Fragrance partner Barnabé Fillion speaks to Tatler about his new collection with the skincare brand

What goes into creating a perfume collection that never gets old? As the beauty industry continues to evolve, global brands become increasingly keen on pushing boundaries when launching novelties—including fragrances. 

Just last month, skincare brand Aesop launched its brand new perfume collection Othertopias that was created with long-term fragrance partner Barnabé Fillion.

The trio of eaux de parfum takes inspiration from the boat, the shore and the wasteland—three liminal spaces that "invite a dialogue with nature, challenge our perceptions and unlock reverie". The fragrances, Miraceti, Karst, and Erémia, are each packaged in a 50ml glass bottle and encased in an elegant carton featuring artwork unique to each fragrance, designed by Belfast- based painter Jack Coulter. 

The art of perfumery requires not just time and training—but passion, too. Fillion, a French perfume designer, first collaborated with Aesop on Marrakech Intense Eau de Toilette in 2012; and later on produced Hwyl Eau de Parfum in 2017 and Rōzu Eau de Parfum in 2020, in addition to three Aromatique Room Sprays.

Related: 7 Luxury Reed Diffusers that Look Good and Smell Great 

Trained in the art of perfumery, he discovered a passion for blending fragrances and mixing aromas while studying botany and phytology. For over a decade, Fillion has been researching and composing fragrances using traditional craft-orientated methods. His fragrance compositions often employ natural botanical ingredients and are inspired by his travels as well as playing with the idea of innovation versus tradition. 

Below, Fillion tells Tatler more about the new fragrance collection:

Genderless perfumes are not new to Aesop, how does Othertopias stand apart from the brand’s other fragrance collections?

Barnabé Fillion (BF) Aesop has always understood the role and importance of scent, and 2021 marks an important moment of expansion and focus in this area. Miraceti, Karst and Erémia see Aesop delve deeper into the transportive power of scent, researching and developing highly nuanced and complex blends that ask us to assess our relationship with our surroundings.

This collection is about the study of interstitial space; it is a piece of research on Heterotopias. The concept served as scaffolding the development of these perfumes. They are an homage to the work of Gaston Bachelard and many other philosophers and thinkers that have worked with the idea of these spaces that are relative to realities, that are not utopic, but have a connection to mythology, or poetry, and have this capacity to make us travel and unlock reveries.

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What was the inspiration behind each scent?

BF There are many great inspirations for this collection of fragrances. Gaston Bachelor for his spacial poetry, and obviously Herman Melville for writing Moby Dick; Alain Corbin for his words on the sea and territory of the shore, and Philosopher Frédéric Nietzsche for his thinking on the quality of pure air.

There is a beautiful French writer who inspired the formulation of Erémia, André D’hôtel who wrote about the flower; the state of the flower looking at our reality and their dream. It’s very interesting because it connects us to the poetry that the botanical world gives us—his philosophy asks if flowers have a consciousness, or are they just dreaming of another reality which is our reality.

For the Karst, Henry Corbin was an inspiration; he is a great French historian of the senses. He wrote Le miasme et la jonquille, a book that describes the history of the olfactory sense. I once interviewed Patrick Süskind, who wrote the book Perfume: The Story of a Murderer, who said that Corbin’s book was also his inspiration. So, Corbin and many other creatives who are working with the idea of stimulating our senses with the superposition of spaces and time.

As a long-time partner of Aesop, what drives you to keep creating new scents that are unique and still representative of the brand?

BF I have many ideas that I want to bring to life. It’s the mutual respect between myself and Aesop—we always discuss our ideas together and we take time to explore and craft every single product rather than rushing to launch many things. Othertopias, for example, took us four years in total to create—one whole year was spent on debating with a philosopher friend of mine on the subject, six months discussing with Aesop and two years working on the formulations. The whole process is very inspiring to me because it’s a lot of discussion with like-minded people and individuals that you admire.

Which of the three scents is the most suitable to wear from day to night?

BF Our fragrances are an expression rather than a prescription. Each individual’s response to a fragrance is unique and personal; they should be worn as such―as it suits the wearer.

Green herbaceous notes weave through each of these fragrances and while some might prefer to wear the fresh citrus notes of Erémia on a balmy summer’s day, its dry wood notes and earthy undertone may equally appeal to some as an appropriate evening aroma.

Our continued preference is to create a more complex character within our fragrances, and we invite our customers to explore and interpret these in their own way.

Related: Aesop Co-Founder Suzanne Santos on Why the Brand Doesn't Promote Beauty Ideals

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