Sunday, March 15, 2009

Sitting quietly, doing nothing, spring comes, and the grass grows by itself

Such a Zen feeling as that of today's title engulfs my psyche as I let myself bask in the sunny goodness, lazy like a spoiled cat that has seen some winters and some springs come and go but never lost her sense of contenment, sighing at the first warm days she's finally free to chase fat pigeons on the terracotta-laid rooftops.
Spring is univocally here as you can see and my mind wanders on avenues of floral and green fragrances that like a breath of optimism promise some fresh air blown over the ashes of burnt winter thoughts; that like a re-invigorated kittie is eager for some mental stretch.

"Every spring is the only spring - a perpetual astonishment", said Ellis Peters, and I couldn't express the feeling in a more awe-struck way at the eternal Dionysus's return.
The following fragrances, some of which might get a full review later on, if the mood strikes, are listed in no particular order but that of making me yearn for every dawn like it's the first one.

Tocadilly by Rochas
If a spring fragrance can combine warmth and coolness like the mark of one's breath on the window-pane on an ambiguous chilly morning that will later thaw, then the armload of lilacs hiding in this fragrance's heart are just what is needed. Christopher Sheldrake worked with a delicate palette that weaves jade-greens and wisteria-mauves into mixes that blur and leave you wondering at its ethereal beauty, much like watching a dance perfomance that defies gravity. Most unfairly overlooked and making me appreciate its rarity value even more!

Snob by Le Galion
The unusual green, licorice-bittersweet aspect of estragon, among the so-called "simples", one-remedy herbs, used by Hippocrates and possibly (?) named after a corruption of the middle-French esdragon (derived from the plant's Latin specific name artemisia dracunculus, "little dragon") is reputed to help in treating bites of insects and snakes. I wouldn't dream of wishing you any occurrence in which you should need its medicinal properties, but if you are simpatico to its charms, the combination with the classical floral bouquet of rose and jasmine is producing something very close to Patou's Joy and yet a little different in a cocky way in this -by now obscure- French firm's of the 1930s offering.

Cristalle by Chanel
If a cartload of juicy lemons is smiling my way on its embarkment spot in Sicily via an architectural austere flacon then I know I am in the presence of Cristalle in Eau de Toilette. If by some fateful chance I am garlanding my hair with yellow bits of honeysuckle blossoms while drinking said lemonade at an outdoor cinema just opening its gavel-strewn lawns in May after months of inertia, then Cristalle in Eau de Parfum is winking its seductive, youthful wiles at me. The night is nostalgic and promising and I am smitten by its pedigree and effortless elegance.

Lentisque by 06310
The at once fluffy and oleaginous flavour of mastic or lentisque, a resin from a variety of the pistachio tree growing on the island of Chios in the Eastern Aegean sea is hard to convincingly capture. In this Grasse family-owned company's fragrance, the beloved culinary lentisque is blended with essences of amber seed, iris, jasmin, Turkish rose, musk, amber and vetiver to render an amalgamation of aromata that seem to hazily blur like watercolours running into each other on thick drawning paper, mixed during a nonchalant Sunday afternoon.

Flora Nerolia by Guerlain
There is nothing more March-like than the smell of bitter orange trees blossoming, their waxy white petals infiltrating the glossy green of the leaves and some fruit still hanging from the branches, like a reminder of what has been already accomplished. Guerlain captured the ethereal vapors of steam of these delicate, ravishing blossoms and married them to a pre-emptying summery jasmine and the faint whiff of cool frankincense burning inside a Greek Orthodox church preparing for the country's most devout celebration: Easter. Flora Nerolia is like a snapshot of late Lent in Greece and for that reason is absolutely precious to me.

Vanille Galante by Hermès
One of my latest infatuations, this water-ballet of lily and vanilla pod is uttely charming on skin that is coming out of hibernation like migratory habits of exotic birds which come back to nest on one's roof, their happy melodious sounds signalling the final coming of warmth. If Vanille Galante were a bird it would be a Kookaburra.

Fiori di Capri by Carthusia
If wood is the Chinese symbol of elementals for spring, then Fiori di Capri is not out of place, thanks to its distinctive oak-y vibrance beneath an intensely indolic peppery carnation and some innocently coy lily of the valley. Allegedly based on an original fragrance by Father Prior of the San Giacomo Monastry on Capri, made in 1380, the scent is just this side short of being a ticket to either the verdant Capri itself or the vertiginous heights of the Balcon de Europa in Nerja, Malaga.

Une Fleur de Cassie by Frédéric Malle
The catty-animalic pong of cassie hiding in this gem floral in the Editions de Parfums line-up is an emblem of a formidable perfumer, Dominique Ropion. Cassie flower is succulently and troublingly feminine with its intimate aura of consumed bodies and here it reveals its facets unapologetically, with a little carnation as a counterpoint sumptuously combined with vanilla and sandlwood. Wearing it makes me feel like La Veuve Aphrodissia in Marguerite Yourcenar's Nouvelles Orientales collection of short stories: the impossible alliance between passion and social conventions.

Tubéreuse Criminelle by Serge Lutens
If Carnal Flower is my default tuberose for summer thanks to its green humid airness and slight coconutty deliciousness that makes it tropical and modern to the 9th degree, Tubereuse Criminelle is just the right rite of passage worthy of a Stravinsky suite to prepare the grounds for summer and thus perfect for this transitional period. Its camphoric opening is akin to spectacular and beautiful weirdness.

Amoureuse by Parfums DelRae Roth
Pry under a delicate constellation of petals and you come face to face with something more naughty than you would ever imagine at first: the genitals of a living organism; on this occasion a flower's! The spicy, heady, at once green and floral coalescence of Amoureuse, seguing to musky perfection is unashamedly sexy and reminiscent of what spring is all about: nature's season for mating!

If you have a moment to spare the following little online test might tell you which flowers' scented style might suit you best.

What are you wearing or planning to wear this sping?

All photos copyright Helg/Perfumeshrine


  1. Fiordiligi14:08

    What a timely post, dearest E - spring has arrived in London (17 degrees C today!) and of course a girl's (ahem) thoughts turn to perfume.

    It never gets awfully hot here, but one perfume that to me is inextricably linked to warm weather and holidays is Jardins de Bagatelle.

    Enjoy your beautiful weather!

  2. What a great list, and such beautiful spring images. Is Snob actually available anywhere? I don't think I've ever seen it, even on ebay. Sounds delightful.

    Aside from the completely predictable Muguet du Bonheur, my favorites for spring include Weil de Weil and Dawn Spencer Hurwitz's Jacinthes Sauvages. (Can you tell I have a weakness for hyacinth?)

  3. Spring has sprung here too and it's glorious- all I want to do is go outside and walk along the river or through the grass with no shoes on.

    Beautiful scent choices- I loved your description of Cristalle EDT and EDP- the EDP is especially good.

    I will be wearing Cristalle like you and or Carthusia Medditeraeno (think I've spelt that wrong!. Also Jo Malone French Lime Blossom (I love this and have taken to Lime bossom tea thanks to your blog too) and maybe En Passant.

  4. Unfortunately spring hasen't arrived yet but my Diorella, classic rare Guerlain Cherry Blossom, Chamade and Délices are ready to spritz! :-) A beautiful post that is! I love tha Hanami motif.

  5. And of course Prada Infusion d'Iris!

  6. Such lovely choices Helg, I'll have to do a post on my spring lovelies also, but I must admit you have seriously made me contemplate getting a bottle of Lieu de Reves for Spring.

  7. Helg,

    Lucky you! Here in my part of Canada we just had our latest batch of snow! Thankfully it's all melted by now but it's still quite cold out there. It's most strange considering I'm living in one of the more temperate areas!

    I'm testing two of my blends right now. You should have seen my face because I'm cringing: aging have brought out the worst in them. Thankfully these are just for fun so I can gain certain perspectives on perfumery--it's a way for me to be more fair upon writing reviews. (I suppose it's the perfumery equivalent of classical pianists learning how to compose in certain genres in order to gain further insights on the compositions. Alfred Brendel does that especially, but then again he is also a poet as you probably know.)

    In a few weeks, when spring finally arrives, I dream of smelling L’Artisan Parfumeur Premier Figuier. Strangely enough it's more of a spring scent to me--by the time fig season arrives I'm usually moving on to something lighter so I can savour the fresh green figs since they vanish so quickly.


  8. I, too, am jealous of your spring. We've still got traces of snow. Quite a few of my spring choices mirror yours, though ultimately it's nowhere near as sophisticated a list, but let's add Chant d'Aromes to that mix, yet another purchase inspired by your influence. : )

  9. My dear D,

    how lovely for you and how much must JdB be romantic to you especially, thinking of your vacationing on the Riviera. I can't wait to get out of town!

  10. Dear M,

    thank you! The landscape is much moe beautiful than my lens captured it.

    Snob is an erratic appearence on auctions and collectors' swaps, it's discontinued. It had started as an upstart on Patou, I believe, then grew. Then declined...

    The JS by Dawn sounds delectable, I also love hyacinth (and fall back on Grand Amour and Chamade for my "fix" usually). Must try!!

  11. K,

    there is something to be said for going barefoot! I have eschewed socks at least for a week now (wear ballerina flats). I'm the first to get out of them, last to don them, LOL!

    FLB is one of my favouites in the JM range, it's so...innocent, so delicate! (and glad I am enabling beneficiary habits such as linden tea drinking)

  12. N,

    I am sorry you've been deprived of some warmer days, as I know how much you're a Med girl at heart!
    Your choices are as pretty as you are, my sweetie!
    Hope you're very well and the workload has lessened a bit :-)

  13. Jen,

    thanks and by all means, do post yours too! I'd be glad to check them out! Lieu de Reves is a wonderful choice. I feel like I am constricted by space when compiling lists...so many lovelies waiting in the wings.

  14. Dear A,

    thanks for stopping by in your busy schedule and hope sping arrives the soonest possible!

    Patience is the virtue of the artist and the great artwork needs many papers to be torn (that's what my father says, who is a painter and architect, so he should know!). Therefore don't despair and consider it hours (and materials, ouch!) well spent instead of not. :-)

    I don't know if we have discussed this, but Premier Figuier is the very essence of a Greek late summer to me, the dust of the earth, the aridness of August, the buzz of the crickets in the heat. I love it! Curiously enough I get an apricoty facet out of it, which doesn't always surface on me, I gather this makes it more sping-like to you? (thinking along osmanthus lines now)

  15. D,

    you flatter me, really... These are just those which speak to me of moments lived.
    Chant d'Aromes is such a refined, delicate yet confident choice, very lovely it must be on you! A pretty, tender one for the most pretty lady! Enjoy!

    Hope spring comes soon your way :-)

  16. Rappleyea22:13

    No spring here yet either, or at least not sunny and warm. It's more cold and drizzly. But this time of the year brings March Madness so I'm happy!

    Great post as usual, Helg. You make me want to try most all of them. (All except the one with the 'L" word in it!)

    I'll be bringing out Chamade among a few others, but I've really been in the mood to order some new samples, so we'll see.

  17. It's not warm enough for something totally summery and cooling so I'm still sticking to the limited versions of Opium. Fleur de Chine these days, after all, magnolias are blossoming.
    And, I promised you something from the Profumi di Firenze - did you want something specific, something vague or do I pick it randomly?

  18. Anonymous09:44

    Lovely article dear E! I am especially interested to note your love for Flora Nerolia. I recently acquired a small amount in a swap and am now lemming it with a passion! Fortunately there is a bottle on fleabay which I might well snap up. I can smell the twigs on the tree in it as well as the beautiful petals. I do love orange blossom. Otherwise I've recently been converted to the joys of No 5. It happened through Eau Premiere which I think is a perfectly lovely spring fragrance but I've just today got my hands on some vintage edc and I can see me wearing that alot when it gets warmer though London is balmy right now. donanicola

  19. stella p12:17

    lovely pictures of flowering trees! :) And nice to know that spring is advancing to the north; even if today I sit here in the midst of a very unpleasant snow storm, the snow is slowly melting here by the seaside.. :)
    Have barely begun thinking of spring scents & flowers yet, but have had an urge towards my Paris nuit de fete. and wore Pamplelune on Sunday

  20. Anonymous22:50

    I'm a day late responding to your wonderful post - so deliciously descriptive - and quite possibly the inspiration I needed to go ahead and splurge on a big bottle of Carnal Flower.

    It's been "spring" here in Southern California for quite some time....in fact it's either "spring-like" or "too hot" most of the year, so seasonal scents are much more likely to be in conjunction with a particular month then the actual weather. Regardless of the weather I'm pretending it's Spring this month by wearing lots of Andy Tauer Reverie au jardin, Laura Tonatto's Albi, Eau de Lalique and Encre Noir from Lalique, and No. 5 Eau Première. I have an order (purchased unsniffed....I know, shame on me) of Lorenzo Villoresi Teinte de Neige on it's way, but I think it might be too heavy for our current heat wave.......but that certainly hasn't stopped me before from "wearing heavy during hot".....I think you know what I mean......


  21. Hi E

    So nice to be reminded of Snob. I like the weather to be a bit warmer before I break out my bottles. I am lucky enough to have both the edt and a drop of the parfum. I actually prefer it to Joy on a warm day. It's a bit more sparkly and aldehydic, particularly in the edt. I like to layer the edt and the parfum together.

  22. Rappleya,

    I hope a little warmth comes your way soon! Of course March is not to relied on, French people say In March keep your sweater but in May do as you please, or something along those lines. It's early yet, I mean.

    Do try all of them, they're quite pretty, including the Lentisque! :-))

  23. L,

    the Opium flankers are surpisingly pleasant, as a hard core fan of Opium I am shocked to be pleased by them. Wear in good health!

    I believe you must have got my mail :-)

  24. Nicola,

    how nice to have balmy days! Spring is especially lovely in London I always thought.
    FN is one of the loveliest AAs, a real shame they pulled it off, although they were never meant to be mainstays, but that AA line has deteriorated so much...

    Isn't the EDC of No.5 wonderful? I think it's as full-bodied as a comparably denser concentation and it has a lace of old-world retro chic to it. Mmmmm.....


  25. S,

    thank you! Snow at the beginning of spring is a little of a bummer, although the thaw is coming with fast pace for sure :-)
    Paris Nuit de Fete...talk to me of it!

  26. Marko,

    thank you so much and you're always welcome, in time or days late :-)
    CF is especially lovely in warm weather, it's so lush, so real.
    Yes, I know what you mean by "not season appropriate but...", LOL!
    We share many likes!

  27. M,

    hi there!
    Indeed I prefer Snob to Joy myself, for some reason. The layering of different concentrations is something I do with some fragances, should note down to acquie a bit of the parfum to be able to do that with this one. Thanks for the suggestion!

  28. Rappleyea01:33

    Hi Helg:
    Just getting back as unfortunately I turned my ankle and I'm on crutches, so I haven't been on the computer at all.

    I just wanted to clarify - by "L" word, I meant the one with licorice in the description - LOL!! That's always a deal breaker for me!

    I see I have a lot of interesting reading to catch up on, which I definitely will.


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