What is perfume, if not the infinite promise of allure? And when a bottle is stamped – overtly – with the logo “S&X”, the juice inside has a major promise to fulfil.
Its intentions may be explicit, but this limited edition scent (£95 for 30ml EDP, launching Saturday October 1) has arty pedigree. For S&X is the brainchild of photographer Rankin (co-founder of Dazed & Confused and AnOther magazines, and much admired for his visual frankness) and fragrance designer Azzi Glasser (the sublimely gussety Agent Provocateur is among her scent successes).
Creating a scent was a long-held ambition of Rankin’s. “As a photographer and director, I work in the world of sight and sound. Often my subject matter can involve touch and taste, whether risqué or innocently. So smell can feel like the forgotten sense – one that totally fascinates me,” he says. Meeting Glasser – known for her ability to bottle entire characters, emotions, gestalts – was a convergence of kindred spirits. “We approach what we do in very similar ways: getting to know our subjects, tapping into their personalities and how they want to present themselves to the world,” Rankin observes. Just as he aims to capture life in a single moment, so does Glasser, he believes.
So what of the resulting olfactory snapshot? Glasser describes it as provocative, fearless and wild: “It’s fleeting desire captured in an image, a relationship compressed into a moment.” A heady rush of erotic notes – olibanum, castoreum, leather and jasmine – tells the story of touching bodies, the beauty of skin on skin, she says. Then comes the soft, sustained seduction of Earl Grey tea, incense-like elemi oil, warm woods, amber and musk.
That urgent animalic potency, which subsides into something smoother and fresher (caresses and a shower afterwards, perhaps?), could equally describe a passionate fling or a marriage that lasts a lifetime – it’s a fragrance suffused with ambiguity and intrigue and a very modern take on a classic male scent.
“Azzi took the sensorial aspects of photography and bottled them,” Rankin says. “It’s provocative, naughty and humorous and I love it.” After all, what is S&X without love?