Some perfumes have made repeat appearances on this holiday. I am now lying in my transit hotel after a desperately needed shower and sleep after the gruelling first two legs of our rescheduled odyssey back to Tokyo via London and Abu Dhabi, a highly crowded headfuck of an airport with very bad feng shui (like being trapped in a crushed-in Escher painting pumped with bad smells (mainly ‘perfume’) and where travelling feels more like an ordeal and why you wonder why you are ever even doing it.

Among the thick, sickly and head turning ‘new fragrances’ clamouring for your attention in the jammed fragrance aisles – ‘Good Fortune’, a purple fruit number for Viktor & Rolf fronted by FKA Twigs as a soothsayer with a crystal ball, tolerable but whose name is really scraping the barrel of uncreativity and whose artistic directors need a quiet slap, or a sixties eyeliner pixie-cut Emma Watson for Prada Paradoxe (pink fruity), or the new Paco Rabanne Fame, fronted by perceived to be ingenue Neon Demon star Elle Fanning (pink fruity) – but hang on a sec, don’t I already have two perfumes with that very same name in my collection – Fame by Lady Gaga – a celebrity gourmand – plus far more importantly, Fame by Corday (a beach mirage of shimmering tropical flowers from 1946)?. Like the bastardized iridescent oilslick that is Joy by Dior (the perfumed equivalent of a petrochemical disaster, with its name pilfered shamelessly from Jean Patou), there no longer any respect left for original copyright of perfumery’s creations ?

In is a maelstrom of harsh and persistent aroma chemicals, it is sometimes difficult to stand out from the crowd. With every name from Chopard to Caroline Herrera showing ‘prestige’ collections and full floral armoires – some of the Chloe Atelier Des Fleurs were quite nice and I will come back to those later, and the new Bottega Veneta flowers such as Salvia Blu were particularly crisp and superciliously pristine to convincingly fashionable effect, but for someone searching for a pleasing spritzer on a grotty scuzzbag of an endless flight, the new Hermes Basilic Pourpre created by Christine Nagel, is degreasing, piercing, and a tonic to the nerves.

Although I reek of two many conflicting vetivers sprayed on my person, after my next long, and soapy shower (thank GOD for this hotel in the airport !), on the next, final leg back to Tokyo I might find a Hermes counter and spray on some of this curious and original cologne, which combines the bright freshness of the classic Eau D’Orange Verte with anise and cardamom and a patchouli geranium base note with an almost shockingly photorealistic nose burst of freshly cut basil leaves. A REALLY good basil note – possibly the best I have tried, alongside Sisley Eau De Campagne , which I also sprayed loads of at Heathrow, but here melded perfectly with the other green citrus underlay as though La Basilic herself, herbaceously resplendent, were emerging boldly, but graciously, from a leaf-fronded grove pool.

For those finding basil too foody or catpissy ( there is an undeniable olfaction link : sometimes I buy bunches of fresh basil for cooking and forget and then wonder if a stray cat has got into the house and sprayed), this odd little green perfume will be a bit wincey; for me, it is unique, new; appealing , and was also the first scent that stood out for me at Birmingham Selfridges on a day out with my mum when I found myself perusing and talking avidly with a lovely sales assistant had returned recently from Japan ( hello again if you are reading this – I never caught your name): she took me around some new, unknown to me perfumed intrigues, even if my eyes kept straying back, ultimately, to the Hermes.


Filed under Flowers


  1. Sounds like the Abu Dhabi airport has grown since I last went there 8 years ago.
    So pink and purple fruity stuff is what’s trending in the post Pandemic public now? I’ll pass. Caroline Herrera has to be one of my least favorite houses.
    Viva Hermes and airport travel hotels for the weary traveler!

  2. Welcome home! Miss your articles so much. 😏

  3. Sounds grueling, but there is something to be enjoyed about these transitory, liminal (?) times while they last. Maybe because the constant movement forces one to be in the moment.

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