Summer: 159 posts

Perfumes that put me in a summer mood, all year round

Corsican Eucalyptus and the Scent of the Maquis

A few years ago I met a woman who talked about her fiendishly complex emigration from Russia to Israel in the ’80s and how instead of Jerusalem she ended up living for a year in Ajaccio, the capital of Corsica. I asked what Corsica was like, my own mental image comprised mostly of Napoleon, the French Foreign Legion, and Laetitia Casta. She reflected for a moment and then said that it smelled heavenly. She meant the smell of the maquis. Since then I’ve been obsessed with the maquis, or as it’s known in Corsican, machja.

In Corsica, the maquis is ever-present–this wild scrubland vegetation covers nearly 20% of the island. Even when you don’t see it, it fleets before you in bits of folklore and stories. For instance, the guerilla fighters of the French Resistance in World War II were called maquisards, from the maquis (pronounced in French as ​[maˈki]) that reach up to 10 feet and make for an ideal hiding place. The maquis provides food, medicine, and lore. The scrubland starts at the sea coast–le maquis bas, climbs higher–le maquis moyen, and clings to the mountains–le maquis haut. These low, middle, and high maquis are woven of more than 2,500 varieties of wild plants, and their aromas build up slowly like a pyramid of a perfectly constructed perfume.

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5 Light and Radiant Jasmine Perfumes

It always surprises me that jasmine, one of the most luminous floral notes, is considered to be heavy and smothering. Then I realize that while my attention is drawn to its apricot jam and green tea facets, many other people can’t get past the indolic, horse-sweat undercurrent. Some of us are sensitive to animalic notes. Others don’t care for the mothball-tanginess that indoles suggest. Yet even more people don’t have the chance to experience natural jasmine, but rather form their opinion based on synthetic jasmine fragrances that don’t even attempt to mimic the real thing. And when we don’t like something, we call it  “heavy.”

I love jasmine in all of its interpretations, and in my new film, I would like to defend this iconic floral ingredient and explain what makes it unique. I talk about the difference between jasmine grandiflorum and jasmine sambac and explain how this note is used in fragrances. Since I appreciate that not everyone enjoys rich white florals, I selected the gauziest, most effervescent jasmine fragrances I could find to illustrate my explanations.

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Three Crisp and Bright Incense Perfumes

Frankincense, the subject of my recent article and video, is on my mind again. Today I would like to reply to a request for fresh and bright incense fragrances that can be worn during warm weather.

Frankincense is a chameleon of a note, and it can evoke different impressions depending on what other ingredients are used in a composition. In general, if you’re looking for a fresh incense blend, consider fragrances with green, leafy and citrus notes. If you’re after a dark, smoky incense, search for notes like benzoin, tonka bean, Peru balsam, amber and guaiacwood.

Fragrances mentioned in the video:

Aedes de Venustas Copal Azur

Comme des Garçons Zagorsk

Hermès Un Jardin sur le Nil

More on the subject of incense: why the supplies of frankincense are fragile and which brands source sustainably.

What unconventional fragrances do you prefer during summer? What are your favorite incense perfumes?

On the Rose Trail: The Art of Distilling Rosewater

The 10th century Persian philosopher and scientist Avicenna is credited with many contributions to astronomy, geography, psychology, logic, mathematics, and physics. He also found time to delve into perfumery and devised methods to extract essential oils, experimenting on roses. If Avicenna were to step into a fragrance lab today, he would orient himself quickly enough–modern perfumery is a curious amalgam of state-of-the-art science and traditional techniques. For instance, rose oil is prepared in much the way as in Avicenna’s time through the process of steam distillation.

Even older than rose oil is rosewater, an ingredient with a history predating Avicenna. Lebanese food writer Barbara Abdeni Massaad, whose award winning cookbook Mouneh explores the traditions of preserving fruit, vegetables and flowers, includes a section on making rosewater. “Yes, the distillates from roses and orange flowers continue to be made in villages,” she commented on the vitality of the tradition. “Older people still believe that homemade is best.”

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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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