Who: Anita Lal, entrepreneur and founder of LilaNur Parfums. Anita has always been deeply interested in design, particularly anything rooted in the heritage of her own beloved India. Her first brand, the hugely respected Good Earth, was launched 26 years ago, but now she’s looking to transform how we view the smell of India and its rich and extraordinary botanical heritage.
Anita’s new brand LilaNur Parfums uses ingredients grown and harvested from the fields and forests of India. She has collaborated with French perfumers Honorine Blanc, Olivier Cresp, Fabrice Pellegrin, and Clément Gavarry to create a selection of scents and oils which celebrate Indian culture, from a localised viewpoint, with the perfumers shipped out to the Indian floral fields to immerse themselves in how the botanicals smelled in situ. The brand also supports the farmers and harvesters involved in India’s floriculture through its Rosabagh Foundation, set up to encourage farmers to expand their sustainability expertise and help them improve their working conditions.
The resulting scents smell like India, albeit an intoxicating, luxury version of the place, and we’re completely hooked on them. Anita gave us a few minutes from her busy schedule to tell us what she’s wearing today…
Today I’m Wearing Malli Insolute and Jasmine Sambac Attar Absolu by LilaNur Parfums. I’ve been doing a lot of research on mixing essential oils for many years, to do a perfume brand that also talks about the culture from an Indian point of view and the way that we look at things.
I love French perfume but I often couldn’t relate or recognise the jasmine that we’re surrounded by in India, so I created Jasmine Sambac Attar Absolu for LilaNur Parfums. It’s truly the jasmine that you will come to India and smell. Attars are a very old tradition of scenting your body with oils so we’re bringing that heritage ritual back. We only use the real absolutes so it’s quite special and precious. It makes me feel happy, joyous and elevated when I wear it.
We decided to create seven eau de parfums for the brand, including the Malli Insolute I’m wearing, a jasmine EDP which has a more French twist to it. We’ve used the same jasmine as the attar but it has a touch of minerality so it’s a little saltier. The Malli Insolute works as a lovely top layer for all our fragrances. Any fragrance you use you can always put a top layer of jasmine and it blends well. I love to do that.
We have another brand, Paro, which is about Indian rituals as we have a ritual to oil our body every day. One oil I use in the morning is called Panch Bija (Five Seed) with nigella seed, sesame seed, black seed, hemp seed, moringa and walnut then we add a lot of Indian herbs and pure camphor. I actually only use camphor crystals.
I live for fragrance. I see a flower and I want to stick my nose in it. We used to go to Kashmir and stay in the house boats that were made of Himalayan cedar wood so every time I smell cedar I think of it. They call it the Tree of the Gods and it’s very calming.
I want to give joy to people and the attar is to give joy. And an attar is more personal, it’s for your own joy and for the joy of people close to you. In India the tradition used to be that you would have a box of attars and as a guest enters the house you first give them a few drops of attar in their palm. (Which is then rubbed between their palms and inhaled).
The attars are seasonal so in summer we use jasmine, in winter we use rose. It doesn’t diffuse, it doesn’t waft as there’s no alcohol but we’ve done both attar and eau de parfum in this collection and I wear both.
To give the French full credit, they have created some amazing scents and I adore them. It’s not an either/or at all.
Every single day my home has fresh tuberoses which I often mix with oriental lilies. Then when the furniture and floors are cleaned in the summer we use a citrus note in the cleaner. I use incense in the morning and in the evening we throw the powder of frankincense on burning coals which goes round the house and also takes the insects away. I also make my own mixtures to burn.
I like the smell of good chicken curry cooking. I like the smell of spices in Indian ghee, really nice food, it immediately makes you feel happy.