Fragrant Pleasures: 292 posts

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

Perfumer’s Advice on How to Choose Perfume : French Elle

How do you select the right perfume? There are lots of articles out there on this topic, including Bois de Jasmin’s perfume wardrobe series and The Art of Seducing Yourself. In February, French Elle published an interview with perfumer Jean-Christophe Hérault, who shared a few tips. Hérault is the author of Balenciaga RosabotanicaComme des Garçons Amazingreen and Chopard Enchanted, and I liked the sensible comments he shared with the magazine. I selected and translated a few excerpts below.

guerlain-bottles

Can you please give us advice on how to select perfume?

The only advice I can give is to take your time. Do not hesitate to try several perfumes to make the right choice. I also suggest you test it on your skin in order to follow the perfume’s progress throughout the day. A perfume should surprise you and develop in a pleasing manner.
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Easter and Violets

“Victoria puts bread to sleep on pillows!” said a college classmate after visiting me during my Easter preparations. You see, in order for paska, the Ukrainian brioche-like bread made for the holiday, to retain its lacy, lighter-than-air texture and not collapse under its own weight, it has to cool down on something soft. So my paska had its own pillow, and once a year it was brought out to serve as a ceremonial cushion. All of this might strike others as quaint, but Easter is the most beloved holiday in my family, and everyone takes preparations seriously.

easter

This year we follow the familiar pattern, but it’s an even more special holiday because I’m spending it with my family in Ukraine. I’ve already stuffed myself with matzoh balls at my cousin’s Pesach table in Kyiv, and now I’m anticipating an Easter feast with my grandmother. This morning we already boiled the onion peels to create a natural maroon-red dye for eggs. The fresh cheese has been drained and whipped with almonds for an Easter cheesecake.  Our home is once again filled with the wine-like aroma of rising dough, vanilla sugar, rum soaked raisins, and violets.

I wish everyone Happy Easter, Happy Pesach and a wonderful spring. May it usher in more joy, love and happiness.

Photography by Bois de Jasmin

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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