jasmine: 17 posts

4 Flamboyant White Florals Against Winter Blues

With the holidays behind us and still too many winter days ahead, it’s important to find ways to add a splash of color to cold, grey mornings. I reach for my brightest dresses and scarves and add swirls of saffron and paprika to my food, evoking sunshine and warmth. Or I rely on white floral perfumes to create a vivid ambiance. White flowers may call to mind bridal veils, but there is nothing prim and pastel about the scent of tropical blossoms like tiaré, frangipani, ylang-ylang, tuberose or jasmine. They have a voluptuous aroma reminiscent of warm skin, coconut milk and petals sticky with nectar. The synesthetes among perfumers swear that white flowers smell purple and pink, rich and saturated, and it’s true that wearing a white floral perfume makes me feel as if the day is brighter.

These opulent, flamboyant scents are the topic of my FT column, Four white floral scents to brighten grey days. You will find the full article here.

How do you cure yourself of winter blues? What flowers among the white floral family are your favorites?

Image via FT

Scent Diary : Winter Jasmine

Four years ago I bought a jasmine plant. It was a puny little thing, but it was completely covered with flowers. After it finished blooming, it started growing profusely, but it hasn’t produced a single blossom. My husband took care of it, consulting numerous websites and books, but the jasmine refused to bloom. I suspected that there was not enough sun for it in our northern land, and soon enough my husband left it to its own devices. The jasmine spent all summer outside, watered by the generous Belgian rain. Apparently, neglect was the right approach, because this winter it started blooming once I brought it back inside. As I’m writing, the snow is falling, but here I sit surrounded by the aroma of jasmine.

Unlike other types of jasmine, Jasminum auriculatum–and that’s what my plant is–has an animalic, indolic fragrance with a spicy, cinnamon-like edge. Even dry flowers have a strong scent. This heady fragrance can only be matched either by Serge Lutens A La Nuit or an Indian jasmine attar.

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Jasmine of Angels, Jasmine of Madonna

Of all the names by which philadelphus is known–summer jasmine, farmer’s jasmine, mock orange, the loveliest ones are the Italian monikers of this sweet smelling blossom, Fiorangelo or Gelsomino della Madonna. Angel flower or Madonna’s jasmine.

In Ukraine we call it simply zhasmin, jasmine, and the jasmine of my Bois de Jasmin is this very plant. No summer image existed in my mind apart from its blossoming clusters leaving white petals in my hair and its heady perfume clinging to my skin.

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The City of Jasmine

Writer Nizar Qabbani (1923-1998) described his native city of Damascus as “the womb that taught me poetry, taught me creativity, and granted me the alphabet of Jasmine.” Although the most fragrant of roses bears the name rosa damascena, Damascus rose, the Syrian capital is known as Madinat Al Yasmine, the City of ­Jasmine. Each fall it holds a festival in homage of this national flower, with people giving each other stems of jasmine and decorating their home with fragrant blossoms. It was even held in recent years, despite the conflict that left thousands dead and millions displaced, with flowers given to those who lost loved ones.

“A Damascene moon travels through my blood
Nightingales . . . and grain . . . and domes
From Damascus, jasmine begins its whiteness
And fragrances perfume themselves with her scent
From Damascus, water begins . . . for wherever
You lean your head, a stream flows
And poetry is a sparrow spreading its wings
Over Sham . . . and a poet is a voyager,”

writes Qabbani in one of his most renowned poems, A Damascene Moon. He was born in Damascus in 1923 in the old neighborhood of Mi’thnah Al-Shahm, which you encounter time and again in his poems. Qabbani’s poems are romantic and political, erotic and lyrical, breaking conventions and offering a glimpse into his lively, rich imagination. Since 1966 and until his death in 1998, Qabbani has been living abroad, but in his exile he has produced some of his finest poems. The longing for the City of Jasmine gives his words a strong charge, and as I read them, I think of all the places that I miss, all of the colors, scents and voices that make up my memories. As someone who created a fantasy jasmine forest, to replace the real one far away, I feel a poignant kinship with the Syrian poet.

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Serge Lutens La Religieuse : Fragrance Review

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“Whatever you do, just don’t be boring,” used to say my longtime ballet teacher. In her class, being off music and being boring were the worst crimes, because while everything else–a wrong arm position, an awkward turn or a weak jump–could be corrected through careful guidance, not listening to the music and not caring to excite the viewer spoke of more serious flaws. My teacher’s admonition flashed in my mind when I first smelled Serge Lutens La Religieuse.

serge-lutens-la-religieuse

La Religieuse belongs to the collection of understated compositions from the master-duo, Serge Lutens and Christopher Sheldrake. It’s in the same polished and well-mannered corner as Nuit de Cellophane, Un Lys and Sa Majesté la Rose. If you want a pleasant fragrance that doesn’t try too hard, the type of perfume that sales associates call an “office scent”, it’s a good choice. If you want a soft, fluffy jasmine, La Religieuse will also hit the spot. But if you come to Serge Lutens to be thrilled and surprised, then you might want to pick another magic carpet ride.

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Latest Comments

  • OnWingsofSaffron in Recommend Me a Perfume : March 2020: Oh, I have no qualms whatsoever. I bought the product, it’s mine; it’s not a unique treasure that you’ll spoil forever for wo/mankind; the end-result is better sometimes. For instance,… April 1, 2020 at 1:05pm

  • OnWingsofSaffron in Recommend Me a Perfume : March 2020: I’m not sure whether it’ still available: “Peau de Pêche” by Keiko Mecheri. I thought it was quite wonderful, more peach skin than the fruit. And quite elegant too! For… April 1, 2020 at 12:55pm

  • OnWingsofSaffron in Recommend Me a Perfume : March 2020: As Sebastian mentions: Hiram Green‘ Slowdive. I find it absolutely sumptious with a long, delicious drydown—Slowdive indeed! April 1, 2020 at 12:46pm

  • Maria in Recommend Me a Perfume : March 2020: Summer favorite when I don’t want to offend anyone is Shalimar with Goutal Eau d’Hadrien (I was so proud to see that Jean-Claude Ellena recommends it, too, while I was… April 1, 2020 at 9:57am

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