Recently, I’ve been getting up with the sun.
I’ll argue it’s a symptom of being busy, stuff to do, but it’s more a case that I sleep in a bedroom which makes all of those Grecian Summer ’19 Instagram photos jealous.
The exterior wall has a large recessed window, high A frame ceilings with beams running across.
A throwback to this part of the house’s past as an 18th century Coach House, plus some questionable late 1960’s planning.
When we - the builders - started work on it, it looked like someone had watched changing rooms on certain stimulants.
Now, it’s the most incredible space all year round and especially so in the morning.
Painted top to toe in that shade of white, the shade of Love Island mani-pedi’s and the work of over zealous Cheshire dentists.
And empty, because bedroom’s should just have a bed and little or nothing else.
Frankly it’s heaven. I sleep far better than I ought, sleep which ends as I smile watching the sun flood in, before dragging my sorry self off to make coffee.
The smile perhaps is more a smize or grimace because of the dawn chorus. This is an area of complete environmental silence 23/7, just that brief 20-40 minutes, where the local birds remind you who is really boss.
Coffee in hand, I consider what I’ll forget to do today, then I walk to grab the paper.
On my walk I encounter old fashioned rose bushes, that peek from iron railings and snake down the side of walls, their beauty is in the tease, from the sun catching and throwing the briefest of scent as I stumble and strut past.
I think that’s such a wonderful thing, not to be bombarded, just a brief and subtle hint. I would say it transports me, but the destination is here, where they belong.
The fragrance I carry in my head all day, it’s stored up there with all of the other significant smells which have featured heavily throughout my life, from my Father’s genius roast Lamb, to, well that’s all too personal to share.
All of these scents exist because there is a purity to them and the act or object they are related to, they aren’t showing off, nor are they filled with bells and whistles. Just beauty.
I have only ever met one person who can do that with simply scent, fragrance, eau de toilette, itself, and that is Lyn Harris of Perfumer H.
Perfumer H we have spoken about before, the easiest way I can explain is that each product is a love affair between ingredients, which balance to create something perfect. Sometimes these are unusual and opposite, or others viewed as traditionally complimentary, but all are used in a totally new way to create that sense of other.
From the countryside and the city, the beach and the street, the field and the park.
It’s worldly, sophisticated and to my mind is a perfect example of what I view as the British take, international, artistic, clever, witty and unafraid, a celebration of beauty and the good things in life.
When I wear Charcoal on a crisp autumnal Mayfair morning, if I close my eyes I could be at the southern most point of Wiltshire’s portion of the Cranborne Chase, driving up and over the hills - eyes open – past from Tollard Royal, heading north towards home as the sky falls towards me, almost bubbling over the horizon.
When I wear it the other way round, it reminds me of that crisp morning in Mayfair, when you look up and the world despite the aging of the year seems filled with possibility
Today, I’m wearing Lyn’s cologne, as I do religiously when the sun is high. I could be in Italy, amongst the lemon groves, instead I’m here, looking out and then walking through my garden, it doesn’t beat me about the head like most fragrances, shouting and demanding attention. It’s just there, perhaps not an extension of me, more an accompaniment to daily life.
I barely notice it, but I know when it’s not there.
But when I’m away, and I catch it on the breeze, it takes me back to where I’m happiest.
That’s the same with all of Lyn’s work. We have ‘Moss’ dotted about the house in various places, I can’t smell it anymore, but each and every time I walk into Connolly, it smells like home, that’ll be the Moss dotted around.
It’s all so considered, beautiful and artful. From the type setting, the bags, the packaging, the Michael Ruh glass, the cork floor in store, that desk, the whole thing. Even the tea with Postcard Teas.
What does that say about Lyn? All sounds intimidating. Actually, it’s not. If I was to have a fantasy dinner party, or one at all, which is unlikely as I loath the things, Lyn would be the perfect guest, ever charming and inquisitive, you’d be guaranteed some fun and sparkling conversation about everything, and I mean everything.
In fact, I’m going to throw it out there, Lyn is one of my favourite people.
Chic always, and the source of knowledge and wisdom, both which are given with grace, I mean questions – even my most mundane - are usually answered in a way to get you to think, to question and be filled with intrigue, but without ruining the mystique, nor giving all of the game away.
Lyn is the mirror of this, always striking me as someone who never stops wanting to learn more, curious about those she meets, from posing questions about all manner of things back at those who ask about her work, from asking for opinions and I guess which notes you pick up, through to asking to smell fragrances on the wearer, to see how her creations change and work with each individual.
Through simple conversation you get an education in life, art, and perfume from someone who is excited for people to see the world through their eyes, to use the knowledge that they’ve gained to help people view things differently, and that’s a wonderful thing, far too often people in similar positions are viewed as guarded, yet sometimes, it’s that they’ve lost the joy, the joy in what they do and the joy in how what they do affects those around them.
Of course there is the ‘system’, both fashion and luxury like many other industries, loves to build up and deify individuals, throwing around cheap praise and cheaper hype, it’s an easy, seductive trap, the problem is that as much as we love to build up, we utterly adore to knock back down to earth.
But once you get that hype, that taste, that love, it can become easy to think, well cutting corners is fine, no one will notice. They do. Cheaper fabrics, half assed manufacturing, crappy stockists, might mean a quick sharp boost to the bank balance but will always end in tears.
In some respects perfume is a great vehicle for this, for many it’s a foot in the door, and synthetics and celebrity endorsement mixed, becomes an overly pungent formula which can lead to wealth.
And I guess once you know the score, it’s easy?
Which is what makes Lyn & Perfumer H so refreshing, so against the grain and so here to stay. This is luxury which is sustainable in the truest sense rather than marketing jargon, and luxury which is thoughtful.
A visit to Crawford Street is a treat, for the senses and the mind, often leaving this visitor filled with wonder, from her downstairs lab, craft and art happen. When people speak of the future this is what they mean, artists across all forms engaging with their work in an increasingly personal manner. A return to the old studio system updated for the second quarter of the 21st century, the artist baring their soul.
Here it is appropriate because Perfumer H is an extension of who and where Lyn is at present.
There is no bullshit, In a world which ever increasingly swims or trades in nonsense, Lyn concentrates on her art, her craft and her god given ability.
And what an ability it is. In many respects it is unimaginable, I like to think i’m fairly able to grasp concepts and themes, but, this, it’s a form of self controlled and self started human evolution. To teach and then control your senses to work in a way which is beyond not just what is expected but many believe capable. To then mix that with an ‘eye’, with taste, with culture and understanding of the world, mind boggling.
There are those who reach the top of their chosen profession and become able to take and present the pulse of the nation. The actual pulse of the nation.
Because in 5 years time, as Lyn and Perfumer H’s work progresses into new areas, the average Boots perfume counter, will have an air, a whiff perhaps of 106a Crawford Street’s subtle scent.
The problem will be that, much like any great idea, you can spend money and pastiche, but it wont be right, it’ll perhaps come close, just that close is a million miles from perfect, because you cannot recreate that gift, that moment, that heart and that sense of sheer talent running wild and setting off fireworks.
As ever, Lyn kindly sat for a photo and answered our set 10 questions. Her ‘hero’, would I suspect be proud to be chosen as such, because to his Beethoven, Lyn is Mozart and Bowie.
Normally, I take photos which go with the 4 items chosen, but in this case, it felt slightly wrong, when someone is working outside of the visual realm, it’s perhaps better to leave that up to the reader’s imagination and picture the scents which accompany.
Why do you do what you do?
Passion + fascination… all on a journey and this is mine and I guess smell was and is very important to me as a person… how things smell from nature to people… fascinates me and I curate my life around smells and my work…
What do you collect?
Bits of nature
Salmon and sticky rice with avocado and grapefruit
My other half
True sustainability…not the fluff and marketing bullshit
Four items which sum up the UK….