Reflections: 72 posts

Scents of Evanescence

I often come across comments that many spring flowers are unscented. Tulips, cherry blossoms, and snowdrops fall into that category. But are they really? Tulips smell of earth, green sap and unripe apples. Cherry blossoms have a mild bitterness that contrasts with their frothy looks. Snowdrops smell green, dewy, with a curious musty note. Their aroma is mild, lacking the generous sweetness of late spring-early summer blooms, but they’re hardly unscented.

These watercolor fragrances are among the treasures of spring. Taking a bit of effort to discover them makes their delicate beauty more memorable. Even more so when you find them in an urban setting.

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Cherry Blossom Haiku

The sky shifts with the cherry branches above my head. I’m lying on the grass staring at the blossoms. This idyllic scene would be straight out of a Japanese silk painting were it not for the fact that I’m dressed for garden work and the reason I’m in a reclined position is because I’m exhausted after weeding the garden. But as the petals fall on my face, I forget about the back pain and think of my favorite haiku by Matsuo Basho, the 17th century Japanese poet.

How many, many things
They call to mind
These cherry-blossoms!

Haiku weaves vivid images, and cherry blossom themed poems have an element of contemplation and bittersweetness that is compelling. The sight of blossoms, so exquisite and so evanescent, is a reminder of the transience of things, and while it can be melancholy, it’s also reassuring. Everything passes–and then returns.

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The Shifting Contexts of Perfume

Could other factors, apart from the aroma itself, influence our perception of perfume? Yes, of course, and this is not limited to fragrance. Elisa explores the topic.

A few years ago, I went to a nearby wine shop to stock up for a weekend in the mountains with some old college friends. A representative from a local winery intercepted me in the red blends aisle and implored me to try a bottle of his family’s wine. Colorado is not known for its vineyards, but I went along in the spirit of adventure, bonhomie, and perhaps a touch of pity.

When we got to the mountains, I warned my friends (occasional wine snobs) that I couldn’t vouch for the quality of the local wine. Since we were all sure it would be bad, we saved it until the end of dinner, a couple of bottles in. When we finally opened and tasted it, we were blown away—it was utterly unusual, with the complexity and creaminess of a good Bordeaux but some additional, unplaceable quirk that made it compulsively drinkable. I was sad when it was gone.

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Fairy Tale Perfumes: Scents of Fantasy

Perfumes that transport Andy into the world of fantasy and fairy tales. 

Reading the stories of Charles Perrault and the Brothers Grimm is a fond childhood memory, and even today, though I may have outgrown storybooks, I can experience the world of fairy tales through my choice of perfume. The best perfumes are more than the sum of their parts, creating miniature worlds within which the wearer can explore, pretend, and escape.

bilibin

I may enjoy Chanel No. 19 for its beautiful iris note, but it’s experiencing a fantasy, of spring flowers blooming amid thawing snow, which makes me want to wear it again and again. Culling though the perfume stories that exist in my mind, I thought of these four perfumes below, which I wear to evoke the opulent castles, evil witches, and mysterious forests of my favorite written fairy tales.

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Perfumes That Glow : Radiance

Happy 2017! I thought that it would be fitting to start the year by talking about radiance. Radiance in perfume is an elusive quality. The best way of understanding it is to envision a candle burning in a dark room, its glow lifting the dark shadows. A luminous fragrance is not necessarily a strong smell – it follows the wearer at a few paces, but it’s neither heavy nor overpowering. Capturing this duality seems impossible, but perfumers are adept at creating illusions. So in my FT column, Mesmerisingly radiant fragrances, I describe how the radiant effect is produced and give some of my favorite examples.

radiance

Calice Becker is one such creator [known for her radiant perfumes], and her fragrances illustrate the idea of radiance. Her Tommy Girl contains a green tea accord so luminous that it seems fluorescent. Another trendsetter is Becker’s Christian Dior J’Adore, a layer of flower notes as tightly woven as the millefiori ornaments of Murano glass. Perfumery students learn the craft much like artists, by copying the work of the masters, and when I was trying to achieve the variegated radiance of J’Adore, its complexity and nuances mesmerised – and confounded – me. Despite the conventional saying that too much knowledge kills the mystery, the experience made me appreciate both Becker’s craft and J’Adore’s lingering glow. To continue, please click here.

What are some of your favorite radiant perfumes?

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