Suzanna on tomato leaf as a perfume note.
Among the smells of summer (suntan lotion, beach rose, vanilla ice cream, jasmine, hot asphalt, and blackberries, to name a few), none is more redolent to me of that golden season than is the scent of tomato leaves. The leaf’s smell transports me to the end of summer, to the dog days where the heat shimmers and the dust in the road rises and seems to hang in the sultry air. It is then that the season’s tomatoes, fat and bulging globes of red fruit, release their scent in what always seems to me an impromptu act of fragrant pleasure.
The smell of the tomato leaf is precise and yet is impossible to nail down with any accuracy; as with a geranium leaf there is a green/acidic vegetal smell and a nearness to turpentine or pine, plus a hint of almost-acrid dust or chalk resin. The smell is sharp and suspenseful—one can tell the state of ripeness of the fruit, or so it seems, from the high pitch of this aroma. Its particular odor is due to an aromachemical of a type that also causes the smell from the geranium leaf.
In perfumery, the smell of tomato leaf is often used to signal freshness or to impart the feeling of the outdoors. It is not an actual note but is a construction and it pairs especially well with citrus notes like grapefruit, other leaf (or herbal) notes, and mossy/grassy basenotes. Two of my favorites are Yves Saint Laurent In Love Again and Diptyque L’Ombre dans L’Eau. The smell of tomato leaf is not a listed note or accord in either of these but is an olfactory impression stemming from grapefruit in the first and blackcurrant leaf in the second. One of the most remarked-upon fragrances featuring this accord is Sisley Eau de Campagne, which dates from 1974 and is a wearable French countryside. A newcomer with this note is Ys Uzac Metaboles.
Applying a fragrance with a prominent tomato leaf note always seems to me to be a jolt to the senses. No matter how often you wear a fragrance with the note, it always comes as a bit of a surprise. Its verisimilitude to the plant from which it is derived is so accurate that it stands in stark opposition to a long list of notes that smell almost—but not quite—like the fruits, woods, flowers, and animal essences from which they allegedly derive. There is no abstract of a tomato leaf. It is one of the most remarkable notes in perfumery, in my opinion, due to its unexpectedness and its complete lack of gender reference.
The list of fragrances below contains scents that feature the note as a primary component (Memory of Kindness, Demeter Tomato, Liberty Fizz) and those that add a touch of it to the blend for purposes of accentuation.
Do you enjoy green, leafy notes in perfumes?
Here’s a compilation of fragrances with tomato leaf or the impression of it. Please let me know any others!
CB I Hate Perfume Memory of Kindness
DKNY Women (1999)
Heeley Verveine d’Eugene
Hilde Soliani Stecca
Joop What About Adam
Molinard Une Souris Verte
Sisley Eau de Campagne
Estée Lauder Pleasures Intense for Men
Nina Ricci Liberte Acidulée (Liberty Fizz)
Parfums de Rosine Diabolo Rose
Smell Bent Lobster Cellphone
Yves Saint Laurent In Love Again
Photography by Bois de Jasmin.