Opulent: 173 posts

Fragrance with rich, complex characters that feel like cashmere wraps

Opulent Fragrances To Escape Routine and Grey Weather

With everyone enraptured by minimalism, Cleanfluencers, and Marie Kondo, it seems in bad taste to suggest the need for opulence, especially since what I have in mind is Bollywood’s “more is more” variety. There are two reasons for my insistence—excitement is a good thing, and I love Indian cinema.

Many people outside the Bollywood sphere of influence find the genre puzzling. Everything is over the top—the acting, the plots, the songs, the outfits. But for me, it’s “cinema that exists slightly outside the everyday world,” in the words of writer Rana Dasgupta. This fantasy space is shared by perfumes, intangible messages in a bottle. So, those wishing to take a break from KonMaring their sock drawers and making their apartment look like an IKEA showroom are welcome to follow along with me.

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Favorite Scented Candles for Daydreaming

I have a weakness for scented candles and the autumn-winter season brings many temptations. L’Artisan Parfumeur’s collection, for instance, offers plenty of reverie-inspiring options from  jasmine (Souffle de Jasmin) to saffron (Voyage à Constantinople) and more. The candles burn cleanly, without smoke or soot, and the scent lingers for a few hours in the air. These days I’m lighting Brise de Mimosa whenever I crave sunshine and verve. This candle is redolent of mimosa branches, green leaves, and violet flowers. The aroma of mimosa is delicate and complex, but Brise de Mimosa captures it well; it only takes a few minutes to fill my room with the scent of Provence.

If not mimosa, then I choose to festoon my room with the garlands of violets by lighting Molton Brown’s Exquisite Vanilla & Violet Flower candle.  True to its name, it smells of violet bonbon and fresh flowers and green notes make it airy. The lavender-tinted glass makes it a charming decorative item.

Another elegant option is Midi Eternel from the niche perfume house of Sulékó. Based in Paris, Sulékó draws on the French perfume traditions and the Slavic heritage of its founder, Anastasia Sokolow. The perfume collection, for instance, was inspired by the Russian fairy tales, but the candle is a tribute to the south of France and its heady aromas. The main accent is green, with a touch of myrtle, rosemary, and pine needles for brightness. The salty nuance that becomes obvious the longer the candle burns evokes the scents of sea breeze and driftwood. Midi Eternel has a rejuvenating, crisp fragrance, perfect for those who prefer their room scents unsweetened.

Byredo’s Tree House candle is similarly polished. The main chord includes cedarwood, sandalwood, and hay, with allspice and myrrh adding darker, warmer layers. It was inspired by the creations of the Japanese wood master Takashi Kobayashi and his tree houses. Byredo’s idea captures the aromas of polished woods in a candle form. Even after the candle is snuffed out, the peppery, balsamic scent floats in the air, evoking glistening wood shavings in different shades of amber.

Pro tip: To make any candle release its scents evenly, burn it for no longer than two hours at the time and trim the wick on regular basis. It will delight you longer and keep its scent until the last drop of wax.

What are your favorite candles and home scents?

Photography by Bois de Jasmin

Brand Spotlight: Serge Lutens and 5 Favorite Perfumes

Niche perfumery is synonymous with originality, boldness and surprise, and Serge Lutens deserves much of the credit for shaping it and giving it a set of codes and accords. Lutens was born in France and became successful as a photographer and artist, and his first sojourn in Morocco in the ’60s inspired him to experiment with new media and styles. When he eventually came to perfumery, he already had a concept that was revolutionary at the time–the scent of woods for women. Inspired by Moroccan cedarwood, it became Féminité du Bois, and it launched a new era in perfumery.

Féminité du Bois was created in collaboration between Serge Lutens and perfumer Christopher Sheldrake (who also creates perfumes for Chanel these days.) While it remains an iconic fragrance, Serge Lutens’s collection is full of other gems. In my new series spotlighting different brands, I talk about Serge Lutens and five of his best fragrances.

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Why Frankincense Is On The Verge of Disappearing

Incense is one of my favorite notes, whether it’s the classical frankincense (olibanum) or the blends meant to evoke the aroma of Japanese or Indian powders and joss sticks. I will eventually cover the different notes that convey an incense-like effect, but today I will start with frankincense. It’s an iconic ingredient, and in perfumery if you see incense mentioned in a fragrance pyramid, it’s often frankincense. Another reason I would like to start my incense series with frankincense is that it’s an ingredient under threat.

Frankincense is obtained from about five species of Boswellia trees found in North Africa, Western Africa, India, Oman, and Yemen. Centuries before oil became the source of Oman’s wealth, frankincense was its true gold. In order to collect frankincense, harvesters make incisions in the trunks of the trees. The oozing sap eventually hardens and is gathered in pellets. Men typically gather the resin, while women clean it and sort the so-called frankincense tears by size. In my film, I described the danger of frankincense harvesting, since the trees grow on hard-t0-access cliffs.

In Somalia, trees have always been highly valued and the groves were local property, passed down within clans. Trees were tapped only after they were at least 12 years old and the harvest would be rotated to give the plants time to heal. However, armed conflicts and rising demand for the resin collided to create conditions for overharvesting.

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Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh

When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy. On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary, his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.” Matthew 2:11

Gold, frankincense and myrrh have been venerated since antiquity and their importance often exceeded their monetary value. Many know the Biblical story of the adoration of the Magi, but you can find mentions of these materials interspersed in Hindu, Islamic and Judaic texts. Since perfumery reflects trends in art, fashion, and society at large, I have always wanted to explore the three gifts of the Magi in the context of fragrance. I thought that it would be a fascinating exercise.

While the value of gold may be self-evident, its ability to hypnotize and dazzle is even more prized. The pursuit of such an irresistible sensation has deeply influenced perfumery, despite the fact that gold does not have an obvious olfactory profile. After all, just as gold is an exquisite adornment, so too is perfume.  Although every perfumer might interpret the gilded idea differently, many gold fantasy accords fall in the realm of rich oriental notes—spice, amber, balsam, tobacco, vanilla.

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