Stephen Nelson is a plantsman and perfumer who specialises in re-creating historic fragrances. As part of the Chelsea Fringe, Townhouse will host three talks by Stephen Nelson, centred around the English garden and its direct link to perfume over the past four centuries.
Stephen has worked extensively within horticulture and his nursery, Darasina breeds a range of plants that include pinks, lilacs and lavender, some of which have been featured in planting schemed at the Chelsea Flower Show. He also cultivates many of the perfume source ingredients for use in his historical re-creations: Damask roses, patchouli, orris, verbena, lavender and many more.
Through archival search of old recipes he has re-created compositions that by reason of expense or restricted by regulation or ethical consideration might never see the light of day; those include animal essences civet and ambergris or the use of ingredients such as lemon verbena, gum storax or oakmoss in contact perfumes.
“Each of these scented works comes with its own story: how they were made; where the ingredients were sourced and traded; how a fashion developed and so on……. each one a potted social and cultural history”.
He has worked with designers, artists and many organisations including the National Trust and the V & A. Over the years, Stephen has been commissioned to create everything from resinous pomander beads to perfumed leather from the 16th century, from an 18th century spicy pot pourri to a handkerschief scent from the 19th century.
The first talk will be on ‘Perfume in Georgian London’ at 2.30pm on Tuesday 31 May; the second will be on ‘19th century English Scent’ at 2.30pm on Wednesday 1 June and the third will discuss ‘The Scented Room’ at 2.30pm on Thursday 2 June.