Sickly Children

If you live around the Mediterranean, you’re used to seeing mimosa everywhere in spring.  It is the first warm weather indicator: buckets of yellow fuzzballs crowding around the cankles of the flower sellers, some years as early as February.  Because of this association, perfumers are always tempted to make mimosa soliflors, it’s like euphoria in a glass container, and pleasanter to use than any anti-depressant.

Trouble is that mimosa, as a smell, is perpetually recovering from a case of croup.  You can smell the cough syrup distinctly on the flower’s breath which always reminds me of the breath of a sick child.  You might think that turning the mimosa into a soliflor is just a matter of avoiding this Eau de Benedryl effect and you’d be right – but the question then becomes, do you attempt to overwhelm the medicine or do you make it part of the composition?

Let’s say that in this instance you reach for the sucrose in the hope of inundating the flower note in additional sweetness.  It’s a plan a number of mimosa soliflors have followed.  Calypso St. Barth’s Mimosa resorts to this stratagem, as does L’Artisan Parfumeurs’ Mimosa Pour Moi.  The results usually are  sweet/green, short lived fragrances that are very taste specific.  Patricia de Nicolai had a mimosa scent which was a bit more sophisticated relying, if my memory serves me, on a pepper note which cut the sugar slightly.  Mimosaique was its name.

The wearability of these fragrances leaves something to be desired.  Better are stratagems which include that slightly fetid note, since crowding it out never seems to work.  There was a fine Annick Goutal fragrance Eau de Charlotte which did that.  It used black currant to mask the medicinal note and then it paired it- improbably- with lily of the valley and cocoa.  The finished product was the scent of an idealized French childhood. Even my husband observed that Charlotte, whoever she was, was eight years old. Sadly, I believe it’s been discontinued and replaced by the new Goutal Mimosa, which I haven’t smelled.

Still in production, happily, is Caron’s Farnesiana, a mimosa perfume if not quite a soliflor. It pairs the mimosa with another blackcurrant or elder berry note and then sedates it with amber and vanilla.  The effect is kind of elegantly anodyne, rather like two glasses of good wine at lunch.

There are a few newer mimosa scents and I wonder if many of them actually smell of mimosa? The extract is expensive and most companies probably aren’t willing to shell out for it.   Do they preserve that smell of sickly children in spring or are they mostly pimply counterfeits of innocence like Corey Feldman?


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