In the cool dim of nightfall a wild rose blooms.
For Summer 22 we asked ourselves: how might we reinvent the floral in a perfume?
This quest for a new florality is something we have been working on for two years now. We often turn to the quiet delicacy of jasmine and neroli, but the most iconic of floral notes - namely the rose - has remained elusive, never quite fitting with our house style.
Despite this, we seek rose out again and again. In Summer 22, we hoped it might play a role: bringing a floral succulence and depth to the scene of a late summer’s eve.
First we laid the foundation – the warm, spicy heat of baked earth. For this, as in previous summer fragrances, we looked to nutmeg’s dusty sweetness, peppery, incense-like olibanum and warm hay with its facets of tobacco and almond. Onto these notes we layered bitter orange and kumquat for their bright zest and tang – and rose absolute, heady and honeyish, reminiscent of a perfect red bloom.
Just as in previous trials, the rose overwhelmed the subtler notes in a rich, powdery sweetness. After much deliberation we concluded that the fault lay in its very perfection: there was something too clean, too cultivated about the scent of this rose. It belonged in a highly manicured garden; for it to belong in a Ffern fragrance, we would have to re-wild the rose.
Rose absolute is often prized for its intensity, so perhaps we could find the properties we were seeking in rose otto. Also known as attar of roses, rose otto is the most expensive and prestigious of all oils (it can take 180 damask rose flowers to yield a single drop), and unlike the absolute it is inherently greener, fresher, a little more airy - already hinting at a rose that blooms outside the walled garden.
In rose otto we found what we were looking for; the rose no longer railed against the other notes but settled companionably amongst them. Still there was a slight imbalance - the rose did not seem truly embedded within this summer landscape. Might it be that our rose was the rambling kind, climbing the trunk of an old oak tree?
With such an image in mind, we brought in ho wood, a sustainable alternative to rosewood that carries a depth and spice like sun-warmed bark. And geranium, a classic pairing with rose that amplifies the sharper, greener facets. At last, we had a rose at the heart of our fragrance – one that no longer looked back to traditional floral scents but took the shape of something new…