White Winter Opulence : Floral Perfumes

With the holidays behind us and still too many winter days ahead, it’s important to find ways to add a splash of color to the grey, cold mornings. I reach for my brightest dresses and scarves and add swirls of saffron and paprika to my food, evoking sunshine and warmth. Or I rely on white floral perfumes to create a vivid ambiance.

White flowers may call to mind bridal veils, but there is nothing prim and pastel about the scent of tropical blossoms like tiaré, frangipani, ylang ylang, tuberose or jasmine. They have a voluptuous aroma reminiscent of warm skin, coconut milk and petals sticky with nectar. The synesthetes among perfumers swear that white flowers smell purple and pink, rich and saturated, and it’s true that wearing a white floral perfume makes me feel as if the day is brighter.

While ‘white’ or ‘tropical’ florals are imprecise terms covering too many botanical families and fragrance types, the one characteristic that these flowers have in common is their heady and flamboyant aroma. Annick Goutal Un Matin d’Orage is a good introduction because it showcases peach redolent tiaré blossoms in a delicate manner. The perfume opens on an etude of dew covered buds and flowers and even as it warms up in the dry down, it retains its airy character.

More richly tinted is Parfums de Nicolaï Juste Un Rêve, a plumeria blossom soaked in apricot nectar. It’s a bolder, sweeter fragrance than Un Matin d’Orange, with a cool touch of iris balancing out the creamy floral notes. True to its name, Juste Un Rêve is dreamy, and putting it on is like stepping into one’s own tropical fantasy of sun warmed sand and cool breezes that shake flowers out of tall frangipani trees.

Decadent and ornate, Tom Ford Black Orchid is a fragrance that combines so many elements that one might wonder how it can work. From the fresh green leaves and cucumber peel to melted chocolate, incense, truffle, and tropical flowers, it’s a kaleidoscope of sensations. Yet, if the idea is to have fun, rather than play it safe, Black Orchid satisfies on all counts. It’s luxurious and seductive, with a lingering finish that clings to skin like wet silk.

For the greyest of days there is Vero Profumo’s Rubj. Created by indie perfumer Vero Kern, Rubj smells of Indian nights, indecently lush flowers, ripe strawberries, and salty skin. The fragrance comes in three concentrations, Eau de Parfum, Extrait de Parfum and  Voile d’Extrait. All three are so varied that they could be different perfumes, but my favorite is the Voile d’Extrait with its stronger accent on the tuberose and orange blossom petals. A few drops are enough to make me dream about the sunshine of Kerala.

What are your favorite opulent white florals?

Photography by Bois de Jasmin

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19 Comments

  • Jenni: Do you include Lily or Lyse in this category? If so, do you have a favorite? January 22, 2024 at 9:10am Reply

    • la_ninon: *listening*

      I like Lys Mediterranee, but am forever searching for a more opaque complex lily. January 22, 2024 at 12:41pm Reply

  • Nona: One of my favourites – Heartless Helen by Penhaligon’s – it really improves my mood when it’s gray and cold outside. January 22, 2024 at 9:28am Reply

  • Marsi: My favorite big white floral is Egyptian Lotus by Sifr, the small indie perfumer in Singapore. Notes are Indian jasmine, lotus, Tahitian vanilla, sandalwood, and vetiver. Creamy and delicious. My husband happened upon the shop while in Singapore on a business trip seven years ago and loved the scent. I love it, too.

    He and I go to Todos Santos on the Pacific side of the Baja Peninsula every winter to escape the gloom of Seattle for a week. It sounds silly, but the scent I always wear in Baja is Elizabeth Taylor’s White Diamonds. Huge white floral, and good quality. January 22, 2024 at 10:01am Reply

  • Hamamelis: Annick Goutal Songes, which is one of my most loved perfumes, Via del Profumo Tasmeen, beautiful and affordable Ylang-Ylang, Rubj in Extrait (like you, just a few drops), Hiram Green’s Moon Bloom, Neela Vermeire Pichola and Estee Lauder Private Collection Tuberose Gardenia. January 22, 2024 at 10:03am Reply

    • Sandra: songes is divine January 22, 2024 at 11:22am Reply

  • Donna: While not having been a fan of white flower perfumes, except for enfleuraged flowers, recently I bought a sample of Carnal Flower, and think I might even wear it!
    It’s as if tuberose got all fat drinking up lots of coconut cream and is lounging in the sun.
    Many little facets of other white flowers glorifying the tuberose, giving that edge of turning towards when the fresh tuberose decays. Yummy! January 22, 2024 at 10:16am Reply

  • Jill: I love Diptyque Do Son. January 22, 2024 at 10:40am Reply

  • Briony: This winter, the florals I’m most into are Amouage Gold and Dia, as well as Divine’s Divine. Big bold florals with loads of ooomph. January 22, 2024 at 11:13am Reply

  • Tara C: Amouage Love Tuberose, Parfums MDCI Indes Galantes, Annick Goutal Songes and Tauer Le Maroc pour Elle are some favorite white florals. January 22, 2024 at 11:35am Reply

  • Kaisa: I’m generally averse to white florals and I don’t like tropical scents on myself either, but I do love Hiram Green’s Moon Bloom, Rogue’s Tuberose & Moss and Vetifleur, Histoires de Parfums’ Tubereuse 3 Animale, and Dusita’s Fleur de Lalita. And if Francesca Bianchi’s Tyger Tyger counts as a white floral, I love that, too! January 22, 2024 at 12:18pm Reply

    • la_ninon: I adore Moon Bloom. January 22, 2024 at 12:38pm Reply

  • Aurora: Lately I’ve been wearing Elie Saab essence no 2 Gardenia and Jo Loves Gardenia, I love my gardenia without tuberose, like you I enjoy Un Matin d’orage, the EDT with added jasmine and not the EDP which is heavier and has tuberose. January 22, 2024 at 12:23pm Reply

    • Jasmina: I love the original Gucci Bloom (Eau de Parfum) so much. I would describe it as superfloral with a surprisingly cool sense added to the classic white and powdery jasmine and tuberose. January 22, 2024 at 4:38pm Reply

  • Jasmina: I love the original Gucci Bloom (Eau de Parfum) so much. I would describe it as superfloral with a surprisingly cool sense added to the classic white and powdery jasmine and tuberose. January 22, 2024 at 4:39pm Reply

  • Nev: Wonderful suggestions from all of you! I am not a particular lover of opulent white florals but I appreciate them and have one in my collection. It is J by Costume National. To me it smells like jasmine but actually it is neroli, orange and cherry blossom. January 23, 2024 at 4:03am Reply

  • Gretchen: Orange blossom is softer than most white florals, but Hermes 24 Faubourg fits into the opulent category quite well. I love it in the summer, I love it in the winter – it’s cheerful and decadent and even when I’m wearing basic clothing, I feel so much more pulled together. January 23, 2024 at 9:38am Reply

  • Nancy Chan: My favourite white floral perfume is Kai perfume oil. January 24, 2024 at 4:06pm Reply

  • emercycrite: I have a bottle of Guerlain Joyeuse Tubéreuse that I’m waiting for winter to open. January 27, 2024 at 4:32am Reply

What do you think?

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