There’s currently a heady atmosphere pervading the shiny black marble and frosted Lalique panels of Harrods’ newly restored, Grade II-listed Perfumery Hall, as precious new scents with a distinct oriental promise are wafting in – ready for summer’s gift-giving season. Great excitement is being generated in particular by English-born, Paris-based perfume house Creed – which, since 1760, has counted Napoleon III, Queen Victoria, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, Churchill and Grace Kelly among its illustrious clientele – as Olivier Creed and his son, Erwin, the current noses, have created a fragrant tribute to London’s most iconic emporium.
Millessime 1849 (£225 for 75ml) refers to the year when Charles Henry Harrod moved to Knightsbridge to set up what would become the world’s most famous emporium. With citrus freshness warming to jasmine, cedar and lingering powdery woods, this rich, sweet, aromatic fragrance evokes the old era’s opulence and élan.
But this is also an appositely modern composition. For in keeping with the season, oud – Agarwood oil traditional to the finest Middle Eastern perfumes – lends an exquisite vibrancy to the mix. “Pure Middle Eastern oud can be ‘animalic’, which is difficult for European tastes,” Erwin Creed observes. “So we used vanilla to make it lighter and more feminine.” The result is an olfactory rapprochement between traditional and modern, east and west.
All the “premier cru” oils used for Millessime 1849 are sourced from harvests with the finest yields, which poses something of a problem. “I don’t know if we can make more next year,” Creed confides. “A synthetic oud wouldn’t be as interesting. Quality and quantity aren’t always compatible.” For now, just 2,000 bottles await in the Perfumery Hall. It seems 1849 reflects a very good year.