When a fragrance is being developed, the common goal is usually to bring the ingredients together to create a harmonious juice. But when French perfumer Barnabé Fillion was tapped to develop Hwyl Eau de Parfum Spray ($165 for 50 mL), the third fragrance for cult beauty brand Aesop, he wanted to explore the idea of “spatial awareness” between the notes. What does that mean? “It’s about the distance between the earth and another element—it’s as if you are walking in the forest and [observing] the quality of the space between you and the trees,” he says.

So how does Hwyl smell? Quite smoky, a little bit woody and very, very green. “The smoke should appear first,” says Fillion. After the smokiness (from the cypress note) settles, it’s slowly paced to fold in frankincense “like the resin of a tree, the sense of a mist.” Finally, the fragrance dries down to reveal an earthy moss and a vivid vetiver. The result is a completely unique unisex fragrance. “The fragrance has no gender; I don’t like the idea of limiting the possible experience of people and defining a smell [that way].” We don’t mind this gap one bit.

This article originally appeared in the October 2017 issue of ELLE Canada.