Sunshine Dreams : Tropical Flowers

Every now and then I have a longing for a picture perfect holiday, the kind advertised at tourist agencies with the ubiquitous image of blue waves, white sandy beaches, and a bronzed goddess in a bikini. Deep down I know that I’ll get tired of this kind of vacation after two days–and a beach bunny I’m not at all, but on an overcast, cold day, the allure of warm sand and sunshine is hard to deny. These kinds of blues–and that’s exactly what my longing indicates–have little to do with the weather and lots with stress and fatigue, and I’ve come to recognize them quickly before they take complete hold of me.

plumeria3

The easiest way to recreate the ambiance of a vacation is to find things that feel uplifting. I bring home bouquets of flowers to add a splash of color to my surroundings, float rose petals in my evening bath, and burn sweet Japanese incense in the bedroom. Then I temporarily set aside my beloved cool irises and woods for the most exuberant perfumes of all in my collection–the tropical florals.

When I talk about tropical florals, I mean fragrances based on the scents of exotic flora: tiaré (Gardenia taitensis), frangipani (also known as plumeria), and orchids. In perfumery today, tiaré essence may be used–you occasionally can find it in perfumes like Annick Goutal Un Matin d’Orage 0r Ormonde Jayne Tiarébut it’s much more likely that the bottled Polynesian blossoms are the result of a perfumer’s fancy.

Tropical florals may be recreated using the notes of jasmine, tuberose, ylang ylang, whether natural or synthetic. By studying the scents of real flowers using a technique like headspace analysis, experts can put together a facsimile portrait. With a generous dose of coconut and peach, which are naturally present in both tiaré and frangipani, the sunlit floral is complete.

When I want tropics, I want a perfume that smells like sunshine, warm flesh, coconut milk and petals sticky with nectar. If it’s heady and flamboyant, even better, because the idea is not to play it safe but to have fun. (I realize that others may not find such rich scents enjoyable, so when in public, I apply carefully and wait till I get home to turn up the volume).

Monoi de Tahiti Oil

Leading my list of favorite anti-blues, anti-rain and anti-dullness cures is Monoi de Tahiti Oil. It’s made by steeping tiaré flowers in coconut oil, and it smells like coconut, jasmine and vanilla. There are numerous brands of Monoi de Tahiti oil, and they’re all equally good, provided they come with an Appellation of Origin as an authentic Tahitian product. The coconut oil makes for an ultra-nourishing moisturizer for skin and hair, and rubbing the oil after a bath feels sensual and relaxing. That you get silky soft skin as well is a great bonus.

Kai Perfume Oil

A big dose of gardenia and frangipani smells so tropical and bubbly that it’s impossible to be gloomy when wearing this fun perfume. The roll-on bottle is convenient to throw in a purse for those moments when I want to put the whole world on pause and take a deep breath. It’s not a complicated perfume, but Kai gives me an immediate boost. It’s also a compliment magnet.

Guerlain Mayotte/Mahora

Some people call this reissue of Guerlain’s Mahora vulgar, and so be it. Understated it is not. It’s also not polite and polished. Mayotte collects every single flower on the island, from frangipani to ylang ylang, borrows plenty of sandalwood from Guerlain’s bombshell Samsara and then drenches the whole thing in creamy vanilla. Call me vulgar, but I love it. My main complaint is that Mayotte became overpriced once it joined Guerlain’s Les Parisiennes collection, so if you still enjoy this glitzy perfume, look for Mahora on Ebay and at discounters.

Vero Profumo Rubj

Rubj smells of Indian nights, indecently lush flowers, overripe fruit and salty skin.  The Eau de Parfum is more pungent than I can handle, but the parfum is pure seduction. The new Voile d’Extrait is somewhere in between, since it tones down the raunchy bits and adds more crushed tuberose and orange blossom petals. Nevertheless, it’s still a rich potion.

Parfums de Nicolaï Juste Un Rêve

Juste Un Rêve is a tiaré blossom soaked in apricot nectar. It would be too sweet and pretty if it were not for an aloof, contemplative note of iris that gives Juste Un Rêve an intriguing touch. True to its name, it’s dreamy.

Tom Ford Black Orchid

Decadent and smoldering for those days when I want excitement rather than comfort. There is so much going on in Black Orchid–fresh green leaves, cucumber peels, melted chocolate, incense, tropical flowers–that it’s hard to wear it without feeling like I’m playing dress up. But some days require some fantasy and play, and Black Orchid satisfies on all counts.

Ormonde Jayne Frangipani Absolute

In contrast to Mayotte, Frangipani Absolute is the most refined of my favorite tropical flowers. It doesn’t throw white petal confetti in your face and it doesn’t hit you on the head with a bouquet of gardenias. It simply smiles and makes you smile in return. An elegant ikebana of frangipani, a coconut and peach scented tropical bloom, set against blond woods.

If none of these perfumes cure the blues, then there is always chocolate.

Extra: you can read more about white flowers in Building Perfume Wardrobe Part 2: Florals ~ Jasmine and White Florals and Favorite Big White Floral Perfumes (and be sure to check out the comments section for more excellent suggestions).

What perfumes capture your tropical fantasies?

Image: Plumeria flowers by Robstephaustralia, via flickr, some rights reserved.

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104 Comments

  • Austenfan: These days I turn to Cococabana by PdN to create sunshine on a gray day.
    I got a sample of Mayotte a couple of months ago. I can see why people would call it vulgar, I just find it very dense.
    Talking about vulgar; I went through two (!) bottles of Escada’s Rockin’Rio a couple of years ago. I still sort of like it, I am ashamed to say. October 30, 2013 at 8:24am Reply

    • Victoria: I don’t feel ashamed for liking Mayotte. One needs to mix things up time to time. 🙂 And Rockin’Rio is just so much fun and bubbly. October 30, 2013 at 8:59am Reply

    • Annikky: I had a small decant of Mahora and drained it quickly – I wore it to bed, of all things. As white florals are very much the center of my comfort zone, it mostly felt like a feel-good comfort scent to me. And, well, I’m not internationally known for my understatedness, so it probably makes sense that I would have no problem with Mahora at all. October 30, 2013 at 9:26am Reply

      • Victoria: I can see that too! Monoi oil is my favorite nighttime scent, and it feels very comforting. October 30, 2013 at 10:38am Reply

    • nozknoz: I regret not buying Cococabana before it was discontinued! October 30, 2013 at 9:21pm Reply

  • Caroline: Still have to get around to trying Kai…seems as though it’s been around for awhile. I still just have samples, but I get a tropical vibe from Lys 41–perhaps my skin merely amplifies coconut. Really curious about those Voiles d’Extrait, particularly Mito & Rubj. Are they available in Europe yet? October 30, 2013 at 8:41am Reply

    • Victoria: It’s been around forever, and I admit that I’ve never bought a full bottle. Luckyscents samples are more than enough, since it’s so potent, and I don’t wear it daily. It’s one of those “I need some sunshine ASAP” perfumes.

      I’ve smelled Voiles d’Extrait at a perfume trade show, where they were displayed as the launch for 2013. I liked them very much though, so I hope that Luckyscent picks them up soon. October 30, 2013 at 8:55am Reply

    • Cornelia Blimber: I am not a big fan of beach and summer. I love the gloomy days of the fall and the crisp days in the winter. But sometimes I long for something not so serious. My fakeleather black handbag with the head of a tiger on it, in fake diamonds.
      Or my big perles fausses. And yes, Mahora (I own a full bottle). Vulgar? In a way. Who cares? I am so damned ladylike that I can wear vulgar perfumes. October 30, 2013 at 9:02am Reply

      • Victoria: I’m not at all a fan of summer, and I don’t even like being in the sun, so the Belgian weather suits me just fine. So, when I start longing for a beach holiday, it’s a sure indication that I’m feeling rundown. And I agree with you, something fun and not so serious is ideal on such days. October 30, 2013 at 9:19am Reply

        • rosarita: Hope you are feeling more like yourself soon, V. October 30, 2013 at 10:27am Reply

          • Victoria: Thank you. 🙂 I’ll get there with some rest and TLC from mom. October 30, 2013 at 11:19am Reply

            • Cornelia Blimber: Rundown is not in my Oxford Dictionary, but I guess it means something like exhausted.
              Wish you the best and recovering! October 30, 2013 at 12:39pm Reply

              • Victoria: Yes, that’s exactly it! 🙂 Thank you very much. October 30, 2013 at 4:41pm Reply

      • rosarita: Great comment 🙂 I feel exactly the same way about weather – give me cold and frosty over humid heat any day – and I’m very fond of both vulgar perfumes and my big honking fake diamond rings. October 30, 2013 at 10:34am Reply

    • Elisa: I got tons of coconut from Lys 41 too! It read to me as a total tropical suntan scent. A good one, too. October 30, 2013 at 12:23pm Reply

  • Connie: Songes, of course! October 30, 2013 at 8:55am Reply

    • Victoria: Songes is sunshine in the bottle! October 30, 2013 at 9:17am Reply

      • Rowanhill: I was just waiting for this gem to pop up in the comments. Songes is closest I have found to the spicy big white frangipani flowers. I love tropics, I look awful there, I wilt, but I feel wonderful. Bali anytime! October 30, 2013 at 2:13pm Reply

        • Victoria: I can’t believe that I forgot to mention it. It’s another perfume that instantly puts a smile on my face. October 30, 2013 at 4:58pm Reply

      • Gentiana: Songes… Ah, SONGES…. The fragrance that finally ended my restraint (even dislike) for big white florals. I bought it one year ago and it is one of my favorites for not-so-hot summer days, for spring and fall… A few times I literally doused in it… To some peoples’ inconvenience…
        And, getting encouraged by this new and unusual friendship, I took the thicker/ creamier Monoi de Tahiti by Yves Rocher for cold spring/ fall or winter days… Long live the frangipani flower! November 6, 2013 at 6:47am Reply

        • Victoria: Songes is definitely among the more versatile sunny florals. I also crave its jasmine petal shower on these dull, grey days. November 6, 2013 at 9:05am Reply

  • rosarita: Montale Intense Tiare – I only have a sample – is a good tropical scent. I really need something like that in my wardrobe since I feel the same way about imaginary beach vacations! Black Orchid is gorgeous, esp on my husband, but I think of it more as a winter scent. It’s one that I like to wear and really concentrate on to try to unravel the notes. October 30, 2013 at 9:10am Reply

    • Victoria: True, Black Orchid has so much going on it that it could be like a complex 19th century novel with plots and subplots and numerous characters. 🙂 October 30, 2013 at 9:16am Reply

    • Zazie: Rosarita, it’s the first time I stumble upon another Montale Intense Tiare fan! I love it because it is so…happy and flattering and delicious and tropical!

      Of course being the huge white floral fan that I am, I second Songes and Kai as evocative beach scents. I also find carnal flower reminiscent of tropical forests (as opposed to beaches) and would add Guerlain’s Lys Soleia, vamp a NY and amaranthine because of their banana loaded vanillin white flowers. Oh, and Bruno Acampora Blu (in the blue oil version) as the ultimate beach scent. The one involving the bluest seas and tigers stepping out of the jungle (Verrrrry animalic), and skin getting warm under the sun… October 30, 2013 at 9:38am Reply

      • Anne of Green Gables: Gosh, tigers stepping out of the jungle! 🙂 October 30, 2013 at 9:46am Reply

      • Victoria: I think you’ve sold me on Blu. 🙂 October 30, 2013 at 10:42am Reply

  • Anne of Green Gables: Thanks for the wonderful post, Victoria. Reading it on a gloomy day like this was perfect! And the picture of plumeria flower made me miss the beautiful plumerias in my old school. I sometimes used them to decorate my hair and I loved the way they floated in the water fountain. Oh, it brings back so many memories…

    I don’t have such a big appetite for white florals (although it has been growing ever since I smelled Carnal Flower) and I like my flowers dewy. As I told you before, smelling Do Son immediately transported me back to Indonesia. Fresh flowers after a heavy rain shower! Now your post made me want to try Frangipani Absolute. October 30, 2013 at 9:23am Reply

    • Victoria: Very glad that you liked it and that it made the gloomy day less so. 🙂 I really love the idea of floating flowers in water, and I’ve started repurposing roses or other flowers past their prime into petals for adding to my bath or simply float in big glass bowls around the house. Makes everything look more festive.

      If you stick around here longer, you’ll love more white florals in no time. So many of us seem to be white floral fans! 🙂 October 30, 2013 at 10:38am Reply

      • Anne of Green Gables: The post has really motivated me to try more white florals. I tried OJ Frangipani Absolute last weekend and what a happy perfume it is! It’s a pure tropical fantasy – it made me feel like lying on a beach under a Plumeria tree with a fruity cocktail in my hand. 🙂 I initially thought that it’s too sweet and fruity but I discovered myself continuously sniffing the blotter. It’s sweet and creamy but maybe a hint of saltiness prevents it from getting too heady or cloying. Next time, I should try it on my skin.

        I also tried Songes. I liked it in the beginning but something in the drydown bothered my nose. I was looking foward to the vanillic drydown but unfortunately, it smelled like ‘wet cardboard’ to my nose. 🙁 Nonethelss, I should give it another try because the beginning was so beautiful. November 7, 2013 at 7:25am Reply

        • Victoria: I’m very happy that you’re having such a great time discovering this type of perfume. White florals are such happy scents for me.

          Speaking of Ormonde Jayne, have you tried Champaca? I’m in love with this perfume, and its combination of nutty notes and magnolia (fruity and lemony floral is so addictive. It takes some getting used to, though. November 7, 2013 at 9:07am Reply

          • Anne of Green Gables: It’s all thanks to you and other fellow perfume lovers here. It’s always exciting to explore other territories and discover surprises. As I’m exploring perfumes as an academic exercise, I’m not limiting myself to only try perfumes which I know I’ll like.

            I seem to have a natural affinity with woods and spices. For example, Epice Marine was love at first sniff (you might have missed my comment on it while you were away)! But white florals are quite a challenge for me as many of them are rich, creamy and buttery. One of my Korean friends who smelled Frangipani and Songes told me that they smell too oily/fatty. 🙂

            I tried Champaca breifly on a blotter but now I don’t remember it so well. I’ll have to try it again. After smelling OJ Woman, I decided to explore the whole brand more. Many of their perfumes seem to be so distinctive and interesting. November 8, 2013 at 4:50am Reply

            • Victoria: Epice Marine is fantastic for those days you want something mild but plenty of character. I find it more of a sea breeze than spice (if I think of spice as something warm and piquant).

              Ormonde Jayne is an excellent line, and I’m sure you will enjoy discovering it little by little. Thank you for letting me know how your adventures are coming along. 🙂 I love getting these updates. November 11, 2013 at 8:56am Reply

  • Patricia: Yosh Ginger Ciao is another lovely example of this genre. It is composed of yummy ginger, coconut, ylang-ylang, and white flowers. I’ve used up my decant and am trying to decide if I need a whole bottle. Probably not :). October 30, 2013 at 9:37am Reply

    • Victoria: I had a sample of Ginger Ciao and liked it a lot. It’s another perfume that I would need only in tiny amounts, so a sample seems more than enough. October 30, 2013 at 10:41am Reply

  • Lynley: Manoumalia! I have and love Songes and Mahora, Juste un reve is on my wishlist, but for the most authentic heady tropical experience I can’t go past Manoumalia 🙂 October 30, 2013 at 9:42am Reply

    • Annikky: I really don’t know how and why I still haven’t tried Manoumalia. Must get to it. October 30, 2013 at 9:48am Reply

    • Victoria: I agree completely, Lynley. Manoumalia seems to smell of the tropics, and my Indian friend says that it smells exactly like India to her, some unsavory scents included. This is probably why some people can’t stand it, but it’s a very evocative, transporting perfume. October 30, 2013 at 10:42am Reply

    • nozknoz: Manoumalia and Songes are at the top of my list, too! October 30, 2013 at 9:07pm Reply

  • Annikky: Thank you, Victoria, this is so timely. I love autumn, but I’ve hit this point between the summer vacation and Christmas where I really need some help to carry on. I’m mostly counting on a long weekend in London to get me back on track, but additional help from tropical perfumes is a very good idea.

    I love or like everything on your list and I really should finally try Kai, it has my name on the bottle. Also, from the newer releases I think Jovoy Gardez-Moi could belong in this category. I don’t find it vampish, but a very pleasant sweet-ish, tropical-ish, fruity-ish, gardenia-ish feel good scent. October 30, 2013 at 9:47am Reply

    • Victoria: The end of the year is also very stressful for everyone, so I know what you mean. I wish you a wonderful mini-break and lots of good food, if not sunshine (London can be unpredictable at this time of year). I loved pastries at Nordic Bakery in Soho, especially the cinnamon buns. October 30, 2013 at 11:21am Reply

  • Aisha: I have a little bottle of very, very inexpensive plumeria-scented perfume that I bought from one of those tourist shops in Honolulu, Hawaii. When I miss my hometown, that’s the bottle I grab. 🙂 October 30, 2013 at 9:49am Reply

    • Victoria: Plumeria is such a beautiful scent! Is the perfume alcohol or oil based?

      Speaking of interesting discoveries, one of my friends showed me a line of all-natural skincare from India, and one of the refreshing mists (or perhaps it was a toner) smelled of jasmine. I just imagined misting my face with jasmine water… October 30, 2013 at 11:18am Reply

      • Aisha: The perfume is alcohol-based. The tea rose one I mentioned a few months (the one from India) is oil-based.

        I love the smell of jasmine (called “pikake” in Hawaii). My parents used to grow some in our back yard. We also had gardenia and white ginger flower. This is probably the reason why I learned to love white floral fragrances (and why I gravitated toward Anais Anais when I bought my first “real” fragrance). But a little dab goes a long way with some of those. And truth be told, I’ve grown more fond of violets, leathers and gourmands. Very odd….

        Speaking of odd … I decided to wear Marni today. It’s about 35 degrees F, cloudy and misty, so I thought it would be a good one to wear. I was wrong. The perfume seems so out of season now. I think I might like it better on me during Lent/Easter when I can really appreciate the incense. I wore Vanille Tonka yesterday, and was in heaven. I was so amazed by how long it lasted on me in this weather (10+ hours). That one is definitely a cold weather ‘fume. October 30, 2013 at 12:23pm Reply

        • solanace: I adore Vanille Tonka! October 30, 2013 at 1:30pm Reply

          • Aisha: It’s one of my favorites now, and I would never have discovered it were it not for this blog. I have the smaller bottle, but am going through it more quickly than I thought I would. I might need to get the larger one next time. I’d love to test some other PDN fragrances, but haven’t yet because I love this so much. 🙂 October 30, 2013 at 8:17pm Reply

        • Victoria: Interesting story about white ginger flower. A reader sent me a photo, asking me to help her identify it, because she said that its scent was unlike anything she has experienced before. I wasn’t familiar with the plant, but a google image search turned up white ginger flower, and now I’m also curious to smell it. I’ve smelled the headspace version, the essence made based on the research into the scent composition of this flower, but I would imagine that the real thing is much better.

          Did you ever smell a perfume that reminded you of a white ginger flower? October 30, 2013 at 4:41pm Reply

          • Aisha: Sadly, no, other than the perfumes they sell at touristy locations, and those just smell like chemicals. (That’s probably why the plumeria, gardenia and jasmine perfumes sell out the quickest.) They use fresh red and white ginger flowers in making leis, however, and those smell so heavenly.

            As for describing it so you’d instantly know what I’m talking about, I don’t know how (I’m not good at this scent identification/description thing. 😉 ) The best I can do is say it’s not as heady as a handful of jasmine (or plumeria, for that matter) and not as sweet as how gardenia can be sometimes. There’s a hint of spice to it, but it’s subtle. I’ll have to try that Origins one you posted about not too long ago and see if that ginger comes close. (Or if it’s way off). Sorry. 🙁 October 30, 2013 at 5:15pm Reply

            • Victoria: That’s a great description, Aisha! Makes me want to find some real ginger flowers.

              If you find anything that smells like it, please let me know. October 30, 2013 at 5:17pm Reply

              • Aisha: I will. I wonder if you planted ginger root if the white flower would blossom??? I don’t know. I know if I let my onions sprout (and put the root end in some water) I get some nice stalks of green onions. 🙂 I have no idea if technically it’s green onion (I’m not a gardener), but it works. 😉 October 30, 2013 at 5:21pm Reply

                • Victoria: Mine never blossomed, but they grew really well. The leaves have such a nice fresh flavor too, and I suppose that they can used in cooking (for wrapping fish before grilling or steaming, for instance). When I was little, we always planted onion bulbs in a glass of water and I remember watching with wonder how they would sprout green leaves. October 30, 2013 at 5:34pm Reply

                  • Aisha: It is fun to watch how they sprout. 🙂 Keeping our cats away from them is a challenge though… October 30, 2013 at 8:14pm Reply

                    • Victoria: My mom gave up on keeping house plants in decent order. One of her cats destroyed them all with gusto. 🙂 October 31, 2013 at 11:21am

  • Hannah: I brought my sample of Manoumalia with me to Hamburg. The weather has been so bad the past few days. Maybe I can pretend I’m on the Polynesian islands. October 30, 2013 at 10:33am Reply

    • Victoria: Sounds like a fine fantasy! 🙂 Hope that the weather will improve over the weekend. October 30, 2013 at 11:22am Reply

  • mough: Does Serge Lutens’ Une Voixe Noire count? It’s my SOTD, and being gloomy here in WY, I felt it was a sultry but dark gardenia. Nights in front of the fire place with good booze and a hint of pipe tobacco under a cloud of over ripe gardenias. October 30, 2013 at 10:48am Reply

    • Victoria: Definitely counts! I also find it sultry and voluptuous, and the touch of strawberry is unexpected under all of those white petals. October 30, 2013 at 11:23am Reply

  • Phyllis Iervello: I loved Mahora so much when it came out that I bought two bottles. I was always glad that I did when it was discontinued and still have some left. I always spritz on gloomy days as well. I am glad to hear that it has been reincarnated. Is it a lot different that my vintage bottle? October 30, 2013 at 12:10pm Reply

    • Victoria: Not sure, but people say that they’re the same. I didn’t compare them side by side, since Mahora is still available inexpensively at the discounters. October 30, 2013 at 4:38pm Reply

  • Bastet: My favorite “need a summer vacation” scent is EL Bronze Goddess. I usually wear it in the summer but once in a while when the weather is cold and gloomy and I need cheering up I’ll dig it back out of winter storage. October 30, 2013 at 12:56pm Reply

    • Victoria: Mmmm, I forgot about it, but it’s worth revisiting. I very much like Bronze Goddess! October 30, 2013 at 4:42pm Reply

  • solanace: I’ll have to try Mahora! October 30, 2013 at 1:33pm Reply

    • Victoria: It’s a love or hate perfume, what can I say. 🙂 October 30, 2013 at 4:42pm Reply

  • Nancy A.: Whenever the change of season lurks around the corner we move into the comfort zone, particularly when most of Europe experienced an unusually serious rainstorm accompanied by high winds. Oddly enough, its entry was on the heels of the anniversary of our Sandy. I’m glad to hear you’re well and safe and moved into a review of beautiful scents reminiscent of islands and warmth. A recent survey revealed the music of Simon & Garfunkel as a great stress reliever and I have to foster scent alongside that. I seek Sandalwood, Jasmine even a soft Oud to comfort the doldrums whether on me or in candle form or in this case I happened to roll on some Kai Oil in a store recently whose scent always transports me to my comfort zone. Kilian’s Playing with the Devil has a definite peach tone to it not unlike Flower of Immortality only more so which creates an environment of playfulness! By the way, Annick Goutal & Kilian, respectively will be opening boutiques in the West Village (NYC) or so rumor has it. Goutal newly purchased by corporate will be side by side with Bond Street locking fragrance horns. I guess there’s room for all given that there different in concept. October 30, 2013 at 2:04pm Reply

    • Victoria: Oh, interesting rumors! I’ll look forward to hearing more, and yes, it would be great to have more perfume boutiques. The charming Annick Goutal boutique here in Brussels is irresistible. It looks like someone’s salon.

      Thank you for reminding me about sandalwood. I’ve just mixed up some almond oil with sandalwood essence for my nighttime scent. It already smells wonderful in the bottle. October 30, 2013 at 4:44pm Reply

    • LP: Did someone say an Annick Goutal boutique would be opening in NYC! Yay! I also hope they bring some life back to their old scents like Passion! To me original version had a tropical quality to it. October 30, 2013 at 7:14pm Reply

  • Ksenija: I know those days. I reach for my bottle of Beyond Paradise by E. Lauder. It is loud, bubbly and beautiful and makes me feel better in an instant. October 30, 2013 at 2:14pm Reply

    • Victoria: Anything that works to create a little fantasy, right? I like Beyond Paradise for its bright, sunny scent. October 30, 2013 at 5:04pm Reply

  • wefadetogray: OJ’s Frangipani is and will for ever be my favorite perfume. Although I migrate to the opposite pole every time summer arrives since I cannot stand the heat, particularly, the humid heat of NYC, I adore the smell of tropical flowers. Monoi de Tiare oils are magical.
    Thanks for this post! October 30, 2013 at 2:22pm Reply

    • Victoria: A nice thing about Frangipani is that it ages really well in the bottle. My bottle of the edp is a couple of years old, and I swear, it smells even better now.

      Aren’t Monoi oils great? I used to wear Nars Shimmer Oil until I discovered that it was just an overpriced version of a traditional coconut oil scented with tiare blossoms. October 30, 2013 at 5:06pm Reply

  • Jennifer C: Perfect timing on this post. I saw it on my phone first thing when I woke up this morning, when it was gray and rainy and I didn’t want to get out of bed. I remembered I had a sample of Songes EDT that I hadn’t tried yet, so today seemed like a good time to do it. It really hit the spot. Though oddly enough, this morning I was getting a sweaty note in it that I could’ve sworn was cumin, and I had never read anything about Songes having a cumin note. But then I re-applied a little while ago, and I’m not getting the cuminy thing as much this time. Weird.

    Also, the mention of finding Mahora at discounters sent me on a google search, since I had never tried it. I found a 5ml for cheap so I ordered it. I don’t normally buy blind, but I’m feeling a little impulsive, and I figure it’s cheap enough to be worth the risk. October 30, 2013 at 5:18pm Reply

    • Victoria: Oh, I’m keeping my fingers crossed that Mahora will work out. If not as a perfume, then you can add a few drop to your bath water. It really works well that way.

      I occasionally get a really big, raspy mothball note out of Songes, but I’ve never noticed cumin. It might be there or perhaps, you’ve picked up on something else–musk, leather, dark floral notes. October 30, 2013 at 5:24pm Reply

      • Jennifer C: Just got my bottle of Mahora today, and I love it! It’s kind of like Samsara’s beach-dwelling sister to me. I think it’s the buttery aspect of tuberose coming through, but with the sandalwood it gives a slight salty impression, which I really like. It was a successful blind buy. 😀 November 5, 2013 at 10:52pm Reply

        • Victoria: Your description is so tempting that you make me want to wear Mahora right away. I also notice that sandalwood part, and while I haven’t thought of it like a white floral take on Samsara, but I agree with you. It’s certainly a bombshell along the same lines. November 6, 2013 at 9:04am Reply

    • elvie: A little late to the party but my browser was dummy again:(.
      What a timely post, I also am going through a tropical craving these past few weeks. Last week I have blind-ordered a mini of Mahora because of that, like You, and can’t wait for it to arrive. I use Fracas as an ultimate comfort-scent on gloomy days or grumpy-me days, and it works wonders. I adore it. But, it is j7ust not tropical enough for now. I hope Mahora will fit the bill! Until then, I’m misting myself with a little bit of Intense Tiare and tuberoses, like Peche Cardinal and Noix de Tubéreuse, though I find it too fruity in the topnotes right now.
      I was thinking Ysatis as well. I used to like it back in the day. Am I too foggy about it being also a bit of a coconutty-paradise tuberose scent? October 31, 2013 at 2:07am Reply

      • Victoria: I remember Ysatis as an animalic tuberose, and yes, with lots of coconut. It’s another drama queen of a perfume, but for white floral lovers, it’s a good option.

        Please let me know how Mahora turns out (even if you don’t like it!) I’m so curious to hear what others think of this bombshell/monster/diva. 🙂 October 31, 2013 at 11:33am Reply

        • elvie: Thank You!
          Well, Mahora arrived yesterday. Yes, she is gorgeous. Yes, she is sultry. And above all, BIG. She likes me, I guess. She kept purring in my ears since last night, and its 6 am.
          But… Imagine that: NO tuberose for me, except for the very slight promise of it at the neck of the bottle. My skin, which usually amps up the tuberose, now eats it up, and swipes it off the pallette in a blink. 🙁 🙁 It’s a very nice hot buttered spicy brioche not very far from Alamut on my skin. O_O
          Now I’ll have to go on a quest for something else, as it is enjoyable but I want TUBEROSE now. Or at least gardenia. And I want it bad.
          Anyway, thanks for the fingers crossed!:) Have a very nice day:
          elf. November 5, 2013 at 12:37am Reply

          • Victoria: It sounds like you want a different tuberose, perhaps something greener and less buttery. You’ve describe the creamy, buttery tuberose perfectly, but yes, Mahora is not a dewy sort of floral. Plus, it’s not meant as a tuberose solifloral. It has other creamy, sweet tropical flowers that give it that pastry feel.
            Have you tried Diptyque Do Son (light and dewy) or Carnal Flower by Frederic Malle (opulent but still green)? November 6, 2013 at 9:09am Reply

  • rainboweyes: I hate European autumn and winter. I wish I could hibernate between November and April 😉
    Unfortunately, evoking the feeling of summer and vacation by wearing tropical scents does not work for me. First of all, I’m not a white flower person, I find them too loud and cloying, when I want to create a tropical impression, I rather reach for Artisan Parfumeur Ananas Fizz, MP&G Bahiana or Byredo Pulp. But even then, it seems unnatural and misplaced on those gloomy days.
    One thing that actually helps, though, is light. I surround myself by many cosy sources of light such as table or floor lamps. And I have one comfort scent that I wear when I’m cuddled up in a blanked on my sofa – Anima Dulcis by Arquiste. October 30, 2013 at 5:53pm Reply

    • Victoria: Anima Dulcis is like a warm blanket. Another one in that category, an abstract gourmand so to speak, is Serge Lutens’s Borneo 1834. Aisha mentioned Vanille Tonka earlier, and I would have to add it to my “blanket” selection. October 31, 2013 at 11:21am Reply

      • Cornelia Blimber: With my cat on my sofa: I like to wear Hypnotic Poison. October 31, 2013 at 11:38am Reply

        • Victoria: A cat and Hypnotic Poison are a perfect way to relax. 🙂 October 31, 2013 at 11:40am Reply

  • nozknoz: I’ve realized that just as much as the darkness, it’s the bare trees and dead grass that dishearten me. The perfect antidote is Manoumalia, a jungle in a bottle, and I agree with you that the wonderfully pretty Kai is an island vacation. I also resort to Guerlain Terracotta Voile d’Ete, Idylle Eau Sublime and one of my guilty pleasures is Escada Summer in Provence. October 30, 2013 at 9:43pm Reply

    • Victoria: I haven’t tried Summer in Provence, but so many of Escadas are fun and exhilarating. I haven’t tried any of their recent launches, though.

      Yellow grass and fallen leaves do make everything depressing, especially on an overcast day. October 31, 2013 at 11:25am Reply

    • Victoria: P.S. I also wanted to mention how much I like Terracotta Voile d’Ete. The only reason I didn’t include it is because it’s discontinued and might be hard to find. But it’s such a sunny and happy perfume. October 31, 2013 at 11:49am Reply

  • FearsMice: The idea of a “tropical floral” scares me a little — I imagine a huge flesh-eating orchid stalking its victims in the jungle… But I do like Un Matin d’Orage and Ginger Ciao quite a bit. And I’ve been curious about Kai and Mahora for a while, too, so those will go on the sample list.
    Hope you recover quickly from your stress and fatigue, Victoria. October 30, 2013 at 10:47pm Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you! I’m smiling over your tropical floral description. Yes, many can feel that way, and trying to remove them is not easy. Mahora, for instance, will wear through the shower. Un Matin d’Orage, though, is lovely, and it was one of the two perfumes I wore a lot during my wedding preparations. It helped to keep my sane. 🙂 October 31, 2013 at 11:27am Reply

  • Andrea Marie: I adore OJ Frangipani. I sleep with a candle of it nearby and can get whiffs of it-even unlit-when lying in bed. The bath oil is so amazing that sometimes I run the tub with a cap of oil just because it scents my entire home. My master bath is at least 5 large rooms away from the front door and yet I can smell it upon entering the house after I have bathed with it…

    I had no idea that peach is in the fragrance! Aside from frangipani scents (I also love Elemis Frangipani-Monoi oil) I seek out peach scents. Thanks for mentioning additional fragrances to try! October 30, 2013 at 11:07pm Reply

    • Victoria: I haven’t burned the candle, but I smelled it at a boutique and what a rich scent! I can imagine that it would fill the room instantly.
      Sounds like a great way to wind down. October 31, 2013 at 11:28am Reply

  • Figuier: Wow you timed this article well! – I read it yesterday evening after having reached exactly that point of exhaustion and winter gloom. And I’d actually been deliberating between Songes and Terracotta as a mood booster. Went for a hot bath or Neals Yard bath oil instead.

    I always mention these, which I first discovered via Grain de Musc’s blog, but Yves Rocher’s Tiare and Ylang shower gels are brilliant mood boosters in the winter. The Tiare especially is heavenly, both fresh and sultry at once. I’d love to try proper Monoi oil, and Kai. October 31, 2013 at 10:30am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you so much for the Yves Rocher recommendations! I haven’t tried these gels, but we actually need some new shower products, so I will check Tiare and Ylang. There is an Yves Rocher store not too far from my apartment building. Besides great shower gels and some nice perfumes, I’ve discovered their fantastic pink eyeliner (perfect for lining the lower waterline to make eyes look brighter). Needless to say, the store is very tempting. 🙂 October 31, 2013 at 11:39am Reply

      • Figuier: Yes, YR have so many good products; it’s a pity they don’t have (many?) shops in the UK. An eyeliner that makes the eyes look brighter sounds like a life-saver – I’ll definitely be checking that out on the website 🙂 October 31, 2013 at 5:55pm Reply

        • Victoria: I found it on their website. It’s called Extra long hold, and the color is Rose taupé. The usual recommendation of lining the waterline with white eyepencil doesn’t look that natural, but this one works well. November 1, 2013 at 9:28am Reply

          • Figuier: Thanks Victoria, I’ll check that out. November 1, 2013 at 10:38am Reply

    • Anne of Green Gables: Thanks for the Yves Rocher shower gel recommendation, Figuier. I couldn’t find Tiare here but I got Ylang shower gel and I’ve been enjoying it every night. November 7, 2013 at 7:09am Reply

      • Victoria: I also went to look for Tiare at my local store, and a very nice SA gave me a couple of different samples to try at home, including Ylang. I love how it lingers, so I save for my evening bath. November 7, 2013 at 9:11am Reply

  • Julie: Great post as always, Victoria.
    I love Mayotte and yet I wonder if this powerhouse of a scent is killing everyone around me. I’ve not thought of it as vulgar but I see what you mean. I have a sample from Lucky as well that has lasted me quite awhile. I’m surprised I like it so much as my personality does not match its personality. Maybe it’s my way of walking on the wild side 😉 October 31, 2013 at 12:34pm Reply

    • Victoria: You know, I don’t think of it as vulgar myself, but I’ve heard it described as such. Well, maybe, if vulgar is used to mean loud, ostentatious, flamboyant, then yes, that’s Mahora for you. I just make sure to apply very little if I have to be around other people. It has a big sillage, so a light application moderates it wel;. I still smell it, without feeling like everyone is wilting in my path. I personally don’t care how it’s described. I like it very much. 🙂 October 31, 2013 at 12:43pm Reply

  • Julie: Yes, a little goes a long way. That’s probably why I like it so much – it stays with me all day and very few fragrances do. October 31, 2013 at 4:50pm Reply

    • Victoria: Yes, far better than those gauzy pretty (and usually incredibly expensive) things that vanish after 5 minutes. 🙂 November 1, 2013 at 9:24am Reply

  • maja: Tropical flowers scare me, too. I am not a big fan of tiarè and I don’ t know if I will ever use up my bottle of Nuxe oil. 🙂 But some jasmin is fine and some tuberose too so I guess I could win the winter blues if there were any serious winter where I currently live 🙂 November 1, 2013 at 1:15pm Reply

  • Annette Reynolds: I realize this is an old post, but I’m just now reading it and couldn’t help adding my own tropical favorite. Have you tried Elemis SpaHome Frangipani Monoi Body Oil? Oh, it is HEAVENLY.

    I was introduced to it on a cruise in 2012, and although I hated the cruise experience, the Elemis oil was the one good thing to come from it.

    They also make a creamy body wash of the same fragrance, and it’s also magnificent. January 24, 2014 at 2:32pm Reply

  • Julie: Dear Victoria,
    I recently tried Kai Perfume Oil along with a bath product from the same line. It is really quite beautiful. My first gardenia scent. 😉 I always find that your reviews are very accurate…thank you! May 10, 2015 at 12:13pm Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you for letting me know, Julie! Yay! Another winner. Enjoy it. 🙂 May 10, 2015 at 12:36pm Reply

  • Julie: PS. I Victoria I forgot to add. I use Carol’s Daughter Shampoo the Monoi Oil Hair care line, together with the Kai oil after my cleansing it makes for a great start to the day!! Thanks again for all your comments and suggestions. Have a wonderful day. 🙂 May 10, 2015 at 12:22pm Reply

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