Genuine sultriness has become more of a rarity in recent perfumery with the ‘stingy maximalist’ approach often being taken towards current feminine allure (cheap/uninspired/uninspiring ingredients mountained on top of each other to conceal the vapid flimsy at the core). So it is nice, on a hot August day, to sample some sensual modern florals with integrity.
Frassaï is the brainchild of an Argentinian jeweller, Natalia Outeda, based in New York, and the perfumes in the range certainly also have glimmer and gleam. A Fuego Lento is a very vivid orange flower and precision-pointed jasmine sambac, infused with a persuasive accord of blackcurrant bud and flouve odorante (sweet vernal grass) in the top that forms a lucent contrast with the tolu balsam, civet and suede in the heart; a veritable rush. I tend to like the fragrances of Rodrigo Flores-Roux (Arquiste Flor Y Canto; Dolce & Gabbana’s Velvet Desire, one of the best white florals I know; this is slightly similar ); his is a clean but photographic approach, flowers that are heady and fresh, but not generally too sickly. Although this perfume (“A cabaña nestled in the shadow of the Andes mountains glows beneath a cascade of mysterious stars. Inside, a fire burns as two souls surrender themselves to the night”) will certainly be too brash, even headache-inducing for some, to me its obvious, bright sensuality is beyond dispute.
Verano Porteño (“ the feeling of Buenos Aires during summertime”) is another fragrance in the portfolio signed off by Flores-Roux, this time a green magnolia jasmine, with a cool backdrop of maté tea, vetiver, cedrat and alhelï (wallflower), a paler jasmine counterpointing what to me is the the heart of the scent: ‘southern magnolia’. This kind of pristiner-than-thou perfume can feel prim and synthetic in the wrong hands (and this blend is certainly very measured, soignée), but if you like crisp interpretations of just-bloomed flowers – to me this is almost like a modern magnolia take on Diorissimo – you may find yourself revelling in this perfume’s bathed, dressed-up sillage.
Blondine, based on the 1920’s French fairy tale of a young girl who is so entranced by the flowers in an enchanted forest that the more of them she picks, the further she finds herself away from home – where she is “surrounded by precious jewels, exotic fruits and mouthwatering dainties“, is a perturbingly effective blend of pointedly carnal ambrous animalics (castoreum, tonka beans, cocoa, salted butter caramel and ‘blond musks’ ) set against more innocent notes of tiger lily, ashok flower, pear leaves and green mandarin. For me, this is a little too obviously let’s-get-it-on, in the manner of Tom Ford Violet Blonde or the slavishly sloe-eyed sandalwood that was Jean Louis Scherrer’s Nuits Indiennes from 1994, but it is undoubtedly quite sexy, one to sarong to on the sanddunes in the dying light of summer.
More appealing to me personally, and apparently sold out at the Frassaï website, is Tian Di, a ‘ritual for the senses’ by Olivier Gillotin (10 Corso Cormo), a perfume that really works as a spiced woody peach in the manner of some of the best Lutens. An orris-softened sandalwood and ‘Chinese incense’ base given internal umami-ish heft with ginger, star anise, red chrysanthemum, frankincense and a central feature of ‘peach elixir’ (the perfume is based on a mythical place on Mount Kunlun where the peach trees only blossom and bear fruit ever 3,000 years), this is a brisk, peppery, neo Fille En Aiguilles with a sweet. darkened mahogany heart you can climb into and hide in on a hot summer’s afternoon, quite moreish and additive. And, like the rest of the (mercifully) small collection – (I drastically prefer more a more carefully, considered, manageable first number of perfumes from a brand), even if the base accords don’t quite have the complexity or longevity of the finest vintage – this definitely still reads to me as wearable, viable, Real niche Perfume.