Saturday, 7 May 2011

Truly By Stephen Burlingham: An Emerald Cut Scent In A Cluster Of One...

It occurred to me this week that I should perhaps not bother writing about anything else for the time being, at least not until the current royal wedding fever has died down. For notwithstanding the fact that some people are entering search terms like “Aluminium”, “Kathryn” (which is my own first name, funnily enough!), and the sublimely sloppy "prefume Keit”, 96% of page views on Bonkers are currently of my posts about the Duchess of Cambridge’s choice of Illuminum White Gardenia Petals as her wedding day scent.

While this is gratifying from a traffic point of view, it has perversely also had the opposite effect of making me question the relevance of the rest of the content on my blog that nobody is looking at now, and possibly never will again. But no, that is ungrateful, self-indulgent talk! This is just a weird temporary spike of interest eclipsing everything else I have written in the past 18 months. I should just carry on doing what I do, even if my typical subject matter is under everybody’s radar, instead of THE big thing on it.

And so to Truly, one of my key discoveries during the Düsseldorf sniffathon. Stephen Burlingham, the creator of this green floral chypre, is a New York-based designer of luxury goods including jewelry, accessories, textiles, wallpaper and fragrance - for companies such as Cartier, Brunschwig & Fils and Tiffany & Co. Yes, most significantly, Burlingham is also a scion of the Tiffany dynasty. He is the great-grandson of Louis Comfort Tiffany no less, designer of the famous stained glass, from whom – according to the website of Burlingham’s company, Luxe Design Associates - he may have inherited his artistic flair:

“Like Louis Tiffany, Mr. Burlingham creates designs that are boldly original and beautifully crafted in prestigious materials. From his family, Mr. Burlingham learned about the primacy of artistic beauty in utilitarian objects.”

Speaking for myself, the luxury good category I most instantly associate with Tiffany is jewelry, in particular diamonds. It just so happens that I have carried out a couple of research projects in the industry, and know my 4 grainers from my stars and my melee, my G SI2s from my J I3s, and my emerald cut yellow fancies from my marquise chocolate off-sizes.

Inspired by the jewelry heritage of the Tiffany brand – in terms of bottle design and certainly price point - Burlingham teamed up with Patrick de Givenchy and set about creating a trilogy of exclusive scents under the auspices of a new luxe label, Laurelton Hall. The new brand maintains close links with the Tiffany family, for it takes its name from the country estate of Burlingham’s great-grandfather, the aforementioned Louis Comfort Tiffany.

The Truly scent dates from 2004, and was to have been followed by its two trilogy stablemates, Madly and Deeply. I got myself mightily confused trying to google Nos 2 and 3, for there are lots of references to them, and yet they continued to elude me. Well, I did find a trio of scents of that name (see below), but these are not they...If the picture didn’t do it - and granted, the jade one is a bit deceiving - the price might have be a bit of a clue…

“Truly Madly Deeply......three new fragrances that pay homage to the passionate and the young at heart. The three fragrances combine to give you a blend of floral, musk and woody notes; a combination we are confident will bring out the romantic in you.”

Price: £12.00

So in the end I decided to ring the Haute Parfumerie at Harrods for clarification on the matter and they confirmed that the other two scents in the trilogy basically never happened! Truly is truly a one of a kind! It's a one whiff wonder!

Notes: hyacinth, jasmine and peach, woodland musk

Now trust me - this can’t be the half of it – for the dominant note to my mind in the opening of this scent is something very pronounced and green: Vetinum? Galbaver? Something blatantly green that I can’t quite place. Hyacinth can have a bit of a crisp edge to it, as in Penhaligon’s Bluebell, but there is no accompanying sweetness here at all. Hmm, I just checked the notes of Bluebell, and it also has galbanum in it! Think Miller Harris Fleurs de Bois as well and you will be in the right general ballpark. Just checked the Fleurs de Bois notes and it has vetiver AND galbanum, haha! So I think my bets are thoroughly hedged here….

In my phone conversation with the sales assistant in Harrods, I said I thought Truly was a bit like a lighter version of Puredistance 1, which does have vetiver in it, as well as jasmine and musk, though there the similarity between the note lists ends. Puredistance 1 is more ambery and has a lusher, richer vibe overall, but I'd say they are both unusual and distinctive green-fruity-musky scents.

Puredistance 1 notes: Fresh tangerine blossom, cassis, neroli bigarade, magnolia, rose wardia, jasmine, natural mimosa, sweet amber, vetiver, white musk

But the lady in Harrods said not so much Puredistance 1 but Antonia, which got me thinking. I must say I found Antonia too stridently green and severe generally, but there again Antonia doesn’t feel lush, as Truly doesn't, so the answer probably lies somewhere between the two.

Antonia notes: Jasmine, rose essence, ylang ylang, orris, ivy greens, galbanum, vanilla, vetiver.

As Truly wears on the skin, the sharpness of the vetinum subsides, though it remains present at all times, balancing out the warmer fruity musky notes of the base.

In terms of the inspiration for the scent, in an interview with Lance Avery Morgan last year, Burlingham reveals that he created this perfume to appeal to him, as he finds many women’s scents positively offputting – or negatively offputting, more like. He envisioned the wearer of Truly as follows:

“She is pure and full of innocence. And yet very alluring. The suggestion underneath is that fragrance still has to be powerful. To me, it’s really a clean scent.”

To me, it would work equally well as a masculine, if not more so. I always find vetinum / galbaver quite unisex at the best of times.

So whilst I do like Truly very much – surprisingly given that I am not a lover of green scents as a rule – I do not think it is worth the high ticket price of....wait for it!.... £230, which I was quoted by the Haute Parfumerie and which I presume is for the 15ml Extrait de Parfum pictured at the top of the post. No, not even if the bottle is hand-blown and personally numbered and signed by Burlingham himself. There is additionally a limited edition bottle that comes in an emerald-coloured crocodile case and costs a whopping $800 (don't know the sterling equivalent, but in round numbers let's just call it silly money!). It is a very nice case though. Hopefully no crocodiles were harmed in the making of it, but at that price I rather fear they might have been.

Photo of Truly bottle from, photo of Stephen Burlingham from, photo of marquise cut ring from, photo of loggia of Laurelton Hall from, photo of Truly Madly Deeply perfumes for £12(!) from, photo of Puredistance range from, photo of nymph from, photo of limited edition of Truly from


lovethescents said...

I'm so picky with galbanum and stringent greens that I'm not even going to try to score 1/4ml. The arrogance of the price point! Eeeek!

You did get a samplette in Germany, no?

Vanessa said...

Hi lovethescents,

It is one of those "pick a number" luxury pricing strategies that seems to be working for them, apparently, though I know it might seem crazy to you or me.

Yes, I got a samplette which is nigh on finished - at a guess I am on my last 1/4ml myself, as I wore it a couple of times in Germany on all the usual body parts!

lovethescents said...

So would you consider this FB-worthy, then?

Vanessa said...

At normal high street prices, for green scent lovers, yes! I would probably be happy with a rolling series of 10ml decants... Mind you, the full bottle is only 15ml, so make that 5ml decants, then. : - )

Anonymous said...

HOW much? Oh.good.grief.

Well, cross that off my Mother's Day wishlist. Glad you got to sniff it anyway.

Vanessa said...

Hi Muse,

Haha - yes, it isn't on any list of mine at that price... : - )

Anonymous said...

Hi there - I have been trying to find truly, with no success. Do you know where I can find it? Many thanks-

Vanessa said...

Hi Anonymous,

I have replied to your email with a couple of stockists - good luck findig it! It is a lovely scent for sure.