Imagine a gulp of swallows viewed from, let’s say, level 37 of 20 Fenchurch Street, where spires and rooftops both ancient and modern appear only in the hazy distance. It’s impossible, of course, since even a prize carrier pigeon would probably eschew those dizzy heights. But this is the perfume world, where fancy takes flight and tradition takes a futuristic turn.
Such winged ballet is the inspiration for Living Lalique (from £69 for 50ml EDP), the latest fragrance from the Parisian glass artists as renowned for their art-deco crystal bottles as for the beautifully faceted scents that now fill them. Powdery iris is the defining note, evoking the easy elegance of modern urban luxury and soaring above its creamy cedarwood bed. Perfumer Richard Ibanez, who selected Iris pallida – or Florentine iris, one of perfumery’s most noble ingredients – for its sparkling freshness, also sprinkled it with black pepper and bergamot zest for sheer élan before the dreaminess warms through.
To do justice to the exquisite Extrait de Parfum, there is a collector’s edition (£9,500 for 120ml, pictured) of 12 bottles decorated with gold leaf, two of which are available in the UK: one at Lalique’s Conduit Street boutique and the other in the Salon de Parfums at Harrods. Four master glassmakers worked together to handcraft each bottle, while a further five fashioned the iris-embossed stopper. To highlight the art-deco swallows (the scent’s presiding spirits, which adorn the bottle’s quadrants) with 22.5ct gold, Lalique commissioned Ateliers Gohard, famous for gilding the Statue of Liberty’s flame and the dome and cupola of L’Hôtel des Invalides. The crystal bottles are signed and numbered before being sealed and bound with fine gold thread.
As a final touch of genius, their diamond-shaped, white lacquered wooden coffrets – inspired by René Lalique’s jewel boxes – conceal their own jewellery compartments in the base. Indeed a fragrance for those with a head for heights and a signature scent that lingers in the lift…