As much as I love complex fragrances that feel like an alternative universe in themselves, there are days when I feel that my own world more than suffices to keep me on my toes. At such times I simply want something beautiful: a perfume that feels like a comfortable second skin, or a soft melody that forms a perfect scented soundtrack to my day. The latest such discovery is by Kilian Water Calligraphy, a perfume from the Asian Tales Collection.
Water Calligraphy is immediately inviting—the sparkling citrus top notes are tart and bittersweet, while the lemony cardamom is deliciously piquant. Even when the luscious white floral notes begin to unfold, the perfume retains its initial airy impression. If you’ve ever floated gardenias in a bowl of water and returned to find a room full of their peach and jasmine cream perfume, you will find a similar experience with Water Calligraphy.
But I admit that watery notes sometimes make me wary, because I associate them with bland florals that are more sterile than sensual. In Water Calligraphy, by contrast, the cool, watery touch is a perfect counterpoint to the opulence of frangipani and jasmine, but the silky brush of petals against the skin feels seductive. The main white floral story is augmented by the lemon ice cream note of magnolia and crunchy, sheer hyacinth, another beautiful touch.
The “gardenia petals floating on water” impression lasts for a surprisingly long time, and the radiance of Water Calligraphy is extraordinary. This is something I find in many fragrances created by perfumer Calice Becker, the author of Water Calligraphy. When it comes to creating radiant floral blends, she has few equals. Water Calligraphy dries down very slowly to a soft earthy backdrop of musk and vetiver. Yet, whenever I catch a whiff of my perfume, I still smell gardenia and jasmine, which with time become darker and richer.
Yet, Water Calligraphy never crosses into the heady, big white floral territory. It retains an understated presence and is casual enough to be worn during the day. Its crisp, cool feel will be particularly welcome during the hot days of summer. Those who love by Kilian’s high calorie oriental blends like Back to Black and Rose Oud may be unimpressed by the delicate character of both Water Calligraphy and Bamboo Harmony, but in my wardrobe I always have enough room for another polished perfume that simply makes me feel happy.
By Kilian Water Calligraphy (The Asian Tale Collection) includes notes of grapefruit, reseda blossom, water lily, jasmine Sambac, magnolia, cardamom, and vetiver. By Kilian fragrances are sold from Aedes, MiN, Bergdorf Goodman, Saks5thAvenue.
Image: Water Drops and Flower Petals by razvan.orendovici, via Flickr, some rights reserved.
Star rating: 5 stars–outstanding/potential classic, 4 stars–very good, 3 stars–adequate, 2 stars–disappointing, 1 star–poor.
Sample: my own acquisition