Thursday, May 26, 2016

Memo Paris: Marfa


Marfa, Texas, is having a moment, and that moment seems to be only gaining momentum. The town is situated in far West Texas, established 150 years ago as a water stop along the railway line that cut through this barren part of the state. The wife of a railway executive was given the task of naming towns in the area. Inspired by Dostoyevsky's The Brothers Karamozov which she was reading at the time, she named the pit stop Marfa after a character in the novel. This was a fitting and ironic foretelling of a future that would see a sleepy western outpost turn into a haven for bohemians and artistic types. (For an interesting article on how many West Texas towns were given names with literary references by this same woman, see here .) 

For many years its only claims to fame were the ghostly Marfa Lights phenomena and being the setting for the classic film Giant, starring Rock Hudson, Elizabeth Taylor, and James Dean. The arrival of New York minimalist artist Donald Judd in 1971 was the early signal of a change that over the next forty years would make Marfa the darling of modern artists specializing in installation art and the minimalist style. Judd was drawn by the vast expanse of land, in its own way a minimalist pallet that made the perfect backdrop for his art. What keeps Marfa's cool factor is that, at least when I visited about five years ago, the town hasn't lost its western soul, probably saved by its very remoteness from being an of-the-moment destination overrun with gentrified culture vultures.

"Marfa. Tough to get to. Tougher to explain. But once you get here, you get it." Marfa Visitor Center

Marfa is not easy to get to. Unless you fly private, the nearest airport is three hours away. I went through Marfa several years ago with my family, the first stop on an onward journey to Big Bend National Park. It's a long trek down two lane highways, the pavement shimmering in the heat like silver ribbons, bordered by a barren landscape of cactus and scrub brush.  If you're approaching Marfa from Van Horn  on Hwy 90 you'll come across Prada Marfa, about 25 miles before you hit the town. It's  a permanent installation erected in 2005 by Scandinavian artists Elmgreen and Dragset, and probably the most well known of the town's quirky art, in part thanks to Beyonce's 2012 Instagram shot in which she seemingly hovers in a mid air jump in front of the building. For an NPR article with more information on Marfa's art scene, read here.



Photo of  Prada Marfa by Jason R Weingart

Cofounders Clare and John Molloy started Memo Paris in 2007, inspired by travels and Clare's strong identification of place with scent. The story is that the couple actually met on a trip, hovering in the air in  a chair lift together (could there be a more perfect meeting story?) and have traveled together ever since, memorializing some of their favorite destinations with Memo scents. Memo is shorthand for the memory of a place through scent and the Molloy's, along with perfumer Alienor Massenet, attempt to capture the essence of a place in scent, just as you might try to capture it with a photograph. Memo already has three collections: Les Echappees, Cuir Nomades, and Graines Vagabondes. With Marfa they launch their fourth collection: Art Land.

Memo Marfa has top notes of orange blossom absolute, oil of mandarin, agave accord; middle notes of tuberose and ylang ylang; and base notes of sandalwood, cedar, vanilla seed and white musk. I saw a few comments on fragrance sites when this scent was first released basically saying, "Marfa? Tuberose?". and as someone who has visited that desert town I had the same qualms. My tuberose references are directly linked to Southeast Asia. But a little research revealed that "tuberose is a perennial related to the agaves-- Wikipedia". It's on Wikipedia so it has to be true!? Another surprise, tuberose is a native of Mexico. Voluspa came out with a perfume some time ago called Tuberosa Agave. So there actually is a botanical precedent.

It's interesting how people can have different scent reactions to the same place. My Marfa might have had notes of parched earth, cactus blooms, ozonic streams, or maybe aldehyde stars in a velvet black sky. Other than the quirkiness of the town and the fun place we were staying, El Cosmico, my biggest memory was the brilliance and multitude of stars in the night sky. There is a movement called Dark Sky Association which is trying to preserve light- pollution free spots where stars can be observed in true darkness. Marfa is situated in one of those dark areas, near Big Bend National Park For a list to see if you live anywhere near a designated dark sky area look here.


 There was only a sliver of a moon that night at our campground hotel on the outskirts of Marfa, as we swung in hammocks drinking beer and gazing up at the heavens. The stars were so thick they illuminated the ground with a silver glow.  It felt as if you could see a whole universe inside the midnight star studded depths, some faintly glowing somewhere in infinity,  yet other stars so bright they seemed close enough to grab. It was awe inspiring in a world that defies that feeling. Clara Molloy chose sparkling starry eyes to decorate the Marfa bottle, a memory and reminder of the twinkling stars that fill the night sky, the stars gazing down on us as we look up at them.

Photo of Stardust Motel, Marfa, by Jason R Weingart

So enough back story. How does the perfume smell? When I first spray Marfa I am in a cloud of sweet powdery orange blossom. The orange blossom makes me think pink and orange, and the first thing that popped into my head was that song, "Just Another Tequila Sunrise" and in truth, desert sunrises and sunsets can be glorious. The orange blossom and mandarin scent is fun and fuzzy and all encompassing, but I'm wondering, where is the tuberose? But a slow transition starts to take place. Have you ever seen those photo series where you start out with one celebrity photo and in about seven frames it slowly morphs to a completely different celebrity? That was the sort of smooth transition Marfa makes in changing its mood from orange blossom to tuberose.



The tuberose is creamy and intense, but on my skin a little orange blossom cloud hovering around the tuberose, which only serves to sweeten and tweak the intensity of the perfume.  I already own a couple of tuberose perfumes but this is very addictive stuff and the orange blossom gives it a different twist. I can see a bottle of this in my future. I get several hours of the mesmerizing tuberose before it softens to woods and musks.

Tuberose is vaunted for its sensual and voluptuous nature, but in ayurvedic lore tuberose is said to open the crown chakra  which is responsible for peacefulness of the mind, increase the capacity for emotional depth and physic powers, and most interestingly in this artistic town, aid in stimulating creative powers. This zen list makes me wish I could experience that night in the hammock under the stars one more time, this time floating in a cloud of the cosmic karma of Memo Marfa.

I enjoyed Mark Behnke's review of Marfa on Colognoisseur. Read here for another take on this fragrance.

Beautiful photo of night skies over Marfa from jasonrweingart.com. He holds photography workshops in the desert which must be amazing.








Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Grossmith Floral Veil


The last post was about the blooming of the Tembusu tree here in Singapore and its wonderful fragrance. Sadly, there is no tembusu perfume, but I am posting today about a pair of fragrances that remind me of this scent. The first is not really a scent duplicate but it expresses itself in a gentle and elusive manner, reminiscent of the trail of scent carried from the Tembusu tree. The second is a much closer dupe to the smell I get from the Tembusu tree sillage, but unhappily it is discontinued and hard to obtain.

Grossmith Floral Veil

Grossmith is one of the oldest British perfume houses, originally founded in London in 1835. It enjoyed an illustrious history its first hundred years of existence, but then eventually passed from the founding family's hands. This changed when the company was reacquired by the great great grandson (Simon Brooke)  of the founder, John Grossmith. Grossmith reintroduced some of the classic scents the brand had been known for, but more recently they came out with four modern scents which are part of The Black Label Collection.  Floral Veil is one of these new scents in the collection.

The first time I tested Floral Veil it truly seemed aptly named, as I literally felt encircled by shimmering notes of soft petals and sunlight. The opening was slightly citrus and sparkling with undercurrents of green. These notes were light and effervescent. After about ten minutes the white flower notes  appeared, first with a momentary sharpness but then the flowers coalesced into a beautiful unity of sweet flowers and sunny drops of citrus. The notes literally seemed to dance on my skin. I would get a heart-stopping whiff of this lovely scent, then it would drift away for a time, just like a fragrance in the breeze. It was not difficult to make the leap to wedding veils floating in the wind, and what a fabulous wedding fragrance this would make.

What I most enjoyed about wearing Floral Veil was that it did seem to act like my own personal hazy floating cloud of scent. The notes were not static; first I would smell the white flowers, then the lemony citrus notes which added sparkle and lift.


The notes in Floral Veil are top notes of citrus and green, a heart of tuberose, ylang ylang, vanilla orchid, rose and geranium, and a base of  cashmeran and musk. I can pick out the tuberose but to me it is not a tuberose perfume, but a blend of notes. I don't get the rose and geranium at all. After some time the scent fades to a pleasant cloud of musk and cashmeran.

Aqua Allegoria Jasminora

I hesitate to write about this perfume because it was one of the limited editions in Guerlain's Aqua Allegoria line and was released in 2011. I bought a bottle on a discount site a little over a year ago but it no longer seems to be available. My hope is that Guerlain will reintroduce it as they occasionally do some of their more popular limited edition perfumes. It gets a lot of love on Fragrantica so anything is possible!

Jasmorina is the perfume in my collection which most reminds me of the scent of the Tembusu tree here in Singapore. It combines the lemony sparkle with the sweet jasmine notes to give the fresh appeal of the scent that the Tembusu blossoms release. Jasmorina starts with an opening of galbanum, bergamot and cyclamen. Calabrian jasmine from coastal italy is the breed of jasmine used and I don't know if this accounts for it, but this jasmine is not indolic but green and realistic. It feels very fresh as if the smell is coming from a nearby jasmine bush. Notes of lily of the valley and freesia add sweet floral support. Jasmorina eventually fades to a musk and amber base. Wearing this perfume is uplifting. It is what I would classify as a "happy" scent, in that it makes me feel good when I'm wearing it and brings a smile.

These two perfumes are beautiful in their own right, but I will keep searching for the perfect Tembusu perfume. With all the niche lines out there, the Tembusu tree would make the perfect inspiration for a new perfume.

Photo from The Bridal Guide. Samples my own.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Tembusu, Singapore's Fragrant Tree


Every May something magical happens in Singapore. A tree blooms throughout the city and its tiny blossoms release a scent of uncommon beauty which is then captured by the breeze and wafted through the streets of Singapore.  The fragrance is elusive and only appears after dusk.  Imagine walking down a street when suddenly you are enveloped in a cloud of the sweetest most fragrant air you have ever breathed. You turn in a circle to see where the scent is coming from but there are no flowering trees or bushes of any kind in sight. The scent is carried in gentle waves by the breeze, first beguiling you, then just as suddenly disappearing and leaving you searching for the source. It is May, and in Singapore that means the Tembusu tree is in bloom.

The first time I smelled the Tembusu I was walking through Singapore's Botanic Garden some seven years ago or so.  My ipod was humming, I was trucking along among all the other wanderers and runners when suddenly I was overcome by the most gorgeous smell. It was early evening and I am accustomed to how the jasmines and ylang ylang smell stronger as the sun departs the sky. This was something altogether different, though, such a strangely beautiful smell that I began to look all around to see from where the scent was emanating. Not seeing anything flowering in my vicinity I began to follow my nose, scurrying here and there all around the garden paths, feeling very much like the human version of my dog when she is following a scent trail. I walked a good five minutes, the scent surging then waning, and finally came upon a tree I had not noticed before. It had clusters of tiny pale yellow flowers on its branches, but it wasn't the most prepossessing tree. I had walked by it numerous times without ever noticing it, but now my nose led me here to the source of this beautiful scent.

How to describe the scent? It is somewhat like jasmine, but without any indolic tendencies. There is a little sweet lemon freshness mixed with the floral jasmine smell. Some people say they can smell a touch of vanilla but I have not. It is like the freshest, sweetest jasmine you've ever smelt and it's scent is euphoric. Ok, maybe not for everyone; that's just me. But if you're a fragrance lover I suspect you'd be swooning too!


A couple of years ago I had been visiting with some girlfriends. It was getting late and I said my goodbyes, the first to depart. When I stepped outside I walked into a gossamer wall of fragrance; the air was redolent with the lush smell of Tembusu blossoms. I was practically overcome with olfactory joy, so much so that I immediately sent a text to my friends: "Step outside, QUICK. The air smells like PERFUME!!!" I waited for their enthusiastic replies. And waited. None came. I still don't get it. Life doesn't hand you a lot of luxuries for free but for goodness sakes, THE AIR IS PERFUMED! This doesn't happen every day! If you've ever seen the movie Perfume: The Story of a Murderer, there is a scene where everyone is rushing to the town square to find the source of the beautiful scent and then are overcome with ecstasy: I understand that feeling now.


Things of great beauty in the plant world are by their very nature fragile and unsubstantial. You can't say, "I'm going to go outside and smell the air tonight." It is not available on demand. It catches you unaware. The line from the song Maria in the movie The Sound of Music has a line: "How do you hold a moonbeam in your hand?" That is how the ethereal beauty of scents on the breeze behave, enjoy the moment because it will be fleeting.  I live half a mile from the Botanic Gardens and thus, that far from the nearest Tembusu tree as best I can determine. But I still get whiffs of it's scent in the evening. This fragrant extravaganza only lasts for three weeks or so, then it's gone. Supposedly Tembusu blooms in May and October but I can't ever recall smelling the blooms in October. Some years are better than others in terms of the strength of the scent. When Singapore was a wild place a century ago, before it became a city of five million, I imagine there were numerous Tembusu trees whereas today there are only a few. How beautiful the month of May must have been with all the trees blooming! Maybe it took away some of the sting of being in a hot and humid mosquito ridden climate with no air conditioners yet invented.

This article was written for the Garden Bulletin by a R.E.Hoi on a study he did from 1928 to 1935 concerning the blooming habits of the Tembusu tree:
"The gregarious flowering of the Tembusu trees, which are so abundant, both wild and planted, in the neighbourhood of the town, is one of the most striking seasonal phenomena to be observed in Singapore. For a fortnight or more, some of the suburbs of the town are filled with their heavy fragrance, both day and night."

The Tembusu (fagraea fragrans) is  native  to Singapore and is only found in Southeast Asia. It is such an iconic part of Singapore's natural history that the image of a 200 year old Tembusu tree, still living in the Botanic Garden, graces the back of the Singapore five dollar bill.

The Tembusu's flower has not been captured in perfume, although recently the Botanic Garden came out with a room diffuser and spray called Tembusu, in commemoration of the Botanic Gardens being named a UNESCO world heritage site. I smelled it in passing but will have to give it a closer look.  Although there is not a scent match for this flower, I will review a perfume which is somewhat reminiscent of the smell in  tomorrow's post.

The photo at top of artwork by E. Lim at elimgs.wordpress.com. . Stamp photos from Google.



Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Guerlain Aqua Allegoria Pera Granita


The fragrance house of Guerlain introduced the Aqua Allegoria line in 1999 and every spring a new limited edition version debuts. Guerlain is know for its historic and heavy hitter scents, none with a particularly quiet touch. This was their answer to pleasing an emerging market that wanted lighter less serious scents, while still keeping the integrity of their line intact.  From the Guerlain website:
"Aqua Allegoria is a continuously renewed collection that pays homage to the wonders of nature and beautiful raw materials. Delicate and cheerful fragrances that represent sweet and happy moments."
These fragrances usually feature one or two notes and explore the lighter side of perfumery. Projection and longevity are not what they are about, but that doesn't matter to the fans of the line who look forward to seeing what notes will be featured in the newest version.  The bottle remains the same each year, a simpler representation of the famous Guerlain bee bottle. Pastel tinted perfumes look even prettier in the bottles and add to their light, frothy appeal.

This year's introduction, Pera Granita, or pear sorbet, is meant to represent that refreshing summer treat. On first spray this perfume is a lot of fun. There is a big fluorescent blast of grapefruit, then I get a fruity notes of grape, berries (neither of which are listed in the notes) then at last pear. This big fruity opening is not too sweet and is rather enjoyable. Just as I'm thinking it's a bit too much fruit pop for me and would be better on someone born since cell phone usage became commonplace, it begins to quieten dramatically into a very subtle slightly sweet pear with musky overtones. Listed notes for the perfume are top notes of grapefruit, lemon and bergamot, followed by middle notes of pear, osmanthus and orange blossom, and base notes of cedar, musk and moss.

Pera Granita does not call out to me. I tend to gravitate towards the line's more herbal and citrus offerings, however if pear or fruity perfumes are your thing, this one is nicely enough done. I can see it as a more grown up choice for those younger women who are used to fruity perfumes or for anyone who just wants a fun simple summer perfume.

Photo from the Guerlain website.


Monday, May 9, 2016

Longbourn: Imagining the Scented Lives of Elizabeth Bennet's Servants


It is always a small thrill for a perfume lover to find mention of scent when reading a novel. Some authors even go so far as to have their character use a particular fragrance as part of the character's development, but more often it is just a fleeting mention to add descriptive substance. Thus, when I came across a mere two sentences of such scented snippets while reading Longbourn by Jo Baker I eagerly pounced on this tidbit of information and tried to figure out how these two characters would be scented.

Jane Austen died 199 years ago in relative obscurity at the age of forty one, having completed six novels. She would most likely be quite bemused at what a literary icon she has become, so much so that there is term for her legion of fans: Janeites. Janeites, of which I might be one, are enthusiastic in anything remotely connected to Jane Austen and have an insatiable demand for more works in a similar vein. This has spawned movies, television mini series, and numerous books imagining Jane's characters as everything from modern day misses to zombies.

In Longbourn, the reader is taken behind the scenes of the Bennet house and into the lives of the servants who work for the family. There are mere glimpses of the matrimonial worries of the Bennet sisters but the heart of the story is the servants:  Mr. and Mrs. Hill who run the house and whose lives may not be exactly as they seem; Sarah, an orphan who has worked in the house since she was young and questions her life of servitude; Polly, a younger orphan who crosses paths with the treacherous Mr. Wickham; and James, the mysterious footman who has a hidden and secret connection to the Longbourn house.  The charm of this book for me was the way Jo Baker has captured the cadence and melody of the words on page that feel very much like Jane Austen herself could have been the author. It is not as laugh out loud funny as Austen's works can be, but then these servants lives are not very amusing. She does capture Austen's acerbic witticisms, and it is as if Pride and Prejudice has been turned inside out as we view it through the lens of the servants' lives.

"If Elizabeth Bennet had the washing of her own petticoats, Sarah often thought, she'd most likely be a sight more careful with them."
The above is a quote from Sarah, the book's heroine, who looks after the Bennet sisters and tends to their everyday toiletry needs. Sarah is far too busy and far too poor to have access to perfume, but there is a passage where she makes lavender soap for the sisters. In that era this was an unpleasant occupation involving lye soap and animal fat. To try to make the concoction more luxurious flower petals were added.
"It had never failed to astonish her, down the years of helping Mrs. Hill, how soap that made things clean was such a foul thing in its own making. She stripped the pale dried lavender, and dropped the buds into the curdling porridge."
I imagined that Sarah would never dream of a luxury such as perfume, but just perhaps she kept a tiny bar of the lavender bud soap aside as a small treat for herself. A present day soap that fits the bill is Mistral Savon Aux Fleurs, Fleurs de Lavande.
 This French milled soap smells softly of lavender and has actual bits of lavender bud embedded into the soap which serve as an exfoliating agent during washing. I would imagine that in the era Austen's characters lived, baths were infrequent and the rose petal or lavender buds added to soap would help to scrap the dirt off. We may not need such heavy duty cleaning today but it is still a nice sensation to have the lavender act as a skin polishing buffer! I have a bar of this in my shower now.

James Smith, a mysterious jack of all trades who wanders to Longbourn looking for work, becomes Sarah's eventual love interest. James is a Byronic hero in that he is a brooding, tortured outsider, but he lacks the demonic characteristics; James is as gentle as a lamb. There is a scene where James and Sarah first notice their attraction to each other:
"James passed a baggage strap behind the post, and fastened it around Sarah's waist, buckling her safely in. He had to lean close in to do this. The scent of him--leather, horse, hay--the angle of his cheekbone--she would keep the memory with her."
I have chosen two scents for James. The first is Dame Perfumery Leather Man. Jeffrey Dame makes beautiful colognes and describes them as "clean, subtle, and interesting." Notes are gurjun balsam, iris, jasmine, gardenia, water lily, sandalwood, amber and leather. Don't be fooled by this flowery list of notes because you'll be hard pressed to pick them out. Initially I smell the water lily and it is not really floral so much as watery. Gurjun balsam does not have a strong scent and can in fact have the property of tempering other notes and bringing the intensity down.  The leather comes out after a short time and reads more like a blonde supple suede, not brown boot leather. The florals are very quiet but add an interesting background touch of outdoor plant elements. This is one of the softest leathers I've ever smelled and for our purposes here, it is as if our character James has come in contract with the leather bridles and whips but they have left a mere whisper of scent on his skin. I tried this on myself and my husband, and he liked it very much.

The second scent I would put James in is one I have already reviewed, Imaginary Authors The Cobra and the Canary. This perfume features notes of both leather and hay. The leather is much darker than Leather Man, but not at all overpowering. The hay adds an earthiness and dryness to the overall feel of the perfume and also tones down the strength of the leather.

I very much enjoyed Longbourn but I give you fair warning; people seemed to adore it or find it extremely tedious. Read reviews at Goodreads to get an idea if the book is for you.

Photo top from Goodreads.com. Photo of soap from Mistral website.






Sunday, May 8, 2016

That Smell You Get When You Walk In The Florist's Fridge


 I love to walk MacRitchie Reservoir, a nature reserve in the middle of the island of Singapore and the country's version of Central Park. It is the nation's lung, a green forest amidst the city's high rises. Right now, though, Singapore is stinking hot with some unseasonably high temperatures. Walking under the trees offers respite from the sun but you're still a sticky humid mess when you come out of the forest canopy and back to the park entrance, so it is particularly delightful that right across the street is where you'll find the majority of Singapore's florists. I always go home with a bouquet. When you're dripping with sweat there is nothing more sublime than to push back the heavy hanging strips of plastic that trap the cold air, walk into the chilly space of the refrigerated floral rooms and be hit with the scent of the montage of mingled flowers.

Some perfumes try to create the effect of opening the florist's refrigerator and the chilled smell of mixed bouquets. The smell is different than that of flowers unfurling in the sun and the sinuous release of scent. Flowers in the freezer greet you with a rush of scent but it is chilled and contained, not unfurling and blooming. Here in Singapore you will find roses, peonies, lilies, narcissus, hyacinths, carnations, and above all, loads of orchids. Orchids are to Singapore what roses are to the States. Here are some of my favorite perfumes that evoke the florist's fridge smell.

Estee Lauder Pleasures Intense

This perfume was introduced in 2002 as a flanker to Estee Lauder's popular Pleasures perfume. Pleasures is supposed to evoke the smell of flowers after a rain but I always found it pale and uninspiring so I can't remember why I tried the flanker version back in 2002; probably because there were so few perfume releases then compared to today so the variety was welcome. For me this flanker far surpassed the original Pleasures and I don't see any resemblance between the two. Estee Lauder Pleasures Intense is well named because the initial burst of smell is indeed intense with its exhilarating scent and it always makes me smile. I get a cold rush of mixed florals and somehow that chilly refrigerated aura is translated into the perfume. Notes are peony, green lily, jasmine, tiare, and ylang ylang and at the beginning of the perfume's scent journey there is that jumble of florals. But in short order the peony takes the lead, followed by the green lily. These two flowers dominate as time goes on but they retain that feeling of refrigerated sharpness.


I would assume that Pleasures Intense may have been meant to be a limited edition, as it was followed in subsequent years by Pleasures Exotic, Pleasures Delight, Pleasures Bloom, and this year by Pleasures Aqua which I'm afraid to try because of the name. I am certain that there were years when Pleasures Intense disappeared from the shelves, and when I used the last drops from my bottle about three years ago I was sad to finish it. But then I suddenly noticed Pleasures Intense quietly being listed on websites again, then eventually finding a place back on the display shelf in the store. I don't know the story of how this happened but would assume there were enough customers like me who mourned its passing that Estee Lauder decided to bring it back. This is a strong floral scent for the first couple of hours wear and I find it is one of my more complimented scents.

Acca Kappa Calycanthus


Acca Kappa is an Italian brand first established in 1869 in the city of Treviso and known for body and wellness products and professional brushes. Their current line of perfumes started in 1999 with the purpose as stated on their website of providing "a world of sensory and olfactory experiences inspired by the fragrances of the flowers and plants found in Italian gardens." The line is readily available in Europe and Asia but the only US outlet I could find is in Las Vegas.


Calycanthus is a deciduous shrub with burgundy colored highly fragrant flowers that bloom from late spring through summer and it is common in Italy. In the States it goes by the name spicebush or sweetshrub. I have never smelled this flower so I have no point of reference. On first application the perfume has a strong smell of spring flowers and it comes across as sharp and chilly. Touches of green help give the scent that fresh out of the freezer feel and gives the illusion that you are smelling a bouquet of fresh flowers with green leaves, stems and all. In addition to the calycanthus listed notes include jasmine, neroli, peony, bergamot and cyclamen. The feel is of a highly fragrant mixed bouquet with no one note dominating. It smells very fresh and invigorating. As the perfume wears it slowly loses that fresh from the freezer feel and notes of honey, peach, orange blossom and musk give it a warm dry down. As stated, I don't know the scent of this flower but if this perfume is an accurate representation than it must be lovely.

DSH Perfumes Fleuriste

I am old enough to remember when carnations actually had a smell, and it was beautiful in its soft, powdery and very distinctive sharp scent. Back then florists didn't have the abundance and variety of flowers available today, at least in Texas, and bouquets that I remember seemed limited to carnations, roses and daisies. Today the carnations I see for sale in buckets in my grocery are sadly scentless and thus have lost their main appeal. Fleuriste brings back that lovely memory of opening the refrigerated door and being engulfed in that exquisite smell of fresh carnations.



Dawn Spencer Hurwitz has a way with carnations. One of my favorite carnation perfumes is her Oeillets Rouge, an interpretation of red carnations but a spicier, deeper perfume. Fleuriste doesn't wear like a perfume. Imagine opening the refrigerator door and grabbing a huge bouquet of red carnations, burying your nose in their damp coolness as you are overcome by their fragrance. This is Fleuriste. Dawn is very good at giving a short synopsis of her own perfumes and she says it well here: "Fresh and cool, dewy and spicy; Fleuriste is a scent of green rose leaves and chilled carnations straight from the florist's fridge." This scent differs from the other two mentioned above in that it wears more like a soliflore carnation bouquet, but it does retain that straight from the fridge chill and freshness. For me Fleuriste brings back beautiful scent memories of bundled carnations I gave to my mother on long ago Mother's Days.

Happy Mother's Day to all the Moms. If you're lucky enough to still have a mother in your life go to your closest florist fridge and give the woman a bouquet! Or better yet, perfume.

I would have liked to have included Smell Bent's Florist Fridge in this review but couldn't get a sample in time.

Top two photos my own. Calycanthus phto from www.laspalitas.com. Carnation photo from www.theholidayspot.com. Samples my own.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Happy May Day! Mini Reviews of Five Muguet Perfumes

.

May Day originated in Northern Europe as a celebration to welcome summer and the growing season and was associated with Flora, the Roman goddess of flowers. As Europe became predominantly Christian the holiday lost its pagan associations and became a more secular celebration. The maypole is one tradition commonly linked to the holiday, but a charming custom for those of us that love perfume is the offering of muguet, or lily of the valley, on May 1. The custom dates back to 1561 when King Charles IX of France was given a sprig of lily of the valley for good luck. The King continued this tradition in the following years by offering the flower to the ladies of his court on May Day. The tradition was reinterpreted in the early 20th century, and the giving of posies of lily of the valley or other spring flowers, often as a secret gift, became a way to show appreciation or admiration.

If I could script my life on my terms I would now be reviewing my bottle of the new Guerlain Muguet May 1st introduction for 2016. Look at this beautiful bottle. I've lusted after each and every one for the past few years but this one is quite different. A jewelry store created a silver filigree design of lily of the valley to mark the ten year anniversary of the Guerlain May 1st limited edition bottles. There are only 2148 exclusive bottles (I'd love to know the significance of that number?).  But unfortunately I do not have any of this juice so I will review what my local Singapore department stores had available for my perusal. 

Annick Goutal Le Muguet 

This starts with a very green lily of the valley note. It is pretty representation of the flower but it doesn't last long on my skin. It changes and becomes a little sour on me and sometimes has a plastic smell. It fades rather quickly. This is a fail on my skin.

Christian Dior Diorissimo

I remember spraying this on in the 1980's when I was first becoming interested in perfume, and the world literally stood still for a moment...it was that gorgeous. I know a lot of bloggers have written excellently researched pieces about what changed and why it did. And it's not that Diorissimo is bad. It's a good representation of a lovely lily of the valley, and after a harsh opening which quickly disapates, I like it. It's just not the masterpiece I remember and I find that hard to forgive.

Crabtree & Evelyn Lily 

Umm, where's the lily?

Penhaligon's Lily of the Valley

This was nice, if unremarkable. It smells like lily of the valley and it was pretty tenacious on my skin. I found it prettier than most I tried, but I'm beginning to think that muguet is just not for me.

Muguet En Fleurs Yves Rocher

This is a very light spring sprinkling of lily of the valley. It's transparency is part of it's delicate charm. It is very light and disappears very quickly but it's cheap as chips and Yves Rocher is constantly having sales. If I can't have my $600-plus bottle of Guerlain Muguet Limited Edition 2016, I'm thinking this one might suit me just find. It doesn't last long but I can in good conscience shower my body with a spray every hour or so. It's a simple, uncomplicated green lily of the valley scent.

I think you can't fight your body chemistry and I believe lily of the valley may not be my note so you may have happier results with these perfumes. As for me, I think I would rather be gifted on May Day with a bundle of real live lily of the valley!

Top photo from Google. Bottle of Guerlain Muguet from Guerlain.com.