A stop-you-in-your-tracks white floral set aflame. This feels like the sort of perfume which would be the protagonist in an end-of-the-world post apocalyptic drama. Beauty whilst the world burns.
Orange blossom, pink pepper, apricot, ginger, mandarine, petigrain, lily of the valley, iris, jasmine, tuberose, motor oil, burnt wood, labdanum, fire, mezcal.
There are thousands upon thousands of distinctly average perfumes made. Scents which are fine, well constructed even, pleasant, nice. Scents which there is absolutely nothing wrong with but which have no soul. I cannot say strongly enough: this. is. not. one. of. those. scents. This is a scent all of it’s own.
Flame and Fortune by Sarah Baker is a scent of spectacular luminosity hidden within some very humble notes. I’ve been sniffing this fragrance constantly over the last few days and although I recognise the individual elements, I have yet to understand how the perfumer made them sing in quite the way that she did. There is some sort of bewitching here for sure and I, for one, am delighted to submit to its spell.
Flame and Fortune opens with a cough of rubbery tuberose, the faintest whiff of motor oil and the familiar scratch of neroli. It’s quite dry, for fleeting moments, and almost a little dusty, with a little touch of a spicy gingery warmth. The first time of smelling it just gives you long enough to imagine there is nothing new here, and you can’t possibly imagine how this will be appealing, before it suddenly animates and swells into life before your very nose. The roundness of orange rolls through the scent, before a smooth blanket blurs the edges of everything and turns the landscape into sensual, un-nameable curves.
Imagine for a moment you are visiting the cinema, the lights dim and the screen flickers into life. That audio company’s logo comes on the screen and for a moment you are treated to some humdrum little noises before the surround sound kicks in and plays that chord that vibrates your very soul from its fleshy prison just to show you how good the speakers are. Now imagine that, but done with a perfume and you have an idea of how Flame and Fortune unfurls in its opening bars.
Fully tumescent, Flame and Fortune stops being a collection of notes – the blending is sublime – and instead becomes a series of beautiful impressions. There is something of the candlelight about the scent; it becomes shiny, soft, silky. A cosy warmth diffuses throughout, and although it contains lots of white flowers they somehow feel more “winter evening cosied by the fire” than your typical summer day fragrance. There’s the perfect balance of tart and sweet, warm and juicy, within this scent which gives it a real self-assured sexiness throughout.
Into the background of flawless blossoms, there is a hint of smoky danger. One of the commendable things about the composition is the way that this is held at just the right level. It remains a hint, a frisson, the wolf howling on the hill but where you are safely locked behind a sturdy door.
Flame and Fortune is the sort of fragrance that wraps around you like a cashmere blanket talisman and purrs sweet nothings to you all day. An intimate scent, a pulse-quickening scent, definitely the sort of scent you want with you in the endless dark nights and drizzle.
The lingering base of Flame and Fortune is perhaps the most delightful aspect in a whole bouquet of olfactory treasures. A sweet, gentle orange blossom is circled by jasmine, and anchored by hints of woodiness and smoke. Everything is super smooth, honeyed, gilded and feels precious. The scent, even in the base, feels luminescent and like it makes you glow when you wear it. Warm but not heavy, floral but not cloying, familiar and yet spellbinding.
Flame and Fortune is an accomplished outing for a house who are gathering in strength with every release. Definitely a brand to watch for the coming year and beyond. An intriguing brand voice emerges which is neither prim nor old fashioned and yet which manages to convey something old, something deliciously human, in a new way.
The other stuff
The longevity of Flame and Fortune is solid. It doesn’t project particularly far – to just beyond hugging distance or so, but certainly lasts for the majority of the day – 8 to 10 hours following application at least. It is entirely possible that the detectable projection will be improved in the summer months as well, or at least when the possibility of getting within 2m of people actually presents again.
Whilst the notes might suggest that this would be a daytime, summery wear, we tested it in winter which it really suited. It feels like a slightly more intimate, evening wear scent than you might initially imagine, but it isn’t heavy, just enticing.
The Sarah Baker brand encompasses a couple of different collections with confusingly similar names. The Sarah Baker collection is comprised of eight perfumes of extrait strength. These are the real heavy hitters of the brand’s line up, delightful scents but not for the faint of heart.
The S. Baker collection (from which Flame and Fortune is derived) is a slightly more light and fun collection, designed to be spritzed at any time of day. These scents are EdP concentration, and there are currently five fragrances in this collection (Bascule, Flame and Fortune, G Clef, Far From The Madding Crowd and Symmetry). Don’t mistake this idea that they are lighter for thinking that they are less accomplished – that is most definitely note the case and I could very much imagine wearing Flame and Fortune (and indeed many of the others from this collection) to fancy dos and nights out (remember those?!).
In addition to these two collections there is also the Sarah Baker – Motif collection which features the four original scents in their original bottles (the scents being Leopard, Greek Keys, Lace and Tartan). To complete the brand, there are the Sarah Baker Artists Editions which are scents in limited, numbered bottles. Phew! You can find a page on Sarah Baker’s website explaining the different collections.
The whole range of Sarah Baker fragrances are available from the brand’s web boutique. Flame and Fortune is priced at £80 for 50ml of EdP which is an absolute steal for a belter of a fragrance.
We were kindly given samples of the S. Baker collection by the brand, with no strings attached, and we thank them for their kindness.