Sunday, March 11, 2018

From Australia: Grandiflora Boronia

While I'm in Australia I want to give some love to perfumes based on scents indigenous to the country. First up is Grandiflora Boronia, from flower designer and more recently perfume creator Saskia Havekes. Her by all accounts wonderful floral shop, Grandiflora, is in the Pott's Point suburb of Sydney, and Saskia's skill with weaving gardens of delight out of both everyday and exotic plants and flowers have brought her great renown and a few book deals. Her love for flowers also translates to a love for floral scents so in 2013 she introduced her first perfume, Magnolia Grandiflora Sandrine, named as a tribute to Perfumer Sandrine Videault. That same year a second take on the magnolia blossom was introduced, Magnolia Grandiflora Michel, created by Perfumer Michel Roudnitska. These were followed by Madagascan Jasmine in 2015 and Queen of the Night in 2017, reviewed here.

Grandiflora Boronia was debuted in autumn of 2017 and the perfumer is Bertrand Duchaufour. When I first apply Boronia it smells winey, rich, and what I think of as French-style perfume. I'm a little surprised as I know that boronia is a sort of scrub plant in Australia and I had expected something a bit more desert like and dry. For some reason the color of deep plum pops into my head. Not that Boronia smells exactly plummy, but maybe that's where the wine reference I get comes from. It smells nice and is more elegant than I was expecting. Grandiflora Boronia is very rich and the notes make me think of autumn, harvest, and dried fruits. The opening stages remind me of a recent tasting we had in the Barossa Valley, sampling a fortified wine, or Port. Boronia has that  same rich wine smell with dried fruit  and a dry dusting of spices. I almost wanted to raid my refrigerator for some blue cheese to accompany it! These impressions of autumn flavors are further enhanced as very mild notes of tobacco leaf and the smell of dry hay make their presence known. Within thirty minutes the opulence of Boronia reigns in and the scent becomes more subdued on my skin. The wine and dried fruit notes have dissipated and the scent is quiet and very dry. The scent has an air of solemnity and good breeding to me, if that makes any sense. I just wish that I could continue to smell it for longer. I get the occasional whiff and I like what I smell, but the strength has reduced greatly. I do like Boronia but on my skin I think I prefer Bertrand Duchaufour's other creation for the brand, Queen of the Night, which I reviewed here.

Boronia is one of the most expensive oils in perfumery, maybe because of the scarcity of the plant, it's finicky nature in being propagated, and its short life cycle once the plant is established. In a description of boronia absolute oil notes of cassis, hay, and exotic fruit are mentioned. Take a gander here at the price of this absolute, starting at $38 for one ml to almost $16,000 for one kg.

Brown boronia (megastigma) is a compact growing shrub with delightfully fragrant small brown flowers, often yellow on the inside cusp. One of the species is named Heaven Scent, hinting at why it is so prized. Boronia only grows in certain small segments of the Australian continent, mainly the southwestern area and Tasmania, and I have personally never come across it. I also read that as fragrant as it is, some people can't smell it. I wondered if that could be the case for me, as after wearing the perfume for only a short time the scent becomes almost undetectable to my nose.

Interested in learning more about the boronia plant? Here in a segment from Burke's Backyard, the host introduces boronia as contender for "World's Best Perfumed Plant."

Top photo from The Australian Native Plant Society website, Boronia Megastigma "Harlequin". Second and third photos from Grandiflora site. Perfume sample my own.


Undina said...

I tried the first two perfumes from the brand and liked Magnolia Grandiflora Michel - but never pursued it. Then recently I tried Queen of the night and liked it enough to participate in a friendly split (though, I would have still preferred Michel - but nobody was splitting it). I read already some positive impressions of Boronia (and before then I didn't even know about that plant) and was curious to try it but now I'll need to wait until I have enough desires samples I want to order from Luckyscent to justify S&H.

Cynthia said...

Undina, I haven't tried either of the magnolia ones but have been curious. Jasmine Madagascar is the one I really want to try asap. If you don't mind waiting a month until I'm back in the States I'm happy to send you what's left of my Baronia.Let me know if you'd like it.

Undina said...

I don’t mind waiting :) My Michel sample is almost empty (and I know that I’ll finish it soon) but I can send you the remaining sample of Sadrine - in case you have a better luck with it.

Cynthia said...

That would be great! I've been wanting to try.