5 Things That Inspire Me

When I work on any long-term project, my office looks as if a tornado went through it. Since I prefer to work at a low table sitting on a cushion, my legs folded in the lotus position, I use the floor around me as my canvas. Books, research materials, and reference volumes cover it in random looking piles and mixed among them are items I find inspiring. Of course, the chaos is not entirely random, and I can tell you where I have my Japanese-English dictionary, Philip Kraft’s guide to fragrance chemistry or a volume of Persian poetry, without having to get up from my table. (The table, by the way, was a $10 acquisition from a Turkish shop, intended for making phyllo pastry.)

Casting a quick glance at the items that surround me today, I realized that they are much more than the materials I use for my writing, but rather the things that inspire me, the things that give me pleasure simply by looking at or touching them. I’m sure everyone can make such an inspiration collage–and I’m sure that for every person it would be different, but I wanted to share mine with you.

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The Allure of Estonian Birch Tar

“The allure of Estonian birch tar” isn’t a combination of words one encounters often, but I rather like it. My recent article, The Evocative Allure of Birch Tar Perfumes, appears in the FT magazine and celebrates the delicious darkness and smokiness of birch tar, which can add an interesting undercurrent to fragrances and give them a new dimension. From Chanel Cuir de Russie to Juliette has a Gun’s Midnight Oud, this note plays a special role. Birch tar can mimic leather, smoke or even woods.

Yet, my first experience of birch tar came not from a perfume but from a soap I bought as a curio from Tallinn. I enjoyed its smoky aroma so much that I’ve since sourced a similar pine-tar version (€4.95 for 100g) by an Estonian brand called Nurme, and learnt that tar derived from different trees has been used for skincare in Baltic countries for centuries due to its antibacterial and soothing properties. To continue reading, please click here.

Do you like all things dark and smoky?

Photography by Bois de Jasmin

Perfume Samples Giveaway

Happy Labor Day! Today we have a generous giveaway thanks to Marc, one of the Bois de Jasmin readers. Marc wants to clean out his samples drawer and he is ready to ship about 20 different samples to one of you. Samples include perfumes from Serge Lutens, Marc Jacobs, Caron, Clarins, Chanel, Guerlain, L’Artisan and Etro. He can send his package anywhere, provided the customs restrictions don’t interfere.

We are not responsible for custom duties, leaks or damage during transit or for lost packages.

To participate, please answer these questions. I will randomly draw one winner.

1. Marc’s question for you: “I am a 35 year old man who enjoys woods and spices. Please recommend me something unconventional, but still safe enough to be worn to work. Niche or department store, doesn’t matter.”
2. May I contact you via email to notify you of your win and share your email with Marc?

The contest is now closed. The winner is Camille. Congratulations! I will contact the winner via email shortly.

Image for illustration purposes only

Illyria : Postcard from Albania

I was walking up the hill, leaving behind me the ancient town of Apollonia with its graceful ruins of temples and arcades, when I saw this vista. A golden field, a tree, blue skies. The setting sun colored the burned grasses dark gold, and if I turned around, I could see a ribbon of the sea glittering on the horizon. But I stared straight ahead. Centuries compress into seconds when one sees visions like this. This could have been Illyria.

Illyria is what this land in the west of the Balkan Peninsula was called in antiquity. Today, its largest part is in Albania. The town of Apollonia was famous for its university, and it was here that in 44 BC Gaius Octavius Thurinus learned of the assassination of his great-uncle Julius Caesar. Being named Caesar’s heir, he rushed to Rome to claim the throne and become emperor Augustus. He never finished his university studies, but it didn’t prevent him from being one of the most brilliant of Roman statesmen.

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Guerlain Herba Fresca : Perfume Review

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Mint plays a curious trick on our senses.  Menthol, the main component of mint essence, triggers the cold-sensitive TRPM8 receptors found in the skin – a phenomenon that is responsible for the icy burst one experiences when eating mint candy or drinking a mint julep. Even a sip of hot Moroccan mint tea on a balmy day will produce the same cooling effect. In the realm of perfumes, you can try Guerlain Herba Fresca.

Herba Fresca has been around for a while, and I don’t even remember the first time I tried it. I only recall enjoying its uplifting freshness and green notes. It’s not a complicated perfume and it holds few secrets. From the burst of verdancy and citrus to the soft musky chords in the drydown, it’s a straightforward blend. But what it lacks in complexity, it makes up for in its vibrant character. It’s refreshing in the summer and rejuvenating in the winter.

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From the Archives

Latest Comments

  • Gabriela in 5 Things That Inspire Me: Oh things that inspire me… my children playing, books on my shelves, pictures on my wall, little boxes and a sculpture that was from my grandmother. September 14, 2019 at 4:55pm

  • Gabriela in 5 Things That Inspire Me: What a great list of books, have just ordered the Marianne dreams on Amazon! Are you familiar with Tove Jansson? She has beautiful children’s books. September 14, 2019 at 4:51pm

  • Silvermoon in The Allure of Estonian Birch Tar: Hi Klass! My husband uses SMN Nostalgia. It certainly smells great on him. In the wonderful SMN shop in Florence (where I bought it as a gift for him), they… September 14, 2019 at 12:11pm

  • Tourmaline in 5 Things That Inspire Me: I shall definitely seek it out; I’ve read such wonderful things about it. I hope you have a great weekend, too! September 14, 2019 at 2:25am

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