spring perfumes: 5 posts

Hyacinth Perfumes That Spell Spring

Spring is not spring for me unless it has hyacinths. I buy the forced bulbs and leave them around the apartment to wait for the moment when the flowers open up and fill the air with their perfume. The scent of hyacinth is not as delicate as that of many other spring blossoms; it’s rather heady and sweet, with an earthy note. It can sometimes be overwhelming, but the contrast is the reason why the fragrance appeals to me – and to other perfumers. Its complexity is an endless source of inspiration. In my latest FT column, Seven perfumes that tap the headiness of the hyacinth, I talk about this note and how it can be used in fragrances.

The green accent of hyacinth is often used in both masculine and feminine fragrances, even if the hyacinth itself plays a secondary role. Its verdant, crisp note brightens up the unripe mango in Hermès Un Jardin sur le Nil, adds depth to the fig accord in Marc Jacobs for Men and softens the sharpness of leather and galbanum in Chanel No 19. In each case, hyacinth blends smoothly into the composition, buttressing the elements with an aroma that recalls crushed fresh leaves. To continue reading about my other hyacinth gold standards, please click here.

What are your favorite fragrances with hyacinth or other spring flower notes?

Photography by Bois de Jasmin

The Color of Life, The Scent of Spring : Green

My wedding outfit wasn’t white. It was green, because in the western part of India where my husband’s family originally comes from, and where we were married, it means the color of life, spring and rejuvenation. Since then I have been paying more attention to this shade, and the scents associated with it. In perfumery, for instance, green can be suggested by a variety of materials, from naturals like violet leaf and galbanum to synthetics such as leaf alcohols that smell of freshly cut grass.

The rich palette of green notes finds its expression in a diversity of green nuances in perfumery. This is the topic of my FT column, Seven Green Perfumes. I select these seven fragrances to paint a full spectrum of green, from the dark emerald to pale pistachio.

Green notes, however, can be difficult to wear, which is why, though this perfume family has many loyal fans, it remains small. We prefer our scents of freshly cut grass and new leaves in the air, rather than in the bottle. Nevertheless, certain green fragrances have become classics. One is L’Artisan Parfumeur Premier Figuier. It creates its signature fig accord with the clever combination of ivy, leaves and galbanum. The latter is a fennel-like plant that produces a pungent-smelling essential oil. When carefully dosed, however, galbanum conjures up the vivid colours of spring — young buds, new leaves, damp earth. To continue reading, please click here.

As always, I would love to know your favorite green scents?

Photography by Bois de Jasmin

Late May : Scent Diary

The musky warmth of peonies heated by the sun. The spicy bite of a walnut leaf. The milky greenness of a raw walnut that leaves brown stains on my fingers and a scent of aged wine. The caramel sweetness of first strawberries. A green apricot sprinkled with a bit of salt–a childhood pleasure and a taste of fresh almonds and grass. The ripeness of sprouted onions found in the cellar, the ripeness, dust and sulfur. The pharmacy cabinet smell of yarrow. The pungent blanket of mulch. The vertigo-giving freshness of a sudden storm. The bitter honey and lemon peel of elder blossoms. A late May afternoon.

You can write about anything you wish in this thread, including your favorite poetry. For those who would like to use the Scent Diary to sharpen their sense of smell, I will give a short explanation. As I wrote in How to Improve Your Sense of Smell, the best way to do so is to smell and to pay attention to what you’re smelling. It doesn’t matter what you smell. The most important thing is to notice scents around you. It’s even better if you write it down. So please share your scents and perfumes with us.

Photography by Bois de Jasmin

Haiku of the Day : Freesia Fever

I doze off
In the scent of freesias
High fever.

Je somnole encore
Dans l’arôme des freesias…
Forte fièvre.

This haiku written by Mariko Koga (b. 1924) is from an excellent collection of haiku written by women poets, Anthologie Du rouge aux lèvres. Translated by Dominique Chipot and Makoto Kemmoku (public library). The English translation is mine.

Photography by Bois de Jasmin

Hermes Myrrhe Eglantine : Perfume Review

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When I first heard of the new Hermessence collection, with its ouds and myrrhs, I was apprehensive. The previous additions to the line were all sheer, opaline and ethereal, and I couldn’t see how Middle Eastern inspiration could continue the same aesthetic. As it turns out, I underestimated Christine Nagel, the current in-house perfumer for Hermès, because Agar Ebène, Cèdre Sambac, Myrrhe Églantine, Cardamusc and Musc Pallida have the radiance that gives the house’s perfumes its distinctive quality. They also have curves and sensuality.

Myrrhe Églantine is the most classical of the five new Hermessence fragrances and the one that pays the most homage to an existing perfume, Rose Ikebana. Created by Jean-Claude Ellena, Rose Ikebana was one of the most underrated gems from the collection. Yes, it’s a pretty, fizzy rose, but it also had a level of precision and refinement that few other fresh roses possess. Myrrhe Églantine plays with the same shimmering effects, but it sets the rose against a velvety background.

Continue reading →

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