jasmine: 10 posts

Jasmine of Angels, Jasmine of Madonna

Of all the names by which philadelphus is known–summer jasmine, farmer’s jasmine, mock orange, the loveliest ones are the Italian monikers of this sweet smelling blossom, Fiorangelo or Gelsomino della Madonna. Angel flower or Madonna’s jasmine.

In Ukraine we call it simply zhasmin, jasmine, and the jasmine of my Bois de Jasmin is this very plant. No summer image existed in my mind apart from its blossoming clusters leaving white petals in my hair and its heady perfume clinging to my skin.

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The City of Jasmine

Writer Nizar Qabbani (1923-1998) described his native city of Damascus as “the womb that taught me poetry, taught me creativity, and granted me the alphabet of Jasmine.” Although the most fragrant of roses bears the name rosa damascena, Damascus rose, the Syrian capital is known as Madinat Al Yasmine, the City of ­Jasmine. Each fall it holds a festival in homage of this national flower, with people giving each other stems of jasmine and decorating their home with fragrant blossoms. It was even held in recent years, despite the conflict that left thousands dead and millions displaced, with flowers given to those who lost loved ones.

“A Damascene moon travels through my blood
Nightingales . . . and grain . . . and domes
From Damascus, jasmine begins its whiteness
And fragrances perfume themselves with her scent
From Damascus, water begins . . . for wherever
You lean your head, a stream flows
And poetry is a sparrow spreading its wings
Over Sham . . . and a poet is a voyager,”

writes Qabbani in one of his most renowned poems, A Damascene Moon. He was born in Damascus in 1923 in the old neighborhood of Mi’thnah Al-Shahm, which you encounter time and again in his poems. Qabbani’s poems are romantic and political, erotic and lyrical, breaking conventions and offering a glimpse into his lively, rich imagination. Since 1966 and until his death in 1998, Qabbani has been living abroad, but in his exile he has produced some of his finest poems. The longing for the City of Jasmine gives his words a strong charge, and as I read them, I think of all the places that I miss, all of the colors, scents and voices that make up my memories. As someone who created a fantasy jasmine forest, to replace the real one far away, I feel a poignant kinship with the Syrian poet.

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Serge Lutens La Religieuse : Fragrance Review

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“Whatever you do, just don’t be boring,” used to say my longtime ballet teacher. In her class, being off music and being boring were the worst crimes, because while everything else–a wrong arm position, an awkward turn or a weak jump–could be corrected through careful guidance, not listening to the music and not caring to excite the viewer spoke of more serious flaws. My teacher’s admonition flashed in my mind when I first smelled Serge Lutens La Religieuse.

serge-lutens-la-religieuse

La Religieuse belongs to the collection of understated compositions from the master-duo, Serge Lutens and Christopher Sheldrake. It’s in the same polished and well-mannered corner as Nuit de Cellophane, Un Lys and Sa Majesté la Rose. If you want a pleasant fragrance that doesn’t try too hard, the type of perfume that sales associates call an “office scent”, it’s a good choice. If you want a soft, fluffy jasmine, La Religieuse will also hit the spot. But if you come to Serge Lutens to be thrilled and surprised, then you might want to pick another magic carpet ride.

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Strawberry Scented Jasmine from Grasse

The Mul farm in Grasse has been growing roses and jasmine for Chanel for generations, and these precious essences are used in No 5 parfum. ELLE takes a look at the fields and interviews Chanel in-house perfumer, Christopher Sheldrake. Did you know that jasmine and strawberries share many similar components?

chanel parfums-pv

You can watch the video over at ELLE’s exclusive look at the creation of No 5. Sheldrake narrates the video.

Chanel claims that each 30ml bottle of No 5 parfum contains 1,000 jasmine flowers and 12 roses from Grasse. Since 1 kg of jasmine absolute and rose oil require 6 000 0000 jasmine blossoms and 1 600 000 rose blossoms, respectively, you can work out for yourself how much essence No 5 contains. On the other hand, what makes No 5 special is not just the rare materials, but their balance and harmony. Since the flower fields in Grasse have been steadily disappearing, the Mul farm is especially precious.

Photo by Bois de Jasmin

All About Jasmine Perfumes

Bois de Jasmin is turning 9 years old this spring, something that I find hard to grasp. Has it really been this long? But what I need not reassert for myself is my love of jasmine. The small white flowers don’t have the Hollywood glamour of roses or the regal elegance of iris, but their scent is so luscious and complex that it has few rivals. One of the first articles I had written for Bois de Jasmin was about jasmine. I described how jasmine essence is obtained and mentioned representative jasmine perfumes but an update has been long overdue.

jasmine

Although most jasmine used by perfumers comes from Morocco, Egypt, Italy and India, the five petaled flowers are still the symbol of the French art of perfumery. At one time the hills of Grasse in the South of France were thickly planted with jasmine, the picking of which involved the whole town. It is one of the most revered and intriguing materials in the perfumer’s palette. Jasmine smells of bananas and apricot jam but also of horse sweat and mothballs. One moment you notice the springlike freshness of white petals and the next you’re seduced by its hot animalic breath. Even a hint of jasmine essence can lend a seductive, voluptuous layer to the composition.

Romance aside, most perfumes named jasmine don’t contain any natural jasmine essence. It’s one of the most expensive ingredients, and few brands can afford it.  Depending on the origin and quality, a pound can fetch anywhere from $4,000 to $9,000. The sheer effort involved in producing jasmine essence is astounding. The flowers have to be picked by hand and processed immediately, before the rot darkens the delicate petals. Six million flowers are needed to create 1 kilogram of jasmine absolute. That means more than 800 hours of picking.*

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From the Archives

Latest Comments

  • kpaint in Top 10 Summer Picnic Scents: L’Artisan Thé Pour un Été smells like a picnic to me – dried grass, iced tea, lemonade. Though admittedly this post has got me thinking more about a spread of… June 23, 2017 at 6:20pm

  • Musette in On Italo Calvino’s Classics and Serge Lutens Feminite du Bois: Goodness! What an elegant, marvelous post, Victoria. Such a pleasure to read. I am so boring when it comes to the classics: No5, Lanvin (Arpege/My Sin/Crescendo. Mitsouko. But they all… June 23, 2017 at 6:13pm

  • kat in Top 10 Summer Picnic Scents: Just the other day I looked at my recent perfume purchases and realized they’re all not suited for summer and especially not for the current heatwave. I dug into my… June 23, 2017 at 5:32pm

  • Phyllis Iervello in Top 10 Summer Picnic Scents: Yes both of them are and I still have enough in my bottles to splash lavishly. June 23, 2017 at 4:39pm

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