Strangely, for all my love of perfume bottles, ephemera and absolute respect for the “noses” who put perfume together, I don’t really do fragrance. At least not on myself. I’ve never fallen for a perfume enough to want to have it follow me around 24/7, and all the heady French ones with the seductive you-will-be-the-ultimate-woman packaging and marketing campaigns don’t suit my sensitive nose. But when it comes to home fragrance, it’s another story. I’m completely promiscuous.
My latest find, Cochine Saigon, comes courtesy of the east. While much that is negative has been written about Chinese commerce in recent years, I’m pleased there are eastern luxury success stories (Cochine is based in Hong Kong). To me, the likes of Hong Kong and Vietnam – the latter the inspiration for the Cochine range – are the absolute antithesis of European life, and sometimes (especially when one is at home writing at a computer screen) this is exactly what is called for.
So I was pleased when a friend who works in Shanghai sent me one of a range of new scented candles she’d spotted at a party. Cochine’s founder, Kate Crofton-Atkins, launched the company (which also does reed diffusers and hand and body lotion) last year after moving first to Vietnam and then Hong Kong, and the range is concerned with faithfully representing the smells and natural products of Vietnam.
The result – at least in my Agarwood & Amber scented candle (£45) – is extraordinary: totally romantic, warm and enveloping, absolutely the essence of international travel, where the first thing that hits you as you walk off a plane is the local scent. I can’t wait to try their new Frangipani & Neroli fragrance – which I hope will remind me of my parents’ recently sold Cypriot garden that used to house my very own frangipani tree.