk pouch. Oddly, I never gifted it and kept it for myself. Every time I apply it transports me to my favourite monsoon mood of rains and fried finger food. It travels with me in my tote bag no matter where I go, be it a local jaunt or an international trip! – Abhinit Khanna, Art Consultant, Bombay
Bharti's gourmand fragrances are always perfectly balanced. Scents like Green Chutney and Lemon Candy straddle the fine line between nostalgic and innovative, cleverly retaining their familiarity but also surprising with their playfulness. – Sheena Maria Piedade, Artist and Editor of Lover magazine, Pune
I gave this one as a gift to my nineteen year old son and he inadvertently semi-quoted F. Scott Fitzgerald when he said approvingly, "It smells like money." What I think he meant is that this scent smells expensive and bespoke in all the best ways; green and herbal and sharp and unique. It lingers and reveals its layers of scent throughout the day. Very unisex, very mysterious, very haunting, like an herb garden, wreathed in lime trees, after the rain. – Maia Rossini, USA
An intoxicating fragrance that combines the heady perfume of Jasmine buds or Malli, with the stimulating bitterness of coffee (Kaapi) and spice. Malli-Kaapi can be best described as a dirty-floral, earthy, spicy, sweaty-smokey accord that goes high and low and back again. Its prime ingredients– Jasmine Sambac and Coffee CO2 extracts are fused with a blend of frankincense, South Asian spices and ambery-sweet citrus. This fragrance is meant to take you to the heart of South India’s Margazhi festival (a month long winter celebration devoted to traditional music, poetry and dance). Imagine a world of rustling silk sarees amidst mellifluous music, the aroma of innumerable jasmine gajras, mouth-watering snacks and filter kaapi being served. Visit our ‘Journal‘ to view our recipe for the Edible Perfume version of Malli-Kaapi (for sale through perfumer JK DeLapp’s Etsy). Malli Kaapi is a limited edition, made only on request.
Spring/ All Seasons
This fragrance is based on a family recipe of Mango Chutney that is prepared in the summer. Savoury and sweet, this perfume will delight your senses with familiar spicey notes of nutmeg, cinnamon and clove.