Category Archives: Lily

ALL DRESSED UP WITH SOMEWHERE TO GO (in ROJA DOVE’S BIG WHITE FLORALS) : : : GARDENIA (2012) + LILY (2014) + TUBEROSE (2016)

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Roja Dove likes his perfumes to be Perfumes: big, blowsy, luscious, full.

And who am I to disagree?

All three of these confident, and laughing, wide-brimmed divas have no fear of lighting up a room with their scent………full-bodied, sweet; panoramic.

And in these vicious, pent up, and mean-spirited times, I say BRING IT ON.

Tuberose, possibly the least inventive of the three but also my favourite, is, if not a carbon copy of Fracas, at the very least an obvious homage; peachy, cinnamon-pinched and wedded to a classicist sandalwood vanilla musk; creamy, sensual and delicious  (in parfum especially) : quite the new/old tuberose on the block, with the Frenchness of Caron’s cold cream Tubereuse and even a short-lived remembrance in the head of Karl Lagerfeld’s seminal Chloe.

While obviously something of a throwback, this still does feel like an updated Fracas in many ways,  with less of that tuberose classic’s blaring, perfumey base, (if you know what I mean.)

And if, like me, you know for a fact you like the classic tuberoses, you are virtually guaranteed to love it.

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Lily, more contemporary and fresh, is a more complex and multilayered creature than Tuberose, something like a cross between Lauder’s Private Collection Tuberose Gardenia and Hermes’ Vanille Gallante, with all the lip-piqued Americana of the former – at ease in the formal and informal – and the Parisian vanillic salt lily sensuousness of the latter.

This is quite a luscious, tropical urban perfume, gorgeous in a way ( if teetering on the verge of overloaded artificiality), but I still know that come the hot summer months I will definitely be draining my small 7.8ml sample bottle – a dot here and there on work shirt collar surely making a pleasing, sunbeamed, beach-hazy backdrop.

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Gardenia, like Lily, but unlike Tuberose, is also not a soliflore, but more a trompe l’oeil, marmoreal amalgam of a soap-white mythic, gardenia goddess; a creature of the Hollywood studios featuring very little relation to a living and breathing fungally breathtaking gardenia in the bushes.

While the overall impression of this grand creation has something almost gardenia-like, this perfume is ultimately more green-leafed, and white-smoothed, in the unimpeachable sud-soaped manner of Pure Distance’s Opardu – unblemished, feminine,  subtly commanding –  enveloping the wearer in an expensive, generous, dazzlingly faux-demure aura of come here, my darling.

I confess that I find it quite alluring.

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Filed under Flowers, Gardenia, Lily

THE DUSKY SLUMBERS: OMBRE MERCURE by TERRY DE GUNZBURG (2012) + LYS FUME by TOM FORD (2O12)

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Ombre Mercure is a woozy, classical modern – a salted, thicker Apres L’Ondée, diffused with the modernistic fumes of Violet Blonde, a touch of Une Fleur de Cassie, and some of the floral warmth of the first Gucci Eau de Parfum….

 

‘Reminiscent of loose powder, red lipstick and the classic chypres, it is especially designed for passionate characters’ says Mlle Gunzburg, a renowned makeup artist who released her first collection of fragrances last year, and I can quite easily imagine some people falling for this soft, gauzy perfume, which is definitely shadowy, as its name suggests, though not in the least mercurial.

 

Essentially an earthy iris butter with powdered violet over a ducksdown of patchouli, benzoin and musky vanilla, it is a very slow, drifting perfume, like mauve-reflected clouds in a painting. Seamless and unjarring; enveloping.

 

 

 

 

 

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What it lacks, though,  is that indefinable something, or ingredient – wit? – that would take it into the realms of the irisy sublime. On the other hand, its anchored slowness and immediate romantic appeal could easily make it someone’s signature.

 

 

 

 

 

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Lys Fumé is another immediately likeable perfume, though one that is not remotely worth its extravagant price tag. Having said that, it is an interesting take on the lily. Unlike many spotless, altar-inhabiting lilies, this is more like a lys of the underworld……….

 

As a part of the Jardin Noir collection, it succeeds in being, if not quite ‘smouldering’, then certainly, at the very least,  shifting and quixotic – a hip young Gucci-clad beauty sitting downstairs in some private members’ club, a bit unsure of herself, perhaps, but defiant. This perfume would rise in coils from her shoulders and slowly seduce.

 

 

The lilies are not smoked, as you might expect, but underlying the top notes of lily, mandarin and pink pepper, is a strange dusting of nutmeg and turmeric, an unusual note in a floral perfume that gives it a blurry, caliginous edge. A dollop of rum and a sultry base of styrax, oak and labdanum take this impression even further.

 

 

 

Lys Fumé is not as intriguing as I am perhaps making it out to be – like most Tom Ford perfumes there is something plasticky and self-conscious about the scent. At the same time, I can imagine being sat next to this girl with her fixed, restless gaze, and being intoxicated.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Flowers, Iris, Lily, Perfume Reviews, Powder, Violet

BEAUTIFUL POISONS: FOUR PERFUMES FROM THE EARLY 90’s : Allure, Cabotine, Dolce & Gabbana Pour Femme + Tendre Poison

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The perfumes of the nineties do not have the ‘loud’ reputation of many eighties blockbusters, though this was still a period when the big houses – Dior, Lancôme and so on, still invested a great deal of time and money on development before launching an ‘event’ perfume, and the results were usually equally characterful (which is why all four of the perfumes below are still worn today: will today’s mainstream releases (La Vie Est Belle, anyone?) have similar longevity?

 

 

CABOTINE/ GRES (1990)

I have never liked this perfume personally, while admitting that it is a perfect execution of its obvious ideal – to turn a pale-skinned girl into a flesh and blood (ginger) lily.

It is beautifully done; a host of fresh white florals with green overtures; in essence a ‘soliflore’ ginger lily achieved with other notes, but there is, to me, a false modesty here: this innocence just doesn’t compute (that might be just my distaste for the sandalwood/neroli/green accord, though, which I personally find gratingly ‘coquette’.)

This sly perfume achieved a lot of success, especially in Japan where almost every woman wants to be as girlish as she humanly can, and on whom this perfume did smell rather erotic when I arrived here in 1996.

 

A touch dated now, but if it works, it works.

 

 

 

TENDRE POISON (1994)

 

 

I have always felt that Tendre Poison, though attractively poised, is a somewhat presumptuous perfume, making steamy claims on your attention that you may not be willing to give.

Unruffled, this sharp-eyed vamp just comes on loud and sticks her claws in anyway – venomous, stalk-green galbanum over orange blossom and sandalwood; the embittered older sister perhaps of Cabotine ( more demure), Red Door (lower IQ), and Fleur de Rocaille (pseudo-chic).

 

It is very slinky, and sexy, to be sure, and recommended, but absolutely not tender, as its name erroneously suggests.

 

 

 

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ALLURE/ CHANEL (1993)

 

 

A big hit for Chanel worldwide and still going strong –  a ‘multifaceted’, warm, floral-sheened scent with vanillic undertones that doesn’t obey the usual structure of perfume in that what you see is what you get: no top notes, dry down, no secrets (surely the key to true allure?), no real development. Department store perfume workers apparently often recommend this as a solution to those who have no clue about perfume, or those who are just dilly-dallying, as many consumers seem to acquiesce quickly to its simple lack of pretence and apparent modernity:

 

WOULD YOU LIKE SOME ALLURE FOR YOUR WIFE, SIR?

 

 

 

I loathe this fragrance, while fully seeing its easy appeal. It is a true ‘all-rounder’: ‘sultry’ yet mild mannered: womanly, smooth-edged; clean, suitable for ‘office wear’ and ‘special occasions’ one and the same. It is well blended, and can smell acceptable on the odd lucky person, but for me is simply extraordinarily vulgar and crass. Whoever thought such a thing could be written about Chanel?

 

I woke up one summer morning at my parents’ house, and on opening the bedroom door was shocked to see that the feeling in the house had mercurially transformed; thick with banality: some throat-coating, oyster-pink air sludge.

 

And it wasn’t until my mum cheerily called out ‘I’m just trying Allure today’ that I realized what had happened.

 

A woman who smells so beautiful in her chosen favourites (First, Joy, Jardins de Bagatelle) had been rendered into a marketing-led dotard.

 

 

 

DOLCE & GABBANA/ DOLCE & GABBANA (1992)

 

 

When they came out, I overdosed on both the Dolces, and ‘Pour Homme’ is the only scent that I’ve ever had strongly derogatory comments on ( I was so into the novel tarragon top note I didn’t realize how harsh I was smelling to the world).  I could never wear it again.

 

The signature scent for women, in that red velvet box ( in its original incarnation – I haven’t smelled the tamed down reformulation which was launched recently), is similarly problematic. That top note, that rich, gorgeous mandarin and basil petitgrain melting powderfully into those piquant divine florals – it’s all extremely addictive, and I was quite frankly obsessed with it for while. But with the potent, skin-clinging vanilla-musk-santal finale, as things start to get very messy with Basil, it is as though an Italian opera singer were having a nervous breakdown live on stage; foundation and mascara merging in a sweaty, oily mass of face powder under the breakers.  It can all get a bit much; a big smudge of olfactory OTT.

 

 

So, one for special occasions only, and in moderation. Dolce & Gabbana is certainly a gorgeous perfume, but it is overwhelming. I personally prefer it on older women.

 

 

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Filed under Basil, Flowers, Lily, Orange Blossom, Perfume Reviews, Powder

ANAIS ANAIS by Cacharel ( 1978 )

 

 

For the writer Anaïs Nin, if you dare enter the diluvial self-obsession of her journals, life was a neverending rush of hypersensitivity.  She was  too precious, almost, to live. With complete contempt for the trivialities of daily life,  she survived on her emotions, indulged her impulses and crushed conventions – seducing even her own father on a sudden morbid whim of narcissism. For Anaïs, to be desired was to be alive: without sex, the mirror glass of her soul would shatter. She was sensuous, fragile; huge-eyed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A woman such as Anaïs, then,  might seem unusual inspiration for an unthreatening perfume such as this – Cacharel’s first fragrance from 1978, a classic that went on to great success in the eighties and remains ever popular today. Yet despite its commercial appeal (she would have been horrified), the scent did in fact succeed in capturing some aspects of this creature’s nympho-purity with its spray of white lilied delicacy. It is a very romantic perfume that inspires devotion in its admirers because few scents are of comparable mood; a scent for women who seek reticence, or almost  studied shyness in perfume: delicate, feminine, and young.

 

 

Under the pallid white and pale pink tendresse of the opening chords lie more carnal, shadowy undertones though – veils of musk, patchouli and Russian leather – a dusky quality foreshadowed in the perfume’s original packaging: I have the parfum de toilette concentrée from 1979 in my collection, a wonderful, somewhat eerie dark velvet grey box adorned with creeping flourishes of dark green leaves and pink petals, the scent inside also darker, more ambiguous than the current cleaned up version with its neat, white, perfect-for-bathroom cylindrical flacon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Anaïs Anaïs’ floral wistfulness comes from a concentration of glorious white Madonna lilies interlaced with other white flowers: crisp, vernal meadows of fresh hyacinths, blackcurrant leaves, galbanum, muguet and ylang, a bridal bouquet softening gently to a warmer hue of lilies and rose that always retains something of its rather insistent chastity.

 

 

 

 

 

Your reaction to this mélange might therefore be of rapture, if breathless tendrils are your thing: irritation perhaps at its undeniably conservative tones (it is a somewhat tame scent that renders a woman pliant and demure in an instant): or, like me, you may enjoy its mysterious, immaculate form, its creamy melancholy – the cool, sepulchral sweetness of a funeral bouquet.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

‘The new self she offered him, created for him, appeared intensely innocent, newer than any young girl could have been, because it was like a pure abstraction of a woman, an idealized figure, not born of what she was, but of his wish and hers. Outside of this room, this bed, was a black precipice……’

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Anaïs Nin, ‘A spy in the house of love’)

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Filed under Flowers, Lily, Perfume Reviews