Reflections: 89 posts

Myrrh and Almonds : The Secret of Serge Lutens La Myrrhe

As a complement to my article about Autumnal Fragrances, I recorded a video about the fragrance that scented my fall this year, Serge Lutens La Myrrhe. Early into the spring lockdown, I decided to devote more attention to studying, wearing and enjoying my old favorites, rather than seeking out anything else. Partly, it was a matter of necessity–I transferred my studio to my home and I didn’t want to bring all of the fragrance samples from the office. Partly, it was influenced by my desire to pare things down to the essentials. It was a much needed antidote to the persistent commercial message of buying things.

So I would sometimes spend days analyzing a fragrance, finding its nuances and decoding the stories hidden within its accords. It reminded me of the time I was a perfumery student and would spend weeks studying a single fragrance. I can tell you that I didn’t miss anything. On the contrary, I’ve learned a great deal about fragrance over these past few months.

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A Promise of Spring in Every Autumn

Autumn. Sonbahar in Turkish. Son means last. Bahar means spring. Bahar, a Persian loanword بهار, means also blossom, blossoming. And so, sonbahar, autumn, is literally the last blossoming. Turkish, one of the most elegantly structured languages I know, has its opposite counterpart— ilkbahar, which means spring. İlk means “first.” İlkbahar and sonbahar, spring and autumn. The first blossoms and the last. 

So in every autumnal leaf lies a promise of another spring. 

Photography by Bois de Jasmin

Smelling in Colors : Blue

Do you smell in color? Or perhaps you associate scents with shapes, textures or tastes? For some people, a synesthetic perception of the world around them is part of their life. Synesthesia refers to a condition when the stimulation of one sense engages others, and some famous writers and artists like Vladimir Nabokov, Vincent van Gogh and Tori Amos are known to be synesthetes.

I don’t think of myself as a true synesthete, but over the years, I have developed a way of thinking about smells that has an element of synesthesia. Certain aromas evoke colors for me, and in my video and article today, I wanted to share my experience of scents that smell blue.

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How to Satisfy Wanderlust with Perfumes

Perfume can inspire wanderlust as well as satisfy it. I can’t count the number of times I’ve planned my vacations around the harvest period for rose, lavender or jasmine, and fragrances have taken me on many journeys to meet those who grow aromatic materials or those who distill them into essences. At the same time, perfumes can be effective at satisfying wanderlust, as I have confirmed over the past few months.


It’s not surprising that scents and memories have a strong link. Olfactory impressions are processed in the same part of the brain that’s responsible for emotions and memories, the limbic system, and for this reason, memories generated by smells are particularly bright and distinctive. While it takes a very specific combination of aromas and other sensory impressions to plunge you back into a certain time of your life, perfume nevertheless can be a good way to armchair travel.

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Contemplating a Peony : 5 Perfumes for the Peony Viewing

Cherry blossoms may be the flowers most strongly associated with Japan, but the peony is another beloved bloom. If you visit Tokyo in late spring, you can spend your days wandering the most beautiful peony gardens. The most striking peonies are the ones called botan in Japanese, or tree peony. They indeed appear as if they’re growing on trees, and their flowers are much larger than the more familiar stem peonies known as shakuyaku. Their colors, textures and, of course, scents vary dramatically.

So I’ve selected several fragrances that use peony in different ways, ranging from fresh and light to dark and warm. I also would like to share several favorite spots in Tokyo where peonies are displayed in all of their splendor. While going there is not possible for most of us, we can still admire the photos on line and dream up our perfect peony perfume.

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