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Nag Champa for Asia Society

Artistic Commission for Asia Society NY: At the close of 2019, the VP for Global Arts and Culture Programs & Director of Asia Society Museum, Tan Boon Hui commissioned Litrahb Perfumery to create a bespoke scent that translated the theme of their inaugural Asia Triennale 2020. The brief for the creation of the fragrance and the twenty gifts for their Patrons was simple: something very Asian that cannot be found in the hot boutiques of New York City.

Perfumer, Bharti Lalwani, drew inspiration from her own experience as a critic who lived in Singapore and worked in the field of Southeast Asian contemporary art. She also looked to traditional perfumery to produce a unique "Nag Champa" fragrance. Over three months, the process involved making tinctures and extracts from scratch and sourcing exquisite silk fabric to hand stitch into pouches. Each gift-pouch included a hand written card that mirrored the Triennale theme "We Do Not Dream Alone" and an artistic concept-note describing the fragrance.

Concept Note:

Litrahb Perfumery drew inspiration from two sources: tales of Ken Dedes, the 13th Century Majapahit Queen, believed to be the embodiment of wisdom and beauty; And 'Ken Dedes' (1975), the germinal Southeast Asian conceptual artwork by Indonesian artist-critic Jim Supangkat. The warmth of Indonesian sandalwood and siamwood give this fragrance a graceful foundation. The base-note composition also includes a handmade betel leaf-resinoid created early in the process, lending it a greenish hue and a seductive hint of areca nut on the wearer.

At the heart of this fragrance is a garland of champa, gardenia, pandan leaves, saffron and star anise. Playing on the tensions between tradition and modernity are the sharp, hot savoury notes of Asian spices - black pepper, saffron, curry leaf, coriander, cardamom and ginger, with contrasting cooling sweet notes of ylang ylang, lemongrass and calamansi lime.

Nag Champa by Litrahb Perfumery is a limited edition fragrance.


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