San Francisco is one of the most fragrant cities. The scents of salty sea breeze and jasmine are the strongest recollections from my visits. So I’m with Elisa on enjoying Van Cleef & Arpels California Reverie, an effervescent perfume inspired by California and jasmine.
I love the idea of perfumes inspired by a place – take Christopher Street, a leather scent named for a street in New York City known for its nightlife. Or any number of Bond No. 9 scents – the connections to the individual neighborhoods have been stretching believability for some time, I admit, but a few – like Broadway Nite, Chinatown, and Fire Island – nail the atmospheres of their respective inspirations. Then there’s a host of perfumes named after spots in Paris, including at least two simply named Paris.
It’s funny, on reflection, that there are so many perfumes named after New York – it’s one of my favorite places to be, but honestly, it kind of stinks. California, on the other hand, seems a bit under-leveraged in perfumery briefs. San Diego, for example, is one of the best-smelling cities I’ve been to; the air smells like sea salt, flowers, and eucalyptus trees.
Which brings us to California Reverie, created by Antoine Maisondieu in 2014 – a mixed white floral with the sunny outlook of a 10-day forecast in Los Angeles in June. The top note is a small burst of citrus, with the greenness of neroli and mandarin. Behind this is a big wedding-worthy bouquet of white flowers, including jasmine and orange blossom with enough indoles to smell realistically prickly, like olfactory goosebumps. (Indoles, to my mind, are what separate flat “shampoo” jasmine accords from the ones that smell like living blooms.) Also in the mix is frangipani, AKA plumeria, a slightly creamy tropical floral note similar to tiare. Together, the effect is airy and breezy – I think of this as a daytime-into-evening fragrance, rather than a narcotically sexy date-night perfume.
The drydown has enough sweetness from vanilla and honey to add a layer of comfort and warmth – like throwing a light sweater over your dress after sunset – but it doesn’t approach the sweetness of something like Sweet Redemption. Overall, California Reverie wears quite lightly, and it’s easy to indulge in respritzing throughout the day, especially since you’ll likely want to wear it when the weather is warm and molecules are wont to evaporate.
Van Cleef & Arpels didn’t try to reinvent the wheel here – they just made a very lovely, uplifting summer fragrance, in the spirit of Kai, La Chasse au Papillons, or Private Collection Tuberose Gardenia. If you love those fragrances but feel you could always use another white floral in your life, California Reverie is well worth your time and neck space. (Get some in your hair while you’re at it.)
California Reverie includes notes of mandarin orange, neroli, jasmine sambac, frangipani, beeswax and vanilla. It’s available from Lucky Scent at $185 for 75 ml.