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Fragrance of Finesse

gulfconnoisseur July 4, 2013 0
Fragrance of Finesse

Bentley, the luxury car brand, has teamed up with the equally iconic luxury crystal maker, Lalique, to create a bespoke ‘Lalique for Bentley Crystal Edition,’ an enchanting crystal flacon for the ‘Bentley for Men’ line of fragrances

I vividly recall sitting in a brand new Bentley – I was test-driving a Mulsanne last year – and imagining if someone could capture the fragrance of the finest leather and exquisite woods that suffuses the car’s interior it would make a powerful statement. It’s actually happened; they have created ‘Bentley for Men,’ a higher-impact ‘Bentley for Men Intense’ and an even more luxurious limited collector’s edition, all elixirs of fine woody notes, matched with accords of freshly worked leather.

What’s more – Bentley has teamed up with the equally iconic luxury crystal maker, Lalique, who has been producing car mascots out of crystal for a number of the top marques, to create a bespoke ‘Lalique for Bentley Crystal Edition,’ an enchanting crystal flacon for the fragrances.

An invitation to drive in a Bentley Mulsanne across France, through the Tunnel and into London and to experience the synergy of the Bentley brand with that of Lalique is something that I accept readily. And, here I am in Strasbourg in France, being chauffeured to Hotel Cour de Corbeau, where we would spend the night, after dinner at the Michelin starred restaurant, Au Crocodile, before the drive commences the next day.

The four-star heritage hotel, Cour de Corbeau is a journey into the rich history of Strasbourg. The charming 16th century building was formerly an Alsatian inn with typical corridors, passageways and courtyards, decorated with ancient sculptures.

After breakfast, we are off in our Mulsannes to tour the Lalique factory, where the ‘Lalique for Bentley Crystal Edition’– a masterpiece of luxuriously designed fine crystal – is produced. It makes an impressive visual impact, thanks to the square-shaped flacon and Bentley’s legendary ‘Flying B’ mascot, wrought in gleaming crystal, the dynamic styling of its wings epitomising timeless beauty. The base follows simple angular lines and is adorned with the distinctive ‘Lalique for Bentley’ lettering. The contrast between matt and polished crystal is unique to Lalique’s style.

The bottle is in keeping with the traditions of René Lalique, the celebrated jeweller and glass artist. His factory, founded in 1921 in Wingen-sur-Moder, continues to produce exquisite crystal figurines, vases, lamps, jewellery and bottles. Lalique’s creations are sought-after by collectors, regularly reaching high prices at international auctions. We get to see some original René Lalique pieces when we visit the heritage museum.

After lunch, the long drive across the countryside of Southern France takes almost three hours before we arrive at L’Assiette Champenoise in Reims, located in the heart of the Champagne region. L’Assiette Champenoise combines the timeless charm of a fine old mansion with the contemporary design of an exceptional hotel, offering cuisine and comfort with a modern touch – just perfect for our dinner and stay.

Next morning, the 265km journey from Reims to Calais is done effortlessly in just two hours and, then, we take the Euro Tunnel by train. The Mulsanne is certainly a thoroughly modern flagship that captures the essence of the Bentley marque. It is elegant, yet distinctly sporting in character, delivering effortless performance, while within its sumptuous cabin advanced technology sits discreetly within handcrafted luxury.

The culmination of the drive is the reception arranged for us at the Lalique showroom in London. Speaking about the collaboration between Bentley and the owners of Lalique, Art & Fragrance, to create the ‘Lalique for Bentley Crystal Edition,’ Silvio Denz, CEO of Lalique says, “Bentley and Lalique have a similar history. Both companies, founded almost 100 years ago, stand for craftsmanship, tradition, luxury lifestyle and innovation. To create a fragrance together is to capture the essence of our skills and our vision in a bottle.”

Daniele Ceccomori, Bentley Designer, adds, “The crystal edition is a masterpiece of craftsmanship, reflecting the unrivalled luxury and elegant values of both Bentley and Lalique. Just as the ‘Flying B’ sits gracefully on the front of our flagship Mulsanne, we wanted to communicate the same importance with the preciousness of the crystal artwork and the uniqueness of the essence treasured by its delicate flacon.”

The top notes of ‘Bentley for Men’ EDT offer an exhilarating cocktail of spicy and aromatic essences, in which black pepper combines with invigorating bergamot and bay leaves. The heart notes reveal the elegance and sensuality of leather. Clary sage and cinnamon unfold, further heightening the finesse of the fragrance. Masculine wood notes of cedar and patchouli, sensuously accompanied by musk and benzoin, convey feelings of comfort and warmth.

Taking these notes to another level, infusing the rich scent with incense and aromatic geranium, is the ‘Intense’ version, an eau de parfum with 15 percent perfume concentration, boasting excellent staying power with longer-lasting, truly intense and daring fragrance experience.

The extraordinary design language of the British luxury cars is echoed in the ‘Bentley for Men’ and ‘Bentley for Men Intense’ bottles: the lines and curves of a Bentley have been transposed into the form of the flask. This makes the glass bottle particularly comfortable in the hand. However, the ‘Lalique for Bentley Crystal Edition’ is limited to only 999 pieces.

There is a luxurious limited collector’s edition of the woody-spicy-leathery ‘Bentley for Men’ Eau de Parfum that lavishly uses precious essences to express its uniqueness and worth. It opens with the beguiling impression created by elegant orris butter accords – one of the most expensive scents in the world! The woody heart notes are distinguished by cedar and patchouli, enhanced with rare papyrus essence. The base notes contain mellifluous amber and musk, which together create a sensual aura – perfect for the high-end collector. The artistic 40ml bottle is presented in a luxurious, elegant walnut-coloured box with light leather interiors. This is a special edition of 300 signed and numbered pieces.

We return from the Showroom for dinner and stay at The Westbury Hotel in Mayfair, London. A relatively new hotel, compared to the heritage hotels that we saw the previous two nights, it was opened in 1955 by the Polo playing Phipps family – that explains ‘The Polo Bar,’ where you can enjoy the informal dining experience. There are, of course, other options, with fine dining cuisine of Alyn Williams at The Westbury or the discreet Japanese restaurant, Tsukiji Sushi.

As the chauffeur takes me to Heathrow Airport, I ponder over the successful collaboration of luxury brands to produce exceptional accessories that project their combined richness and at the same time open up more revenue streams and opportunities for growth. I recall that Bentley has already tied up with Breitling, the leading watchmaker to capitalise on a similar synergy of the two brands.

There is an exclusive elite club of luxury brands that holds sway, with the outstanding quality of their products and a unique approach to life. They will increasingly tend to collaborate and we will see much more of this is the days to come – the ‘Lalique for Bentley Crystal Edition’ is just a milestone!