Sunday, June 23, 2013

Union Fragrance At Henri Bendel

Union, as in Union Jack.

Union Fragrance is a British brand that launched last summer. The line was exclusive to Selfridges and recently it has crossed the Ocean is now also available at Grace Brothers Henri Bendel in NYC. The concept behind Union Fragrance is to use and showcase natural raw ingredients that are native to the British Isles;  to do so, the brand owners and the perfumer they hired, Anastasia Brozler, had to find landowners willing to grow some of the flowers commercially, and then learn about distilling and tincturing ingredients that are rarely used in their natural form (more about it in this story from The Ecologist).  I got to try the first four Union perfumes (a fifth fragrance, Gunpowder Rose, was released recently, but I don't have a sample of this one). Here's a quick overview of the line.

Quince, Mint & MossNotes: mint, juniper berries, petitgrain, thyme, sage, moss
I don't always mean it as a compliment when I say that a fragrance is "fresh", but this aromatic herbal fragrance is alive, vibrant, and very green. It's perfect for summer without being too lightweight. The herbs have a bite and the quince is delicious. A must-try for green lovers.

Holy Thistle
Notes: holy thistle, bay, pine resin
Another green one, this time more moody and spicy. It makes me think of fall, for some reason, gray skies and deep colors.  I've never been to the Scottish Highlands, but if that's what they smell like I'm ready to pack my bags and go. Holy Thistle is perhaps more masculine than Quince &co., though both are quite gender-neutral (as is the rest of the line).

Celtic Fire
Notes: oak, fir balsam, pine needles, marmite, birch tar, myrtle, peat
Celtic Fire is a full-bodied, smoky, tarry wonder. Fans of campfire scents (Lonestar Memories, Patchouli 24) and smoky peat (Alan Cumming) must give it a try. There's an almost meaty quality to Celtic Fire that's a bit disconcerting for me as a vegetarian, but the complexity of the fragrance has won me over.

Gothic Bluebell
Notes: English bluebell, narcissus, violet leaf, ivy
I didn't expect to fall in love with what seems like a delicate floral,  but here I am. They're not kidding about the Gothic atmosphere of this fragrance: pale Jane Eyre may be taking her quiet walk, but Mr. Rochester is about to gallop into the scene on his horse and wreak all kinds of havoc. Something dark is lurking in that oak forest.

Union Fragrance perfumes ($185 or £125, 100ml EDT) are available from Selfridges and Henri Bendel. It's one of a handful of brands that Henri Bendel actually offer for sale online, including a $75 miniature set (4x5ml roller balls of the four fragrances above), which I'm >this< close to ordering.


  1. Sounds wonderful, enough to make me venture forth to Bendels in this heat, even.

  2. leathermountainJune 24, 2013 8:32 AM

    I've been enjoying these of late. QM&M was my favorite at first. It's like cologne but both original and nuanced, to the point where I can enjoy wearing it -- despite my brother's colone OD in the 1980's which has possibly scarred me for life. Next I liked Holy Thistle. Easy to wear but, again, original and nuanced. Gothic Bluebell -- yikes, it's plastic flowers. Can you tell me more? I want to understand it better. Celtic Fire, I haven't quite had the guts to really wear it yet. I believe that meat note is actually Marmite. As a vegetarian, do you eat yeast? It's genetic kin to mushrooms, so I'm guessing you're in the clear. But one day, I will revel in the inferno. Gundpowder Rose, the first time I smelt it, was fantastic -- full of, yes, gunpowder and rose. The second time, I lost the gunpowder and the rose was unexceptional. I've been meaning to give it a third try.


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