( 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.



Filed under Flowers

20 responses to “TOM FORD SHANGHAI LILY (2013) + VERT BOHEME (2016)

  1. I tried Vert Boheme and Vert de Fleur this past weekend; also sniffed the other two, Vert de Bois and Vert d’Encens, and came home with samples of all four. Loved Vert Boheme! I also liked Vert de Fleur very much. I’m looking forward to trying them again with more leisure to ponder them. The other two just weren’t my type.

    • Samples?!!! God I sometimes really wish I didn’t live in Japan. Those cruel, brainless tight-arses would NEVER give you samples here!

      Vert De Fleur intrigued me also: more waxen, darker, but Vert Boheme is working really nicely in this weather- there is nothing harsh or extraneous about it

      • I hesitate to tell you this, but since I already put it on my blog … at Nordstrom, they put out clear plastic cubes filled with samples of the Tom Ford Vert fragrances with a note that said “Take one, it’s yours!”. I hasten to say that not all US department stores are this generous. But there is a lovely sales associate at Neiman Marcus who has pressed multiple Guerlain samples into my hands; and if I ever take the plunge and splurge on the lovely silver-framed bottle of Guerlain Muguet 2016 which haunts my perfume dreams, I will seek him out and buy it there.

  2. I have tried all the Verts and own several. They are perfect for the warmer weather.

  3. MrsDalloway

    Would love to have been a fly on the wall! Great perfume exchange. I’ve hardly tried Tom Ford; was disappointed/financially relieved not to like Santal Blush. The upscale Portofino flanker was quite nice. Vert Boheme does sound great though.

  4. emmawoolf

    Vert Boheme sounds delightful, and right up my street. But why oh why are decent perfumes these days so ridiculously overpriced? We are paying for marketing, not ingredients. So it reminds us of Cristalle…OK great. But it is three times the price. I cannot afford or justify the purchase of this in any way. So it will remain untried – unless Mr Ford unleashes a 5ml bottle for those of us who are never to reach the upper tax bracket. (grr, yours crossly)

    • I did think of you immediately as I think you would like it. It is a Cristalle that I can wear. At least try it when you are in London if they don’t have it at Jarrolds.

      • emmawoolf

        It sounds divine, really it does…I have yet to find a Tom Ford that I like, but when the opportunity arises, try it I will. thank you. (When I get out of here!) x

      • You will, you will. And this is not divine, just rather nice.

      • emmawoolf

        I finally tried this today, the Tom Ford Exclusives have made it to Jarrolds…and I liked it, a lot BUT there’s something about that ozonic note in the drydown that puts me off. It smells sweetly fishy, like bonito flakes! So Cristalle wins the draw for me, and just as well.

      • I definitely know what you mean – it’s the musk. Nice, lovely, but doesn’t quite work all the way

  5. What a great foundation for a friendship with Persolaise. I have been looking for his real name and now I know it, so thank you. These two TFs sound good. Must try them. Nothing wrong with using a very expensive TF as an air-freshener. Somehow I see Mr TF doing the same at his own abode/s. Thanks. R

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