It was days before Christmas and all through the house the hunt was on for presents with nous. Sounds familiar? Add super-stylishness to the requirement of a common-sensical aspect to the presents you give – because stylishness is aesthetically a must and no one wants to give or receive one of those pointless items designed only to be gifted, regifted, and then sent to a charity shop – and you can consider your hunt over. Click on Conranshop.co.uk and you’re done. Or go in person and you’re done even faster. Conran arguably have the best one-stop edit of stylish, sensible and thus practical possible presents in London. For anyone and everyone. And if you’re immediately thinking, rubbish, what about Selfridges, then we will just point out that one of their 11 stores is right there, a store within a store, in Selfridges. Seven of the rest are in Japan and one is in Paris, which says a lot about the enduring style quotient of the brand launched by the man who revolutionised and democratised design in Britain, Sir Terence Conran. And that leaves you with just the two London Conran shops to browse in person. Admittedly, a downside of these stores is price. Nothing’s inexpensive. So they’re not a place to shop for children, unless you’re stonkingly rich or are buying for someone else’s and want to show off. But nothing looks cheap, either. So let’s modify all the above and say that if you’re looking for something to give a really chic adult friend, your hunt can stop at Conran’s. Specifically in their bath and fragrance department.
It’s here that you can find niche brands of style and substance that you won’t find up and down the High Street. No tired if trusty old Jo Malone, for instance. And despite the potent rival lure of Dr Vranger, Bella Freud and Maison Louis Marie, our new favourite in this department is L’Objet. After working as a Beverley Hills-based interior designer, the designer behind this cult brand with a global following, Elad Yifrach, launched L’Objet in 2004, and after 12 years of producing utterly exquisite tableware – in London sold only at Harrods – the disarming and now New York-based Yifrach has turned his attention to bath, body and fragrances. And if you’re looking for some last-minute items to please a stylish someone or to tuck into your present drawer, ready to be confidently proffered, wrapped and ready for rapture, here is your answer. Produced in conjunction with one of the oldest bath and beauty artisans in Europe, containing essential oils and only the simplest, purest, ingredients, and packaged in UV-blocking black violet glass to preserve the essential oils each of the items contains, the range – room fragrance, soap, body wash, bath salts, and hand cream – has a unisex look and appeal. It can thus be presented to pretty much anyone and everyone. Bath salts included, we hear you snort? Last heard of as the preserve of little girls in the 70s looking for a pres for their grandmother, surely? Well, Yifrach is adamant.
“Bath salts, they were forgotten for so many years, but they are so important!” he says. “Water is itself a therapy, warm water especially. To lie in warm water is something I myself do every day, especially days when I am stressed or tired. So much more relaxing than a shower. And when you add salts, and these salts contain minerals to calm the system and oils to hydrate the skin, the effect is wonderful, so soothing, extra therapeutic. The experience works on your mind as well as your body.”
Like the rest of the range, the bath salts, containing Epsom salts, Atlantic sea salt, essential oils and dried botanicals, come in three fragrances. Bois Sauvage is a subtle blend of Italian bergamot, wild lavender, cypress, jasmine, vanilla, tobacco and spice. Cote Maquis has a delicate saltiness reminiscent of the Corsican coast, with incense and cashmere wood lifted by golden labdanum. The richest, Rose Noire, is a heady mix of rose, Ceylon tea, white pepper, pimento berry and moss.
And there’s an additional plus.
“ What I wanted with this range,” says Yifrach, “was for someone to like the scent of the room spray so much they could spray it on their wrist. The contents are so pure anyone can do just that.”
Useful, then, if you have ever felt an idiot for spraying a tester on yourself in the belief it was for you rather than your sitting room.
“Scent is very important in daily life,” continues the enthusiast. “I use a lot, myself, to stimulate my mind and to calm my mind at the end of the day.” Anything in particular, one might ask? “Eucalyptus, a few drops mixed with a little coconut oil, I rub that into the soles of my feet each night before I go to bed and it has a very calming effect,” he answers surprisingly.
It’s so boring but so typical when people with something to sell doggedly insist on talking about that and that only. Love, love, love.
L’Objet bath salts, 500ml, £55; room spray, 200ml, £65; body lotion, 500ml, £45, from www.conranshop.co.uk
WRITTEN BY: ADRIAANE PIELOU