November 21 2011
Lucia van der Post
When one of our most enterprising purveyors of all things fragrant, creamy and beautifying – in other words, Nicky Kinnaird, founder of Space NK – decides to launch her very own range of bath products, it is certainly worth looking at.
After all, she has spent more years than one could count immersed in the world of unguents and oils, and to pit her creations up against those she’s been selling all this time takes a lot of gumption. “I just felt it was time to celebrate a certain sort of Britishness,” she says. “I wanted the products to have something of the British love of the avant-garde as well as its love of tradition, and I wanted them to be truly luxurious.”
A combination of deluxe and bohemian, she calls the range Beautannia, and she attempts to capture three quintessentially British smells. There’s Bloomsbury, for instance, forever associated with the Bloomsbury Group that included Virginia Woolf, John Maynard Keynes, Lytton Strachey and Vanessa Bell – a world where the intellectual elite and the fashion world collided. And so the soft notes of pimento, orange and neroli remind us of the freshness of garden squares in the early mornings, while the more sultry notes of oud, geranium and sandalwood hint at the sensuality that shimmered beneath the surface.
For Brideshead, she had in mind a rural Arcadia, a world of rosy-cheeked children, scented gardens and English manor houses, and she uses wild bluebell and honeysuckle with plum, peach and violet leaves to capture what she calls “the floral essence of quintessential England”. Finally, there is Balfour, an invigorating scent inspired by the “wild and bracing Scottish Highlands”. She uses English fern and birch leaf with oak moss, vetiver and copaiba balsam to capture “the dewy green scent of the great British outdoors”.
Each of the three fragrances is incorporated into six products, of which five are for the bath and body – bath and shower gel (£30, first picture), bath oil (£42), body lotion (£35, first picture), body cream (£42), soap (£15) – and the sixth is a scented candle (£35, second picture).
So far so lovely, but what makes this line different from others is that Kinnaird has used Azzi Glasser, one of Britain’s up-and-coming noses (she did the fragrance for Agent Provocateur), to add “the sort of complex blends normally found in eau de parfum”. Then, the body lotion and the body cream have polypeptides in their formulations, and beauty addicts will know that these have powerful skin-firming qualities and stimulate cell renewal. They’re all free of parabens, sulphates and other “nasties”, and come in classy simple bottles.