Will You Please Get Out of the Fruit Bowl?

Many of us who love perfume would have liked to lodge this complaint with the perfume companies for at least a decade now.  The trouble is that the vast majority of the public (or their duly unelected representatives in focus groups) enjoy fruit notes.  Pleasant, light, sweet and oh yeah, fruity are the adjectives most readily associated with positive sales figures.

It tends to mean that everything smells alike, but after a while fashions can become so entrenched as to be clichés that date their adherents with startling accuracy.  This explains helmet hair into the eighties, or girdles into the sixties, and now I come to think of it, low rider jeans into the twenty first century.  Trust me, twenty years from now there will still be females who believe that all hair should approach the platonic ideal of Jennifer Aniston’s even though she, by then, will be flogging Depends.

Our grandchildren will complain that Granny always smells of old canned fruit.  Eew! Why can’t she wear Eau de Topical like Mom?

Why, indeed?  We are, after all, the products of our times, denizens of Facebook, and by the fruitiness of our perfumes shall our descendents know us, and our descendents may uncharitably call them Granny’s Air Pollution.  Oh well, many people feel that way about chypre perfumes now.

From  this you might now suppose that I am a hater of all that is fruity.  Not at all.  As a matter of fact, I have always been a closet admirer of the dreaded Fruity Floral.  Why?  Well, they’re pleasant, outgoing, cheerful, bouncy as Jennifer Aniston’s hair.  Who doesn’t like this?  Oh well, actually I know a lot of perfume connoisseurs don’t, but there are good ones.

You may ask where exactly are these good ones?  Well, one place to look for the wearable fruity floral is the line at Parfums de Nicolai.  She has a number of perfumes that really do meet expectations.  Some are discontinued but are still worth hunting down.  Balkis, one of her eau de toilettes, is a combination of roses and the liqueur Chambord, meaning a fusion of roses and raspberries.  It is very sweet and very femme but, on the right woman, delightful.

L’Eau Mixte is her version of a grapefruit floral and is largely grapefruit, rose and black currant bud. It is very tart, slightly green, and can smell of sulfur on the wrong skin.  There is also Juste Un Rêve, a matter of pineapple, monoi, rum and possible leather.  It is tropical and it has been reformulated so is more fruity and less powdery than it used to be.

For reasons of nostalgia my favorite of her fruity florals is Eau Turquoise.  This one reminds me of Annick Goutal’s Folavril.  These days Folavril is different, and the closest thing that I can find to the old version is this de Nicolai.  It is itself probably discontinued and I ought to get around to ordering a bottle, but the charm of it, as it was of Folavril originally, is the combination of jasmine and mango.  There was just something so optimistic in the scent that it puts me in mind of the 1990’s a decade in which everyone was going to get rich and bought houses…and you know the rest.

Finally, and if you want to go up market, it is possible to wear fruity florals and be lady like at the same time.  Parfums MDCI is your answer.  Most of their feminines contain a pronounced fruit note, usually peach.  Pêche Cardinal is peaches over a lavish tuberose. So many peaches, in fact, that the tuberose never gets a word in edgewise until you’ve been wearing the stuff for a couple of hours.  Then garrulous tuberose dominates the conversation, but you can opt for pears instead in the new Belle Helene.

So you can hang out in the fruit bowl without smelling like punch.

Or like the oughts either, for that matter.

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16 Responses to Will You Please Get Out of the Fruit Bowl?

  1. fleurdelys says:

    The only fruits I like in my perfume are peaches, plums, and apricots. All others go either too sweet on me (pear, pineapple) or too sour (citrus, berries). The exception to my citrus aversion is orange, especially when mixed with spice, as in Parfums de Nicolai’s Maharanih Intense. I guess that lady knows how to do fruit right!

    And I guess any fruit note can work, as long as it is well-blended so that it doesn’t become dominant. An example is Nuit de Tubereuse, which has a mango note. However, it is mixed up with woods, spices – oh yeah, and tuberose – so there is just a hint of fruit. It is an interesting, oddball perfume.

    • Blacknall Allen says:

      Nuits de Tubereuse is one I really must try. Don’t know why, but for the longest time I haven’t given L’Artisan perfumes much attention.

      Another house that does well with fruit notes is By Killian, in spite of my fussiness regarding fruit, I always like Liasons Dangereuses. It’s roses and something fruity, maybe blackberries? Anyway, extremely pretty to wear.

  2. mals86 says:

    I tend to cringe a little when I hear the fumie rallying cry of “No more fruity florals!” because… (straightens spine. lifts chin.) … I like them.

    That’s right. I have no shame.

    Mind you, I found Taylor Swift’s Wonderstruck a sugary-canned-fruit nightmare, and there are a crap ton of things like that on the market – fruit that smells more like artificial froot flavor plus synthetic floral notes. So I understand, I do. I do. There is a lowest-common-denominator factor to the fruity floral that can taint all the offerings in this category, even the good ones.

    But there are, as you say, good ones. A few favorites of mine: AG Petite Cherie and PdR Rose d’Ete, both of which carry me back to being a kid sitting on the grass at my grandparents’ farmhouse with the orchard on one side of me and the rosebushes on the other, picking clover blossoms while the grownups talk. The first Ines de la Fressange and the original Tiffany fragrance, sweet ripe peach and citrus topping off lush floral notes and sandalwood, each one a mimosa brunch party bottled. Hanae Mori Haute Couture, a fizzy aldehydic jasmine served with fresh-fruit skewers. Tauer Une Rose Vermeille, a decadent dessert of Pavlova made with blood oranges and raspberries and rose petals. Not to mention the catch-your-breath zing of Pamplelune, or Moschino Funny!, or the blackcurrant-centered Enchanted Forest.

    I tend to do very much less well with mango notes – I didn’t mind Jardin sur le Nil, but I didn’t like Nuit de Tubereuse much at all, and I just hate Calyx. And melon can be super-garbagey on me, a la Diorella or Le Parfum de Therese.

    • Blacknall Allen says:

      Fruity florals are only a problem because they were so massively overproduced. Myself, I like a fruity floral if it’s a tiny bit original.
      Love the mental picture of you picking clover blossoms, by the way! That is exactly what little girls do on summer lawns. Oh and…
      The original Tiffany I liked a lot. Meg and I found a bottle at an antique store, but the buyer would not let it go for less than fifty and it was a mini, so we passed.
      Fruits are often citrus fruits for me. I bought Elixir des Merveilles yesterday, after a long tussle with myself. It is of course, very fruity.
      And before I shut up and get on with my chores, I should mention Pierre Bourdon, the Master of Fruit. Um, maybe that didn’t come out just right, but my point is that nothing he composed with all those fruit notes was vulgar. Ever. Courtesan, very understated, Empresses of Japan like Iris Poudre, only nicer I thought. Even his melon fests (Sovereigns of Egypt, Taj Mahal etc.) were quite wearable and indeed nice in the heat, and I usually give melon the same kind of berth as radioactive materials.

      • mals86 says:


        There it is again, those Japanese Empresses thingy. I so adore Iris Poudre, it’s not even funny. IP with fruit= Ferre 20, which I bought on vacation in Rome two years ago, and it is just adorable but less dressy than IP.

        I confess that citrus tends to bore me. I think I do well with Pamplelune because of the other stuff in there.

        • Blacknall Allen says:

          Yes I wonder about those Empresses. As a matter of fact I wonder about a couple of perfumes in that d’cont’d line. But the Empresses were very good…

  3. Meg says:

    Like Fleurdelys, I also have a deep-seated liking for stone fruits (plums, peaches, apricots, cherries) in a perfume. To a lesser extent, I enjoy apples, pears, and quince; to an even lesser extent, berries of any kind. Of tropical fruits (lychee, mango, guava) and melons I’m not much of a fan at all. But all these criteria still depend on what gets served WITH the fruit. In my opinion, sugar syrup ruins everything… but smoke (Wazamba, Breath of God) or dry woods (Jaipur)? Yes please!

  4. Blacknall Allen says:

    Stone fruits seem to be very wide favorites, and deservedly. Does anyone dislike a peach? Besides James?
    Actually there is no fruit I don’t like in nature, although some melons can go a bit heavy on personal odor- Cavaillon melons for instance.
    In the sixties, my Dad went to Egypt and watched with fascination, as the local melon growers punched small holes in their ripe crop, threw them overboard, and dragged them behind the feluccas in the Nile. It increased their weight. Perhaps that story influences my perception of melons!

  5. Suzanne says:

    I’ve found that I like a good many fruity floral perfumes – even the current version of Robert Piguet Visa, which most perfumistas abhor, but I find it very well done with an absolutely beautiful pear note in its opening accord (there is peach there, too). Your mention of Parfums di Nicolai made me think of Sacrebleu, which is definitely a fruity floral, though I don’t think most people would consider it one because it’s also a very complex and deep perfume (and a true love of mine). :)

    Oh, and I have to give a “thumb’s up” to Mals’ mention of Annick Goutal Petite Cherie. It’s pure pixie-ish delight in a bottle.

    Thanks for bringing up the topic, Blacknall! :)

    • Blacknall Allen says:

      Definitely am more on the side of fruity florals than not, myself.
      Visa is unloved? Really? I got distracted by Baghari and haven’t tried recent Piguets, oh wait, I did try the Douglas Hannant one and thought it was Fracas leftovers. BUT I only tried it once.
      Everyone loves Petite Cherie but me, oh dear. It is like Le Temps d’une Fete, another closed shop of a fragrance as far as one is concerned.
      Sacrebleu, as you say, is quite fruity. To me, it smells like a fresh clafouti, only done with red currants instead of the customary cherries. A beautiful, practically irresistible dessert!

      • Suzanne says:

        Well, there are a few people who like the current Visa. I believe Natalie from Another Perfume Blog likes it, and so does Gaia, The Non-Blonde. But it has far more detractors: I remember Dee from Botoblog wrote a post saying she didn’t like it (at all!), and if I’m remembering correctly, lots of other people chimed in with a similar opinion. :D Plus, people who have smelled vintage Visa don’t care for that, because apparently the vintage version was quite different and animalic. I wouldn’t know, not having ever smelled it.

        Oh, I love your description of Sacrebleu! I’ll have to make a clafouti sometime: they look so good, and I’ve never had one.

        • Blacknall Allen says:

          The secret to clafoutis(and believe me I found out the hard way because of my French bro in law)is a hot oven and lots of good eggs. A soggy clafouti is just sad.
          Fragrantica suggests that Visa smells like Angel, so that’s going to polarize a lot of people right there, and as to the original, one of my old perfume books lists it as being a chypre and also an aldehydic floral-so go figure. Possibly it was one of those edge perfumes, somewhere in between both categories, like Caleche.

  6. singlemalt says:

    I think that fruity florals are the ‘new’ chypres. I tend not to like them because most of them smell pretty much the same and generic. But fruit, in and of itself, has been a part of perfumery for a long time. My favorite-Coco- has fruit notes, yes citrus but still a fruit. I think that it’s the introduction of more exotic or tropical fruits that has caused a stir. Pineapple? Do I really want to smell as though a Dole can has been smashed on my head? That and berries. Red berries, purple berries, blue berries, strawberries. For some reason the first thing that came to my mind after I tried Coco Noir was (ok not the first thing but) ‘purple berries!” Que ‘Wooden Ships” by CSNY. I don’t think that purple berries was listed, but it was decidedly purple.
    One fruity floral that I find myself liking is Badgley Miscka. Red berries at the start with floral coming in. Strong, long lasting and had for a song.

    • Blacknall Allen says:

      “Wooden Ships on the Water…” always liked that lyric.
      Any kind of fruit can work, because they are all good blenders, um, well not Waring Blenders you understand, but they get along nicely with other ingredients. Even pineapple does, (Colony and Azzaro 9)but I agree with you, that Badgely Mishka was a great fruity, and of course, utterly forgot about it. Thanks for reminding me.

  7. Undina says:

    Let’s see…
    Already mentioned Petite Cherie and Une Rose Vermeille; By Kilian Forbidden Games and In the City of Sin, Byredo Pulp, Hugo Boss Deep Red, Jo Malone Blackberry & Bay, Neela Vermeire Creations Bombay Bling! I do like fruity florals.

    • Blacknall Allen says:

      I’m with you on the Blackberry and Bay. That is one of the best of the recent Jo Malones to my mind.
      Still have not smelled any of the Neela Vermeires, though many people seem to have liked them a lot, Petite Cherie turns into something not petite and not cherie on me. Lots left for everyone else!

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