Having spent many years working in the advertising world, M&C Saatchi’s CEO Carrie Hindmarsh and Strategy Director Barbara Behan knew that finding a true gap in the market was like searching for the Holy Grail. So when they saw that despite a burgeoning luxury home fragrance market there was no high-end fragrance brand oriented solely around the car, they knew they’d found it. They landed upon the idea of creating a luxury fragrance ‘objet’ for the automobile, inspired by the golden age of travel.
Charabanc has been truly engineered, as befits a product designed for the motorcar.
Its aesthetic takes its inspiration from classic car interiors with all their unmistakable attention to detail. Furthermore, the product is made using the very best of British manufacturers.
The fragrance carrier was inspired by the pomander, one of the earliest scent holders. It is manufactured using the very distinctively British tradition of metal spinning, which is particularly suited to forming circular objects. So the finished pomander not only has a distinctive beauty that is highly valued by designers but it also has an unmatched functionality, prized by engineers. Charabanc leather is sourced and hand-finished by one of Britain’s oldest suppliers. The leather is natural and sustainable and of the highest quality and is vegetable-tanned so every piece will age to develop a patina over time. The leather lid is ‘wet moulded’, borrowing from an old Tuscan artisan technique which involveshand-shaping each lid on a wooden mould. This tradition has now been taken to a workshop in London’s East End.
In short, Charabanc has been classically engineered and is a beautifully manufactured piece of British design.
The fragrances – or fragrance journeys – have been developed by one of the most globally renowned perfume houses to have all of the complexity of a fine fragrance. They have been designed to evoke the flora and aromatic qualities of some of the world’s most resonant drives. So ‘Across Pennine Fells’ suggests a fresh British earthiness and ‘Along the Plain of Castellucio’ conjures up the wild meadows of Umbria. Further afield, the heady, smoky scents of the Middle East are captured in ‘The Golden Road to Samarqand’ while ‘Journey to Tai Mo Shan’ resonates with the after-the-monsoon lushness of China. Finally ‘Monument Valley Drive’ delivers a big, audacious, American desert scent. Each scent has notes of leather and wood to suggest the olfactory microcosm of a vintage car.
Charabanc has launched in three classic motoring colours – London Tan, Racing Green and Orient Black. The pomander has been cleverly engineered to hang free from a rear-view mirror, fit neatly into the a/c unit, using the magnetic metal clip, or rest snugly in a coffee cup holder, depending on one’s preferred aesthetic and fragrance throw.
The brand launched in the appropriate setting of Goodwood Revival in August 2018 and is currently available at Harrods and online at charabanc.com.