Of all the senses, smell has a unique and scientifically proven ability to transport us to an earlier moment or chapter in our lives. For Jonathan Anderson, 35, the creative director of both Loewe and his namesake line, the earthy, green scent of tomato leaves will forever bring him back to his boyhood in Magherafelt, a small town in Northern Ireland surrounded by verdant lowlands and rolling hills. “As a kid, I loved greenhouses, and ours always smelled of tomato leaves,” he says. “It’s a strange, sharp smell, different from the fruit’s skin.”
Left: The Beetroot essence, one of the slightly sweeter scents in the line, was extracted from the plant’s rhizome, or rootstalk, and from the root itself, which has traditionally been used as a remedy for snake or insect bites. Right: The Marihuana candlestick and matching green wax holder.
That distinct aroma is one of 11 in Loewe’s new line of home scents, which is launching next month and comprises candles set in ribbed ceramic vessels and tall solid wax holders, room sprays, soaps and rattan diffusers. The collection privileges woody and herbaceous notes over sweet or strictly floral ones throughout, and, in addition to Tomato Leaves, the Oregano, Coriander, Luscious Pea and Beetroot options also evoke a thriving kitchen garden. Others stray farther from home, while remaining distinctly personal to Anderson: Cypress Balls recalls an evergreen garden in Florence that the designer visited when he presented at Pitti Uomo, the biannual men’s fashion event, in June of 2017 — “It had rained the night before, and the vegetation was heating up in the sun,” he says. Then there’s the more self-explanatory Marihuana, though one of the places Anderson associates with that smell — which would waft down the beaches of 1980s Ibiza, where he regularly vacationed with his family — is more picturesque than it might be for other people. “I don’t smoke, but I like the smell. It triggers as a relaxant, whether you’re smoking it or not,” he says. “There’s something in it that gets at a utopian version of myself.”
Left: Solid wax candlesticks in, from left, Cypress Balls, Marihuana and Juniper Berry. Right: The ribbed ceramic candle vessels were 3D-rendered according to a fifth-century B.C. drinking mug in Anderson’s personal collection.
Indeed, the designer, an amateur plantsman who regularly visits historic gardens — including, most recently, those at the medieval Mannington Hall estate, not far from his second home in Holt, a small town in Norfolk, England — was partly inspired to develop the line after strolling the sunken medicinal plot at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, just outside of London. He became intrigued by how plants and their constituents have long been harvested for curative teas, oils, tinctures and creams. “I found the idea of scents being used as a stimulus for healing so interesting,” he says. This led him to pore over “The Gardener’s Companion to Medicinal Plants” (2017), a practical guide featuring illustrations from the archives of Kew Gardens. He then decided to share some of that knowledge and beauty in his own way, working with Loewe’s in-house perfumer, Nuria Cruelles, to do so.
“It was more about the leaf of the plant, rather than the floral,” Anderson says of the collection as a whole. “That was the idea, that the smells be quite grounding.”
The end results come in vivid cardboard boxes printed with vibrant plant imagery shot by the Franco-Swiss photographer Erwan Frotin and partly inspired by the hand-coloured botanical prints of the 19th-century Japanese photographer Kazuma Ogawa, some of which Anderson has acquired over the years. The packaging also lists the uses of the plant from which each scent is derived. Tomato leaves, when crushed into a poultice, are thought to be anti-inflammatory, while their juice has antifungal properties. Juniper oil is deployed in traditional Chinese medicine as a diuretic, and as a remedy for kidney and bladder problems, digestive issues and joint pain, whereas liquorice root has long been touted as something good to gargle to soothe a sore throat.
Courtesy of Loewe
In addition to Kazuma Ogawa’s prints, the boxes reference the work of the 19th-century British artist Anna Atkins and the 18th-century Spanish explorer and botanist José Celestino Mutis.
Though Loewe’s scented candles and sprays are not, of course, actual medicine, they can at least elevate your home, and thus, your state of mind. Before the pandemic hit, Anderson spent nearly every weekend in Norfolk, where at the end of fall, he would wrap and dry batches of herbs like sage from his garden. Even at his London home, he’s managed to cultivate beetroots, onions and dill, and recently planted a small patch of wildflowers there. “I love watching that evolve,” he says. “When the wind comes, it gets battered down and then it bursts up again.”
Loewe Home Scents will be available at Loewe Paragon, perfumesloewe.com and loewe.com from 3 September 2020.
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