The spectrum of jasmines is vast, and varied: I find there is probably more heterogeneity and interpretation within this type of scent than practically any other. Vetivers will still be vetivers; ambers ambers; citruses citrus, and even the other white flowers such as the lily, the tuberose, and the gardenia, seem to almost have inbuilt limitations to their permutations and proportions of ingredients in order to convincingly portray their floral origin.
Jasmines, however, come in a multitude of different expressions. From the barely there ‘jasmines’ of the Bulgari Mon Jasmin Noir range of fragrances, to the horrifying indole monster that is Gorilla Perfumes’ Lust, there is a veritable rainbow of differingly tweaked jasmine formulations thrust in between: from the symphonic, aldehyde jasmines ( First, Joy, Creed Jasmal); the fresh endless fountain ( Il Profumo’s Vent De Jasmin); the sandalwood conceptual ( CB I Hate Perfume’s Where We Are There Is No Here) to the voluptuous and full soliflore (Serge Lutens’ luminously hypnotic A La Nuit). There are vanillic jasmines ( Micaleff’s sweet and seductive Watch); green jasmines ( Grandiflora’s Madagascan Jasmine, Brosseau’s Jasmin Lilas)…….all kinds of jasmines, really, but somehow, no two are really ever alike.
Still, some jasmines are certainly more memorable than others. I like, and wear, Floris’ very English and politely bucolic ( but possibly slightly boring) Night Blooming Jasmine, for example, which is about as sexual as a little flower-covered thatched cottage in the Cotswolds. For a REAL night blooming jasmine, however, a perfume that is really redolent of the heady, fulsomely living flowers exhaling their beautiful nocturnal siren call, you could do worse than to douse yourself in Sana Jardin’s new Savage Jasmine, which pretty much is what it says. Cradled only with almost virtually imperceptible sandalwood and musks, this is probably the most soliflore Jasmine perfume I have encountered. It really is jasmine: jasmine: jasmine: so if you are allergic to jasmine; hate the scent and the soul of the jasmine flower, the smell of this sensurround perfume will probably drive you into suicide.
When I was in hospital I wrote about how Sana Jardin, this new ‘ethical perfumery’, had brightened up my days and my spirits with their sunbeam-infused orange blossom/ neroli Berber Blonde. I like this perfume house’s approach: very natural smelling, modern, but constructed, somewhat minimalistically, along classical lines. Savage Jasmine, to be released quite soon I believe, is more self-contained and simple ( some might even say simplistic) than Berber Blonde. This ONLY smells of jasmine, probably of the Arab variety (dense, animalic, a little bit fruity and rough and extremely sexy), but what I particularly like about it is the way that the perfumer has managed to craft a jasmine soliflore that is somehow both heavy and light at the same time. It floats on the air around you – both a skin scent and a wafter – and would make a fabulous ‘grand entrance’ scent for someone wanting to steal the spotlight – while not being sickly or overpowering. While I almost wish that there were some extra embellishments just to turn the blend into the Full Fantasia, that is probably just my maximalist, Sagittarian self doing the talking. Ultimately I think this is probably just about perfect as it is. Lovers of exotic jasmines and properly indulgent perfume, you need to smell this.
If Savage Jasmine is warm, womanly, and calmly outrageous, Vilhelm Parfumerie’s new amusingly titled Don’t Tell Jasmine is hysterical. Girlish ( or wannabe girlish); bright to the point of searing; practically bouncing off the ceiling with serotonin repleteness, yet actually really quite appealing, I had never even heard of this house ( yes, yet another niche outfit debuting with ten new perfumes in their lineup) but I do rather like their semi-retro futuristic design and concepts and the bottle, bestowed on me by Persolaise the other week when he came to stay, does look nice in my computer room, tucked neatly beside my begonia. The juice inside also most definitely carves out its own, unique little space in the thriving, jasminesque compendium.
Don’t Tell Jasmine is both breathlessly high-pitched and natural, indolic ( Italian or French jasmine?) and simultaneously urban/artificial, with an illuminated and sweet/sharp accord of lemon and Kir (cassis) cocktail, and what Vilhelm Parfumerie refers to as ‘petal musk’. I am a great believer in first impressions in perfumery: as with people, they are as important as the base notes ( the true self, the psyche and id, and the heart ). Ideally, the perfumer, with inspiration and technical precision, will have mastered all these stages to present a fully composite rendering of the fragrance’s soul (unless, like many perfumes, it is soulless),but in truth, these days you are lucky if you even get one. Don’t Tell Jasmine certainly gets the opening right: the perfume passed Duncan’s stringent First Impression Test immediately – he is excellent at inhaling and knowing immediately- even if the later, synthetic lilac notes, quite air-freshener-like, on my own skin began to slightly grate ( on younger, female Skin I can imagine this not necessarily being the case). Still, this is seemingly quite a fun new New York perfume house for us all to play with – I like the sound of their Basilico & Fellini, Darling Nikki ( just because it’s a Prince song), and the apparently very lifelike Modest Mimosa – I want to smell more. Rather than the overreaching and grave overconceptualism of many contemporary perfume houses, sometimes you just want to take a spritz and smile.
Send in the flowers.
Hot from the perfume lab, I have no listed notes for this brand new and as yet unreleased perfume from the Editions De Parfums range, but from my immediate sampling and unfiltered reactions I would say that this rather unpromising latest fragrance from Frederic Malle is just another one of those familiarly intense, unnuanced, Byredo-ish urban scent blocks composed fiercely, and quite undilutedly, of the oudhy; the peppered; the patchouli and the wood-sweet.
Rakish and raffish at best (I can see it perhaps working with the right jacket or coat on a cold winter’s afternoon), but tarry and unaerated at its worst, I personally find this style of supranatural niche perfumery suffocating: headache inducing; and I am now going to wash it thoroughly from my arm.
I discovered the full range of Martin Margiela fragrances yesterday. At Ginza’s soulless, frigid, testosterone-free men’s fashion emporium, Hankyu – where blood-sucked succubi a la mode prowl stone-faced in search of wallet-decimating garments that they believe will restore some meaning to their vapid and meaningless lives.
This is the coldest, most reticent service in the world; my corpuscles filling up with antifreeze as we attempted to tolerate a miserable void of consumerism and slavish adherence to fashion codes, the modish; observing the gaunt and fleshless, hollow-eyed figures, their fine-boned fingers inexorably magnetized towards distorted, ripped and molecularly rewritten clothing that will only succeed in making them look like brainwashed, human-hating morons.
I despise this philosophically heinous snobbery; this pointless veneration of imported European luxury, where perfume bottles are handled as if they were holy religious relics or priceless works of art, where you can’t even spray or smell them without feeling that you are somehow impinging on the ‘dignity’ of the passionless fuckwits at the counter, whose passive-aggressive, bottomless reserves of froideur make you feel that not only should you not be requesting paper strips to test what seems like quite a fun series of scents – ‘replicas’ of actual experiences – Martin Margiela instead uses ribbons and his ‘assistant’ really wasn’t dispensing with them freely – but that they would really rather that you had actually backed away completely from their customer-repelling counters in the first place.
And this after I had just bought Duncan a t-shirt from one of the fashiony counters nearby! Wowee. But no. This was not enough. We obviously didn’t look right, we weren’t the idealized demographic, we weren’t ghosts out prostituting our souls for the sake of a ‘fashion moment’, and so these pallid, sexless, ageist and racist morbidly dull fashionistas merely treated us as though we were scum queen undesirables that they would just instead ignore.
It’s a real shame, as I quite liked the look and smell of some of these perfumes. Because although they are not cheap, in niche terms, compared to the Tom Ford concession one floor down below, for example, where a young, purse-lipped, very soignee female assistant with a sphinx- like unblinking demeanor ( from the huge pole up her ass) just about let us sample the rest of the Vert collection – all good, but Vert Boheme is still definitely my favourite – these Margielas were, from some perspectives, relatively reasonably priced.
Beachwalk, a salty, sunscreen holographic olfactory apparition that I think is possibly the best of this type, is a scent I would consider buying if I can avoid throwing my drink in the face of the deathly, paste-faced, thin-moustachioed sales assistant while doing so; Lipstick On the kind of cool, powdered, earthy iris I love with some sweeter, heliotrope facets – I wanted to get to know it more. Others seemed quite interesting too, but I am afraid the gut-clenching over-seriousness and reverential gravitas of the place was becoming so intolerable – you could practically hear the creature’s inner, silent sighs as we had the gall to request more fashion ribbons – that I had to leave.
I hope you go under.
( our own vaguely Bohemian botanical balcony..)
I first met Dariush Alavi ( aka Persolaise ) at the Jasmine Awards in London. We clicked immediately and met up for a drink shortly afterwards where we exchanged life stories, perfume ephemeralia and email addresses, later also discovering that we share three, major, passions : perfume, Madonna, and the cinema (and not necessarily in that order). Not often in accordance, either, but those fiery differences of opinion make for stimulating conversation and give new slants on various perspectives, from what are the best Madonna songs – we had a fantastic and rather joyous night of karaoke here the other night together with Duncan and the legendary Madame Persolaise); whether Martin Scorsese is as good as he is made out to be (he believes he is; I still have my doubts); to what niche perfume houses are soulless and overpriced (I am perhaps more cynical about a lot of them than he is) to a shared adoration of the classic Guerlains and Chanels and Diors – I gave him some immaculate Diorissimo esprit du parfum and cologne; a Joy vintage parfum in the classic black and red bottle and an extrait of Le Galion Snob because it shares the very same name as his book.
On their part, the Persolaises came laden with gifts. They had asked if there was anything that they could bring to Kitakamakura from the U.K. and I said Heinz baked beans – because I love and grew up with them and you can’t really get them here, plus, you know, any perfumes that you don’t need, samples and what not, never imagining that when they came down to our house for two nights after a few days in Tokyo that Dariush would be proffering up to my eagerly clasping hands full bottles of intriguing, extortionate niche, including Tom Ford’s Shanghai Lily and, from the more recent Private Collection of 2016 (scents I had not yet got round to smelling before), the delicately lush and entirely convincing, Vert Boheme.
Knowing my opinionated vociferousness and innate ease in speaking the truth (sometimes a social handicap, but basically a gift), Persolaise told me to just be honest if I were to review any of the ridiculously generous cache of valuable bottles that he had given me, and I will be. Two of them I am at best ambivalent about, the ouds and pure sandalwood are already safely stowed away in my perfume cabinets for potential future moments, but even though we clashed a little over Tom Ford, whose perfumes I often quite like but whose psychological depths and validity I often doubt ( he loves Tuscan Leather, Noir De Noir and Santal Blush; I like Jasmin Rouge, Grey Vetiver and Ombre De Hyacinth but have never bought a full bottle of any of them ), I have to say that the two Private Collections that he gave me were completely up my street.
The man is very detail oriented. A perfectionist, I would say, so I imagine that he must have carefully selected which perfumes he was willing to dispense with, mulling over properly which ones I was likely to enjoy, as a dusky, spiced, clove-studded carnation lily and a refreshingly green mandarin honeysuckle are just what the Narcissus ordered.
I had briefly smelled Shanghai Lily before somewhere at a department store in Tokyo, and had immediately formed a generally positive impression of it. Far more impressive than the dull and lacking Lys Fume, whose small sample bottle I sometimes use as an air freshener in the computer room upstairs, Shanghai Lily is a fully realized and genuinely atmospheric, warm ( yet dark) composition, veiled and vanillic, almost ghostly in its florality but still narcotically seductive. While the soft, woody, skin-huggy base is not quite as compelling as the almost cinematically vivid beginning of the perfume, as night lilies exhale their torpor on breaths of languid, almost melancholic spice, this is definitely a perfume that I will wear when my clove-studded cravings start tearing their heads come the Autumn and Winter.
Vert Boheme is perfect for this season, and I am drenched in the thing as I write this on my iPhone heading out for a day of scent researching in Ginza. I had of course read about this new quartet of 70’s inspired green perfumes and was rather interested to see how they had been executed, whether the perfumers involved had managed to capture the essence of the greener trend of four decades ago (No 19, Silences, Cristalle) yet transmogrify them successfully into a contemporary setting.
Judging from this particular perfume, they have. Vert Boheme has the basic odour template of the original Chanel Cristalle without its harsher metallicisms; rather it has the lush, dew dawn sunbeams of Annick Goutal’s lovely Eau De Camille ( 1983). The base, while not the heightened poetry of the finest perfumes, is still extremely pleasant: gentle, green, like the memories of lying in long grass. The top notes are alive and refreshing, a burst of mandarin and galbanum entwined with magnolia and freshly opened honeysuckle, not too chemicalized or overly strident, and the whole has a quietly elegant yet subtly passionate aspect to it that I am finding extremely enjoyable. I think I, or rather Persolaise, might have found my scent for the rest of this summer.