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Why wild botanical scents are the new trend in perfume

Spring may be fast approaching, but does that explain why we’ve seemed to be absolutely obsessed with flowers and botanicals in fashion lately? Everything was coming up roses in Valentino, McQueen’s collection is practically made of flowers, and Dries Van Noten literally printed clothes with photographs of pickings from his own garden. Now we’re even smelling the plants on these clothes. Florals for spring? Groundbreaking. Meryl Streep’s eyes have rolled to the back of her head.

Still, there seems to be a bit more to this year’s close attachment to nature. Perfumers everywhere are taking not just to the usual roses and peonies, but to wild flowers, weeds, nettles, and other earthy vegetation for their scents. And we are digging it.

[Hero image credit: Jo Malone. Feature image credit: Gucci.]

Image: Gucci.

Jo Malone’s Wild Flowers & Weeds collection is a pretty obvious example of scents going wild. The Cade & Cedarwood has a smoky accent, almost like that of burning wood at a grassy campsite. Meanwhile, the Lupin & Patchouli leads you on with a juicy and sunny citrus scent only to counter-balance this with the rough and earthy Patchouli. And then there’s the Nettle & Wild Achillea which combines the raw notes of nettles with the toughness of Wild Achillea flowers. They’re certainly a real hit in the Millennial-age craze for all things raw and organic.

Image: Jo Malone.

What these wild smells do is take you away from the concrete jungle to something a little closer to an actual jungle. There’s next to no green spaces around in Bangkok and home gardens are becoming rarer and rarer these days. We love these scents because they’re almost like a form of escapism.

The green-fingered Christian Dior has always resorted to the garden for his famous scents. The latest collection is a paradise of more complex floras than his more classic perfumes. The Patchouli Imperial is one of our favourites because it reminds us of Old Bangkok, a time before skyscrapers and digital lifestyles. The patchouli blends with wood and spicy coriander to create a smell that reminds us of an antique East Asian apothecary.

Image: Dior Parfums.

For the more Western kind of wild, try the Leather Oud which takes you into a landscape of saddles, dunes, and horsemen with its accents of wood fire, sand, and animal oud. Again taking us far from city life, these scents free us to explore a more raw, unknown, and adventurous world.

Image: Dior Parfums.

The cowboy theme leads on to another key attraction of the wild botanical scent. Contrary to sweeter florals, the more savoury apothecary ingredients are more gender-free and can be enjoyed by men just as much as by women. Trust Tom Ford to give a masculine touch; their Beau de Jour has the freshest Provence lavender with a mix of geranium, rosemary, and oakmoss for an air of warm earthiness.

Image: Tom Ford.

Gucci presents its wild botanical scents with the Alchemist’s Collection by Alberto Morillas and Alessandro Michele. The apothecary style collection of 14 scents is inspired by raw flower essences and includes garden-evoking perfumes like ‘Moonlight Serenade’ and ‘Voice of the Snake’. The perfumes are designed to be layerable so you can create your own unique wild garden of scents.

Alessandro Michele also chose a distinctly organic note for his new scent, Gucci Guilty Absolute. Using the smell of wild blackberries growing in a forest makes this new perfume a little mysterious and a little magical. There’s also a kind of nostalgia for childhood days running around picking berries in the garden.

Image: Gucci.

In a digital world with complicated politics and scary climate change, maybe we’re all longing for simpler and greener times. Particularly since spring is on the horizon, we’re being reminded of all the joys nature offers us, and the huge loss it would be if it faded away.


Karn Chatikavanij

Style Writer

A globetrotter with a love for sushi and Miu Miu, Karn is a fan of all things upbeat, delicious, and well-dressed. Her frequent activities include packing for beach trips, listening to 80s music, and trying to make daytime pyjamas happen.

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