Dark Velvet Bouquets

Cat0In The Great Gatsby, Daisy Buchanan is always looking for the longest day of the year, and then missing it, but in my case, it’s the shortest day of the year I look for and generally miss.  All cases of seasonal blues aside, this is the time of year loved by firelight and candlelight aficionados, that includes me, and my close associate the cat, who never saw a warm surface she wouldn’t nestle onto.

To go with all this man made illumination I enjoy cozy perfumes with something like a gourmand note.  Please notice this isn’t a gourmand.  That’s a different matter, and while I like gourmands, I don’t own any.

Instead, this is the sort of dense and slightly sweet bouquet that has something fuzzy in it, though the perfume does not have to end up as a cashmere throw.  Density is what I’m after, a perfume to stretch and luxuriate in next to a fire, as though the whole fragrance had been quilted from velvet flowers like one of those daft Victorian crafts that end up in folk museums. The trouble is – not too many companies make those anymore because the effect requires a lot of naturals. (Montale used to make a perfume called Velvet Flowers, by the way, and it was good – it was also Quelques Fleurs, but I digress.)

Jean Patou was a wonder at this sort of fragrance.  I’m still trying to wangle a sample of Joy Forever, but so far no luck, and anyway doubt that modern perfumes often achieve this depth, enough for your to figuratively sink into. Natural perfumes have it, for instance  Strange Invisible Perfumes’ Tribute and Black Rosette have enough to recreate a kind of subterranean charm-rather like a hobbit’s residence-but neither are bouquets.

This kind of deep crepuscular purple flower arrangement has been exemplified for me lately by  the old Caron perfume Voeux de Noel, which I recently got to smell and by Krigler’s Lovely Patchouli.  Both of them read as thick and dark to me, rich in the way that a good plum pudding is rich. Smells that are almost tactile.

Cat nestlesVoeux de Noel came about because I met a lovely Caron employee from some time ago.  She still had the odd sample, and so I got to smell Voeux de Noel (Christmas Wish) and that has a beautiful opacity.  This is a thickly pelted perfume, with light only occasionally glinting off its fur.  The notes, which are becoming hard to find for this obscure scent, are essentially rose, lilac, and carnation.  On skin this reads as warm and relaxing, with a luxuriant nap to it like silk velvet.  Either way, the perfume goes on warm, and then bakes contently on you for hours, rather like that cat of ours.

Krigler’s Lovely Patchouli is still out there and although it’s called an oriental, it’s more of an oriental floral. The only ingredients listed by Fragrantica are patchouli and amber, but I catch something in there that really reminds me of lilac.  So it’s not in the notes, but in the perfume, and there is a sweet resonance to this that you might not expect, but the reverberations seems floral rather than spicy, to my nose.  Lovely Patchouli is indeed lovely, and the patchouli is mostly a well mannered introduction to the rest of scent.  Call me crazy, but I honestly prefer it to Chanel’s Coromandel.  This is longer lasting and makes more of a statement, LP also manages not to smell like you made your purchase at Whole Foods (though they have some good perfumes over there), and it’s for the guys and the girls about equally.

If you liked things like the Guerlain Elixir Charnels or Spiritueuse Double Vanille, L’Heure de Nuit, or even Moscow, you may like this a lot as well.  I mean, it’s dark anyway at this time of year – you might as well curl up with the shadows.

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2 thoughts on “Dark Velvet Bouquets

  1. Hmmm … Lanvin’s Arpege (in its current formulation) is a velvety rich fragrance to me, but you may think she is more of a party-going femme fatale than a woman to stay home by the fire.

  2. To me Arpege is my grandmother in law, who was deathlessly chic. She used to wait until her two teenaged daughters were halfway through ice-cream sundaes to announce that she would, “Just have an orange.” It’s passed into the family argot.
    I agree with you though that Arpege is comfy and elegant at the same time. Voeux de Noel is homey by comparison.

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