Refreshing: 70 posts

Effervescent, uplifting fragrances

Atelier Cologne Jasmin Angelique : Perfume Review


Angelica may seem like an esoteric perfume note to be obsessed with. If people associate it with anything, it’s with the candied green stems that make their way into cakes.  As I discovered when I was researching an article for my FT column, it’s an essential ingredient in many types of fragrances and a fascinating material. Angelica combines musky and green nuances with a bright, peppery touch, making it a perfect partner to florals, citrus, woods and musks. Atelier Cologne Jasmin Angélique is firmly in the floral camp, but its angelica layer gives the fragrance complexity and radiance.

The first impression of Jasmin Angélique is so green and peppery that it’s a surprise every single time I put on the perfume. It’s the hit of gin, the bite of black pepper and the pleasant bitterness of greens rolled into one accord. The illusion is created by the use of frankincense that can smell either dark or shimmering depending on what notes accompany it. Here it is paired with leafy notes, and the effect is dazzling.

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Peach Flowers and Cherry Leaves : 5 Fragrances for Hinamatsuri

This week as Belgium and the rest of Europe was battered by Siberian winds, I’ve enjoyed thinking about peach blossoms and pink confections. March 3rd is celebrated in Japan as Hinamatsuri, also known as Girl’s Day or Doll’s Festival. Starting in February, families with daughters put up elaborate platforms representing the imperial wedding, complete with the emperor, empress, court ladies, famous poets and musicians of the Heian era (794-1192). These doll sets are usually given by grandparents to their granddaughters as they wish them health and happiness. Since most Japanese live in tiny, cramped apartments and doll sets cost around $2000, only a few still keep to the old customs. Nevertheless, girls are still feted on this special day.

The reason I enjoy Hinamatsuri is not for the dolls but the flowers and food. March 3rd is known also as Momo no Sekku, the festival of peach blossoms. Peach trees blossom even before spring makes its first claims, and the flowers are as beautiful as they are symbolic–delicacy need not come at the expense of resolve. The fragrance of peach blossoms has a hint of bitter almond and creamy jasmine, but it’s fresh and bright. The pale color of flowers inspires the meals served on Hinamatsuri, like chirashi zushi, a bed of vinegared sushi rice scattered with raw fish, salmon roe, egg threads and pickled lotus root slices, or hishi mochi, diamond shaped rice cakes in delicate pastel shades. My other favorite is sakura mochi, glutinous rice cakes filled with red beans and wrapped in a salted cherry leaf.

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L’Artisan Parfumeur Histoire d’Orangers : Perfume Review


This review of Histoire d’Orangers, a fragrance created by perfumer Marie Salamagne for L’Artisan Parfumeur, continues both the Women in Perfumery and The Scents of Tea series.

Annick Goutal’s Néroli was one of my favorite orange blossom perfumes. I loved its graceful, lighter than sea-foam character paired with its robust lasting power, and it made me content. Unfortunately, it turned out to be a limited edition and the Cologne version that replaced it was pretty but flimsy. Until I discovered L’Artisan’s Histoire d’Orangers this summer, I’ve been rationing my last few drops of Néroli.

On the face of it, I shouldn’t have had trouble finding a replacement for a simple orange blossom cologne. They’re a dime a dozen. You can have a bottle for a couple of euros (Roger & Gallet Bois d’Orange) or for a couple of hundred (Tom Ford Néroli Portofino). But as my perfumery teacher Sophia Grojsman says, nothing is more difficult than a simple thing. Many orange blossom colognes smelled either too pale (Jo Malone Orange Blossom), too dry (Hermès Eau d’Orange Verte), too flashy (the aforementioned Tom Ford), or just not right (Houbigant Oranger en Fleurs). The beauty of Annick Goutal’s Néroli was that it captured all the facets of the real thing, like the honeyed softness, indolic tang, and green sharpness, but made them refined and velvety. Every time I picked up the bottle and pressed the nozzle, I imagined a shower of white petals brushing my skin.

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Modern Classics : Tea Colognes and Bulgari Eau Parfumee au The Vert

Eau Parfumée au Thé Vert is an unexpected modern classic. It wasn’t even meant to be displayed outside the Bulgari  boutiques, where its role was to be an elegant extra next to the house’s jewelry collection. Yet such was its allure and originality that it became one of the perfume trendsetters. And it made Bulgari into a perfume house of note. I tell the story of Eau Parfumée au Thé Vert in my newest FT column, Tempting Tea-Inspired Perfumes. But first I take you on my honeymoon to Kerala.

Munnar, a hill station in India’s southwestern state of Kerala, is one of the country’s largest tea producers. Ensconced in the Western Ghats mountain range, the town is surrounded by plantations that cascade down the hills and hide in misty ravines. I was in Munnar for my honeymoon, and my recollections of long, languorous walks around the tea gardens, the tolling church bells and the opulence of garlands at the Sri Subramanya Temple are laced with the scent of tea leaves. Crushed in my fingers, they smelled green and tannic; when carried by the morning breeze, the aroma resembled violets and driftwood. To continue, please click here.

The other fragrances in the Modern Classic series were Serge Lutens’s Féminité du Bois and Lolita Lempicka.

Researching the article made me realize how many excellent and distinctive perfumes feature the tea accord. Next week I will share a selection of favorites to complement my choices in the article above.

Image via FT

Green, Green, Green : A Selection of New Perfumes

Green accords in perfumery are infamous for being difficult. Difficult to create and difficult to enjoy. Balmain’s Vent Vert, the iconic green fragrance, is praised by perfumers as one of the most innovative and daring, but it was eventually reformulated to become tamer and milder. What is it about green fragrances that makes them so polarizing? In my new FT column, On Green Scents, I explore the new spring launches and point out my favorite verdant composition.

Perfumers rely on different classes of ingredients to produce these green accords, some natural and some synthetic, and finding the right harmony can be complicated. Freshly cut grass, its aroma so appealing on a warm day, can turn metallic on skin, while certain herbs can overwhelm delicate notes. Tom Ford Vert de Fleur is notable in that it not only conjures up a vivid verdant effect, but also preserves the nuance. It smells of dew-covered iris petals, damp earth and vetiver roots. To continue reading, please click here.

Where do you place yourself on the green spectrum? Do you like a touch of green? Or is it, “We want a shrubbery”?

Photography by HTSI

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