It's always helpful to be reminded that snobbery has no place in perfume appreciation. A branch of Lush - with its cheerfully dressed-down aesthetics - may not be the first place you'd turn to for olfactory artistry, but next to the bath bombs, multi-coloured jellies and stacks of henna is a collection of unassuming black bottles containing some of the most striking scents on the high street. Many of them were part of the defunct B Never Too Busy To Be Beautiful range, but now they're all marketed as Gorilla Perfumes and are gradually being rolled out across Lush's international network.
The Smell Of Freedom is one of the more recent additions. On a basic level, it operates like a jasmine-infused cologne: the freshness of neroli and lemongrass combine with white blossoms to produce the sort of soothing effect many of us would associate with bottles of 4711. However, there is much more on offer to the attentive wearer. Powdery elegance appears in the form of orris, whilst a combination of woods (including, according to the official ingredients, a touch of oud) provides an infusion of warmth. The result is a beguiling brew that veers between wispy lightness and almost unbearable bleakness, very much like liberty itself.
If you've ever smelled orange flower absolute, you may well have been taken aback by its distinctly non-floral undertone: pungent and unabashedly animalic, it tends to conjure images of carnal couplings in locked bedrooms rather than innocent trysts in pretty orchards. Thankfully, this incredible raw material's adult side is allowed to take pride of place in Orange Blossom, a headspinning mix of innocence and seductiveness. Balanced at one end by the near-medicinal shrillness of ylang-ylang and, at the other, by the sweetness of beeswax, it's a deceptively simple fragrance that smiles like an angel and winks like a very dangerous stranger.
In relative terms, the Gorilla Perfumes aren't cheap: 10ml of The Smell Of Freedom will cost you £15, which means, if you don't mind my stating the obvious, that 200ml will take you well past the price range of Chanel's Les Exclusifs. But I'd always advise someone to part with £20 or less for a comparatively small amount of an excellent perfume instead of £60 for 100ml of a mainstream scent that's barely half-decent. So the next time you're in town shopping for a bottle, consider avoiding the over-marketed department stores. Follow your nose to the land of bath bombs and just go ape!
[Review based on samples obtained in 2010; fragrances tested on skin.]