Artisan perfumers Contradictions in ILK release summer’s most desirable layerable scents

Contradictions in ILK’s two new fragrances are HUNGER’s pick for summer '22.

Today, artisan perfumers, Contradictions in ILK, are releasing two gender-free fragrances to explore the relationship between Man and Nature through scent. ‘Human’ and ‘Nature’, which are available for purchase online and in-store at Selfridges, are created to inspire people to use their perfume to deepen life’s most significant moments. 

Founded by Anabella Fasano-Leslie and Holly Hutchinson, Contradictions in ILK is not only gender-free but also cruelty-free and planet-friendly — perfectly complementing everything at the brand’s ethos. ‘Human’ is a powdery green gourmand abstract musk, inspired by a man-made cityscape and the familiarity of home: warm skin, chalky concrete, steamed rice, matcha, powdery iris, ginger and cellophane create a soothingly enveloping yet kinetic expression on the skin. On the opposite end of the binary is ‘Nature’ — a vibrant green floral scent, exploring the lush and flourishing nature of the city as the sun rises on a new day, with morning dew soaked green ivy, marigold, magnolia, geranium, patchouli, and green nettles.

Below, HUNGER speaks to Fasano-Leslie, who passionately crafted this collection alongside Hutchinson — using their combined 10-years of experience in advertising, perfume production and background in psychology. 

What’s the inspiration behind Contradictions in Ilk?

You, me, we! We’ve taken inspiration from the endless palette that is human nature.  Ilk is an old Scottish word with varied interpretations over the centuries, our interpretation is ‘the essence of who you are’. So, Contradictions in ILK, is referring to the contradictions in who we are; which is exactly what we wish to celebrate with our collection of layerable scents inspired by human nature. 

What makes your perfumes stand out from other perfumes in the market right now? 

I like to think it’s the storytelling inherent in each fragrance. ​​The emotions or personality traits that inspire the rich stories also define the scent notes within each perfume, and should spark a “that’s essentially me in a bottle” moment. Although our gender-free fragrances are very wearable and make layering accessible — we’ve woven in some pretty experimental notes, which was great fun; breast milk, rubber, cannabis, cyanide, stinging nettles, worn leather pants, cellophane — we don’t shrink from different! We’ve also started this journey with the most ecologically considerate practices available to us at the time, although we’re always adapting and improving; 90% recycled or recyclable packaging, PETA approved cruelty-free, manufactured and produced within 80 miles in the UK with local artisans, and a carbon payback via the World Land Trust on all paper packaging used.

Why is the intersection between psychology and scent so important to Contradictions In ILK? 

I have a background in psychology and advertising, so my obsession with human nature, identity, behaviour and communication runs deep, and is a big part of what Ilk’s all about. Everyone has their own relationship with perfume, its meaning or potential for expression, and most of us are familiar with our innate ability to create associations between memories and scent. But I truly believe there’s a power in perfume (just like clothing, music or art) to do more; alter an environment, communicate someone’s mood and personality, and even influence or impart their intended behaviours. But this potential all stems from one thing, the individual. So, I selected 8 relatable contradictory personalities or moods to inspire the scents themselves, meaning this collection is an adaptable fragrance wardrobe and a scented palette for the experience of being you!  

 Why did you design your scents to be layered? 

Just like the idea that it’s our flaws that make us unique, it could be said that the contradictions in our character truly make us who we are. For the ultimate in scented self-expression, it was important the scents could adapt with the same spontaneity as our moods and environments — layering opposites was the easiest way to do this, especially as layering is still seen as a bit of a ‘dark art’! We then created two opposite scents that can be worn alone, but are specially crafted to enhance and subdue different facets of the other when layered.  Depending on which way you layer, you get up to 4 different scents, but can also make your own combinations across the collection, or simply wear alone.

‘Human’ and ‘Nature’ are gorgeous complementary scents. Can you tell me more about why you created them?

Thank you! With this new limited duo, instead of recreating the contradictions in ‘human-nature’ we flipped it on its head and created an olfactory comment on the contradictory yet symbiotic relationship between humans and nature. An olfactive experience of home and the natural environment in the concentrated apex of the city — something that became so familiar yet experienced anew over the last two years. 

For a truly immersive experience, whether in-store or via our website, we partnered with poet and sound artist Latekid on two auditory soundscapes that, like the scents, seek to recreate the kinetic pulse of the city as experienced with mankind or across the urban jungle. Additionally, 10% of sales from these two scents will go to Trees For Cities via Workforgood, to support the improvement of communities with the planting of trees in urban spaces.  

Purchase the limited-edition fragrances, ‘Human’ and ‘Nature’, here

WriterNessa Humayun