HONEYSUCKLE BY MOONLIGHT
WALK PAST A HONEYSUCKLE BUSH in the dimming light and you’ll smell a very different flower than in the daytime: richer, creamier and more intoxicating. It’s a sweet-smelling survival strategy designed to attract the moths that distribute the pollen from the flower’s pale gold trumpets, and has always intrigued master perfumer Anne Flipo, the creative ‘nose’ behind floral hits such as Chloé Love Story, Ralph Lauren Woman and L’artisan Parfumeur La Chasse Aux Papillons. ‘I have a hedge of wild honeysuckle in my garden – it’s honeyed and fruity during the day and even more addictive at night, reminiscent of orange blossom or jasmine, but with a hint of rose,’ she says. ‘So when Céline Roux, Jo Malone London’s head of global fragrance development, told me she wanted to work with honeysuckle, I jumped at the chance.’ What followed was an adventure that would linger in her memory longer than the headiest bloom, and would lead Anne, Céline and technical perfumer Penelope Bigelow to Westonbirt Arboretum in Gloucestershire – 600 acres of beautifully landscaped trees, shrubs… and dozens of honeysuckle bushes. ‘It was quite a project,’ says Anne. ‘There are hundreds of species, and we’d already tested as many as we could. We took our time, searching for the most radiant scent. And then we found it – Lonicera periclymenum. But while it had the fruity floralcy we’d been looking for, the sensual element was missing.’ Over dinner, a plan took shape. ‘We knew we’d get what we needed now the sun had gone down, and we had the code that would let us into the arboretum,’ says Anne. ‘Céline ordered a bottle of Champagne and three glasses, and we made our way back.’
Like other delicate blooms, such as lily of the valley and peony, honeysuckle doesn’t respond well to steam distillation, one of the traditional methods used to extract scented oils for perfumery. Instead, Penelope used a technology known as Headspace to capture the molecules floating around the honeysuckle, with a system of airtight glass pods, gasses and resin. Later, they would be analysed, recreated in the lab and blended to make the new cologne (if you’ve ever smelled a perfume with abstract or unusual notes – bookshops or basmati rice, for example – or botanicals that are too rare to be harvested, it’s likely that Headspace was involved).
For the hour it took to capture the molecules, Anne, Céline and Penelope enjoyed the moonlit peace of the arboretum – and their Champagne, which, adds Anne, had settled at the ideal temperature in the cool June night. ‘Everything was perfect – a reminder of how important it is to seize the moment. I can sense the joy of that night whenever I smell Honeysuckle & Davana, and I hope that others will, too.’
£94: rich, radiant, and alive with happiness.