Lists: 117 posts

Patchouli Fragrances : Part 1 Classical Patchouli

A green plant that evokes the scent of earth. A leaf that smells like wood. A wood that smells like chocolate. Patchouli is a complex, intriguing, and polarizing ingredient in a perfumer’s palette. Some like it, others hate it. It leaves nobody indifferent. Yet, it’s also a material that gives perfumery today its distinctive character. A modern chypre can be made without oakmoss, but not without patchouli.

My latest video is part of the patchouli series, and in the first episode, I discuss the material itself and cover classical patchouli fragrances. The way patchouli is processed affects its smell dramatically. A steam-distilled patchouli oil smells earthy, musty, loamy, while solvent-distilled patchouli absolute is reminiscent of cacao and dry woods. Other methods allow distillers to recompose fractions of patchouli essence to highlight certain effects, such as its licorice or sweet notes.

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5 Perfume Masterpieces for Summer

Beautiful fragrances can lift your mood. Over the past few months I have been wearing my most opulent perfumes without being concerned that they might become associated with a dark period in my life. I needed colors, texture, and vibrancy, and my beloved classics satisfied me. Complex fragrances have the benefit of being multifaceted, so that each time you wear them, you discover a new layer or create your own story to match the mood. Perfume may be a dispensable luxury, but like all beautiful things, it serves to elicit positive emotions and boost the spirits.

For my summer-themed selection, I’ve settled on a list of five masterpieces. These are the perfume equivalents of novels by Tolstoy and George Eliot because of their layers, nuances, and twists. Some are elegant colognes; others are lush florals and bittersweet chypres (mossy-woody blends.) The list is personal, but I think that you will agree that these are among the classical perfumes to try. Some of them might be ideal as an introduction to classics.

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7 Effervescent Scents Against Summer Heat

These days I look at the weather forecast with a sense of dread as we are in the middle of another heatwave. I like the indolence of summer and the long sun-filled days, but I don’t enjoy the oppressive heat and humidity. My primary methods to make these days tolerable include copious amounts of mugicha, a traditional Japanese summer drink made of roasted barley, and a selection of light, effervescent perfumes.

The natural choice for summer is citrus, but your selection need not be limited to simple colognes. Modern floral and green notes offer a refreshing effect, without the sharpness of citrus. Look for compositions that are accented with woods, rather than vanilla or musk, as the sheer blond wood finish contrasts beautifully with the brightness of fresh notes.

How to amplify the freshness of a fragrance? Follow the good old advice of leaving your scent in the fridge but beware that drastic temperature changes can affect perfume negatively, and for this reason I recommend making a decant of your favorite summer fragrance. A spritz of cool liquid is the ultimate refreshment. If you would like an even more intense cooling experience, select a mint fragrance like Aqua Allegoria Menta Fresca or Herba Fresca. Menthol triggers cold-sensitive receptors and plays tricks on our brain. When the mercury levels are soaring, such an effect is welcome.

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20 Best Narcissus & Daffodil Perfumes

I’ve always been drawn to narcissus, a spring blossom with an autumnal soul. The narcissus poeticus typically used in perfumery is a delicate blossom of gauzy white petals surrounding a small orange crown in the center. At first sniff, it evokes whiteness, purity, and a touch of pale honey, but if you press it to your face, not caring about it leaving a blush of pollen on your cheeks, you will notice darker, deeper, heavier notes. Some people smell suede in it, others–antique books. I notice a hint of mulch and barnyard.

This complexity becomes even more evident when narcissus is distilled into an absolute. The flurry of white petals gives way to a humid warmth reminiscent of tuberose or gardenia and then transforms into the darkness of leather and tobacco leaves. Narcissus absolute is an expensive material, and using it requires skill to bring out all of its different facets in a composition, but when it works, the results are spellbinding.

And so I decided to put together a list of my favorite narcissus fragrances, from classics to modern blends. I didn’t realize that it would run into 20 perfumes! I’m sure you have your own choices, so I would love to hear what you enjoy.

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5 Perfumes for a Snowy Day

Imagine that snow is falling outside your window. Everything is white and opalescent and soft shadows fill your room. It’s a moment of winter stillness at its most exquisite. But perhaps it’s just another rainy day outside your window. Or if you are in the Southern hemisphere, a lush summer day. Or perhaps you don’t particularly like snow and have no desire to conjure up snowflakes and ice. This doesn’t prevent us from dreaming of fragrances that capture the idea of warmth and softness and that suit any season.

Such was the idea behind my list of these five perfumes. I wanted to select fragrances that comforted me and yet felt elegant, warm and yet luminous. Heavy ambers, furs, and too much leather wouldn’t do for that impression.

Serge Lutens El Attarine

Spices, musk, and soft rose petals. El Attarine is the lightest of all Serge Lutens’s ambers, so while it envelops you, it remains soft and gentle. Think of delicate cashmere rather than heavy brocade.

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