Suede & Sakura, Sambac Jasmin and the inspiration behind them.

From flowers pressed between diary pages in some of the world’s most remote places, to capturing them in fragrance, we caught up with Carol Symons to explore the inspiration behind two new fragrances in the Platinum Collection: Sambac Jasmine and Suede & Sakura.

“The Platinum collection began life about five years ago. After thirty-odd years of working – Sidney and I really wanted to take a sabbatical and explore the world. Naturally, I couldn’t switch off: I smell something extraordinary and can’t help thinking how good it would be at home.

It all started with a jasmine tea we had in India on the way to Kerala.

I’ve never tasted anything quite like it - just wonderful - and the waiter tells us it was fresh from a local farm. Curiosity got the better of me and the next day, we visited. It was just incredible: fields and fields of unending jasmine. In the heat and shimmering air it was almost otherworldly.

Thinking ‘I’ve probably just stumbled across the best jasmine I’ve ever smelled, Parks should be doing something with this’, I picked some of the flowers, pressed them between the pages of my diary and wrote Sambac Jasmine. Sambac is the Queen of jasmine flowers.

I ended up with a whole collection of fragrant ingredients collected on our travels and wondered about building a collection around the finest ingredients across the world. No limits, no restrictions – kind of a perfumers dream home fragrance collection.

When I got home of course, they’d lost their scent slightly but they were easily strong enough for me to remember the way they made me feel. And that’s what I wanted to capture. Forever.

And although it all started with the farm that inspired Sambac Jasmin, this took the longest to get right. We've had the collection for 3 years and only just released this fragrance. Yes. we’ve made other jasmine scents - but nothing quite like this, and it took a really long time to get the feeling of those dreamy, shimmering endless fields of jasmine.

Now, when I close my eyes, I’m back in those fields, breathing jasmine in the warm air. I can even the taste of jasmine tea in my mouth again. It’s such a sultry yet softly soothing scent – just the happiest memory to tap into whenever I want. And it just transforms my home – has a really magical effect”

The inspiration for Suede & Sakura came in Japan, a place called Yoyogi Park where there’s this amazing shrine called ‘Meiji’. We’d timed our visit to be there in April during the cherry blossom season, and it was breathtaking. The combination of that setting and the scent of the blossom itself was magical. I wanted to capture that serene stillness, whilst taking a long, deep breath surrounded by cherry blossoms in April.

The idea of suede actually came whilst I was writing notes in the hotel. There were these plush sofas in the lounge area – a deep rich suede. A lady was watching me leaf through my diary, saw my cherry blossom pressing and said, “aaah, Sakura”. The phrase Suede & Sakura popped into my head and the aside from those two words sounding right, the idea of cherry blossoms with a twist interested me – we’re always looking for unique blends.

When we got back from our travels, I discovered just how much my memory works on an emotional level. Suede and Sakura makes me feel like I’m surrounded by those cherry blossom trees on a sunny but crisp spring day. It’s warm enough to feel hopeful, but with a freshness in the scent too, and that comforting feeling of being wrapped in a cashmere shawl. No cherry blossom scent has ever made me feel the way Suede & Sakura does.

Suede & Sakura is the perfect spring scent, while Sambac Jasmine I want to use all-year ‘round, but it’s particularly great in the evenings when the light stays longer – you feel like it’s welcoming the warmer days to come.”

The combination of my memories and the technical know-how of the lab, they’ve once again captured this magical experience in fragrant form, forever.

Having said that, if you’ve happened to recently visit the Kyoto Garden in Holland Park, you can get an idea of the magnificence of those blossoms in London, too. If you’ve not had a chance of smelling cherry blossom up-close and en-masse, I urge you to go, because it’s the most delicious fragrance – a hint of almond in there. The people in the labs will tell you I’m not the best at articulating exactly how something smells (that’s what they’re so good at recreating);

For me, lighting the new Platinum candles is the perfect way change-up the scent of your home, and to ease yourself into a new season.

I know not everyone is lucky enough to travel to these incredible places in person (especially with travel having been so difficult lately), so the idea for the Platinum collection was to bring them to you, wherever you happen to be. It might sound flippant to say, but what we’re trying to do with all the scents is to give you a lovely feeling, but that should possibly go without saying. Platinum was very much about replicating the feeling you get when you’re just surrounded by the most gorgeous fragrances. The price point is slightly higher than our others, simply because the ingredients really are exceptional, some of them quite rare and difficult to source. Across the range there’s a really good cross-section of these fragrances made without any limitations, using superior quality ingredients. Think of the Platinum fragrances as someone telling you to go and buy whatever dress you want, regardless of cost. That’s the approach we took with these fragrances. The best of the best, an emotional journey to happiness.”