In the 12 years since Aesop released its first perfume, the original Marrakech, the Australian brand has carved out its niche in an overcrowded fragrance market ruled by commercial giants. Their culmination of a decade’s worth of finding their fragrance identity pays off with a new scent that encapsulates their raison d'être.
Hwyl is formulated in collaboration with Parisian nose Barnabé Fillion (who was also consulted for the brand’s Marrakech Intense fragrance). The emotional narrative that Aesop brought with Hwyl follows a path not unexplored - stillness, at its essence, an introspective sort of calm that grounds us city folk. You could name a dozen other fragrances that try to push the same buttons. What Aesop delivers is an experience cohesive with everything the brand stands for – a quiet and self-assured air of elegance and decadence.
The fragrance opens with a smoky punch that brings to mind my first heady sip of bourbon. An eye-opening palate doused in a generous heaping of warmth – incense, in Hwyl’s case – that quickly settles into a rich, mossy woodiness that brings out cypress and frankincense. Give it time, and it matures into an unimposing blend of cedar, pine and soft woods that lingers throughout the day. Its Japanese influences are obvious and refreshing in a market saturated with vulgar florals. A graceful balance of aromas immediately transport you into a state of zen, or as close as you could get to one by way of perfume.
There is also an undeniable hint of spice that adds a potent touch of contrast. This spice (a warm and earthy blend of turmeric, perhaps) brings to mind images of early mornings in Hyderabad – a city that is perhaps the antonym of stillness. That’s unsurprising, given that Fillion takes yearly voyages to India to purchase cashmere. It seems to me that the perfumer might have translated the fabric’s tactile warmth into a bolstering scent. His blend of these South and East Asian influences results in an instantly recognisable scent that will accompany the memories of one’s first Aesop purchase, complete with scented cloth bags. Admirable.
For most, wearing Hwyl by itself is enough to make more than a few noses turn throughout the day. For those who might find the incense overpowering, try layering it with a lighter, slightly floral fragrance with a sweet top note – like the Hermès Eau de Rhubarbe Ecarlate – to create a comforting combination.
Hwyl retails at SGD160 for 50ml in an eau de parfum concentration at all Aesop stores.