l’artisan: 4 posts

Peach Flowers and Cherry Leaves : 5 Fragrances for Hinamatsuri

This week as Belgium and the rest of Europe was battered by Siberian winds, I’ve enjoyed thinking about peach blossoms and pink confections. March 3rd is celebrated in Japan as Hinamatsuri, also known as Girl’s Day or Doll’s Festival. Starting in February, families with daughters put up elaborate platforms representing the imperial wedding, complete with the emperor, empress, court ladies, famous poets and musicians of the Heian era (794-1192). These doll sets are usually given by grandparents to their granddaughters as they wish them health and happiness. Since most Japanese live in tiny, cramped apartments and doll sets cost around $2000, only a few still keep to the old customs. Nevertheless, girls are still feted on this special day.

The reason I enjoy Hinamatsuri is not for the dolls but the flowers and food. March 3rd is known also as Momo no Sekku, the festival of peach blossoms. Peach trees blossom even before spring makes its first claims, and the flowers are as beautiful as they are symbolic–delicacy need not come at the expense of resolve. The fragrance of peach blossoms has a hint of bitter almond and creamy jasmine, but it’s fresh and bright. The pale color of flowers inspires the meals served on Hinamatsuri, like chirashi zushi, a bed of vinegared sushi rice scattered with raw fish, salmon roe, egg threads and pickled lotus root slices, or hishi mochi, diamond shaped rice cakes in delicate pastel shades. My other favorite is sakura mochi, glutinous rice cakes filled with red beans and wrapped in a salted cherry leaf.

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L’Artisan Parfumeur Noir Exquis : Perfume Review

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I love a good gourmand. Weaving notes of vanilla, caramel, and other delicious things, fragrances in this genre are my ultimate comfort blankets. The moment that days get shorter and mornings cold, the tray above my perfume drawer starts to fill up with my favorite gourmands–Pink Sugar, Lolita Lempicka, Kenzo L’Éléphant, Parfums de Nicolaï Vanille Tonka and L’Artisan Traversée du Bosphore.

The latter is interesting because the sweetness of Turkish delight and vanilla are balanced by a generous dose of crisp green notes and saffron. Created by perfumer Bertrand Duchaufour, Traversée du Bosphore is an example of contrasted gourmand I especially enjoy. Wearing it is exciting, because one moment you experience a fresh breeze and the next a voluptuous embrace. This also seemed to be the premise of Noir Exquis, a fragrance by Duchaufour that blends rich notes of candied chestnuts, coffee and tonka bean with orange blossom and citrus.

marzipan fruit

Since Noir Exquis is meant for both men and women, it doses sugar lightly and instead emphasizes the woody, balsamic layers. At first, it’s earthy and nutty, hinting at its patchouli and coffee soon to follow, but there are enough floral accents to brighten up the darkness. Based on the name, I expected something heavy and rich, but Noir Exquis is unexpectedly radiant.

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L’Artisan Parfumeur Oeillet Sauvage Fragrance Review

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Soliflorals, fragrances based around a single flower, have a school-marmish reputation. Orange blossom and tuberose have been made trendy (Jo Malone Orange Blossom) and chic (Frédéric Malle Carnal Flower), but the idea of wearing a straightforward rose or lavender perfume still doesn’t excite many women. One might as well ask them to don an apron over a house dress and host a tupperware party. Carnation perfumes fare worst of all. Take a look at any consumer survey at fragrance marketing departments, and you’ll see all sorts of derogatory adjectives next to this classical note–“dated,” “fusty,” “old-fashioned,” or the ultimate insult, “boring.”

L'Artisan Parfumeur - Oeillet Sauvage -  100ml

This is a shame, because it means that those of us who love carnations for their opulent spicy scent get a short shrift. I’ve collected a number of classical carnation perfume bases (mixtures of natural and synthetic notes that are used as building blocks in fragrance compositions) and have been on a permanent quest to find as many interesting carnation perfumes as I can. L’Artisan Parfumeur reissued Oeillet Sauvage just in time for my mission.

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Sultry Fragrances for a Scented Bath : My Financial Times Magazine Column

My March topic for the Financial Times Magazine is about pampering. In Sultry Fragrances for a Scented Bath, I share some of my favorite scents. This winter, I’ve been indulging in baths perfumed with Estée Lauder Youth Dew and Roger & Gallet Cologne. When I don’t have time for a proper relaxing bath, I spritz a bit of cologne into the shower to enjoy a fresh burst of citrus. It gives me a stronger jolt than a cup of coffee!

scented-bath

I treat myself to perfumed baths whenever I feel tired or simply in need of some pampering. It’s an indispensable indulgence and one of the most satisfying scented pleasures. To feel as if I’m floating on rose petals, I turn to Red Roses Bath Oil by Jo Malone (£52 for 200ml). It leaves skin soft and redolent of lemony tea roses. L’Artisan Parfumeur’s La Chasse aux Papillons Dry Body Oil (£40 for 100ml) is perfumed with the sweetness of tuberose and linden blossom, and while it can be used instead of moisturising cream, in the bath it feels especially luscious. Please read the rest by clicking here.

What do you use whenever you crave some pampering?

Photography via FT.

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