For Timothy Han, a new perfume is more than just technical alchemy. It’s about creating an experience, mapping an olfactory journey, presenting fragrance as a multi-sensorial conveyance to a higher state of luxuriant perception. ‘We launch our fragrances in art galleries,’ explains Han, sitting in London’s Flowers Gallery, which hosted the launch of his 2015, Kerouac-inspired On The Road edition. ‘We design a sensory dinner where our chef creates a menu around the stories the perfume is based on. We even create a drinkable version of the perfume.’
Born in Canada, Han came to Europe two decades ago, studying in both London and Paris, and working in fashion designer John Galliano’s atelier, before moving into fragrance. He founded his eponymous Timothy Han / Edition brand in 2014.
Han isn’t your typical perfumer – he even prefers the more modest and artisanal moniker of ‘fragrance maker’. ‘There’s a traditional hierarchy of how a perfume should work – first, you smell the top note and eventually you’re left with the base note,’ he says. ‘I prefer to create fragrances which lead with the base note and then deliver the top note. In the perfume world this is a backwards way of doing things, a reversal of traditional techniques.’ But that’s how Han rolls; he leads rather than follows. He’d rather push than pull.
A busy schedule means that the maker of the patchouli, vetiver, labdanum, oakmoss and cedarwood-based She Came To Stay fragrance is always on the move. Perfume samples and ingredients phials are transported to and from, say, New York, London and Tehran in his Bugaboo Boxer, a modular luggage system designed in Amsterdam by Bugaboo company co-founder Max Barenbrug.
‘I don’t like to plan things,’ says Han. ‘I prefer to leave things to chance and I’ve had some of my best trips travelling that way.’ Clever and adaptable, the smart Bugaboo Boxer system takes care of his travel plans for him. It’s a leading-edge product – it glides in front of you instead of dragging behind – set to revolutionise travel thanks to its Easy Steer chassis construction, ingenious retractable wheels, effortlessly interlocking cases and bags, tactile inner lining fabrics, and a quick-access organiser for your boarding card and passport. In olfactory terms, the Bugaboo Boxer is multi-sensorial conveyancing. A perfectly rendered break with tradition. A top note, middle note and base note, delivered in distinctive and resourcefully elegant style.
‘I like to travel light and I’m always digging for my laptop at the bottom of my bag,’ says Han. ‘The Bugaboo Boxer’s clip-on system easily allows you to pull your laptop out quickly to put it through the X-ray machine. That’s good for a very last-minute traveller like me.
‘One of the most magical, fascinating things about travel is scent and smell,’ reflects Han, who defines each destination by its distinctive aroma. ‘Smell is the most powerful sense that we have and, country to country, city to city, each place is different – whether it’s the cooking, the woods, the grit on the roads, the ocean or the earth. To me, those scents mean freedom.’