Victoria: 1918 posts

Postcard from Ukraine : Willow Sunday

It took me a moment to connect the green fragrance reminiscent of jasmine buds and apples with the bunch of willow branches I held in my arms. I bought it at the entrance to the Mgarsky Monastery in Lubny, and I now stood in line to have my willow branches blessed by the priest who walked around the church courtyard, sprinkling people and their willow bouquets with holy water. Since palm trees don’t grow in Ukraine but willows do, the Sunday before Easter is called Willow Sunday. Mine smelled of sweet incense and willow blossoms.

willow treewillow sunday1

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Rosewater Essence

One of my recent FT columns is all about rosewater, a by-product of rose oil production. After the steam distillation runs its course, there remains a fragrant liquid, or rosewater. It’s used in cosmetics, food, medical preparations and home scents. Rosewater is not stable enough to be used in perfumery, but many rose oil producers have started re-distilling the rosewater and making so-called rosewater essence, or extract. It’s less expensive than rose oil and is packaged with words like sustainable and environmentally friendly, which it may or may not be. Nevertheless, it’s a curious product, and perfumers have been using more of it to create a fresh petal effect, or to soften the outlines of synthetic floral accords.

rosewater

The 11th-century Persian philosopher and scientist Avicenna is credited with many contributions to astronomy, geography, psychology, logic, mathematics and physics. He also found time to delve into perfumery and devised methods to extract essential oils, experimenting on roses. If Avicenna were to step into a fragrance lab today, he would orient himself quickly enough – modern perfumery is a curious amalgam of traditional techniques with state-of-the-art technology. Indeed, rose oil is prepared in much the same way as in Avicenna’s time – through the process of steam distillation. Continue here.

Previously, I also wrote about my favorite ways with this rose-scented liquid. Do you use rosewater? 

Image via HTSI

Postcard from Kyiv

The days of rain, pink petals clogging the gutters and the sour-sweet smell of poplar buds. Spring in Kyiv.

lavra-kiev-2016

Photography by Bois de Jasmin

Catherine Deneuve’s Beauty and Perfume Routine

Celebrity perfumes come and go, but Deneuve, created by the French screen goddess, remains a legend. More than any other discontinued perfume, this green leather-chypre, an heir to Miss Dior and No 19, comes up in readers’ queries time and again. Catherine Deneuve is the ultimate perfume lover; Bois de Jasmin even has a Catherine Deneuve tag as a testament to her scent obsession and my admiration. I’m pleased to add another item to my list: the Into the Gloss article, in which Deneuve describes her beauty routine, her love for Cle de Peau powder, Carnal Flower and Francis Kurkdjian’s nose.

“When I start a film, I like to have a special fragrance to wear for it. So, I’m starting a film tomorrow and I’m going to wear Frederic Malle’s Eau de Magnolia—I like it because with every perfume, he works with a different person to do something special. After the film, I keep the perfume, and when I wear it I remember the experience. It’s not something I’ve always done, but I’ve been doing it for a few years. And also I like very much the perfume of Francis Kurkdjian, becaue he’s very special. He’s the one who did the first perfume of Jean Paul Gaultier but now he’s doing perfume for himself. I like his nose.

In the summer, I love to wear jasmine. It’s a very natural, floral scent, but at the same time, has something a little deeper. There’s a musk from Frederic Malle—Carnal Flower—that he also makes as a Hair Mist which I love. Also orange blossom—that’s lovely. Read more.”

Another interesting read is Catherine Deneuve on Her Favorite Perfume and Other Fragrance Topics. The woman is a perfumista, I tell you.

Photograph of Catherine Deneuve via Cineteve, from Anne Andreu’s biography released in 2010. Also highly recommended.

Generosity of Spring

My barometer of spring is a large magnolia tree near my apartment building. It stands bare and craggy, with few leaves even in the summer, but the moment the weather warms up, it lets out a mass of pink blossoms. First, the buds appear, enclosed in furry brown wrappers. Then they lighten, swell and unfold into thick, waxy petals covered with sticky dew. When I walk past the tree, I notice these small changes, and even if a day has brought nothing particularly pleasant, the magnolia is a highlight. I pick up a fallen blossom and it smells of lemon detergent and vanilla. My coat pockets are filled with bits of petals that I stash away like the talismans of new spring. I open a notebook during a work meeting and dried flowers fall out of it. After several years of living in the same neighborhood, I think of the magnolia tree as an old friend.

mimosa-yellow cup

When people tell me that perfume is an expensive hobby, I always think of my magnolia tree and the immense pleasure it gives me, entirely free of charge. It’s crass to use the language of economics with regards to nature, but I would like to reinforce a point–a perfume hobby is as expensive as you make it. If you’re into collecting, yes, the costs will quickly add up, but as I described in my post How to Make Perfume Hobby Affordable, there are ways to appreciate scents and enrich our lives with them without running into great expense. Springtime gives many opportunities to do so–it’s a generous season.

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