Super Natural

How perfumer Lyn Harris hit the right notes for the new Birks Boréal scented candle.

It’s no wonder Birks contacted Lyn Harris, the first classically trained perfumer in the U.K, lauded as having the most sophisticated nose in London, when considering the company’s first scented candle. In 2000, she launched her original perfume house, Miller Harris, and can now be found at her latest independent and intimate venture, Perfumer H. Possessing a talent as rare as the fragrances she works with, Harris has mixed custom spritzes for Manolo Blahnik, Anya Hindmarch and even Jane Birkin (with whom she reportedly collaborated for more than two years before the icon’s signature scent was born).

For the new Birks Boréal candle, Harris relied on her own love for the notes caught in the tailwind of a fire the morning after its rage. She embraced an all-natural bouquet of scents that captures our collective nostalgia for the great Canadian outdoors. “It was about getting into the true habitat and nature that associates everyone with Canada like the countryside, the surrounding pine forests, the tradition of maple syrup, the honey. [This was] very important to Birks, and it’s a story that I was delighted to tell.”

Like a master jeweller, Harris exercises her love of nature and a lust for experimentation through her work. “I collect things wherever I go and bring them back in my suitcase. I’ll have dried things and stones and memorable pieces from our various vacations,” she says. An avid forager, she organically allows the beauty of her all-natural finds to inspire her next step. “When I’m working with naturals I want them to breathe and for their personalities to come out. I never overcrowd formulas and make them complicated.” She’s also not afraid to revisit the familiar to evolve her modes of expression. “There’s something new to learn about every material that I have smelled a thousand times.”

A believer that a signature scent has the power to transform your encounters with people and places, she’s led by intuition and a desire to find simple yet beautiful ways to light up our senses. “At the end of the day, it’s about giving pleasure to the people you’re close to,” says the seasoned perfumer. “It should never intimidate or dominate. If it’s something you can’t recognize, it’s going to jar you. If it’s not a pleasant smell, it’s going to make you feel negative. Painting the right olfactory picture that will create harmony is very difficult, but it gives me immense pleasure to do.”

Photo credits: Tom Sloan (Lyn Harris); Tom Fallon (Perfumer H Shop); with files from kelly stock