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LONDON — Matthew Williamson seems to have it covered. First it was fashion, then lifestyle products and now a fragrance. The debut scent, named Incense, is a progression from Williamson’s already popular candle range, which launched just last year. The best-selling candle in the collection was such a winning formula, that Williamson chose it to base the fragrance on.
This story first appeared in the December 6, 2002 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
“It’s a very sensual, exotic scent,” Williamson said. “It reminds me a lot of the places I’ve traveled.” With Bali, India and Thailand as references, Incense is quite a cocktail.
“A lot of people have inspired the fragrance: Jade [Jagger] is relevant, her style especially, but my own personal taste is probably its strongest attribute.” Although primarily a women’s scent, men aren’t forbidden to dabble, as Williamson admitted, “I wear it all the time.”
The scent’s top notes are bergamot, geranium bourbon and lavendin. Middle notes are golden saffron oil from flowers in Thailand, cascarilla and olibanum oil. The bottom notes are santal mysore of Kerala, cashmere amber and sweet musk. A laboratory in London made the juice independently.
“Making a fragrance was something that I knew very little about, all I knew was that I wanted to do something different.” Enlisting the help of Lyn Harris of perfumers Miller Harris, the duo worked closely together to develop the scent. “Lyn asked me a lot about what kind of perfume I wanted, it was made easier as she knows me, my home, my work, and what I like and don’t like.”
The fragrance also had to work well with Williamson’s other lifestyle products. In different scents of Ocean, Citrus and Incense, the collection includes bathing jewels packaged in silk pouches and jewelry-box-style cases priced at $64; soaps, in a boxed set of three for $43, clothes fresheners in raw silk sachets with beading and embroidery at $19, and of course, the candles priced at $46.
Projected first year sales are expected to reach $240,000 at retail domestically in its first year on-counter, industry sources estimate.
“I wanted the fragrance to work well within the collection, but to also be individual,” he said. “I see each of them as little gems, little treasures.”
They are certainly packaged as little treasures, and the fragrance is no different. Designed by Williamson himself, Incense Eau de Parfum is set in a hand-cut 30-ml. bottle with glass stopper and red velvet flower tied at the neck. The label is gold with two bronze crystals and features a red exotic bird perched on a branch.
“The packaging was a very exciting part of the project, and I wanted it to be full of personality. I was looking at other products and they all looked the same, there was never anything that jumped from the shelf at me, everything seemed quite bland, and I remember thinking, there’s nothing here that I’d want to put in my home. I wanted mine to be the opposite.” Packaged neatly in a gold, foiled box, it’s sure to get noticed.
Incense is available in a 30-ml. eau de parfum, retailing for $95, and a 100-ml. eau de toilette, priced at $60. The fragrances launch exclusively at Liberty House next week, with a larger distribution to follow.