BEX London’s Rebecca Goswell teamed up with one of the world’s most notable noses, François Robert, and created a collection that reflects London in all its fragrant glory.

Inspired by the vibrancy of the city we all know and love, Bex London is the brainchild of designer Rebecca Goswell, a packaging creative whose clients include names such as M.A.C., Nars, Bobbi Brown and Benefit, just to name a few.
Wanting to capture the different sights and smells that compose her favourite corners of the Big Smoke, she comissioned François Robert – a fourth generation nose and one of the leading perfumers in the world – to achieve nothing but olfactory excellence for her ‘Londoner’ line.Sharing both a love of perfume and a sense of humour, the duo embarked on a fragrant journey that resulted in four beautifully androgynous creations – ‘EC2’, ‘SE1’, ‘W1X’, and ‘N6’ – all tributes to London postcodes Rebecca is emotionally connected to.

A bridge between two worlds, ‘EC2’ takes inspiration from the contrast between City men and their gentleman’s clubs, and the artists and musicians of the more bohemian Barbican and Spitafields areas. “I wanted to touch on a very urban feel – quite unstructured with a peppery, spicy heart, but a classic twist of Gin and Tonic on top”, she says.
For ‘SE1’, she went back to her student years – when the Shad Thames was being brought back to life – along with the many times she rowed up and down the river. Thus, alongside the ozonic sea smell casually blown by the tides, there’s cardamom pod and pimento aplenty “to capture the idea of these huge wharfs, packed full of exotic spices and materials from around the global trade routes”. As a junior designer, Rebecca used to spend her lunch breaks wandering around the grander parts of London, looking into lush communal gardens and imagining the people who, through several generations, had experienced them, perhaps just sitting, or maybe even having the most secret of meetings. ‘W1X’, a sensual nighttime fragrance, is inspired by the last shadows before night comes – think Mayfair garden with a purple hue cast over every single corner – and in order to achieve the grand sophistication of the area, she embraced “the idea of a rich and earthy floral using iris and violet, but combining it with a touch of precious woods and patchouli, so that it was not super feminine, but had a slightly androgynous twist to the base”.
Last, but by all means not least, ‘N6’ is an Ode to the meadowy wilderness of the rather beautiful Hampstead Heath. A Chypre nodding to the sheer elegance of the Highgate and Hampstead areas, it is based on the glow of an open fire, a rich red wine by one’s side, and being enveloped by the smell of wood smoke, a contrast between the harshness of the elements outside and the comforts of being protected inside. Thus, instead of the more commonly used birch tar notes present in woody fragrances, one can find sandalwood, patchouli and leather, all blended with a fruity rose.

Encased in minimal-looking white and black bottles – Rebecca’s area of expertise – there was a deliberate reference to the striking road signs one sees around London, and it was a look she felt timeless, and one that’s perfectly complimented by the colourful mixed-medium collages, by graphic creative Finn O’Brien, adorning the packaging.
Alongside Monsieur Robert, Rebecca is currently working on a new fragrance inspired by the Chelsea area, which will most certainly capture its old-money elegance and allure down to a T.
Needless to say, one must watch this fragrant space.

( Words by Lola Roftoples Mealha in Essential London magazine – issue 3, Oct./Dec. 2012)

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