Victoria: 1958 posts

Recommend Me a Perfume : October 2016

Our October “Recommend Me a Perfume” thread is now open. You can use this space to ask any questions about perfume, including fragrance recommendations, and of course, share your discoveries.


How does it work: 1. Please post your requests or questions as comments here. You can also use this space to ask any fragrance related questions. To receive recommendations that are better tailored to your tastes, you can include details on what you like and don’t like, your signature perfumes, and your budget. And please let us know what you end up sampling. 2. Then please check the thread to see if there are other requests you can answer. Your responses are really valuable for navigating the big and sometimes confusing world of perfume, so let’s help each other!

To make this thread easier to read, when you reply to someone, please click on the blue “reply” link under their comment.

Photography by Bois de Jasmin, “cats in the traditional Iranian carpet design.”


Looking through some of my photographs, I found this picture of my grandfather as a first year engineering student.

grandfather reading

He posed for the photo, but in my recollections of him, a book–and a fishing rod–are ever present.

Damask Roses and Roses of Damascus

Occasionally I come across articles mentioning “roses from Syria” as “a precious” ingredient in perfumes. One of the pieces even appeared in a newspaper that runs daily reports on the war in Syria. But real world events don’t enter into the fantasy bubble of beauty writing, with absurd and morbid results.  We’re conditioned to think of perfume as something so rarefied and intangible that for all we know angels pick the flowers and blend essences in their celestial realms. The thought that a country, which has been at war for five years, might have difficulty growing roses doesn’t cloud the writers’ imaginations.


Until the war, which started in 2011, Syria produced 80 tonnes of roses, some of which were distilled on site and some exported to be processed in Europe. Syria wasn’t as large a producer as Turkey, Bulgaria or Morocco, but its roses had a delicious raspberry nuance. The last commercial sample I was able to get in 2011 still smells of sun warmed fruit and spicy honey. Damascus and the other rose growing provinces have suffered tremendously during the war, especially the area held by the revolutionary army and targeted in the heavy bombing campaigns by the Syrian regime.  People have fled from the fighting, leaving plantation owners with few work hands and resources. As a one-time distiller told a reporter of The Express Tribune, “Today there are barely 250 grams (half a pound) of oil available to buy in the whole market.” What are the chances that it makes its way into a perfume produced by a luxury brand?

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Perfume in the Library: Hafez’s Rose and A Wine Cup

Oh, come let’s scatter rose petals and fill the cup with wine;
let’s tear the ceiling of the universe and create a new one.
If the army of woes is intent on shedding the lovers’ blood,
Cup-bearer and I will ride together and uproot the army’s foundation!
We’ll pour rose water in the bowl of purple wine;
we’ll in censer pour the sweetness of the scented wind. (ghazal 129)**

I’m reading Hafez in Shiraz. The marble steps are cool, and the autumnal sunlight thick as honey clings to the blue tiled dome of Hafeziye, a poet’s tomb. Hafez was born in this city known for its culture, sensuality and pleasure-loving ways, and even today Shirazi are proud to reinforce their reputation as sybarites with a sly sense of humor. It’s a regular weekday, but at Hafeziye there is the aura of an endless fest. A group of students reads poetry. A turbaned man in the flowing dress of a mullah pays his respects at the tomb. Two heavily made up young women with prominent post-surgery bandages on their noses pose for a selfie.  Couples exchange glances, verses and phone numbers. Somehow, I think that Hafez wouldn’t mind.

“Color your prayer rug with wine,” writes Hafez, one of the most remarkable poets and mystical thinkers. Remarkable for his imaginative allusions, for his unveiling of hypocrisy and for his limitless passion which pours out in his verses through metaphors of love, perfume and wine.

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Roses and Jasmine : Skin Toners

One of my favorite discoveries during my stays in Japan was the skincare. Any beauty store, from the glitzy establishments like Mitsukoshi and Takashimaya to the emporia like Matsumoto Kiyoshi and Ainz & Tulpe, has knowledgeable staff that not only can help you select the right products, but also diagnose your skin type and choose the right regimen. This is how I discovered the versatility and usefulness of face toners and mists. In my new column, Putting on the spritz: face mists, I cover some of my favorite products, both naturally scented and fragrance-free, as well as ways to incorporate them into a skincare routine.

Although my face toner schooling took place in Japan, most of the products I use are made by the American and European brands that offer well-formulated and interesting choices in all price ranges. I mention all of my top favorites in the article: Clinique, Tata Harper, May Lindstrom, Omorovicza, pure rosewater and more.

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From the Archives

Latest Comments

  • Victoria in Damask Roses and Roses of Damascus: Huntington was inspired by Bernard Lewis, of course, whose ideas influenced the American policy makers a great deal (and the outcome of the Iraq war illustrates the delusion of doing… October 27, 2016 at 12:29pm

  • Victoria in Damask Roses and Roses of Damascus: Thank you for sharing this memory. I wanted to go to Damascus to study Arabic, especially since the Syrian version of Arabic is so beautiful. Unfortunately, I kept putting it… October 27, 2016 at 12:22pm

  • Victoria in Damask Roses and Roses of Damascus: I hope that your mother is well on her way to recovery! Thank you for such kind words. October 27, 2016 at 12:19pm

  • Victoria in Reading: Just a set? Not sure, and he’s not around to find out anymore. October 27, 2016 at 12:18pm

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