There is no more warm and radiant note. If you like peaches or apricots the smell of osmanthus is perfect, a floral echo of your favorites, and back in the day before all the synthetic mimicry of fruits became possible in perfumery, osmanthus was the only real peach imitator. Then along came the aldehydes, and peach notes became commonplace.
But this is one of those flowers in perfumery that remain poised and perfect, balanced on the dividing wall between what is sensual and what is ladylike.
There are several out there that fit the bill for sophistication in osmanthus perfumes including Lutens’ Nuit de Cellophane, and B de Boucheron. I don’t, however, recommend either (partially because I feel that both of those break down in the end). Instead, my absolute favorite is Osmanthus Interdite, a Parfum d’Empire release.
My impression of this was reversed from the one that Luca Turin disseminated in his Guide. He preferred the Hermes’ scent Osmanthus Yunnan. I didn’t because I could not smell the Hermes. Either I’m completely anosmic to it, or else the formula has been diluted to such a point that I simply couldn’t detect it.
Osmanthus Interdite is delicate and feminine, to a remarkable degree; so much so that it’s required wearing for weekend days or even just on lazy afternoons when you are celebrating yourself as female. There is something to be said for scents that remind you to be girly and to cherish all that is feminine in your character which is exactly what this fragrance does. The osmanthus, jasmine, tea, and rose in this composition are nearly enough to make me take up needlepoint. Well, perhaps not quite enough, but any perfume that gets me to slow down and consider wearing a skirt is doing pretty well for this ex-tomboy, and Osmanthus Interdite does manage that handily.
When it comes to osmanthus bouquets, there is still only one true contender to my mind: Jean Patou’s 1000. Not an easy perfume, 1000 takes a very long time to complete one of its rambling walkabouts on your skin, but if you like the note, and you want to explore its possibilities, then 1000 is a good choice. This is the kind of perfume you have to persist with, just go on wearing it for a week or two. I found the formula baffling at first, but eventually stopped arguing with its sequential evocations of dry fields, fruits and at last flowers, and simply loved it as the story of gardens told in reverse, from death to birth.
Osmanthus Interdite by contrast is simpler. OI reminds me of the sampler I had to stitch as a child in order to show that I could master chain stitches or garlands. Traditional, staid, something about this scent reminds you of the best of old fashioned girls; a perfume for Melanie in Gone with The Wind.
The Scarletts of this world will just have content themselves with some heavy gardenia scent.
* That’s not my sampler-that is an exquisite 1805 example and much better than my botched bloodstained version!