India’s olfactory palette, owing to its diverse flora, has championed the art of distilling scents, fondly known as attars. It is these fragrant oils that caught the fancy of Good Earth’s founder Anita Lal, who launched LilaNur Parfums, an Indian luxury fragrance house, on Thursday in the country. The story of LilaNur Parfums began in the fragrant flower fields of South India, where the house soon forged a relationship with the proprietors of Jasmine C.E., one of India’s largest source of floral absolutes for the international fine fragrance industry. The flowers — distilled and extracted for use by the world’s most renowned master perfumers — are grown and harvested by a community of nearly 5,000 women.
Reflecting on the country’s ancient olfactive heritage, Anita says India has supplied key ingredients towards the making of fine fragrances by western brands. “We actually have a very large role to play in both ancient and modern perfumery, yet, this is a little-known fact, even by those within the industry. This is probably because so far, while we have been supplying the ingredients used in these fragrances, they are ultimately created by international fragrance houses. I’ve always wondered why that is and why there hasn’t been an Indian-inspired fragrance brand; I wanted to create a line of fragrances that highlight iconic Indian ingredients from an authentically Indian lens,” she shares.
Born in Madurai and crafted in Grasse, a town on the French Riviera, LilaNur Parfums is India’s scented love letter to the world, she adds, stating that the brand’s fragrances are a true reflection of “from field to flacon”. “We identified iconic Indian ingredients that we wanted to hero through our fragrances, and I then went to Grasse, where I approached four of the world’s great perfumers: Honorine Blanc, Olivier Cresp, Fabrice Pellegrin, and Clément Gavarry, each with a shared passion for the rich fragrance culture of India, to create innovative fragrances using these ingredients as their muse and starting point,” says Anita.
Seven of the Eau de Perfumes have been composed around Indian ingredients such as jasmine sambac, tuberose, rosa centifolia, vetiver, davana, saffron and agarwood. The eighth Eau de Parfum — named Incarnation — embodies the design dialogue between India and France. “Actually, one of my goals with creating LilaNur Parfums, was to bring back the sensual tradition of scenting with attars. Not many people know that this is a uniquely Indian scenting ritual — what we know as ‘ittars’. I love layering my fragrances and using attars along with perfumes,” Anita adds.
For LilaNur, Anita wanted to re-imagine the traditional attar and through an innovative collaboration with Firmenich Innovation Lab in Grasse, developed a proprietary process in which the highest quality natural Indian floral absolutes are macerated for 100 days with traceable, sustainably-sourced natural sandalwood oil. “The result is our beautiful alcohol-free Attar Absolu (comprising three fragrances), which are sensuous and luxurious — they truly define ‘slow perfume’,” she says.
LilaNur Parfums was first launched in New York about two years ago and then in London, over a year ago. It was the brand’s conscious decision to launch it internationally first, before bringing it home to India. “While the perfume industry in London, New York and India share some commonalities, there are prominent differences in terms of consumer behaviour, preferences, and market maturity. While the markets in New York and London are highly advanced, the Indian market is still at a nascent stage, growing rapidly. It was important for us to introduce the brand through globally renowned retailers, as we wanted to establish India as an authority within the global and niche perfumery world. I am proud to say that we are the first Indian-inspired fine fragrance brand to be invited into the likes of Bergdorf Goodman, Harrods, Neiman Marcus and Moda Operandi,” shares Anita.
She commissioned Paul Austin, formerly the Senior Vice President for the Fine Fragrances division at Givaudan to create LilaNur Parfums. While creating LilaNur Parfums, and highlighting India’s floriculture, Anita also wanted to provide opportunities for flower cultivators and harvesters. “We wanted to create additional sources of income and employment for the flower pickers, who are such an important part of our story. We partnered with Jasmine C.E. to set up two pilot projects – Flora 365 and Project Vettiver,” says Anita.
Since jasmine only blooms seasonally, the brand has supported the planting of an additional rose crop, to create additional work-streams for the harvesters. “This crop has then been used in our Gul Rouge parfum. We also work with Devika Krishnan, who has already done a lot of work to empower craft-based livelihood enterprises, on Project Vettiver. Here, rural women are trained with weaving skills that empower them to make homeware from upcycled perfume ingredients, which they can sell,” she signs off.
Currently priced at ₹21,200, the perfumes will be available at select Good Earth stores in Delhi and Mumbai.
Scent and sensibility
Malli Insolite: With jasmine as its core ingredient, Malli Insolite captures the intoxicating perfume of Jasmine Sambac harvested at its peak and introduces a salty note that enhances the flower’s beauty while adding an element of surprise.
Rajni Nocturne: At its heart is pure Indian tuberose, harvested before dawn to capture its voluptuous beauty – this is a perfume that conjures enchanted evenings.
Davana Cédre: An Indian plant holy to Hindu deity Shiva, the god of transformation, davana is prized for the multi-faceted, herbaceous scent of its flowers and leaves. In this unique composition, the plant’s enticing balsamic fruitiness meets the elemental warmth of cedar, bringing a spiritual element to the grounding nature of wood and creating the sensual effect of two distinct ingredients harmonizing as a beautiful whole.
Agar Épicé: The earthy note takes on a brighter, lighter character, sparked with ginger, cypriol and guaiac wood essences, then bedded in velvety sandalwood. This is a spicy, complex interpretation of oud unlike any other.
Gul Rouge: Gul Rouge captures the fresh, pure, watery quality of these flowers as they are touched by the sun’s first rays, uniting Rose Centifolia absolute, fluttering softly at the fragrance’s opening, with spicy, complex Rose Damascena absolute, and bright Rose Damascena essence, which conveys the effect of green dewiness.
Vettiver Mousson: Mingling with this smell of welcome downpours and fresh flowers is the earthy, grassy aroma of vetiver, associated in India with a feeling of profound tranquillity, radiating from the artisan-woven mats traditionally placed over windows.
Incarnation: Incarnation is a tribute to the romance of India, crafted through the lens of classic French perfumery. In this complex and elegant chypre, effervescent aldehydes shimmer atop a gorgeous bouquet of heady Indian jasmine, soft rose, and powdery orris. A trace of spicy temple incense, together with amber, vetiver, and patchouli, bring a mysticism and allure to the drydown. Symphonic, joyful, and luxurious, Incarnation expresses the love affair between two of the world’s great perfume cultures.