Waste not, want not. We’ve been saying this since the 18th century and yet we never learn. Last week, a map was launched, bringing us face to face with the extent of our problem with waste – it pinpointed a series of litter ‘hotspots’ along the Scottish coastline. You’ve seen Blue Planet. It’s time we make some changes.
Our beauty regime may seem like an unlikely place to start the fight back, especially where bridal is concerned (you’re treating yourself far more often in the lead up to the big day, let’s face it), but if you expect more from your brands, ecologically and ethically speaking, you might just make some ripples in your small corner of the world.
All of this was playing on my mind as I paid a visit to Le Labo‘s fresh new Edinburgh store. It’s the sustainable New York perfumery experts’ first outpost north of the border and, boy, is it Instagram-friendly. The basement shop feels more like a laboratory or apothecary – all reclaimed wood, distressed tiles and dark cabinetry. Sumptuous signature candles are displayed in bell jars, while the brand’s cult bath and body range lines the shelves surrounding an enormous Belfast sink. I was intrigued.
First, I was introduced to the fragrance collection, which comprises a restrained 16 unisex scents. From the musky, leathery Santal 33 to the popular Rose 31, which has an unusually androgynous edge, Le Labo’s close relationship with prestigious perfumers in Grasse (the world’s ‘capital’ of fragrance) is evident. It’s artisan and indulgent but, crucially, not without a conscience.
The assistants explained that Le Labo encourages people to ‘perfume themselves responsibly’. Not only is the brand 100% vegan and not tested on animals (Le Labo always uses synthetic alternatives), but wholeheartedly committed to reducing its carbon footprint by any means possible – its stores are furnished with second-hand and upcycled pieces and all packaging, including the boxes and weighty glass bottles, are made from recycled materials and can, in turn, be re-used.
This is where the perfumes become such strong contenders for wedding fragrances. The bottles are not a temporary fix. Each is refillable, meaning the scent that forever reminds you of your big day can be topped up in store at any time and lasts as long as you like – no rationing or eking out the final drops.
It also doesn’t hurt that the process of choosing your perfume is an experience in itself and one I could easily imagine brides and grooms making a day of. Eventually, after much deliberation and expert guidance, I opted for Thé Noir 29, a rich blend of bergamot, fig and cedar wood. Rather than have a bottle popped in a bag and thrust into my hands, I was invited to step into a small side room, where I could watch the fragrance mixed in front of my eyes. And while the ingredients were measured and delicately stirred together, my custom label was already in production. This finishing touch can be personalised with any text you fancy – you could choose your date, your name, or maybe a cute, in-joke for your other half. Suddenly, that refillable bottle is a wedding keepsake you can hold onto.
Even if the fragrances don’t wow you (unlikely), there’s an extensive range of divine, scented body products. The Bergamote 22 bath oil (£44) was luscious and left my skin velvet-soft and I highly recommend the Body Scrub, with its messy, coffee seed formula reaping silky smooth benefits. Don’t knock it till you’ve tried it.
My little, durable bottle of Thé Noir 29 (or as I’ve re-named it, ‘Rosie 1989’) is now sitting proudly on my dresser and is my tiny but not insignificant step forward towards safe-guarding the environment. How inspiring that even your wedding perfume can make a difference. The ocean thanks you.