Lonely Mozart in Lemberg and Reflections on Solitude

In 1808 Franz Xaver Wolfgang Mozart, the youngest son of the famous composer, traveled to Lemberg. Today it’s Lviv, a city in western Ukraine, but when the eighteen year old pianist was packing his sheet music and books and setting off on his journey, it was located in Galicia, an entity created by Joseph II after the partition of Poland in 1772. (It was the same Joseph that commented about the Marriage of Figaro, “too many notes, Mozart.”) While young Mozart was aware that he was trading Vienna for the provinces, he was in dire straits. Lemberg seemed like a promising place for a pianist to build his career and return to the capital. Mozart ended up staying for more than two decades.

Young Mozart’s early letters to his family were filled with mentions of his “loneliness [Einsamkeit].” He acutely felt the Galician isolation and complained that his inspiration was deserting him. He envisioned all of the brilliant conversations he could have experienced in Vienna society, the music, the books, the arts, and despaired of finding anything similar in Lemberg. Franz Mozart’s output over his lifetime was indeed small, yet, what becomes obvious is how much he drew on the local surroundings and how creatively he interpreted them.

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Green, Green, Green : A Selection of New Perfumes

Green accords in perfumery are infamous for being difficult. Difficult to create and difficult to enjoy. Balmain’s Vent Vert, the iconic green fragrance, is praised by perfumers as one of the most innovative and daring, but it was eventually reformulated to become tamer and milder. What is it about green fragrances that makes them so polarizing? In my new FT column, On Green Scents, I explore the new spring launches and point out my favorite verdant composition.

Perfumers rely on different classes of ingredients to produce these green accords, some natural and some synthetic, and finding the right harmony can be complicated. Freshly cut grass, its aroma so appealing on a warm day, can turn metallic on skin, while certain herbs can overwhelm delicate notes. Tom Ford Vert de Fleur is notable in that it not only conjures up a vivid verdant effect, but also preserves the nuance. It smells of dew-covered iris petals, damp earth and vetiver roots. To continue reading, please click here.

Where do you place yourself on the green spectrum? Do you like a touch of green? Or is it, “We want a shrubbery”?

Photography by HTSI

Rose Jam Kyiv Style

If I had to select a few ingredients that define Ukrainian cooking for me, it would be tomatoes, pork and roses. Tomatoes are essential for borsch, stuffed peppers, ragouts and salads. Pork is eaten in all guises, from lightly salted belly fat to roasted ham and garlicky sausages. Roses, on the other hand, are all about sweetness. Almost every yard in our small village near Poltava has a shrub of the so-called jam roses, usually the rosa damascena variety. Rose jam fills the Christmas pampushky, sweet doughnuts, strudels, crescents and crepes. Best of all, it’s eaten alongside a cup of black tea, a taste of Ukrainian summer at its most opulent. (Despite the common stereotypes, Ukraine is not covered with snow for most of the year. Not only is it large enough to contain different climatic zones, the summers are long, hot and bountiful.)

Ever since I’ve revived my great-grandmother’s roses, I’ve been trying different rose jam recipes, such as this delight I shared two years ago. This summer’s experiment is the Kyiv style rose jam, a variety of preserve made without a drop of water. Raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, gooseberries and cherries are the most common fruits used in Kyivske varennia, Kyiv style jam. The fruit is cooked in syrup and then drained and rolled in fine sugar. The result is more of a sweetmeat than the usual runny conserve. The rose jam Kyiv style is different, however. The rose petals are crushed with sugar and no cooking is required.

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The Ordinary Summer Skincare Routine

Since I’ve shared my general skincare principles, many of you asked me to describe in more detail my summer routine. In many ways, even as someone who dislikes hot weather and burns easily, I find that taking care of my skin in the summer is far simpler than in the cold, dry months.

Why is that? First of all, any of the exfoliating treatments that you might indulge in during the winter have to be put on hold. When I talk of exfoliation, I mean only chemical exfoliation with acids like lactic acid, AHA (alpha-hydroxy acids) and BHA (beta-hydroxy acids). Retinoids and retinols have a different function other than exfoliation, but they are also included in the group of skin sensitizing ingredients. The risk of sun damage is too great to use such products on a regular basis in the summer, even at night. The same applies to any aggressive brightening treatments. I find that most people overdo the exfoliation anyway, with the result being sensitized, easily reddened skin, so it’s a good item to scale back in the summer.

The same applies to using too many layers of products. If in the winter I might layer a couple of different serums and top my moisturizer with a drop of oil, all such products go in the fridge for the summer to bide their time till colder months. I pare down my routine to the essentials.

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The Art of Perfume Course : Workshop

Here is a recap of the three days of our Art of Perfume course: on Day 1 we visited the Edmond Roudnitska garden and explored the International Perfume Museum in Grasse, on Day 2 we learned about perfumes that influenced fragrance history and more, and on Day 3 we applied our newly learned skills to practical exercises.

As I mentioned before, my course was designed with all of the rigor of a professional training program, keeping in mind our time limitations. It takes years to learn how to make a perfume, but one can acquire basic knowledge of raw materials and try simple exercises to see how they interact together. All of this not only helps deepen one’s knowledge of perfumery, but also makes one’s perceptions sharper.

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From the Archives

Latest Comments

  • Tiamaria in Recommend Me a Perfume June 2017: Hi Raquel, You might like Neela Vermiere Mohur. Rose and cardamom and lots of other lovely stuff. June 28, 2017 at 4:44am

  • john in Recommend Me a Perfume June 2017: I’d second Habit Rouge as being beautiful but not boring. Also (for me) in this category: Caron’s 3e Homme. On a totally different note, Yatagan in summer reminds me of… June 28, 2017 at 3:31am

  • Nick in Recommend Me a Perfume June 2017: Dzongkha is wonderful in winter where its clean clear incense (Asian not Catholic) is warm and enveloping. In spring its brightness is fresh and almost sweet. In summer the incense… June 27, 2017 at 11:22pm

  • tomate farcie in Recommend Me a Perfume June 2017: Always tough trying to find something similar, it just never seems to measure up. Maybe in the same family is Van Cleefe & Arpel L’Orchidèe Vanille June 27, 2017 at 11:11pm

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