Lushfest (affectionately nicknamed “Slushfest” due to the rain, wind and mud) was, amongst many other fabulous things, the launchpad for several new perfumes from Gorilla Perfume.
It was held at the Holton Lee site in Dorset from Wednesday 4th of July through to Sunday the 8th. This was the second Lushfest, and this year it was open to a limited number of external visitors (mostly friends and family but also a handful of competition winners and other lucky people who managed to get tickets). The public days were Saturday and Sunday. Other than a music festival and a general celebration of all things Lush, this could also be one of the world’s first “perfume fesvivals” – there were simply so many perfume events to see. If perfumers have recently begun crawling out of the woodwork and representing themselves as artists, one could say that Mark and Simon Constantine went a step further and made the launch of their perfumes more of a rock n’ roll thing.
On Thursday evening, Simon and his team had set up a stone circle up on a little hill by the campsite. Each of the stones were scented with one of Simon’s new perfumes, inspired by local history and landmarks. This collection of new perfumes is known as “Set in Stone” and features:
Hellstone: Inspired by an ancient burial mound known as the Hellstone. As described in lore written in 1803, the Devil himself flung this stone in place. The smell evokes unearthed roots and freshly turned earth and is accomplished using resinous, rooty and spicy smells like vetiver, cumin and beeswax.
Lord of Goathorn: Inspired by a small, uninhabited peninsula off the coast of Poole – and the fisherman who lived there and had his boats commandeered by smugglers who would then leave him bounty. The smell evokes the sea using seaweed, lime and basil.
Burning Rosemary: Simon visited Stonehenge on his 30th birthday and witnessed druids burning rosemary as the sun came up. This is the fragrance he created inspired by the smell of burning rosemary in the air. He used rosemary and cade oil to achieve this effect.
Furze: Simon liked the idea of creating an English equivalent of the French “fougere”; a new accord inspired by a native plant. The prickly furze bush smells a little like vanilla and coconut, so Simon created an accord from those two scents and made a beautifully addictive perfume. It was an instant hit at Lushfest!
Flower’s Barrow: Also known as Pines Hill, this Iron Age fort is said to have been taken over by the Romans and it’s said to be haunted. The fort is now sinking into the sea and nettles and brambles have taken over. Simon created a scent using sage, thyme, geranium and blackcurrant.
The Devil’s Nightcap: Based on one of the most mysterious megaliths in the town-place of Studland, this fragrance of oakmoss, clary sage and ylang ylang captures the magic of the stone that folklore says the Devil threw across the sea in an attempt to hit Corfe Castle.
We heard a live set from Simon Richmond and John Metcalfe from the Imagined Village and heard a talk by Paul Devereux. The weather favoured us during the evening – it had been raining all day Wednesday, and by Thursday lunchtime we were getting a little worried, but then the sun came out and our only problem was insect bites. Luckily there were bunches of rosemary burnt on the hill and the smoke scared some of the mozzies away.
Everyone was absolutely blown away by the beauty of the new scents and the imaginative presentation of them. Many of us returned to the site on the following days to have some time with the circle. The stones have been left standing there and perhaps a thousand years from now someone will be wondering what they might mean.
Meanwhile, at the festival proper, two Gorilla Perfume tents held two different showcases for Mark and Simon’s perfumes. In the black tent, you could pop in to see a re-creation of the London Shoreditch perfume gallery and experience all of the fragranced rooms and stories.
There were a few hiccups due the rather extreme weather conditions on Saturday – the power went out three times (which meant the lights, tills, music tracks and other things didn’t work) but the team of perfume staff carried on through regardless, unflappably singing the Tuca Tuca instead of playing it from a recording; and hand-writing sales down on a soggy piece of paper.
Paul Tvaroh from Lounge Bohemia was on site with his magical molecular mixology and offered visitors cocktails inspired by Mark’s Hairdresser’s Husband cologne. Meanwhile by the tills, there was a surprise perfume called HQ = “The smell of a Lush shop in a bottle”, made especially for Lushfest.
Over in the yellow tent, one could take a walk through a new showcase featuring:
The Voice of Reason: Inspired by the Beat Generation and literary figures like William Burroughs, Neal Cassady, Gil Scott Heron and Leonard Cohen. The scent feels like you’ve just walked past a bar where something exciting is
happening and you get a waft of cigarette smoke, booze, perfume, books… the perfume includes notes of sandalwood and tonka bean. It may rival our famously moving Dear John in its ability to cause strong emotional reactions.
The Bug: Inspired by the paranoia of the modern age (and a track by the same name), this perfume was introduced by walking people through a dark corridor full of clips from cctv footage and glowing uv-lights. The perfume contains galbanum and black pepper.
Sun: An uplifting, fresh and beautiful perfume by Mark, inspired by his need of sunshine and good vibes during dark days. The Sun evokes Mark’s trips to USA during springtime and features orange, tangerine and sandalwood.
There was going to be a merry-go-round outside for people to experience Euphoria in, but it would have sunk to the mud, not to be found again until the same people who will discover our abandoned stone circle will dig the site for bizarre archaeological curiosities about a 1000 years from now, so that idea was scrapped.
Euphoria was available on the Gorilla Bus instead. It is based on aromatherapy research and includes materials known to cause feelings of euphoria, such as clary sage, grapefruit, lime and neroli.
On Sunday afternoon, we were treated to a live gig from Sheema Mukherjee. Her last track was called “Sikkim Girls” – which also happened to feature in her last year’s set and inspired Mark and Simon to invite her to the lab and create an appropriately seductive scent.
Sheema told us the story of how she was warned to stay away from these “dangerous girls” by a cafe owner in Darjeeling. Apparently, despite having their faces covered, the Sikkim Girls had managed to seduce and steal away his son-in-law. He said “it was all in the hips” and Mark wanted to create a fragrance based on this concept and Sheema’s song. The resulting tuberose and frangipani fragrance is extremely beautiful, and, according to Sheema, the authentic smell of a Darjeeling flower market.
Possibly the most unusual showpiece was the launch of two new incense products. Mark and Si appeared on stage after Dizraeli’s set and talked to us about the London riots and the Jasmine Revolution – and how they were personally affected by both of these and wanted to encourage people to burn incense, not cars. During this speech, Dizraeli was seen running towards us and to a group of cars on the field next to the stage. He threw a molotov cocktail at the cars and blew up the cars! The crowd hadn’t expected this and there was a general air of W…T…F-just-happened in the air.
Everyone’s favourite perfume place to hang out was the retro bus, painted by Plastic Crimewave and styled inside by our design team gurus to look like the back cover of an old Jane’s Addiction album. An assortment of different bottles decorated with labels designed by Plastic Crimewave housed all of the new perfumes for people to buy.
There were long queues because the bus could only take a couple of people in at a time, but people didn’t mind waiting (the bus was inside the Village Hall tent and there was always some good music on).
All in all, it was a magical event – and to think that the perfume showcases only represented one part of the festival with many, MANY other exciting things going on – you almost have to wonder how it was even possible to pull it off! Hats off to everyone who made this happen and participated in any way. You’re all amazing.
Perhaps we’ll see the Gorilla bus in other locations soon?