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There were three tiares at the fleamarket and elsewhere on the same day (and one of them was Loulou in miniature) –  like premonitory visions of the ocean in some warm, far-flung summer. Strange that I should gather them all up in one go, though, in the middle of winter;  particularly as two were from Tahiti – souvenirs bought, I imagine, on some holiday at the airport and brought back in suitcases to Japan, never to be touched by anyone until me, unwanted keepsake flora with the conch shell exhalations of waves and that smooth, encompassing, pink white scent of the tiare, or its synonyms frangipani and plumeria:  a smell I quite simply adore.




Softer and less animalic or pungent than gardenia or jasmine, more relaxed than tuberose or ylang (flowers that luxuriate hysterically in their own self-seduction), tiare flowers have something eternal to them – a cool, coconut breath and a smooth, lactonic serenity that lets the flowers just be: on their branches, emanating scent and unmoving in the breeze –  but entrancing the blue sky that surrounds them.



















The best frangipanis I have smelled by far were in Laos last year, in Luang Prabang – the entire ancient gilded city perfumed with them delicately at dusk.



But even the annually flowering plumeria on my balcony have a creamy, luscious scent, if more subdued in their Japanese environment: indigenous to Polynesia, the tree not as prolific as its cousins by the sea, but still containing their essence, their memory, and their ancestry.




The flowers take a long time to bloom (we keep the tree inside during the cold Japanese winters and put it back outside again come April: sometimes they don’t even come out until October or finish flowering until mid-November), but when they do, and they drop from the bough, I place the flowers in water and they subtly unfold their scent within the room.




Because of this, I am very familiar with the natural smell of the tiare/plumeria in all its facets. The party girl tiares like Loulou or Montale Intense Tiare are all embellished and embodied fantasies bolstered with coconut, vanilla, and all the delectable notes tropicales, while conversely Ormonde Jayne’s interesting Tiare goes the other way in producing something very delicate, elegant – and very English. Parfums Sachet, on the other hand  (which I know nothing whatsoever about, but loved the Rousseau-like leaves on the box at the flea market and just snatched it up without thinking (I once did the same with a vanilla perfume I came across there from Tahiti, incidentally : very unusual, quite brown-sugar, molasses island winds – I don’t wear it much but when I do find it very rousing and distinctive) just tiare: the flowers gathered, macerated, strained and bottled, grown and captured beautifully in their place of origin. Natural and quite dense in scent, it has a slightly medicinal edge that tells you that the flowers are real. I have another Hawaiian plumeria perfume that smells very similar: a quiet yet richly petalled stasis. There is no throw as such, but it works as a kind of skin scent, or as a moment of tranquillised and dreamy, armchair travelling.




















Far more exciting to me is Reva De Tahiti, which I am currently quite obsessed with and wearing on a daily basis to work. I love this, and in fact, quite presciently had been looking at my empty bottle the other day that a friend of mind had given me after staying in Tahiti on her honeymoon a few years ago (could there be a more romantic destination?) and sighing at the fact that I would never again get another bottle. You couldn’t have presented me with a more perfect souvenir, and I couldn’t quite believe how much I was liking it (considering the mediocre packaging): I drained the entire bottle over a couple of months that summer.




Whereas Sachet’s Eau de Tiare smells natural but a little flat after a while (the perils of just saturating alcohol with petals), Reva de Tahiti presents a similar fantasia on distilled tiare flowers but it is as if they had been rinsed in the essence of blue ocean: a fresh, almost ozonic element that is perfectly realized: fresh enough to give the flowers a burst of life (and very much bringing the aforementioned medicinal note to the fore  – which I do enjoy, actually: you could almost call this Plumeria Criminelle  – the tiare equivalent of Serge Lutens’ mentholated tuberose), but not so much as to make it smell overly oceanic.





What I like so much about this scent – which I found, to my astonishment in a recycle shop in Asagaya –  is that while it evokes the ‘clean’ type of fragrance to an extent – Beyond Paradise, Private Collection Tuberose Gardenia, Pacifica Star Rock Jasmine et al – and I like such scents in small doses when I am working, particularly in summer –  it is far less synthetic: the flowers in the simple but exuberant and very clear concoction floating down from their seaspray gently; settling on the skin in the most delightful manner : light; lei-fresh, and perfectly tiare.











Filed under Flowers, Frangipani


  1. Ps. If you like the sound of the Reva de Tiare, I have just looked and it is possible to find it fairly inexpensively online.

    SUCH a perfect summer scent.

  2. datura5750

    What lovely photos you always use!

  3. emmawoolf

    I love the tiare smell. When I was an au pair in France, back in the late 80s (the summer before uni, in fact). the very glamorous mère of the family, Joelle, would smother her skinniness in Monoi de Tahiti sun oil, and the smell always takes me back to that time. As I understand it, Monoi de Tahiti is tiare combined with coconut. (Ah, those halcyon days before skin cancer scares and factor 30 took over.) It’s as cheap as chips, can be bought everywhere in France and smells divine. Do you know it?

    • Yes of course I love it. The Monoi soaps are lovely, or I even put the monoi oil directly in the bath. So gorgeous.

      • Olivia

        I absolutely love those French Monoi products – all of them. The soaps, the oils, the shower gels (and I love how abundant they are, even in tiny supermarkets.) I bought a bottle of Monoi butter a year or two ago – 99% Monoi (apparently..) Like coconut oil it’s solid at room temperature, so you have to warm it up to use it but honestly, it’s just the most decadent thing and the scent lasts for hours (and yes N, it proves the perfect base for Loulou!) This particular bottle even has vanilla beans suspended in it. It is sheer heaven and I must find somewhere here to get more of it.

        Yves Rocher make a fantastic one too, and the Nuxe Prodigeuse oil is gorgeous, more floral but in keeping with that golden, sun kissed tropical huile feel.

      • I saw the Nuxe in a Japanese pharmacy recently and was sizing it up (but doesn’t it actually have the golden flecks in it? I don’t want to end up looking like a Bond girl).

      • emmawoolf

        Mmm monoi oil in the bath: delicious. Good tip about the soap: am thinking of dragging the family to Paris this spring. Will add to the long shopping list xx

  4. This is an excellent example of how well you write and how enjoyable it is to read a description of a scent (as opposed to a scent-associated experience, like the ashen kiss). Another reason I follow you. No purple prose, but emotional, erudite, evocative. Doesn’t get better.

  5. Good gracious, when you write back so quickly it’s like I’m talking to you. The power of technology. Wheee!

  6. Comptoire Sud Pacifique used to make a glorious Tiare scent. Sadly, they have reformulated the beauty out of it. It is one of those glorious and exotic scents that makes me long for an island somewhere.
    The Reva de Tiare sounds like a glorious one worth trying. I may have to look for it once I use up my last bit of the CSP one.

  7. jennyredhen

    Sounds divine…what about Thymes Tiare Monoi Cologne “Contains notes of Tiare flower, osmanthus, ylang ylang, heliotrope & agarwood Perfect for all occasions ” Is that the one you are talking about or is this a different one??? looks like thats the only Monoi Tiare available here

  8. theasceticlibertine

    A co-worker just gifted me a bottle of Reva de Tahiti and your description is perfect. 🙂 I feel very lucky to have it! She got it while on vacation in Tahiti in 2003.

    • And what made her suddenly give it to you? It’s funny, I took this out of the perfume cabinet last night, smelled it, and thought – god I can’t WAIT to spray this on again once the sun comes out properly. I really really love it: do you know what I mean about the salty spray quality but also the really living, solar tiare flowers? It’s like the perfect compromise between rich and fresh.

      • theasceticlibertine

        We’ve been talking perfume ever since I got obsessed with it. If I ever have a sample of something I think she’d like, I give it to her. I’d just ordered a gardenia soliflore and had a spare sample, but she said it was much too rich for her. The next day she brought in Reva de Tahiti and said I should have it, since I like gardenias so much. It was just the sweetest thing. I couldn’t believe it. And yes, I get you exactly with the sea salt–it’s one of the first things I noticed and I thought I might have been making it up, but then I read your description and realized I’m not nuts, at least not about that. 🙂

      • I am also one of those perfume people who likes to have his intuitions about scents confirmed by another nose. I write my rabid prose and then wonder if I am dreaming it all up: if someone then tells me that the perfume smells exactly or similar to my descriptions I find it very gratifying! A gorgeous scent, truly. And cheap to get online as well (let’s face it, the packaging/bottle are not exactly great art). All the better for us though. This is one I will need in full supply.

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