tropical scents: 6 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

Parfums de Nicolai Musc Monoi : Perfume Review

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Summer ends the same way for me. It seems that only yesterday I made vacation plans, unearthed a swimming suit from a pile of winter clothes and bought an extra bottle of sunscreen. And then I wake up at the end of August and see that the local stationery store is advertising “start of school” sales and tall lindens lining the avenues in the city are slowly changing from green to gold. If I could hit a pause button for a moment, I would, if only to capture this languid, golden sensation of late summer days. But everything rushes forward inexorably, and the most I can do is reach for bottled summer fantasies, such as Parfums de Nicolaï Musc Monoi.

musk monoi

Monoi (also called tiare) is a tropical blossom that smells creamy and intensely sweet. It’s macerated in coconut oil to capture its heady perfume, and the scented oil is used on skin and hair. If you’ve ever seen a fragrance or body product advertised as having a tropical fragrance, then this monoi-coconut combination is something you’ve already encountered. In France, summer scent often means sweet orange blossom, such as L’Oreal’s classical Ambre Solaire sunscreen, and in Musc Monoi, perfumer Patricia de Nicolaï weaves both Mediterranean and tropical inspirations.

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Nuxe Prodigieux Le Parfum : Perfume Review

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Whenever I see a product described as a cult favorite, I’m instantly skeptical. The pink and green Maybelline mascara is the worst thing I’ve put on my lashes. Rosebud salve in its pretty retro tin dries out my lips. Nars Orgasm blush is just OK. The exception for me is Huile Prodigieuse Dry Oil from French skincare & cosmetics firm Nuxe, and it fully lives up to its “cult favorite” label. It’s a seaside vacation in a bottle. The oil leaves skin soft and shimmering, not at all greasy, and applying the golden liquid feels like a luxury spa treatment.

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Besides the nourishing and moisturizing benefits, fans of Nuxe oil adore its frangipani and coconut perfume. It’s sophisticated and rich, a tangle of white petals and coconut flakes. I’ve always thought that it’s good enough to be in a perfume bottle, and a couple of years ago Nuxe decided to do just that. The company turned to the same perfumer who created the beloved Nuxe oil scent, Serge Majoullier, and asked him to blend Prodigieux, Le Parfum*.

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Sunshine Dreams : Tropical Flowers

Every now and then I have a longing for a picture perfect holiday, the kind advertised at tourist agencies with the ubiquitous image of blue waves, white sandy beaches, and a bronzed goddess in a bikini. Deep down I know that I’ll get tired of this kind of vacation after two days–and a beach bunny I’m not at all, but on an overcast, cold day, the allure of warm sand and sunshine is hard to deny. These kinds of blues–and that’s exactly what my longing indicates–have little to do with the weather and lots with stress and fatigue, and I’ve come to recognize them quickly before they take complete hold of me.

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The easiest way to recreate the ambiance of a vacation is to find things that feel uplifting. I bring home bouquets of flowers to add a splash of color to my surroundings, float rose petals in my evening bath, and burn sweet Japanese incense in the bedroom. Then I temporarily set aside my beloved cool irises and woods for the most exuberant perfumes of all in my collection–the tropical florals.

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Keiko Mecheri Un Jour d’Ete : Fragrance Review

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Un Jour d’Été (A Summer Day) is the newest release from Keiko Mecheri, the prolific Los Angeles-based line whose powdery Loukhoum became a huge cult hit a decade ago.  Mecheri calls Un Jour d’Été a hesperidic fragrance, “an escape in the South of France, on the beaches of St. Tropez.”  This summer day revolves around coconut, a note that Mecheri handles well enough to evade the black, oily flatness and plasticity that a coconut note can impart.  This is done primarily through macerating the coconut in citrus and by evoking European tanning lotions through the use of monoi (tiare seeped in coconut oil).

Although perhaps not intentional, a patchouli base reads as brown and leathery. Here is where a definite image is called to mind—those overly bronzed beach bodies under a relentless sun that used to be part of escapist fantasy but that now just seem imprudent.

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