The Zaftig Floral

Florals come in all shapes and sizes.  Some are fusspots, some are exercises in carnality – tuberose comes to mind – and some are simply comfortable.

Of all these varieties, I find the comfortable ones, the ones with curves and a tendency to sit down on the job quite a lot the most pleasing.  They are seldom completely synthetic, since formulae that are molecularly sparse just don’t conjure up the requisite Mae West or Lillian Russell curvature. You need some big juicy naturals there to fill out a bottle.  The zaftig perfume is bodacious.

She’s also built for comfort and not for speed, so the formula is never simple or sleek, and the zaftig is seldom a soliflore perfume.  In fact I can’t think of a one that is based on a single flower.  They need to be big generous bouquets, the sort that fill your arms and start falling all over the carpet.  What actually fits this criteria?

Quelques Fleurs (Houbigant, 1912) does to my mind.  It has a formula that has enchanted generations of girls and women by now and part of the reason for this enchantment is the easy going charm of the perfume.  It paints no romantic backdrop of lost love (Apres L’Ondee Guerlain, 1906 ) or of Paris in the dusk of the Belle Epoque ( L’Heure Bleue, Guerlain 1912).  Quelques Fleurs is a very pretty, chubby French girl with a huge basket full of flowers ambling along a sunny lane on a June morning.  Some people, by the way, complain that the current formulation of Quelques is not what it used to be.  Now the perfume is out in a new version under fresh ownership. I think the scent is like its old self, but if you don’t agree, try Montale’s Velvet Flowers, which is very like old Quelques Fleurs or Sonoma Scent Studio’s To Dream, which also recalls Quelques.

Modern versions of the zaftig are harder to find.  Estee Lauder’s Beautiful is a pretty good bet in this regard.  Beautiful comes as close to a completely synthetic zaftig as you will find, but it is reliable and wearable and does not make huge demands upon your emotions or your intellect.  It’s just pretty.  I am talking here about the original and not Beautiful Sheer or any of the flankers.  None of them is so easy to wear.

Lastly, I will recommend Parfum d’Empire’s Trois Fleurs.  That one is also easy and full figured.  The three flowers in question are rose, tuberose and jasmine, but in my experience, the rose dominates and there can be a small tendency for the rose note to go sour on some skins. It’s another case of try before you buy.  Otherwise, the perfume is a creamy and full scent that conjures up that big bouquet that zaftigs carry about with them.  A lazy day perfume, one that pretty much crosses the line into comfort perfume territory, and a very good choice for spring and summer.

All zaftigs share the culture of manana, by the way.  They wander along, in fact they may even saunter or shamble.  But then there is absolutely no point in telling the zaftig to hurry up.  She’s immortal, and immortals can take their time.

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2 Responses to The Zaftig Floral

  1. Mals says:

    I adore me a zaftig floral. In fact, I adore me some lots of ‘em (fitting, eh? Given that minimalism most definitely Does Not Suit).

    I (ahem, cough, blush) actually found 3 Fleurs a little skimpy for my taste. I cut my teeth on that kitchen-sinky white floral bundle of carnal witchery known as Karl Lagerfeld Chloe – Reader, I wore it all through my teens! and who knows how often my modest, tailored, overprotective mother gritted her teeth as she allowed me out of the house wearing it – and modern so-called florals just make me scoff. Which makes me wonder, HOW have I managed to have avoid Quelques Fleurs? Especially after my little ebay vintage-mini sprees? I do not know.

    I don’t wear Chloe anymore, though I still think she is gorgeous; it’s all just a little too reminiscent of high school to be really comfortable now. But other full-bodied florals that I love include: the first Ines de la Fressange, Tiffany, Keiko Mecheri Mogador, Balenciaga Michelle, J’Adore L’Absolu, and Fragonard Billet Doux. White Diamonds – yes, the Liz Taylor bombshell thing I keep smelling on well-kempt little old ladies – is actually quite nice in the parfum.

    • Blacknall Allen says:

      OK, goose bumps. I wore Chloe at 18, then my Mother decided that it really was a very pretty perfume and somehow or other it ended up in her custody. Eventually she used the bottle to store Holy Water (she was Catholic ) and that kind of finished Chloe for me. There’s nothing like the sacred to put you off the profane but the bright side was – it got her off the Tabu!

      By the way I like White Diamonds, a really nice production. Surprised you haven’t done Quelques Fleurs, but it is a total pillow of a perfume.

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