Many artists have taken to Instagram to create awareness of their work. Others, like @donalddrawbertson, have become household names and social media superstars simply by posting to the visual platform. And companies (such as Dior Beauty) are quickly catching on, commissioning artists to create exclusive, branded creations for their feeds. The latest label to jump on the virtual gallery bandwagon: Creed. The centuries-old fragrance house teamed up with watercolorist Marta Spendowska to illustrate the forthcoming Acqua Originale collection (launching August 3)—a range of five scents inspired by Olivier Creed’s travels. Spendowska began dabbling in art as a young child growing up in Poland, copying images of Communist leaders like Lenin and Stalin from calendars her father brought home (the only photographs available in the country at the time). She has since moved on to lighter and brighter subjects, recently wrapping a three-month-long project where she produced 100 portraits of women in fashion (search the hashtag #100FashionGirls). As for her newest gig with Creed, she focused not on catwalkers’ sharp cheekbones, but the architectural angles of perfume bottles, combining her “love for landscape and watercolor in a representative way.” And if one was to think about the parallels between perfumery and Spendowska’s painting, this partnership makes perfect sense. Similar to how perfume transforms on skin, so too does watercolor. “I love suspense and imperfection,” she noted. “I’ve played with acrylics and oils, but the moment I see them just sitting on the canvas, I get bored. I need a reaction on paper.”
Spendowska’s first illustration will post to Creed’s account (@creedboutique) on August 3.
It could be said that fashion is as much a study in mimicry as it is in inventing something new. The cannage pattern on the Lady Dior handbag was inspired by the canework on the gold Napoleon III-style concert chairs that were routinely set up for Christian Dior’s Haute Couture shows in his salon. And similar to how the French house channeled elements of furniture into a purse, resident perfumer François Demachy replicated the scent inside the aforementioned accessory for his latest addition to the Privée collection: Cuir Cannage. “I wanted it to smell of leather, but there is also [a hint of] lipstick, tissues, and imagination,” he explained of the fragrance. The resident nose combined signature floral notes (like orange blossom, jasmine, rose, and iris) with raw materials, such as birch wood, cade oil (obtained from a juniper tree), and the leaves of the labdanum plant, to produce the “burned,” leather effect. In addition, Demachy relied on modern science and an exclusive new molecule to achieve the unique leather accord. The result of this project, which the perfumer refers to as “recreation” rather than work, is nothing short of an instant olfactory classic.
To spritz or not to spritz, that is the question. Style.com/Arabia critic and perfume industry legend Luca Turin reviews the latest fragrance launches and answers this age-old question.
Name: Montblanc Emblem Notes: Cardamom, violet leaf, wood
When I was a student, on the “try everything once” principle I went spelunking with the university club, a truly miserable experience. I remember only two things: how good it was to see the damp grass and leaden sky of Yorkshire upon climbing out, and the wonderful smell of the old-fashioned acetylene lamps we carried that were strapped to our foreheads.
One of the great wonders of smell is that we can infer the composition of a molecule by smell alone. Acetylene has an unusual triple carbon-carbon bond and it—and all derived compounds—smells, well, acetylenic. In polite fragrance language, the smell is referred to as “violet leaf” so as not to offend sensibilities. Unfortunately, triple bonds are quite chemically reactive, and most have been banned or severely restricted by the ever-watchful authorities. Grey Flannel  and the Original Fahrenheit  made great use of the sharp, metallic tang of triple bonds.
It appears either that one of the violet leaf compounds has escaped regulation or that a perfumer has figured out a way to get the same effect without using them, because the violet leaf note in Emblem is both intense and durable. This is a masculine fragrance, of course, and it comes in a beautiful black bottle that looks like the cap of a titanic fountain pen. On a guy, it would probably be a little too Porsche Design “black is the new black” for my taste. But it will work great on a woman, as a chaser for the nauseating meringues everyone else is doing, and to advertise an unrepentantly dry-eyed disposition.
For another review from Turin’s bimonthly column, click here.
No one does elegant citrus scents quite like Atelier Cologne. The Paris-based fragrance company conceived in New York is forever re-imagining traditional zesty colognes with modern, quirky ingredients, such as basil and rum. The resulting blends are so completely hypnotic that you might want to bathe in them…and now you can. The maison recently introduced its Orange Sanguine Treatment Line composed of a Body and Hair Shower Gel, Moisturizing Body Lotion, and soap. Scented with the same luscious assortment of notes found in its cult favorite Orange Sanguine Cologne—Italian blood orange and red mandarin, Egyptian jasmine, and sandalwood among them—the nourishing range contains natural botanical glycerin to hydrate the skin, while the lotion is further boosted with vitamin-rich apricot kernel oil to defend against free-radical damage. As temperatures soar, consider these refreshing, fruity creations the sensory equivalent of hiking the Amalfi Coast—minus the backpack and blisters.
Denim cutoffs? Check. Patriotic manicure? Check. Bug spray? Ugh…check. Fourth of July is just around the corner, and before heading out to celebrate around the barbecue, a generous misting of mosquito repellent is essential—lest you’re OK with waking up the next morning covered in millions of bites. (Hi, me last year.) And when I didn’t think there could be anything glamorous or luxe about lacing myself liberally with pest poison, Aromaflage, a botanical (read: completely DEET-free) fragrance that doubles as insect repellent, arrived on my desk. With notes of vanilla, citrus, and warm cedarwood, the scent smells fresh and sweet—ideal for cozying up next to your summer fling for some fireworks-gazing. I know what you’re thinking: But doesn’t a fruity fragrance actually attract bloodsucking vermin? Not this one. The essential oils, native to Southeast Asia, are derived from plants and fruits that naturally fend off insects. Bonus: The purse-sized, gold-capped vial looks just like a luxurious eau de parfum—no bulky, bold-lettered bottle here. Needless to say, I’ll be toting around this dual-action eau long after the stars-and-stripes action is over.