The latest fragrance to be launched as part of their celebrated Othertopias, Gloam by Aesop takes us to what is arguably their strangest destination: nowhere and everywhere.
It might make more sense if we go back to the beginning…
Launched back in 2021, the family of fragrances known as Othertopias, created for Aesop by longtime collaborator Barnabé Fillion, were olfactive doorways into new worlds. Some were embedded in reality via visionary dreaming, as was the case of the first three Miraceti, Karst and Erémia. Others were encased in surreality built on literary realities, such as Eidesis.
Gloam goes lateral with its journey. Literally. According to the brand, Gloam is “a horizontal portal to self-observation.” For those unfamiliar with the image being painted, think of the visual trope of the psychologist’s or psychotherapist’s couch. A piece of furniture that becomes the vehicle to travel the landscapes of the mind but in this instance it’s the more intimate variety of a day bed, the divan.
Powdery notes of mimosa and iris are given a metallic edge courtesy of saffron, while cardamom and jasmine create an accord that smells like skin contact.
But to get a true grasp of the idea, and the experience, of Gloam, ICON spoke with perfumer Barnabé Fillion about how he and Aesop mapped out the direction of the latest Othertopia.
ICON: The term Gloam is evocative of a very specific point in time during the day – how does this relate to the scent you’ve created as part of the Othertopia family?
BARNABÉ FILION: ‘Gloam’ is an Old English word meaning twilight or dusk—the uncanny, fading light at the end of the day. Gloam is also a time that is considered symbolic of the transition between the waking world and the dream world.
Like all the fragrances in the Othertopias collection, Gloam captures a space where we are transported from the real to the abstract. Gloam is inspired the divan, or the day bed— a place where we lay down and it becomes portal for self-observation, as the outside world recedes, we rest, and our thoughts turn inwards. This dreamscape that Gloam conjures is explored through rich florals, warm spice and a soft, powdery base, to rouse the senses and enchant the mind.
ICON: The image of this divan conjures up a lot of connotations – the offices of Jung or Freud and the work of psychoanalysts – but how do the notes in Gloam relate to this experience?
BF: With the concept of laying down, it’s really the state of transcendence that guides you to new doors of appreciation. The idea is that you are recreating the foundation of space by laying down, meaning giving more priority to your mind somehow. When we are vertical we feel this sense of gravity is bringing more weight, more gravity on your shoulders. But when laying down you are somehow lighter on the spirit, and you can allow yourself to observe more, like when you are sleeping, when you are resting, you need to lie down, and the body is going away from the sense of gravity. There is definitely something a little bit powdery, something a little bit musty, something spicy to reference travels which you can find in this fragrance with spices like Pink Pepper and Saffron. Mimosa and Iris also really add to this sense of pleasure of imaginary travel.
ICON: What came first – the name or the fragrance?
BF: The concept for the fragrance came long before the name. All the different Othertopias have had a special approach, offering different forms of self-appreciation or certain observations of the self, and with Gloam we knew we wanted to take this ‘horizontal’ approach to the appreciation of scent.
Gloam is about when we lie down, when we are not sleeping but somehow inviting dreams, inviting a different way to think, a different way to analyse ourselves and the world around us. Somehow perfume is part of this imaginary guide, or a sort of stimulation that is an entry to this mindset of ‘horizontal thinking’. It’s very pleasant. The name Gloam is a transitional time that is really reflective of the experience we go through when we rest – and you can listen to yourself and really analyse all of the imagery and stimulation that comes to you.
ICON: The previous scent, Eidesis, was inspired by the myth of Narcissus and Gloam actually has the note in it. Do these two scents exist within the same Othertopia? Akin to the way Karst, Miraceti and Erèmia exist within the same realm?
BF: The first three fragrances in the Othertopias collection are certainly more inspired by physical spaces: a boat at sea, a cliff over the shore, nature reclaiming itself over an abandoned city. The two most recent launches, Eidesis and Gloam, focus more on ‘inner’ spaces, allowing an escape from the world around us and into new worlds of reverie.
Gloam is really about this horizontal manner and losing the gravity, losing the physical restraints on the body that prevent our minds from dreaming, analysing and wandering. This is idea is also very present in Eidesis Eau de Parfum, but Eidesis is almost about becoming no-one, being transparent in front of the mirror, disappearing into it. Whereas with Gloam, it’s much more about having the body resting to be able to dive into memory, or even melancholy.
Although the collection could be seen has having two halves, there is really no linear journey that I would recommend, and that’s what Othertopias is all about. They are simply about spaces that are relative to realities. When one fragrance could transport you to a new place and transport me to another, it’s all about whichever fragrance you next envisage on your own journey. To be fully immersed in the sensorial experience of Othertopias, start with which ever fragrance you feel drawn to in that particular moment, and see where the journey takes you.