Fragrant Pleasures: 290 posts

Essays on scented pleasures: collecting and enjoying fragrance, building perfume wardrobe, growing aromatic plants and more.

Perfume, Poetry, Spring

Patricia talks of spring and early summer and regales us with poetry and fragrance.

April

Spring always sneaks in with an edge, as noted by T. S. Eliot in The Waste Land, “April is the cruelest month.” April promises, then takes away, tantalizing us with a hint of green shoots pushing through the hard earth and following up with a snowstorm. I always crave green fragrances during early spring and none more so than the late, lamented Gucci Envy, created in 1997 by Maurice Roucel. Notes of hyacinth, lily-of-the-valley, rose, and jasmine are surrounded by a strong green presence that has always said spring to me.

cherry blossoms1

I still have half a bottle of Envy from my original purchase, but in the search for an alternative that is currently produced, came upon Début by Parfums DelRae. Debut, created by Michel Roudnitska, starts out with a sharper green than Envy, but then goes more floral in the dry down with notes of ylang-ylang, linden, and cyclamen. Although I prefer Envy, Debut has a permanent place in my collection as a well-crafted floral green fragrance.

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Bluebell Forest of The Hallerbos

In Japan, there is a practice of shinrin-yoku or forest-bathing, which is a leisurely walk in the forest to reduce stress and improve one’s well-being. It’s like aromatherapy, but instead of inhaling a blended oil, you inhale the natural scents of the forest. But what if you forest-bathed surrounded by millions of bluebells? It’s something that you can experience every spring as the wild hyacinth bluebells turn the Hallerbos, a forest in the municipality of Halle, 30 minutes south of Brussels, into a blue colored, intensely perfumed fantasy.

bluebell-forest-today1

Bluebells have a delicate scent of green leaves, cloves and lemony roses, but when all of the flowers burst into bloom, the fragrance in the air is rich and heady. Imagine the fragrance of hyacinths at your local florist, dilute it with green tea and rainwater, add a dash of autumnal leaves, and you have the perfume of the Bluebell Forest.

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Perfumers on Perfume : Jacques Guerlain

Jacques Guerlain needs no introduction. Shalimar, L’Heure Bleue, Mitsouko–these words say it all. The fragrances created by Guerlain in the first decades of the 20th century continue influencing perfumers and fragrance lovers. The trends are still set by them, and most perfume collections have at least one Guerlain inspired creation. Born in 1874, he entered the family business run by his uncle Aimé Guerlain and before long, he established the house’s reputation for creativity and quality.

jacques guerlain

Much has been written about Jacques Guerlain’s creations, but the man himself remains in the shadows. He preferred working at the perfumer’s organ to speaking at public gatherings, and he left behind few articles and interviews. He let the perfume do the talking.

In partnership with the Osmothèque, I offer you an excerpt from The Perfumer’s Chronicle, a 1964 magazine article by Marcel Billot (a Houbigant perfumer of Chantilly fame). Billot was also the founding president of the French Society of Perfumers, and The Perfumer’s Chronicle was his regular beat. With the exception of L’Heure Bleue, all the Guerlain perfumes Billot mentions were recently reconstituted for the Osmothèque by the current Guerlain perfumer Thierry Wasser.

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Workout for the Nose : How to Improve Your Sense of Smell

New research conducted by scientists at Rockefeller University revealed that the human nose is much more sensitive than was previously believed and can distinguish close to a trillion different scents. Another study at Centre de Recherche en Neurosciences de Lyon shows that “the regions of the brain associated with olfaction are more developed in professional perfumers than in the general population” and that with practice, it’s possible to reverse the age-related grey matter reduction that affects the olfactory regions among the general population.

spice-star-anise

“Take care of your nose and use it more often,” is the main advice I give in my perfumery classes. But the frequent question is whether it’s possible for a non-professional to improve their sense of smell. There is a belief that perfumers are unique in their ability to perceive scents that other people simply can’t identify. There is nothing further from truth; what separates perfumers from the general public is the number of hours they dedicate to smelling. It’s also no coincidence that many perfumers come from families involved in the fragrance trade, and they are taught to use their nose at an early age.

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Perfume for the Next Generation

How do you share your love of perfume with others? Patricia draws upon her experience as a parent and looks for the appropriate perfumes for teenagers.

One of my first initiations into the adult world was having several bottles of my very own perfume lined up on my dresser top. The bottles containing Miss Dior, Estée Lauder Youth Dew, Chantilly, and Ambush were external representations of the changes in me that were gradually taking me from a game of tag in the playground to lipstick and prom dresses. Some of my perfumes were chosen by my mother (Miss Dior and Youth Dew) and some were chosen based on what my friends were currently wearing (Chantilly and Ambush).

the-fable

For those of us who love perfume, a natural offshoot of our interest is the desire to share it with others: friends, family, and those younger than us, whether they are our siblings, children, nieces and nephews, or family friends. If you have a young person in your life that you would like to initiate into the world of perfume, here are a few suggestions.

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