Lists: 123 posts

Feel-Good Perfumes

Marie Kondo, the author of the best-selling book “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up,” suggests that only items that spark joy should be kept around the house. Of course, Kondo’s “spark joy” philosophy is more nuanced as she applies it to various aspects of cleaning and decluttering, but the idea of surrounding oneself with objects that are meaningful and special makes perfect sense. It can also be applied successfully to selecting a perfume.

Whenever I’m asked by friends and readers for recommendations, instead of listing fragrances, I try to determine what scents make them feel good. Or, to use Kondo’s phrase, what perfumes spark joy for them. One such composition for me is Serge Lutens’s Iris Silver Mist. It’s a cool, polished fragrance based around the scent of iris root, and when I wear it, I feel as if I’ve stepped into a secret garden filled with pearly light and the soft rustle of leaves.

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Best Perfumes of 2022

I’m glad 2022 is drawing to a close. The war in Ukraine, the revolution in Iran, the floods in Pakistan, not to mention conflicts in Ethiopia, Yemen, the Sahel, Nigeria, Afghanistan, Sudan, Haiti, Colombia, and Myanmar, made this year devastating for many people around the world. For me personally it has been a difficult year with moments when it seemed that I wouldn’t be able to pull through. But it’s now December, and I’m here writing and feeling thankful for the blessings I can count.  My family and friends in Ukraine are safe. My Iranian friends and colleagues are likewise doing well, considering the circumstances. As my book, The Rooster House, was published in Norway, Sweden, Denmark, and Spain, I had a chance to travel around Europe, speak about Ukraine and its culture and get involved with causes to support my country during this difficult time. I was also happy to meet several Bois de Jasmin readers during these travels and discover more about the people who visit this page. Thank you for your support and encouragement. It made all the difference this year.

When it comes to summing up this year in terms of scents, at first I had a difficult time. I haven’t had a chance to try as many fragrances as I normally do. While the few that I tried were memorable, I wondered if I missed something interesting. Then a perfume-loving friend came to visit and brought me a large selection of new launch samples. It was fun to immerse myself into scents and escape into the world of incense and violets. This exercise reminded me of my great-grandmother Asya’s love of scents and her belief in the necessity to recharge, no matter how frivolous it might seem at the time.

What impressed me about my scent journey through 2022 was the diversity of the offerings. Some fragrances clearly stayed within the usual tropes–ambers and incense for niche and fruity-florals for prestige, but there were also many unusual compositions across all styles. I’ve highlighted such fragrances in my list below and added those that I instantly gravitated to. My best of the year lists are always highly personal and 2022 is no exception.

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My Favorite Comforting Winter Perfumes

Merry Christmas! This winter I crave comfort even more than I normally do. My workload has been extremely heavy, in addition to various activities in which I participated to support Ukraine at this difficult time. Also, winter arrived so suddenly that it caught me unawares, and it seemed as if one day I woke up to long stretches of cold weather and Belgian December rains. Normally, I would cope with it by reading and cooking, but making time for myself has been challenging lately. Perfumes came to the rescue and a few favorites in particular comforted me even when my schedule was grueling.

Below I will share several perfumes that embodied comfort for me this winter. I also recorded a video describing them, in case you prefer to listen (scroll to the end of the article.) In my video, I focused on five favorites, but in this article I will add two additional choices from the new 2022 launches. As always, I look forward to hearing about your own comforting, inviting scents.

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Fragrant Gift Ideas for the Holidays

For my gift guide this year I decided to focus on fragrant selections to satisfy all the senses, such as spices, Japanese fruit, bath oils, Persian cookies and perfumery kits. I narrowed down my choices to my favorite online shops, including options for those who live in Europe and the USA. My readers often ask me for my scented recommendations, and this guide includes many things I enjoy.

Mala Market Starter Sichuan Collection

Mala Market is a US-based online shop selling Sichuan ingredients. Outside of China, it’s hard to find another better source for fragrant Sichuan pepper or dried chilies. The Starter Sichuan Collection makes a great gift for those who like cooking, and it includes: premium da hong pao Sichuan pepper, facing heaven zi dan tou dried chilies, fragrant hot ground chilies (chili flakes), handcrafted Pixian chili bean paste, Yibin yacai (a mustard-stem pickle used in many Sichuan dishes,) and recipe cards for chili oil, dan dan noodles, gong bao (kung pao) chicken, mapo tofu and dry-fried green beans. $60

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5 Festive Scents For Winter

Winter arrived sooner than I expected. I didn’t want it to come. I resisted its pleasures. Yet, the other day I woke up to a ballet of snowflakes in the air and I decided that I might as well derive small joys from this cold season. Wearing a warm perfume is one such delight, and I always recall how my mother would dab a tiny bit of Lancôme’s Magie Noire on my wool scarf “to help me stay warmer.” I still associate the spicy-mossy scent of this perfume with snowy days and New Year’s Eve preparations.

For my selection of festive fragrances today, I decided to pick perfumes that evoke the scent of fir trees and gingerbread. Some of them are abstract, others are more realistic. You can decide how far you want to take the fantasy and make your pick accordingly. As always, I would love to know what festive fragrance you like.

One more note: all of the fragrances on my list are suitable for both men and women.

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