Refreshing: 93 posts

Effervescent, uplifting fragrances

Why Do We Like Floral Perfumes?

One of my favorite childhood pursuits was to make perfume. At least, that’s what I called it—my great grandmother’s description was “pestilence.” I scoured the flower beds, collected rose, carnation and dahlia petals, soaked them in water and waited until they turned into a fragrant brew. Eventually, the whole lot would rot and smell more beastly than beautiful, but undaunted I persevered. Faced with a garden that her great granddaughter pillaged on a daily basis, Asya gave me a bottle of perfume called White Lilac and hoped that my interest would eventually fade.

Years later, and I’m still fascinated by floral scents. Their variety is immense, from jasmine to marigold, from rose to ylang ylang. More than any other family, florals are susceptible to change as technology evolves. The aroma-material called hedione has changed the way we perceive floral perfumes. Its lemony freshness decorates almost all floral accords–and fragrances in all other perfume families. For instance, you can notice hedione in classics like Christian Dior Diorella or in modern blends like Penhaligon’s The Favourite.

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Three Favorite Perfumes of the Moment

Three perfumes for warm days. Three ideas to evoke freshness. Three different scents for different moods. I originally wanted to make a list of summer fragrances like I always do this time of year, but as I was contemplating my list, my eye fell onto my dressing table and I saw three bottles. To avoid leaving perfume exposed to light more than necessary, I rotate what I wear, and these three perfumes have stayed on my dresser long enough for me to wonder what exactly I enjoyed about them and to share them with you.

You can watch my video for the description of scents and for my opinion on fresh fragrances in general. As a complement to the film, I would like to compare my current summer favorites to other similar fragrances and to give you more ideas on perfumes to sample.

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The Beauty of Simple Things : Orange

The orange is ubiquitous in perfumery. We easily get taken with oud, gardenia, frangipani, or other more flamboyant notes, but for the most part, orange doesn’t inspire romantic fantasies. On the other hand, the most interesting ingredients in the perfumer’s palette are the most common ones, because not only do they allow a wide range of effects, they challenge the creators to be innovative.

The spongy skin of orange contains cells filled with essential oil, and you only need to squeeze the colored part to see beads of essence. If you apply the liquid on a paper blotter, you can even study the way it progresses, from intense sweetness to acidic tang and to waxy heft. The latter is due to the aldehydes, naturally occurring aromatics that are used in fragrances like Chanel No 5 and Guerlain Chamade to give their flowers a halo of shimmer. In orange oil, however, all facets are in balance, and it smells of a juicy, sweet fruit.

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Roger & Gallet Bois d’Orange : Perfume Review

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When I was preparing the bitter orange series and researching fragrances that showcase neroli and bitter orange, Roger & Gallet’s Bois d’Orange ended up at the top of my list. I also realized that although I had written plenty about this excellent cologne, I haven’t published a proper perfume review. This is an omission, because Bois d’Orange deserves more attention.

Bois d’Orange blends orange blossom and citrus notes with herbs and the result is a dry martini of a fragrance. This genre of cologne is the most uplifting and rejuvenating on a warm day–or whenever you need a pick-up. It’s easy to wear, easy to enjoy–and at 20 euros for a bottle, easy on the wallet.

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Rhubarb and Roses in Cuisine and Perfume

Every spring I make a Persian rhubarb sherbet by cooking sliced stems and sugar in water. Once the flavor and pink color infuse into the syrup, I filter the liquid and add rose essence. Enjoyed from tall crystal glasses, the sherbet has a voluptuous taste that calls to mind the warm light streaming through the stained glass windows of the Nasir al-Mulk Mosque, a pink-tinted jewel of Shiraz.


Since perfumery has much in common with cuisine, rendering my sherbet into a fragrance accord with a similar ornate impression is not difficult. Rhubarb has a natural affinity with rose, violet and berries, because they are complementary notes (and raspberry, in a nesting doll twist, contains elements of both rose and violet, which makes it an especially felicitous partner.)  Jo Malone White Lilac and Rhubarb explores this combination by augmenting the floral layer of rhubarb with a cocktail of rose and lilac. It’s a bright and happy perfume, with a nod to retro glamour.

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