Beauty Without Fuss

Monday, 19 May 2014

Pleasure & Purpose With Aesop & Odette Toilette

By Luke

I have been meaning for a long time to write about Aesop.  I remember Aesop from eons ago when the only place you could buy it was in Space.NK. It looked very smart and sort of clinical in its modest and understated medical grade brown glass jars and metal tubes. It was always a bit of a favourite - sceptical and unwilling as I am most of the time to use any skin care that claims to be ‘natural’ - and has few of the ingredients in them that I know work. That said, there is no getting away from the fact that Aesop products do work, and are an absolute joy to use, not least because of their scent. 

Aesop then made like £10 Poms and disappeared back its native Australia for a little while. However, without me noticing until recently it has sprung up again in the UK in various locations in the form of the most beautiful boutiques and in selected department stores. It has several locations throughout London now, and each has a very distinct, and gorgeous character of their own.

We were invited along to the boutique in Covent Garden for a bit of an olfactory treat under the tutelage of scent expert Odette Toilette. Pleasure and Purpose was the title of the event, summing up the entire Aesop line rather well, so I was intrigued as to what exactly we would be doing and shuffled along. The store itself is an absolute haven of a space. The familiar brown glass is littered along the walls, and in amongst those were gorgeous seasonal blooms. It’s airy, clean and very, very cool looking, both figuratively, and literally. 

We were guided downstairs to a makeshift classroom and were each given a ‘workbook’ for our efforts, and several exercises were undertaken with the presentation of particular oils on a blotter. Rather than guess which oil we were smelling from the scent alone, we were asked in several different ways to demonstrate how a scent made us feel, or what colours it reminded us of, or how it made us feel, or if we felt it had a masculine or feminine quality to it. This was designed specifically to make you think differently about what you were smelling, and find out more about the emotional response you can have to a smell, without any preconceived notion about the scents from the names alone. Some of the oils were beautifully scented, and others … decidedly less so. 

Of course, all the oils that were presented to us were key ingredients within some of the Aesop range. Smelling them in their raw state, they were either extremely unusual, possibly even unpleasant at times, and some were very familiar, but you weren’t able to put your finger on exactly where you had experienced it before. One exercise saw us taking coloured pencils and using only the medium of the crayon, describe in colour and texture how the scent was, which was a genius way of thinking about something very differently.

One of the hero oils that lace the Aesop range is parsley seed oil, which on its own smells rather like slightly ripe food that’s been in the sun a little too long, or, if you're Get Lippie herself: vomit. Parsley seed of course is present in an entire line of its own at Aesop, and it is extremely high in antioxidants. The Parsley Seed Cleanser is easily one of the best smelling products in the line, despite the relative stench of the pure oil, it's masked by other ingredients, and the cleanser is a joy to use as a result.

There was also violet leaf, found in the really very smooth and gorgeous smelling Hair Balm, which is particularly good for hair that has a tendency to go a bit wild for no reason and is on the fried side of normal. And there was pure geranium oil, which is in the Geranium Leaf Body Scrub, which has natural bamboo stem to exfoliate and absolutely gorgeous rose like scent.

I ended up taking a mouthwash home with me. Clove oil was the main scent here, alongside extract of spearmint. It comes in a rather grand looking, and ENORMOUS bottle complete with a tiny little glass flask (which I broke immediately on getting home) and it now takes its place rather grandly on my bathroom shelf. 

Welcome back Aesop. Welcome back.

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