Beauty has always been about creativity, experimentation and
individual expression. But, ironically, the more advances that have
been made and the more products and innovations that have come our
way, the more formulaic the sector has become. The orderly?dare we
say prescriptive?nature of our brands over the past few years has
enabled us to form product routines and feel comforted, cared for
and in control of our products. And the popularity of natural
products with calming and soothing properties has reflected and
strengthened the continuation of this regimen. But, just as there
is no longer any status quo in the wider world, we are now seeing a
kick against order in the beauty landscape. The original,
unfettered strength of nature is now being sought and we are
looking to capture and use it in its original form?raw, potent and
powerful. From tamed to wild.
A return to Alchemy and exoticism—the preparation of the "elixir of longevity" the ancient prolonging of life and achieving of ultimate wisdom?sees us combining raw nature and the elements, unusual ingredients and recipes from long lost civilizations. Sir Isaac Newton devoted more of his writings to the study of Alchemy than either optics or physics which he is famous for, and though Alchemy declined with the beginnings of chemistry and modern science, the techniques used were forerunners for our methods today.
Alchemy is the art of transformation; like those alchemists before me, I aspire to turn leaden monotony into golden bliss
- Mr. Douglas Little, Modern Alchemist, founder of D.L. & Co. and modernalchemyco.com
Distilling the potency and raw power of ingredients is Rose Marie Swift's RMS range, which uses unprocessed raw, food-grade organic ingredients to provide perfecting and repairing benefits in makeup. This harnessing of the raw?and maybe darker side?of nature demands a reappraisal of beauty's form and communication; and there is a rebel yell coming from the gothic-inspired packaging of some more primal, noirish brands. Among the truly dark and gothic is French brand Modern Alchemy, which features unusual scents (poison apple and black dahlia candles) and object d'art and curiosities, including a collection entitled Memento Mori (Latin translation: "Remember you will die"), rotten luck dice and a Pandora's box.
Ultimate "rawness" in packaging comes from Martin Margiela's new fragrance 'Maison Martin Margiela' which is named (untitled). In keeping with his aesthetic, it is far removed from both the concept of branding and from force fitting nature. And we are seeing specialist perfumiers experimenting with their ingredient base. Herve Domar creates fragrance that unites precious stones and flowers, including his 'Diamant Noir' with Amber and Incense. 'Baudelaire' is the new arrival from Parfum brand Byredo inspired by Charles Baudelaire and his poem "Les Fleurs du Mai" to create their leathery unisex scent about " . . . a lazy isle to which nature has given singular trees, savoury fruits, men with bodies vigorous and slender, and women in whose eyes shines a startling candour . . . "
There is a marked shift from the reigned in, considered, pared down creativity we have been seeing to a new creative expression centred on intensity, abundance, detail, botanica, noir, surrealism. . .It's still very much about natural materials but more about the experimentation with them - time for creativity to take a walk on the wild side.
Sophie Maxwell is Head of Creative Insight at Pearlfisher