Well, it has been a strange time. ( But when hasn’t it been a strange time recently? )

So up and down. I am not even sure if I can write. But I just thought I would check in anyway, now that I have found a way to circumvent all the obstacles thrust in my path by my computer and by this blog system ( I have not been ‘allowed’ in for ‘privacy concerns’ ); our internet has also been super patchy since a gardener snipped the cable last year; so slow that the lightning speed K-netizens of Seoul would tear our their hair in frustration were they to be confronted with such torpor for even a few seconds; usually I just switch off. Patience has never been one of my virtues.

Where to start?

I don’t know. Until I heard the extraordinarily alarming news that my parents had caught breakthrough infections of the coronavirus over the last two weeks I was on a real ‘life is good’ high (I still am). Possibly, I ‘overreacted’, – moi? ! – this being a very common story in the UK, though not in Japan – but hearing my mother tell me that she has completely lost her sense of smell, I pray only temporarily (” I tried spraying on the strongest perfume I own, Aromatics Elixir, and couldn’t smell a thing”! ); hearing her deep, chesty cough over the phone as she played it all down — prior to this ‘spanner in the works’ I had been in some kind of ecstatic, autumnal floral renaissance.

Unusually for me, going back to work at the beginning of September, for the first time in my life, I decided I was going to wear a neroli. Usually, in my extensive fragrance palette ready for my delectation at any moment I feel the need, the section of orange blossom scents is reserved for a ‘private dab’ here or there on bright sunny days; not perfumes I wear out the house. Firstly, I don’t know if they actually suit me (I suspect that they do not). Secondly, D hates them. Thirdly, who knows if such perfumes are appropriate for the classroom? There are indoles tucked down in those stamens; all might go horribly awry.

Neroli is such a brashly and buoyantly uplifting flower note though – so joyous it bursts through grim and gravity with such a vivid alacrity that I sometimes find it irresistible; particularly in what I have decided is my UR neroli/orange blossom now, Matiere Premiere’s Oranger Neroli, a perfume I have briefly reviewed before, but which I fell totally in love with from the moment I started wearing it every day to the office from the start of the term until now ( I am going to have to get another bottle).

I think of this fragrance as a ‘mathematical’ scent; there is nothing poetic or evocative about it necessarily, aside the memories you are making while you are wearing it – probably in the future it will evoke quite a lot for me, I would imagine – but in and of itself this is not a ‘story’ or a clotted, conceptual maze like so many a perfume these days. Instead, Neroli Oranger is an equilibration of notes: a very alert and spritely neroli and bergamot pas de deux at first generous spritz, fused expertly to a gentle, warm orange blossom from Tunisia; a touch of ylang ylang extra, sometimes perceptible, sometimes not, and finally, for modern anchoring, very subtly rendered, some ‘floral musks’ to keep everything together without feeling too intrusive. The whole is very natural, and I have been loving it so much I could drink it. I love it. Sometimes I think it is good to just go back to the niche scents you have tried briefly and quite enjoyed in the past and give them their proper due; to actually wear them and not get caught up in the ‘what’s brand new’ news cycle.

The same is certainly true of Meo Fusciuni’s heavenly Odor 93, which I wrote about back at the beginning of February when things were heavily chaotic and mind-bending, and the scent of this gloriously woozy tuberose amber felt like some kind of life saver. Like a light in a dark forest. It suddenly ‘appeared’ to me again in my smell conscious one day, and I immediately started craving it again on weekends – strictly neroli for work, tuberose for the days off, alternating in rotation (………..with the palpable positivity in the air here in Japan; vaccination popular – and thus trendy among the kids; all of them getting it done in my classes ; there are of course the allergic and the skeptics and the worried, but very few of the western style ‘anti-vaxxers’ – virtually all of my students have been or are getting vaccinated, the feeling so liberating; everyone masked; case numbers dropping precipitously, even if the lifting of the state of emergency has made everyone go a little bit too crazy in terms of bars and restaurants filling up too quickly – – but let me have my moment of positivity, I beg you; let me bask in this relative feeling of freedom and space; and grace, actually, even if it is just interior and mental; let me immerse myself in my neroli and orange blossom and bergamot oil in my pocket if it gives me that sense of optimism and possibility; that feeling of uplift and light-footed semi-carefree; a vernal sensation that in this topsy turvy world right now feels optimal, instead, for these sunny months of the current Japanese autumn); tuberose, intoxicatingly, innately perfect for a more nocturnal and sensual counterpoint to the orange flower, particularly the Meo Fusciuni, which with its powdered, almost fungally dark ambered narcissus with cumin, birch leaf and clove, but with a pure and beautiful and slightly heartbreaking tuberose flower towering above, is just like a vintage Vol De Nuit Guerlain nixed by the love of a mesmerizing white flower. It is completely addictive and narcotic. The beginning is odd; medicinal, overpowering, but it still sends me into a weird kind of frenzy; I adore how it stays on my clothes, and so I don’t wash them if Odor 93 is still lingering (something animalic; soft…….musky); again, I want to imbibe this one. And I have perhaps been wearing it to excess (“Oh, (chuckling slightly), are you wearing that tuberose again?”). Yes I am. And I know that you like it as well.

Unable, in this current stage of surging, to sate myself only with one, I have been in full Dionysian mode tuberose-wise, these last few weeks, also wearing touches or full sprays of Flos Mortis, Roja Dove Tubereuse, Le Jardin Retrouvé Tubéreuse Trianon: I also finally unstoppered my extract of Tuberosa D’Autunno, a perfume whose moment had surely been waiting until now, and which almost seems to ‘sanction’ my thirst for this flower usually considered more suited to the hot nights of spring and summer rather than the transitional, melancholic bridge leading into winter. A very clear, ‘pink and beige’ classical tuberose soliflore with touches of violet, ylang ylang, tolu balsam, benzoin and coconut, when my vapour of my Odor 93 begins to wooze itself into the nether regions of subconsciousnesses, Tuberosa, in contrast sings clear and bright as a soprano up in the air above when I wear them together (right at this moment, I am still in my not-quite-clean tuberosian pyjamas and hoodie writing this before I hit the shower and switch back to the neroli before I head out to work, although today it is suddenly much colder, and I am wondering if I can get away with a touch of this Profumi di Firenze number instead……….. (?) I remember standing at the Palazzo Vecchio around this time two years ago, a bright morning after a deluge of rain, marble sculptures at the Uffizi standing cleansed in the matinal sunshine, and approaching the boutique, where the passionate Ida Meister was herself perusing the many profumi available in that delightfully well stocked shop, proclaiming her own love, as I approached, for this scent. ‘Such a delightful little tuberose’.


Filed under Flowers


I tend to get seasonal cravings in advance: the smell of orange blossom and neroli have been tugging at me in yearning fashion the last couple of weeks – partly because they are rejuvenatingly ‘rise above’ floral notes for me that soothe and uplift the spirits (there is a definite headspace created by both ingredients that is apart from other flowers: a sense of spring madness, in the best possible sense, when the rising exhilaration of everything budding around you and bursting into green is always worth the wait).

Except this year I can’t. Reality has been shit, so let the dreaming begin. Today there are flood warnings because of the cold torrential rains outside slamming against the window, but I am in my own zone. Still unsteady from the labyrinthitis that has made me lose my bearings, but not spinning or on the verge of vertiginous collapse. A little anxious that I will never return to my wildly dancing normal self, yet still in a semi-blissful state at home at my desk, sampling new scents, keeping it all beautifully at bay.

Recent neroli orange blossoms I have reached for when the desire for some back-of-the-hand floralcy has hit me upon returning home – and soon, the actual orange blossom will be out on the trees at the top of the hill : I will be able to bury my head in it – include Penhaligon’s Castile, and Ortigia Sicilia’s Zagara/ Orange Blossom – a dense, simplistic, but sassy blend of petitgrain sharpened orange blossom, neroli and sandalwood with a confectioner’s glaze and a zest of brittle glamour. I have gone to bed wearing this a couple of times recently as it is quite rallying and vigorating: like the leopard on the bottle, it has a pleasingly gaudy pizazz.

Miller Harris’ Lumière Dorée

– described by the British perfume house as ‘intoxicatingly fresh’, is an outlier in the orange blossoms I sometimes use as it is almost rapaciously forthright, with a just opened orange flower neroli rinsed in an almost saline solution of ‘crisp ambers, cashmere and white musks’ counterpointed with orange bigarade and heady jasmine. The effect is coruscating but also shimmering: the scent goes straight to the heart nerve : once inhaled: never forgotten.

Precisely when I am in the exact mood for orange blossom, two perfumes fortuitously arrived in the last two days founded on these vernal ecstasies. Hallelujah.

Today I shall begin with the lovely Matiere Premiere Neroli Oranger by perfumer Aurelien Guichard:

The designer’s brief:

INITIAL IDEA: ‘A work around the purity of orange blossom’

MAIN INGREDIENT: Absolute Orange Blossom Tunisia

CREATIVE APPROACH: ‘Highlight the fresh and radiant facet with Neroli Oil Lebanon and Bergamot Oil Italy. Amplify the delicate floral character with Ylang-Ylang Oil Comoros and Floral Musks’.

The result : a definite success: : a very sensual and bodied orange blossom that starts out fresh and bright, almost explosive (and thus perfect for evening-wear entrances in summer), the ylang ylang more of a cushion to the orange flower notes than a main feature, the overall effect much more sundown perfume than niche soliflore….. a smooth, buttery, gilt underscore that brings to mind Piguet Fracas ( Tora I think you need to try this ): a definite mood enhancer and easy to wear and just the ticket for the coming weeks as winter finally leaves us for the year and the trees and the flowers take over.

Next: Tobago’s Innocent Love. While all the perfumes so far discussed dance to a contemporary neroli/orange blossom tango, Innocent Love by Japanese brand Tobali veers at once in a more traditional yet also unexpected direction : a beautifully embellished neroli cologne that I think might need to acquire a full bottle of for my own usage. While an open citrus lover (‘he was in the closet but was never afraid of declaring his love for lime and bergamot peel)’), I have never really liked the rosemary/old fashioned musks that taint and ruin the lemons and oranges in many colognes, the classic templates in citrus/herb/nerolis like those of Santa Maria Novella or 4711: I have always prayed for the beginning to continue without the end (a bit like life itself). Others, of the more urban modern template such as Grand Neroli by Atelier Colognes dazzle you initially but then fade to bland – and I can never stand the disappointment.

Innocent Love, in contrast, begins with one of the best citrus openings I have ever encountered, with ‘white neroli’, bergamot and a very vivid tangerine revitalising the senses from first touch, over a very light ambered musk and base of ‘Hidden Japonism 834’ – this Tokyo company’s very own Guerlinade – and a deliciously gentle middle section of buoyant jasmine sambac plus a perfectly judged hint of lavender to keep everything deliriously optimistic and pleasant throughout.

A delight: sometimes I really just need perfumes like these: florals that are alive and instantaneously happy.


Filed under Flowers, Neroli