We always got them in February in Rome, silly fluffy little bouquets that made some people sneeze but which delighted others. They were so bright and saffron and yellow, after a Roman winter of greige and beige and gray, mimosas in flower markets signaled an abrupt change of season.
To this day, mimosas are the true heralds of spring to me. I may appreciate snowdrops, but they are northern flowers, and go along with winter jasmine, in dense yellow starred hedges, and primroses. None of them have much scent. The yellow winter jasmine has no scent that I can detect. Every year I try to smell snow drops, but it is an undignified exercise at best, with me bending nearly double and failing to smell anything after all. If I’m going to pretzel myself, it’s probably a better bet to wait until the lilies of the valley are in bloom, then I’m sure to get a payoff for my impromptu yoga position. It should be called the Ostrich.
My default position, much less uncomfortable to perform, with mimosa is Farnesiana, the old Caron perfume from the 1950’s. It’s still in production and I have heard so many times that the perfume is not what it used to be, that it’s become received wisdom.
What Farnesiana used to be is above: see?
Now it’s this little bottle, and it’s not just the bottle. The scent is a muted diminished ambery mimosa perfume with a distinctly powdery end. Farnesiana is pretty these days, but not imposing. By all accounts though, the perfume was imposing back in the day: a perfume that a diva could wear.
By the time I knew it, the flamboyance had been contained, the mood swings medicated, and even such a low key person as I am could wear it. In fact it was my Spring perfume for years when my daughter was small, and needed frequent diaper changes. Farnesiana was maternal but counteracted A&D ointment and its tell-tale smell.
But what, I always wondered, what if mimosa could be cranked up to Diva flamboyance again? And, thanks to a sample sent me by Undina, I know what a mimosa diva perfume smells like, namely, Amarige Mimosa. Givenchy started releasing millesime versions of their most popular perfumes a few years ago. (Here’s a brief aside about the word. Creed uses this term, meaning vintage, a lot, and have been roundly criticized for passing off mediocre perfumes so designated.) Givenchy around 2007, began creating versions of its best seller scents featuring high quality naturals, and this one from 2007, is one of the nicest ones I’ve smelled.
The mimosa comes out at once in the first few breaths of the scent and then goes on to affect the body of the perfume in a delicate way. But the effect is kind of symbiotic, the Amarige formula raises the volume on the mimosa, and the mimosa in turn stops the Amarige from singing Casta Diva at full volume. This is a real white flowered perfume, but it doesn’t have the metallic abrasiveness you can sometimes find in what I call cranky white flowered perfumes (see Le De, since we’re on the subject of Givenchy) – instead it devolves into a purring, caressing alto.
I wish there were more mimosa perfumes. They seem not to be in vogue at the moment. Since Annick Goutal’s Mimosa, I don’t recall hearing of any. It’s a shame. Mimosa fragrances are so cheerful, they are a real bright spot in the otherwise drab interval before spring begins. Who wouldn’t want a yellow fuzz-ball of a scent?
The answer seems to be: current perfume customers.