Aesop Rōzu Eau de Parfum: Perfumer, Barnabe Fillion, and Dr. Kate Forbes on the brand’s latest fragrance

Aesop Rōzu Eau de Parfum: Perfumer, Barnabe Fillion, and Dr. Kate Forbes on the brand’s latest fragrance

A rose by any other name

Text: Emily Heng

It's likely — no matter your veteran or newbie status within the beauty sphere — that you've heard about Aesop. Or seen them, for that matter, bearing in mind their striking boutiques reminiscent of old-school apothecaries. Revered for their skincare formulations both efficacious and suitable for a multitude of complexions, there's no doubt that they have found their niche within a (teeming) market space.

Still, that's not to say they'll be resting on their laurels anytime soon — or playing it safe, for that matter. Instead, the brand has opted to delve deeper into their fragrance offerings, partnering up with long-time collaborator and renowned perfumer, Barnabe Fillion, to develop their fourth scent.

And that's where the Rōzu Eau de Parfum comes in. Nuanced, expansive, and complex in equal measure, it comprises the middle ground between brazen and delicate; vibrant yet tender; earthy and floral. Heck, it — as with all Aesop fragrances, to be fair — even transcends typical gender boundaries. How did the brand manage such a feat? We asked ourselves the same question. Luckily, both Barnabe Fillon and Aesop's Director of Innovation, Dr. Kate Forbes, were willing to entertain our queries. Here's what they had to say.

First things first, what was it like working together again?
Dr. Forbes: Great! As you know, we have worked with Barnabe on the Marrakech Intense and Hwyl, as well as the collection of Aromatique Room Sprays — so it goes without saying that it is a relationship built on trust, mutual respect and genuine collaboration. At Aesop, we tend to seek out the expertise of perfumers to assist us in creating complex and enduring fragrances, and Barnabe was a natural pick thanks to our shared belief that an exceptional fragrance requires botanical extracts of the finest quality.

Barnabe: Aesop is a long-term and cherished partner of mine. I find that they have a sincere interest in intelligent design and a great admiration for visionaries and pioneers in this space. For the Rōzu Eau de Parfum, we learned that the famous Keiji Rose Farm was creating a rose in Charlotte Perriand's honour, and so this presented a clear source of inspiration for our next collaboration.

But I think something very special with Aesop is the honesty and purity of the creativity behind the products which has always been something very important in the perfume range. There is this idea of no compromise, research and innovation, trying to find the best ingredient and to blend them with poetry and elegance, creating storytelling that was an amazing olfactory and experience that never happened before.

Am I right to say that this scent is unisex?
Dr. Forbes: That's right. Since the outset our approach to product formulations has been gender neutral. It is our preference to create a more complex character, surpassing obsolete definitions of gender and perceptions of masculine and feminine olfactory desire. The Rōzu Eau de Parfum is no exception; drawing on the life and work of modernist designer Charlotte Perriand, to evoke the paradoxes she embodied — unmistakably Rose, yet with a subtle breath of citrus, balanced by spice and wood. Like all of our fragrances, the aroma of Rōzu evolves very differently on each wearer and different notes are highlighted –– for some the spices are rich and others the woods are deep. Rōzu is certainly far from a typical floral scent.

Walk me through the process of developing and crafting an Aesop fragrance.
Dr. Forbes: I'd say it begins with research into the inspiration, in this case the life and work of Charlotte Perriand. We, then, work collaboratively with Barnabe to imagine what ingredients could be used to bring this inspiration to life. After this, we enter many rounds of trials and tests with ingredients from different sources [in] different concentrations.

The different sources can be geographical sources, but also alternative ways of extracting ingredients from CO2 extracts to absolutes. This process takes time as you need to allow time for the fragrance concentrates to mature within the alcohol solution before you can assess the aromas. When assessing the aromas, we consider how the customer would be wearing it, since fragrances can evolve differently on different people.

Would you say that you both seek inspiration from similar sources...?
Barnabe: In a sense. My focus when I seek inspiration is always –– first, the quest for the best ingredient. Once I get fascinated by an ingredient or an angle on a certain ingredient, the whole story appears. This usually starts visually. It is opening [up] to me and it becomes the focus in the development of the scent. The second inspiration is literature. The third are my travels, capturing scents and looking for new ingredients.

Who would you say the Rōzu EDP scent is perfect for?
Dr. Forbes: We aimed to create something quite unique with this fragrance, compared to a traditional rose perfume. The overall aroma is rich, fresh and woody. Unmistakably Rose, yet with vibrant Shiso accords and a deep, long-lasting base of Vetiver Extract, Patchouli and Myrrh. Just as the life of Charlotte Perriand was non-conformist and multi-faceted, we have found [that] the fragrance profile changes significantly based on the wearer, highlighting different notes.