Perfumes Whose Blossoms Beguile

In the May column of the Financial Times Magazine, I daydream about cherry blossoms. Titled Perfumes Whose Blossoms Beguile, the article is inspired by my grandmother’s garden in Ukraine. Spring is the most evanescent season; one moment the cherry blossoms are dazzlingly white and lush, and the next they’re wilting on the ground. As I read Gogol while sitting under the trees, brushing falling petals from the pages, and becoming intoxicated with the bittersweet aroma of cherry blossoms, I longed to capture this moment. How else but with perfume? This is how the article took shape.


“All perfumes called Cherry Blossom fall far short of reality. I say this with confidence as I lie on the grass in my grandmother’s cherry garden, gazing up at the blossom-covered branches. The flowers are so white and dense that if I squint, the trees seem to be draped in snow. A gust of wind shakes the petal confetti onto the pages of my book, and after a while I shut my worn volume of The Collected Tales of Nikolai Gogol and daydream in the pale sunshine. To read the rest, please click here.

Nikolai Gogol was born about 15 miles from our town, and his descriptions of Ukrainian landscapes poignantly remind me of the places I know so well.

What spring scents would you like to capture? Which perfumes have the most spring-like aura to you?

Photography by Bois de Jasmin: under the cherry trees



  • Michaela: Beautiful article!
    I smell lovely intense honey in cherry blossom as I look at the picture and I envy you 🙂

    I would like to capture daffodil’s scent (the wild white one), locust blossom, and, for late spring to summer, the intoxicating linden blossom. For me, until now, Geoffrey Beene Grey Flannel is the beautiful forest in spring for me, full of delicate violets and small flowers (I don’t smell snowdrops and crocuses but I can see them). And Jacomo Silences is spring itself, cool and elegant, but so friendly. May 8, 2014 at 7:52am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you, Michaela. Spending time with my grandmother is a treat, and spending it with her when our garden is awash with flower is even more so. Now we are starting to get lilacs and soon the whole garden will look like a Monet painting.

      How much do I love the scent of locust blossoms! I also tried in vain to find something in perfume form that captured it even slightly. May 8, 2014 at 10:43am Reply

  • rosarita: Such a lovely article, thank you, V! I would bottle the scent of new maple seeds and leaves. It’s a bittersweet, sappy smell that is especially vibrant after it rains. Arpege is my favorite spring perfume, the jasmine and rose just smell pretty to me. May 8, 2014 at 8:27am Reply

    • rosarita: I should add, Arpege makes me feel pretty as well, that’s the important thing for spring 🙂 May 8, 2014 at 8:28am Reply

      • Victoria: It really does! New, vintage, or anything in between, Arpege is really such a marvelous perfume. May 8, 2014 at 10:46am Reply

    • Victoria: Those are such wonderful smells! And so spring-like. 🙂 May 8, 2014 at 10:44am Reply

  • rainboweyes: No perfume comes close to the real thing – or I haven’t found it yet. I love the natural scent of most flowers but I find most soliflores disappointing. My favourite flower scents are lindens and roses – and, above all, fragrant irises – and I’d love to find a perfect rendition one day… May 8, 2014 at 8:27am Reply

    • Victoria: And how can some people say that irises are scentless. The variety of their aromas are amazing, from candy like to fresh and lemony. I also wish something came even close. May 8, 2014 at 10:45am Reply

      • Theresa: And if you smell the variegated irises (the ones whose leaves are striped green and white or green and yellow – they smell exactly like grape Koolaid! A favorite rite of spring for me is to visit the magnificent display gardens of Schreiner’s Iris hybridizers in Keizer, Oregon and sniff my way around the fields. Many of the modern hybrids are nearly scentless, but the ones that smell are wonderful, and very different one from another. May 8, 2014 at 4:07pm Reply

        • Victoria: I have a friend in Oregon, who loves perfume, and I will let her know about this garden. I’m not sure how close she lives to Keizer, but it sounds like a place worth visiting for something who enjoys smelling scented flowers.

          In perfumery school, we were taken to a botanical garden in NY to smell various irises, and it was such a great experience. May 8, 2014 at 4:32pm Reply

          • Theresa: Keizer is just north of Salem. I highly recommend the display gardens – they are free of charge, and the variety of irises displayed is eye-popping! You can view the flowers both in the ground, in their beautiful gardens where they are interplanted with other species like peonies, columbines, clematis, and picked in vases in their display shed. The advantage to the picked flowers is that they are displayed at eye/nose level! May 8, 2014 at 5:45pm Reply

            • Victoria: She might be too far, but I’ll share it with her anyway. Thank you very much, Theresa! We don’t have irises yet, but I just had my fill of lilacs. May 9, 2014 at 4:14am Reply

  • Zazie: I loved your article. Really beautiful.
    Gogol and Bulgakov were the authors who fired my love for books, and I still take great pleasure in revisting their work. My list of favorite writers and go-to books has become quite long over the years, but I still think those two souls are among the ones I have more natural affinity with – the humour mixed with melancholy, the social critique, everything harboured along with a warm big smile, with just a hint of the huge sadness that lurks behind. They are me, I am them, that was understood from the start (I would also add mark twain: he fully covers the sagittarius part of my personality, with his elegy of freedom, and adventure!)
    I love your picture under the cherry trees: you look so beautiful and happy, and I can easily relate to that kind of pleasure!
    I share your love with perle de mousse, and would add ninfeo mio as very spring-like and enjoyable. Guerlain’s Sous le vent and herba fresca could also make the cut. I don’t mention chamade, a favorite of mine, because to me it is so autumnal (which probably explains why I love it so much. I am a fall enthusiast!)
    I wish you many happy reading days under the flowers!!! 🙂 May 8, 2014 at 8:29am Reply

    • Victoria: I might actually be reading Bulgakov’s The Master and Margarita in this photo. 🙂 This very volume is the one I read for the first time when I was a teen. Of course, this one of those novels that only get better with each time you read it.

      Sous le Vent would actually be perfect too! May 8, 2014 at 3:15pm Reply

  • Sylviane: Such a lovely picture Victoria ! If i could, I would capture the smell of lilac which brings lovely childhood memories. But perhaps the fondness and nostalgy come with the ephemeral beauty of these spring smells.
    The perfume that best evokes spring to me is the green-wet- flowery Ormonde Jayne Frangipani. May 8, 2014 at 9:25am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you, Sylvaine!
      Lilac is one of my most nostalgic scents, and one of the perfumes that captures it best is Frederic Malle’s En Passant. Not sure if you’ve tried it. May 8, 2014 at 3:16pm Reply

      • Sylviane: yes I tried it. It’s lovely and subtle but slightly too aquatic for me to wear. Thanks for the suggestion. May 16, 2014 at 7:48am Reply

    • solanace: I only smelled lilac once, but it´s something I will never forget. So beautiful. How nice to have childhood memories attached to it! May 9, 2014 at 4:53am Reply

      • Sylviane: Dear Solanace, if you only smelled lilac once, I assume you live in another part of the world than I do. So what is your childhood memory scent ? May 16, 2014 at 7:46am Reply

  • Kate: I love Gogol! Completely bonkers, but utterly original in every way, and very funny. Alas, I can only read in English translation, but that’s better than nothing.

    For me, lily of the valley is the ultimate spring scent, even though I’ve never, I think, smelled the actual flower. I love Diorissimo, but don’t wear it as it’s just not ‘me’.

    When moved house a few years ago, we were pleased to discover two mature lilac trees in our new garden, and for the last two weeks they’ve been in flower. I’m intoxicated by their scent as it drifts down in big swathes on the breeze. I would love a perfume that captured that exactly. It’s all the more precious for being so temporary – the blossoms only last a couple of weeks. I wonder if anyone can recommend me a ‘true’ lilac fragrance? May 8, 2014 at 9:29am Reply

    • Bastet: Have you tried Pacifica’s French Lilac? I have lilac bushes in my yard as well, and the Pacifica captures their scent pretty realistically (doesn’t last long at all, though). May 8, 2014 at 12:39pm Reply

      • Kate: Thanks for the recommendation – I hadn’t heard of this and must try to track down a sample. Maybe the fleeting nature of the scent is all part of the lilac ‘aura’? 🙂 May 9, 2014 at 11:25am Reply

    • Victoria: Gogol must be very hard to translate, because he had a way of making up words and using language in unexpected ways, but there are plenty of good translations available. I love his collections of short stories Evening on a Farm Near Dikanka and Mirgorod, Dead Souls, The Overcoat, and The Government Inspector. I’ve been reading his correspondence, and it’s fascination too.

      I mentioned Frederic Malle’s En Passant to Sylvaine, but I’m not sure if it’s a true lilac. It’s more of a lilac impression, but it’s one of my favorites. May 8, 2014 at 4:02pm Reply

      • Kate: Yes, like translating poetry – an almost impossible task, and leaving only an outline of the original. It’s a testament to how great these writers really are that their work is so striking, even in translation. As well as being a testament to the art of translation, of course. I’ve always wanted to read Osip Mandelshtam in the original; alas, I have only a few words, but can appreciate a little of the amazing musicality.

        I have a wonderful memory of visiting Pasternak’s dacha at Peredelkino, outside Moscow, and listening to one of his poems being recited by the guide, by an open window in his music room, while the trees rustled outside. And it was like listening to music being played. May 9, 2014 at 11:29am Reply

        • Victoria: What a great experience it must have been! I haven’t visited Pasternak’s dacha, but I admire his work so much. I was late to reading Doctor Zhivago, but I read it savoring every line. May 9, 2014 at 4:53pm Reply

  • Gentiana: Lovely article and gorgeous photo…
    Gogol’s Dead Souls is one of my all-time favorite books. Now I wish to read his tales, too. I will miss the reading under the cherry blossoms 🙂
    This year I did’t read or lay under my cherry trees, as it rained for weeks. We didn’t have here a proper spring.
    So, I envy you 🙂
    IMHO cherry blossom smell in nature is quite different from perfumes… I am not sure if one of them captures it entirely. I wish to smell one that is exactly like real cherry blossom, plus fresh grass and daffodils.
    Something that brings alive the buzz of a few hundreds of bees and bumblebees. And the warmth of sun and some soft caresses of wind from time to time, starting white petal showers. The singing of robins, orioles, chaffinches…

    Thank you for the great feelings and memories you share with us.
    Greetings to your grandmother, I wish her health and long life with the nice, warm home of her ready to receive you any time. May 8, 2014 at 9:40am Reply

    • Victoria: The past few days have been too cold for lying on the grass, but I hope that tomorrow it warms up again, and I will resume my reading. But in the meantime, I read on my grandmother’s bed, my other favorite place to curl up with a book.

      Your springtime description is so vivid!

      Thank you also for your kind words and wishes. I will pass them on. 🙂 May 8, 2014 at 4:04pm Reply

  • CC: I long for the smell of something I cannot identify as I walk the streets of Tokyo. It’s the smell after Sakura season, which you so well describe, and it’s something like tender green leaves, much softer and nuttier than grass. I wondered to my friends whether it might be the gingko trees that line up the avenues, but they say it’s something else. It’s inebriating and I’ve wondered if I’m mixing scents, as some neighbourhoods here are suddenly smothered by a particularly soft-scented jasmine of which I’ve seen examples the size of trees, delightfully entangled giant beehives. This scent now haunts me and I sniff it in awareness that it’s fleeting and therefore it will be gone soon… May 8, 2014 at 9:50am Reply

    • Victoria: It sounds amazing, and I wonder what it might be. Could it be the scent of sakura and also of petals that have fallen. I notice that cherry petals start to get a nutty scent as they go past their prime. May 8, 2014 at 4:05pm Reply

  • sara: lovely article! it sounds strange but i love to capture the smell of asphalt when it gets rained on. smells so good! May 8, 2014 at 10:25am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you very much, Sara! The scent of rain hitting the pavement is so evocative to me. May 8, 2014 at 4:06pm Reply

  • Minka: Your articles are such a delight! I really wish there were cherry blossom trees in my part of the world. However, your writing has brought them right in front of my nose, thank you!
    I would love to capture the scent of honeysuckle. There’s so many bushes about, and I’ve been gathering both the white and yellow blooms to make honeysuckle tea for the first time. My husband will be pleasantly surprised to come home today and find one of his favorite childhood memories, (sucking the nectar from the blooms), brought back to life. May 8, 2014 at 10:34am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you, Minka! You made me miss a tangle of honeysuckle near my old apartment in the States, and I also loved sucking the nectar from the blossoms. Now, that’s true ambrosia. May 8, 2014 at 4:07pm Reply

  • Figuier: What a beautiful article – you’ve written a true epitome of spring!

    There are so many gorgeous springtime scents in the air here that it’s hard to separate them out. Lilac especially is noticeable at the moment, along with hawthorn and cow parsley. But then it’s almost summer now – the earlier hyacinth and narcisuss for me are the ultimate springtime flowers, and although they do inspire quite a few perfumes, none of them come close to the real thing. This makes choosing perfume at this time of year a frustrating exercise in compromise. As ever I’m going with Chanel: 28 La Pausa (iris), No 18 (the scent of wet spring pavements) and sparing dabs of Sycomore. May 8, 2014 at 10:38am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you! I even wrote most of the article under the cherry trees, since I decided that work can also be done–and done more pleasantly and productively–in such an inspiring setting. This week I need to switch to my lilac office, as the cherries are finished.

      Isn’t the scent of hawthorn wonderful? May 8, 2014 at 4:09pm Reply

      • Figuier: Yes, it is, although hawthorn is almost more of a texture than a scent to me, it’s so pollen-y and granular, if that makes sense…

        I forgot to mention – at the weekend we discovered a patch of about-to-bloom lily-of-the-valley at the back of our apartment block’s communal garden. Following your lead I bent right down to smell the few flowers that had already opened: wonderful! But still not something I’d want to wear 😉 May 9, 2014 at 5:46am Reply

        • Victoria: And do try Diorissimo parfum, if you have a chance! Even the current version is lovely.

          Your description of hawthorn is just perfect! May 9, 2014 at 4:55pm Reply

  • SophieC: I am a first time commenter here but long time reader. First I absolutely love your blog, your writing and your ability to bring beauty to everything you describe. It is genuinely uplifting.
    On scents of spring, I too would love to smell something brings together the buzz of bees and the smell of sun and honey – this almost makes me think of the wonderful poem ‘The Lake Isle of Innisfree’!
    Also, the smell of lilacs in the rain (En Passant, I know), honeysuckle, wet earth in rain in spring – it smells so alive and full of hope, daffodils and woods when bluebells and snowdrops poke through melting snow. May 8, 2014 at 10:52am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you very much, Sophie, and welcome! 🙂 I appreciate your feedback, and I’m happy that you enjoy it here.

      Your favorite springtime scents are so evocative that I wish spring never ended. 🙂 May 8, 2014 at 4:16pm Reply

  • Sandra: What a great photo of you under the tree! How cute!
    Spring to me is all about florals and citrus smells.
    In the shower I change my body wash to l’ occitane lemon verbena, and antica farmacista pompelmo. I also got some soap from annick goutal I need to throw in the mix.
    My fav soft florals are Juste en reve, un matin d’orage, Songes, and there are more but my sense of smell has changed a bit so I am noticing some that I use to grab for I cannot tolerate.
    Thanks for sharing your article and hope you had a great day under the trees! May 8, 2014 at 11:04am Reply

    • Sandra: I forgot to mention one of my favs that I am wearing today -Noa May 8, 2014 at 1:48pm Reply

      • Victoria: It’s one of my favorites too! Noa is like a cozy wrap, and yet it feels so radiant and gauzy. May 8, 2014 at 4:30pm Reply

    • Victoria: The grass is so soft and silky, and the earth was warm enough for lying down. Since beginning Bois de Jasmin 9 years ago, I’ve had this longing for reading under the blooming trees, and this year it finally came true.

      Your favorite florals are similar to mine, and I’m now craving Juste Un Reve and its jasmine-monoi twisted around apricots. May 8, 2014 at 4:18pm Reply

  • Cornelia Blimber: Lovely article & picture!
    I think I could read “The Newski Prospect” (in Dutch translation) perfumed with Eau de Narcisse Bleu. Strange, sad story, strange perfume.
    In the picture I see a deep blue sky behind the blossoms; in the Netherlands we have neither. The sky is grey, the light is sharp as a razor, the blossoms and the lilacs are brown and withered. But there are perfumes to set our minds on spring!
    Perfumes that make me lighthearted are Diorella, Champs Elysées, Diorissimo, No.5 Eau Première. And of course, Après L’Ondée. May 8, 2014 at 11:45am Reply

    • Victoria: I will now read The Nevski Prospect with a new scent impression in mind! Your description is irresistible.

      Glad to see Champs Elysees on your list, and I agree with your choice. It’s such a lighthearted, fun perfume, and I enjoy it too. May 8, 2014 at 4:22pm Reply

  • Nancysg: This week, as I was driving to work, I saw a vibrant red cardinal fly by and land on a branch of a cherry tree in full bloom. The flash of red sitting in the bank of white blossoms was striking. May 8, 2014 at 11:56am Reply

    • Victoria: Sounds like a theme worthy of a Japanese silk scroll! I love this image. May 8, 2014 at 4:23pm Reply

  • Phyllis Iervello: What a great photo of you! I loved this post and look forward to your posts every day.
    You write beautifully and very descriptively.
    Thank you so much for doing this blog. May 8, 2014 at 12:08pm Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you very much, Phyllis. Your words mean a lot to me. May 8, 2014 at 4:24pm Reply

  • iodine: What a beautiful picture!
    The spring flowers scent I’d love to bottle are magnolias, black locust trees- how I love them! They are also delicious when eaten, tasting like raw peas and broad beans! 🙂 – and pittosporum, which remind me of seaside and marine breeze.. May 8, 2014 at 12:17pm Reply

    • iodine: Oh, I was forgetting linden blossoms! May 8, 2014 at 12:22pm Reply

      • Victoria: Another top favorite (and also an elusive one when it comes to perfume.) May 8, 2014 at 4:27pm Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you! 🙂 If you bottle the scent of black locust trees, please let me know, because it’s at the top of my list. I can’t wait for them to start blooming. In France, I tried them deep-fried and sprinkled with powdered sugar, and it was the best springtime treat. May 8, 2014 at 4:26pm Reply

  • Austenfan: What a wonderful picture, it must be the best spot to read a treasured novel. I liked the article and I would love for someone to bottle the smell of my beautiful Petrel daffodils.

    I find Le Temps d’une Fête and Le Chèvrefeuille very springlike and uplifting. May 8, 2014 at 12:58pm Reply

    • Victoria: I also have a hammock, which is another nice place to rest. But it’s hard to read there, because it’s too tempting just to fall asleep. 🙂

      Le Chèvrefeuille deserves to be reissued by Annick Goutal. May 8, 2014 at 4:28pm Reply

      • Austenfan: Just remind yourself that naps are good for the brain! May 9, 2014 at 6:08am Reply

        • Victoria: 🙂 That will be my excuse. May 9, 2014 at 4:55pm Reply

  • Alicia: What a lovely photo! Victoria! You are reading Gogol, I am thinking of Chejov….may your grandmother’s cherry orchard never be cut down… may it be a joy forever. May 8, 2014 at 1:45pm Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you, Alicia! We planted even more cherry trees this spring, so we hope for more blooms in the future (and more cherries!) 🙂 May 8, 2014 at 4:29pm Reply

  • Heather H: Hello Dear Victoria,

    Lovely article and picture as usual. You look like a ballerina reading your book. (I can tell you have studied ballet by your poise.) Your grandmother’s Cherry Blossom trees are just gorgeous.

    Anyway I know spring has arrived when my local Farmer’s Market sells these beautiful, lush lilacs and my vintage roses start to blossom. To me vintage roses smell like the best perfume, not the modern roses that have no smell. I grow vintage roses such as La Reine, Madame Isaac Pereire, Rose de Rescht, and Souvenir de la Malmaison. I encourage everyone to visit a rose garden that grows vintage roses if you are a rose lover.

    Sonoma Scent Studio’s Velvet Rose smells like my vintage roses. I also like to wear Houbigant’s Orange Flowers, Debut, and Perle de Mousse when it is Spring. May 8, 2014 at 3:47pm Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you, Heather. The old habits are hard to break. 🙂
      You’re so lucky to have vintage roses! My great grandmother had them, and half of our current orchard was a rose garden. When she passed away, my grandmother couldn’t care for them, and we lost them all little by little. But I hope that at some point, I can revive it. I love the names of the roses you shared, which by themselves sound so romantic.

      Velvet Rose is one of the nicest roses. May 8, 2014 at 4:54pm Reply

      • Alicia: Talking of roses and names: in my house in Northern California I have a rose garden with plenty of vintage roses. One of them of a very soft pink, makes me think of nudes by Boucher: Rose “Cuisse de nymphe émue”. It comes from Rose Cuisse de nymphe (R. xalba), which by the xviii century had reached France from the Crimea, but only the French could have called her ‘Cuisse de nymphe”, and refer to its tender tint as “émue.” Delicious mischief. May 8, 2014 at 10:43pm Reply

        • Victoria: Awesome names! Rose “Cuisse de nymphe émue” reminds me of Duke Hippolyte in Tolstoi’s War and Peace describing his pants having the color of “cuisse de nymphe effrayée,” the thigh of a frightened nymph. 🙂 May 9, 2014 at 4:18am Reply

          • Austenfan: I think we are on to a winner here for a new perfume house with variations on nymph’s thighs! May 9, 2014 at 8:27am Reply

            • Victoria: Wouldn’t that be fun! I can imagine Etat Libre d’Orange coming up with something like that (ok, it’s an existing brand, but even so, they might have a subline.) May 9, 2014 at 4:56pm Reply

              • Austenfan: Yep, that would be the right house. They are already on the right track with their “Faun Perfume”. May 10, 2014 at 1:16pm Reply

  • johanob: Hi Victoria!Now…if that photograph doesn’t inspire someone to create a new perfume,I do not know what will!!Gorgeous!I imagine the bittersweet,sappy smell of cherry blossoms intertwined with the great vanilla-aroma of an old forgotten library book for said perfume!Delicately add some Lilac,Orris and Bergamot…and you have it!Ah…it’s nice to daydream.Seeing that it’s late Fall over here,I’ll keep daydreaming of Spring in September,looking forward to the Sweet Peas and Hyascinths blooming in my own,perfect garden.:-)) May 8, 2014 at 6:29pm Reply

    • Victoria: 🙂 I’d love a perfume like that! And my grandmother’s books definitely smell wonderful, and I sometimes I open the bookshelf and just sit there for an hour smelling books. May 9, 2014 at 4:20am Reply

  • Alicia: Victoria, I forgot to answer your question”Which perfumes have the most spring-like aura to you?” For me spring is muguet. I love Diorissimo, of course, although it is no longer what it was. Peculiarly I wear it mostly at the end of winter, when I am thirsty for a taste of spring. The two “muguets” I am wearing this year are Gucci Envy, which I am smelling on me as I write to you, and de Nicolai Odalisque, a fragrance I truly love. I always keep a bottle of Muguet de Bois near my linens, which keeps company to another one of Tea Rose. In early spring I force hyacinths, perhaps the scent of angels. May 9, 2014 at 12:10am Reply

    • Victoria: Muguet de Bois used to be one of my favorite lily of the valley perfumes, but I haven’t smelled it recently. I almost don’t want to, because I’m afraid that it may be the same. But at least, Diorissimo parfum is still very good. May 9, 2014 at 4:19am Reply

  • solanace: Great article and lovely picture, Victoria. We don´t really have spring here – different trees flower year round, from the manaca, which blooms around Christmas, to the quaresmeira during Easter, paineira (a baobab relative, my favorite tree in the world, extremely amazing!) around Labour Day, then the differently colored ipês through winter and the beginning of spring… See? The ones I cannot remember on the spot are exactly those that bloom during spring, lol! I only experienced the entire cycle of seasons once, while living in Paris, and was mesmerized. It´s fascinating, beautiful, poetic to see nature reflect the passage of time in such an assertive manner. Loved eating my luch among the red roses at l´Observatoire during spring. As perfumes go, I thing of Chamade or Le Temps d´une Fete as evocative of nature reborn. Wishing all the best to your grandma and relatives from down here, too! May 9, 2014 at 7:17am Reply

    • Victoria: The scents you keep describing are very different from what I grew up with, but they sound also evocative. It makes me want to experience seasons, even if they don’t subdivide evenly into winter, spring, fall, and summer, in different places.

      Thank you very much! Same to you and your family! May 9, 2014 at 4:58pm Reply

  • Michael: I would like a fragrance that captures the scent of hyacinths, as I associate this flower with the arrival of spring. I’m also looking forward to testing Frederic Malle’s Eau de Magnolia next month.

    Slightly off-topic, but I was wondering if I could pick the brains of Victoria and other perfumistas who frequent this blog –

    I would like to get my friend a new perfume for his birthday, and he is notoriously picky about scents. He likes fragrances that are not loud (or in his words, “I don’t want to smell like a room deodorizer!”) so sillage and projection would have to be low to medium. The only fragrance I know he wears on a regular basis is Paul Smith for Men, which is described as woody floral musk. Top notes are orange, lavender, basil and bergamot; middle notes are ginger leaf, violet leaf, hyacinth and geranium; base notes are sandalwood, musk, oakmoss and vetiver. Can anyone recommend a similar masculine or unisex perfume? Thanks in advance! May 9, 2014 at 7:50am Reply

    • Nick: Try Lalique’s Encre Noire, it’s not floral, but refined, elegant and changes with the time of day, the weather and temperature. It is exquisite.

      x May 9, 2014 at 8:10am Reply

    • solanace: I think of Prada Infusion d´Iris and Infusion d´Homme as extremely elegant and very subdued. Also, you could check the Hermès line: the Hermessences, Hiris, Eau de Gentianne Blanche and Eau de Narcisse Bleu come to mind. Chanel 28 La Pausa might be a good bet, too. (For some reason I think iris would be a good fit.) May 9, 2014 at 9:10am Reply

      • solanace: Also, there is the new geranium Diptyque, and the line in general is light and classy. May 9, 2014 at 9:12am Reply

    • Victoria: Like solanace, I immediately thought of Prada Infusion d’Homme. Dior Homme might be another great option. May 9, 2014 at 4:59pm Reply

  • Andy: The truth is, I couldn’t think of the spring scent I’d like to capture most. There are so many, though one of my favorites comes when we shop for all our summer plants, heading out to these great nurseries in the country. Stepping into a greenhouse lined wall to wall with flowers on a warm, sunny day is a headily scented experience, even if the plants inside aren’t particularly fragrant. This past sunday I had the experience, finding myself surrounded by the scent of humid earth and a seemingly neglected (but thriving) angel’s trumpet. May 9, 2014 at 8:51am Reply

    • Victoria: So true about a greenhouse. My grandmother has one for planting tomatoes and cucumbers, and while it still stands empty, it’s smells wonderful. The warmth seems to amplify the scent of earth and whatever weeds that are growing there now (well, not anymore, after my work this morning.) It’s not a heady scent, but it’s very distinctive. May 9, 2014 at 5:02pm Reply

  • Alessandra: LOVE THIS…. especially cos Gogol’ is one of my fave writers!!!!

    Lovely picture, too! 🙂 May 9, 2014 at 12:44pm Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you, Alessandra. The season is just too fleeting, alas. May 9, 2014 at 5:00pm Reply

  • Sisty: Though not technically a spring flower in the US because it’s not native in this hemisphere, my vote goes definitely to freesia. It would bring me great joy to have this scent captured in a perfume.

    As for the scent most reminiscent of spring, I’d say hyacinth, and cherry blossom. I live on a street outside Washington dc that is lined with 50 year old cherry trees, and their delicate scent is indescribable. May 9, 2014 at 8:41pm Reply

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