15 Years of Bois de Jasmin : The Essentials

What is the place of art in difficult times? The world has changed within a matter of weeks in a way that most of us couldn’t have envisioned as we celebrated the start of 2020, and it’s right that we recalibrate our priorities and ask complex questions. Most of my work these days involves research into health and science topics, but as a writer, I grapple with the same dilemmas that my fellow writers whose topics cover art and culture are facing. Where does it all fall on the priority scale?

Last year I traveled to India to research a story about Kashmiri shawl weaving. I knew about the situation in the region that has been under a lockdown since August 2019, and I had no illusions that my research would be easy. Truth be told, I wondered whether I should have written about something other than the making of pretty shawls. I could have written about Kashmir’s turbulent history, military conflict, economic problems or societal changes.

What I didn’t anticipate was how thrilled artisans would be that I was writing about their culture and their crafts. They insisted again and again on the paramount value of arts and crafts, despite the severity of the situation in the Kashmir Valley. “If we don’t preserve our culture, what is the point of anything?” Asaf Ali, the founder of a small artisan venture, Kashmir Loom, told me during our interview. When I finally wrote my story, I realized that it was about art, but also about Kashmir’s turbulent history, military conflict, economic problems and societal changes.

I returned from the trip to India profoundly changed. I realized that during the most difficult periods of my life art and creative pursuits have been essential for me.  Whether it was reading, writing, listening to music, contemplating a beautiful scent or an embroidery, art has allowed me to break through my despair and touch something greater. It reminded me that life is full of darkness and light, that in the folds of the most difficult day there hide sublime moments.

Thinking of the Kashmiri artisans, I reflected on my family history and saw the constant leitmotif of art as cure.  My grandparents knew it, because it helped them to survive the 20th century in a place known as “bloodlands.” My great-grandmother Asya embroidered elegant hand towels during WWII. My great-grandmother Olena, known as a master chef in the family, compiled recipe books when even buying bread required an hour wait in line. During the Chernobyl disaster, my mother and I found refuge in my grandmother Valentina’s vast library. We read so much that the terrible spring of 1986 is associated in my mind with Shakespeare’s sonnets–it’s only on deeper reflection that I recall the daily blood tests, the salty taste of iodine and the beep of a Geiger counter in our living room. Valentina, by the way, is the formidable grandmother who planted a splendid cherry garden in 2014 despite the war and anxiety. The garden is now in full green splendor, its buds turning to fruit.

Bois de Jasmin has become my garden of sorts, and this is the fifteenth year that I’ve been tending it.  I celebrate 15 years of Bois de Jasmin in strange, unsettling circumstances, and perhaps this is not the most lighthearted article to mark the anniversary. Yet, I never intended Bois de Jasmin as a bubble. My writing is personal, because that’s how I make sense of the world around me. If I were to sum up the most important thing I’ve learned writing Bois de Jasmin, it’s that art is essential–and especially so during dark times. The creative projects that this page had engendered gave me resilience as did the support and generosity of my readers and my fellow writers.

This brings me to another point made by the artisans I’ve interviewed, whether the weavers in India, the embroiderers in Ukraine or the lace makers in Belgium. Creativity and art do not exist in a vacuum. They are part of community, of culture, of the tradition of exchange. So, thank you for reading, for sharing, and for adding your stories and experiences. This place wouldn’t be the same without all of you. Bois de Jasmin is your garden too, and it’s always open.

Photography by Bois de Jasmin

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128 Comments

  • Marjorie: Congratulations! 15 years of blogging is an impressive achievement. I love the diversity of topics on Bois de Jasmin and how kind and nice all of the commenters are. It’s always a pleasure to come here. May 18, 2020 at 8:33am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you very much, Marjorie! May 19, 2020 at 8:13am Reply

  • Michele Davis: Oh my, you have written such a beautiful piece this week. Thank you for sharing your insights and providing 15 years of beautiful sensory experiences and alternative ways of making meaning of the world. You perspective in everyday and exotic things is so different and just perfect for me to pass on to different friends who are going through the various struggles of life. One piece might be on textiles as this one is, another on perfume, another on poetry, another on love, another on touch. All infused with that olfactory sense. Your work is exquisite and I am so grateful that I came upon your blog. Congratulations on 15 years. May 18, 2020 at 9:10am Reply

  • Perfumelover67: Happy 15th Anniversary Victoria! Thanks for making Bois de Jasmin one of the best perfume blogs. Your writing sensibility in all the topics you cover is inviting, educational and welcoming. I am not a regular commenter, but a faithful reader and follower of your blog for the past 12 years. I wish many more years of Bois de Jasmin to come. Congratulations! 🥂 May 18, 2020 at 9:20am Reply

  • Matty1649: Congratulations on 15 years. That’s a wonderful achievment. I love your blog, so diverse in content. Beautiful pictures as well X May 18, 2020 at 9:22am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you very much! Glad that you like the photos too. May 19, 2020 at 8:14am Reply

  • OperaFan: Happy Anniversary, Victoria! And thank you for sharing your extraordinary range of insights with us. May you enjoy many more years of success to come. <3 May 18, 2020 at 9:40am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you very much for being here all of these years and for reading. May 19, 2020 at 8:15am Reply

  • Cornelia Tersanszki: Happy Anniversary, Victoria! I long to read your posts, they are so special to me! May 18, 2020 at 9:52am Reply

  • Gabriela: A very emotional article. As always, you have touched my soul and made me reflect.
    The other day I was telling my mom about the resilience of your grandmothers and the capacity to create in extreme conditions.

    I too have found refugee in music, books, plants, scents, ballet and children. And wine and chocolate!

    Thank you and congratulations May 18, 2020 at 9:55am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you very much! Yes, chocolate is very important too. I’m having some right now.
      My grandmothers remain my most important role models. May 19, 2020 at 8:16am Reply

  • Tara C: Congratulations and thank you for your dedication to writing, art and sensory pleasures. Beauty is an integral part of enjoying life. This blog is an oasis of culture and appreciation of the more subtle parts of our human experience. Looking forward to many more years! May 18, 2020 at 10:01am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you very much, Tara! May 19, 2020 at 8:16am Reply

  • Tami: Congratulations on 15 years. I’ve learned so much from your insights and I appreciate the way you make this often-inaccessible world of perfume accessible to us.

    And thank you for your lovely words, which encourage us to seek out and appreciate beauty, then articulate those experiences in our responses. May 18, 2020 at 10:02am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you very much, Tami! 🙂 May 19, 2020 at 8:17am Reply

  • Ashfaque: Congratulations, Victoria. May you bring us joys for many more years to come. Other than analogue photography, perfume is my other ‘serious’ hobby – especially in the last 4-4.5 years. Whilst doing some reading, I stumbled upon your very informative and beautiful blog. Few few moths ago, Personalise recommended your blog for something else I was asking him about.

    If you ever come to Bangladesh, which I hope you will, I think you will love seeing how Jamdani sharees hand-made. There is of course agarwood and sandalwood plantations as well! I really enjoy your travels through our Subcontinent so far.

    Best wishes from Bangladesh,
    Ashfaque May 18, 2020 at 10:12am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you very much, Ashfaque! I do hope to visit Bangladesh one day. It might just give me an excuse to learn Bengali, the language that has always fascinated me. May 19, 2020 at 8:18am Reply

      • Elle: I am a new comer to your writings. I truly appreciate your beautiful perspective. In an online research project I found your input on Tuberose perfumes and it led me to purchase Frederic Malle’s Carnal Flower. I too am that artist that has so many layers and appreciates all beauty. Best to you! Thank you and congratulations on your 15yr accomplishment. Elle Laureano-Oppman May 19, 2020 at 10:33am Reply

        • Victoria: Thank you so much, Elle! May 21, 2020 at 6:57am Reply

  • Marsha Smith: Congratulations on 15 years Victoria! Please don’t worry about how high or low your writings fall on the priority scale! I am sure your many readers, myself included, think your writings are VERY essential as a place where we can come to for a reminder of how much beauty there is still out there in this world. (Even with so much chaos going on right now.) May 18, 2020 at 10:34am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you very much, Marsha! My work is important to me, whether it’s the science of smell research or writing about perfume or life in general. But I wanted to address some of these issues for a while. Art, craft, beauty–it is essential, especially now. May 19, 2020 at 8:23am Reply

  • Karen-Anne Keating: Victoria- Congratulations on reaching this milestone.

    ln these turbulent times l relish reading your thoughtful words even more. May 18, 2020 at 10:40am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you very much! It’s so good to hear this. May 19, 2020 at 8:23am Reply

  • carole: HAPPY ANNIVERSARY! And thank you so very much, for expanding my world. I have been reading your work for 15 years, and I remember when I wrote to you with a question about Caron you answered me-that meant the world to me. Art and artisans are of paramount importance to the world-they can expand our thoughts, bring comfort. Thank you. May 18, 2020 at 10:40am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you very much, Carole! I try to respond to all messages, time permitting. Very glad that I did to yours. 🙂 May 19, 2020 at 8:24am Reply

  • Armando: Happy Anniversary! And cheers to 15 more years of wonderful writing! As always, thank you for sharing your knowledge, interests, and views on culture and arts May 18, 2020 at 11:00am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you very much, Armando! May 19, 2020 at 8:24am Reply

  • Brenda: I feel we would simply be nowhere without our artistic side…& it manages to save us again and again. Your beautiful story today proves it, and our creative history will repeat itself. The ‘meat and potatoes’ of life will trudge on ~ but, the moments that truly restore us and keep our hearts beating are the sweetest. Thank you for gathering us all, Victoria. May 18, 2020 at 11:29am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you very much, Brenda! I can’t agree more. May 19, 2020 at 8:25am Reply

  • Gigi: Congratulations on your 15th anniversary of Bois de Jasmin! This was a beautiful piece that made me quite emotional and commend you on your lovely writing and viewpoint. You have one of my favorite sites with gorgeous images, wonderful writing and evocative subjects. Thank you for all you do! May 18, 2020 at 11:34am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you very much, Gigi! May 19, 2020 at 8:25am Reply

  • Silvermoon: Congratulations and happy 15th anniversary!
    Also, thank you for creating and naturing this wonderful space online. Also, a lovely and moving piece.

    PS Victoria, what a beautiful top and necklace. I guess the necklace is from your Ukrainian friend (sorry I cannot remember her name)? May 18, 2020 at 11:59am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you again!
      That necklace is also Ukrainian, but it’s from a different designer I found in Lviv. My friend’s studio is called Makoviya (ПрИкрасна майстерня “Makoviya”). May 19, 2020 at 8:27am Reply

  • Rhinda: I agree totally with your point on keeping all cultures as special and something to be learned from.
    Thank you for sharing all of this. May 18, 2020 at 12:12pm Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you very much, Rhinda! May 19, 2020 at 8:28am Reply

  • Sherry: Thanks for sharing your journey with us, whether it’s perfume, recipe or embroidery. Truely love reading this blog, and please keep sharing and inspiring. May 18, 2020 at 12:22pm Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you very much, Sherry! May 19, 2020 at 8:28am Reply

  • Kathy Parsons: Congratulations on a wonderful blog. Even though I love perfume (preferably the old original ones) I also loved the article on the Kashmiri artisans. It would be such a shame if these skills died.
    regards
    Kathy May 18, 2020 at 12:30pm Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you very much, Kathy! I’m glad to hear it. 🙂 May 19, 2020 at 8:28am Reply

  • Zazie: Thank you so much for this wonderful garden of yours, where you invited all of us, strangers, to mingle and chat as friends. This place goes beyond perfume and has planted many seeds – I cannot count the books and movies and recipes you brought to my attention and that now I treasure as well…
    And you are right, art and culture exist in a context.
    Writing, exploring perfume, attending to my flowers, reading, watching movies, exercising, cooking something fancy…all these “un-essential” activities have provided me much solace during this lockdown. They keep me positive and grounded. They make me curious, even, of this changing world.
    So thank you for all the inspiration, the armchair travels, the poems, the recipes, the book recommendations and the Bollywood movies prompts you provided through all these years. Thank you above all for the perfume reviews, those short stories conjure enchanted worlds that I’ll never tire of.
    Congratulations! I’ll toast this remarkable anniversary with a bubbly spritz of chanel n. 5. Alla tua salute, Bois De Jasmin! Love you so much ❤️
    🙂 May 18, 2020 at 2:07pm Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you very much for this lovely comment, Zazie! I can’t smell magnolia without thinking of meeting you that spring. 🙂 May 19, 2020 at 8:29am Reply

  • Kata: Dear Victoria,

    Thank you very much for continuing to share your thoughts about your interests, I have learned so much from your writings.
    Sending you lots of love! May 18, 2020 at 2:22pm Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you very much, Kata! 🙂 May 19, 2020 at 8:30am Reply

  • Christine: Your words and work enrich my life. Thank you so much May 18, 2020 at 2:53pm Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you very much, Christine! May 19, 2020 at 8:30am Reply

  • Virginia West: Thank you so much for your blog. I’m a frequent reader but have never commented. This is one of my favorites. May 18, 2020 at 4:06pm Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you very much, Virginia! I appreciate your comment so much. May 19, 2020 at 8:31am Reply

  • Peter: MAHALO NUI LOA (‘Thank You’ in Hawaiian) for creating my favorite blog. You share your love of art, culture, and perfume. This recent post is very heartfelt and inspiring. May 18, 2020 at 4:34pm Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you so much, Peter! May 19, 2020 at 8:31am Reply

  • bregje: happy anniversary!

    Beautiful article.

    For me,what sets bois de jasmin apart is that you are not afraid to dive in deep.
    It’s not just about pretty things, but more a philosophy on life. May 18, 2020 at 5:14pm Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you very much, Bregje! I try. 🙂 May 19, 2020 at 8:32am Reply

  • Angel: I’ve only been reading your blog for about a year, after a long hiatus from my love of perfume. There are so many things I want to touch on and I don’t quite know where to start!

    I’ve stumbled upon an encyclopedia of fragrance, not to mention the care and time you devote to individual reviews. But what really blows my mind is that you are still blogging after 15 years! So many blogs I used to love are long gone, either because the writer got bored or just disappeared. Or because it’s not a money maker, in this age of Instagram and Youtube revenue. And you are very clear in explaining you are not here for the money. You are here because you have an amazing gift of language (or should I say languages?) and you have such passion for fragrance, and you want to share it with us. I’m babbling, but it’s incredible to me that you’re not just sustaining this blog, but adding tremendous knowledge to us readers.

    While I feel sad that I only recently found you, I’m comforted that there are years of posts here for me to delve into. I’m always excited when I search your site and find five new articles to read. Just recently I read your article on Mimosa and Cassie and let me tell you, you explained the differences and nuances better than ANYONE. Because I’ve searched high and low LOL. It’s like a perpetual box of Christmas presents that I get to keep unwrapping.

    Your anniversary post highlights your kindness, and is the biggest reason why I think your readers love you so much. Your blog feels like an oasis in the harsh world of the internet. It’s peaceful and calming, and I get to rekindle my perfume passion with zeal.

    I’ve used this quarantine time to make endless lists of samples to try, and I’ve filled my perfume notebook with many reviews. I sample at least two fragrances a day, usually more. I feel I have a lot of catching up to do. I’m chasing that elusive perfume that will fill that hole in my aching heart LOL! I think I’ve found it, but it’s not ending my obsession. I’ve also reread books that I loved so much, but haven’t touched in over a decade. So while this time off has been scary and unsettling, I’m choosing to see it as a gift.

    Thank you for your devotion and the endless hours that must go into your writing. Thank you for still being here. Now was the perfect time for me to discover you. It’s comforting and it’s also a distraction from the noise of the world right now. Art has always been the most ambitious and revolutionary during hard times. It’s not superfluous in hard times, it’s essential for our growth. I’m so happy you’re here and contributing to our collective soul. Happy Anniversary and I apologize for the novel 🙂 May 18, 2020 at 5:16pm Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you very much, Angel! I can’t stop repeating it, but truly, all of these kind, heartfelt words mean a lot to me. All of you are the reason why I was able to maintain Bois de Jasmin for so long. Connecting with so many different people and being inspired by them, and seeing how they inspire each other, how they share, how they are ready to help–all of that is priceless. May 19, 2020 at 8:33am Reply

  • Leslie: Congratulations! I have enjoyed your writing and knowledge, and the wonderful comments for many years. Thank you so much! May 18, 2020 at 6:31pm Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you very much, Leslie! May 19, 2020 at 8:34am Reply

  • Undina: Congratulations on your impressive milestone, Victoria! I wish you many more years of inspiration and creativity – no matter what happens in the World around us. May 18, 2020 at 8:21pm Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you very much for your warm words, Undina! May 19, 2020 at 8:34am Reply

  • Fazal: I am grateful for your blog. Way more informative and intellectually stimulating than the blogs and video reviews of other pseudo-experts who have emerged over the last decade. Your blog serves as a stark reminder that intelligent people and real experts always have relatively smaller but dedicated following while the hucksters have crowds behind them. May 18, 2020 at 11:55pm Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you very much, Fazal! May 19, 2020 at 8:37am Reply

  • Mia: Oh, huge congrats and thank you so much beautiful lovely Victoria! It’s been hectic in my life for a couple of years (nothing too bad, just an overload of work) and my reading of anything has been more than random. A delight and a relief it is, always, to be able to visit this garden you’ve planted and grown for us. May 19, 2020 at 12:36am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you very much, Mia! Please take care of yourself. May 19, 2020 at 8:37am Reply

  • Catarina: I am glad to have discovered your wonderful blog and I hope it will go on for many years. It is an island of beauty and peace in a world that has forgotten its soul and I thank you for it. Congratulations! May 19, 2020 at 1:12am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you very much, Catarina! May 19, 2020 at 8:38am Reply

  • MamaCate: Congratulations on this achievement, and thank you for all your years of beautiful writing about beauty and the truly important in life. Your words have given me new insights and have enriched my life. May 19, 2020 at 1:30am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you very much for this! 🙂 May 19, 2020 at 8:38am Reply

  • Nick: She must have been very fluent and decisive, your grandmama, as there is barely any crisscross in the recipe

    Thank you for fuelling our interest in the the sense and my passion in F&F. Happy Fifteenth Year! Keep going, Victoria. May 19, 2020 at 1:40am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you very much, Nick!
      There are plent of crossouts in those books, but maybe not on that page. I find her crossouts and comments in the margins so interesting. May 19, 2020 at 8:39am Reply

  • Fitz Wong: Your blog has been my refuge for these unsettling days. Thank you so much for sharing Victoria! May 19, 2020 at 1:55am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you very much for coming here and your nice words! May 19, 2020 at 8:39am Reply

  • OnWingsofSaffron: Happy anniversary!
    Another aspect on art: it thrives abundantly where there is no censorship. I deeply appreciate the fact that you have managed to set up an art blog—„a primer on sensory pursuits“—which delves into so many topics that may seem far-away and unconnected, yet that still so many people enthusiastically and knowledgeably relate to these—and with an open mind! And as so often, the strange and foreign may be very close to oneself! Bravo! May 19, 2020 at 2:07am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you very much! Art also needs some degree of creative space. I just mentioned to a friend that I’m reading once again the correspondence between two great poets, Maria Tsvetaeva and Boris Pasternak and it’s fascinating how they found time to create in the most difficult circumstances. May 19, 2020 at 8:41am Reply

  • MaureenC: Congratulations and thank you for so much enjoyable and inspiring reading over many years. I came across Bois de Jasmin via other writers on perfume. I still enjoy reading about perfume but it is your wider writing on food, culture and family history which has sustained my interest. Long may this virtual garden remain open! May 19, 2020 at 3:40am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you very much, Maureen! I’m so glad to hear this. May 19, 2020 at 8:42am Reply

  • Karen A: Congratulations Victoria! BdJ has been an oasis during many challenging times for me. During the past two months it has been a true respite from all the fear and chaos we face.

    Thank you so much! May 19, 2020 at 4:37am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you very much, Karen!
      This whole thread is the best anniversary gift. May 19, 2020 at 8:43am Reply

  • Pocketvenus: Congratulations on 15 years! Here’s to another 15!

    I came to Bois de Jasmin to learn more about fragrance, which I have. But what I love even more is how it shares ways of developing a more profound appreciation of culture that goes beyond fast and easy consumption. Without culture, we have no way of connecting and sharing as social creatures. Making time for art is essential during difficult times, to connect to each other, to our world, to our past, present and future selves. Thank you for your sharing ♡ May 19, 2020 at 9:58am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you so much!
      It’s true that the way perfume is made today, it’s disconnected from general culture, and yet scent has such a big role to play in society. Even the whole discussion of banning perfume from public spaces reflects various societal shifts. That part is always interesting to me. May 21, 2020 at 6:57am Reply

      • Pocketvenus: It’s true, perfume has become very commodified! Though I didn’t mean to suggest perfume and culture are separate on your blog – in fact, your writing helped me find new ties between perfume and culture on this blog. While I frequent sites that offer reviews advising people buy this or that perfume and find them useful, I appreciate how your blog goes far beyond that! May 21, 2020 at 5:48pm Reply

        • Victoria: Thank you very much, that’s how I understood your comment. It’s interesting how we make this connection ourselves between fragrance and culture despite the commodification of perfume as a luxury item. We find it or we create this connection ourselves. That’s why I enjoy all of your comments so much. May 22, 2020 at 6:38am Reply

  • Sariah: Congratulations. I’ve enjoyed seeing you branch out over the years and delve into so many fascinating topics. You are an inspiration. May 19, 2020 at 12:12pm Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you so much, Sariah! May 21, 2020 at 6:57am Reply

  • Diana: Your thoughtful and humane essays on perfume and culture have delighted and intrigued me over the years. I’ve learned so much about fragrance from your articles (and from the recommendations of your many grateful readers) — but I’ve also loved your insightful musings on culture, art, and literature, especially the recent pieces about your great-grandmother’s exquisite embroidery, and the amazing traditions of the Kashmiri shawl artists. Thank you for your wonderful blog! May 19, 2020 at 1:08pm Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you very much, Diana! 🙂 May 21, 2020 at 6:58am Reply

  • Lucas: Raising a glass of champagne to mark this beautiful anniversary of Bois de Jasmin. It’s been a pleasure reading you before I created Chemist in the Bottle and later on, when it already existed.

    Hope you can continue for another 15 years with many beautiful stories, memories of travel and fragrances that move your soul. May 19, 2020 at 2:50pm Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you very much, Lucas! And best of luck to you with all of your projects, including Chemist in the Bottle. May 21, 2020 at 6:58am Reply

  • Jeanne: I have enjoyed Bois de Jasmin for many years. I don’t comment often, but I do always read your articles. They have been so inspirational for me, and sometimes they even help get me through difficult times. I hope you continue on for many years! Congrats! May 19, 2020 at 4:39pm Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you so much, Jeanne! May 21, 2020 at 6:59am Reply

  • Kathy: Congratulations, Victoria, on an impressive milestone. I will wear several of your five star scents this week to celebrate, including EL Private Collection, CD Dune, Atelier Orange Sanguine, and EL White Linen. I selected White Linen when I began my post-college career and did not have much money, but felt success had to include an elegant perfume. May 19, 2020 at 10:20pm Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you very much, Kathy! White Linen is a fabulous choice. May 21, 2020 at 6:59am Reply

  • KatieAnn: Such a beautiful post. This blog, itself, is a work of art. Thank you for all you do. You are an endless source of inspiration and light! Many blessings to you and your loved ones. May 19, 2020 at 10:55pm Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you so much for your kind words, KatieAnn! May 21, 2020 at 7:00am Reply

  • Patricia Devine: Wow, 15 years! Congratulations. I’ve been reading your blog since 2011 and it’s a wonderful oasis at times like these. When it comes to art, I like the Chinese saying: “If you have a loaf, sell half and buy lilies.” And in the end, the culture of a nation is all that’s left – far more people recognise the Doric pillars of the Parthenon than have ever heard of Pericles. May 20, 2020 at 4:27am Reply

    • Notturno7: Dear Victoria, Happy Anniversary!! ❤️🌷🌷Congratulations! Thank you for sharing your world with us and making our lives richer. Thank you, to other readers. I very much enjoy reading all the comments here, learning and sharing, making new friends. I’m grateful.
      Victoria, I love hearing about inspiring and strong women in your family. My grandmothers were amazing. I draw courage from what they taught me, how they lived, how brightly they shined and I think of them often in these times.
      Keep being the bright light that you are!
      Thank you May 20, 2020 at 5:57am Reply

      • Victoria: Thank you so much! Our ancestors play such an important role, don’t they. May 21, 2020 at 7:01am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you so much, Patricia. I loved your observation on recognizing the Doric pillars. So true. May 21, 2020 at 7:01am Reply

  • Aurora: Yes, Bois de Jasmin is your garden, the way you describe it in this thoughtful article, and I’m sure for all of us it is also an oasis particularly in these strange times. I will always remember our wonderful class where you so graciously shared your knowledge – I learned so much – and was so thrilled with the recent youtube videos and the mementos in your family you share with us. A very happy anniversary, dear Victoria. May 20, 2020 at 7:18am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you so much, Aurora! That class was so much fun, and if circumstances permit, I’d like to resume such small, intimate classes. May 21, 2020 at 7:02am Reply

  • Anu: Dear Victoria, congratulations on this wonderful milestone! Thank you for enriching my life with your inspirational writing and wonderful insights into the world of art and culture. Through the years, “Bois de Jasmin” has given me the opportunity to take a peek at different aspects of the world through the unique lens of your perspective. Wishing you and “Bois de Jasmin” many more years of success. May 20, 2020 at 11:06am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you so much, Anu! Hearing this means a lot to me. May 21, 2020 at 7:02am Reply

  • Tourmaline: Dear Victoria,

    Many happy returns! I won’t repeat the lengthy tribute that I wrote at the end of your last post (which we kind of gate-crashed with your “surprise party”!), but I’ll offer you a different version of the little poem I wrote for you last year, for your August 12 post about poetry entitled “The Color of Love”. Over the last few days I’ve been working on it, and it’s now significantly longer. It’s not necessarily better, though! It’s still a bit rough, and the rhythm’s all over the place, but I hope you’ll like something about it.

    First, though, I would like to thank you for another beautiful post, and echo your statement that art is essential. Like self-care, it’s critical for our mental and emotional health. As Asaf Ali said to you, “If we don’t preserve our culture, what is the point of anything?” I always say that the sciences provide our means to live, and the arts provide our reason to live. That’s an over-simplification, of course, but the essential message is there.

    Secondly, I’ll remind you of something that Michael Edwards says about fragrance on his website, as a way of assuring you that your blog is important. He says, “A great perfume is a work of art. It can lift our days, haunt our nights and create the milestones of our memories.” So true.

    Thirdly, I’ll let you know that I began writing a more detailed response about this interesting issue, but when it had reached almost a page in length and I hadn’t finished, I realized that the current celebratory post was not the place for it. So, while I’ll save those words for another time, I shall direct your attention back to your post of December 30, 2014 – “Favorite Perfumes of 2014: A Year in Review”, and my comment, over half-way down. That’s where I quoted from the account of the liberation of the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, and discussed the significance of the red lipstick provided to the women. Many other remarks from that post, and the comments that followed, are relevant to the questions you have raised here.

    Finally, I’d like to say that nobody who has read more than a couple of your posts could possibly gain the impression that you write within a bubble. The opposite is true. Even your posts about makeup are furnished with background information on the brands and their games of musical chairs, popularity as reflected in sales figures, and so on. Indeed, you are among the writers I most admire for this very reason: you have the intelligence and wisdom to provide context for every topic, lending the perspective that only professional knowledge or experience can supply. In this way, you are up there with the late and very great Clive James, and the wonderful Antonella Gambotto-Burke, whose work I have followed for about 30 years. (I don’t make such comparisons lightly!)

    Oh gawd; I’ve written almost a page AGAIN, so I’ll shut up…

    Here ‘tis.

    BOIS DE JASMIN

    (Version 2)

    This glorious perfumed cathedral
    Is more than the sum of its people
    We worship at the altar of scent
    And art and writing and all they have meant
    Our curious, lay congregation
    Revels in a broad education
    Our passionate, qualified preacher
    Is an eloquent, generous teacher

    Her homilies of thoughtful nature
    Earnestly explore our culture
    Comments bring us all together
    Fellowship across the ether

    Sampling, sharing each new find
    We’re pilgrims seeking rapture
    Those sparks of heaven in the mire
    Celestial gems we capture

    We smell the sweet cathedral flowers
    Choose a fragrance to be ours
    Confessing to each costly sin
    We learn, repent and try again

    Bathed in vivid stained-glass light
    We sing amid the global choir
    Hymns to dear Après L’Ondée
    Shalimar or Jean Naté

    We watch as bishops baptize babies
    Soon to grace the halls of Macy’s
    Coveting a font of cologne
    Or perfume organ of our own
    We kneel before the holy ghosts
    Of Jacques Guerlain and Ed Roudnitska
    Savoring fond memories
    Of gardens grown by our Babushkas

    Prayers we say for those who suffer
    Light sweet candles for lost souls
    Communing here improves perspective
    Spreads compassion, clarifies goals

    The incense lingers all our days
    Our isolation it allays
    As modern living takes its toll
    The long sillage doth feed our soul

    Road to every thing sublime
    Portal to a world divine
    Community in motion
    Blessed Bois de Jasmin May 20, 2020 at 3:04pm Reply

    • Victoria: You’re incredible and multitalented. Thank you so much for this gift. I’m (quite uncharacteristically) at loss for words. Thank you very much again! I’m going to send this poem to my mom. I know that she will enjoy it as much as I did. May 21, 2020 at 7:05am Reply

      • Tourmaline: Dear Victoria,

        You are most welcome.

        Thank you; you are kind and very generous. I’m so glad you liked it and I’m touched that you chose to send it to your mom; that means a lot to me. I hope she enjoys reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it!

        With kind regards,
        Tourmaline May 22, 2020 at 2:49am Reply

        • Victoria: She loved it and got emotional reading it. Thank you for all of us yet again! May 22, 2020 at 6:42am Reply

          • Tourmaline: 😊 ❤️ May 22, 2020 at 8:34am Reply

  • Tourmaline: I’ll just try that again, to get the spacing right…

    BOIS DE JASMIN

    (Version 2)

    This glorious perfumed cathedral
    Is more than the sum of its people
    We worship at the altar of scent
    And art and writing and all they have meant

    Our curious, lay congregation
    Revels in a broad education
    Our passionate, qualified preacher
    Is an eloquent, generous teacher

    Her homilies of thoughtful nature
    Earnestly explore our culture
    Comments bring us all together
    Fellowship across the ether

    Sampling, sharing each new find
    We’re pilgrims seeking rapture
    Those sparks of heaven in the mire
    Celestial gems we capture

    We smell the sweet cathedral flowers
    Choose a fragrance to be ours
    Confessing to each costly sin
    We learn, repent and try again

    Bathed in vivid stained-glass light
    We sing amid the global choir
    Hymns to dear Après L’Ondée
    Shalimar or Jean Naté

    We watch as bishops baptize babies
    Soon to grace the halls of Macy’s
    Coveting a font of cologne
    Or perfume organ of our own

    We kneel before the holy ghosts
    Of Jacques Guerlain and Ed Roudnitska
    Savoring fond memories
    Of gardens grown by our Babushkas

    Prayers we say for those who suffer
    Light sweet candles for lost souls
    Communing here improves perspective
    Spreads compassion, clarifies goals

    The incense lingers all our days
    Our isolation it allays
    As modern living takes its toll
    The long sillage doth feed our soul

    Road to every thing sublime
    Portal to a world divine
    Community in motion
    Blessed Bois de Jasmin May 20, 2020 at 3:11pm Reply

  • WARA: FELICIDADES QUERIDA VICTORIA!!!!!!
    The beautiful space you have created is an international treasure. I came to BDJ today wondering where to put this information. As I opened the New York Times today, a beautiful article shined like a star of hope among all the sadness. I knew I had to share it here, but was wondering under which category to place it. Well, this is a gift of sorts to you and all BDJ community. A beautiful surprise in our world turned upside down by the virus. What better way to celebrate your wonderful 15 years anniversary than with a new scent house that has designed something specific to our current needs and which is based in organic gifts from Pachamama/Mother Nature. FUEGUIA is the design house. They are based in Argentina. They have a skin sanitizer to address the current needs, it has 45 medicinal plants (NYT article said it smells of verbena and eucalyptus). The company was founded in 2010 in Buenos Aires by the perfumer Julian Bedel as a perfume house. Their web site has all the perfume lines and information which is quite extensive. Their website is fueguia.com
    I have never heard of knew about this perfumer, his house of the products. But I felt like I could share a gift with you and the BDJ community to thank you for everything you do for us!!! As we mourn the people that have returned to the stars due to this horrible virus, we celebrate life, and the beauty of the world and people like you dearest Victoria!!! May 20, 2020 at 7:10pm Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you so much for your kind words, Wara–and for sharing the story! May 21, 2020 at 7:13am Reply

  • Katia: Congratulations on a wonderful achievement, Vika! You have so much to be proud of. I feel privileged to have witnessed the early days of Bois de Jasmin, born amidst your treasure box of perfumes, in a little room where you cooked up magical feasts and reminisced about your family. Thank you for the beauty, the wise advice and the many reviews, insights, and life hacks that you have shared with us over these years. Much love! May 21, 2020 at 2:53pm Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you so much, Katia! I think that you were among the first people with whom I shared the idea. Your support in this endeavor, as it is in all of my other ones, has been invaluable. May 22, 2020 at 6:35am Reply

  • Andy: What an incredible anniversary, for you and for all of us who have come along for the ride. These 15 years of creativity, sharing, and community are no small feat, and I am so very glad to have been here for so many of them. I look forward to the next 15 years to come. Bois de Jasmin has improved my life and changed how I experience my world and react to it. Nothing could be a greater gift.

    As for the role of art and beauty during this time, I have planted a whole half of my community garden with an array of flowers for cutting bouquets and for the enjoyment of others to see. Some friends asked me whether I shouldn’t be growing more food at a time when vegetable gardens have resurged in popularity. But we have a special ability to create and share beauty. It is done here every day. And though it’s true that beauty and inspiration can materialize in life without our doing anything, we can also nurture and nudge these moments into existence, for ourselves and for others. As I was reading about your grandmother’s cherry garden, I thought, I wonder what your (ever practical) grandmother would think of my flowers! 😉 May 21, 2020 at 6:06pm Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you very much, Andy! You’ve been an inspiration here. Whenever I drink oolongs, use rosewater or my Indian grinding stone, I think of you. 🙂 May 22, 2020 at 6:39am Reply

    • Victoria: I’m sure my grandmother would love your flowers. In Ukraine, by the way, vegetable gardens are almost always planted in such a way as to have flower beds, for instance, linen flowers, sunflowers or mustard. It’s done both to attract pollinators, enrich the soil and also to please the eye. May 22, 2020 at 6:41am Reply

  • Monika: Thank you for all those years, Victoria. 🙂 I don’t have time for lengthy posts but I want to leave here at least a little sign of my gratitude for sharing your love of perfume, books and languages. May 23, 2020 at 1:52pm Reply

    • Monika: P.S. And garden is a metaphor that really speaks to me. 🙂 May 23, 2020 at 1:57pm Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you very much, Monika! It means a lot to me. May 27, 2020 at 7:10am Reply

  • Michael: Dear Viktoria

    My heartiest congratulations to you on the 15th anniversary of Bois de Jasmin! Many thanks for your time, dedication and tenacity in continuing to educate and inform fragrance enthusiasts like me. I have to confess that your blog was the first one I explored many years ago when I started taking tentative steps into the world of perfumery, and your writings (and the helpful comments of others) have been a great source of information for me.

    During such times of strife and uncertainty, it is even more vital that blogs like Bois de Jasmin are available for fragonerds around the world to seek knowledge, security and familiarity in an ever volatile living environment.

    May Bois de Jasmin continue to expand and accommodate the ever changing times.

    Once again, many thanks for everything you have put into this blog, it is much appreciated.

    Stay safe and stay strong! May 24, 2020 at 3:10am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you so much, Michael! I appreciate all of you being here. Please stay safe and healthy! May 27, 2020 at 7:09am Reply

  • Fragrance Spice: First, would like to congratulate you on the “15 Years of Bois de Jasmin” and for your trip to India. Although the process wasn’t all that easy but you succeeded and pull it off.

    Gaining many of the insights was extremely refreshing to hear because we do live in a world of art. Sometimes we may not take notice of it but thinking about it now after reading your content shed a new perspective about our planet, outer space and everything within it’s remarking.

    Really nice work of art on the Kashmir weaving, it’s beautiful. Thank you for sharing a wonderful content. Very educational and full of inspiration. Would definitely recommend this read to everyone. May 24, 2020 at 4:48am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you very much!
      That trip was definitely among the most inspiring, despite or perhaps because of its difficulties. May 27, 2020 at 7:08am Reply

  • Agnieszka: Dear Victoria, I have been with you through most of these years. Congratulations and thank you! May 24, 2020 at 5:22am Reply

    • Victoria: Agnieszka, thank you so much! This is very nice to know. May 27, 2020 at 7:07am Reply

  • limegreen: Dear Victoria,
    Late to the party but many congratulations on 15 years!
    Thank you for being an essential part of my day. Your generosity of time and energy in this blog communiity is greatly appreciated, especially now.
    Be safe and be well! May 25, 2020 at 11:22am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you so much for this nice message! 🙂 May 27, 2020 at 7:04am Reply

  • Eudora: I am late but I need to be here to say thank you. Thanks for your generosity, for sharing with us so much. Bois de Jasmin is such a wonderful place. A garden. I am so happy to be here. Thanks and congratulations dear Victoria. My best wishes. May 28, 2020 at 3:14pm Reply

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