Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Library of Flowers Willow & Water and Eau D'Italie Au Lac. Just What The Doctor Ordered!


We all hoped that 2021 would be a better year, but as for myself, having had two operations since January, my good times are yet to appear. I've been in a somewhat perpetual state of feeling bad, feeling wretched, feeling sad, and then the opposite, a new found empathy for people who must deal with health issues every day. If you were to ask my husband and he was being honest, he would admit that he's had to be a happy cheerleader these past months. Just a hint that fetching me coffee for the third time this morning might not be the exact thing he wants to do at this precise moment was enough to send me into quivering lipped self pity. So it shouldn't come as a surprise that what I required from perfumes during this time was simply subtle comfort. No aldehyde divas, no chypre attention grabbers, no skanky jasmines. Just well behaved scents that waited quietly in the wings; there if I needed them, but demanding not one iota of my attention.

During this time I gained a new appreciation for two such quiet but fragrant perfumes. Both had a common aspect of trying to place the wearer near water. Water is known to be calming, therapeutic, and for the most part scentless. It was interesting to see how each of these perfumes translated the act of being near water into scent.

Margot Elena Library of Flowers Willow and Water

In all honesty I would probably have never bought this perfume if I had tried it first. I am an easy touch for the Margot Elena branding: beautiful and girly packaging housing generally inoffensive but mild fragrances. I subscribe to the Margot Elena seasonal box, the only subscription service I have in fact. It is well priced and packaged so beautifully that it is always a treat to receive. In the most recent box was this perfume and the timing was perfect. 

I thought the picture up top, which is from a vintage copy of Wind In The Willows, perfectly captures the bucolic and pastoral aspects of the English countryside, and well represents the scent of Willow & Water! The book written over one hundred years ago by British writer Kenneth Grahame, explores the misadventures of Mole, Rat, Toad, Badger, and their friends. The peaceful river is home to some of the story's characters, and the scene pictured of the boat lazily floating on the river beneath draping willow branches and buzzing insects is Willow & Water. 

Willow & Water is classified as a green aquatic floral. The note pyramid is skimpy, listing an opening of dewy green notes, a heart of lotus (the water flower), and a base of watercress. It opens smelling like greens that have been misted with gentle rain. Then I get a touch of sweetness, nothing sugary, but more like the honeyed notes of faint blossoms carried on the breeze. The lotus comes in and again emphasizes the aquatic feel, as well as a faint and musky floral note. The scent is surprisingly long lasting, which is not always the case with this brand, and I don't get any alcohol or chemical smells which I also can sometimes experience with less expensive perfumes. I prefer it to the Jo Malone special edition last year of Willow and Amber (although that bottle was divine). I'll repeat, if I had tried Willow & Water on in the store I would have walked on by, unimpressed. I'm glad I didn't get the chance to do this as it's been a very happy and easy to wear spring time scent, as well as a calming medicinal tonic!

Au Lac by Eau D'Italie

If you've ever seen travel photos of Italy then you've probably seen a picture of the luxurious Postiano hotel La Sirenuse, perched along the ultra-exclusive Amalfi Coast. Their range of scents, all of which I find very nice but soft in projection, are meant to impart various aspects of the scents of Italy. This one is meant to induce memories of time spent by one of Italy's picturesque lakes of the north. 

Photo the Lake Como waterfront from

Who could be stressed with this combination of gorgeous houses and pristine nature? The scent of Au Lac is meant to invoke an Italian garden in the midst of the summer, perched beside a lake. I find the fragrance gives a good interpretation of this. Perfumer Alberto Morillas uses notes of water lily, along with fig leaf and bitter orange, to give the feel of lounging lakeside. I find that the water lily note persists, giving its watery effect even when the other florals enter. Osmanthus, jasmine, and rose represent the summer garden, but they are very light and muted. This is like catching the scent of a garden on the breeze. Base notes of papyrus and amber give some grounding later in the perfume's wear. On me this is more of a skin scent, and I found it perfect during the time when I wanted to smell nice but not too strongly of scent. There are other opportunities for this kind of perfume wear, when you don't want to announce your presence, and this whole line of perfumes would work perfectly.

Thankfully I am now on the mend, and I look forward to expanding my perfume wear to a broader range of scents, but I have enjoyed becoming acquainted with these two perfumes during my time of recovery.  I will enjoy wearing them in the future, now that I have discovered their charm.

How about you? Does your perfume habit change when you are not well? What do you like to wear?

Top photo, Google image from vintage copy of The Wind In The Willows. Photo of perfume bottle from website. The two perfumes are from my own collection.

Friday, April 23, 2021

Christèle Jacquemin: Memory Lane

Late last year I wrote about a new perfumer, Christèle Jacquemin, who was using her career as a photographer as inspiration for creating perfumes. She started with three scents: Meandering Soul, Impermanence, and Underworld, which I wrote about here. She translated photos from her travels into fragrance, and just as her photos are modern and interpretive, so are the perfumes, in which I found uncommon notes and unexpected scents. Originality and creativity, both traits found in an artist's skill set, are evident in the perfumes.

Ms.  Jacquemin has now added a fourth perfume to her collection called Memory Lane. Unlike the other perfumes, which represent her travels, Ms. Jacquemin returns home with Memory Lane. She originates from a small town in France called Valliguières, but she left at sixteen to explore the world.  Her interpretive photos were not of the town itself, but a series of cloud photographs.

When I saw the series of cloud photos on her website the word that came to my mind was "escape". But I wanted to be sure that my interpretation was correct, so I asked Ms. Jacquemin. "As a child and a teenager, I mastered escaping from this place that was too small for me, " she answered. "I first escaped through literature, then I studied foreign languages hoping to discover the world. The sky in these photos is like a metaphor of the will to escape, to go and explore the world."

After thirty years of avoiding her home, Ms. Jacquemin felt the need to, in her own words, return home and reconcile the ghosts of her past. "I flew at a very young age," she stated, "and as an adult I needed to look back and see if there was any way to cure that wound, and bring peace on this part of my life."

The opening notes of Memory Lane are meringue, myrrh, and magnolia. Heart notes are cypriol, clove, and parsley. Base notes are green vanilla and oud blanc. I asked Ms. Jacquemin if Memory Lane was based on scents of the place, or did inspiration come from the photographs she took of the clouds and sky?

"Actually it is both, like all my scents," she answered. "It is part reality and part fantasy. My ambivalence to the place is in the scent: the ingenuity of the meringue and vanilla, and the animality of cypriol and white oud. This duality to me was important, to reflect the ups and the downs." 

The opening notes of meringue, magnolia, and myrrh are an unusual combinaition, but that is not surprising to me, having experienced the other scents in the collection. The meringue may sound sweet but it is tempered by the myrrh and my mind flitted to an image of creamy burnished wood. There is a caramel feel, but it is not overly sweet. The magnolia is quite gentle to my nose. The cypriol, clove, and parsley give an earthy, slightly herbal feel to the scent. Cypriol is a weed growing in riverbeds and its oil has a woody, earthy smell. I don't smell the clove note specifically, but get more the herbal notes as the perfume begins to calm down and soften. The green vanilla and white oud enhance what I smelled in the opening, that slightly sweet, slightly woody sense. I will admit I find these scent challenging to describe. On my skin they appear as very blended, and as there are some unusual notes, they are not easy to describe, but I do my best! My overall sense of this perfume was that it had a comforting air, but not in a traditional way.

I will let Ms. Jacquemin have the closing words. "Magnolia flower as well as parsley essential oils transport me to walks in the countryside, and to gardening with my grandmother. When I smell Memory Lane I feel like my grandmother is holding me in her arms. I feel peace and balance. I feel safe and with energy to carry on ... my journey lightheartedly."

You can order sample sets at Christèle Jacquemin's website and she also offers her perfumes in a variety of sizes.

Thank you to Cristele Jacquemin for the perfume sample. My opinions are my own. Photos are from the perfumer's website.