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Essence of Africa

INDULGE THE ESSENCE: Blessings

ARE YOU aware that the bottle of perfume you may gift or receive this Valentine's Day probably has its roots in African soil? Scent has always captured the essence of Africa and has been one of the most potent assets in the continent's trove of riches. Essential oils scented the skin and protected wearers from infection, while incense perfumed homes and temples allowing Africans to absorb the aromas of nature and deities.

In the summer of the eighth year of her reign, around 1480 BCE, Egyptian Queen Hatshepsut sent a trading expedition of five ships and 150 rowers to Punt (now known as Somalia), where they brought frankincense, myrrh, fragrant oils and incense trees.

Perfume is an indigenous African artform practised by the ancients and used as a tool of seduction in modern Mali's wusulan tradition.

Be it the herbs and spices grown in a kitchen garden for culinary, medicinal or spiritual usage, the blossoms, resins and husks or the roots and leaves within a signature perfume women of African descent throughout the Diaspora know that the power emitted and memories created by perfume tell a unique and personal story.

Before Hatshepsut was alive, the African continent had been a rich source of premium fragrant materials: the heady gums and resins of Somalia and Sudan, the opulent flowers of Morocco and Egypt, the revitalising plants of Southern Africa and the Congo Basin and the rich spices of the continent's east and west Coasts were gifted to the people by the bounteous land. Are you aware that your perfume can tell an atomised tale of African history as well as leave a fragrant trail?

Belinda Brown is an experienced businesswoman with enterprises in Europe and West Africa whose first entrepreneurial footsteps are steeped in fragrance.

At boarding school in Nigeria's Delta State, all the girls adored the scent of Brown's trademark Stella Pomade. They were unable to acquire it. In exchange for sweets, she supplied their demand with a prudent scoop of pomade.

As a discerning woman, Brown left no stone unturned to recreate the heady aroma of her childhood lotion. She travelled the world in search of exceptional materials that could raise it to ultimate luxury. Brown has travelled to Grasse in France - the world capital of perfume - to select the rarest jasmine worth more than its weight in gold and visited Vietnam on a quest to experience the scent of Kyara - a bitter incense.


PERFUMIER: Belinda Brown

A lifelong Christian, Brown was touched by the gospel stories of women anointing Jesus with costly oils and drawn to the heady incense reminiscent of religious services. She dreamt of creating her own alabaster oil, but thought it out of the realm of anyone other than a master perfumier.

“Fragrance has always been my passion. Creating a unique perfume was a long-term idea. A big dream. It seemed out of my realm; I wasn't a scientist or a star,” she told L&S.

The foundation for Brown's perfume was laid by Roja Dove, the man anointed as "The Nose" by global worshippers of Haute Parfum and the world's sole professor of perfume. With Dove's guiding hand, Brown created Blessings, a scent already discerned as a future classic within one of the world's most competitive industries.

Blessings tell an intimate and inviting story of Brown's Nigerian childhood and Christian faith. It is sold at exclusive international outlets, including the elite Haute Parfumerie on the fifth floor of Harrods in London, on-board Arik Air international flights and directly from Brown to your door.

The range of Blessings scents incorporate the highest quality and most refined botanical essences. Blessings has fresh top notes of bergamot, lemon and mandarin, a refined heart of jasmine de Grasse and rose de mai with a rich base of cedar, sandalwood, tonka and vanilla.

Brown is Africa's first female luxury perfumeir who has created an impact as potent as her perfume within the global luxury goods market. Women travel from Moscow, the Middle East and Australia to purchase her range.

Selling almost half of her stock on the first day of its launch, the fragrance now has a six-week international waiting list at the store.

Brown's latest release, Blessings Red, captures the fragrance of oud, rose and ylang ylang. Speaking about her range of perfume Brown said: "I'm delighted at how the brand is doing. The appreciation for my products makes taking the first leaps of faith and others that will follow so worthwhile."

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Would you like your very own bottle of Blessings Eau de Parfum? Enter the competition below for your chance to win the exclusive perfume in time for Valentine’s Day.

Q - Historically West Africa is noted for which of the following fragrant material?
A) Heady Gums & Resins
B) Rich Spices
C) Opulent Flowers

To enter call: 0901 307 7096 to enter via Text VLOVE (SPACE) YOUR ANSWER, NAME and FULL ADDRESS TO 84070. Closing Date: 14/02/2013

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