Hi Wildflower

Tanwi Nandini Islam

Tanwi Nandini Islam

How did you initially become interested in creating a fragrance and skin care line and how did it tie into your work as a writer?
I’ve always been drawn to perfumes and natural skin care. When I was younger, or ever fell ill, my grandmother would dab two cotton balls with jasmine attar and place them in my ears. As funny as it felt to lose my sense of hearing temporarily, it was the first time I remember feeling calmed by scent. Nina Ricci L’air du Temps – an older formulation of it in the mid- 1980s – reminded me of my mother’s first perfume in the States, and then as her tastes evolved and changed, Chanel No. 5. I was super into all those Victoria’s Secret sprays when I was a teenager, I won’t lie. My boyfriend at the time even bought me all 24 of the different scents they had back in the 90s, so I was spoiled by Love Spell.

Since then, I’m drawn to spicy florals, ambery and redolent scents that remind me of attars and oils that originated in South Asia. I love Tom Ford’s Tobacco Vanille and Neroli Portofino; Serge Lutens’ Santal Majuscle and Datura Noir, and Ineke’s Field Notes from Paris and Jasmin Reve by Au Pays de la Fleur d’Oranger and of course, goddess of natural perfumery Mandy Aftel’s Cuir de Gardenia.

You have said before that wildflowers are a muse for your work- where do you think this love of nature came from?
My last several trips throughout California and Missouri made for some wonderful wildflower sightings. In California there are so many species of succulents, cacti and coastal wildflowers that sprout seemingly out of nowhere. Drawing on my own scent memories – When I lived in Missouri as a young child I remember nibbling on honeysuckle nectar; jasmine necklaces sold by young children on the streets of Dhaka; rose and marigold burned in boats of betel leaf on the Ganges – to me these images aren’t exotic or mysterious, they are the vivid markers of my life. Wildflowers are a symbol of freedom to me, as well as being a way that humans commemorate cycles – the seasons, the night, the day, life and death.

Do you think scents trend like fashion? If so, what is trending in the fragrance and skin care world?
I definitely think scents trend like fashion. We grew up in fruity floral times, and now we’re moving into more botanical, amber, leather, spicy trends in scent. We want things that are both complicated -smoky, sensual and worldly or simple and primordial, like being in the desert, ocean and wilderness. I like the duality of the moment, lots of unisex happening. That’s awesome.

If you could only use one of your products in your daily routine what would it be?
Definitely my Lovers Rock perfume! It is insta-happiness in a bottle. I love the tonka, incense, clove and tobacco notes that remind me of one of my favorite styles of reggae.

I read you lived in New Delhi a while back. What is one cultural custom Brooklyn could use from India, and India could use from Brooklyn?
These cultural customs and exchanges are happening constantly – Brooklyn runs on the labor and love of Indian and South Asian immigrants, so I think a mutual respect and acknowledgement of that would go a long way.

What is your favorite Brooklyn activity and how often do you fit it into your schedule?
In our rapidly disappearing Brooklyn — at least the one that I’ve loved and written about in my novel — I will always make time to sit by the waterfront in Williamsburg and meditate at sunset.

You have a book coming out – congratulations! What are some other plans for the future? Can we look forward to more wonderful fragrances?
I’ve started working on my second novel, tentatively titled THE RIVERS, and there’s a lot of explorations of old New York history and virtual reality. And yes, there are four new fragrances in a collection, Ritual, that are explorations of ritual, mythology, seeking freedom through solitude and psychedelics. These will be launched in early July!