In creating its new fragrance, Aesop joined forces with French perfumer Barnabé Fillion to create a scent that draws inspiration from a unique source, 300 year old Hiba trees located amidst an ancient Japanese forest. In the Hwyl Eau de Parfum, Fillion attempts to emulate the serenity found amidst the lush temple moss gardens of Japan.
“Hwyl recaptures the feeling of solitude and refuge in nature, and stimulates the olfactory senses with an eclectic array of potent botanical extracts,” he says.
The fragrance opens with beguiling smoky notes, followed by rich aromas of wood, moss and robust spices. Hwyl’s smoky introduction folds in aromatic spices and fresh Thyme Extract. The addition of Cypress leads to a warm and woody heart, while the notes of Vetiver Extract, Frankincense and moss effect presents an earthy sensuality and longevity.
The essence of the fragrance is captured in the name Hwyl which means ‘stirring of emotion.’ The concept behind the fragrance is bring one back to one’s centre, which is easily lost in the hustle and bustle of today’s modern world.
Fillion first collaborated with Aesop in 2012, creating the Marrakech Intense Eau de Toilette. He then worked on Aesop’s Hwyl Eau de Parfum in 2015, before putting his imprint on the recently released edition.
“Barnabé is a perfumer we deeply admire and he understands that Aesop’s fragrance philosophy combines art and science to formulate unique scents with longevity,’ said Dr Kate Forbes, Aesop general manager, Products and R&D. “Our relationship with Barnabé is built on a passion for botanicals, enriching conversation and intuition, not creating a fragrance by brief or numbers. We shared creative ideas and inspiration throughout the collaborative process, and focused on sourcing botanical extracts of the finest quality to formulate Hwyl, an intriguing fragrance with a hint of eccentricity.”
For Fillion, his journey to becoming a perfumer “started with an interest in creating home-made remedies and craft-based drinks.” Though he studied photography and collaborated with fashion houses, he said in an interview with August Man that he continued to be fascinated with mixing and blending.
“In 2004, when I started studying botany and phytotherapy, I had the opportunity to be formally trained by a perfume specialist who helped me unlock some of the keys to olfactory design. From then on it was memorising scents and organising them in my mind as an infinite narrative which is the story I share now through perfumes.”
In this interview Aesop divulges the process that went into creating the fragrance.
What was the process of translating inspiration into a scent?
Each of our fragrance tells a story through its scent and the feelings that it evokes. We’ve continued this with Hwyl. With Hwyl, what we have is this beautiful marriage of interconnected elements of a Japanese forest and nature’s sensual dialogue. Hwyl captures this intimate feeling of solitude and refuge in nature, stimulating the olfactory senses with eclectic array of potent botanical extracts. This translates to the scent itself. It evokes the verdancy and stillness of an ancient Japanese forest. It opens with beguiling smoky notes, followed by rich aromas of wood, moss and robust spices. It’s made from the finest ingredients such as cypress, vetiver and frankincense. These ingredients produce distinct top, middle and base notes for the fragrance resulting in a sharp scent and incredible longevity.
In terms of process, what was the difference between the Aesop Hwyl and Marrakech Intense?
Marrakech Intense was inspired by the intoxicating city of Marrakech, with its aromas of spices, intense colours, the surrounding desert and warm hospitality. The key ingredients here are cardamom, sandalwood and clove. The scent itself is a woody oriental blend balanced by fresh floral top and heart notes with a hint of the animalistic.
Hwyl, by contrasts, draws its inspirations from nature, of ancient Japanese forests and temple moss gardens.The imagery here is of woods, moss, mist and water, exploring the relationship between living things which evokes the fluidity and power of nature as its ebbs and flows. The key ingredients in Hwyl, as previously mentioned, are cypress, vetiver and frankincense. The scent is a woody smoky fragrant with aromas of moss and robust spices.
In what ways is creating a fragrance for Aesop different from creating for other brands?
Aesop goes above and beyond the ordinary by having the best blends of high quality botanical ingredients to create unorthodox and unique fragrances, offering a compelling alternative to mainstream fragrances. We take pride in sourcing botanical extracts of the finest quality to formulate our fragrances. Our fragrances are unique and are in a class of their own. Finally, we love the idea that our fragrance tells a story through its scent and the emotion it evokes.
Do you believe that one’s fragrance is reflective of one’s personality?
Yes. You can tell a lot about a person’s personality by their choice of fragrance. A fragrance is a powerful tool in conveying emotions and personalities. We think, deep down, a lot of men are inner artists. You see this in the clothes they pick, how they style their hair, the shoes they buy, or even their watches. The choices they make in all of this, reflects a lot of their inner selves, I don’t see a reason why this doesn’t extend to the fragrance they use.
What kind of man does the Aesop Hwyl speak to?
Hwyl is a unisex fragrance. We believe that Hwyl speaks to men through its woody and smoky scent that imparts a healthy dose of masculinity. We like to imagine that he is someone who is bold, adventurous and enjoys the company of Mother Nature but at the same time has an eye for the finer things in life.
Scents are very personal. When creating a fragrance, how do you know it is something that will appeal to people?
We believe that our customers are drawn to Aesop for our unique ability to blend high quality botanical ingredients to create avant-garde fragrances. People are always looking for alternatives to mainstream fragrances and we have the expertise to cater to them.
Hwyl Eau de Parfum is packaged in a 50mL amber glass bottle encased in a box featuring the work of Australian artist Jonathan McCabe. It is available at Aesop signature stores.