Friday, August 26, 2016

Grandiflora Queen of the Night


Like most of you, I have no idea how the Queen of the Night flower smells. Whether Grandiflora has put their own interpretation on the scent, I can't say. What I can tell you is that  Grandiflora Queen of the Night perfume is a very beautiful floral with a rather hypnotic scent, befitting of the beautiful bloom pictured above.

Queen of the Night is the drama queen of the flower world. Most of the year this variety looks like a spindly cactus that vines around trees or bushes. In summer they form large trumpet shaped buds which will have their opening and closing performance on the same night. For one magical night the blooms will wait for the sun to go down, then at nightfall the flower will slowly unfurl,  The blossom can be quite large and showy but alas, it is destined to live for a scant few hours, then it will close back up and die by morning's light. In a plant forum where the Queen of the Night was being discussed, one person stated that as they took pictures of their bloom to capture its one night of glory, the flower literally flinched with every bright strob of the camera's flash! The scent is said to be beautiful and can carry up to a quarter mile away, but imagine the challenge to the perfumer who must capture an olafactory memory of the scent when its life is so fleeting.

While researching this article I came across stories of people who have viewing parties for the opening of the Queen of the Night blooms. This is now my chief desire in life. Next spring I will plant one of these and hopefully be able to host my own party in a couple of years. As I get older I am embracing becoming eccentric and I feel I've already made great inroads. This is just perfect: a glass of wine while waiting for a flower to unfurl and overwhelm us with her scented bouquet!

On to the perfume. Saskia Havekes opened her flower shop called Grandiflora in Potts Point, Sydney, Australia, an absolutely stunning suburb of a gorgeous city. Her passion for all things floral eventually led her to try her hand at perfumes, inspired by the flowers she worked with every day. This is the fourth fragrance in her line. The first two were different interpretations of magnolia, then jasmine, and now the Queen of the Night. Bernard Duchaufour was the perfumer and his interpretation captures the flower unfurling into magnificent richness for its short life, then slowly fading into a paler version of itself with musky vanilla powder.

The opening has an initial burst of citrus brightness, not really lemony, just the zest and light of citrus. Creamy florals in the opening remind me of orchid and magnolia (neither of which is present in the perfume!). Notes listed are citrus, berries, clove, orange blossom, jasmine sambac, ylang ylang, tuberose, gardenia, wisteria, mimosa, vanilla, and musk.  This makes it sound like any other white floral perfume, but none of the powerhouse white flower notes are really identifiable to me. I get the tiniest touch of clove but the berries aren't evident to me at all, other than a certain non gourmand sweetness. Even though the actual bloom is a huge white flower, its namesake perfume is not what I would classify as a traditional white flower perfume. There is no strong smell of jasmine or orange blossom and their very familiar notes. This is somewhat indolic but in a very creamy smooth way...nothing overpowering . There is a definite undercurrent of vanilla, though not foody at all, which going from memory is reminiscent of the Van Cleef & Arpels Collection Extraordinaire Orchidee Vanille. Make no mistake, the vanilla is subtle but it is definitely there.  The mimosa and wisteria are the warm heart of this fragrance. Although I'm sure the jasmine, orange blossom and tuberose contribute to the unique makeup of this perfume, in no way does it smell like any of these three elements to my nose,

If I was going to turn this perfume into a paint color for my house it would be a shade of magnolia, creamy rich white with a buttery touch of yellow, radiating warmth and a luxurious cocoon effect. Something like this:



Even though the flower is a pure white, the wisteria and mimosa give it a yellow warmth not present in true white flower scents, 

If you appreciate white or yellow floral bouquets I think you would like this perfume. If you already have enough jasmine, tuberose, or orange blossom perfumes, this will be something different that you may want to add to your perfume wardrobe. I own so many of this genre, but because it is different, I am tempted. There is a controlled lushness to it that is compelling, and I am now curious to try the other three perfumes in the Grandiflora line.


Top photo from cactuslovers.com. Sample my own.


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