Flowers and springtime have long been associated with fresh starts and renewal, and that connection has lived on through the language of flower symbolism — daffodil and plumeria represent new beginnings, for example, and lotus and purple tulip signify rebirth.
But what if flowers could outlast spring, with their desirable qualities accessible all year? Humanity has endeavored to capture the magic of flowers for centuries, and the results are a testament to our ingenuity and creative expression. And in a retail destination such as Raffles City Singapore, such feats are on full display.
Recreating and innovating upon floral scents
Fragrance, particularly floral ones, can trigger memories, boost happiness, enhance mood, reduce stress and anxiety, encourage relaxation, and even promote kindness and compassion. It’s little wonder that scents have been made central to religious ceremonies and health practices such as aromatherapy — being able to harness the rejuvenating power of fragrances means holding the key to wellness.
Flowers are an essential part of the heritage of this 151-year-old perfume institution. Penhaligon’s first foray was the 1872 Hammam Bouquet, a fragrance inspired by the Turkish baths in Mayfair where the brand founder William Penhaligon served as resident barber. Replete with notes of calming lavender, rose otto and jasmine, and carried by base notes of amber, musk and sandalwood, this scent took London society by storm.
Penhaligon’s next floral-inspired creation, the iconic Blenheim Bouquet, was commissioned for the 9th Duke of Marlborough, and featured lavender among invigorating notes of lemon, lime, pine, musk and black pepper. Other fragrances that followed included Bluebell, which recalls a blooming woodland in springtime, and Halfeti, a rich, opulent blend of rose, grapefruit and Levantine spice.
Penhaligon’s connection with flowers has endured through the decades. Recent creations include the floral and fruity 2018 Elisabethan Rose, a clever amalgamation of history and innovation. Bearing heart notes of rose centifolia, rose absolute and red lily, this scent is a brighter and more contemporary reimagination of the brand’s 1984 Elisabethan Rose, itself inspired by the gardens of Sissinghurst Castle and by English history from the 15th to 16th century (specifically the war and peace involving the House of Lancaster, whose emblem is the red rose, and House of York, whose emblem is the white rose.)
Another recent floral-based launch was the 2016 Duchess Rose, a woody scent headlined by rose centifolia and damascene rose. The Duchess Rose is part of the Portraits fragrance collection, inspired by the traditional English spirit and built upon a cast of characters centred around a fictional Lord George.
Preserving a flower’s beauty
It’s not just the heritage brands that pay tribute to the age-old tradition of flowers. One relatively young company making its presence felt is Le Sean Seasons Florist, which offers a creative, modern take on the ancient symbolism of flowers that won’t wither away, resulting in an everlasting display of what used to be ephemeral.
Founded in 2013 in Hong Kong as a florist making fresh bouquets and decorations, Le Sean exercised its ingenuity when it created and launched in 2015 its signature product, the Little Prince, which remains an icon of the brand to this day.
Marking the brand’s transition to concentrate on developing preserved floral products, the Little Prince comprises an Ecuadorian rose processed in Japan for preservation and ensconced in a glass dome, resulting in an enchanting diorama that retains its beauty for more than a year, even without sunshine or water.
Following this collaboration, Le Sean worked with Disney to create a range of crossover products featuring Disney characters, from Bambi to Donald Duck. And partnerships featuring prominent cultural icons — including Cardcaptor Sakura, Moomin, Sailor Moon and Be@rbrick — have augmented the brand’s oeuvre.
With its imaginative floral design instinct, Le Sean has expanded beyond the classic bouquet or arrangement. The brand’s luxury preserved flower boxes — Eiffel Tower, Wonderland Box and Royce — demonstrate the enigmatic and enduring allure of flowers, no matter the form they take.
This article is part of a 12-part series on style, art and culture, published in collaboration with Raffles City Singapore.
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