Fall: 78 posts

Some fragrances that feel autumnal to me

Fall Reading : Odyssey, Celestial Bodies and Obsessions

Autumn can be described as “golden,” “melancholy” or “rainy,” but I like the Japanese epithet of autumn as “the season for reading,” dokusho no aki. There is something particularly inviting about the image of sitting down with a book and a steaming cup of tea on a rainy day. Or I like to take a favorite book of poetry to a park and read a few stanzas as I wade through the fallen leaves. This fall, however, I’ll more likely be reading at train stations and airports as I have several trips lined up. Whatever the circumstances, I made a list of books to read. For the Bois de Jasmin fall reading list, on the other hand, I want to share the books I’ve read and enjoyed. As always, I look forward to your lists and recommendations.

Homer, The Odyssey

I’ve decided to re-read The Odyssey after I finished Mary Beard’s Civilisations: How Do We Look/The Eye of Faith. Beard observes that certain works of literature influenced our culture to such a great extent that we take it for granted. Two of the most important books in the history of Western literature, as well as the oldest, are Homer’s Iliad and The Odyssey. I’ve selected The Odyssey, because it was my favorite when I was a student, and the copy we had at home was a French translation by Leconte Lisle circa 1860’s. It’s a translation in prose, but I found it beautiful and suspenseful.

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The Scent of Osmanthus

Once the weather turns cool in Tokyo, a sweet perfume fills its streets. It escapes from the parks and enclosed gardens and for a few weeks it becomes a familiar presence in a city better known for its skyscrapers, electronics and cuisine than for flowers. The tiny blossoms that give Tokyo its aroma are easy to miss, but the perfume is so vivid that osmanthus is sometimes called “a 10-mile fragrance” tree. In Japanese, it’s known as kinmokusei, and in English it may be referred to as a “fragrant” or “Chinese” olive, hinting at the plant’s origins, but by any name, the aroma of ripe apricots, jasmine petals and leather is irresistible.

In my latest FT column, Perfumes Linked by Osmanthus, I discuss one of the most fascinating perfume ingredients, osmanthus, and explain how it’s used in perfumery. Of course, I mention three of my favorite osmanthus perfumes and share stories about them. You can read the article by clicking here.

Please let me know other osmanthus perfumes that should be included on a list for someone who loves these apricot scented blossoms.

Photography by Bois de Jasmin

The Best Oud-Based Perfumes

Oud, or agarwood, is the biggest perfumery trend of the past ten years, and while it might occasionally show signs of flagging, it won’t disappear anytime soon. While we have seen many excellent fragrances based on the note derived from the resin of the Aquilaria tree species, uninspiring, bland compositions have been just as common. In my latest FT magazine column, The Best Oud-Based Perfumes, I explain what makes oud as a perfume note and a traditional Middle Eastern ingredient so important. Then, I describe several oud-based fragrances that I consider gold standards. Since oud is a material that comes from an endangered plant species, I also talk about the ethical issues we have to keep in mind as we seek out oud perfumes.

“Oud is a paradox. The exquisite aroma that set the imagination of Japanese poets and Sufi mystics aflame develops as a result of a disease. When healthy, the wood of the Aquilaria tree species is odourless, but once a certain type of mould affects them, they release an aromatic essence to protect their tissues from decomposition. It’s a slow process, during which blond wood turns dark and hard as a stone and develops a fragrance of uncommon complexity. It has the notes of sweet tobacco, incense, leather and smoked spices, with a lingering undercurrent of bitter honey and crushed mint. While it’s known by many names, including aloeswood, agarwood, gaharu, or jinko, its other name, dark gold, will be instantly recognisable to oud lovers. To continue reading, please click here.”

What are your favorite oud fragrances?

Photography by Bois de Jasmin, oud chips and essence.

5 New Perfumes for Fall : Reviews

I’ve been making lists of fall fragrances ever since the end of summer when the new launches started appearing. So, I decided to narrow down my selection to a few perfumes I enjoyed and wore. In this installment, I will talk about 5 such fragrances. They weren’t picked to be traditionally seasonal, and they range from citrus colognes to floral orientals. With the possible exception of Twilly, they’re for both men and women.

Twilly d’Hermès

Twilly d’Hermès is one of my favorite launches this year. The fragrance was inspired by Hermès’s narrow scarves, and if the house aimed for a blend as versatile as its famous accessory, then it more than succeeded. More than that, it also demonstrated that it’s possible to create a lighthearted, pleasing perfume that still smells clever, memorable and plush. The core of the fragrance is composed of ginger, tuberose and sandalwood, notes that together create a colorful, exuberant effect. The floral accord of Twilly is abstract and luminous, but it has a creamy sweetness that’s the trademark of white flowers like tuberose. Like most of Christine Nagel’s perfumes, it blossoms on skin and has a seductive, coquettish flair.

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Radiance Skincare Routine for Fall

Everyone has different goals for their skincare routine. Some people seek to reverse sun damage. Others want a product that will control shine or minimize the look of their pores. Different age groups also have different concerns, as do people who live in different climates. But if your goal is to find a simple skincare solution that will nourish the skin and leave it brighter and fresher, I would like to share a few things that work for me.

The biggest change in my skincare routine happens in the fall when I start using more exfoliating products like alpha-hydroxy acid (AHA) or a beta-hydroxy acid (BHA) lotions and serums. Although one reads that neither acids nor retinol increase sun sensitivity and can be used all year round, I made a point of verifying it with several dermatologists, and they agreed that anything that exfoliates the skin will make it more sensitive. Which means that using heavy exfoliation in the summer will either negate the results or leave the skin damaged.

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